Archive for May, 2018

Return of Christ: Rejoice in hope

May 31, 2018 offers the Verse of the Day for May 31, 2018 coming from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Previous blog entries have focused on this particular passage making reference to a subject that continues to generate much discussion: the return of Jesus Christ. Whether termed “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” or somewhat irreverently called “the Big Snatch,” the Return of Christ still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Bridegroom, went away to prepare a place and promised to return for his bride. That promise ignites passion in the heart of believers. Lately this “enduring flame” burns even more brilliantly, as we grow older and witness the passing of family members, friends, and loved ones, especially contemporaries of our same age range. Such occasions bring to mind the words of the Psalmist who describes our lives as but a vapor.

The person who dies may be widely recognized and celebrated, such as Rev. Billy Graham, who recently passed away at age 99 or that individual may be a co-worker who lived and died in obscurity. In either case, during such times we may experience the depths of sorrow and a sense of loss that can be overwhelming. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we take comfort and encouragement from the passage that includes the Verse of the Day. The New Living Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 provide great comfort and assurance:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.

14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
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.

The lyrics to this song also remind us of the certainty of the Savior’s promise:

He Shall Return

He shall return.
He shall return.
Look up toward the Eastern sky.
He shall return.
He shall return.
Look up, your redemption is drawing nigh.

He shall return.
He shall return.
He shall return.

Indeed, the return of Christ is our hope, that is, our great expectation of a future good. In the midst of challenging situations, we reflect upon the goodness of God who has been faithful in past instances, and the Word of God assures us of His steadfast love, as we rejoice in hope, so expressed in this poem:

Rejoice in Hope

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble,

and keep on praying.

Romans 12:12 (NLT)

And we now truly know God is able to do
Exceedingly and abundantly above all
That our finite minds can ask or could even think.
He uplifts and strengthens us each time that we fall.
Our paths lead to disaster, to the very brink.
Despite delays and setbacks, His Word is still true:
God is faithful to His promise; He will come through.
When life begins to unravel, we may ask why
The fulfillment of His will seems to be delayed.
All those who call on Him, He will never deny.
We are assured He will reward all who have obeyed.
Our faithful God is not a man that He should lie.
Through every trial, we are covered by the Blood,
We rejoice in hope, knowing that the Lord is good.

We close with this musical expression of our ultimate expectation: “When He Shall Come”:

Faithful to His covenant

May 29, 2018

Psalm 103 offers an exuberant psalm of praise to God for who He is and all He has done. The Verse of the Day comes from Psalm 103: 17-18 in the New Living Translation:

But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!

This passage makes known that God, our faithful Father, is a “covenant keeper” to those with whom He is in covenant relation. In thinking about covenant relationships, an account involving David also came to mind. In his 9:6ascent to be King of Israel, David developed a close with relationship with Jonathan, the son of Saul, the first king of Israel, whom David replaced. Jonathan died in the ensuing war with Israel, leaving a son, Mephibosheth, who was critically injured as a child when his caregiver fell as she was carrying the child in fleeing from an attack from the men supporting King David. Years later, David encountered Mephibosheth, who would have been considered among the spoils of war belonging to the conquering King. Because of David’s covenant relationship with Jonathan, the father of the young man, this is how he responds

2 Samuel 9:6-7

Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold your servant!

And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.

A teaching based on this moving account was the inspiration behind this poetic commentary:

The Power of Covenant


When covenant relationships are re-established,

you enter into a place of safety and kindness.

Apostle Eric L. Warren


To redeem, restore and then supersede is God’s plan:
To see His faithfulness, examine this account:
God’s favor extended beyond any earthly amount
That can be measured or assessed by the mind of man:
Mephibosheth displays the power of covenant
To children’s children, to countless generations–
First to Israel, then extended to all nations,
God’s loving kindness above and beyond abundant.
Covenants demonstrate the faithfulness of God.
Spiritual covenants supplant natural relationships,
Beyond the authority of all earthly kingships,
For we know that in truth, “Spirit is thicker than blood.”
From LoDebar--barren place of nothingness–
He takes us to abide in safety and loving kindness.

The lyrics to this song also reinforce the message

By a covenant of peace forever,
He has promised He will never, never leave us.
By a covenant of peace,
His love will never cease;
His favor will not end, but only increase.
By a covenant of peace forever.

We close with a musical rendering of Psalm 103 by Zach Jones

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep

May 28, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 28, 2018 comes from Romans 12:15 in the New Living Translation:

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 in the New Living Testament also remind us:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

Whether we are celebrating the success of an individual and rejoicing with that person who has just been promoted or we are comforting someone who is experiencing a sense of sorrow, having just lost their job or their home, we experience a wide range of emotions in life. We are ever mindful, however, that times and seasons change, and we must change our response to changing circumstances accordingly.

One of the times when we “weep with them that weep” occurs with the death of a family member, a friend, or loved one. During such times we may experience deep sorrow and great loss, as we look to t he Word of God to find the comfort and strength to overcome the sense of anguish that can be overwhelming. Because of the hope of Christ’s return, the Scriptures indicate that believers should not sorrow as others who have no hope, but the Bible does not state that we should not sorrow at all. Indeed, there is a time to weep but there is also a time to rejoice.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind, a blog post discussing the blessings and benefits of always being thankful. In every situation no matter how upbeat or dark it may appear to be, we can always find something to be thankful for. We desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” which some have called “thanksliving.” Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, the innermost desire of every believer.

The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this exhortation:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.

At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

When we taste of God’s goodness and His great mercy,
As we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our soul, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our heart, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So that we can scarcely scream His name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason,
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Though our hearts may be heavy during times of sorrow and loss, we rejoice, knowing that God will turn our mourning into joy, and will comfort us, causing us rejoice in sorrow. Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) remind us:

5 Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.

6 They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 126 Song “Those Who Sow in Tears Shall Reap in Joy” (Christian Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)

Finishing the good work: Fight the fight of faith

May 27, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 27, 2018 relates Paul’s final words, as he departs from the believers at Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome, the place of the final phase of his journey.

Acts 20:24 (New Living Translation)

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

This verse also brings to mind Paul’s admonition to Timothy expressed in 1 Timothy 6:12, the inspiration behind this exhortation in verse:

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,
to which you were also called and have confessed the good
confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith, and be strong in the Lord.
Put on the whole armor; take up the shield and sword.
Draw from your inner resource, the Spirit of Might.
Step out of darkness into the marvelous light.
Keep the unity of the faith; walk in one accord.

What the past has consumed the Lord has now restored.
Blessed and highly favored, for you are His delight.
He watches over you; you never leave His sight.
Fight the good fight of faith.

We sing “No tender voice like Thine, can peace afford.”
From the endless fountain of blessings He has poured
Out His peace to soothe our souls with songs in the night.
No good thing will He withhold from them that walk upright.
Exercise the unfailing power of God’s Word:
Fight the good fight of faith.

Jude verse 3 also calls to our attention our fight for the faith:

Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.

In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 in the Amplified Bible Paul makes a similar declaration, as he recognizes that his departure from this life is close at hand:

7 I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.

8 [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).

Throughout the New Testament Paul uses a number of athletic references, such as “finishing my course, or race.” In such instances my thoughts often turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay. Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race. If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distance and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line. My desire was not just to finish but to finish strong, to press toward the mark for prize and to win.

I recall that many times the outcome of the track meet was known before completing the last two races which were relays. As members of God’s Team with Jesus Christ as our champion, our captain, we have already won, but we still need to finish our course, the race that is set before us. The believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot possibly lose; however, the challenge is to finish our individual race with our P.B. (personal best). So that like Paul we can also make known that “I have finished my race with joy. . . I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

We close with this musical reminder: “Fight the Good Fight of Faith”:

Who do you trust?

May 26, 2018


Isaiah-26--3-4During my time of morning reflection, a question flashed across my mind, which I will use as the Phrase of the Day May 26, 2018:

“Who do you trust?”

Some may challenge the grammar regarding the pronoun: who versus whom. As I recall, this question, as written, was the title of a television husband-wife game show from 1956-1963. Although the series has long since been gone, the question can still be asked of every believer today: “Who do you trust?”

Do you trust yourself, first and foremost? What about your spouse? Your best friend? A family member? Is there any individual in whom you place your trust?

Throughout the Scriptures we are encouraged to put our trust in the Lord God, Almighty. In the Psalms we find bold declarations of where to place our trust:

Psalm 56:3-4 makes this bold statement in the New Living Translation:

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Listen to a musical rendering of Psalm 56:3-4:

Psalm 56:3-4 with its emphasis on trust also brings to mind Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

The phrase “perfect peace” indicates this figure of repetition where the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally “peace, peace.” God provides a “double dose of peace” to those who trust in Him.

Just as the passage from Isaiah reminds us to put our trust in God and His Word alone, Psalm 118:8-9, two verses which some believe to be located in the center of the Bible, as some would say, “smackdab in the middle,” express this same truth:

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. (Amplified Bible)

As believers, we learn to trust in the Lord. Every day we encounter countless opportunities to learn and grow, as we follow the exhortation and walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,           

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall    

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]


The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Fully persuaded, each day we learn to watch, fight, and pray.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God is faithful and always comes through, just as the scriptures saith:

We walk by faith, not by what we see—the just shall live by faith.

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T:

We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with

Rugged determination” and

Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop

Strengthened believing” and

Tremendous confidence.”

Every day we are learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

We close with a song of trust performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” In actuality, the lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4 rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

May 25, 2018

James 1-19

Found in James 1:19, Verse of the Day for May 25, 2018 offers these words of wisdom in the New King James Version:

[Qualities Needed in Trials] So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

Here are two additional renderings:

New Living Translation (NLT):

[Listening and Doing] Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Amplified Bible (AMP):

19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

A previous blog post connected this verse with a discussion based on the expression “Think before you speak” where the verb “T-H-I-N-K” formed an acrostic of questions we should ask before opening our mouths to speak.

In addition, Proverbs 17:28 in the Amplified Bible makes this astute statement regarding speaking, or rather, not speaking:

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;
with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent

Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) also speaks of the center of our thoughts:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost].

This verse is coupled with this sobering reminder from Luke 6:45 in the Amplified Bible:

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

Philippians 4:8 instructs believers as to what they should think:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things

Every believer is to be conscious of what that individual thinks. We are reminded to control our thoughts. Paul exhorts us to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We must never forget that “thoughts are the seeds to our words and deeds.” We should be very concerned about the words that we speak since “life and death” is in

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8


We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongue to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

Indeed, James 1:19 offers sound advice for us to heed, so aptly stated in a three-prong approach to life:

Be quick to hear [a ready listener],

Be slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words . . .]

Be slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];

Taylor McCall offers a musical rendering of James 1:19-27 from which the Verse of the Day is taken.





Success from failures

May 24, 2018

The journey continues--ever upward toward the light

This morning while preparing for the day, I came across a statement from Dale Carnegie which will serve as the Quote of the Day for May 24, 2018:

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

The comment brought to mind one of the first blog posts entered on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe, as I shared a valuable lesson that I was learning about failure and success. At that time I had always thought of success and its antonym failure as mutually exclusive entities. Generally, you were considered a failure or a success, but I have come to embrace both concepts in my assessment of myself. After some serious consideration, I have changed my thinking from accepting the duality of “either/or” to embracing concept of “both/and.” In the process I have gone from the designation of being a “total failure” to “not being as successful” as I would like to have been in certain categories. I have come to see that success and its polar opposite, failure, are connected in this definition which introduces the last stanza of a familiar poem of great inspiration entitled “Don’t Quit.”

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

The Quote of the Day reminds us that failure and its traveling companion, disappointment, can lead us to success rather takes us further away from the victories we desire to achieve. What could be perceived as obstacles or stumbling blocks that keep us from our destination could also be seen as stepping stones that will take us to successful outcomes.
At the time I was thinking deeply about these two concepts, I received an email asking a probing question in terms of my own perceived shortcomings.

What is failure?
Failure doesn’t mean that you are a failure;
it does mean you haven’t yet succeeded.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have accomplished nothing;
it does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have been a fool;
it does mean you have a lot of faith.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have been disgraced;
it does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it;
it does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior;
it does mean you are not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life;
it does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up;
it does mean you must try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you will never make it;
it does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you;
it does mean God has a better way.

Author unknown:

The last line of the statement about failure brings to mind this poem:

We Pray—God Answers

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Mark 11:24

We pray, asking to receive and seeking to find.
If we knock, the door shall be opened all our days,
For God answers prayer in one of three sovereign ways:

Sometimes we pray and find that the answer is “yes.”
In Christ each promise is “yes” and “amen”,
For God is not a man that He should lie.
He has already spoken—What shall we say then
But give thanks, for when we call Him, He hears each cry.

Other times we find that the answer is “not yet.”
We need more patience so that after we have done
All the will of God, as sons we might be instilled
With confident assurance given to each one,
Set as an empty vessel, yet to be fulfilled.

Or God may say, “I have something better in mind.”
Before we abandon hope, feeling left behind,
Though it may seem we cannot pass another test,
But if we stop and think a moment, we will find
God, our all-wise Father, really knows what is best.

In closing, let me make this final statement about what appears to be failure. I’m sure that if we scrutinized our lives closely we could easily be overcome by a sense of failure in light of the circumstances that surround us. We can take courage and be strengthened, however, by the example of someone whose life ended most tragically without apparent accomplishment of his mission. He died a shameful and painful death, and those who believed in him, deserted him. Yes, Jesus Christ, in the eyes of the world was a disastrous failure at the end of his life. However, we know “the rest of the story,” and I am writing these words of exhortation to you because of his triumph over the worst possible circumstances—even death itself. Because he was a super-conqueror, in all these things we are more than conquerors.

So take heart, my brothers and sisters, and be encouraged. The best is always yet to come. So we must take heart and remember that when we experience what seems to be failure, that “a set-back is just a set-up for a comeback.”

We also take comfort in the timeless universal truth that “This too shall pass.” This expression is set to music and rendered in a most inspiring manner as Yolanda Adams reminds us:“This Too Shall Pass”

Coming through stronger

May 23, 2018

James 1--2-3

In a challenging message delivered during a midweek Bible study called “Hour of Power,” Bishop Charles Mellette encouraged the congregation at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC that as we face trials on every hand, we are “Coming through Stronger.” In unfolding the opening verses of James 1:2-4, he reminded us that we will encounter various trials; however, “The problem is not the problem but our perception of the problem.”

He went on to explain what he meant by trials which are the “trying, testing, the putting to the proof of something.” They are experimental actions applied in order to obtain results. Trials involve being subjected to intense and challenging times that test our motives and values. In the same way that God sent the Children of Israel through the wilderness for an extended period of time in order to test or to prove what was in their hearts, the trials we face prepare us for the next level of service to God. He went on to say, “You will shorten your season of testing or trials if you will only allow your trials to make you stronger.”

The time of ministry in the Word of God brought to mind a previous blog post based on a similar teaching by Bishop Mellette discussing the same passage from James 1:2-4, rendered here in the New Living Translation:

Faith and Endurance

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Included in that teaching was the whole idea of trials as tests, the inspiration behind this poem written from the perspective of a “student/teacher”

All Tests

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and

Challenges come at you from all sides.” [The Message]

 James 1:2


With zeal we make our calling and election sure,

As we attempt to complete yet another test.

As ever eager students, we will do our best.

You promised good to us, your Word our hope secure.

Search us and know us—discern that our motives are pure.

Our souls now anchored in hope; in You we find rest.

You are our light, even when times seem their darkest.

Just as a patient father seeks to reassure

Children, so the Master Teacher shows His design:

All tests are formed not to punish but to refine.

Despite shortcomings and failures that we have made,

You are gracious and generous each time You grade.

Knowing this, trials we face we resist no longer.

This too shall pass, as we are coming through stronger.

The message concluded with a reminder of the blessings and benefits of trials which are a way of life for every believer. Trials forge humility and give birth to perseverance. Indeed, we have the capacity to persevere to see God’s promises come to pass in our lives.

Hebrews 10:36 also offers this reminder in the New Living Translation:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Knowing this, we can count it all joy when we encounter various fiery trials that test our faith and build patient endurance.

We close with this scripture memory song based on James 1:2-4:

Paradox: Free to serve

May 22, 2018

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2018 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle many of those who encounter the duality of being free yet choosing to serve, the notable distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (NKJV):

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative portrayal translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the same Greek word and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”

Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.

In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5, 6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills God’s will lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain.
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” translated from the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the term which provided the original inspiration for an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave” which has been re-posted along with poetry and music videos related to the term. Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15 which includes the Verse of the Day:

Being like-minded with a new mindset

May 20, 2018

Romans 15--5-6

The Verse of the Day for May 20, 2018 comes Romans 15:5-6 in the New Living Translation:

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The New King James Version renders the passage this way:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we find a verse that encourages believers to be “likeminded,” but exactly what does that mean?  In addition to its use in Romans 15:5, the phrase is used in Philippians 2:2 (NKJV):

Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

In these two instances the expression is derived from a compound word in the Greek: “autophroneo.” Phroneo, as a verb, means to think, “to be minded in a certain way, attitude, disposition of mind.” The prefix “auto” means “the same.” The Jubilee Bible translates the phrase “to be unanimous among yourselves.”

The phrase “likeminded,” however, is used as an adjective in Philippians 2:20 where Paul describes his relationship with his “spiritual son,” Timothy:

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

Here the term is translated from another compound word: “isopsuchos” with the prefix “isos” meaning “the same” and “psuchos” meaning “soul” In other words, Paul is saying that he and Timothy are “equal souled.”

Verse 6 of Romans 15 exhorts the followers of Christ to be unified with “one mind and with one mouth glorify God. . . .” The one mind that Christians should have is “the mind of Christ” referred to in Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible which offers this reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

The Scriptures also encourage us to put on the mind of Christ, to put off the old and put on the new. We are not to be conformed to the world, nor should we think as the world thinks, but the Word of God exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we, as believers, keep our minds focused or stayed on the Lord, we are kept in perfect peace. Although we endeavor to remain consistent in our efforts to let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, our thoughts stray from time to time. This poetic response makes our desire to be transformed as we change our thinking patterns with:

A New Mindset

Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love,

being of one accord, of one mind.

Philippians 2:2 (NKJV)


That you called us and chose us, may we never forget.

In response we vow to serve and honor the Lord,

As we form new thought patterns according to your Word,

Transformed into the image of Christ with a new mindset.

Determined, we walk by faith despite our circumstance.

With one mind and with one mouth we give God the glory

And sing of amazing grace as we tell our story.

For God is faithful to provide yet another chance

To once more demonstrate the power of God to change.

The Spirit of the living God restores, makes all things new

That our lives may truly speak in all we say and do

With boundless potential that only God could arrange.

Walking into the fullness of Christ with no regret,

We harmonize our thoughts toward all with this new mindset.

Kim and Kathy Burrell close with this  exhortation: “Let this Mind Be in You”