Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Love God, love people

February 25, 2017

Matthew 22--37-39 2

The Verse of the Day for February 25, 2017 is a response offered by Jesus Christ in Matthew 22: 37-39, but to fully appreciate his statement, it is important to understand the questions asked and to see who asked it. Let us take a look at the entire passage:

Matthew 22:34-40

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

In his response Jesus Christ lays the foundation for all relationships which begin with God, our Heavenly Father, and all others whom we encounter every day. The Verse of the Day is used as the introduction to this poetic observation:

Building Godly Relationships

Matthew 22:36-40

God sets aside and keeps for Himself a remnant:

Those set apart, His beloved whom He foreknew

And predestinated to keep His covenant,

His righteous ones, called and chosen, faithful and true.

In Christ is defined a Godly relationship,

But we must submit to Jesus and make him Lord

To understand the essence of this true friendship,

Unfolded in these two commandments of God’s Word.

May we renew our vows and never violate

The God in us but ever seek to find

In Him the strength to walk in love and never hate

But to love Him with all our heart and soul and mind.

We are no longer called a servant but a friend,

Growing in devotion and faithful to the end.

Israel Houghton offers this reminder: “Love God, Love People”:

Hope and a future

February 24, 2017

Jeremiah-29-11

From Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV) comes the Verse of the Day for February 24, 2017:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11, the first verse of this celebrated passage, was listed as second of the Top 10 most popular verses accessed through Biblegate.com in 2015. I recall hearing this verse for the first time in the New International Version of the Bible more than 20 years ago:

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.

To more fully understand the magnitude of God’s declaration, take a look at the following video that graphically illustrates the context of the verse taken from Jeremiah 29:11-14

The New Living Testament renders Jeremiah 29:11-13 in this way:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

In reflecting on this familiar passage from the Old Testament, I thought of the first time that I heard Jeremiah 29:11 which occurred as I was embarking upon a new assignment in my career as well as in my ministry. Two decades later I find myself in a similar position of transition, having returned to the same place where I was at that time. “Oh, the Providence of God!”

Although the 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:

Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.

Hope has been defined as “the expectation of a future good.” In thinking about our eternal hope, I remember lines from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems that described hope in a particularly intriguing way, as the opening lines serve as the title and epigraph for this poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers. . . “

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.”

 

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Romans 8:24-25 [New Living Translation]

 

As a rare exotic bird, arrayed in brilliant plumes,

Hope rises as a phoenix, a many-feathered thing:

As a lark ascending at sunrise sings on the wing

A melody that fades but then suddenly resumes,

So Hope conveys a message without a single word.

This glorious song of Hope will take us to the place where

Golden notes provide escape from any fowler’s snare:

The tune lingers to remind us that we, too, have heard

Heavenly harmonies in our innermost ear.

Perched in the depths of our soul, Hope has found a new home.

The songbird prepares our heart to receive what is to come.

While we wait in patience, God’s presence is ever near.

In these times of darkness and despair we will recall

And listen to hear Hope’s song that never stops at all.

Although the prophetic word from Jeremiah is specifically addressed to Israel, those words of comfort and hope can certainly have personal application, in that the plans that God has for each of His children are no less grand than those He has for the Children of Israel.

As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us and teach us all along the path that unfolds as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18).  Jeremiah 29:11-13 also informs us of God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”, so that we need have no fear for our future.

Damaris Carbaugh shares “I Know the Plans” (Debby’s Song) a musical reminder of Jeremiah 29:11

Fear exposes: Love covers

February 20, 2017

Proverbs 17--9

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for February 20, 2017 where we find yet another reference to love in Proverbs 17:9 (NKJV):

He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.

The Amplified Bible offers this rendering:

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.

Proverbs 10:12 (AMP) goes on to contrast the actions of hatred and love:

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers and overwhelms all transgressions [forgiving and overlooking another’s faults].

The covering of sin of others in the context of love is indeed an admirable action mentioned in Proverbs; however, the expression “to cover one’s own sins” is not a positive action, as Proverbs 18:23 reveals. Here the Hebrew verb kasha, means to conceal or to “cover up.”

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJ) points this out:

He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The Verse of the Day from Proverbs 17:19 along with Proverbs 10:12 reveal the connection between the covering of sins and love. This connection is further reinforced

1 Peter 4:8 (AMP)

Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) reminds us of the noble and notable qualities of love:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

In light of that last statement, love wipes the slate clean which is another way of saying that love covers sin rather than exposing it.

The Book of James concludes with this reference to the covering of sins

James 5:19-20

19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and falls into error and [another] one turns him back [to God], 20 let the [latter] one know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save that one’s soul from death and cover a multitude of sins [that is, obtain the pardon of the many sins committed by the one who has been restored].

In a discussion Love Never Publicly Exposes the Faults of Others Pastor Mitch Horton mentions 1 Corinthians 13:7 which states that “love bears all things.” He elaborates with these comments:

The word “bears” is the Greek word stege which simply means a roof or a covering. In this verse it means to cover by silence the offenses of others! In fact the Berkeley translation of the New Testament of this phrase reads, Love covers all things in silence. . . . A believer who walks in love will not gossip about others’ problems!

Pastor Horton concludes his comments with a reference to Mrs. C. Nuzum, author of the book The Life of Faith [1] [who] has this to say about love covering with silence:

Love covers sins, even when there is a multitude of them. Love not only hides the evil in others, but refuses even to speak of it. Then, if we tell of the evil someone has done, criticize, judge, condemn, or murmur against anyone, no matter who he is or what he has done, we are proving that we have not love, because love covers in silence.

It has been said that fear exposes or uncovers sin, but love covers a multitude of sins. Of course, the Word of God once again reminds us of this eternal truth regarding fear and love:

1 John 4:18 (AMP):

18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

To close this discussion here is a musical composition that repeats this all-important message: “There is no fear in love.”

 

Nothing can separate us

February 18, 2017

romans-8-38-39

Yesterday’s Verse of the Day introduced a series of questions raised in Romans 8: beginning with verse 35:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

The Verse of the Day for February 18, 2017 is the culminating response to that series of questions:

Romans 8:38-39:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite the adverse circumstances of life that seek to negatively impact our relationship with God and cause us to question whether He really loves us, Paul offers this blessed assurance: Simply put, nothing can separate us from the love of God:

Beginning with death, the end of life, nor life itself can separate us;

Neither legions upon legions of angelic entities nor powers, neither all the demonic forces that follow the commands of “him who has the power of death—that is the devil”;

Nothing in this present life nor in the life to come;

Nothing is higher than the love of God which reaches beyond the highest height and lowest hell; “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Since God who is love created all things, then no created thing is outside the love of God. Nothing—literally “no thing”– shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

This powerful musical rendering of Romans 8:35, 37-38 by Wayne Tate raises the question and offers the answer expressed in the Verse of the Day.

 

No, we overwhelmingly conquer

February 17, 2017

Romans 8--37

Verse of the Day for February 17, 2017 comes from a personal favorite passage found in Romans 8:35, 37 in the New King James Version:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

If we add verse 36, we note a series of questions expressed this way in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:

35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?

36 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?

The passage culminates with a powerful response that thunders with the answer to this barrage of questions. The answer is more emphatic in other translations which begin with “No!” The familiar King James Version declares:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Phillips Translation puts it this way:

No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us:

So says the New Living Translation:

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

The response is definite and emphatic: No, absolutely not! No way, Jose! No! [Expletive deleted—No!] Paul goes on to close out this section to remind believers of who we are and whose we are and most importantly what we do:

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated from the Greek verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in “super”—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, common expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, overpower, prevail.”  Although translated as such, being “more than conquerors” or “super conquerors,” is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We prevail completely in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives: “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Wayne Tate offers this powerful declaration found in Romans 8:35, 37-39:

Not that we loved God, but that he loved us

February 15, 2017

1-John-4-10

The focus of the Verse of the Day for February 15, 2017 continues to be on the love that God has for His people expressed in 1 John 4:10, to which is added verse 9 in the New Living Translation:

1 John 4:9-10:

9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day, the familiar hymn came to mind: “O How I Love Jesus” with its simple yet profound lyrics:

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to speak its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

Refrain

O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,

Because He first loved me!
It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.

Refrain

It tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild.

Refrain

It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

Refrain

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in my sorrow bears a part,
That none can bear below.

Refrain

It bids my trembling heart rejoice;
It dries each rising tear;
It tells me, in a still small voice,
To trust and never fear.

Refrain

Jesus, the name I love so well,
The name I love to hear!
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.

Refrain

This name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.

Refrain

And there, with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love to me.

Refrain
________________________________________

C. Michael Hawn discusses the history of this classic hymn of the Christian Church and points out that the text by Frederick Whitfield (1829-1904) has been a source of inspiration for more than 150 years.

Don Moen offers a special rendering of this memorable hymn of hope:

One more reminder: Love one another

February 14, 2017

John 13-34-35

It comes as no surprise that the Verse of the Day for February 14, 2017, Valentine’s Day, should remind us to “love one another”:

John 13:34-35 (NKJV):

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This clear exhortation is repeated not only in the Gospel of John but in more than a dozen other places throughout the New Testament where believers are commanded “to love one another.”   Jesus Christ is the model, the standard of love whose demonstration of the love of God we must follow.

The Epistle of 1 John echoes the same sentiments regarding the love of God, exhorting believers, likewise to show their love to one another:

1 John 4:7-11

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

The Holman Standard Bible describes the exhortation to love in this way:

Romans 13:8

[ Love, Our Primary Duty ] Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Dr. Martin Luther King has also offered this reminder:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day love should be the foundation upon which every relationship is built, as this poetic excerpt reminds us:

To decide, demonstrate, freely give and practice love:

The platform whereby we must build all relationships

And follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

This time Kathy Troccoli and Friends offer yet another reminder to love one another:

 

John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16

February 13, 2017

john-3-16-new

Within the past few years, John 3:16, the Verse of the Day for February 13, 2017, has been among the most often quoted verses in the Bible. The celebrated verse has been displayed on bumper stickers, tee shirts, and other apparel, posters, coffee mugs, and even athlete’s eye paint. In 2014 Christianity Today reported Bible Gateway visitors spent more than 76 million hours on BibleGateway.com in the previous year. Of the 456 million visits and 1.5 billion page views, number one among the top 10 searches for Bible verses was John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The Sound of Music, one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all times, gives us these memorable lyrics from Oscar Hammerstein II:

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 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 widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16.

The book of I John also elaborates on the love of God in the corresponding verse:

1 John 3:16

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.

I recently came across 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. Another statement reiterates the same point: “Love is a verb. Without action it is merely a word.”

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.

Fred Hammond offers this musical expression of one of the most recognized verses in the Bible:  John 3:16 (Live):

Love never fails

February 12, 2017

1 Corinthians 13--4-7

In the Verse of the Day for February 12, 2017 we find two more verses from 1 Corinthians 13 further describing “charity” in the King James Version or agape or the love of God:

1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NKJV):

Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Here are two variations of these verses from two other Bibles:

New Living Translation:

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Amplified Bible:

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

As we think about these verses from 1 Corinthians 13, a passage from Romans 8 also comes to mind, relating to the constancy of the love of God which never fails. No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us and that His love endures. The late Dr. Adrian Rodgers once stated, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.” The chapter concludes with this assuring reminder expressed in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:37-39

37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To know God is to love Him, and how do we know Him? 1 John 2:3 reminds us:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

This verse brings to mind the following lyrics:

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we know You still love us.

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we  know You still love us.

 

No matter how many times we go astray

And leave Your side and choose to disobey.

When we’re overwhelmed and can’t even pray,

No matter what we do or do not say.

 

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we know You still love us.

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we know You still love us.

 

No one else knows our heart: You are the one

To call us home when we have no place to run.

When we look all around at all that we’ve done,

Despite all our failures, You still call us your own.

 

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we know You still love us.

We know that we know that we know that we know.

We know that we know You still love us. You still love us.

We close with the assurance that God loves us, as the Verse of the Day reiterates: “Love never fails” beautifully expressed by Jim Brickman and Amy Sky:

 

What love is

February 11, 2017

1-corinthians-13-4-5_web

Revised and re-blogged from a year ago, the Verse of the Day for February 11, 2017 continues with the unfolding of 1 Corinthians 13 and its quintessential definition of love, as we move toward Valentine’s Day. The next section from verses 4-5 illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NKJV):

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;.

Here the Word of God continues to answer in detail “What is love?” What unfolds is an extended  definition of the concept of “love” or “agape”, the unique expression of the love of God used throughout the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13. Actually, the extended definition of love takes the form of a definition by negation, meaning the concept is explained in terms of its opposites or what it is not.What something is not becomes what it is. “It is what it is,” one of the popular sayings of the day, brings to light that “charity” or “the love of God” or “agape” is the opposite of what the Scriptures declare it is not.

And so the definition of the love of God continues to unfold. “Foreigner,” the British-American rock band released the pop-hit of the 1980s featuring the New Jersey Mass Choir with lyrics that expresses this desire: “I wanna know what love is.” To truly know what love is, we must know who God is, for God is love. First Corinthians 13 provides this magnificent definition of the love of God.

Bernie Armstrong offers “1 Corinthians 13—The Wedding Song–Love Never Fails,” a truly beautiful love song of life: