Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Oh, to see the Mystery

April 25, 2017

colossians-1-27

Fifty years ago, I recall hearing and reading the Verse of the Day for April 25, 2017 for the first time, and since then these verses have come to mean so much to me in studying and applying the Word of God.  The New Living Translation offers this rendering of Colossians 1:27-28:

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

This passage from Colossians 1:27-28 also mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God”—reflected in 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’s desire is that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the true meaning of the mystery of the one body. We express our 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 our eyes that we might openly see;

Expand our mind and widen our comprehension

To understand the temple of the mystery.

Teach us to comprehend fully each dimension

And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to us the true length,

though it is endless;

Teach us to find the full breadth,

though it is boundless;

Help us to reach the vast height,

though it is measureless;

Teach us to probe the great depth,

though it is fathomless.

Show us 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 us the value of this priceless treasure,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.

Take our hand and lead us, as you would guide a youth,

Who loves and lives to explore the depths of your truth.

The lyrics to this original song were also inspired by Colossians 1:27-28:

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 our eyes, help us to see

All that you have called us to be.

Share with us the secrets that will set us free,

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.

We’re no longer bound; we’ve been set free.

We once were so blind, but now we see.

We’re walking into our 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 you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

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

Death, where is your sting?

April 20, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 20, 2017 reminds believers of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ when he arose triumphantly over sin and all of its devastating consequences, even over death itself. As the hymn reminds us, “Up from the grave he arose/with a might triumph over his foes. . .”:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (Amplified Bible)

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [upon the soul] through [the abuse of] the Law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The passage which is often recited on Resurrection Sunday, also reminds me of remarks I shared during a memorial service for a church member who passed away a few years ago. Also included was verse 54:

54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory.

Picture this: Pick up a nitroglycerin tablet which is remarkably small, about a fraction of an inch in diameter and height. Pinching the tablet between the thumb and forefinger would cover it completely. Imagine using all the water in the Pacific Ocean to wash down such a small object. Without question, the nitroglycerin tablet would be “swallowed up” and utterly overwhelmed by the vastness of the ocean.

Another illustration came to mind as I thought of the time when I came across a dead mouse, a small rodent about 4 inches long, as walked I outside of the condo where we were living at the time. I scooped up the tiny carcass and placed it inside a small plastic bag that was then stuffed inside the 13-gallon trash bag that would be tossed into a dumpster that would compress hundreds of similar-sized trash bags, all of which would be taken to a massive landfill encompassing several acres. I could see that in the same way the dead mouse would be “swallowed up” when it eventually found its way to the landfill, even so to an even greater degree, “. . . Death is destroyed; victory is complete!” according to the Good News Translation.

I rejoiced as I saw how God illustrated in such a striking manner just how inconsequential death, the last enemy, has become because of Jesus Christ’s triumphant defeat of him “who has the power over death, that is the devil.”

Because of Jesus Christ and his mighty triumph over sin, disease, and death, as believers in his resurrection, we have a decidedly different perspective on death. We rejoice, as we anticipate the manifestation of the ultimate triumph over the last enemy when we shall experience the reality of the “Final Victory.”

David Goodwin offers an anthem “O Death, Where is Your Sting?”

We conclude with another musical version of Christ’s triumph:

“O Death, Where is Your Sting?” (Pepper Choplin)

Christ has become firstfruits

April 19, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 19, 2017 is found in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 in the New Living Translation:

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

The expression “He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” is translated “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” in the King James Version. The reference to “firstfruits” brings to mind the Feast of the First Fruits, one of the feasts associated with Passover, one of the three feasts established by God for the Children of Israel to observe when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. It was instituted on Day 14 of Nisan (the first month); the Feast of the Unleaven Bread was to begin the next day, Nisan15, and the Feast of the First Fruits to begin three days following Passover on Nisan 17. They are referred to as one feast.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder, the Passover meal, Jesus was recognized as “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Those previous indications are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom Paul describes as “our Passover.” Indeed, Jesus died at the very time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple.

First Fruits was a feast of a thanksgiving offering of the first portion of the harvest to God for His goodness in providing food from the land for the Israelites, acknowledging that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the first fruits was also a way of expressing trust in God’s provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. A first fruits ceremony is described in detail in Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul refers to Christ as the First Fruits. The real point of the feast was looking to the resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah was our provision for spiritual welfare. Jesus was raised on the first day of the Feast of the First Fruits. Jesus said he was the Bread of Life. This was the last feast the Lord took part in while on earth.

The Feast of the First Fruits began the harvest. The offering to the Lord was the first of the grain that was harvested, and afterwards the harvest would continue. This is the symbolism of the First Fruit. Christ was the first as 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 states. Those who have and will believe in Jesus Christ for salvation since that time are the harvest.

The reference to “firstfruits” was also the inspiration for this poetic work:

Firstfruits

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.
James 1:18

Transform and then so fashion our visage
To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.
Fashion us in your fire that we might be
Reformed and cast in His express image:
As boldface type printed upon the page,
As a new coin minted in your treasure,
Stamped with the essence of your character
To convey the power of your message.
So saturate our spirit, heart, soul and mind;
Flaws and failures the Lord heals and restores
To permeate our presence that we might find
Our true calling as Christ’s ambassadors.
More than vessel, vehicle, or instrument,
Like Christ, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.

Steve McConnell offers “Firstfruits” a musical rendition of this celebration:

Christ died for us

April 10, 2017

Romans 5--6-8

As believers across the world focus on the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth, the Verse of the Day for April 10, 2017 reminds us of the moral condition of the world when Christ made his sacrifice:

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT):

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the righbt time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

This passage makes known the absolutely depraved state of humanity “when we were utterly helpless” prior to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “For when we were yet without strength—that is, powerless to deliver ourselves, and so ready to perish, in God’s perfect timing, that is “in due time—at the appointed season Christ died for us sinners.

The next two verses reveal God’s love which is demonstrated in three ways:

First, “Christ died for the ungodly,” whose character, so far from meriting any intervention on their behalf, was altogether repulsive to the eye of God;

Second, He did this “when they were without strength”—with nothing between them and perdition but that self-originating divine compassion;

Third, God displays or demonstrates His love “just at the right time,” as Paul goes on to explain the difference between God and man:

Most people would not be willing to die for an unrighteous person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. Paul is simply asking if an individual—a man of simply unexceptionable character will “anyone” be willing to die for? In contrast, perhaps for “a good man—a man who is distinguished for goodness, a benefactor to society. Logos Bible Software speaks of such a rare instance of self-sacrifice for one merely upright; though for one who makes himself a blessing to society there may be found an example of such noble surrender of life.”

The striking contrast between man and God is set with the phrase “But God. . .”  But God “commends” or “sets off” or “displays” his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Such love is overwhelming when we recognize all that God did for us while we were in such a sinful state that God hates.  Such love is gloriously displayed, as we reflect upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as we commemorate the last week of Jesus Christ’s earthly life.

This powerful passage is set to music “Christ Died for Us” – Romans 5:6-8 (Truth Songs EP)

The very character of God

April 9, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 9, 2017 is found in Hebrews 1:3, but to apprehend more fully the essence of the message, let us take a look the first three verses of Hebrews 1 in the New Living Testament:

Hebrews 1:1-3:

1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

As we considered deeply who Jesus Christ is and what he represents, we note the opening phrase of verse three “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God. . .” or as the King James states that Christ is “the express image of his [God’s] person.”

As believers our innermost desire should be that our lives become expressions of the character of Christ, just as Christ is the expression of the very character of God.

We note the importance of character in words of wisdom entitled “Essence of Destiny” attributed to Frank Outlaw, late President of the Bi-Lo Stores:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

This statement in part also inspired the accompanying poem:

Stamped with Your Character

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,
and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.…

Hebrews 1:3a

As you seek a dwelling place, may you see our heart,
Custom-designed and conformed to your own image.
As you scan sea and land, may you see our visage
And decide to abide in our innermost part.
Search our character as we seek a deeper walk
With you, for we long to abide in your presence.
Naked and humble before you with no pretense,
May we be true in how we live, the way we talk.
As you search us and know us, may you find no flaw
In character, only true hearts of purity.
And may your Word unfold our true identity,
Perfected in the precepts of your changeless law.
We pledge our love and covenant with you today
To be stamped with your character in every way.

David Miller concludes with a scripture memory song of Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV) “The Radiance of the Glory of God.”

Friendship with God

April 8, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 8, 2017 comes from Romans 5:10 in the New Living Translation:

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

Here is the rendering in the Amplified Bible:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

In reflecting upon this verse we note that past, present, and future all merge in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, our Savior:

Past

In the past when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by means of the death of His son. We note that “even our ‘justification,’ our ‘reconciliation’—has already been accomplished. We are no longer enemies, but friends. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, as 1 John reminds us.

Romans 8:7 reminds us that before we were reconciled to God we were enemies who were at odds with God:

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

Former enemies have now been reconciled as friends. Beyond the invitation to become friends on Facebook, God transformed our status from enemies to beloved friends. The lyrics to the song reinforce the message:

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God.
He calls me friend.

Present

In the present, now that we have been reconciled, God has committed unto believers, the word of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation, whereby we are appointed as “ambassadors for Christ.” We thus reconcile others, as 2

Corinthians 5:17-21 clearly reveal.

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Future

Regarding our future—“The future is as bright as the promises of God” because “we will be saved from the wrath to come: that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].”

Verses 24-25 from the Book of Jude remind us and reassure us of what awaits us as believers because of we have been reconciled to God:

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling or falling into sin, and to present you unblemished [blameless and faultless] in the presence of His glory with triumphant joy and unspeakable delight, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Recently one of the most popular verses that believers refer to when talking about the future comes from Jeremiah 29:11 in the NIV:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Although these words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years, we recognize the truth expressed in

Romans 15:4:

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah can certainly have personal application, in that the plans God has for each of His children in 2017 and beyond are no less grand than those He has for the Children of Israel. Our future is secure, as God, our Heavenly Father, clearly expresses His plans for our future or “final outcome”, so that we need have no fear for our future.

The Verse of the Day also speaks of “our friendship with God,” as we close with Phillips, Craig & Dean offering “I am a friend of God”:

Crucified with Christ

April 7, 2017

As we move forward in the days leading up to Palm Sunday and the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth, our thoughts are turning toward the crucifixion of the Savior and his ultimate resurrection. Revised and re-posted below is the following blog entry based on the Verse of the Day for April 7, 2017:

Galatians 2:20 (NLT):

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

According to Logos Bible Software, Paul states “I have been crucified with Christ,” literally meaning, “I am dead.”

Philippians 1:21 in the Amplified Bible also makes known this truth:

21 For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].

Note what Philippians 3:10 has to say about the matter:

10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did];

In reflecting upon these three verses, this poem comes to mind:

I Am Dead

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves
to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:11 (NKJV):

I am dead: I died to my flesh and carnal lusts.
I am unmoved: the dead do not know anything.
Blessed assurance is mine, as a man who trusts
That each day I die I grow immune to death’s sting.
I am dead: I died to desires before my eyes.
The world and its trappings no longer allure me,
For it is appointed unto man once to die.
Opened eyes, once closed in death, no longer see.
I am dead: I died, even to the pride of life.
It does not matter what others may think or say.
I learn to rise above conflict, envy, and strife.
Though dead I abide in Christ, the new and living way.
As with Christ, death precedes any resurrection,
So the path I choose: True North, my new direction.

The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead also resides in every born-again believer. For in Christ we live, we move, and have our being. We have the privilege of demonstrating that same power that raised him from the dead, as we apply the principles of the Word of God whereby we manifest all God desires for us:

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Ephesians 3:17-20).

This message of the Verse of the Day is powerfully reinforced in this stirring rendition of the song based on this verse by Phillips, Craig and Dean, “I am crucified with Christ

We know what real love is

April 6, 2017

1 John 3--16

The Verse of the Day for April 6, 2017 speaks of the love that God has for all of His creation, a love that is so clearly demonstrated during this time of the year:

1 John 3:16 (NLT)

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

In thinking about the concept of love, the lyrics to a song from The Sound of Music, one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all times, come to mind:

 “A bell is not a bell till you ring it. A song is not a song till you sing it. Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

The last line reminds us that with love, there must be a corresponding demonstration or manifestation to express the reality of that powerful emotion. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible John 3:16 (NLT):

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Both John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 bring to mind this anonymous quote: “Love is a verb. Love is doing, saying, showing. Never think just saying you love someone is enough.” There must be corresponding action to show that we love.

Elsewhere in the Gospel of John we find a similar exhortations to follow Jesus Christ’s example of walking in love:

John 5: 9 (Holman Standard Christian Bible):

[Christ-like Love] “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.

Likewise, Ephesians 5:1-2 also encourages believers to demonstrate love:

5 Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

Verse 18 of 1 John 3 further reminds us,

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or brought to maturity in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love.  We must do more than think about love or talk about love; we must demonstrate love by what we do, just as God did in offering His son as a demonstration that He so loved the world.

We conclude our comments with this video inspired by 1 John 3:18 that speaks of about love being action and not merely words.

Looking unto Jesus, our burden bearer

April 3, 2017

Hebrews-12-1-2

Revised and re-posted from a previous blog entry, the Verse of the Day for April 3, 2017 comes from the Hebrews 12:12 in the New Living Translation:

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

For a more comprehensive view, take a look at the first three verses of Chapter 12:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

In thinking on this particular passage, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975.  During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that everyone else’s load was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore on my behalf.  As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrive at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

 

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

 

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

 The Verse of the Day also brought to mind this song: “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” offered by Michael W. Smith:

My experience at the Total Fitness Institute also inspired “The Burden Bearer.” The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood days, recorded here by Pops Staples and the Staple Singers.

When we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” we will see that he, indeed, is our “Burden Bearer.”

Whose fool are you?

April 1, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 1, 2017 is found in Psalm 14:1 in the New Living Translation:

[Psalm 14] [For the choir director: A psalm of David.] Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!

The NLT offers the same rendering of the Psalm 53:1:

1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does go

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind that April 1 is known as April Fool’s Day. The Book of Proverbs provides striking portraits of those who act as “fools” and those who “walk in wisdom” as “the wise.” The Apostle Paul likewise points out the distinction between the wisdom of men and foolishness of God in light of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, described in this way:

1 Corinthians 1:23-25 (NLT):

23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Paul goes on to remind believers: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”

The story is told of a man who wore a sandwich board in New York City as he walked the streets. On the front written in bold letters was this statement: “I’m a fool for Christ’s sake!” People passed and chuckled or snickered, but they changed their expressions when they turned around to read the back of the sign which asked, “Whose fool are you?”

The lyrics to the chorus of the popular song “Everybody Plays the Fool” also remind us of this truth:

Everybody plays the fool sometime
There’s no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool

Since everybody plays the fool sometime in life and in love, many have decided that, like the gentleman in New York, we will be a fool for Christ’s sake, since the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger that men,” so say the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Most assuredly here is a situation where we note the distinction between the ways of men who purport themselves to be wise, and the ways of God who uses foolishness to confound the wise:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

The whole idea of being a “fool for Christ’s sake” on April Fools’ Day evokes this portrait:

My Madsong

We are fools for Christ’s sake,
but you are wise in Christ!
We are weak, but ye are strong!
You are distinguished, but we are dishonored.
I Corinthians 4:10

I am stark raving mad as a gitsy;
I am insane and crazy as a loon.
Though my voice is stronger,
My lyrics are wronger.
My madsong is plainly out of tune
(But all the while I smile).

I am a rare and bizarre exception
Who loves to laugh out loud and cry.
My mind borders hysterical;
Each day I see a miracle.
I live on earth with my home in the sky
(And all the while I smile).

I make my point with certainty–
Another fact which clearly shows
That I am deceived or naiver,
With the mind of a child, a believer
Who knows that he knows that he knows
(Why all the while I smile).

So I still dream my dreams and live
My life in such a simple style.
The world wants to eat me for supper,
But I just laugh and keep the upper
Hand and keep walking mile by mile
(As all the while I smile)

They call me kook, fanatic and fool
Because of my peculiar knack.
Folks think me still odder
Because I talk with God, my Father,
And furthermore, yes, He talks back
(And all the while I smile).

On April Fools’ Day and every day, our desire is to walk in “The Perfect Wisdom of God:”

All of this provides more food for thought on April Fool’s Day, 2017.