Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

He shall preserve your soul

June 22, 2018

The Psalms serve as a reservoir where believers we can be refreshed along life’s sometimes tedious journey. The Verse of the Day for June 22, 2018 provides great comfort and assurance to the believer:Psalm 121:7-8:

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Throughout the Psalms of David, we find references to the Lord God Jehovah who preserve His people. The Hebrew verb translated “preserve” means to keep, to watch, as a watchman on the wall; to hedge about or to guard, protect or attend to constantly,

The Psalms proclaim over and over Jehovah God Almighty not only preserves those who love Him, but He also delivers those who call upon Him. Take a look at Psalm 97:10 (AMP):

You who love the Lord, hate evil; He protects the souls of His godly ones (believers), He rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 32:7 also reminds us of who God is and what He does:

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

The Psalmist offers these prayers to God:

Psalm 40:11

Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.

Psalm 140:1, 4

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men;
Preserve me from violent men,

4 Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
Preserve me from violent men,
Who have purposed to make my steps stumble.

Psalm 143:11 (NLT) offers this petition:

For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

This original “psalm” recognizes who God is and what He will do:

As children runs to safety in their father’s arms,
So we, too, run to you, “our shelter from life’s storms.”
Lord, we long to dwell with you in the secret place,
Our buckler, our shield, deliverer, our fortress,
Strong tower, defender, who responds to our prayers.
For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish us
And protect us and deliver us from evil.

We close with another “psalm” a prayer, inspired by series of teachings from Nehemiah related to rebuilding the wall and restoring the gates of Jerusalem:

A Prayer While Waiting at the Horse Gate

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

May we remember the source of true strength at this gate,
As we recall the matchless name of the Almighty,
Who may seem to tarry but indeed is never late.

May we understand His ways, for we have eyes to see,
As we come to recognize that God is our resource,
While ever striving toward the place of our destiny.

May we not place our trust in a chariot or horse,
Symbolic of authority, worldly goods and power,
But trust in God and not presume to chart our own course.

May we come to know God as our defense, our strong tower,
Our deliverer who knows us by name, the all-wise one,
Who calls me into the Kingdom for this very hour.

God gives power and renews the strength of those who wait.
May we remember the source of true strength at this gate.

The Verse of Day reiterates the message that the Lord preserves those who love Him, as we close with a musical rendering of Psalm 121

Safely to abide: Psalm 91

June 21, 2018

The Verse of the Day for June 21, 2018 is taken from Psalm 91:1 (NKJV):

[Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God] He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

This well-known Psalm of David in its entirety provides great comfort and strength in the midst of the chaotic times in which we presently live:

Psalm 91 (NKJV)

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Reflecting on this psalm of safety and assurance, inspired these words:

Abide in Peace

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

Although fierce storm clouds threaten, I lie down in peace and sleep,
Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.
Assured that every promise God will keep,
For God alone makes me to dwell in the land of safety.
Though deadly diseases may arise to ravage the land,
God will deliver from the hand of the enemy.
Healed and made whole by the loving touch of God’s right hand,
I abide in the secret place where I long to be.
Even though tens of thousands may fall on every side,
I shall abide under the shadow of His wing,
Knowing God is faithful to protect and to provide,
I shall see with my eyes all that salvation shall bring.
As a tree rooted and grounded, planted by the river,
I abide in peace, knowing God promised to deliver.

Esther Mui closes with a moving rendition of Psalm 91: “God, In Him I Will Trust”:

Sacrificial liiving: as Christ loved the Church

June 19, 2018

Every day as we progress through life, we recognize this profound yet simple truth: “It’s all about relationships.”

God floods the eyes of our hearts with light that we might know,
As we discover new depths of our relationships
While we mature, applying the Word that we might grow.
We recognize that “It’s all about relationships.”
Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,
“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life.

The underlying principle for building and maintaining successful relationships is love. Love is where it begins, and love is where it ends, as we learn to love God and to love one another. We must also remember that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Yes, the love of God is the foundation stone of any relationship. The Verse of the Day for June 19, 2018 specifically addresses the role of husbands in the marriage relationship:

Ephesians 5:25-26 (NKJV):

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

In marriage, we find the ultimate expression of God’s love, unconditional love, love beyond degree. Jesus Christ bears the standard, setting the example, par excellence, showing the depth of love a man should have for his wife. Jesus Christ models an undying commitment to the Church, demonstrating the depth of sacrificial living that men should have for their wives:

A couple of years ago, in a blog post devoted to this passage, I commented on a men’s Bible study I had attended with one of my sons-in-law, focusing on “The Journey to Authentic Manhood,” as modeled by Jesus Christ in his 33 years on earth. The session was one of a series of discussions related to some of the challenges that confront men in the quest for “authentic manhood” in our relationships as husbands, fathers, co-workers, and other areas of responsibilities.

In thinking about Ephesians 5:25-26, I also recall this poem that captures the essence of one of the principal attributes of authentic manhood:

Sacrificial Living: Assignment of Manhood

Forgetting things left behind, we press toward the mark.
The passion that now enflames our lives was once a spark.
This all-consuming fire, great light dispels the dark,
As we abide in God’s presence in a place beyond the Ark.

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Like Christ, we endure the cross while despising the shame
And accept this high calling and embrace our new name.
By grace to stand in His presence without any blame,
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Always remaining aware that God is in control,
We are still running to serve the Lord: life’s highest goal.
This zeal for God and His Word burns deep within our soul,
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Being fully persuaded, we now know that we know
That God will fulfill His will and declare, “It is so!”
We set aside pride; where He leads us we will follow:
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Looking to the future, we walk by faith, not by sight.
To do all the will of God still remains our delight
To follow Christ’s command that we should be salt and light
With sacrificial Living: assignment of manhood.

To speak the Word of life in all that we do and say,
To follow in the steps of Christ all along the way.
Until the final victory, we must watch, fight and pray.
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Triumphant from faith to faith and glory to glory,
We still seek God’s face in the place of our destiny,
And we seek to become all God has called us to be
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

With a love so strong, yet ever so tender,
Nothing can dissuade us, nor can anything hinder.
We will hold fast to the faith and never surrender.
God’s Word hidden in our heart, we always remember:

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

We close with “How to Love Your Wife?”—a music video based on Ephesians 5:25 and other verses

Do not provoke but encourage

June 18, 2018

 

Although we have moved beyond Father’s Day, once again, the focus of the Verse of the Day for June 18, 2018 remains on fathers.

Ephesians 6:4 (NLT):

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 (NLT) provides a similar exhortation:

Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Not only are fathers not to provoke their children, but all believers in general are not to provoke God, their Father, by means of unrighteous behavior and unbelief, as the Children of Israel did in the Old Testament. Hebrews 3:16 (AMP points out what occurred:

For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

Psalm 98: 7-9 (NKJV) remind believers that they should

For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.

As Christian believers today, we must also learn from the provocative behavior of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness whereby they did not enter into rest that God desired for them because of their unbelief.

Rather than becoming fathers who provoke our children to wrath or to respond in anger, Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) offers this reminder:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

This verse applies, not only to fathers, but to all believers. We are not to provoke one another, but we are to motivate one another and by all means “encourage one another” with the words we say and by the works  we do. This poem reinforces the message:

Motivate one another

Let us think of ways to motivate one another

to acts of love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)

 

In these trying times, we must adapt to this new season
And transition into the Kingdom God will release,
As we trust in the Lord always and learn to hold our peace.
God, our gracious, all-wise Father, reveals every reason
That we should follow if we are to enjoy good success.
God calls us and then gives us authority and power
To walk by faith and fulfill our mission during this hour
And connect with those of like spirit who desire to bless.
We watch, endure hardship, and do what we are called to do.
As we abide in His Word and live sacrificially,
We are strategic to make full proof of our ministry
And acknowledge that God is ever faithful and His Word is true.
We must walk in the light, not in the place where pride lurks
But motivate one another to love and good works.

Listen to a song of celebration based on Hebrews 10:19-25: “Come Together.”

 

In the footsteps of our faithful fathers

June 15, 2018

As we approach Father Day 2018, we find a number of references to fathers and fatherhood, topics of ongoing concern during these uncertain and turbulent times. From Proverbs 23:24-25 comes the Verse of the Day for June 15, 2018, two days before Father’s Day:

Proverbs 23:24-25 in the New Living Translation:

24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
25 So give your father and mother joy!
May she who gave you birth be happy.

The Message Bible renders the passage this way:

Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her.
Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money;
buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
Make your mother proud!

I recall lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which always seem most appropriate at this time:

Faith of Our Fathers:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and mighty giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this poem encourages us to follow:

In the footsteps of our faithful fathers

Follow the steps of good men instead,
and stay on the paths of the righteous.
Proverbs 2:20

We still walk the paths of the righteous, chosen ones,
In the footsteps of our faithful fathers, as sons
And daughters follow their lead all along the way,
Acknowledging God in all that we do and say.
We have not been here, for each step is strange and new.
Moving ahead, our eyes are now only on You.
As we continue to pursue the paths of truth,
We see Your guiding hand has been there since our youth.
Former days intertwined in confusion and strife,
In darkened, dead-end pathways, all bearing no life.
Along our journey we have known Your grace before,
Assured that Your favor will abound even more.
We are strengthen and encouraged in this new phase
And pledge to press onward for the rest of our days.
We are strengthen and encouraged in this new phase.

Just as we are strengthened and encouraged by the lives of our faithful fathers, so we will strengthen and encourage those who come after us. Steve Green closes with this musical expression of our heart’s desire: “Find Us Faithful”:

Heavens proclaim the glory of God: countless stars

June 12, 2018

The Verse of the Day for June 12, 2018 makes known the glory of God displayed in the heavens above:
Psalm 19:1-2 (New Living Translation)

[Psalm 19] [For the choir director: A psalm of David.] The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

This passage brings to mind the first chapter of Genesis with its bold declaration: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Verse 16 goes on to relate other aspects of God’s creation by stating:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

Not only did God fashion the sun and the moon, but almost as if an aside, “He made the stars also . . . in their seemingly endless hosts of galaxies, but the Psalmist also reminds us “He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names.” (Psalm 147:4)

Have you ever asked, “How many stars are there in the universe?” According to Elizabeth Howell writing in space.com, “. . . Scientists offer a rough estimate of 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. Multiplying that by the Milky Way’s estimated 100 billion stars results in a large number indeed: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a “1” with 24 zeros after it.” That number is likely a gross underestimation, as more detailed looks at the universe will show even more galaxies, revealing countless stars.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Sun is but one of about 200 billion stars just in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Altogether, astronomers have found more than 500 solar systems and are discovering new ones every year. Given how many they have found in our own neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, scientists estimate that there may be tens of billions of solar systems in our galaxy, perhaps even as many as 100 billion, indicating hundreds of billions of stars in the universe.

By means of the technological advancements, such as the Hubble Telescope, we are also able to observe the heaven as never before, making the Word of God more alive than ever. We are now able to see the glorious handiwork of God on glorious display. The opening verses of Psalm 19 also bring to mind the awesome creative power of God:

This photo taken from the Hubble Telescope displays some of the “galaxies of countless stars.”

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”
Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars
Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:
Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.
As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars
Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond
Seventy thousand million million million stars.

Karen Clark Sheard offers a variation on the theme from Psalm 19:1-2 with her magnificent rendition of “The Heavens are telling.”

Be still my soul

June 11, 2018

The Book of Psalms provides great comfort and assurance from God, our gracious heavenly Father, who speaks so clearly during the stressful, perilous times in which we live, those times said to be difficult to handle. The Verse of the Day for June 11, 2018 offers this solid reminder:

Psalm 46:10 (New Living Translation):

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

Psalm 46 is among those Psalms using the Hebrew expression Selah serving as a refrain or interlude or reminder to “pause, and calmly think of that!” We note its usage in verses 3, 7, and 11. Here is the entire psalm taken from the Amplified Bible:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verse 10 also introduces this original psalm with the first three words of the Psalm 46:10 as its title:

Be Still and Know

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

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

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

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

Be Still

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

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind lyrics to the widely recognized hymn “Be Still My Soul.” Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Distinguished Professor of Church Music, describes Katharina von Schlegel (1697-?), the author, as the leading female hymn writer of 17th Century German pietism, “a movement characterized by faithfulness to Scripture, personal experience and deep emotional expression.”

Jane L. Borthwick (1813-1897), a member of the Free Church of Scotland, translated the lyrics while the melody comes from a symphonic tone poem by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) Finlandia, whose serene melody symbolizes hope and resolution of the Finnish people. The paired lyrics with this particular tune found its way to America in the 1930s with the hymnals used in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. and the United Methodist Church.

We conclude with “Be Still My Soul” offered as a beautiful medley with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by contemporary Christian group “Selah”:

Forgiveness: Forgotten factor in healing

June 10, 2018

In examining the Verse of the Day for June 10, 2018, we see a picture of how believers should behave toward one another in a specific area:

To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, take a look at Colossians 3:12-13 in the New Living Translation:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

This passage brings to mind of one of the chapters in my newly completed book Not Just a Survivor: More than a Conqueror where I share the strategy I developed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. I learned that forgiveness can be a spiritual component of the healing process that is sometimes overlooked.

During the first ten years of dealing with my prostate cancer diagnosis, I was also a writer for an Internet publication that is no longer operational, and I recall publishing a series of articles on forgiveness. Years later, after the publication had folded, I recognized forgiveness as a contributing factor to my healing process

Described as a two-way street, this virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable. “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who offers this definition of this of this critical concept: “Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

What does it mean to forgive?

To forgive means: to send away, dismiss, set free; to acquit by a verdict; to give no punishment to the guilty person and to view the guilty person as if he is innocent. Another definition means to let loose or set at liberty (a debtor).

When we forgive, we also recall another expression of truth by Jesus who said, “It more blessed to give than to receive.” In a situation where one person offers forgiveness and another receives forgiveness. Who is most blessed? I often say, “When you choose to give, you cannot lose, but when you choose not to give you cannot win.”

Benefits of Forgiveness:

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future.

Forgiving.org also examines “Forgiveness Among Individuals: The Relationship Between Forgiveness and Health” in a series of research projects that study the effects of forgiveness on stress, happiness, coping with major illness, and other aspects of health. Karen O’Connor also discusses the “Healing Power of Forgiveness.” In addition, A Campaign for Forgiveness Research acts as a resource of scientific studies related to forgiveness.” In addition, A Campaign for Forgiveness Research acts as a resource of scientific studies related to forgiveness. Everett L. Washington, Jr., Campaign Director, pinpoints the far-reaching effects of this often neglected virtue:

“Forgiveness is both a decision and a real change in emotional experience. That change in emotion is related to better mental and physical health.”

One of the most valuable lessons learned through this entire process is that forgiveness is a choice, as we conclude with this reminder:

I Choose to Forgive

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,
To clear the account and forego the debt once more.
Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,
To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.
My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;
Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,
I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.
Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,
I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.
As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers
What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,
Widen my vision to see a much more grand scope:
May I also see all things working together
For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Matthew West offering “Forgiveness”:

Today’s post is an excerpt from one of the chapters of the forthcoming book. Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror.  Go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com and subscribe to get more publication details. You can also get more details here at Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Stay tuned.

The narrow road

June 9, 2018

The Verse of the Day for June 9, 2018 is found in Matthew 7:13-14 (New Living Translation):

[The Narrow Gate] “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

The Amplified Bible renders the passage this way:

13 Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.
14 But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.

This passage brings to mind comments I posted earlier this week on a blog discussing the power of poetry. Readers were asked to share their thoughts on the topic and talk about particular lines of poetry that impacted their lives. In response, I shared my introduction to poetry as a junior in high school when my English teacher required our class to memorize two poems: “Barter” by Sara Teasdale and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, both of which I committed to memory 60 years ago, and I still find them applicable today.

In a previous blog post, discussing today’s Verse of Day, I make reference to “the broad way” in contrast to “the narrow way” which I connect to “The Will of God.” Also I thought of another work where I refer to the Frost poem: “The Will of God: the Road Less Traveled By.”

When I say that the Will of God is the road less traveled, I recognize now more clearly than ever what that means in light of the poem that I first memorized years ago. Here is the poem that I wrote:

The Will of God: the Road Less Traveled by

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
—Robert Frost

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think. Then you will learn
to know God’s will for you, which is good and
pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)

I begin again this year of my jubilee.
Reflecting on life’s journey, I cannot deny
That the will of God is the road less travelled by:
To choose to serve, even though having been set free.
The straight and narrow way I once again select.
I press on, still striving toward the highest good.
In this place we renew our covenant of blood,
Reassured that “As for God His way is perfect.”
I see clearly with new eyes where our paths have led.
In the midst of turbulent times I remain still,
Proving that good and acceptable and perfect will.
I look back, waiting in the now, then look ahead.
Each day God offers another chance to commence:
The choice to do God’s will makes all the difference.

To follow the Will of God is to decide which path you are going to take. Many times it is much easier to follow our own path and seek our own way rather than God’s way or God’s will. This anonymous poem gives us comfort and consolation when we decide to take the road less traveled by and follow God’s will, no matter where it takes us:

The Will of God
Author: Unknown

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears;
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

Rick Pino sings of “The Narrow Road,” a musical summation of today’s blog entry.

Like hinds’ feet: What does it mean?

June 8, 2018

 

Habakkuk 3--17-19

The Verse of the Day for June 8, 2014 offers encouraging words from Habakkuk 3:19 (New Living Translation):

The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)

This particular verse, the last verse of Chapter 3 of Habakkuk, paints a striking portrait of the downfall of Israel. In the midst of impending destruction, the prophet expresses confidence that the Lord will prevail over the enemy. The third chapter is a sublime song dedicated “to the chief musician,” and is,  therefore, intended apparently to be used in the worship of God.

Habakkuk offers a striking picture of Israel in the midst of total disaster: barrenness abounds in the midst of what should be fruitfulness, as the fig tree is without blossoms. He finds no fruit of the vine, and the olive presses, former symbols of prosperity, are empty. Not only have the crops failed, but cattle and sheep, other sources of livelihood, have been cut off. Despite these disastrous circumstances, the prophet declares he will rejoice:

This magnificent song of triumph crescendos with the last three verses of the final chapter of the prophetic word offered by Habakkuk, as rendered in the Amplified Bible:

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

Complete Jewish Bible renders verse 19 in this way:

ELOHIM Adonai is my strength! He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer and enables me to stride over my high places.

Barbara Lardinais describes this “sure-footed deer” in more detail in “The Secret of the Hind’s Feet”:

The hind is a female red deer whose home is the mountains. The rear feet of the hind step in precisely the same spot where the front feet have just been. Every motion of the hind is followed through with single-focused consistency, making it the most sure-footed of all mountain animals.

National Geographic provides this video of sure-footed, mountain-climbing goats:

The opening phrase of Habakkuk 3:19 also brings to mind Psalm 73:26. The New Living Testament renders the passage in this way:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

Along with the Psalmist, I also declare that “God is the strength of my heart,” in that Psalm 73: 26 became the inspiration for the following scripture memory song also making reference to “hinds’ feet”:

God Is the Strength of My Heart

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

And my portion, my portion, and my portion for evermore.

 

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He’s the lifter, the lifter; He’s the lifter up of my head.

The Verse of the Day and other related scriptures remind us that despite the most severe adverse circumstances, whether physically, financially, emotionally, or otherwise, like the sure-footed mountain deer, we will find our feet set on our high places above the disasters we face.

We close with this original song “Hind’s Feet” by Tina Morgan from the Bride’s Song album, “Divine Rhapsody.”