Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Perfecting the art of patience

May 19, 2022

Instead of beginning our day with the Word of the Day posted May 19, 2022, on Biblegateway.com, I thought of a previously posted “Quote of the Day,” which we can apply today and every day, especially during these extremely stressful and overwhelmingly tense times in which we live. Brian Adams offers this remarkable statement about the “art of patience” which believers must learn to perfect:

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”

As believers, perfecting the art of patience involves learning to wait on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm come to mind:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Note the Bible offers this definition of patience, meaning endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience translated as a verb and as a noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job:

11 We give great honor to those who endure suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time we find a concept in the Bible. Some Bible scholars believe that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to have been composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was, indeed, a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of spiritual principles, one of the first being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Although we recognize that “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly demonstrated at the end of the Book of Job. Recall Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends: also, the

LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The topic of the need for patience in our lives brings to mind a statement by Graham Cooke whose words inspired this poetic response:

A Prayer for Patience

“My suggestion for people in a season of birth or upgrade 

is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.”    

Graham Cooke

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,   

so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,   

and thus, receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see

Clearly who God is and who He has called us to be.

We still journey down the road less traveled by

And pray that patience may serve as a trusted ally.

We must say “No” to the pressures of this life

And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.

As we stay our minds on Him, we abide in peace.

When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.

May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some

But like Job wait until at last, our change shall come.

Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,

But fruit abounds to those who wait in their season.

We pray that in this time of transition and shift

That we embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We close with another reminder from Scripture about patience from Hebrews 10:36-38 (NLT):

36 Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

37 “For in just a little while,
    the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.
    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”

Karen Clark Sheard and Donnie McClurkin offer a stirring rendition of a song to capture the essence of our discussion on the art of patience: “Wait on the Lord.”

One more reminder: God is in control!

February 27, 2022
Despite all that is happening across the nation and around the world, here is this comforting reminder.

For many Americans and others across the globe, this past week has been especially disturbing. We watched with disbelief, the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, as the world seems engulfed in flames leading to another global conflict that could directly impact America. News broadcasts of all that is happening across the nation and around the world can be overwhelming. As a new day dawns, I wake up with gratitude in my heart, reminding myself that “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  As another day unfolds, I remember the Quote of the Day, “True peace comes from knowing that God is in control!” These comforting words remind us of all to “de-stress” and hold to His unchanging hand that protects and provides for us. Other scriptures also come to mind, beginning with Isaiah 43:10, 13 (Amplified Bible):

‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’

13 
“For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord],
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Another verse providing comfort and strength, particularly at this time comes from

Psalm 46:10 (New Living Translation):

Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

The verse begins with a quiet command to be still to take no action and enter a state of tranquility. We recognize, however, following such a simple command is sometime easier said than done. Note the circumstances surrounding one of the first references to the expression found in Exodus 14:14. Here Moses is leading the Children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt moving toward the Promised Land. Shortly after departing, they encounter a crisis that screamed “No Way!” Straight ahead is the Red Sea, and behind are the armies of Pharaoh in hot pursuit. Moses speaks words of assurance:

Exodus 14:14 (Revised Standard Version):

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”

Psalm 37:7 also provides this exhortation [Amplified Bible]:

Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who conducts wicked schemes.

When believers recognize the magnitude of God’s power and His love toward us, there is never a need to fear even though we may encounter tempestuous times that attempt to shake our very foundations. The Psalmist offers thanks to God for His deliverance out of many troubles in Psalm 107:28-30:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress;
29 he made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad because they had quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.

As we encounter the storms of life, we can anchor our souls in the Lord, knowing that He is in control as we recall Psalm 46:10, the inspiration for this response:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.

Though your cherished dreams seem to have faded and gone

The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,

As I weave the tapestry of eternity.

Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,

Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,

And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:

Be still and know that I am God.

Though storms may overwhelm, and friends may abandon

When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.

These scenes reveal people whom we thought we could be,

As words of the Psalmist also help us to see,

When this life is over, and all is said and done:

Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “Selah” this message, we also give heed to these words:

We Will be Still

We will be still and know that God is with us.

We will be still and anchor our souls in peace.

As we trust in the Lord, every storm will cease.

In closing, listen to Covenant Worship offering another reminder: God is in Control:

To come up smelling like a rose: what does it really mean?

February 10, 2021
To come up smelling like a rose: What does that commonly heard expression really mean from a spiritual perspective?

On February 10, 2021, instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, we are going to take a look at a common expression as the “Quote of the Day”:

“To come out/up smelling like a rose”

The Merriam Webster dictionary offers this definition:

“to have success or good fortune in a situation in which one was likely to fail, be harmed, etc.”

The Cambridge Dictionary has this to say about the expression:

“to have people believe that you are good and honest after a difficult situation that could have made you seem bad or dishonest”

I thought of all that Jesus Christ endured through his death, burial, and triumphant resurrection. Here is the account recorded in Colossians 2:12-15 (Amplified Bible):

12 having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God, [as displayed] when He raised Christ from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.

This passage inspired this poetic response:

Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .He made. . . 

Having forgiven all trespasses against us:
For every time we tried but failed and missed the mark,
When our flesh faltered, we received new strength within.
Christ, the Lord, washed and cleansed us from the stain of sin.
God made us to be lights that overcome the dark.
He set us free to sing on the wing, as a lark,
Having forgiven all trespasses against us.

Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances:
The hand that records each failure to keep the Law
Graciously blots out each shortfall and each mistake
And releases us from the penalty, for Christ’s sake.
Through the eyes of love, He looked beyond what He saw
To decree that flesh should not be a fatal flaw,
Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances.

Having taken it far from us, out of the way:
Guilt and shame removed and replaced with righteousness,
Transformed and fashioned with a new identity,
We stand in His presence, revealing the mystery.
Hurled and buried in the sea of forgetfulness,
The curse of sin has been replaced with blessedness,
Having taken it far from us, out of the way.

Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display,
Turning into triumph what seemed to be disgrace,
Symbolic sign displaying both shame and glory,
Dramatic unfolding of the greatest story.
To show his love for all, Christ took our place
To flaunt the victory right in the enemy’s face,
Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display.

Having disarmed principalities and powers,
Our triumphant warrior defeated every foe,
Crushing at once the head of the deadly serpent
To achieve our victory to the fullest extent.
To perform the greater works of Christ as we grow,
God enlightens and empowers that we might know,
Having disarmed principalities and powers.

He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Coming attractions describe the Spectacular
Super-conquering show:
The captor has been made captive, a prisoner without parole
in his own prison,
The accuser of brethren, once idolized,
now the source of derision,
Stripped, crippled, toppled, and trampled
To be brought ever so low,
A foretaste of the day when every tongue shall confess
And every knee shall bow.
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Yes, indeed, we recognize and celebrate all that Jesus Christ went through when he endured the cross, despising the shame, and now he is seated in heavenly places at the right hand of the throne of God. As believers, we are also seated with him, having triumphed over sin, sickness, and even death itself.

The expression “smelling like a rose” also reminds us that gardeners recommend fertilizing roses in early spring to prepare for a bountiful, fragrant display of floral gardens that delight the eyes and please the noses of those who pass by. Ingredients in some of the fertilizers include manure, compost, and fish emulsions that may give off an unpleasant scent when applied, but as these elements are absorbed, the foul smell is replaced with a sweet-smelling fragrance. Indeed, we come up smelling like a rose in every situation that appears to be negative and designed to defeat us.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (New Living Translation) reminds us

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

Michael W. Smith’s powerful song of worship refers to a rose to illustrate that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly “Above it All”:

What do you know? Three responses

January 16, 2021

Recently I thought of the expression “What do you know?” as I began my day in a reflective way. That phrase was also the title of a quiz show heard on BBC radio in the 1950s and 1960s. Generally used as a rhetorical question,  the expression also brings to mind a previous blog post entitled “These three things I Know,” revised and re-posted here:

  1. Some things I know
  2. Some things I don’t know
  3. Some things only God knows

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.

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 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 is 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,  I know that it will work together for the good.

Some things I don’t know. . .

I recall the lyrics to one of my all-time favorite Gospel songs “I Don’t Know about Tomorrow.” This song was especially meaningful because it was a song that my late sister-in-law, Phyllis Warren Murdock sang. Listen to this recording of the song that she sang so beautifully.

Without question, I don’t know the answers to many of life’s enigmas that seem to defy the mind of man. Quite honestly, I don’t know the answers to the questions that God asked Job. Some things are not mine to know. . . if God doesn’t tell me in the Word or by revelation, then I just don’t know

Romans 11:33-34 reminds us of this truth:

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

I recall the lyrics to the hymn “I Know Whom I Have Believed” which states a series of things that the hymn writer does not know:

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
  To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
  Redeemed me for His own.

The chorus of the familiar hymn resounds with this assurance found in 2 Timothy 1:12 :

But “I know Whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

The last verse brings to mind something that neither I nor anyone else knows:

I know not when my Lord may come,
  At night or noon-day fair,
Nor if I’ll walk the vale with Him,
  Or “meet Him in the air.”

Some things only God knows . . .

When asked about his return to the earth, Jesus Christ responded in Matthew 24:36:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Although we are assured that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, no one is privy of the exact day and hour, but “of the times and seasons we have no need,”  as I Thessalonians 5:1-3 remind us that the Lord’s return will happen suddenly, at the precise time that no one knows, only God.

When confronted with staggering vision of the dry bones, the prophet Ezekiel is asked a question in Ezekiel 37:3:

“Son of Man, can these bones live?” He responds, “O Lord God, You know!” As the New Living Testament puts it, “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

In thinking about things that only God knows, I recall this original poem written to express that very idea:

“Lord, You Know!”

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:

For we know not what we should pray for

 as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes

intercession for us with groanings

which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:16

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

When the right words won’t come, and we can’t even pray.    

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

We set our sights above but our thoughts fall below.

Though we walk by faith, we stumble along the way.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

We triumph in Christ and rise to defeat each foe.

Even though we wage spiritual warfare night and day,

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

God puts us in a place for us to prove what we know;

He tests us to see whether we rebel or obey.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

God leads the way and only asks that we follow.

We start in strength but often seem to go astray.

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

We long to serve the Lord, the one who loves us so,

But doubts and fears arise and somehow still dismay.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

Despite what we may think that we know and what we may think that we don’t know, we are comforted and assured with the words of I John 3:20:

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

We conclude our discussion with the classic hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed” which actually responds to what I know as well as what I do not know:

One more reminder: God is in control

January 14, 2021


A new day dawns after the horrific unfolding of events taking place in the Nation’s Capital and elsewhere across the globe last week. As we continue to pray, I recall a silver-framed plaque that was given to me with the words “God is in control.” This quotation is a comforting reminder during these stressful, perilous times described as “difficult to deal with.” The quote also brings to mind Psalm 46: 10:

Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.

Here is the entire psalm from the Amplified Bible:

1 GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,

3 Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning].

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our Fortress and High Tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth.

9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.

10 Let be and be still and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Verse 10 also introduces this poem with the first three words of the psalm as its title:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalms 46:10

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.
Though your cherished dreams seem to have faded and gone
The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,
As I weave the tapestry of eternity.
Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,
Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,
And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:
Be still and know that I am God.

Though storms may overwhelm, and friends may abandon
When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.
These scenes will reveal the people we thought we could be,
As words of the Psalmist comfort to remind you and me,
When this life is over, and all is said and done:
Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still in your soul and be at peace.
Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

In closing, listen to Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

When you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude

April 17, 2020


In the midst of the upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, people across the globe are trapped in circumstances they don’t like but  feel powerless to change. I thought of this statement from the late African American writer and vibrant personality, Maya Angelou:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

In observing the response of so many people who exhibit negative behavior in what they say and do, I thought such individuals could use “an attitude adjustment.”

In one sense,  we all are confronted with a whole new list of actions we must perform on our daily “to do list,” actions that we have to do or “got to do.”  In following the advice of Maya Angelou, I suggest, however, making an adjustment in how we think about essential tasks that we “got to do.”  

A number of years ago, a dear friend, Dr. Dale Sides , introduced the concept of changing our attitude from what we must do or “got to do” to thinking about what we have the privilege to do or “get to do.”  I shared the concept of changing our thinking from “gotta” to “gitta” with a friend and fellow teacher, Dr. Yolanda Stewart, who suggested that I express that concept in a poem to show just how important making such an attitude adjustment can be.  The poem seems ideally suited to the demands imposed on us in light of the current crisis that has changed our world so dramatically:

From “Gotta” to “Gitta“

Little biddy things can happen that don’t make much sense,

But changing one little letter can make a really big difference.

Subtle changes in the words we speak can also change our mood:

From “gotta” to “gitta” shows a whole new attitude.

“I ‘gotta’ go to work or stay at home and pass the time away”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ go to work; I am thankful I have a job today!”

“I ‘gotta’ take care of these kids—now that’s another world”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ nurture young minds who will someday change the world!”

Work heartily as to the Lord, whatever you do.

Remember in the end that He alone will reward you.

You may not agree with me, but it’s still so true,

Especially when you face tasks you really don’t “wanna” do.

Some doors may close, but this key to life you will find:

Put off the old, put on the new and renew your mind.

“ ‘Gotta’ to ‘gitta’ ” is thinking of another kind.

Move ahead in faith, and you won’t be left behind.

We have to change in the midst of these changing times.

Standing on the mountain top is the one who climbs.

Changing how we think and what we say does make sense;

From “gotta” to “gitta” makes a really big difference.

The poem also brings to mind  a vintage show tune sung by Roy Hamilton who tells us what we should emphasize, not just during the current crisis, but every day we should endeavor to maintain a positive attitude:

Health and wellness and more

April 23, 2019

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

“It’s your life. Live it well.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Question of Wealth

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

3 John 2

 

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

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

The strong, the wise, and the righteous

April 3, 2019

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

(more…)

How long will you be a work in progress?

March 26, 2019

 

 

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

“Each believer is a work in progress.”

Fil Anderson of In Touch Ministries acknowledges this truth:

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

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

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

The New Living Translation says this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP):

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

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

The Process

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

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

Dear brothers and sisters, 

when troubles of any kind

come your way, consider it

an opportunity for great joy.

James 1:2 (New Living Translation)

 

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

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

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

 

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!”