Archive for December, 2017

Perfect peace

December 30, 2017


The Verse of the Day for December 30, 2017, the last Saturday of the year, offers words from the Lord Jesus Christ found in John 16:33 (AMP):

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

In John 14:27 (AMP) the Lord makes another reference to peace:

Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

These verses also bring to mind Isaiah 26:3 (AMP):

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

To emphasize the concept of peace, the phrase “perfect peace” is used, whereby the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally meaning “peace, peace.” God provides a “double portion of peace” to those who trust in Him.

While it is important to maintain the peace of God, we also want the peace of God to increase in our lives, as the Bible uses the expression “peace be multiplied unto you.”

The peace that Jesus speaks of goes beyond the usual definition which refers to “the normal non-warring condition of a nation, a group of nations or the world. . . a state of harmony among people or groups; cessation or freedom from strife or dissension.”

In contrast, the Biblical definition encompasses a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being, expressed in the Hebrew expression shalom. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” It is an inner reality, for the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care, as we experience the grace of God and know intimately His mercy, while being kept in perfect peace:

Grace, Mercy, and Peace: A Three-fold Cord

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

 Dr. John Fawcett


 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son:

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father

and Christ Jesus our Lord

 2 Timothy 1:2


Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.


Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as three-fold cord.


That God is truly merciful cannot be ignored.

Streams of the sure mercies of the Lord shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.


Peace cancels all strife, but we must live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.


All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

As we seek God, we find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.


Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.    

The Verse of the Day along with other scriptures related to the peace of God reinforce the comforting and reassuring message expressed by Jesus Christ in whom we can have peace in an even greater measure as we trust him. John Waller sings “Perfect Peace,” a musical composition blending words of the Gospel of John and Isaiah 26:3:

Walk like Enoch

December 29, 2017

Genesis 5--24

The Verse of the Day for December 29, 2017 for Logos Bible Software comes from Genesis 5:24 where we find a striking description of a remarkable man of God:

Genesis 5:24 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him”

In Hebrews 11 Enoch is the standard bearer in what has been designated as the “Hall of Faith”:

The New Living Translation describes him in this way:

Hebrews 11:5

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.

Verse 6 goes on to make this point:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Living in the midst of absolute ungodliness and staggering unbelief, Enoch “walked with God” and preached the coming of the Lord, described in Jude 14-15:

14 Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones 15 to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

The quotation actually comes from the Book of Enoch, one of the non-canonical works written between the Old Testament and the Gospels.

Enoch also serves as a” type” or foreshadowing of the translation or gathering together of believers at Christ’s return.  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 speaks of this occurrence:

 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day and its portrait of Enoch, this poem came to mind:

Enoch’s Song

  By faith Enoch was taken away so that he should not see death;

  “and was not found, because God had taken him”,

  for before he was taken he had this testimony,

  that he pleased God.

 Hebrews 11:5


My heart’s song is to so sing like Enoch,

With all that lies within me, with each breath,

That I too may walk with God and please Him,

That one day when they seek me, I shall not

Be found, for I will have been gathered, caught

Up to meet the Lord in the clouds forever,

Never to taste the bitter root of death

But savor the sweetness of His favor.

That to do His will was my sole desire–

May I leave behind this testimony

Written on the pages of pure a heart

Prepared for the marriage ceremony,

Blameless in His presence with nothing to hide,

So transformed and fashioned to be the bride.

Contemporary music group, August Rain, concludes with a lively declaration: “Walk Like Enoch”:

I will give you rest

December 28, 2017

Matthew 11--28

The Verse of the Day for December 28, 2017 is found in Matthew 11: 28, but to better understand exactly what Jesus Christ is saying, we also need to examine verses 29 and 30 which close out the chapter.

Matthew 11:28-30:

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus Christ invites his followers, all those who work and are heavy laden, to enter “a place of quiet rest . . . near to the heart of God.” The Lord draws to himself those who are burdened with care, that they might find rest to their souls. In thinking about a place of rest from one’s labor, we recall the original intent of the Sabbath, first spoken of Genesis 2:1-3:

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

This passage in Genesis connects the Sabbath and the “seventh day” and “rest,” all terms derived from the Hebrew word Shabbat. Described as the centerpiece of Jewish life, Shabbat (the Sabbath) is designated as a day of rest and celebration beginning on Friday at sunset and ending on the following evening after nightfall.

The concept of the Sabbath comes to mind while reflecting on the Verse of Day and the following verses in Matthew 11:28-30.This particular passage also brings to mind the following lyrics:

We will Rest in the Lord

We will rest in the Lord. We will rest in Him.

No matter the challenge, we will put our trust in him.

Our desire is not just to be hearers

But also to be doers of the Word.

May we so live our lives to rest in the Lord.


Sometimes we carry a load that we are not meant to bear.

We fall beneath the burden and end up in despair.

Then we look unto Jesus, to lighten our load.

For he has said, “Come unto me. All ye that are heavy laden,

and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy

and my burden is light.”


We will rest in the Lord. We will rest in him.

No matter the challenge, we will put our trust in Him.

Our desire is not just to be hearers

But also to be doers of the Word.

May we so live our lives to rest in the Lord.

As we come to the end of another year and prepare to embark upon the next phase of our journey, we are mindful of maintaining the balance between working and resting. In reflecting over the past year, I recognized  I worked harder and more often than I should have, relying on my own strength to overcome the challenges that confronted me, and I rested less than I could have. In the coming year my desire is to work less and rest more being assured that God, my Father, has promised to always be with me in the time of need.

The passage from Matthew 11:28-30 opens “I will rest in you” by Jaci Velasquez, who closes our discussion:

Never forget: Always remember

December 27, 2017

Psalm 103--1-2

As the years have been swiftly passing by, I have noticed a need to change my routine with regard to remembering certainly tasks that I need to accomplish. Up until the past three or four years, I would simply make a mental note that I needed to give someone a call when I arrived home or respond to a specific request before the day was over. After several instances where I totally forgot, I realized that I needed to write a note or make a list so that I would not forget. Even though I wrote myself a note, from time to time I would forget that I had written the note to myself. Despite my best efforts to remember, I would still forget.

In the Verse of the Day for December 27, 2017, the Psalmist encourages himself “not to forget”:

Psalm 103:1-2 (New King James Version)

[Praise for the Lord’s Mercies] [A Psalm of David. ] Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.

The Amplified Bible adds this:

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—

This celebrated passage also brings to mind a similar sentiment expressed in Psalm 119:93 (NKJV):

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.

Note how this truth is expressed in the New Living Translation:

The Living Bible renders the verse in this way:

93 I will never lay aside your laws, for you have used them to restore my joy and health.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

93 I will never forget Your precepts, [how can I?] for it is by them You have quickened me (granted me life).

The idea of “never forgetting” can also be expressed in another way, in terms of “always remembering.” From my early school years I recall the mathematical axiom: “Things equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.” I also remember listening to a teaching series by Dr. David Jeremiah in which I made some notes regarding keys to not forgetting the Word of God. I used this heading for my comments: Do Remember God’s Goodness (Don’t Forget How Good God’s Been).

That discussion also brought to mind lyrics to an old familiar gospel song: “Do Lord, Do Lord, Do remember me.” Just as God declares that He won’t forget us (Isaiah 49:15-16), we must remember not to forget God and His precepts. To facilitate the remembrance of God’s goodness, I suggest writing down those times of deliverance, of answered prayers.

Dr. Charles Stanley recommends that we write down those victories as reminders to go back and read in the dark times when God seems distant and so far away.  During times of turmoil and mounting pressures that tend to obscure our vision of who God is and what He will do, during these turbulent, ever-changing chaotic times in which we live, these lyrics express our commitment never to forget God’s goodness:

We will remember. We will remember

We will remember your love in times of joy, in times of sorrow.

We will remember, always remember, each triumphant victory we have won

In the love you displayed in Your Son.

We will remember, always remember

We will remember. We will remember.


We will remember the fire that first warmed our hearts.

We will remember. We will remember.

We will remember the desire to love and to serve only You.

We will remember, always remember.

We will never forget Your Word.

We will remember, always remember.

We will never forget You are our Lord.

We will remember, always remember.

We will remember. We will remember.

We will remember, always remember.

We will never forget Your Word.

To close out this blog entry Tommy Walker offers this magnificent praise and worship song: “We Will Remember.”

Mary ponders in her heart

December 24, 2017


Luke 2--16-20

Revised and re-posted on December 24, 2017, traditionally known as Christmas Eve, the Verse of Day continues the narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ, as the shepherds enter and depart:

Luke 2:16-20 (NKJV)

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

As this account unfolds, we recognize not only did Mary give birth to a child, her first-born son, but the circumstances surrounding his birth must have been overwhelming. The shepherds who suddenly come on the scene relate that the “angel of the Lord” had spoken with them and told where to go and explained what they would find when they arrived. This group of exhilarated witnesses return, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen. Mary and Joseph are alone with their newborn son.

Mary, a mere teenager, hides the words spoken by the shepherds and the miraculous events surrounding the birth of son in the depths of her heart. “Mary treasured all these things,” meaning she “kept close, kept safe, treasured, preserved—set apart and preserved in a special place.” We might say that she hid memories of what happened in the “lockbox of her heart.”

In the days ahead she must return to Nazareth where she will not be looked upon favorably at all. In fact, she will be despised because she has given birth to child before the time that she was to have consummated her marriage with her husband. She will encounter a barrage of hateful words and shameful looks, as she faces staggering unbelief. She will need to draw upon inner resources and encourage herself in the Lord, as she “discusses, confers, converses, gives careful thought to and ponders” within herself. No one who could possibly understand what she is going through.

In thinking about the challenging circumstances confronting Mary and her husband, Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) also came to mind:

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

In a similar manner, in 2017 how many teenagers, particularly young mothers, are confronted with overwhelming challenges every day? We know, however, that just as God strengthened and encouraged Mary to endure and ultimately triumph, so He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake those who call upon Him.

During the time following the birth of her son, Jesus Christ, Mary gave considerable thought to what had transpired. We close with this contemporary Christmas composition focusing on Mary, as Clay Aiken asks, “Mary, Did You Know?”

A sign: Wrapped in swaddling clothes

December 23, 2017

As the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior, continue to unfold, we note that a more complete unfolding of the narrative is found in the Verse of the Day for December 23, 2017:

Luke 2:11-14 (Amplified Bible):

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

This passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. This practice was also mentioned earlier in Luke 2:6-7:

6 While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, 7 and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.

These passages refer to the practice whereby a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, was to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs some of the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, their abominable practices were described in this way in Ezekiel 16:1-4, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:

Ezekiel 16:1-4 (NKJV):

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.

Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a recent blog entry from, commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:

In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12).

The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes were left on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at precisely the right time. As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with signs, wonders, and miracles, one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

“He’s Here” sung by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”

Good news of great joy

December 22, 2017

Luke 2--10

Revised and re-posted three days before Christmas Day, the Verse of the Day for December 22, 2017 is the familiar passage describing the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 2:8-11 where we add verses 12-14 in the Amplified Bible which gives a fuller account of what occurred:

Luke 2:8-14:

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for [f]all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). 12 And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest [heaven],
And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

Verse 10 indicates that the angel brought “good news of great joy” to the shepherds and ultimately to the entire world. That day was “A Good News Day” poetically expressed in this way:

Good News Day

This is the day the LORD has made;

we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24


It’s a good new day

no blues day

new shoes

no way to lose

What a good new day


It’s a great day

I can’t wait day

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Good God, a good news day


It’s a payday

goin my way day

no nay–all yea

what you say

Such a good news day


It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

This celebrated passage from Luke 2 has served as the backdrop for countless nativity scenes that have been displayed for decades across the country. Within the past few years, some citizens and advocacy groups demanding separation of church and state have objected to public displays depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Despite the resistance, many communities continue to display nativity scenes on public property: from historic Belen, New Mexico, whose name means Bethlehem in Spanish to the Pennsylvania city with that same name and numerous places in between.  All across the nation Christians continue to proclaim the “good news of the birth of Christ (the Messiah) the Lord.”

Contemporary Christian vocal group Avalon share some “Good News”:

As this year concludes and as 2018 unfolds, may every day be a “Good News Day” for all who read these words.

Learning to trust

December 21, 2017


Learning to trust

Earlier today I read a list of quotations from a wide range of people who talked about “trust.” One particular quote caught my eye, and I selected it to be the Quote of the Day for December 21, 2017:

“Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”

The statement comes from the great 18th Century hymn writer, Dr. Isaac Watts, English pastor, preacher, poet, and hymn writer with about 600 songs to his credit, including the popular Christmas carol “Joy to the World,” heard so frequently at this time of the year. Another of his most recognized compositions also makes reference to “trust.”

I love the Lord, He heard my cries:

I love you, Lord; you heard my cries,
and pitied every groan;
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to your throne.

I love you, Lord; you bow your ear;
you’re ever good and just.
Then let my heart feel no despair!
Your power has all my trust.

If you behold me sore distressed,
you bid my pains remove;
I’ll turn my soul to you, my rest,
and witness to your love.

The topic of learning to trust also brings to mind a 20th Century Christian musician and songwriter, Andre Crouch, and his celebrated song of encouragement with these lyrics as the chorus:

Through It All

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

Upon further reflection on learning to trust God, I recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T. As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with

Rugged determination” and

Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop

Strengthened believing” and

Tremendous confidence.”

As we end 2017 and go into 2018 we are learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Finally, this passage also relates to trust:

Isaiah 26:3-4 (AMP):

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],
Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

“Trust [confidently] in the Lord forever [He is your fortress, your shield, your banner],
For the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

We close our discussion with a song of trust written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” In actuality the lyrics refer to verse 4:

In Bethlehem of Judea

December 20, 2017

Luke 2--1

In the Verse of the Day for December 20, 2017 we find another reference to the birth of Jesus Christ mentioning the location where the Savior would be born:

Luke 2:1, 4-5

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Bethlehem is a location of longstanding importance in the Land of Israel. We recognize that the prophet Micah made this prophetic declaration regarding place where the Messiah would be born:

Micah 5:2–5 (AMP):

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah;
From you One shall come forth for Me [who is] to be Ruler in Israel,
His goings forth (appearances) are from long ago,
From ancient days.”

Therefore, He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has given birth to a child.
Then what is left of His kinsmen
Shall return to the children of Israel.

And He shall stand and shepherd and guide His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall dwell [secure in undisturbed peace],
Because at that time He shall be great [extending His authority]
[Even] to the ends of the earth.

This One [the Messiah] shall be our peace.

When the Assyrian invades our land
And tramples on our citadels and in our palaces,
Then shall we raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight princes [an overpowering force] among men.

Located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but the city has a rich heritage as a place of importance in God’s plan for humanity. Genesis 35:19 (NLT) records the first mention of the town:

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)

In Hebrew the name means “house of bread.” Recall that the account of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth takes place in Bethlehem, where Naomi returns with Ruth after the famine in Moab. David, the King, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz was born and grew up in Bethlehem. Eventually the Judean town became known as the City of David, for it was there the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ provides a confluence of circumstances that merge in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph found themselves at that particular location when Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken. Every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being a descendent of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary, his wife who was pregnant at the time. Because of the overcrowded conditions due to the census, the inn where they sought refuge was full, and Mary gave birth to Savior of the World in the primitive conditions of a stable where the child was laid in a manger.

During this time of the year we listen to a number Christmas songs focusing on Bethlehem, the place of the Savior’s birth; the Black spiritual “Children, Go Where I Send” along with  “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Away in a Manger.” Last year I discovered another related song, Betelehemu, a Nigerian carol sung in the Yoruba dialect. Here is background information posted a year ago:

According to, the Christmas song was originally composed for the Morehouse College Glee Club by the choir director for the college, Dr. Wendell P. Whalum, who received the song from Michael Babtunde Olantunji, a Rotary scholarship student who attended Morehouse in the 1950s. After graduation, he went to become known as Olantunji, an accomplished percussionist and recording artist in his own right, working with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Bob Dylan, and other noted jazz artists before his death in the US in 2003.

Here are lyrics with translation:

Betelehemu, Betelehemu, Betelehemu, Betelehemu.

Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem. . .

We are glad that we have a Father to trust.
We are glad to have a Father to rely upon.

Where was Jesus born?
Where was he born?

Bethlehem the city of wonder.
That is where the Father was born for sure.

Praise, Praise, Praise be to Him
We thank Thee, We thank Thee for this day,

Gracious Father.
Praise be to Thee, Merciful Father.

This amazing Christmas song has been sung by various soloists and ensembles, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Listen to this Christmas lagniappe or special treat recorded by the Morehouse Men’s Choir: “Betelehemu”

Because of the tender mercy of our God

December 19, 2017

Luke 1--76-79

When the Angel of the Lord announces to Zechariah, the elderly priest, that his wife, Elisabeth, who was beyond the age of childbearing, would bear him a son, he questions what the Angel speaks. Because of Zechariah’s unbelief, the messenger informs him that he will be unable to speak until the child is born. The Verse of the Day for December 19, 2017 is taken from the closing lines of the prophetic utterances offered by Zechariah after his son, John the Baptist, is born. The entire passage, Luke 1:67-79, is known as “Zechariah’s Song,” from which this excerpt is taken:

Luke 1:76-78 (AMP):

“And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord (the Messiah) to prepare His ways; To give His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise (the Messiah) from on high will dawn and visit us,

The birth of the Messiah and all the related events offer a magnificent display of the mercy of God. Indeed, one of the awesome attributes of God is that He is a God of mercy. In a real sense, He is a God of justice, who tempers justice with grace and mercy.  Justice has been defined as “getting exactly what one deserves.” Whereas grace is said to be unmerited favor or getting something that one does not deserve, and mercy is defined as “withholding merited judgment” or “not getting what one deserves.  God ever displays His mercy toward His children, as Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Throughout the Psalms, we find references to “the tender mercies of God” where the Psalmist notes:

The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created]. (Psalm 145:9)

David goes on to speak of the Lord as one “Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,” (Psalm 103:4)

The expression is used in Psalm 51:1 written with this prelude to set the context for David’s prayer of repentance:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

We also find this prayer request:

Psalm 40:11

Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.

The reference to God’s tender mercy is a memorable phrase from Zechariah’s Song, which has been set to music by a number of artists. We close with a selection “Because of your tender mercy” written by David Moffitt and Sue C. Smith from the Brentwood-Benson musical “All Bow Down.”