Archive for the ‘Phrase of the Day’ Category

Who do you trust?

May 26, 2018

 

Isaiah-26--3-4During my time of morning reflection, a question flashed across my mind, which I will use as the Phrase of the Day May 26, 2018:

“Who do you trust?”

Some may challenge the grammar regarding the pronoun: who versus whom. As I recall, this question, as written, was the title of a television husband-wife game show from 1956-1963. Although the series has long since been gone, the question can still be asked of every believer today: “Who do you trust?”

Do you trust yourself, first and foremost? What about your spouse? Your best friend? A family member? Is there any individual in whom you place your trust?

Throughout the Scriptures we are encouraged to put our trust in the Lord God, Almighty. In the Psalms we find bold declarations of where to place our trust:

Psalm 56:3-4 makes this bold statement in the New Living Translation:

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Listen to a musical rendering of Psalm 56:3-4:

Psalm 56:3-4 with its emphasis on trust also brings to mind Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

The phrase “perfect peace” indicates this figure of repetition where the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally “peace, peace.” God provides a “double dose of peace” to those who trust in Him.

Just as the passage from Isaiah reminds us to put our trust in God and His Word alone, Psalm 118:8-9, two verses which some believe to be located in the center of the Bible, as some would say, “smackdab in the middle,” express this same truth:

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. (Amplified Bible)

As believers, we learn to trust in the Lord. Every day we encounter countless opportunities to learn and grow, as we follow the exhortation and walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,           

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall    

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

 

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Fully persuaded, each day we learn to watch, fight, and pray.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God is faithful and always comes through, just as the scriptures saith:

We walk by faith, not by what we see—the just shall live by faith.

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T:

We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with

Rugged determination” and

Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop

Strengthened believing” and

Tremendous confidence.”

Every day we are learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

We close with a song of trust performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” In actuality, the lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4 rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Call and response: Can I get a witness?

May 10, 2018

Instead of the typical Verse of the Day, we are going to take a close look at the Phrase of the Day for May 10, 2018:

“Can I get a witness?”

The phrase is said to have  its origin in the African American Church during the 19th Century where members of a congregation would share their personal testimony and “bear witness” of God’s divine presence and intervention in their lives. After sharing their personal account of how God came through and made “a way out of no way,” speakers would then address the audience by asking, “Can I get a witness?” Within the community, those who had experienced a similar move of God in their personal lives would respond with a hearty “Amen,” vigorous hand-clapping or raising hands or some other form of affirmation.

In reflecting on the Phrase of the Day, I also thought of the expression “Call and response” which I discuss in a previous blog post from which this excerpt is taken:

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

“Can I get a witness?” is the call, and the group being addressed responds in some way to affirm the speaker and to bear witness of the same. ”The question raised is also the title of the following:

Can I Get a Witness?

This is the third time I am coming to visit you
(and as the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established
by the testimony of two or three witnesses”).

2 Corinthians 13:1

Can I get a witness? Tell me what do you see?
Can you testify God is who He said He would be?
Probing the depths of God’s love, what do you discern?
We embrace afflictions that we might truly learn
To please the Master, striving toward our destiny.

As we stand, do you see bond-slaves now set free?
Those transformed who yearn for deeper intimacy,
As the passion for God’s Word continues to burn.
Can I get a witness?

Assess the whole of our life’s work done heartily
As to the Lord, who reigns for all eternity.
By grace, far beyond any wages we might earn,
Wherein we boldly stand blameless at Christ’s return
When we will hear “Well done, you have served faithfully.”
Can I get a witness?

Philipps, Craig, and Dean raise the same question: “Can I Get a Witness?”

The Lord is on my side

May 4, 2018

 

Psalms_118-6

We begin this new day, May 4, 2018 with the Phrase of the Day:

“The Lord is on my side.”

The expression is used in Psalm 118:5-7 in the Amplified Bible:

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
The Lord answered me and set me free.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can [mere] man do to me?

The Lord is on my side, He is among those who help me;
Therefore I will look [in triumph] on those who hate me.

Micah 7:10 also offers a similar phrase:

Then my enemies will see that the Lord is on my side. They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying, “So where is the Lord— that God of yours?” With my own eyes I will see their downfall; they will be trampled like mud in the streets

I also thought of Psalm 124 which uses the same phrase, but it is expressed in a different way. The King James Version states, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side. . .” I prefer, however, the New Living Translation which raises one of those “What if. . .”questions. Here is the psalm in its entirety:

Psalm 124

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
wouuld have overwhelmed our very lives.

Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 in the King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—

 Psalm 124:1

 If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,

I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.

I shudder to think just where I would be today.

I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,

But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,

My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.

He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

 

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,

Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.

The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Helen Baylor shares part of her testimony and sings “If it Had Not Been for the Lord on My Side.”

The Phrase of the Day with its reference to Psalms 118 and other related verse brought to mind Psalm 124 which really caused me to think about what might have been, if it had not been for the Lord on my side.

Have you lost your mind?

April 28, 2018

For April 28, 2018 we are going to take a look at the Phrase of the Day, a rhetorical question that is sometimes asked in a state of utter disbelief. When an individual fails to understand the seemingly bizarre behavior of someone else, the question might be asked,

“Have you lost your mind?”

“To lose your mind” generally means to “to become mentally ill” or “to start behaving in an utterly foolish or strange way . . .”

I recall on rare occasions in my childhood my mother would emphatically ask, “Boy, have you lost your mind?” She questioned my state of mind in response to something I said or did that seemed totally irrational or absolutely “off the wall”, indicating that I was not seriously thinking about the consequences of what I was saying or doing.

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 began to “lose my mind,” but I began replacing it with a new mind. In studying the Scriptures, I was introduced to the concept of “renewing the mind,” the ongoing spiritual process that all believers go through every day we draw breath.

In nature we note this process of metamorphosis that butterflies and other organisms undergo, reminding us that, similarly, Christians are instructed not to be conformed but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1). 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 “changed” into the same image. The essence of this process is expressed in this response:

As we renewed our mind

And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed

by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove

what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

We will not to be conformed but transformed as we renew our mind

That we might see for ourselves all that God desires us to be.

We seek to walk in power and excel and not be left behind,

Striving to know even deeper levels of intimacy.

With laser precision we will target the old man nature,

And we will put to death the deeds of  the flesh once and for all.

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

For as we put on the mind of Christ, we will grow and mature.

Where darkness once filled our minds, the Word of God now inhabits.

Lying and all kinds of corrupt speech we learn to put aside,

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

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

Above all else we put on compassion, cords of love that bind

Our transformed hearts to one another, as we renew our mind.

We end with a scripture memory song based on Romans 12:1-2  “A Living Sacrifice” :

We should, indeed “lose our minds” and be transformed by renewing our minds that we may prove what is that “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It’s about time: Now is the time!

April 23, 2018

Once again instead of commenting on the Verse of the Day, we are going to take a look at the “Phrase of the Day” for April 23, 2018:

“It’s about Time.”

According to dictionary.com, the phrase “It’s about time” is an idiom that relates to the “right time.” In one sense it can mean “long past the right time” or “approximately the right time.” Thus, It’s about time you started an exercise plan can mean either that you should have started to exercise much earlier (often stated with emphasis on the word time), or that now is the appropriate time for you to work out. A synonym would be “high time”: It’s high time you went to the gym.

Exactly when is the “right time”? Some say that “Now is the right time.” It has been said that yesterday is a memory; tomorrow is a promise, but today is a gift–open the present and enjoy its beauty.” In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie quotes Sir William Osler, who encourages people to cultivate the habit of learning to “Live in day-tight compartments.” Rather than dwelling excessively on the past or being absorbed with the future each moment, the idea is to make each day count, as we learn to “live in the now,” succinctly expressed in this poem:

The Eternal Moment

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16

Now is always the time.

Though grains of sand
fall and form
a mountain
range,
Now
does not
add nor take;
the moment cannot change.
The time is always Now.

This little three-letter word conveys eternity. As an adverb “now” indicates time. The word generally means “at the present time or moment” or “in the time immediately before the present, as in “just now” or “right now.” Used throughout the Bible, the word “now” often begins a statement that expresses the present moment or time.

I also recall that many years ago I shared a teaching that focused on the word “now.” To illustrate that now is an ever-present reality, I drew a picture of a clock with no hands on it. In the center of the clock in bold capital letters was the word “NOW.” I asked the audience a series of questions, as they looked at the clock: “What time is it?” “In five minutes what will be the time?” “If the Lord tarries, in five years what will be the time at that time?” In each instance, the response was the same. “Now!”

With regard to time, Believers are encouraged to redeem the time. To seize each opportunity and “live in the now.” We are familiar with this statement:

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That is why it is called the present.

To follow up on that anonymous quote, we must learn to redeem the time, to seize the moment, and live in the now, and do the will of the Lord now. As these words encourage us to do:

Do It Now!

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore be ye not unwise, but understanding
what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:16-17

If you want to live each minute
With the fullest measure in it,
To run your best race and win it,
Then start to do it now!

Don’t wait until it’s tomorrow
To look for the time to borrow,
For you may be filled with sorrow
Unless you do it now!

Don’t wait until the time is right.
By then you may have long lost sight
Of work to do with all your might.
Be sure to do it now!

Make up your mind; don’t hesitate.
Now is the time to act, don’t wait.
You’ve got nothing to lose; go straight
Ahead and do it now!

Just put the past behind somehow
And with each moment make a vow:
Now is the time to do it now.
Get up and do it now!

Babbie Mason offers a reminder that “Now is the right time to praise the Lord.”

He is faithful in all He does

February 5, 2018

Verse of the Day for February 5, 2018 once again highlights who the everlasting God is and what He does, as so brilliantly displayed in Psalm 33:4-5 (NIV):

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true,” and we note a similar expression regarding the Word of God in Psalm 19:9 (AMP):

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

The Psalmist echoes the same in Psalm 119:142 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your instruction is true.

Verse 5 goes on to state “He is faithful in all He does.” Throughout the Scriptures we find references to the faithfulness of God Almighty:

Once again, David makes these powerful declarations:

Psalm 145:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.

Psalm 146:5-6 (AMP):

How blessed and graciously favored is he whose help is the God of Jacob (Israel),
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,

Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them,
Who keeps truth and is faithful forever,

Beyond the beauty of the Psalms, the words of the New Testament also make known God’s faithfulness:

1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP):

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

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (AMP) further attests to His faithfulness:

Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own].Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) offers these words of encouragement:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful

In addition to declaring the glorious attribute of God, the passage proclaims “The earth is full of his unfailing love.”

Exodus 15:13 (NIV) also makes known this truth:

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

The Psalmist makes the following declarations:

Psalm 13:5(NIV):

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Psalm 32:10 (NIV):

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him

Psalm 33:18 (NIV):

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

Psalm 33:22 (NIV):

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

At the heart of who God is and what He does is recognition that “God is faithful,” as this song by the Brooklyn Tabernacle so magnificently reminds us”: “He’s Been Faithful”:

Psalm 1: My first psalm

November 19, 2017

Psalm 1 3

The following was published a year ago and is revised and re-posted here:

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day for November 19, 2017, an expression came to mind that I generally associate with this particular passage, and so once again we have the Verse of the Day and the Word or Phrase for the Day Combo.

Here are the opening verses of one of my favorite psalms:

Psalm 1: 1-2 (AMP):

[Book One] [The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted.] Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers). But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

The First Psalm is especially meaningful to me in that it is the first passage of scripture that I “learned by heart.” We, thus, introduce the “Phrase of the Day.” I recall committing the entire psalm to memory in the mid-fifties, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I vividly remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood in a kind of impromptu Vacation Bible School in her home, which was located behind “Little’s Funeral Parlor.” She told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still “know by heart” to this day.

Here is the entire psalm in the King James Version which I committed to memory:

1 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.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Recently I came across a discussion of idioms on EnglishStackExchange.com where someone asked if “learn by heart” and “learn by rote” meant the same. In making the distinction between these two expressions, one writer commented that “[to] go over many times is the process of ‘rote learning’; I learned it by heart is the effect it produced or the quality of learning that was acquired.”  Learning by heart means to learn something so well that it can be written or recited without thinking; to memorize something. 

Another writer went on to say: “Learning by heart — which may be somewhat of a dying tradition — means to learn something so deeply that it becomes part of our core: it fills us; it changes us. The difference might be less in technique than in what we do with the acquired information.”

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:

In a previous blog post I express my identification with this individual in the following 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 been truly blessed since I 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.

In thinking about the phrase “to learn by heart,” I recall another related verse which was the first verse in a set of 25 scripture memory cards that I later committed to memory as well:

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV):

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Today, more than 60 years have passed since I first encountered the First Psalm in all of its beauty and learned it by heart, the Word of God remains deeply implanted within me.

Listen to a musical version of this beautiful psalm offered by the Sons of Korah:

 

 

 

Serving at the King’s good pleasure

August 9, 2017

Psalm 149--4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 1:5

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

Ephesians 1:9

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11:

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

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

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

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

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

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

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

What Is Your Pleasure?

 

What is your pleasure?  What shall we bring?

What do you desire as an offering?

What shall we give you? What will suffice?

What shall we offer as a perfect sacrifice?

 

Tell us your desires: what do you say?

Your only desire is that we learn to obey.

You desire truth in the inward parts:

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

 

 

Teach us to follow you; teach us your way.

Teach us to listen and quickly obey.

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

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

 

This is your pleasure. This will we bring.

We give you our lives as an offering.

You have purchased us: You have paid the price.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

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