Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

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:

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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.

Renewing the mind: Have you lost your mind?

February 8, 2019

Recently while reflecting on the early days of my journey of faith as a Christian believer, I thought of an expression associated with renewing the mind, the ongoing process that every Christian must understand since we apply these principles of renewal every moment of every day. Whether spoken of as “putting off the old and putting on the new” or “putting on the mind of Christ,” the Word of God commands us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, according to Romans 12:1-2. Literally, we are to transform ourselves, as we prove “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

In thinking about this vital process, I recall a previous blog post where I examined a Phrase of the Day related to the state mind of someone whose behavior we are attempting to understand:

“Have you lost your mind?”

Individuals sometime may ask this rhetorical question in a state of utter disbelief, as they attempt to understand the seemingly bizarre behavior of the person to whom the question is addressed. To lose your mind” generally means to “to become mentally ill” or “to start behaving in an utterly foolish or strange way.”

In thinking about the expression, I also recall a specific occasion when someone warned me about the possibility of “losing my mind.” After being drafted into the Army during the late 1960s, I experienced salvation through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. During this time an Army buddy noticed that I was always reading the Bible and talking about God and spiritual matters to the degree that seemed too much for a person with a sound mind. In all seriousness, he pulled me aside and said, “Johnson, if you keeping studying the Bible so much, you’re going to ‘lose your mind.’”

Immediately, I went on the defensive and explained when I was in college, I devoted much more time and exerted much more effort in studying to earn my degree in pharmacy, and I didn’t lose my mind then. “Why should I lose my mind from studying the Bible?” I asked.

After a period of time, however, something strange began to happen. I started to “lose my mind,” but I began replacing it with a new mind. In studying the Scriptures, I discovered the concept of “renewing the mind.”

In nature we note the process of metamorphosis that butterflies and other organisms undergo, reminding us that, similarly, Romans 12:1-2 instructs believers 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, the root of the English word metamorphosis. The phrase also expresses that as believers strive to manifest more of Christ in their lives, they are “changed into the same image.”

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 we express in this poem:

As We Renew our Mind

Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped
off the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledgein the image of Him who created the new self—

Colossians 3:9-10 (AMP)

We know that the key to power is renewing the mind,
But to find the key to release this power help us to see,
For we seek to walk in power and excel 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 secret place of the Lord who ever inhabits
The praises of His people, here we desire to abide,
To put off the old man, vile, corrupt, wrapped in sinful pride
And 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.

Integrity Music offers this Scripture Memory Song “Do not be conformed Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:23.”

One more time: Spring is coming

February 5, 2019

 

This year February 2, Groundhog Day, slipped past without much recognition of the famous day that offers a prediction of the coming spring. According to tradition, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of six more weeks of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a long winter. Whether our furry friend sees his shadow or not, we are assured that after winter still comes the spring. Indeed, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Another traditional sign of the coming of spring is the sighting of robins on the Northern landscape. On January 31, 2019, I noted a gathering four robins on my way to work. This welcome committee provided a sure sign that spring is on the way. When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

Robins are generally thought to be a sign that “Spring is coming!”

A few years ago my daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage. From this time forth, all robins have had red breasts as a reminder that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a new song that I sing when I see a robin returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of spring,
Rear back with your red breast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is a poem originally written in light of the Challenger Spacecraft disaster expresses anticipation of one of my favorite seasons:

Until Spring

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

Whether on earth or shuttled in the sky,
Death snuffs out our candles in devious ways,
For each man must learn to number his days,
Although the soul still probes to fathom why.
The mind made numb with pain can only try
To make sense of the immense ache that stays
The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:
It is appointed unto man once to die.
Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.
The sun melts frost with new life as surely
As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown.
Until spring, on tip-toe I yearn to see
The day when I shall know as I am known,
When death is swallowed up in victory.

Despite predictions for more harsh winter weather or when we are blessed with unseasonably mild temperatures, we remember the words of Robin Redbreast, and enjoy this magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s excellent musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming!”

 

 

Psalm 59: To succor and to strengthen

February 4, 2019


The Verse of the Day for February 3, 2019, comes from Psalm 59:16 (AMP):

But as for me, I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; Yes, I will sing joyfully of Your lovingkindness in the morning; For You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress.

The closing verse of Psalm 59 reiterates the same message:

To You, O [God] my strength, I will sing praises; for God is my stronghold [my refuge, my protector, my high tower], the God who shows me [steadfast] lovingkindness.

The Psalmist expresses this watchful attitude toward God who will come to his rescue in other related verses.
Psalm 5:3

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 59:9:

You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.

Psalm 88:13 |

O LORD, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.

Psalm 101:1

I will sing of your love and justice, LORD. I will praise you with songs.

2 Samuel 22:3 summarizes a similar expression of looking to God as a source of safety, a refuge and savior:

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.

This passage provides great comfort and strength to believers, and brings to mind a term “succor,” used as a noun or verb in the King James Version, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary offers this definition:

As a verb, the term literally means to run to, or run to support; hence, to help or relieve when in difficulty, want or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; as, to succor a besieged city; to succor prisoners.”

As a noun “succor” means aid; help; assistance; particularly, assistance that relieves and delivers from difficulty, want or distress. “Gardening that Gives You Wings” refers to the noun: “The garden was to provide succor and sanctuary for butterflies, giving nectar almost all year round.”

Hebrews 2:18 in the King James Version offers this translation using the verb:

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Hebrews 2:18:

Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering.

We find the verb form used to describe God, our Father who watches over His own and promises to come to their rescue in 2 Corinthians 6:2 used as introduction to this original psalm:

To Succor and to Strengthen

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation

have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

2 Corinthians 6:2 (KJV)

In straight and narrow places You provide relief.
In times of loss, You comfort and assuage our grief
In this dry season You water our soul once more
And run to succor and to strengthen us as before.
Again You prop us up on every leaning side.
Rooted and grounded in Your love we will abide.
You are our light, our salvation; we will not fear.
Although we feel estranged from loved ones, You are near.
Though intense suffering may abound on every hand,
You confirm, establish, settle, that we might stand.
Though oceans roar and mountains shake, we remain still.
In times of distress we are centered in Your will.
We stand firm, like a tree planted by the river,
Assured that in Your perfect time You will deliver.

Esther Mui offers a musical rendition of selected verses from Psalm 59 as a Christian Scripture Worship song “God is My Defense.”

Psalm 59:1-2, 9-10a, 16-17:

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.

2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men.

9 I will wait for You, O You his Strength;
For God is my defense.

10a My God of mercy shall come to meet me;

16 But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.

17 To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

No eyes have seen, but it has been revealed

February 2, 2019

The Verse of the Day for February 2, 2019 comes from 1 Corinthians 2:9.To complete the context” of the passage, however, we must also look at the preceding verses and the verse that follows to further clarify the promise that God is unfolding.

7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom once hidden [from man, but now revealed to us by God, that wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory [to lift us into the glory of His presence]. 8 None of the rulers of this age recognized and understood this wisdom; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written [in Scripture],

“THINGS WHICH THE EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND THE EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, who obey Him, and who gratefully recognize the benefits that He has bestowed].”

10 For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].

Deuteronomy 29:29 in the Amplified Bible also reinforces the message that some things, spiritual matters, only God knows, and some secrets God continues to reveal to believers today:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed and disclosed belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may do all of the words of this law.

The Word of God reminds that we walk by faith, and not by sight. Indeed, what we see with our eyes is temporal, but what we do not see is eternal.

In the words of Fanny J. Crosby, one of the most prolific and popular hymn writers of all time, we have a “blessed assurance” not based on what we see. Ironically, Mrs. Crosby lost her sight as an infant, but this tragic situation gave birth to these unforgettable lyrics:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This discussion also brings to mind a previous blog entry from which this excerpt comes where I share:

Some things I know. . .

One thing I know for sure is that that God loves me. I know that I love God and that’s really all that matters. Not only do I know that God loves me and that I love God, but these lyrics express what I really know:

I know that I know that I know that I know.
I know that I know You still love me.
I know that I know that I know that I know.
I know that I know You still love me.

No matter how many times I go astray
And leave Your side and choose to disobey.
When I’m overwhelmed and can’t even pray,
No matter what I do or do not say.

No one else knows my heart: You are the one
To call me home when I have no place to run.
When I look all around at all that I’ve done,
Despite all my failures, You still call me Son.

I know that I know that I know that I know.
I know that I know You still love me.
I know that I know that I know that I know.
I know that I know You still love me.

Romans 8:28, my favorite verse in the Bible, and it offers this reminder that because God is good, “We know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” So no matter how bad any situation may appear to be, we know that it will work together for the good.

The life and legacy of Fanny J. Crosby  provide another illustration of the goodness of God that transcends even the most devastating circumstances.

We conclude with 1 Corinthians 2:9 as a Scripture Memory Song: