Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Still perfecting the art of patience

December 28, 2018

A recent blog entry examined a passage from James 1:2-4 which ended by focusing on patience. The discussion of this timeless topic also brought to mind my newly published book: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 which opens with this statement from Brian Adams:

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.ing

Throughout the entire healing process of my encounter with prostate cancer, I have been learning to perfect the art of patience by waiting on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm also 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!

In the Bible the word for patience has been translated to mean 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.
When we examine one of the words translated—patience—we see a compound word meaning “to stay, remain, abide,” literally abiding under. The verb form means to stay under or behind, remain; figuratively, to undergo, that is bear (trials), have the fortitude, to persevere—abide, endure, take patiently, suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience being used as a verb and as a noun in an 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—

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him in 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 that a concept is mentioned in the Bible. E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars surmise 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 a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many 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 it is said 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.

After being introduced to Graham Cooke and his book on crafted prayer, I recall reading a statement he made regarding prayer and patience, part of the introduction to the psalm that closes Chapter 8—

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 our 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 mind 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
We will embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We close with encouraging from John Waller:
“While I’m Waiting”:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. For more details check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.

Adversity is good

December 22, 2018

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, the blog entry for December 22, 2018 takes a close look at the benefits of the adverse situations we face each day with an original Quote of the Day:

“Adversity is good. It may not seem to be good to us at the moment, but ultimately it will be good for us if we wait and see what God had in mind.”

In thinking about the topic, James 1:2-4 came to mind, rendered this way in The Voice translation:

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.

I also recall a previous post discussing this same passage where Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC explained that as we face trials on every hand, we are “Coming through Stronger.” He reminded us that we will encounter various trials; however, “The problem is not the problem but our perception of the problem.”

He went on to explain what he meant by trials: the “trying, testing, the putting to the proof of something.” They are experimental actions applied in order to obtain results. Trials involve being subjected to intense and challenging times that test our motives and values. In the same way that God sent the Children of Israel through the wilderness for an extended period of time in order to test or to prove what was in their hearts, the trials we face prepare us for the next level of service to God. He went on to say, “You will shorten your season of testing or trials if you will only allow your trials to make you stronger.”

The message concluded with a reminder of the blessings and benefits of trials which are a way of life for every believer. Trials forge humility and give birth to perseverance. Indeed, we have the capacity to persevere to see God’s promises come to pass in our lives.
Hebrews 10:36 also offers this reminder in the New Living Translation:

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.

Knowing this, we can count it all joy when we encounter various fiery trials that test our faith and build patient endurance.

Reflecting on the Quote of the Day and the related verses inspired this 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 we fight the good fight and patiently endure,
We learn to discern the source of adversity.

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

No longer in bondage, for we have been set free
And stand in His presence with a heart that is pure.
We 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 us?
In every test and trial God reveals His purpose.
We learn to discern the kind of adversity.

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

We close with this scripture memory song based on James 1:2-4:

“When your battle is fiercest, your victory is nearest.”

December 8, 2018

From time to time, the blog entry for the day will focus on the Quote of the Day rather than the usual Verse of the Day. Such is the case for the Quote of the Day taken from Kary Oberbrunner’s comments about the need for encouragement while facing the struggles not merely to survive but to thrive despite the resistance we face each day.

He reminded us:

“When your battle is fiercest, your victory is nearest.”

The quote also brought to mind the encouraging words of this classic anonymous poem:

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,:
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit –
Rest, if you must, but don’t quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

In Chapter 3 of my newly released book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I recognized that life is a battlefield, and the battlefield is the mind. In actuality, I really came to grips with the intensity of a battle to fight when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. I described my encounter as “the fight of my life” as well as “the fight for my life.” In sharing my battle plan for combating cancer, I examined many scriptural references to the verb fight.

In 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV), Paul speaks about fighting:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I thought of other scriptures related to fighting in those instances where the Lord fights for His people. Think about this seemingly impossible situation where the words “no way” echo through the mind. Take a look at the account in Exodus where the Children of Israel in their escape from bondage in Egypt run right into the Red Sea with the armies of Pharaoh in hot pursuit behind them. You can imagine the concern they expressed to Moses, their leader and spokesman for God, who offered these word of assurance:

Exodus 14:13-14 (NKJV):

13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

We find a similar exhortation in Deuteronomy 20:4 (NKJV):

For the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Here is another reminder of the same truth in Joshua 23:10:

Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the LORD your God fights for you, just as he has promised.

We also find wonderful words of encouragement from David in Psalm 144:1–2:

Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle—
My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield, and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.

Throughout the Old Testament and beyond we see instances where the people of God are grossly outnumbered by forces that appear overwhelming, but God reminds His people of who He is and what He will do. In an encounter with “a great multitude,” “a vast number” of the enemy, Zechariah offers these strong words of encouragement to Jehoshaphat, the King and to the people:

2 Chronicles 20:15 (Amplified Bible):

He said, “Listen carefully, all [you people of] Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. The LORD says this to you: ‘Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Yolanda Adams offers a musical reminder of this truth:

 

We close with a related quote from Les Brown to end on a victorious note:

“The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”

As believers we are on the winning team and must remember this:

1 Corinthians 2:14:

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. Check out my website for more details: https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.

Thanks again for your prayers and support that made this possible.

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)