Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Verse of the Day on Black Poetry Day 2020

October 17, 2020
October 17 is the birthday of Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in America was born October 17, 1711.

Today’s blog post spotlights a special celebration. Although not recognized as a national holiday, October 17 is designated as Black Poetry Day. During this time, we celebrate poets of African American heritage and their contribution to the literary landscape of the nation and of the world. Why was this particular day selected for the celebration? For the answer we go back to America’s literary beginning and the “Father of Black Poetry.”

Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in colonial America, was born on October 17, 1711. Publishing a literary work of any kind during this period was a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, but for a man born into slavery, writing and publishing “An Evening Thought” in 1761 was nothing short of a miracle.

Born on the estate of merchant Henry Lloyd of Oyster Bay, NY, Hammon was believed to have been a lay minister. As a devout Christian, he expressed his religious convictions in all of his poetry and prose. In addition to An Evening Thought, his works include “An Essay on the Ten Virgins,” 1779; “A Winter Piece,” 1782; “An Evening’s Improvement,” 1783; “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York,” 1787. In 2013, a University of Texas at Arlington English professor, Cedric May, and his doctoral student, Julie McGowan, located an unpublished poem, “An Essay on Slavery,” handwritten by Hammon around 1786.


Today, October 17, 2020, is a special day of celebration for me as a Black poet strongly influenced by the Bible, and I think of Hammon as my literary forefather. Other than the Psalmist, David, no poet has influenced me more. I am revising and re-posting the Biblegate Software Verse of the Day for October 17, 2020, that comes from Psalm 25:14-15 and contains an original poem written in a similar manner as the poetry of Jupiter Hammon.


The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:


Psalm 25:14-15:


The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.


The reference to “He teaches them his covenant” brings to mind an account whereby David extends a covenant of grace to the descendant of someone with whom David had previously established a covenant, his beloved friend, Jonathan. Here we find Mephibosheth, the only remaining descendent of Saul, whom David replaced as King of Israel. David’s response to the crippled son of his friend occurred in a place called LoDebar, recorded in 2 Samuel 9:6-7.


6 His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.”
Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”
7 “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”


The following poem refers to this account and speaks of

The Power of Covenant


When covenant relationships are re-established,
you enter into a place of safety and kindness.
Apostle Eric L. Warren


To redeem, restore, and then supersede is God’s plan:
To see His faithfulness, examine this account:
God’s favor extended beyond any earthly amount
That can be measured or assessed by the mind of man:
Mephibosheth displays the power of covenant
To children’s children, to countless generations–
First to Israel, then extended to all nations,
God’s loving-kindness above and beyond abundant.
Covenants demonstrate the faithfulness of God.
Spiritual covenants supplant natural relationships,
Beyond the authority of all earthly kingships,
For we know that in truth, “Spirit is thicker than blood.”
From LoDebar–barren place of nothingness–
He takes us to abide in safety and loving-kindness.

We seal our blog entry for today with “Covenant Song” by Caedmon’s Call:

On Black Poetry Day and every day, may we never forget God’s covenant made to His people.

Pray: The latter rain is on the way!

September 20, 2020

The Verse of the Day for September 20, 2020, comes from Joel 2:23 in the New Living Translation:

Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain, he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring

This verse from a prophetic passage from Joel brings to mind a teaching I delivered as the morning message at the church I was attending at that time. In the midst of powerfully energetic teaching the sound of thunder and turbulence poured from the speakers, as the following announcement interrupted my message:

We interrupt this teaching to bring you a world-wide weather advisory. This is not a test! Heavy rains are projected for the coming months. Conditions are favorable for a downpour across the world. According to meteorologists and Bible scholars, the latter rain is on its way. This is not a test! Take precautionary measures and prepare for an abundance of rain. Read your Bible and stay tuned for further developments on the projected worldwide outpouring of the spirit of God.


In actuality, the interruption was planned as it set the stage for my message entitled “Pray: The Latter Rain Is on the Way”

This excerpt from that memorable teaching notes that God’s ways are never hidden, and rain is one of the specific ways by which God reveals Himself. Since He is a God of order and planning, God never simply causes it to rain randomly, but He sends rain in due season. He instructed the Children of Israel to walk in His precepts and follow His guidance. If they obeyed, they would then be fruitful, as God showered them with His blessings. God expresses His desires for His children in terms of rain.

Deuteronomy 28:9-11(NLT):

9 “If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do.10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.
11 “The LORD will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.

Rain is the life-source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops. In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms: the former rain and the latter rain. In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the Spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. Prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joel all speak of both seasons of rain.

In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter addresses the multitude in referring to the Prophet Joel:

Acts 2:16-18

16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.

To appreciate the promise of God who will send the latter rain when He pours out of His Spirit upon all flesh, think of what happened when God first opened the windows of heaven and “poured” out rain. Genesis 7 gives the account of Noah and the ark when the heavens opened, and it rained for forty days and nights. In the last days when God opens the windows of heaven to pour out of His spirit on all flesh, do you think the outpouring will be any less great than the first time God poured out? God predates Morton salt whose motto is “When it rains, it pours.”

Anyone who is spiritually observant can sense that a great outpouring of the spirit of God is about to take place. In a similar way, one can tell when a torrential downpour is about to occur. We see the essence of what is about to take place spiritually in the lyrics to the song

“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”:

See how the wind begins to whisper.
See how the leaves go streaming by.
Smell how the velvet rain is falling
Out where the fields are warm and dry.

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can see it
Soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell
Soon it’s gonna rain, what are we gonna do?

To answer the question posed at the end of the song, here is my advice: “Pray and get ready for rain!” As Zechariah 10:1 exhorts:

Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so, the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to everyone grass in the field.

Indeed, there is a parallel between the natural and the spiritual. Conditions are favorable for a worldwide outpouring of God’s spirit. The abundant latter rain precedes a correspondingly great harvest. Jesus Christ reminded His disciples in Matthew 9:37-38:

37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

As we enter into the great harvest, following the Latter Rain, we need to follow the exhortation of Jesus Christ and pray.

The Book of James also reminds us of the importance of prayer in conjunction with the harvest.

James 5:7:

Dear brothers and sisters,[c] be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

James goes on to illustrate what can happen when a man of God prays:

James 5:17-18

17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The Old Testament account of reveals that after a three-and-half-year drought, Elijah heard the “sound of abundance of rain.” He sent his servant to investigate, but he saw nothing in the sky. Elijah told him to go check again seven times. After the seventh time, the servant saw a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. Shortly thereafter “that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”

God still answers prayer. His desire is to bless more than ours is to ask. Let us continue to pray for rain, the latter rain, an abundance of spiritual outpouring, which God promised to send before the abundant harvest toward which we are steadily moving. “Pray, the Latter Rain is on the way!”

Alvin Slaughter and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offer a musical benediction to our prayer with Holy Spirit Rain Down:

God is looking for a dwelling place: Is your heart prepared?

September 6, 2020

The Verse of the Day, for September 6, 2020, comes from John 14:23 (Amplified Bible):

Jesus answered, “If anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep My word (teaching); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him.

The verse begins with the conditional clause “if anyone,” followed by the verb “loves.” “If an individual [really] loves Jesus Christ, that person will adhere to the words that the Lord speaks. If they meet those conditions, that individual will be graced with the very presence of God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son. John 14:23 establishes the conditions which, if met, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part.

As we continue to reflect upon the Verse of the Day, a parallel verse also comes to mind, as we begin to focus on Revelation 3: 20, as my mind becomes flooded with warm memories of a recent dining experience.

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.

A number of years ago, I recall hearing a message “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” and I was inspired to write the following poem:

A Dwelling Transformed

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most-High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1


Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,
We continue to learn that everything has its own price,
As we pursue the ultimate goal, a set-apart life:
Joint heirs with Christ presented as a living sacrifice.
With clean hands and a pure heart, we prepare a dwelling place.
To attract the Lord, we provide a pleasing ambiance:

As our songs of love flow from the depths of our inner space,
Our habitation designed and arrayed for God’s entrance.
To walk by the spirit of life, we are driven to pursue.
We dance to brand new music, softly playing in our mind,
And strive to understand that God alone makes all things new.
As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find
A dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,
As we offer all that we are and ever hope to be.

The poem reflects the innermost desire of many fellow believers who are earnestly seeking to situate themselves to be in position for the next “move of God,” yearning for a fresh visitation from the Lord. While to bask in His glorious presence would bring with it, unspeakable joy, the deepest yearning of our heart is to experience an unprecedented visitation that goes on without interruption, a move of God extending indefinitely. Francis Frangipane reiterates this point, “Let us also keep in mind that the goal of a visitation from God is that we become the habitation of God.” Indeed, we long to see times of visitation transformed into times of habitation.

Imagine this scenario—you have a good friend who sometimes comes by to visit. You would like to have that individual come by more often, so you prepare a place for your friend to stay. In a similar way, the Shunamite woman and her husband prepared a special abode for Elijah, who visited them periodically. You know what your close acquaintance likes and does not like, so you have what they like, so you custom design an appointed the place to suit your visitor.

It is no different with God. We endeavor to provide the perfect atmosphere, the ideal conditions that will welcome Him so that He shows up often and stays long. In fact, our ultimate desire is to turn a visitation into a habitation, but how is this accomplished?

When God makes visiting a habit, then visitation becomes habitation. God visits so often and enjoys Himself so much that His visits become more and more frequent, and He stays longer and longer until His visits are a habit, and He decides to abide. Our heart’s deepest yearning for intimacy is expressed in this poem:

Times of Visitation

As you once visited Abraham, our father,

and sent angelic hosts to reinforce your pledge,

in these times of barrenness and seeming defeat,

where are the times of visitation set for us?

We offer our hearts, places prepared for you to meet.

As you sojourn, may you find in our lives a place

so prepared for you to come with friendly intent

that on each occasion where you show up

that your ultimate purpose is most apparent.

As you clearly reveal your promise to fulfill

your will, receive our obedience as sacrifice,

may favor be our portion as your faithful ones.          

May you find us yielded vessels, clean and fitted

for the glory of your presence that you might pour

blessings without measure to overflow and flood

our souls, as we commune with you in perfect peace.

May we never squander times of visitation

but shut the door in face of the enemy,

as we open wide the portals of our spirit

and transform our hearts into your habitation.


Esther Mui offers a tender rendering of Psalm 91 with its reference to God’s dwelling place

All things are possible–Nothing is impossible: Same difference

July 11, 2020

The Verse of the Day for July 11, 2020, comes from Jeremiah 32:17 in the New International Version:

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

This verse offers encouragement and assurance during the challenging times in which we live, times described as perilous or difficult to deal with, where the nation and the world seem to be entangled in impossible situations.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind two other scriptures that speak of the awesome power of God and His Word. Both say the same thing but in different ways, that nothing is too hard for God. In one place in the Gospels, Jesus Christ states “. . . with God all things are possible.” In another place, the Word declares, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The Amplified Bible renders Luke 1:37 in this way:

For with God, nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

As I acknowledged that the two verses express the same concept but in different ways, I thought of a principle from Geometry: “Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” These two verses also inspired this poetic response:

No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them said, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible
Mark 10:27


For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37

There is none like God who never fails to come through:
Whether you say “With God all things are possible”
Or say, “With God, nothing shall be impossible.”
No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.
As those who observe the times, we wisely surmise
That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,
Leading captive even death to release new life,
Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise.
We boldly declare the Word of God and assert
The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes
Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.
With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.
We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,
Humbly discerning that His ways are not our ways.

The line “Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise” brings to mind the verse which says, “God gives beauty for ashes.” Did you know that ashes under extreme heat and pressure form gemstones, and that diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and such come from ashes? You see this when many of the volcanoes erupt, and when they settle and cool, you find beautiful gems at the base. Similarly, watch God turn around what seems like a total disaster. No matter how challenging the situation may appear to be, He can turn it into a magnificent triumph.

In “No Matter How You Phrase It” we find a reference to another seemingly impossible situation whereby God “makes barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert” which also illustrates the amazing power of God expressed in another original psalm:

Barrenness

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth;
shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field shall honor me,
the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

These people have I formed for myself;
they shall show forth my praise.
Isaiah 43:19-21


We are waiting with our eyes fixed toward open skies
That we might behold the wonders of this new thing.
From parched, lifeless places now shall it spring forth,
As the Lord makes a highway in the wilderness.
Even in the wasteland, shall He give cool waters;
To bless and refresh with rivers in the desert.
He has formed us for Himself: for His good pleasure
He chose us and set us apart to show forth praise.
All things for His glory: even the barren womb
He has prepared to bring forth life-changing seed.
Declare the Word, and thus shall it most surely be:
No word of God spoken shall be void of power.
Speak the Word only and barrenness shall vanish,
And fertile ground shall bring forth fruit in due season.

The Verse of the Day and the two poems reinforce a similar message that “Nothing is impossible.” These words also inspired this vibrant song of praise by Planetshakers”:

Crafted prayer for this hour that we might be strengthened in the Lord

March 26, 2020

Psalm 18_1--3

As believers across the globe are calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ during these intense times that challenge us to the depths of our souls, I thought of this blog entry which is modified and re-posted here. Psalm 18:1-2 is a is an expression of David’s calling upon the Lord, and it reflects the cry of our hearts also:

Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT)

[Psalm 18] [For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:] I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

In this passage we find two references to the strength that comes from God Almighty: “O Lord, my strength” and “my God, my strength.” As I reflected upon this passage, I recall a “crafted prayer” composed as a petition to God that, as believers, we might be strengthened in the Lord.

Developed by Graham Cooke, the concept of “crafted prayer” involves using the Scriptures to construct specific, targeted prayers, addressed to God. Such prayers may be expressed individually as well as corporately. In his book Crafted Prayer, Cooke reveals that those who “pray the Bible” or use the Scriptures as the basis for their prayers will experience “the joy of always getting your prayers answered.”

A Crafted Prayer that We Might Be Strengthened in the Lord, Our God

O God, you have been our help in ages past; you have delivered our souls from destruction in days gone by, and we know that you are a very present help in the midst of every one of the trials and tribulations that we face each day, as you continue to deliver those who call upon your name. God of power and might, you are our hope for every tomorrow. As the days of our lives unfold before us, we face the future with confidence, knowing that our times are in your hands and that you shall deliver us out of the hand of the enemy.

God, you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We come to you, the source of all strength and might, thanking you that you have fortified us through Christ Jesus. We know that the Lord saves His anointed; you will answer us from your holy heaven with the saving strength of your right hand.  Though our flesh and our hearts may fail, God, our almighty fortress, is the rock and firm strength of our hearts and our portion forever. In the day when we cry out to you, you answer us and strengthen us with strength in our souls.

We declare that the LORD is our light and our salvation; whom or what shall we fear? The LORD is the strength of our lives; of whom or what shall we be afraid? You declare that we should not fear, for you are with us. We should not be dismayed, for you are our God. You will strengthen us; yes, you will help us. Indeed, you will uphold us with the right hand of your righteousness.

We had fainted, unless we had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. As we wait on the LORD, we will be of good courage, assured that He shall strengthen our hearts. We are confident that as we wait upon the LORD, we shall renew our strength. We shall mount up with wings as eagles; for you make known that just as you bore Israel upon eagles’ wings and brought them unto yourself, so you will elevate us and raise us above any circumstance that seeks to keep us from being all that you have called us to be. As we wait on you, we know that in due season, we shall run, and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint.

As you bless and refresh us and fill us anew with your overflowing goodness and mercy, so we pour into one another, as we encourage ourselves and one another in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who infuses inner strength into us. We minister and pray for one another that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, as we go from strength to strength, and glory to glory, even from faith to faith. Your desire is that we may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of your glory, to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance and forbearance with joy.

We conclude our petitions with this declaration:

That we will be strengthened, perfected, completed, and made to be all that you have called us to be. We will be encouraged and consoled and comforted and will be of the same agreeable mind one with another. We proclaim that we will live in peace, knowing that the God of love, who is the source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men and the author and promoter of peace is with us. We make known that according to the riches of God’s glory, that we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and that we know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we are filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. All these things we declare to be so through the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our soon-coming King, who is the strength our lives. Amen.

Psalm 18:1-2 are among the verses forming the foundation for “In Christ Alone,” the source of strength in whom we stand:

More than the crown

March 23, 2020

James-1 12The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2020 comes from James 1:12 (NIV):

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Today’s post, a revision of a previous entry, focuses on some of the references to “crowns” found in the Bible. Translated from the Greek word stephanos, the word crown relates to the symbol of victory given to athletes in the Greek games, such as the Olympics or other contests, where winners are honored or crowned with laurel leaves or olive branches. This reference to “the crown of glory” is one of five different crowns mentioned in the New Testament.

Incorruptible crown:

Paul uses athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where he describes the crown placed on the head of those who win a race. He contrasts this “corruptible” or perishable crown with the “incorruptible” or imperishable crown awaiting believers who discipline themselves and compete lawfully, those who “run their best race and win it”:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.

Crown of joy

The apostle Paul looked forward to a “crown of joy” or a “crown of rejoicing” to be enjoyed in the resurrection when he is reunited with fellow believers whom he led to the Lord and taught and served.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NKJV):

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Crown of righteousness

In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul’s offers sobering yet encouraging words to his beloved son in the faith and makes reference to a crown of righteousness awaiting those who have remained faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who eagerly awaiting his return:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New Revised Standard Version)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Crown of life

The Verse of the Day mentions a “crown of life” awaiting the individual who endures trials while carrying out the purposes of God’s plan,

James 1:12:

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Crown of glory

1 Peter 5:4 speaks of a “crown of glory” awaiting those who fulfill their calling and finish the work that has been set before them:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In reflecting upon the various aspects of crowns as they relate to athletic endeavors, I also think of what motivates me beyond the desire to receive rewards at the bema or the judgment seat of Christ, in that I am striving to hear something that will make all the time, energy and effort put into living my life for Christ worthwhile. I express that deepest yearning in the poem:

Much More

His lord said to him, “Well done,

good and faithful servant;

you have been faithful over a few things,

I will make you ruler over many things:

enter into the joy of your lord.”

Matthew 25:23

 

More than mere status or the embrace of the crown

Around the head or glory, honor or renown;

More than medals of gold or laurels that fade

With the thundering applause and ceaseless accolade;

More than any crowning achievement or success

Or the rarest prizes eyes could ever witness;

More than the taste of victory every time you try:

Such alluring sweetness can never satisfy.

So much more are these words when the race is finally won,

When we finish the course and cross the finish line,

And stand upon the bema where we shall incline

Our ears to hear God say, “Good and faithful servant, well done.”

We shall bask in ultimate ecstasy of victory

And savor the goodness of God for all eternity.

The phrase “Well done, good and faithful servant” is used in the Parable of the Talents and is the inspiration behind the contemporary rendition of “Well Done” by Erica Campbell:

No fear in love

June 27, 2019

Recently I reactivated my subscription to Logos Bible software and decided to look at the Verse of the Day for June 27, 2019, taken from Isaiah 41:10-13. Here is the New Living Translation:

10 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.
11 “See, all your angry enemies lie there,
confused and humiliated.
Anyone who opposes you will die
and come to nothing.
12 You will look in vain
for those who tried to conquer you.
Those who attack you
will come to nothing.
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.

In previous blog entries, we note that this passage is one of 365 scriptures said to address the issue of fear, providing yet another reminder to believers: “Do not fear.” We could view these verses as one of our daily memos from God to have no fear.

These words of great comfort also provide the lyrics to a Scripture Memory Song:

Do Not Fear

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.”

Recognizably, fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that can run rampant to limit and inhibit.

As with each of the toxic emotions of life, we want to counteract their harmful effects with the proper remedy. When we encounter a negative emotion, we are encouraged “to move in the opposite spirit. In terms of our responding to fear by moving in the opposite spirit,” we find that love is the perfect antidote.

The book of I John reveals the “perfect” connection between fear and love, particularly in 1 John 2:5

But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this know that we are in Him. [NKJV]

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, lacking nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end. The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or full in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there is 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.

No fear in love

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

“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
And abounds to transform any adverse atmosphere.
We are perfected and made whole when we walk in love,
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
Such love is pure and never repels but draws us near.

This balm of love heals all wounds, no matter how severe
With words of compassion each soul on earth longs to hear;
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
There is no fear in love.

We follow in Christ’s steps, knowing our mandate is clear.
Assured of triumph, there is never a need to fear.
We press toward the mark, the prize we seek to lay hold of
To ascend in victory on wings of a gentle dove.
We walk forth as bold pioneers on a love frontier:

The essence of the message for today is “Have no fear—walk in love.” We conclude as Whitley Phipps offers this encouraging musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”

New view of new heaven and new earth

June 1, 2019

Revised and reposted from a year ago is The Verse of the Day for June 1. Here is a familiar passage from the last chapter of the Bible, which provides a view of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness:

Revelation 21:2-4

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Verse 5 goes on to reveal that God makes all things new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

I recall reciting this particular passage in remarks that I shared during my father’s funeral, as I concluded by looking ahead and projecting toward the future with hope. At the time, my wife was involved in planning a family reunion for her mother’s family that would take place the next month. Such an occasion reminded me of the ultimate family reunion, the marriage supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 21:1-4:

The passage from the last chapter in the Bible relates to hope not in the broad, general sense as defined as “an expectation of a future good,” but it alludes to “the Hope,” defined as the return of Jesus Christ, an event that precedes the marriage supper of the Lamb. Indeed, “the Hope” continues to be a theme that energizes believers despite these perilous times that engulf the world, as Titus 2:13 reveals:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

I concluded my remarks at my father’s home-going service by reciting I Thessalonians 5:13-18, another familiar passage related to the Hope:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In April of this year, I published an article in Medium.com about being a poet strongly influenced by music, especially jazz. I concluded my discussion about “the new heaven and the new earth,” as I envision this celestial scene when I express my gratitude to God for something that means so much to me:

Thank God for the Music

Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven
given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.

Walter Savage Landor

Day by day melodies overflow and flood our soul
With lyrics to touch the heart as God inspires them.
We compose reprises to play until the day
We sing our new song in the New Jerusalem
When all the chords of heaven and earth crescendo
In praise before the glory of the Lamb of God.
We will stand before Him and with our eyes, we will see
The jeweled walls of heaven and the streets of gold
And the Holy City descending as a bride,
Adorned in royal splendor to meet her bridegroom.
We will celebrate God’s grace at the wedding feast
And worship freely in His glorious presence
As we join in chorus with the host of heaven
To thank God for the music and the gift of song.

Inspired by Revelation 21:3-5 Esther Mui Song offers “Behold, I Make All Things New” Christian Praise Worship Lyrics:

No longer a mystery: God’s intent revealed

April 25, 2019

The Verse of the Day for April 25, 2019, comes from Colossians 1:27-28 (KJV):

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

This passage mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God.” The Scriptures reveal God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth. Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God desires that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. I express my yearning to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery to a greater degree in this way:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

Enlighten my eyes that I might openly see;
Expand my mind and widen my comprehension
To understand the temple of the mystery.
Teach me to fully comprehend each dimension
And ascertain the magnitude without measure:
Reveal to me the true length,
though it is endless;
Teach me to find the full breadth,
though it is boundless;
Help me to reach the vast height,
though it is measureless;
Teach me to probe the great depth,
though it is fathomless.

Show me your divine design for the inner man.
Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry
Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan
For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.
Share with me the value of this priceless treasure,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.
Take my hand and lead me, as you would guide a youth,
A son who lives to explore the depths of your truth.

Colossians 1:27-28 also inspired the lyrics of this original song:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Even before the world began,
God put together His master plan,
Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see
All that you have called me to be.
Share with me the secrets that you have for me,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.
Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find
He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.
I once was so blind, but now I see.
I’m walking into my destiny:
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me the hope of glory.

Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in you and me, the hope of glory.

Charlie LeBlanc offers a musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You! (Hosanna! Music)”

No disappointment, for God is good

March 13, 2019

A recent conversation I had centered on the word “disappointment” a deadly emotion, if unchecked or not countered, can precipitate a most destructive downward spiral that can sabotage the destiny of a believer. We must continually look to God and to what He has promised in His Word when we encounter this potentially devastating emotion. As we do this, we recognize that God does not disappoint nor fail to fulfill the hopes or expectations of His children. No, He does not prevent hopes or expectations from being realized, which is how many define the verb to “disappoint.” One is said to feel “disappointed” or sad or displeased when one’s hopes or expectations have not been fulfilled. However, there is never any disappointment with God who does everything on purpose: As for God, His way

 

 

 

 

yis perfect.

As believers, we cannot hold onto any feelings of being disappointed! In reality, feelings of disappointment consist of our hopes and expectations. Disappointments come when God does not come through at the time that we “expect” nor in the way we “expect.” Disappointment is the result of “failed expectations” on our part.

The late Kim Clement spoke of the “power of presuppositions.” The term relates to assumptions or preconceived ideas as we speculate on a situation and how we think it should unfold. He went on to say that “Presupposition” is an enemy to destiny. . . .” We may sense that God has failed us when our lives fail to unfold according to our prescribed patterns and plans, as expressed in this poem inspired by the statement from Clement:

Presupposition: Enemy to Destiny

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.”
Acts 15:18

“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny. . . .”
Kim Clement

Prophetic words that God desires to bring to pass
Wither as un-ripened fruit that fails to mature,
As our lives seem to diminish from gold to brass.
In the midst of changing times, of this we must be sure:
“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny.”
Our failed expectations shipwreck us and distort
Our view of the place where we thought that we would be,
As we accept what appears to be the last resort.
Though this downward spiral plummets to depths of despair,
We trust our all-wise Father who makes no mistakes,
For God heals broken lives that seem beyond repair
With exquisite beauty that fills all that He makes.
Known to God are all His works from eternity:
His perfect will unfolds to those with eyes to see.

When we think about it, however, there is no failure in God, for God is good, and because God is good, the Verse of the Day for March 13, 2019, a verse for every day of the year, reminds of this truth:

Romans 8:28

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. [Amplified Bible]

We “silently submit to God”—not with wailing and bemoaning, not criticizing, not condemning nor complaining. We submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God and resist the Devil, who tries to convince us that God disappoints us and never fulfills His promises.

To counter the corrosive nature of being “disappointed” let’s take a look at the Word of God where we find that those who trust in God will not be disappointed.

Throughout the Psalms, we find this reality reinforced:

Psalm 22:5 (AMP)

They cried to you and were delivered; they trusted in, leaned on, and confidently relied on You, and were not ashamed or confounded or disappointed.

Psalm 25:20 (AMP):

O keep me, Lord, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed or disappointed, for my trust and my refuge are in You.

Paul reiterates the point those who trust in God will not be disappointed in their expectations:

Romans 10:11 (AMP):

The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.

When it comes to disappointment, we must counter this negative emotion with expectations according to the Word of God. We need to look to Our Great God with “Great Expectations” which is much more than a novel by Dickens.

First of all, we must remember this:

Numbers 23:19 (KJV):

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Proverbs 23:18 (AMP) reminds us:

For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.

The Psalmist reminds us that our hope and expectations are in God, not in our circumstances, not in what we have or do not have:

Psalm 39:7 (AMP):

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.

So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good. When facing what appears to be disappointing aspects in life, the lyrics to “Trust His Heart” sung by Babbie Mason provide great strength and comfort: