Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

1 Corinthians 13: A positive view

October 23, 2017

1 Corinthians 13--1-3

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, let us take a look at the “Quote of the Day” for October 23, 2017,

“If I don’t, then I won’t—if I do, then I will.”

Actually the line is the title of a freshly composed poem inspired by 1 Corinthians 13 where the Word of God answers in detail one of the questions of the ages: “What is love?” The chapter unfolds as an extended  definition of the concept of “love” or “agape”, the unique expression of the love of God used throughout the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13. Actually, the extended definition of love takes the form of a definition by negation, meaning the concept is explained in terms of its opposites or what it is not.What something is not becomes what it is. “It is what it is,” one of the popular sayings of the day, brings to light that “charity” or “the love of God” or “agape” is the opposite of what the Scriptures declare it is not.

In reflecting on this celebrated chapter so often recited as a whole or in part on Valentine’s Day or at weddings or other special occasions, I thought I would read it from a different view point in light of principles that I recall from high school lessons in math and English.

In math if you have a negative number and you multiply it by a negative number, the result will be a positive number; for example, -4 x -3 = + 12. Likewise, in English, we have a “double negative” when you use of two negative words in the same sentence. The resulting sentence will convey the exact opposite of what you intended, as your negatives cancel each other out. “I do not want you to NOT love” is the same as saying “I want you to love.”  These concepts bring to mind the lyrics of the popular song from the 1950s reminding us to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

Here is a different view of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 in the Amplified Bible modified from a more positive viewpoint:

 1IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, [and do have] love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am [more than] only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.   I become an instrument of peace.

 And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but [do have love] (God’s love in me) I am [not] nothing (a useless nobody). I am really something (I am somebody).

3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that [God may be glorified], [and have love] (God’s love in me), I gain [everything].

When we choose to walk in love or demonstrate the power of love, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Here is a poetic summary of our discussion:

If I don’t, then I won’t—If I do, then I will

A different take on I Corinthians 13

 

What does 1 Corinthians 13 really say? Talk to me;

Follow me and let me show you what I see.

The Word never returns void but prospers where it is sent

When read from another view, this is what I think it meant:

If I speak in tongues fluently but don’t have love,

Though I have evidence of the sign of the dove,

I am a clanging cymbal, nothing more than noise

But if I choose to love, I can now use my voice

To make new music as an instrument of peace,

To silence discord and cause all jangling to cease.

Although I flow prophetically with faith that is great,

But without love I am not even second rate.

But if I love, I am not least but the greatest.

Even if I give my life, the ultimate test,

Without God’s love what have I really gained—nothing,

But when I give, moved by love, I gain everything,

Kingdoms may fade, but the love of God will never cease.

For love will not diminish but only increase.

Whether to walk in love or not, we each must choose.

Strange as it may seem, when you give you cannot lose.

If God’s love is not the motive, you cannot win,

For the one who loves always wins, again and again.

Bernie Armstrong offers “1 Corinthians 13—The Wedding Song–Love Never Fails,” not just a lovely song for marriage but a truly beautiful song of life:

 

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A fitly spoken right now word

October 22, 2017

Proverbs 15--23

The Verse of the Day for October 22, 2017 offers a word of wisdom taken from Proverbs 15:23 in the King James:

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

New Living Translation puts it this way:

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The Amplified Bible says this:

A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!

The expression “a word spoken at the right moment” brings to mind another related verse found in Proverbs 25:11 (AMP):

A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, who dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world, indicates that the reference to “apples of gold” is actually referring to a variety of succulent oranges grown in the Middle East. He comments on the often quoted verse from Proverbs:

“Verse 11 ‘Apples of gold’ had nothing to do with apples. These are a kind of orange we grow in Egypt, Syria, and India of which there is no English name. . . There is a special orange tree called Kitchilika tree, sweetest of all oranges. This fruit makes a refreshing drink which soothes and comforts. It is gold in color, and does not last long after it is ripe and can’t be exported outside of the country. Very tasty, we make sherbet of it, and it is easily smelled when ripe on the tree. They are very beautiful to look at and quench the thirst quicker than any other juice. It was called apples of gold because there was no other English word.

The verse should read: ‘A word appropriately spoken is like oranges placed in a tray of silver.’ So a word appropriately spoken to a weary or troubled person will refresh, soothe, comfort, revitalize, strengthen. The Word of God is the only “word fitly spoken.” It will lift a person out of trouble and despondency. Words appropriately spoken (to a troubled person) are like golden oranges in trays of silver. They are refreshing, strengthening, pleasing, uplifting.”

Believers today sometimes speak of words that another believer may speak to them or words that flow from the Scriptures as a “rhema word from the Lord spoken in due season.” The website ShareFaith.com speaks of the Greek word rhema which means an utterance, as a portion of scripture that “speaks” to a believer. “In most cases, a rhema word received while reading the Bible applies to a current situation or need. In essence, the rhema word is timely and extremely valuable in a Christian’s walk with God.” We can think of a rhema word as a “right now word in a right now moment.” Indeed, the Verse of the Day reminds us such a response is saying “the right thing at the right time.”

In the New Testament we find a corresponding passage related to exercising wisdom in how believers should conduct their lives:

Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT):

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Some may be more familiar with the King James Version:

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

The passage begins with an exhortation to “Live wisely” or “Walk in wisdom.” Another most enlightening scripture regarding walking in wisdom occurs in Ephesians 5:15 (NLT):

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.

Correspondingly, here is the verse in the King James:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

In this instance the term “To walk circumspectly” means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”  Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

These references in the New Testament can be viewed as illustrations of what it means to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” If you say that someone “talks the talk and walks the walk,” you are saying  the person acts in a way that agrees with the words that are being spoken. There should be a corresponding action to accompany the words that an individual speaks.

As believers the Scriptures also encourage us to “walk in wisdom” as well to speak words of wisdom when we talk.

Stephen Curtis Chapman offers words of wisdom in “Walk with the Wise.”

Reflections on Psalm 1

October 21, 2017

Psalm 40--8

The Verse of the Day for October 21, 2017 comes from Psalm 40:8 in the King James Version:

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

In reflecting on this verse, my mind immediately went to the First Psalm, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory when I was in grade school, more than 60 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still recall by heart to this day.

Psalm 40:8 echoes the sentiments expressed in the opening verses of the First Psalm:

Psalm 1:1-2:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

In the years that have transpired since the first time I recited the passage, I have come to identify with the man so described as “blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable” in the Amplified Bible:

I express my identification with this individual in the following poetic self-portrait:

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

 

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

At first I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

 

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

 

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

 

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

I have been so blessed since you can remember when.

 

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they talking about in that First Psalm.

Now that I think about it, that experience occurred around the same time as another related experience when I asked if I could “join the church.” In order to become a member of the church, you had to be at least twelve years old.  Shortly after turning twelve, on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, I walked down the aisle at Carter Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church and shook the minister’s hand, but I recognized, even then, that sometime significant had happened that was more than just a formality.

In the Jewish tradition there is a rite of passage called the bar mitzvah for young men and the bat mitzvah, for young girls. The term literally means “son/daughter of the commandment.” This religious initiation ceremony is conducted for a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is regarded as ready to observe religious precepts and thus eligible to take part in public worship.

Accepting Jesus Christ as my savior and my expressing my desire to “join the Church,” happened about the same time which I feel may have represented a kind of rite of passage similar to the bar mitzvah. Certainly, I did not realize what may have occurred at the time, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts while reflecting on the First Psalm and its significance in my life.

Today’s post concludes with a musical version of this beautiful psalm by the Sons of Korah:

Wait on the Lord one more time

October 18, 2017

 

To explore the Verse of the Day for October 18, 2017, we go to the last verse of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:14 (KJV):

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

The opening phrase “Wait on the Lord. . .” brings to mind a teaching series by Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC entitled “Wait Training.” The objective of the series was to help believers become excellent “wait trainers” for God. He mentioned two vital components of “Wait Training”: love and service . . . by love, we serve one another. He added, “In learning how to serve and work for God, our strength will be renewed, and our lives will be changed while helping others to have an encounter with God.”

The expression “Wait Training” is a homonym for “Weight Training”: a system of conditioning involving lifting weights, especially for strength and endurance.” Those who excel as “Wait Trainers” will have their strength renewed and their lives will be changed. While we wait on God and work for Him, He will work for those who wait for him.

Many times after reciting Psalm 27 in its entirety and concluding with verse 14, I will go right into the closing verses of Isaiah 40, another passage related to the rewards of waiting:

Isaiah 40:28-31(NLT):

28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.

30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.

31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

During periods of transition, as believers advance from faith to faith, from glory to glory, and from victory to victory, we can sometimes grow weary to the point of utter exhaustion as we strive toward the next level of excellence in our lives. Here are words of encouragement inspired in part by the Verse of the Day:

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

and he shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

 

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

Sherri Youngward concludes with a Scripture Song inspired by Psalm 27:13-14:

Celebrating Four Black Poets on Black Poetry Day

October 17, 2017

As the beauty of the day began to unfold with the morning sunrise, I recalled that today has been designated Black Poetry Day, a time to celebrate poets of color and their contribution to the diverse literary landscape of America and beyond. October 17 was selected since Jupiter Hammon, the first poet of African descent to publish a poem in America, was born October 17, 1711 in Long Island, New York.

Given the undeveloped and primitive conditions of the colonies, for any person to publish any literary work in colonial America in 1761 would be an extraordinary accomplishment, but for a slave to write as well as to have published a poem is nothing less than a miracle. Here is an excerpt:

An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penetential Cries

Salvation comes by Jesus Christ alone,
The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
That love his holy Word.

Dear Jesus we would fly to Thee,
And leave off every Sin,
Thy Tender Mercy well agree;
Salvation from our King.

Salvation comes now from the Lord,
Our victorious King;
His holy Name be well ador’d,
Salvation surely bring.

Dear Jesus give thy Spirit now,
Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han’t the Lord to whom we bow,
The Author of Salvation.

Dear Jesus unto Thee we cry,
Give us the Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
We seek thy true Salvation.

Clearly, Hammon in relating his salvation experience in poetry, offers an exuberant testimony of his close encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Given the metrical pattern of Hammon’s poetry all of which was written in hymn stanzas (think of the lyrics to “Amazing Grace,” and you will see the same pattern). Having closely studied Hammon’s poetry, I think that Hammon either “flat-out” sang his poetry as you would sing a hymn and/or he recited it with a passionate expression that is comparable to what we might think of today as a “rapper” or “spoken word” artist. The  intensity of his life-altering “salvation experience” so “rocked his world” that he couldn’t keep his feelings to himself. The words seemed to overflow, erupting into a passionate song of praise from the depths of the soul of this extraordinary poet. Since its publication the world has been blessed and refreshed and enlightened by his pioneering literary work, “An Evening Thought.”

On Black Poetry Day, 2017 we close with a tribute to Jupiter Hammon, the “Father of Black Poetry,” along with three other noted African American poets who have greatly influenced me. I recognize their contribution to my life, as I ask:

Did They See Me?

In tribute to Jupiter Hammon, Phillis Wheatley,
George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper

At night as he began to write
And looked to God on high,
Could he have known that one like he
Would read his works and be
Inspired by the same desire
To love God’s holy Word.
I read works by Brother Hammon
And wonder did he find
Any comfort and assurance
That his works would still be read
Three hundred years beyond his time:
And in his mind did he stretch forth
The hand of fellowship
To greet a man of kindred mind
Eons beyond his time?

I read works by Jupiter Hammon
and wonder did he see me?

A fragile gentlewoman, did she know
The enduring value her words would show?
When she lifted her eyes toward open skies
And posed with quill, did she realize
The power of her words to kindle fire,
To enlighten souls to marvel and admire?
Did she muse on those who were yet to sing
And seek to leave a lamp for her offspring?
Surely she knew death could not entomb
Seeds bearing fruit beyond the barren womb.

I read works of Phillis Wheatley
and wonder did she see me?

Did he soar far beyond his time
To reach a place of tranquil clime
To gain a grander view?
Beyond that place could he foresee
A man like him who would be free,
The poet’s calling to pursue?
Did he invite a distant friend
To flee together and ascend,
To join him in his cherished flight,
Leaving behind the chains of night
To soar into the poet’s world,
To uncover and unfurl
The naked genius of his soul?

I read works of George Moses Horton
and wonder did he see me?

When she made songs for her people
Did she have me in mind?
One who would join the chorus
In years beyond her time?
Though she left no sons behind,
Her poems continue to remind
Those who read and heed the message
That justice speaks to every age.
When she made her songs, did she feel
Kindred to come would share her zeal?
Did she know such songs would stir my heart
With the wisdom they impart?

I read works of Mrs. Harper
and wonder did she see me.

Through an infinity of mirrors
I look back and ask
did they look ahead;
I look ahead and ask
will others look back
and be inspired by
the self-same fire;
will they marvel as I,
marvel at the power
of the printed word,
the power of a single light,
like a cloven tongue of fire,
to shatter the darkest night.

I read their works and wonder did they see me?

We conclude with John Michael MacDonald reading “An Evening Thought”

The will of God: The road less traveled by

October 16, 2017

Romans 12--2 last part

Instead of commenting on the Verse of the Day as we usually do, today we will select the Quote of the Day as a starting point for our blog post on October 16, 2017:

“To know the road ahead ask those coming back.”

Chinese Proverb

The statement brings to mind “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, one of the most popular poems taught in American schools in the Twentieth Century. First published more than a century ago in 1916, the poem, particularly the last lines, is still often recited today. I recall having to memorize the entire poem in my junior year of high school in the late 1950s, and I still know it by heart today. Most providentially, the same poem found its way into a composition and literature class I taught as a college professor twenty years later. Here is the classic poem:

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Even more remarkably, 10 years later I recognized a similar inclination to write poetry that has been described as “didactic,” in light of my desire to teach, particularly to incorporate concepts and principles from the Scriptures into my poems. In graduate school while working on my doctorate in English, I took a seminar which deepened my appreciation for the great American poet, having been first “Frost-bitten” back in the day in the middle of the Twentieth Century.

Reflecting on the Quote of the Day also brings to mind the closing lines from the celebrated poem by Frost, the inspiration, in part, for this piece:

The Will of God: the Road Less Traveled by

 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person

by changing the way you think.

Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,

which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)

 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

Robert Frost

 

I begin again this year of my jubilee.

Reflecting on life’s journey, I cannot deny

That the will of God is the road less travelled by:

To choose to serve, even though having been set free.

The straight and narrow way I once again select.

I press on, still striving toward the highest good.

In this place we renew our covenant of blood,

Reassured that “As for God His way is perfect.”

I see clearly with new eyes where our paths have led.

In the midst of turbulent times I remain still,

Proving that good and acceptable and perfect will.

I look back, waiting in the now, then look ahead.

Each day God offers another chance to commence:

The choice to do God’s will makes all the difference.

Although one can certainly learn from someone who has traveled the road that one may be taking, each individual must choose the road to take, and I concur with Frost that “the road less traveled by” makes all the difference, particularly in thinking of “the will of God” as that road.

Amy Grant closes today’s entry with her rendering of the hymn “Sweet Will of God.”

Renewing the mind: the key

October 14, 2017

Romans 12-2

Today marks the first day of the return of our blog. Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe is now open again along with our new website: lonnelledwardjohnson.com. From Romans 12:2 in the King James Version comes the Verse of the Day for October 14, 2017 with a reference to “renewing the mind.”

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Here is how the Amplified Bible puts it:

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

For most of the years of my adult life as a believer, I recognized the importance of the opening verses of Romans 12 and committed this passage to memory. In my understanding of these verses, I thought of “the renewed mind” as something that believers had to obtain or lay hold of. Later, I read the passage more closely and recognized that the reference emphasizes “the renewing of the mind,” an active, ongoing process.

This section of scripture is associated with the familiar process of metamorphosis that butterflies and other organisms undergo. Christians are instructed not to be conformed but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. The New Testament phrase is translated from the Greek word metamorphoo, from which the English word metamorphosis is derived. The phrase is also used to express that as believers strive to manifest more of Christ in their lives, they are also “changed” into the same image by means of this ongoing process.

Butterflies as they undergo metamorphosis are transformed from egg to larva or caterpillar to chrysalis (cocoon) to butterfly (adult). Christian believers also continually undergo a similar spiritual transformation as they mature in Christ. The essence of this amazing process is expressed in this poem:

Renewing the Mind 

Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old   

(unregenerate) self with its evil practices,

 And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self],     

which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into   

 [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after            

the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.

Colossians 3:9-10 [Amplified Bible]

 

Now we know the key to power is renewing the mind,

As we seek to release this life-force within you and me,

For we long to walk in power and not be left behind,

As we strive to know deeper levels of intimacy.

With laser precision we now target our old nature

And put to death and mortify our members once for all.

We respond in obedience in answer to God’s call;

Not conformed, we transform ourselves, to become new, mature.

In the presence of God, the Almighty who inhabits

The praises of His people, where we yearn to abide,

To put off the old man, vile, corrupt, wrapped in sinful pride;

We put on the new man, as one changes garments, habits.

Above all we put on compassionate love from the start

And abide in our hiding place, filled with a grateful heart.

 

 

Ready for the new thing

September 26, 2017

Isaiah 43--19

Although this passage from Isaiah is not the Verse of the Day for November 26, 2017, these words previously posted at the beginning of the New Year also come to mind at this time:

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19:

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

 

The passage from Isaiah also brings to mind this poetic expression:

God is constant, never changing.

Yet God is fluid, ever changing.

Like the ocean and horizon at sunset and sunrise,

Always the similar yet never the same,

Infinitely wise, ruler of earth and skies,

We humbly recognize our savior and creator,

Who makes all things new.

Marvelous are your works;

Righteous are your ways.

Worthy of the glory,

We give our highest praise.

Never changing, yet ever changing,

Who is like unto our God?

There is no one like Him.

Who is like unto our God?

As I embark upon a new phase of my journey, a new beginning, God reminds me once again that He makes all things new. While considering deeply the concept of a new beginning or a fresh start, these lyrics reinforce the message:

Behold, I make all things new.

Behold, I make all things new.

Behold, I make all things new, brand new.

Things will never be the same.

 

Behold, I am making you new.

Behold, I am making you new.

Behold, I am making you new, brand new.

You will never be the same.

The same expression is also the title of another poem with the same message.

All Things New

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth;

shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness,

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19                                                                                                 

 

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

Trust me and you will see. You will never be the same.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

I am God–I do not lie, I am faithful and true.

Almighty, God of the impossible is my name.

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

 

Some thought it was over, but I am by no means through.

I cover and restore to remove all guilt and shame.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

Never forget what I have already brought you through.

You have a divine purpose; your life is not a game.

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

 

In me you overcome—I am Lord of the breakthrough

Who offers boundless promises that you can now claim.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

Trust me, obey and see what I have in store for you.

With your life you will make known my goodness and proclaim:

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

These reflective comments and poetic expressions serve as a prelude to this announcement:

under-renovation

Beginning September 26, 2017, Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe will be temporarily closed for renovations. In addition, a new website is being developed along with other special projects designed to enhance the ministry of the Word of God which continues to be the life-force of Dr. J. Thank you for support and encouragement over the years. Please continue to pray for me during this time of transition, as God’s “new thing” unfolds. We will be sure to let you know when we are back in business. . . “Compounding after the art of the apothecary.”

We “close shoppe” with a Scripture Memory Song based on Isaiah 43:18-19, 25:

From here to there: You can get there

September 25, 2017

getting-from-here-to-there-Today, September 25, 2017, while reflecting upon yesterday’s morning’s teaching “From Here to There“ by Pastor Donna Taylor at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC, my thoughts turned to one of the early blog posts on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. This particular entry focused on Psalm 133 and included original poetry and an excerpt from a prophetic word by Al Thomas along with music videos related to striving to “get there”, to scale Mount Zion to arrive at the place of everlasting blessing.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent word of exhortation and encouragement from Al Thomas regarding God’s desire that we also reach that place of sublime communion with one another and with Him. Indeed, God always desires to take us from “here to there.”

“God Said, “YOU’VE BEEN HERE WAY TOO LONG, I WANT TO TAKE YOU
THERE–GET READY”

“There ahead of you is your destiny,” says the Lord. “The hope, the
dream and the fulfillment of My promise–it’s simply staring you in
the face! Here, is where you are now, but how you conduct yourself
today has everything to do with where I will take you tomorrow–My
there. Extend My grace to others when you least feel like doing
so–it will prepare you to go from here to there. Determine that you
are serious to get to My there for you (Luke 9:62). You will get
there by serving Me in the here and now (1 Corinthians 10:21, James
1:8).

“Are you serious about the vision you are following? If so, then
build in the now (here) for what I have shown you in the future
(there). If you are faithful in little, here, I will give you much
there (Luke 19:17). Use the compass of praise, private prayer and
undaunted searching in My word to guide you and keep you on course
(Mark 4:14-20).

“Be faithful today–tomorrow is almost upon you, and it is nearly
time to take you from here to there. Look up, it’s approaching and
you are about to leave here and arrive there–right where I’ve been
waiting for you. Pack up, say goodbye, and prepare to leave here for
there. My command is coming for many to move out–out there.”

“Faithful is He that called you, who also will do it” (1
Thessalonians 5:24).

As Pastor Taylor noted, to get from “here to there” on the surface, seems such a simple process: you simply go! On the journey, however, one encounters obstacles, pitfalls, diversions, distractions and all kinds of set-backs. At times it seems as though “you can’t get there from here.” In respond to that idea, these two poems offer encouragement along this tedious journey called life:

When at Last We Get There

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;

but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind

and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call

of God in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 3:13-14

 

Despite constant reminders to the contrary,

We know in our soul that we can get there from here.

Someday we shall see the place of our destiny

And worship before the throne of God and serve there

When at last death is swallowed up in victory

And war and strife, poverty and disease have ceased.

In this place true believers dwell in unity.

Redeemed from sin, restored and made righteous; released,

Set free from bondage to savor sweet liberty,

To bask in the fullness of God’s glory and grace.

His favor and everlasting goodness increased

Beyond measure, as the champions finish the race

To stand under the banner of Judah’s lion

When at last we get there, when we reach Mount Zion.

God ever sets before us pictures of possibilities. The glorious portrait of harmony and communion of the highest degree is set before us in Psalm 133 which inspired another poem with a similar theme:

From Here to There

1    Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

For brethren to dwell together I in unity!

2   It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron,

running down on the edge of his garments.

3   It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;

For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore.

 Psalm 133:1-3

 

The final phase of life’s journey from here to there,

Yearning to return to Eden, beyond the place

Of the first promise spoken to all who would hear

And receive the fullness of the measure of grace

And know the never-ending flow of perfect peace:

Where perfect love has triumphed to cast out all fear;

Where all shall dwell in harmony and wars shall cease;

Where there shall be no night for the Lamb of God is near;

Where our joy shall never wane but only increase;

Where we know intimacy far beyond Hebron;

Where our raptured souls shall find rest and sweet release

In endless afterglow of sublime communion;

Where we know the everlasting blessings of unity

As we dwell in Zion for all eternity.

Just as these two poems capture the essence of the message of this post, we conclude with two musical selections to seal the prophetic word and the teaching from Pastor Taylor:

The first song is a love song that can be heard as a benediction of sorts, a message from the Father to His beloved, by way of Oleta Adams, relating this reminder: “I don’t care how you get there. Get there, if you can,” and you can get there from here.

The second selection is a musical rendering of Psalm 133 by Esther Mui:

The best is yet to come

September 23, 2017

Verse of the Day for September 23, 2017 comes from Romans 5:3-5(NKJV):

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

The Message Bible puts it this way:

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

This particular passage from Romans leads us to hope, a topic of considerable importance today.  A previous post speaks of “Hope: the antidote for despair”:

In the midst of tumultuous times that flood our souls as tribulation abounds on every hand, it is easy to see how persistent discouragement can lead to despair which is defined as the complete loss or absence of hope; to despair means to lose or be without hope. Once despair sets in, this mental state is perpetuated by prevailing unbelief. The downward spiral plummets into the depths of despair, a living hell with the welcome banner: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

To overcome a toxic emotion such as despair, we must move in the opposite spirit or in the opposite direction.  We find that “hope” is the antidote for despair. Hope is the expectation of a future good. Again, as Christian believers go to the Word of God, they will find out that God is our hope

The Psalmist offers this marvelous reminder:

Psalm 71:5

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

Hope counteracts thoughts of despondency, when we recognize that hope is a joyful and confident expectation. Though we are confronted with challenges on every hand, even in the face of death itself, we still have hope:

2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Jesus Christ is described as our “blessed hope,” and because of his victory over sin, sickness and even death itself, we have hope that lives eternally. So often believers are shackled to the past, as old wounds, previous hurts, and disappointments continually surface to cloud our future which ever unfolds with glorious expectation that our best days are ever on the horizon. In thinking about hope as our expectation of a future good, we recognize that “the best is always yet to come,” but we must remember

To Soar on Wings of Hope

The best is yet to come. . .

song composed by Cy Coleman,

with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

                

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung

Lonnell E. Johnson

 

At times we seek to capture the fleeting what never was;

While the distant past seeks to satisfy, it never does.

Whittier’s poignant lines “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,”

Cause us to consider “The saddest these: it might have been.”

But wasted efforts seek to recapture things left behind:

Fragments of those distant memories, vestiges of the mind.

Though our lives may not have unfolded as we thought they would,

Now we know that all things have worked together for the good.

Each glorious triumph and disaster, we choose to forget.

As we savor the goodness of God, we have no regret.

We must leave behind all of the hurt of the past somehow,

For all life crescendos into the ever-present now.

Although the past attempts to sway us from our destiny,

We rise to soar on wings of hope: the best is yet to be.

 

We close our entry with Bishop Paul S. Morton proclaiming “The Best is Yet to Come”: