Archive for the ‘Application of Biblical Principles’ Category

God: our fortress and our deliverer

June 24, 2018

One more time, the Verse of the Day for June 24, 2018 reminds us of who God is and exactly what He will do:

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV):

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

The Wycliffe Bible puts it this way:

But the Lord is true, that shall confirm you, and shall keep [us] from evil.

Throughout the Bible we see the faithfulness of God who never fails to deliver those who serve him.

In the Old Testament some form of the verb palat, the Hebrew word for “deliver,” is translated “to pluck out of the hands of an oppressor or enemy; to preserve, recover, remove; to deliver from danger, evil, trouble; to be delivered, to escape.” Note how the term is used in Psalm 31:1-5 in the New Living Translation:

O LORD, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right.
2 Turn your ear to listen to me;
rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
a fortress where I will be safe.
3 You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
4 Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in you alone.
5 I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.

Note the introduction to Psalm 18 another psalm of deliverance:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:

Psalm 18:1-5 (NKJV):

1 I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

In the New Testament the Greek verb ruomai is translated “to draw or snatch to one’s self from danger, to rescue, to deliver.”

In the poem “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord, “my personal testimony expressed poetically, I make reference being rescued from of a horrible situation:

With loving arms you reached way down
And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,
Sought me and flat-out rescued me,
Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

The Verse of the Day uses the expression “keep from evil.” We recognize a similar phrase in the prayer that Jesus Christ spoke before his crucifixion:

John 17:15 (New Living Translation)

15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

We are, of course, familiar with closing words of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 from the King James Version:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

II Timothy 4:18 also reminds us

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever.

The poem “Just How God Will Deliver Us,” reinforces the message: God is faithful, and He will deliver us, just as He promised:

Just How God Will Deliver Us

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves,
but in God which raises the dead:

Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver:
in whom we trust that he will still deliver us;

1 Corinthians 1:8-9

Just how God will deliver us, we do not know,
But of His unfailing love and power we are sure:
He can send a raven and command a widow
To sustain Elijah and all who will endure.
Though He may not be early, God is never late.
We rest in knowing that our Father is faithful,
As we trust Him, learning to labor and to wait.
For each promise fulfilled we are ever grateful
And express our gratitude in word and in deed.
The Lord God is faithful to deliver every time
We call, so we walk by faith wherever Christ may lead,
For grand mountain vistas are waiting for all who climb.
The hand of God has brought us thus far along the way,
And we will finish our course is all we have to say.

Clint Brown provides a musical version of Psalm 18, speaking of God as “my fortress and my deliverer.”

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength

June 23, 2018

One of my all-time favorite passages from the Old Testament comes from the closing verses of Isaiah 40, where we find the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2018. Not just the Isaiah 40:31, but verses 28-31 offer comfort and assurance:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV):

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Eagles in the Scriptures:

Another celebrated passage connected with eagles speaks of protection and provision in speaking to the Children of Israel when they escaped from the bondage of Egypt:

Exodus 19:4

You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

Watching an eagle in flight is also awe-inspiring, as Proverbs 30:18-19 proclaims:

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

Eagle Renewal:

Bible scholar, KC Pillai, converted Hindu, points out some distinctive features of eagles, as recorded in the Bible. He refers to the birds mentioned in Isaiah 40:31 and elsewhere in the Old Testament as “holy eagles,” described in this way:

The holy eagles are likened to heavenly beings; they are the “king of the birds.” Once every five, ten or fifteen years, (people differ on the time interval) the eagles build a nest high in the coconut tree, and then abandon themselves, like advanced swimmers that dive into the water. So these eagles, from the top of the high palm tree, dive down into a lake, or pond or well, or any still water; they don’t fly, but dive headfirst, with their wings folded intact on their backs. They abandon themselves and we see them dropping into the water, and when they come up they have lost every single feather. They are floating on the water, and the eagles are left stranded in the water, unable to swim or fly.

Somehow, they struggle and manage to reach the shore. Then the people come and feed the eagles, because the Eastern people look upon these holy eagles as representatives of God. Nobody will hurt them because they look upon them as heavenly beings. Then in six or seven weeks’ time, their new feathers have grown out and they fly back to the treetops. Nothing can stop them now. That is why “…they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they all mount up with wings as eagles;”

Psalm 27 and a new psalm:

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind the closing verses of my favorite psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

We close with another original psalm expressed as a prayer:

“. . . And The Spirit of God Moved. . . .”

“Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.”
Traditional Gospel Song

As the Spirit of God moved upon the water,
As an eagle ascends on high and stirs her nest,
Attentive to the cries of her starving young ones;
As she satisfies her young and then spreads her wings,
So Holy Spirit with a gentle wavering,
Flutter over, move upon us in a new way.
As a gentle dove would hover over her brood,
Cover our soul and saturate our whole being.
As we wait upon you, spread your wings, bear us up
That we might soar to heights above the fowler’s snare.
Renew our strength and refresh our desire to serve.
As you feed us and sustain us, we shall mount up
On eagle’s wings. We shall run and not be weary.
As we look to you, we shall walk and not faint.

Esther Mui offers a beautiful spiritual song based on Isaiah 40:25-31: “Those Who Wait on the LORD”:

He shall preserve your soul

June 22, 2018

The Psalms serve as a reservoir where believers we can be refreshed along life’s sometimes tedious journey. The Verse of the Day for June 22, 2018 provides great comfort and assurance to the believer:Psalm 121:7-8:

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Throughout the Psalms of David, we find references to the Lord God Jehovah who preserve His people. The Hebrew verb translated “preserve” means to keep, to watch, as a watchman on the wall; to hedge about or to guard, protect or attend to constantly,

The Psalms proclaim over and over Jehovah God Almighty not only preserves those who love Him, but He also delivers those who call upon Him. Take a look at Psalm 97:10 (AMP):

You who love the Lord, hate evil; He protects the souls of His godly ones (believers), He rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 32:7 also reminds us of who God is and what He does:

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

The Psalmist offers these prayers to God:

Psalm 40:11

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

Psalm 140:1, 4

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men;
Preserve me from violent men,

4 Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
Preserve me from violent men,
Who have purposed to make my steps stumble.

Psalm 143:11 (NLT) offers this petition:

For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

This original “psalm” recognizes who God is and what He will do:

As children runs 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 prayers.
For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish us
And protect us and deliver us from evil.

We close with another “psalm” a prayer, inspired by series of teachings from Nehemiah related to rebuilding the wall and restoring the gates of Jerusalem:

A Prayer While Waiting at the Horse Gate

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

May we remember the source of true strength at this gate,
As we recall the matchless name of the Almighty,
Who may seem to tarry but indeed is never late.

May we understand His ways, for we have eyes to see,
As we come to recognize that God is our resource,
While ever striving toward the place of our destiny.

May we not place our trust in a chariot or horse,
Symbolic of authority, worldly goods and power,
But trust in God and not presume to chart our own course.

May we come to know God as our defense, our strong tower,
Our deliverer who knows us by name, the all-wise one,
Who calls me into the Kingdom for this very hour.

God gives power and renews the strength of those who wait.
May we remember the source of true strength at this gate.

The Verse of Day reiterates the message that the Lord preserves those who love Him, as we close with a musical rendering of Psalm 121

Safely to abide: Psalm 91

June 21, 2018

The Verse of the Day for June 21, 2018 is taken from Psalm 91:1 (NKJV):

[Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God] He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

This well-known Psalm of David in its entirety provides great comfort and strength in the midst of the chaotic times in which we presently live:

Psalm 91 (NKJV)

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Reflecting on this psalm of safety and assurance, inspired these words:

Abide in Peace

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

Psalm 91:1

Although fierce storm clouds threaten, I lie down in peace and sleep,
Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.
Assured that every promise God will keep,
For God alone makes me to dwell in the land of safety.
Though deadly diseases may arise to ravage the land,
God will deliver from the hand of the enemy.
Healed and made whole by the loving touch of God’s right hand,
I abide in the secret place where I long to be.
Even though tens of thousands may fall on every side,
I shall abide under the shadow of His wing,
Knowing God is faithful to protect and to provide,
I shall see with my eyes all that salvation shall bring.
As a tree rooted and grounded, planted by the river,
I abide in peace, knowing God promised to deliver.

Esther Mui closes with a moving rendition of Psalm 91: “God, In Him I Will Trust”:

Finish strong

June 20, 2018

Finish strong

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, consider the Quote of the Day for June 20, 2018, words of wisdom from Billy Sunday, a former professional baseball player who rose to become one of the most popular evangelists of the early 20th Century:

“Stopping at third adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.”

As spiritual athletes, we push ourselves not only to finish, but to “finish strong.” Many times as athletes come to the end of their event, they may become totally exhausted, physically and emotionally drained with seemingly with no more to give. At that point, they are in desperate need of a word of encouragement, a word fitly spoken to those who are weary and about to give up.

A passage where Paul uses athletic imagery comes to mind:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

To press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” as one with a telescope which blocks everything out except that which you are looking at. As we approach the finish line we must “single-minded,” focusing all of our energy and efforts on finishing our race. We must not look to the right nor to the left, certainly we must not look behind, but I press toward the mark, striving to cross the finish line. We recognized that we have to cross the finish line before we can receive the prize.

At this point, we have been running our race well, but we must not get weary in well-doing, knowing that we shall reap in due season if we simply do not faint, so says Galatians 6:9,  a verse added to the passage from Philippians 3 to introduce this exhortation:

We Press toward the Mark                             

 And let us not grow weary while doing good,

 for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9

 

I press toward the mark for the prize

of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

 

 

We know we must not be weary in all we do;

In due season we will reap if we do not faint,

As we press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

God has thus spoken, and His word is ever true.

According to their labor God rewards each saint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

 

Though our new season may appear long overdue,

Despite how bright or bleak the picture life may paint,

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

Christ alone will restore and give life and renew.

Though pressures of life overwhelm, we must not faint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

 

To obey, giving honor where honor is due,

To move freely in the spirit with no constraint,

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

Each day God extends mercy, making all things new.

Gladly we learn to serve the Lord without restraint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

Final words of encouragement:

In thinking about my track and field experiences, I recall  that many times the outcome of the entire track meet was known beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events,  with the last two races being relays.  Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena that we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, believers are encouraged in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets,

We are right at the end of the race; it won’t be long.

Forget the past, look straight ahead with no regrets.

Press on toward the finish and finish strong!

We close as Jonathan Nelson encourages us to “Finish Strong”

Sacrificial liiving: as Christ loved the Church

June 19, 2018

Every day as we progress through life, we recognize this profound yet simple truth: “It’s all about relationships.”

God floods the eyes of our hearts with light that we might know,
As we discover new depths of our relationships
While we mature, applying the Word that we might grow.
We recognize that “It’s all about relationships.”
Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,
“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life.

The underlying principle for building and maintaining successful relationships is love. Love is where it begins, and love is where it ends, as we learn to love God and to love one another. We must also remember that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Yes, the love of God is the foundation stone of any relationship. The Verse of the Day for June 19, 2018 specifically addresses the role of husbands in the marriage relationship:

Ephesians 5:25-26 (NKJV):

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

In marriage, we find the ultimate expression of God’s love, unconditional love, love beyond degree. Jesus Christ bears the standard, setting the example, par excellence, showing the depth of love a man should have for his wife. Jesus Christ models an undying commitment to the Church, demonstrating the depth of sacrificial living that men should have for their wives:

A couple of years ago, in a blog post devoted to this passage, I commented on a men’s Bible study I had attended with one of my sons-in-law, focusing on “The Journey to Authentic Manhood,” as modeled by Jesus Christ in his 33 years on earth. The session was one of a series of discussions related to some of the challenges that confront men in the quest for “authentic manhood” in our relationships as husbands, fathers, co-workers, and other areas of responsibilities.

In thinking about Ephesians 5:25-26, I also recall this poem that captures the essence of one of the principal attributes of authentic manhood:

Sacrificial Living: Assignment of Manhood

Forgetting things left behind, we press toward the mark.
The passion that now enflames our lives was once a spark.
This all-consuming fire, great light dispels the dark,
As we abide in God’s presence in a place beyond the Ark.

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Like Christ, we endure the cross while despising the shame
And accept this high calling and embrace our new name.
By grace to stand in His presence without any blame,
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Always remaining aware that God is in control,
We are still running to serve the Lord: life’s highest goal.
This zeal for God and His Word burns deep within our soul,
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Being fully persuaded, we now know that we know
That God will fulfill His will and declare, “It is so!”
We set aside pride; where He leads us we will follow:
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Looking to the future, we walk by faith, not by sight.
To do all the will of God still remains our delight
To follow Christ’s command that we should be salt and light
With sacrificial Living: assignment of manhood.

To speak the Word of life in all that we do and say,
To follow in the steps of Christ all along the way.
Until the final victory, we must watch, fight and pray.
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Triumphant from faith to faith and glory to glory,
We still seek God’s face in the place of our destiny,
And we seek to become all God has called us to be
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

With a love so strong, yet ever so tender,
Nothing can dissuade us, nor can anything hinder.
We will hold fast to the faith and never surrender.
God’s Word hidden in our heart, we always remember:

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

We close with “How to Love Your Wife?”—a music video based on Ephesians 5:25 and other verses

Do not provoke but encourage

June 18, 2018

 

Although we have moved beyond Father’s Day, once again, the focus of the Verse of the Day for June 18, 2018 remains on fathers.

Ephesians 6:4 (NLT):

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 (NLT) provides a similar exhortation:

Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Not only are fathers not to provoke their children, but all believers in general are not to provoke God, their Father, by means of unrighteous behavior and unbelief, as the Children of Israel did in the Old Testament. Hebrews 3:16 (AMP points out what occurred:

For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

Psalm 98: 7-9 (NKJV) remind believers that they should

For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.

As Christian believers today, we must also learn from the provocative behavior of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness whereby they did not enter into rest that God desired for them because of their unbelief.

Rather than becoming fathers who provoke our children to wrath or to respond in anger, Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) offers this reminder:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

This verse applies, not only to fathers, but to all believers. We are not to provoke one another, but we are to motivate one another and by all means “encourage one another” with the words we say and by the works  we do. This poem reinforces the message:

Motivate one another

Let us think of ways to motivate one another

to acts of love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)

 

In these trying times, we must adapt to this new season
And transition into the Kingdom God will release,
As we trust in the Lord always and learn to hold our peace.
God, our gracious, all-wise Father, reveals every reason
That we should follow if we are to enjoy good success.
God calls us and then gives us authority and power
To walk by faith and fulfill our mission during this hour
And connect with those of like spirit who desire to bless.
We watch, endure hardship, and do what we are called to do.
As we abide in His Word and live sacrificially,
We are strategic to make full proof of our ministry
And acknowledge that God is ever faithful and His Word is true.
We must walk in the light, not in the place where pride lurks
But motivate one another to love and good works.

Listen to a song of celebration based on Hebrews 10:19-25: “Come Together.”

 

With a most grateful heart

June 17, 2018

Today, June 17, 2018 is a special day of celebration for me. Not only is this my 76th birthday, but it is also Father’s Day, “a doubly lovely day.” Often on such occasions, I recite “Good News Day” as a prophetic declaration to remind us to rejoice and celebrate the goodness of God one more time:

Good News Day

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

It’s a good news day
No blues day
New shoes
No way to lose
What a good news day

It’s a great day
I can’t wait day
Lift your voice
Let’s rejoice
Good God, a good news day

It’s a payday
going my way day
no nay–all yea
what you say
Such a good news day

It’s a live it up day
overflowing cup day
It’s a bright and bubbly
doubly lovely
Show-nuff good news day

For the past several years, I have composed a poem on my birthday, generally a reflective piece written in celebration of God’s goodness over the past year. From time to time, I think of the words of Saint Augustine: “To contemplate the truth and to share the fruits of that contemplation.” Here are some of my thoughts on this very special occasion:

With a Most Grateful Heart

Reflections on my seventy-sixth birthday
June 17, 2018

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His lovingkindness endures forever
Psalm 118:1 (AMP)

With a most grateful heart still overflowing with love,
I give praise to God for every victory we have won,
To stand upon this mountain, once more to rise above:
A faithful friend, father, husband, a beloved son.
In loving kindness God soothed my soul and cast out fears.
Assured nothing can separate me, not even death,
For each day of these bountiful seventy-six years
I give thanks with all my being with each precious breath.
To share from the wellspring of my soul, I seek to find
The right words to express the depths of my gratitude
For a fruitful spirit, healthy body, and sound mind.
Reflecting on God’s goodness evokes this joyful mood.
As I look into the mirror with new eyes, now I see
A miracle: the mighty man of faith God called me to be.

Smokie Norful with a live performance of “Dear God” provides a perfect benediction to this celebration:

In the footsteps of our faithful fathers

June 15, 2018

As we approach Father Day 2018, we find a number of references to fathers and fatherhood, topics of ongoing concern during these uncertain and turbulent times. From Proverbs 23:24-25 comes the Verse of the Day for June 15, 2018, two days before Father’s Day:

Proverbs 23:24-25 in the New Living Translation:

24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
25 So give your father and mother joy!
May she who gave you birth be happy.

The Message Bible renders the passage this way:

Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her.
Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money;
buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
Make your mother proud!

I recall lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which always seem most appropriate at this time:

Faith of Our Fathers:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and mighty giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this poem encourages us to follow:

In the footsteps of our faithful fathers

Follow the steps of good men instead,
and stay on the paths of the righteous.
Proverbs 2:20

We still walk the paths of the righteous, chosen ones,
In the footsteps of our faithful fathers, as sons
And daughters follow their lead all along the way,
Acknowledging God in all that we do and say.
We have not been here, for each step is strange and new.
Moving ahead, our eyes are now only on You.
As we continue to pursue the paths of truth,
We see Your guiding hand has been there since our youth.
Former days intertwined in confusion and strife,
In darkened, dead-end pathways, all bearing no life.
Along our journey we have known Your grace before,
Assured that Your favor will abound even more.
We are strengthen and encouraged in this new phase
And pledge to press onward for the rest of our days.
We are strengthen and encouraged in this new phase.

Just as we are strengthened and encouraged by the lives of our faithful fathers, so we will strengthen and encourage those who come after us. Steve Green closes with this musical expression of our heart’s desire: “Find Us Faithful”:

Heavens proclaim the glory of God: countless stars

June 12, 2018

The Verse of the Day for June 12, 2018 makes known the glory of God displayed in the heavens above:
Psalm 19:1-2 (New Living Translation)

[Psalm 19] [For the choir director: A psalm of David.] The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

This passage brings to mind the first chapter of Genesis with its bold declaration: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Verse 16 goes on to relate other aspects of God’s creation by stating:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

Not only did God fashion the sun and the moon, but almost as if an aside, “He made the stars also . . . in their seemingly endless hosts of galaxies, but the Psalmist also reminds us “He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names.” (Psalm 147:4)

Have you ever asked, “How many stars are there in the universe?” According to Elizabeth Howell writing in space.com, “. . . Scientists offer a rough estimate of 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. Multiplying that by the Milky Way’s estimated 100 billion stars results in a large number indeed: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a “1” with 24 zeros after it.” That number is likely a gross underestimation, as more detailed looks at the universe will show even more galaxies, revealing countless stars.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Sun is but one of about 200 billion stars just in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Altogether, astronomers have found more than 500 solar systems and are discovering new ones every year. Given how many they have found in our own neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, scientists estimate that there may be tens of billions of solar systems in our galaxy, perhaps even as many as 100 billion, indicating hundreds of billions of stars in the universe.

By means of the technological advancements, such as the Hubble Telescope, we are also able to observe the heaven as never before, making the Word of God more alive than ever. We are now able to see the glorious handiwork of God on glorious display. The opening verses of Psalm 19 also bring to mind the awesome creative power of God:

This photo taken from the Hubble Telescope displays some of the “galaxies of countless stars.”

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”
Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars
Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:
Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.
As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars
Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond
Seventy thousand million million million stars.

Karen Clark Sheard offers a variation on the theme from Psalm 19:1-2 with her magnificent rendition of “The Heavens are telling.”