Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Open our eyes to re-look

September 14, 2018

Many times when looking for specific information located in a particular file on your device, you may “Providentially” come across something that ministers to you in a special yet unexpected way. Such was the case when I located a poem written years ago that I had not discussed nor posted. It opens with a statement from Chuck Pierce that I am calling the Quote of the Day for September 14, 2018:

“What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “’RE-LOOK!”

That statement became the inspiration for this response:

“Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”

What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “RE-LOOK!”
Chuck Pierce

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Luke 24:30-31

God says “Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”
This time look at yourselves from a fresh vantage point.
He will refresh with loving kindness and anoint.
Look unto Him: Do not doubt but only believe.
We must reset our will to be in alignment
To see the truth and maintain the right attitude.
With a pure heart overflowing with gratitude,
We serve God and prepare for our new assignment.
Even in troubled times God has always been there.
As we commune with Him, blinded eyes receive new sight.
The Lord is our salvation. The Lord is our light.
With renewed strength we rest in hope and not despair.
As we complete our course, we look again and see
What was once a test is now our testimony.

In thinking about God’s desire for His people to “see” with fresh eyes and to be enlightened anew, I recall a previous blog entry discussing our request that God will open our eyes, as we echo the sentiments of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

We find a corresponding command from the Lord who offers this exhortation in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (AMP):

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

Most providentially, we find another expression of God’s desire that our eyes might perceive what God desires us to see in Ephesians 1:18 (KJV)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

In actuality verse 18 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

The passage from Ephesians 1, along with the previously cited verses, brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a similar prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

Not only is our prayer to God like that expressed in Psalm 119:18 and Jeremiah 33:3: that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives, but we also recognize that God’s prayer for us is the same: that by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our heart may be flooded with light, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

We close with a musical rendering of the prayer from Ephesians 1:18-23:

Open our eyes to re-look

September 14, 2018

Many times when looking for specific information located in a particular file on your device, you may “Providentially” come across something that ministers to you in a special yet unexpected way. Such was the case when I located a poem written years ago that I had not discussed nor posted. It opens with a statement from Chuck Pierce that I am calling the Quote of the Day for September 14, 2018:

“What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “’RE-LOOK!”

That statement became the inspiration for this response:

“Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”

What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “RE-LOOK!”
Chuck Pierce

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Luke 24:30-31

God says “Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”
This time look at yourselves from a fresh vantage point.
He will refresh with loving kindness and anoint.
Look unto Him: Do not doubt but only believe.
We must reset our will to be in alignment
To see the truth and maintain the right attitude.
With a pure heart overflowing with gratitude,
We serve God and prepare for our new assignment.
Even in troubled times God has always been there.
As we commune with Him, blinded eyes receive new sight.
The Lord is our salvation. The Lord is our light.
With renewed strength we rest in hope and not despair.
As we complete our course, we look again and see
What was once a test is now our testimony.

In thinking about God’s desire for His people to “see” with fresh eyes and to be enlightened anew, I recall a previous blog entry discussing our request that God will open our eyes, as we echo the sentiments of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

We find a corresponding command from the Lord who offers this exhortation in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (AMP):

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

Most providentially, we find another expression of God’s desire that our eyes might perceive what God desires us to see in Ephesians 1:18 (KJV)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

In actuality verse 18 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

The passage from Ephesians 1, along with the previously cited verses, brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a similar prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

Not only is our prayer to God like that expressed in Psalm 119:18 and Jeremiah 33:3: that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives, but we also recognize that God’s prayer for us is the same: that by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our heart may be flooded with light, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

We close with a musical rendering of the prayer from Ephesians 1:18-23:

             

We all need grace

August 13, 2018

Once again, we are going to take a look at the Quote of the Day or August 13, 2018 coming from Christian hip hop recording artist, Lecrae:

“Believe the best about people. Pray for their shortcomings. You are not the standard. We all need grace.”

While reflecting on the statement, various scriptures came to mind:

The first sentence of the quote brings to mind Philippians 4:8 (New Living Translation)

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

The words of Jesus Christ also remind us that in the same way that we want people to think the best of us, we should think the best about them:

Luke 6:31 (NLT):

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

The Word of God also encourages believers to pray for one another. Again, the Lord Jesus Christ tells his followers to pray for their enemies as well:

Matthew 5:44 (NLT):

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

We pray that those whom we pray for will not come up short, but that they will hit the mark:
That the Lord will restore, support, and strengthen them, and he will place them on a firm foundation (1 Peter 5:10)

Lecrae also reminds us that no matter how honest and sincere we may be in our evaluations, we are not the standard. The Word of God should be the standard by which we live as Christians. It is the foundation upon which we build our lives:

The Psalmist declares in Psalm 111:10:

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

The statement by Lecrae ends with this simple yet profound acknowledgement: “We all need grace.”

A previous blog post speaks of grace, offering perhaps the most common definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” To receive grace is to receive a gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”

This passage speaks of what Hodge calls “the gratuitous nature of salvation” which involves the opposing ideas of grace and works, of gift and debt; of undeserved favor and what is merited. One excludes the other. “If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” so says Romans 11:6.

In reflecting upon God’s grace, we note that even though God’s grace is described as “sufficient,” God gives even more grace to those who are humble, according to James 4:6 (Amplified Bible):

But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].”

The expression “more and more grace” is also used once in 1 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

This verse also serves an introduction to this poetic response:

We All Need Grace

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow
in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

We all need grace, as we press toward the mark for the prize.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude for each new sunrise
As He assures us He will supply every need.
This hunger to know more of His Word He will still feed.
We will follow His chosen path wherever it may lead.
As in the days of Noah, we will find grace in His eyes.

We desire to please our Father, to walk as the wise.
Before we even ask, every need our God supplies.
He has promised to richly supply all that we need:
We all need grace.

God’s faithfulness to promises comes as no surprise.
His mercy and favor unfold right before our eyes.
We walk in the steps of Christ, the Lord, knowing they lead
To God’s throne where we find grace to help in time of need.
Until the Lord returns when the Day-star shall arise,
We all need grace.

Scott and Becky Parker offer this song to remind us “We all need grace”

 

Fear is not real

June 27, 2018

Once again, instead of the Verse of the Day, we are going to look at a Quote of the Day for June 27, 2018:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”

–Will Smith

In “After Earth,” the Sci-fi film, starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith, one of the underlying themes is the question of whether fear is real or imagined.

Recently, Bishop Charles Mellette shared an unforgettable illustration that conveyed the truth:”Fear is not real.”

He described an impressive wedding held in a large church that was filled with hundreds of people. After the wedding party had taken their places in the front of the vast cathedral, with the bride and the groom taking center stage, the officiating clergy addressed the congregation:

“If anyone can show just cause, why this couple may not lawfully be joined together, let them now speak, or else forever hold their peace.”

An uneasy hush hovered over the congregation, as they held their breath and prayed the moment would pass quickly. The intensity of the moment rose to an even higher level when from the rear of the church, a young woman with an infant in her arms started walking slowly down the aisle. As she moved closer to the front, the atmosphere thickened even more. The bride was noticeably shaken by the unfolding scene: she began to sweat heavily, as her heart rate increased, and she began to hyperventilate until she passed out, just before the young woman reached the front. The minister asked, “Do you have something you want to say?”

She responded, “We can’t hear you in the back.”

A sigh of relief swept over the congregation,” as they realized that the imagined disaster that the wedding would be terminated was not real; the fear of impending disaster was only imaginary, and things were not as they appeared to be.

Bishop Mellete spoke of the common acronym for fear that embodied this entire situation: “False Evidence Appearing Real.” In discussing 1 Peter 5: 8, he explained how the Adversary uses fear as one of his tactics that attack believers and impede their progress. It is a tool used as a barrier to stifle our confidence in God, as it attempts to limit our access to the Father’s throne of grace. Satan tries to instill fear in believers in the same way that a ferocious lion roars, seeking to instill fear that paralyzes its victim.

I Peter 5:8 (AMP):

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

Pastor Rick Warren describes fear as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

In 1 John 4:18 we find the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free, as this poem indicates:

Self-imposed Prison

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you
from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

– Rick Warren

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves torment. But he who fears
has not been made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

This self-imposed prison, not made with bars of steel,
Nor formed with bricks, yet each subtly constructed wall
Restricts the mind, scars the soul and cripples the will
And impounds us to a state of constant free fall.
Held captive by past mistakes that seek to instill
Fear: this deadly acronym binds, confines the heart,
So disguised as “false evidence appearing real”
Keeps us from being all God intends us to be.
But Christ, our sovereign Lord, pardoned each life sentence,
Commuted penalties, declaring not guilty.
With his blood, having blotted out every offense,
Displayed undying love: key to set captives free.
Pure freedom to serve awaits those with ears to hear,
For perfected love destroys all walls built by fear.

Throughout the Bible we find reminders that we are to have no fear. The comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” is said to occur 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear. The closing sentence of the Quote of the Day says “Fear is a choice.” Without question, we are encouraged to choose “not to fear.”

Isaiah 41:10, 13

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

13 For I hold you by your right hand—
I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you\

We conclude as Whitley Phipps offers this musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”

Finish strong

June 20, 2018

Finish strong

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

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

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

A passage where Paul uses athletic imagery comes to mind:

Philippians 3:13-14

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

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

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

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

We Press toward the Mark                             

 And let us not grow weary while doing good,

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

Galatians 6:9

 

I press toward the mark for the prize

of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

According to their labor God rewards each saint.

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

 

Though our new season may appear long overdue,

Despite how bright or bleak the picture life may paint,

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

 

Christ alone will restore and give life and renew.

Though pressures of life overwhelm, we must not faint.

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

 

To obey, giving honor where honor is due,

To move freely in the spirit with no constraint,

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

 

Each day God extends mercy, making all things new.

Gladly we learn to serve the Lord without restraint.

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

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

Final words of encouragement:

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

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

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

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

Forget the past, look straight ahead with no regrets.

Press on toward the finish and finish strong!

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

Success from failures

May 24, 2018

The journey continues--ever upward toward the light

This morning while preparing for the day, I came across a statement from Dale Carnegie which will serve as the Quote of the Day for May 24, 2018:

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

The comment brought to mind one of the first blog posts entered on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe, as I shared a valuable lesson that I was learning about failure and success. At that time I had always thought of success and its antonym failure as mutually exclusive entities. Generally, you were considered a failure or a success, but I have come to embrace both concepts in my assessment of myself. After some serious consideration, I have changed my thinking from accepting the duality of “either/or” to embracing concept of “both/and.” In the process I have gone from the designation of being a “total failure” to “not being as successful” as I would like to have been in certain categories. I have come to see that success and its polar opposite, failure, are connected in this definition which introduces the last stanza of a familiar poem of great inspiration entitled “Don’t Quit.”

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

The Quote of the Day reminds us that failure and its traveling companion, disappointment, can lead us to success rather takes us further away from the victories we desire to achieve. What could be perceived as obstacles or stumbling blocks that keep us from our destination could also be seen as stepping stones that will take us to successful outcomes.
At the time I was thinking deeply about these two concepts, I received an email asking a probing question in terms of my own perceived shortcomings.

What is failure?
________________________________________
Failure doesn’t mean that you are a failure;
it does mean you haven’t yet succeeded.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have accomplished nothing;
it does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have been a fool;
it does mean you have a lot of faith.

Failure doesn’t mean that you have been disgraced;
it does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it;
it does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior;
it does mean you are not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life;
it does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up;
it does mean you must try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you will never make it;
it does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you;
it does mean God has a better way.

Author unknown:

The last line of the statement about failure brings to mind this poem:

We Pray—God Answers

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Mark 11:24

We pray, asking to receive and seeking to find.
If we knock, the door shall be opened all our days,
For God answers prayer in one of three sovereign ways:

Sometimes we pray and find that the answer is “yes.”
In Christ each promise is “yes” and “amen”,
For God is not a man that He should lie.
He has already spoken—What shall we say then
But give thanks, for when we call Him, He hears each cry.

Other times we find that the answer is “not yet.”
We need more patience so that after we have done
All the will of God, as sons we might be instilled
With confident assurance given to each one,
Set as an empty vessel, yet to be fulfilled.

Or God may say, “I have something better in mind.”
Before we abandon hope, feeling left behind,
Though it may seem we cannot pass another test,
But if we stop and think a moment, we will find
God, our all-wise Father, really knows what is best.

In closing, let me make this final statement about what appears to be failure. I’m sure that if we scrutinized our lives closely we could easily be overcome by a sense of failure in light of the circumstances that surround us. We can take courage and be strengthened, however, by the example of someone whose life ended most tragically without apparent accomplishment of his mission. He died a shameful and painful death, and those who believed in him, deserted him. Yes, Jesus Christ, in the eyes of the world was a disastrous failure at the end of his life. However, we know “the rest of the story,” and I am writing these words of exhortation to you because of his triumph over the worst possible circumstances—even death itself. Because he was a super-conqueror, in all these things we are more than conquerors.

So take heart, my brothers and sisters, and be encouraged. The best is always yet to come. So we must take heart and remember that when we experience what seems to be failure, that “a set-back is just a set-up for a comeback.”

We also take comfort in the timeless universal truth that “This too shall pass.” This expression is set to music and rendered in a most inspiring manner as Yolanda Adams reminds us:“This Too Shall Pass”

Depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

May 17, 2018

Romans 11--33-36

A recent blog post discussed the indescribable vastness of God, the creator of the universe as revealed in the final section of Romans 11 which is designated as a doxology or hymn of praise. The Verse of the Day for May 17, 2018 is opening verse of this passage found in Romans 11:33-36 in the New International Version:

[Doxology] Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it would be paid back to him? 36 For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.

God is to be praised and glorified, for He is the fountain of all wisdom and life-source of all knowledge. Because of the frailty of our flesh, we acknowledge our need for the wisdom of God and the knowledge of God to fulfill His will in our lives.

The passage from Romans 11:33-36 brings to mind the relationship between the wisdom and knowledge of God:

The Beginning of Wisdom 

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.                                                       

Psalm 19:9

                                           

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:     

and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Proverbs 9:10

 

We begin and stand in absolute awe of You,

Thoroughly washed in the fountain of holiness.

The old has passed away—Behold, You make all things new:

Redeemed and justified by Christ, our righteousness.

As You search the earth, may we find grace in Your sight.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Here we stand perfected and destined to walk upright,

Your beloved ones, whose heart Your Word purifies.

We are filled with knowledge and wisdom from above

And bound by a covenant no one can sever,

For nothing can separate us from God’s love:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

We are renewed in strength and upheld by God’s Word,

As we pursue wisdom, growing in the fear of the Lord.

 

We concludes with Romans 11:33-36 Song “Oh, The Depths of the Riches” (Christian Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)

Pray: Be constant in prayer

May 3, 2018

Romans 12--12

As we begin this new day, May 3, 2018, we think of the Quote of the Day:

“There is always something to pray about.”

This expression is certainly apropos since today is the first Thursday in May, designated “The National Day of Prayer,” a day for set aside for Americans to once again ask for God’s involvement in our country, its leaders, and our military. Millions will answer the call to prayer today, as organized events will be held in thousands of public venues where citizens will unite in prayer for America and its leadership.  These events remind us of Jesus Christ’s exhortation that those who follow him should “always pray and not to faint.”

The Verse of the Day for Biblegateway.com offers similar words of encouragement:

Romans 12:12 (New Living Translation)

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

This particular verse was the inspiration for a poem written after hearing a teaching on the storms of life. As believers, we are either in the midst of a storm or coming out of a storm and preparing to go through another storm.  Although the statement was made following one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, Hurricane Katrina, occurring in 2005, these words can apply to us in 2018:

The Prayer Directive: Strength between Storms

Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation,

 continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Romans 12:12 [NKJV]

 

When it seems that we have reached our outer limits

Of exhausted options and can no longer cope,

Wrestling with unbelief, our foe that inhibits,

God’s word reminds us to keep rejoicing in hope.

We know that in patience we possess our soul.

In the midst of life’s pressures, we remain secure,

Assured that in Christ Jesus, we have been made whole,

Watching and waiting with renewed strength to endure.

As stately palm trees, we yield and bend in the wind,

And pray in the spirit, with requests that never cease.

As sweet-smelling incense, our fervent prayers ascend

In greater measure, as our petitions increase.

Though storms may overwhelm, we are still in God’s care:

Therefore rejoice, be patient, continue in prayer.

We close with another reminder from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: Pray:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adversity: the best teacher

April 26, 2018

“The Quote of the Day” for April 26, 2018 comes from author Malcom Gladwell, who provides a different perspective on a term people often view in a negative light: adversity.

“Adversity is the best teacher. Overcoming disadvantages can be a more efficient way of learning crucial skills than applying advantages.”

In life we all encounter adverse situations that challenge us when our lives do not unfold as we thought they would. When you lose your job after working 10 years in what you thought was a secure position, you have to navigate through the upheaval and in the process you learn and grow in many ways.

Gladwell speaks of learning disabilities and other challenges that people face as “desirable difficulties,” or challenges that force people to learn new skills that prove extremely helpful. “In order to learn the things that really need to be learned we require a certain level of adversity,” he states. Adversity, in such cases can be good. They are not stumbling blocks nor impediments to success, but they can be seen as a stepping stones instead.

Many times believers will view adversity as a tool of the adversary, the enemy of our soul. In actuality, God allows such adverse circumstances to teach us invaluable lessons, as we learn once more that all things work together for our good. The Psalmist declares that adversity is good in Psalm 119:71, the inspiration behind the following original lyrics:

It is good for me
Psalm 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn Your statutes,
To walk in Your precepts,
To keep Your commandments,
To follow as You teach me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I have been made humble,
That I have known both joy and sorrow.
In times of famine and in plenty,
That You have always been beside me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn Your statutes,
To walk in Your precepts,
To keep Your commandments,
To follow as You teach me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me to draw near unto You.
I have put my trust in You
That I may declare Your works
And always sing Your praises,
And give glory to Your Name.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

About nine years ago I recall hearing a message entitled “Advancing in Diversity” which touched upon the source of our adversity and inspired this poetic response:

Advancing in Adversity

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

Advancing in adversity is not easy.
As I fight the good fight and patiently endure,
I learn to discern the source of adversity.

I face the common foe of all of humanity.
Like Abraham, I walk by faith, strengthened and secure.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.

No longer in bondage, for I have been set free
And stand in His presence with a heart that is pure.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

Judge the source, whether of God or the enemy;
Recall we live in a fallen world—that’s for sure.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.

Does a predicament or problem confront me?
Beyond the inconvenience, God will reassure.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

Each day I design and refine my strategy,
Following in the steps of Christ as I mature.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

The portion of Psalm 119 containing verse 71 is called the Teth section offered here in musical form:

Good, better, best

April 22, 2018

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, we want to examine the Quote of the Day for April 22, 2018. Here are motivational lines attributed to Saint Jerome:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is best

Professional athletes, such as Tim Duncan and others, use this motto in an athletic as well as personal context. This saying also serves as the motto for the classes that I teach. Since I describe myself as a “player/coach,” a writer who also teaches writing classes, the quote applies in an academic context as well as in my personal walk.

In introducing my students to the saying, I sometimes show them a video excerpt from “Facing the Giants” to illustrate someone who all he asks of another individual is that that individual give him “his best.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the player coach that I am, all I’m asking of my students in each class—“Give me your best.” Take a look at the excerpt from “Facing the Giants” posted at the end of this entry and see if it has personal application.

In discussing the Quote of the Day, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good” which is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.” Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form. When you compare two objects, one is said to be better than the other.  If you compare three or more items, one is selected as the best of the group. With God, however, there is no comparative nor superlative. No, God has not seen “better” days, and God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God everyday is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that puts his trust in Him.”
“For the Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

As we strive to apply this inspirational quote to every aspect of our lives, there should be an underlying motivation: that we want to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. This should be our response: “Giving My Best to You, Lord.” as offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

“Facing the Giants” Excerpt