Archive for the ‘Application of Biblical Principles’ Category

Reserved: Come and dine

August 14, 2017

Revelation 3_20

Revelation 3:14, 20 in the English Standard Version offer the Verse of the Day for August 14, 2017:

[To the Church in Laodicea] “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revised and re-posted, today’s blog post discusses this celebrated passage from Revelation 3:20 and focuses on a particular aspect of dining as revealed in the Bible.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, points out various Eastern customs and manners, called Orientalisms, appreciation of which adds to our understanding of the Scriptures. He notes that in the East when an individual is merely a guest, the host will serve that person. When the meal is complete and the guest departs. The host and his family will then dine together. If, on the other hand, the guest is more than a mere acquaintance but a close, intimate, beloved friend, the host will dine with his special guest. This situation is expressed in Revelation 3:20:

The Lord stands at the door and knocks, offering a verbal invitation to come and dine. If the guest hears the voice of Lord and responds by opening the door, the host will come in and dine, as the two “will share a meal together as friends.”

Lyrics to this scripture memory song were designed to help students learn the Word of God by heart. One of the songs to be sung before serving a meal was based on Revelation 3:20:

Come and Dine with Me

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any man hears my voice and opens the door,

I will come unto him and will sup with him and he with me.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on my throne,

Even as I also overcame and am sat down with my father in His throne.

 

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

Reserved_Sign

As one who enjoys preparing and serving meals, I also appreciate dining at fine restaurants. In many instances, one must make reservations ahead of time to be assured that your party and you will be able to eat at the time that you would like. The idea of making reservations or having a place “reserved” for you, brought to mind this poem:

Reserved 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  

to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,

 reserved in heaven for you,

 1 Peter 1:3-4

 

To know intimately the fullness of your grace,

To grasp the truest meaning of being “reserved”

For your glory: for your purpose we are preserved

To someday stand in your presence, face to face

With the Lord in the jeweled splendor of that place

Where those of every kindred, tribe and tongue shall hear

The voice sounding as though many waters are near;

To stand on the bema at the end of the race,

To apprehend living in the eternal now

When all the praises of the ages shall resound:

Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow.

Where sin once reigned, grace does now even more abound.

“I ‘reserved’ you, set you apart, for you are mine.

Beloved, this is ‘reserved’ for you—come and dine.”

Revelation 3:20 and other related verses build our anticipation for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” which will be like no other dining experience known to humanity.

Gary Chapman expresses the essence of this powerful message in the song “Come and Dine”:

Reflecting on ordination and more

August 11, 2017

Ephesians 4--1

I begin this day, August 11, 2017, reflecting on an event of supreme significance occurring forty-four years ago, when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Biblical scholar, E.W. Bullinger discusses the symbolic significance of the number 44, which is a combination of forty and four:

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. . . . A period of testing.

Now the number four has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created. . . . It is the number of things that have a beginning, of things that are made, of material things, and matter itself. It is the number of material completeness.

Many times periods of reflection result in a poetic output, as Wordsworth observes, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Today’s occasion brought to mind three poems written related to my calling to the ministry:

Although my ordination was the public recognition of my individual response to the call of God to serve, this recognition of my inner prompting to be of greater service transpired long before my actual ordination ceremony on August 11, 1974. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow1

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

Another related poem is “This Year of My Jubilee.”  To understand some of the references in this poem, one must first be familiar with the Old Testament concept of the Sabbath Year observed every seven years. Also known as the “Year of Release,” during this period no farming nor manual labor was to take place. In addition, all debt payments were remitted. At the end of every seven Sabbath Years, a special Sabbatical Year, The Year of Jubilee, was observed, during which time bond-slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants, however, could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established.

As it turns out, some have calculated 2017 will be another Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar, so that this poem is even more significant in that light.

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

 

I stand alone clothed only with the wind

At the end of another seventh Sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bond-slave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as You command,

Pierce my ear, place Your brand upon my soul;

Enlighten me so that I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of Your ways

And renew my vows to serve You all my days.

A year ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Reflections on a convergence of events,” as my heart overflowed with gratitude to God for being alive to celebrate not only my ordination, but most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I were present to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 5:45 p.m. on August 11, 2016, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

The closing piece in this series of celebratory poems makes reference to the importance of the legacy that one leaves behind:

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

 

I learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of my soul and to give

All my strength to the Lord’s work and to do my part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy to fulfill 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

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As I plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely I have received that I might come to know

The love of Christ, as I learn to serve and to sow.

I closed my blog post last year with these comments and a music video which still apply today:

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful” which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

Our refuge and strength, a very present help

August 10, 2017

Psalm 46--1-3

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for August 10, 2017 offers this blessed assurance found in Psalm 46:1 (AMP):

[God the Refuge of His People.] [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song. ] God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble

As we examine the verse more closely, we find great comfort and strength. First of all, God is described as “our refuge,” a similar place of trust, described in Psalm 2:12 (NLT):

Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry,
and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere we find numerous references to God as a source of strength. Psalm 27:2 reveals that “The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid,” while Psalm 18:2 declares:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

The expression “a very present help” literally means “a help He has been found exceedingly.” As the Amplified Bible puts it, “a very present and well-proved help in trouble.” I also recall the opening and closing stanzas of the hymn by Dr. Isaac Watts: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

 “In the time of trouble” also brings to mind other verses:

Psalm 27:5

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

 Psalm 37:39

But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.

Isaiah 33:2

O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Psalm 46 opens with a striking declaration regarding who God is in verse 1, and the powerful psalm ends with a directive from God Almighty in verses 10 and 11:

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

The psalm ends with the Hebrew expression “Selah,” meaning, “pause, and calmly think of that!” As we “Selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

 Be Still

 Be still and know that I am God.

Be still my soul and be at peace.

Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

We close, as we Kari Jobe tenderly encourages us: “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)”

Serving at the King’s good pleasure

August 9, 2017

Psalm 149--4

Instead of the traditional Verse of the Day, we are going to examine the Phrase of the Day for August 9, 2017: “At the pleasure of the King.” The phrase is sometimes expressed as “at His Majesty’s pleasure” or “the King’s pleasure.” This legal term refers to the indeterminate length of service of certain appointed officials or the indeterminate sentences of some prisoners. The expression is used to say that something is done or can be done because someone wants it to be done.

In the Book of Psalms we not only notice what God takes pleasure in, but we also find an expression of “God’s good pleasure”:

Psalm 149:4 (AMP) makes known that the people of God are a source of pleasure or delight for the Lord.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

Psalm 51:18 (NKJV) offers this request to God:

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

The expression of God’s “good pleasure” is also found in the Gospels in Luke 12:32:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The phrase is twice used in Ephesians and once in 2 Thessalonians:

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

2 Thessalonians 1:11:

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Bible teacher John Piper discusses the phrase “good pleasure” and notes that it is a verb in Greek, meaning “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see how the expression is used occurs in Philippians 2:13

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

God is both the energy and the energizer—even beyond the Energizer Bunny that keeps on going and going. The verse also expresses God’s desire:  “Both the willing and the working (the energizing).” God does it all, then. Yes, but he puts us to work also, and our part is essential.

Often when we encounter situations whereby we must make a choice, the individual presenting the options will ask: “What’s your pleasure?” What would you like? What would bring you pleasure or what would delight you? Delight can be used as a synonym for pleasure.  As a verb, it means –to take pleasure in, to enjoy, to appreciate, to savor;

As believers we ask, “What delights God? What brings Him pleasure? What is His good pleasure?” Our good pleasure is to do the good pleasure of His will, as the following lyrics ask:

What Is Your Pleasure?

 

What is your pleasure?  What shall we bring?

What do you desire as an offering?

What shall we give you? What will suffice?

What shall we offer as a perfect sacrifice?

 

Tell us your desires: what do you say?

Your only desire is that we learn to obey.

You desire truth in the inward parts:

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

 

 

Teach us to follow you; teach us your way.

Teach us to listen and quickly obey.

Open our ears, Lord, may we know your voice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

 

This is your pleasure. This will we bring.

We give you our lives as an offering.

You have purchased us: You have paid the price.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

Esther Mui offers this Christian Scripture Worship Song with lyrics from Psalm 149 which includes a reference to the people of God as source of pleasure for God.

 

Righteous judge, perfect lawgiver, coming king

August 7, 2017

Isaiah-33-22

Today, August 7, 2017, we look to Isaiah 33:22 (AMP) to find the Verse of the Day which has been revised and re-posted:

For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Ruler, The Lord is our King; He will save us.

Looking at this verse in the King James Version, we note special emphasis on three aspects of the Lord God Almighty, demonstrating three levels of authority in a personal way: “our judge, our lawgiver, and our king,” representing the three branches of government—judicial, legislative, and executive–embodied in a single entity.

“Our judge”

Abraham makes reference to “the Judge of all the earth” in Genesis 18:25:

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord is described, not just as a judge, but He is a righteous judge, as Psalm 103:6 reminds us that “The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Psalm 9:8 further describes our judge:

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

In the New Testament, we find that a new judge has been appointed:

Acts 10:42

And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.

Finally, 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT) offers another hopeful reminder:

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

 “Our lawgiver”

Not only is the Lord our judge, He is our lawgiver, one who draws up and enacts laws.

James 4:12 reveals:

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

God is the ultimate lawgiver who has implemented all the laws of nature, such as “the law of gravity,” laws that relate to the moral and social behavior of humanity, along with all the other laws of the universe. Psalm 19:7-10 also relate these truths regarding the law of the Lord:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

 “Our king”

The final attribute of God expressed metaphorically is that of the Lord, our king. Jeremiah 23:5 prophetically speaks of this king:

Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth

Isaiah 32:1-3 speaks of “our King” who is yet to come:

Look, a righteous king is coming!
And honest princes will rule under him.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.

Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth,
and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.

Lyrics to the children’s song describe “The Lion of Judah”:

He’s the Lion of Judah; His name is Jesus.

He’s the Lion of Judah, the Holy One.

He’s the lion of Judah, Who reigns in righteousness.

He’s the lion of Judah, God’s only begotten Son.

 

He’s the lion of Judah; His name is Jesus.

He’s the lion of Judah, Master of everything.

He’s the Lion of Judah; God raised him from the dead.

He’s the Lion of Judah, our soon and coming king.

We conclude today’s post on this hopeful note from the Gaither Vocal Band: “The King is Coming”:

Such great faith—Crazy faith

August 5, 2017

Matthew 8--10

A recent blog post focused on Hebrews 11:1 and verse 6 as the Verse of the Day and offered comments regarding faith, some of which are excerpted here:

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, as we discover that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we 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.

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!”  Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us 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.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and 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. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible.  We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.”

As believers, we sometimes encounter circumstances that seem impossible, and our response is that we know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to our positive expectations with, “That’s crazy!” We know, however, that we walk by faith and not by sight, and we counter with “That’s not crazy. . . That just means we have ‘crazy faith.’”

Dennis Marquardt, states, “Crazy faith is the kind of faith that will respond to God in obedience no matter how crazy it may seem at the moment!  It is the kind of faith that CAN remove mountains, and even more amazingly, it can move man!”

When asked what he means by “crazy faith,” Faithwriter Larry King, offers this definition: “Crazy faith is when you simply refuse to let what you perceive –that is, your circumstances, your situations, your trials, tests and obstacles – interfere with what you believe.”

Bishop Charles Mellette states that walking by faith in such conditions, “. . . doesn’t make sense, but it does make great faith.” “Crazy faith,” I might add.

For an illustration of such “crazy faith” in the Bible, let us look at an individual who is not listed in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. In fact, this person is an altogether unlikely candidate who is described as having “great faith.” In the context in which the designation was spoken, you might characterize the person as having “crazy faith.” The centurion in Matthew 8 comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal the man’s servant. In response, the Lord says that he will come and do as he asks. Matthew 8:7-10 reveals the exchange between the two of them:

 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied to Him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority [of a higher rank], with soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with anyone in Israel.

With his belief that Jesus Christ had but to speak the word and the results that the officer desired would come to pass, the centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

The following poem uses Matthew 8:10 as its introductory verse or epigraph and also makes reference to a question asked by Jesus Christ in Luke 8:8b: “. . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Such Great Faith

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed,

Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,

not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10 (KJV)

 

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,

When the Lord returns, will he find faith on the earth?

When He appraises our faith, what will it be worth?

When all is said and done, may we add our measure,

Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed.

Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,

May our faith be found so pure that nothing defiles.

May we be living by faith in word and in deed,

For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.

May such great faith descend from the centurion

To the faithful ones who bear this criterion:

Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.

We will still be walking by faith, not by what we see,

While pressing toward the mark, reaching toward our destiny.

 

We conclude with John Waller and his rendition of “Crazy Faith.”

Call and God will respond

August 4, 2017

Jeremiah 33--3

The post for the Verse of the Day for August 4, 2017 is actually a compilation of comments taken from two previous entries based on Jeremiah 33:2-3 (AMP):

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand

This passage begins with a declaration of who God is and what He says He will do. Most remarkably, God can share great and unsearchable things because He is a great and mighty God. This magnificent portrait is repeated in Job 5:9 and 9:10 in the Holman Standard Bible:

He does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number.

Indeed, the Psalmist declares:

Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable

Job 36:26 in the Amplified Bible makes it plain as to who God really is:

Behold, God is great, and we know Him not! The number of His years is unsearchable.

As believers, all we have to do is call to Him, but Isaiah 65:24 reveals that God knows our heart’s desires and responds to our requests, even before we articulate what we need:

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

I recall the lyrics to a gospel song that speaks of a problem that we can’t solve:

“While you’re trying to figure it out/God has already worked it out!”

To summarize the wonders of God’s matchless ways which seem so far above all that our finite minds can comprehend, take a look at Romans 11:33 in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 11:33

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

To tap in the depths of these riches, to access to the unsearchable, we simply have to call, knowing that God will answer.  In reflecting on the exhortation found in the passage from Jeremiah 33, the expression “Call and response” comes to mind.

In music, particularly in jazz which incorporates improvisation, we find this technique whereby a musician issues a phrase or line, and another player answers with a phrase or comment in response. The same technique is also seen other areas of African American culture involving speakers, such as preachers or ministers of the gospel or worship leaders who issue a series of calls and the audience, the congregation, or group being addressed answers with  responses. A frequent response is “Amen.”

Derived from the Hebrew word aman, “Amen” has been translated “it is so!” “so be it” or “thus shall it most surely be.” When repeated, the word is translated “verily, verily,” or “truly, truly” or simply “Amen” and “Amen.” Not only do Christians commonly respond to proclamations from the Bible with the widely used word, but Jews and Muslims likewise use this expression in a variety of languages across the world. According to Klyne Snodgrass, “Amen” is one of the most widely known words in all the world.”

The expression is used throughout the Bible in declaring the blessings of the Lord, as recorded in

Psalm 41:13

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting [from this age to the next, and forever]. “Amen” and “Amen” (so be it).

In the New Testament the expression follows the words of the Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:13 (AMP):

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. “Amen”.]

The powerful apostolic prayer of Ephesians 3 ends with this bold declaration:

20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. “Amen”.

Jesus Christ is the means whereby the Father affirms and confirms every promise that He has made to His people. The Savior is the resounding “yes” when a question arises as to whether God will fulfill his promises. Paul makes known this profound truth in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (New Living Translation):

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.

20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory…

Most amazingly, ““Amen”” is the last word in the Bible. When all is said and done, God has the last say so, and the last word means “It is so!” The Scriptures unfold in their entirety and crescendo with a grace note:

Revelation 22:21:

The grace of the Lord Jesus (the Christ, the Messiah) be with all [the saints—all believers, those set apart for God]. “Amen”.

To tap into the depths of the vastness of God beyond anything we can comprehend, to access the unsearchable, we simply have to call, knowing God will answer. Amen.

We conclude our discussion with this illustration of Jeremiah 33:3 as God’s Emergency Number:

Jim Hendricks offers this Worship Song based on Jeremiah 33:3:

 

 

 

 

 

The eyes of the Lord

August 3, 2017

1 Samuel 16--7

The Verse of the Day for August 3, 2017 is found in 1 Samuel 16:7 in the Amplified Bible:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The section from which this verse is taken speaks of Samuel following God’s directive to select the next king of Israel from among the sons of Jesse and to anoint that individual. A suitable candidate passes before the Man of God, but this particular son is not the chosen one. God shares with Samuel how the Lord views and assesses, as opposed to how man views individuals.

This verse causes us to recognize that all of life when viewed from “the eyes of the Lord” is vastly different when viewed from the eyes of man. II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37 are the basis for the following lyrics:

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

To show Himself strong, to show Himself strong,

To show Himself strong in behalf of them

Whose heart is perfect toward Him.

 

The man with a perfect heart is whole and complete:

Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,

For the end of that man is peace.

 

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

Psalm 34:15 (AMP) also reiterates where the Lord directs His attention:

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous [those with moral courage and spiritual integrity] and His ears are open to their cry.

1 Peter 3:12(AMP) speaks of the individuals toward whom the Lord directs His attention and those toward whom He does not direct His attention.

 “For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favorably] upon the righteous (the upright), and His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer), But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil.”

The expression “the eyes of the Lord” brings to mind an individual who was looked upon with favor, as Genesis 6:8 (AMP) reveals:

But Noah found favor and grace in the eyes of the Lord.

In a similar way, believers find themselves entrenched in an environment of rampant unrighteousness, described this way in Genesis 6:5 (AMP):

The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually.

These lyrics draw a parallel between the period of time leading up the Flood and the present age in which we live:

The Days of Noah and Now

When God searched the earth during the days of Noah,

What did He see?

His creation lay in violence: Every thought of the heart of man

was only evil continually.

But there was a just man, perfect in his generations,

A man who walked with God, and God was pleased with him.

Violent men lived in sin and defied the Word of God,

But Noah found grace,

But Noah found grace,

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

 

The eyes of the Lord still search the earth;

God seeks that He might find.

He looks for those willing to pray the price,

Those who put off the works of the flesh

And who are renewed in the spirit of their mind.

As in the days of Noah God is still seeking.

As He was seeking then, we are seeking now that we might also find.

 

May we find grace in Your eyes, O Lord.

May we find grace in Your eyes, O Lord.

May we find favor according to Your Word.

In all we say, in all we do, may we learn to be meek.

In Your eyes may we find all that we seek.

Kevin Knotts offers this musical reminder of the place where we desire to find grace and favor: in “The Eyes of the Lord.”

The secret place is our hiding place

August 1, 2017

Psalm 119--114

In Psalm 119:114 (AMP) we find the Verse of the Day for August 1, 2017:

You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word…

The verse is rendered thusly in the New Living Translation:

You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.

Another expression of this place of intimacy is the term “secret place” which is most notably used in the Book of Psalms. While the term generally refers to a physical location, it most often expresses a state of an intimate relationship with God. Verse 5 of my favorite Psalm puts it this way in the New King James:

Psalm 27:5

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 31:20 reiterates the same message in the New King James:

You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

“The secret place” is a place of intimacy, the place of sublime fellowship of the highest degree. Where do we find this connection with the Father?  In “the secret place”–in the most holy place–“the holy of holies”–where the presence of God abides–God’s habitation, God’s dwelling place.” The lyrics to a love song by Oleta Adams also reveal God‘s desire for us to meet Him in “the secret place”: “. . . I don’t care how you get there, get there if you can. .  .” Where is ‘there’?  ‘There’ is the secret place.” Most amazingly, “You can get there from here.”

We recognize that “the secret place” is precisely that–a place that is secret–between you and God. The secret place is not the marketplace, not the workplace.  Secrets are revealed in “the secret place”–no strangers can enter “the secret place.” Psalm 91:1 in the Amplified Bible reminds us

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

This verse also brings to mind a teaching entitled “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” the inspiration for the following which uses Psalm 91:1 in the New King James Version as its introductory verse.

 Our Dwelling Transformed

  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

  Psalm 91:1

 

Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,

We continue to learn that everything has its own price.

As we pursue the ultimate goal, we offer our lives

Of service presented as a living sacrifice.

With clean hands and a pure heart, we prepare our dwelling place.

To attract you, Lord, we provide a pleasing ambiance:

Our songs of love flow from the depths of our inner space,

A habitation designed and arrayed for your entrance.

Our desire is to please you in all we say and do,

As we are transformed by the renewing of our mind,

Striving to understand that You alone make all things new.

As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find

Our dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,

As we offer all that we are and ever hope to be.

This entire discussion brings great comfort and strength to remind us: “You are my hiding place,” offered by Selah:

In the midst of trying times that ever seek to hinder our progress, we conclude with this prayer:

As children run to safety in their father’s arms,

So we too, run to you, our shelter from life’s storms.

Lord, we long to dwell with you in the secret place,

Our buckler, our shield, deliverer, our fortress,

Strong tower, defender, who responds to our prayer.

For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish us

And protect us and deliver us from evil.

 

Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

July 31, 2017

No condemnation quote

We begin with our morning time of reflection with the Quote of the Day for July 31, 2017, a statement from Mike Bikel:

“The enemy works overtime to keep us in shame. He knows if he can keep us in shame, he can minimize our intimacy with God.”

In response to any attempt to keep us in a state of shame or condemnation, Romans 8:1-2 reminds believers where we stand when we remain steadfast in maintaining our fellowship in Christ:

Romans 8:1-2 (KJV)

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

 1THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.

2For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.

The opening verses from an often quoted chapter in the Bible inspired this poetic response which expresses our desire to pursue the path of life and walk in the spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh and pursuing the path of death. Each day we endeavor to walk in the spirit:

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

has made me free from the law of sin and death

Romans 8:2

 

Moving forward in each new season, we see what it brings,

As we learn that we are free from the law of sin and death,

Freed from the hand of the enemy each time we draw breath.

We have been brought into the new to do new things.

Though our desire is to please God, to succeed and to excel,

We know that we are saved by grace, not by our own merit.

We covenant with God that we will walk in the Spirit

And provide a place where the Spirit of God may dwell.

Ever aware of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness,

We seek to walk in wisdom, while striving to understand

That to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh, is God’s command.

As we mature, we attain a measure of Christ’s fullness.

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free

To walk into the true fullness of all God called us to be.

Don Moen offers a magnificent song of praise based on Romans 8:1-2 “There is Therefore Now No Condemnation”: