Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Reflections on My 77th Birthday

June 17, 2019

Today, June 17, 2019, marks another doubly lovely “Good News Day” for Dr. J as we celebrate my 77th birthday. E.W. Bullinger in his extensive study Numbers in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, speaks of “seven” as the great number of “spiritual perfection.” He goes on to note that the number seventy is also another combination of two perfect numbers, seven and ten. We see something of the significance of their sum when Bullinger mentions that “seventeen” stands out very prominently as a noteworthy number which is not a multiple of any other number, and therefore, it has no factors. Hence, it is called one of the prime (or indivisible) numbers. What is more, it is the seventh in the list of the prime numbers. When seven is multiplied by ten, the product reveals the importance of each in an intensified form, emphasizing both spirit and order.

In the past, I would observe my birthday with a time to reflect and celebrate the goodness of God in sparing my life to see another year. I rejoice with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God. To say that I have been blessed, not just this past year, but over the past 77 years, is quite the understatement. How grateful I am for all that God has done for me. At such a time as this, I recall the opening verses of Psalm 103, one of my all-time favorites:

[A Psalm] of David—Amplified Bible

1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—
3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;
5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!

Most often in my waxing reflective, I also wax poetic and compose a psalm of celebration. This morning I noticed a framed quotation hanging on the wall, and it inspired this response:

Still the Student Teacher

To learn and never be filled is wisdom;
To teach and never be weary is love.
Anonymous

Reflecting with joy unspeakable, my heart overflows
As I read the lines of a plaque given decades ago.
The author of such profound words I do not know,
But I marvel they so mirror the desires of my heart
Given by the Lord as I continue to learn and to grow
In Christ, as I follow in his steps, walking in the light
Along the path of wisdom, while numbering all my days.
Once more, I strive to comprehend my new identity,
Unfolding as a scroll from faith to faith, glory to glory
And victory to victory with each breath-taking sunrise.
I am grateful for the bounty of seventy-seven years
As I enter the threshold of another new season.
Fueled by this passion to learn and to teach and serve even more,
I am still watching, waiting to see what God has in store.

We close as Family Radio Broadcasting offers a musical reminder: “Teach Us to Number our Days.”

Not Just a Survivor on Cancer Suvivors Day

June 2, 2019

The blog entry for June 2, 2019, the first Sunday in June, recognizes National Cancer Survivors Day. This observance has been set aside as a “Celebration of Life” for those who have survived a diagnosis of cancer. In events conducted in communities all over the nation and across the globe, those who celebrate show the world that life, indeed, after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful and rewarding.

This post focuses on what I call the Word of the Day, in this case, “survivor.” In its most literal sense, the term means “one who survives.” FreeDictionary.com offers this series of definitions of the verb “to survive” as an action verb that has an object to receive its action. In this case, to survive cancer:

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live, persist, or remain usable through any adverse situation.
3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after.

The verb is derived from Latin: supervivere: combining the prefix super + vīvere, to live.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I have come to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor on a profoundly personal level. I recognize a “survivor” as one who, after encountering an extremely adverse situation, is revived to not only survive but to thrive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of a “survivor,” endured the cross, despising the shame, and after undergoing unimaginable physical abuse, along with emotional and psychological trauma of the highest degree, arose triumphantly over death itself. Like Christ, I have been revived not only to survive but to thrive, having been transformed from victim to victor.

The true essence of who I am as a believer in Christ is expressed in Romans 8:37, the verse introducing the final section of my newly published book based on my experience with cancer: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated from the Greek verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in “survive”—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, everyday expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, and overpower.” Although translated as such, being “more than conquerors” or “super conquerors,” is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We entirely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day:

Embracing Your Life Sentence–Not Just a Survivor

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)

Embracing Your Life Sentence–Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror,
Defying the odds as a brave conquistador.
Despite intense pressure, I learn to rest in grace,
More than enough to withstand the daily tests I face,
Not merely to survive but to thrive even more.

A mighty warrior, triumphant super-victor
With a cause, prepared not to die but to live for.
At times I fell behind but fought to keep the pace:
Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror.

To fulfill all the will of God and then to soar
To heights sublime where I have never been before.
Overcomer, bearing light in the darkest place,
I still fight the good fight, as I finish my race,
Moving forward, seeking to find the next open door:
Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror.

We close with the Rend Collection reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

For more details about how to obtain a copy of Embracing Your Life Sentence, go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com. You can also get more information here on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Not just on Cancer Survivors Day, but as believers, we are more than conquerors every day and in every way.

New view of new heaven and new earth

June 1, 2019

Revised and reposted from a year ago is The Verse of the Day for June 1. Here is a familiar passage from the last chapter of the Bible, which provides a view of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness:

Revelation 21:2-4

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Verse 5 goes on to reveal that God makes all things new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

I recall reciting this particular passage in remarks that I shared during my father’s funeral, as I concluded by looking ahead and projecting toward the future with hope. At the time, my wife was involved in planning a family reunion for her mother’s family that would take place the next month. Such an occasion reminded me of the ultimate family reunion, the marriage supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 21:1-4:

The passage from the last chapter in the Bible relates to hope not in the broad, general sense as defined as “an expectation of a future good,” but it alludes to “the Hope,” defined as the return of Jesus Christ, an event that precedes the marriage supper of the Lamb. Indeed, “the Hope” continues to be a theme that energizes believers despite these perilous times that engulf the world, as Titus 2:13 reveals:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

I concluded my remarks at my father’s home-going service by reciting I Thessalonians 5:13-18, another familiar passage related to the Hope:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In April of this year, I published an article in Medium.com about being a poet strongly influenced by music, especially jazz. I concluded my discussion about “the new heaven and the new earth,” as I envision this celestial scene when I express my gratitude to God for something that means so much to me:

Thank God for the Music

Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven
given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.

Walter Savage Landor

Day by day melodies overflow and flood our soul
With lyrics to touch the heart as God inspires them.
We compose reprises to play until the day
We sing our new song in the New Jerusalem
When all the chords of heaven and earth crescendo
In praise before the glory of the Lamb of God.
We will stand before Him and with our eyes, we will see
The jeweled walls of heaven and the streets of gold
And the Holy City descending as a bride,
Adorned in royal splendor to meet her bridegroom.
We will celebrate God’s grace at the wedding feast
And worship freely in His glorious presence
As we join in chorus with the host of heaven
To thank God for the music and the gift of song.

Inspired by Revelation 21:3-5 Esther Mui Song offers “Behold, I Make All Things New” Christian Praise Worship Lyrics:

No longer a mystery: God’s intent revealed

April 25, 2019

The Verse of the Day for April 25, 2019, comes from Colossians 1:27-28 (KJV):

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

This passage mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God.” The Scriptures reveal God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth. Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God desires that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. I express my yearning to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery to a greater degree in this way:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

Enlighten my eyes that I might openly see;
Expand my mind and widen my comprehension
To understand the temple of the mystery.
Teach me to fully comprehend each dimension
And ascertain the magnitude without measure:
Reveal to me the true length,
though it is endless;
Teach me to find the full breadth,
though it is boundless;
Help me to reach the vast height,
though it is measureless;
Teach me to probe the great depth,
though it is fathomless.

Show me your divine design for the inner man.
Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry
Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan
For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.
Share with me the value of this priceless treasure,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.
Take my hand and lead me, as you would guide a youth,
A son who lives to explore the depths of your truth.

Colossians 1:27-28 also inspired the lyrics of this original song:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Even before the world began,
God put together His master plan,
Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see
All that you have called me to be.
Share with me the secrets that you have for me,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.
Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find
He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.
I once was so blind, but now I see.
I’m walking into my destiny:
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me the hope of glory.

Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in you and me, the hope of glory.

Charlie LeBlanc offers a musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You! (Hosanna! Music)”

Health and wellness and more

April 23, 2019

This morning I noticed the words on an advertisement for health insurance which serves as the Quote of the Day for April 23, 2019:

“It’s your life. Live it well.”

The packet of information provided tips, activities, programs, and services related to health and wellness. Generally speaking, the concept of wellness brings to mind our physical well-being. Perhaps, if pressed, most people might also acknowledge the desire to achieve a state of well-being mentally or emotionally.

We recognize wellness is a difficult word to define. Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University offers this definition: “Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”

Wellness usually connotes “a healthy body and sound mind.” As the old folks used to testify: “I thank God for a reasonable portion of health and strength and that I am clothed in my right mind.” God, our Father and creator, however, desires for us to experience wholeness, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally, as well as physically. I Thessalonians 5:23 in the Amplified Bible reminds us of this truth:

And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

Apostle Eric L. Warren acknowledges that Christians most often place emphasis on the “Body Man” or the “Soul Man” but totally overlook the “Spirit Man.” The Bible encourages believers to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. We must walk in the spirit and not according to the flesh. Without question, spiritual wellness is the most important dimension of one’s sense of total well-being.

Those who seek to find and maintain wellness physically, mentally, and most importantly, spiritually obtain a priceless treasure. Indeed, they are wealthy beyond belief, as expressed in this response:

A Question of Wealth

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper
in all things and be in health,
even as your soul prospers.

3 John 2

 

How do you measure the fullest meaning of wealth?
What is the total value? How much is the price
Of a fruitful spirit, a sound mind and good health?
Can you calculate the sum and then square it twice?
To prosper and be in health, even as your soul
Prospers cannot be measured by any amount
Withdrawn from the world’s treasures, for even the whole
Earth could never contain so vast a bank account.
But those who set their affections on things above
And not on things on the earth are free to explore
The infinite riches of God’s favor and love,
For they alone know their true value even more.
The truly rich ask to receive and seek to find
The priceless wealth of strength in God and peace of mind.

Many times when someone asks, “How are you doing; how’s it going?” I will respond, “It is well.” The lyrics to one of the most popular hymns of all time come to mind as we close with this rendition by Chris Rice:

The strong, the wise, and the righteous

April 3, 2019

The blog post for April 4, 2019 offers the Quote of the Day, an insightful statement from Apostle Eric L. Warren:

(more…)

How long will you be a work in progress?

March 26, 2019

 

 

The blog entry for March 26, 2016, is a revision of a previous post discussing the concept of a “work in progress” or a “work in process” (sometimes abbreviated “WIP”). We could use the following statement as the Quote of the Day:

“Each believer is a work in progress.”

Fil Anderson of In Touch Ministries acknowledges this truth:

However, I’m no longer embarrassed or afraid to admit I’m unfinished, incomplete, and imperfect—a work in progress. Neither is God surprised or disappointed with my lack of development. God’s work in my life will never be finished until I meet Jesus face to face. Desiring to follow Jesus isn’t about being complete and perfect; it’s about doing my best and trusting God to finish what He began.”

Philippians 1:6 (AMP) expresses the same truth:

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

The New Living Translation says this:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

God completes the good work begun in us so that, as believers, we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

Throughout the Scriptures, we find that “. . . God is faithful and means what He says.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP) makes know this truth:

God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This blessing and benediction also remind believers of God’s faithfulness:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP):

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Until the Lord returns, we continue to learn and grow up in Christ, recognizing that maturation is a process that never ends. As adolescents, we envision the day when we will finally grow up and attain our new status as adults. We often think adulthood as the final stage of the maturation process, but we recognize the process is ongoing, and we must not only accept the process, but we must embrace it:

The Process

“When everything that can be shaken is being shaken,
we must acknowledge the process . . . trust the process. . .
embrace the process . . . and enjoy the process.”

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

Dear brothers and sisters, 

when troubles of any kind

come your way, consider it

an opportunity for great joy.

James 1:2 (New Living Translation)

 

What we perceive as failure, God sees as success.
In peace and confidence, we know that we will find
Understanding that reveals what God had in mind.
As we pursue truth, we acknowledge the process.
Though adversity seeks to hinder our progress,
Though we may be shaken to the depths of our soul,
If we refuse to give up, we will be made whole.
Because our God is faithful, we trust the process.
God’s heart of compassion forever seeks to bless.
We no longer wrestle but surrender—we yield.
As bold soldiers, we vow to stay on the battlefield.
Though we would shun it, we embrace the process.
Our gracious God is good, despite the strain and stress;
Resting in the Lord, we now enjoy the process.

Until the Lord returns, we are all “works in progress,” learning to embrace the process and ultimately to enjoy the process.

In reflecting upon Philippians 1:6 and other related verses, a familiar song immediately comes to mind: “He Who Began a Good Work in You” performed in this classic medley by Don Moen:

 

No disappointment, for God is good

March 13, 2019

A recent conversation I had centered on the word “disappointment” a deadly emotion, if unchecked or not countered, can precipitate a most destructive downward spiral that can sabotage the destiny of a believer. We must continually look to God and to what He has promised in His Word when we encounter this potentially devastating emotion. As we do this, we recognize that God does not disappoint nor fail to fulfill the hopes or expectations of His children. No, He does not prevent hopes or expectations from being realized, which is how many define the verb to “disappoint.” One is said to feel “disappointed” or sad or displeased when one’s hopes or expectations have not been fulfilled. However, there is never any disappointment with God who does everything on purpose: As for God, His way

 

 

 

 

yis perfect.

As believers, we cannot hold onto any feelings of being disappointed! In reality, feelings of disappointment consist of our hopes and expectations. Disappointments come when God does not come through at the time that we “expect” nor in the way we “expect.” Disappointment is the result of “failed expectations” on our part.

The late Kim Clement spoke of the “power of presuppositions.” The term relates to assumptions or preconceived ideas as we speculate on a situation and how we think it should unfold. He went on to say that “Presupposition” is an enemy to destiny. . . .” We may sense that God has failed us when our lives fail to unfold according to our prescribed patterns and plans, as expressed in this poem inspired by the statement from Clement:

Presupposition: Enemy to Destiny

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.”
Acts 15:18

“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny. . . .”
Kim Clement

Prophetic words that God desires to bring to pass
Wither as un-ripened fruit that fails to mature,
As our lives seem to diminish from gold to brass.
In the midst of changing times, of this we must be sure:
“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny.”
Our failed expectations shipwreck us and distort
Our view of the place where we thought that we would be,
As we accept what appears to be the last resort.
Though this downward spiral plummets to depths of despair,
We trust our all-wise Father who makes no mistakes,
For God heals broken lives that seem beyond repair
With exquisite beauty that fills all that He makes.
Known to God are all His works from eternity:
His perfect will unfolds to those with eyes to see.

When we think about it, however, there is no failure in God, for God is good, and because God is good, the Verse of the Day for March 13, 2019, a verse for every day of the year, reminds of this truth:

Romans 8:28

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. [Amplified Bible]

We “silently submit to God”—not with wailing and bemoaning, not criticizing, not condemning nor complaining. We submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God and resist the Devil, who tries to convince us that God disappoints us and never fulfills His promises.

To counter the corrosive nature of being “disappointed” let’s take a look at the Word of God where we find that those who trust in God will not be disappointed.

Throughout the Psalms, we find this reality reinforced:

Psalm 22:5 (AMP)

They cried to you and were delivered; they trusted in, leaned on, and confidently relied on You, and were not ashamed or confounded or disappointed.

Psalm 25:20 (AMP):

O keep me, Lord, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed or disappointed, for my trust and my refuge are in You.

Paul reiterates the point those who trust in God will not be disappointed in their expectations:

Romans 10:11 (AMP):

The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.

When it comes to disappointment, we must counter this negative emotion with expectations according to the Word of God. We need to look to Our Great God with “Great Expectations” which is much more than a novel by Dickens.

First of all, we must remember this:

Numbers 23:19 (KJV):

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Proverbs 23:18 (AMP) reminds us:

For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.

The Psalmist reminds us that our hope and expectations are in God, not in our circumstances, not in what we have or do not have:

Psalm 39:7 (AMP):

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.

So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good. When facing what appears to be disappointing aspects in life, the lyrics to “Trust His Heart” sung by Babbie Mason provide great strength and comfort:

 

 

Encouraging words to march forth

March 4, 2019

Quite providentially, today’s Verse of the Day is a perfect match for the only day of the year that is a command: March 4th. Most remarkably, March 4th is also National Grammar Day, a significant day for me in a number of ways. Here is a link to a blog entry posted a year ago.

The Verse of the Day for March 4, 2019, offers words spoken to Joshua, whose words also resonate within the lives of individual believers today.

Joshua 1:9 (NIV):

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

From a blog entry posted a year ago today comes the following excerpt:

In the midst of perilous times, circumstances that are said to be “difficult to deal with,” we often become intimidated. The pressures of life and the challenges that confront us try to make us timid and fearful. Many times the adversary of our souls seeks to make us feel inferior or not up to the task, assignment or purpose that God has inspired us to pursue.

The Verse of the Day from Joshua 1:9 is a great source of encouragement in midst of circumstances whereby we could be discouraged. Just as Joshua felt discouraged when he was confronted with the task of leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land after the death of Moses, we also have similar concerns, as we move in transition into the next phase of our destiny in God.

Another related passage reminds believers to have no fear:

Isaiah 41:10, 13

10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

These particular verses remind us that as believers we are not to fear. The comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” occurs 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear.
When we encounter similarly stressful situations that cause us to respond in fear, we are to be encouraged to seek the strength to overcome any obstacle that attempts to block our path to success.

We counter those attempts that seek to generate fear with reminders from the Word of God that instead of becoming more fearful and afraid, we are to be “fearless”: we should be bold, brave, composed, confident, unafraid, valiant, and courageous.

The Verse of the Day and related verses also bring to mind the exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to encourage one another, the inspiration for these words of encouragement:

Encourage

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Don’t stop now—keep on pursuing
Keep seeking His face
Don’t get weary in well doing
You must keep the pace
Seek and you shall find
The strength to be transformed–
Renewed in the spirit of your mind
Encourage yourself
And encourage one another
Build each other up
Every sister and brother
Speaking the truth, we grow up
Therefore, encourage one another

We close our discussion with “Encourage one another,” a compilation from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and other scriptures and words of encouragement from Kimberly Culpen. May we all be strengthened and encouraged today, as we march forth on March 4th.

Ever increasing faith

February 9, 2019

The Verse of the Day for February 9, 2019, comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3 in the Amplified Bible:

3 We ought and indeed are obligated [as those in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds.

This verse reminds us that faith is not static, but God wants our faith to grow, increase and abound. When the apostles said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith,” he responded:

6 And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6 Amplified Bible)

As we plant and water the Word of faith in our lives, God will give the increase, as we grow from those of “little faith” to those who demonstrate “great faith.” That particular expression along with the Verse of the Day brings to mind my recently released book, Embracing Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Indeed, faith continues to be an essential component of my life, and I discuss its importance in Chapter 6: “The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .” This excerpt serves as an appetizer to the full course meal offered in the book.

Throughout my encounter with prostate cancer, I was well aware of the importance of faith because the diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. During this time, I was asked to write an article sharing what faith means to me. This task helped me to articulate the importance of faith which I describe as the “bedrock of my life.” Defined 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.

I recognized that the topic has been of interest to me since high school when I first taught a Bible study on faith at a youth camp. Focusing on Hebrews 11, verses 1 and 6, I shared what little I knew at the time, but I have since expanded my knowledge of the subject and personal application of the principles of learning to live by faith. Those two verses have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the years following my diagnosis, I expanded my knowledge of the subject of faith, examining the Word of God and pointing to essential illustrations of faith in Hebrews 11 and elsewhere in the Scriptures and in life. . . . The Gospels offer an account of an individual who impressed Jesus Christ with his “great 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. The centurion counters by saying that Jesus does not have to come to his house, but he has“. . . only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” In response, the Lord says, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with
anyone in Israel. The centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

A contemporary term corresponding to “great faith” is “crazy faith.” When believers encounter circumstances that seem utterly impossible and respond that they know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to their 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.’” Larry King says, “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.”

Here is a poetic description:

Such Great Faith—Crazy 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.

Here is John Waller offering a musical expression of “Crazy Faith”:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is available wherever books are sold and online. For more details check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.