Archive for May, 2021

Listen to the Song of the Lord

May 16, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 16, 2021 offers a strong word to encourage and exhort, a reminder custom-crafted for the perilous times in which we live. Take a look at Zephaniah 3:17 in the Amplified Bible:

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

The first part of the verse describes the Lord our God as “A Warrior who saves” and brings to mind a similar picture found in Jeremiah 20-11-12 in the New International Version:

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
    their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
    and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
    for to you I have committed my cause.

This passage was also the inspiration behind this poetic portrayal of God, the Almighty One:

Mighty Warrior

The LORD will march out like a mighty man

like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;

with a shout he will raise the battle cry and

will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13 (NIV)

Mighty Warrior leads the charge into victory.

When we face each foe, Adonai begins to laugh.

As the Man of War, He destroys each enemy,     

For the Lord of Hosts arises on our behalf.

In the midst of battle, He bears His arm and rides

Upon all the fiery chariots of the wind.

He surrounds with power and protects on all sides,

As the ungodly fall and the righteous ascend.

The Almighty Judge rises to discern each heart.

He shakes the heavens and loosens all strongholds

And then probes the depths of truth in the inner part,

As the panoply of total victory unfolds.

Undefeated Super-conqueror—none, superior: 

The Master of Breakthrough is our Mighty Warrior.

 

A previous blog post also commented on Zephaniah 3:17, with this original psalm that also provides words of comfort and assurance:

Song of the Lord

The Lord your God in your midst;
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you with His love;
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

Be well assured that the Lord, your God, in your midst is mighty;

He has always been there, even in times when you could not see.

His strength never fails—His love prevails through all eternity.

Have no fear, only persevere. Rest in Him, for He will save.

To know the fullness of His great love, look at all that He gave.

Now, you are free, released you from every snare that seeks to enslave.

Know your triumphant end; He will rejoice over you with joy.

Your gracious Father has given all things richly to enjoy.

Recall the Word planted deep in your heart nothing can destroy.

He will complete what He began, and He will rest in His love.

Cast off all your cares and set your affection on things above,

He is able to do above all that you can ask or think of.

Weep no more, but know that He will joy over you with singing.

Celebrate a bountiful harvest with sheaves you are bringing.

Drink from the fountain where unspeakable joy is springing.

Listen to the Song of the Lord. . .

We close with a song inspired by Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord, Thy God” sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

I choose to have a heart that forgives

May 11, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 11, 2021 encourages believers to forgive one another:                    

Ephesians 4:32 in the Amplified Bible:

Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Forgiveness is also a topic discussed in detail in my Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Chapter 7 examines “Forgiveness: A Forgotten Factor” in the healing process related to my diagnosis with prostate cancer. Here is an excerpt from that chapter which includes comments on Ephesians 4:32 and other related Scriptures:

Forgiveness is not only a vitally important concept in Christianity, but it has universal application as well. Described as a two-way street, this virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable in the situations with where one individual has hurt another in some way: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

What does it mean to forgive?

To forgive means: to send away, dismiss, set free; to acquit by a verdict; to give no punishment to the guilty person and to view the guilty person as if he is innocent. Another definition means to let loose or set at liberty (a debtor).

Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give to those who choose not to give. This poem by John Oxenham expresses a profound truth about love and giving:

Love ever lives, outlives forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives,

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give.

You actually could keep adding “and give” to last line ad infinitum. For such love expresses endless giving.

Some of the lyrics to the song “Please Forgive Me” reinforce this truth.

God first gave to us so that we might live.

We give to others when we learn to forgive.

Jesus, our example so perfect and true,

Said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

When we practice forgiving, we apply the principle of “giving and receiving.”

Luke 6:38 relates this principle:

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

When we forgive, we also recall another expression of truth by Jesus who said, “It more blessed to give than to receive.” In a situation where one person offers forgiveness and another receives forgiveness. Who is most blessed? I often say, “When you choose to give, you cannot lose, but when you choose not to give you cannot win.” In his book Total Forgiveness, R. T. Kendall states,

“Forgiveness is not total forgiveness until we bless our enemies—and pray for them to be blessed. Forgiving them is a major step; totally forgiving them has fully been achieved when we set God free to bless them. But in this, we are the first to be blessed, and those who totally forgive are blessed the most.”

Dr. Sidney Simon offers this definition of this critical concept:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future. The title of Dr. Enright’s workbook also brings to mind this poem:

I Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,

I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.

As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers

What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,

Widen my vision to see from your perspective::

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Kevin Levar singing “A Heart that Forgives”

On Mother’s Day and every day

May 9, 2021

On Mother’s Day

And every day. . .

This is what I say

To my Beloved Brenda,

My Sweet Lady, BJ,

Brenda Joyce

The wife of my youth

In whom I rejoice:

Lyrics from my “boppin’ doowop days”

Still apply today

I hope you remember

Lyrics so tender                                   

And you still see

How much I love you                 

M.T.Y.L.T.T.

(More Than Yesterday Less Than Tomorrow)

On Mother’s Day

And every day. . .

Happy Mother’s Day, My Love

Want to do God’s will? Give thanks!

May 7, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 7, 2021 provides great encouragement for believers to be continually in prayer today and every day. These three inter-related, verses form a three-fold cord that will intertwine with our lives, as we seek to do God’s will. The Amplified Bible’s renders the passage this way:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

16 Rejoice always and delight in your faith; 17 be unceasing and persistent in prayer; 18 in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Thanksliving

A recent blog entry talks about the importance of attitude and offers this reminder:

“. . .  attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” Thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”, that is, my ability to respond to God’s love and grace. As believers, we constantly endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our heart, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called “thanksliving.

Much than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. We must show how grateful we are with all of our being, “Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.”

This all-encompassing “attitude of gratitude” involves everything we do and say, just as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 proclaims: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Jesus Christ also tells us that “Men ought always to pray and not to faint,” another reminder “to pray without ceasing.” We combine these two scriptural references to praying in the following scripture memory song:

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

To pray, pray, pray, pray, pray without ceasing.

As the circumstances of our lives unfold in the midst of the perilous times in which we live, unquestionably, “There is always something to pray about,” as the Word of God encourages us always to be thankful to God,

As We Pray

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as we pray always for you,

Colossians 1:3

During these dark times, we focus on the Kingdom,

Established and grounded on a sure foundation.

As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,

New paths of this Apostolic Reformation

Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.

Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.

Aware of consequences of each decision,

We look to God our Father, bountiful resource.

As we renew our minds, we are transformed and change:

With a “kingdom mindset” we now see with new eyes.

Beyond past narrow limits our view is long-range.

We number our days with each sunset and sunrise,

As the Word commands: pray without ceasing, night and day,

Knowing that God always fulfills his will, as we pray.        

We close with one more reminder to “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18):

Faith: The bedrock of my life

May 1, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 1, 2021 reminds us of God’s response to those who earnestly seek Him, found in Hebrews 11:6 in the Amplified Bible:

But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.

The verse also brings to mind the importance of faith in my life, as I recall the first Bible teaching that  I ever shared as a sophomore in high school, 64 years ago when I was inspired to use Hebrews 11:1 and verse 6 as starting points. Now, I recognize full-well the importance of faith in an even more life-transforming way. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share my holistic strategy to overcome a diagnosis of prostate cancer more than 20 years ago. Chapter 6, “The Faith Factor: Without Faith, It Is Impossible,” discusses faith as a critical component of my response to the diagnosis. Here is an excerpt:

Faith—the Bedrock of My Life

To build a magnificent mansion that will last a lifetime, the builders must begin with a solid foundation. Similarly, to build a purposeful life of success and fulfillment, we must establish a firm foundation upon which we build. For me, faith is the bedrock of life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust, and conviction in God that I will prevail. Faith—“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”— operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Faith is a Sine qua non—that without which there is nothing. Faith is the indispensable ingredient in a successful Christian’s life. The scriptures remind us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t!” but faith proclaims, “I can, and I will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than you can number, faith gives you the courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious; you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says, “no way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

We can find excellent examples of illustrations of faith in the Bible. We begin with Abraham, the father of faith, who did not stagger at the promise of God that he should become the father of many nations, with descendants without number. Despite the circumstances of this hundred-year-old man with a­ barren wife of comparable age, Abraham grew strong and was empowered by faith. Hebrews 11 recounts the triumphs of men and women of faith in what has become known as the Hall of Faith.

Aside from the Bible, we can glean from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Notable examples are the Wright Brothers and countless others, who persevered in faith to accomplish the impossible. We are also surrounded by heroic men and women who live by faith each day to make a difference.

Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. Indeed, as Christian believers, faith is our solid foundation. Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is our sure foundation.

We close with this musical reminder by Kutless: “What Faith Can Do”

To learn more about faith and my life’s journey, checkout Embracing Your Life Sentence

Available on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.