Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

God’s thoughts and God’s ways

October 13, 2018

Today’s blog post entry combines the Verse of the Day for October 13, 2018 found in Jeremiah 29-11 with comments on a related verse from Isaiah 55:8.

As one of the most popular verses of the day, Jeremiah 29:11 appears on greeting cards, plaques, placards, and wall hangings of every kind. Believers rejoice in anticipating to see God’s plans for their lives unfold in glorious ways. Here is the New International Version of the widely recognized verse:

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

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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years of enduring unimaginable pain and suffering, shame and humiliation as a result of their rebellion and disobedience. As we read the passage, 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.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah 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. We must recognize, however, that those plans may not unfold in the way that we think they should at the time when we think they should. The Scriptures remind us: As for God, His way is perfect. The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

The passage from Jeremiah 29 which speaks of the thoughts of God toward the people of God also brings to mind Isaiah 55:7-9

7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This passage describes the mind of God, explaining that His thoughts are far beyond our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 was also the inspiration for this expression of our desire that God will lead, guide, and direct us:

O Lord, prepare the way, straighten our path, and order our steps.
Shine your light upon us that we may not stumble,
That we may not walk in the light of our own sparks,
But illumine our way with the lamp of Your Word.
O Lord, direct our hearts into the love of God
And into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ.
Raise us up in righteousness and direct all our ways,
As we acknowledge Your thoughts are not our thoughts,
Neither are Your ways our ways, O Lord.

As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us, teaching  us along the path that continues to unfold as a light shining 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

We close this entry, as we listen to this Christian Worship and Scripture Song based on Isaiah 55:6-9

Psalm 62:1: Watching and waiting

October 11, 2018

The Verse of the Day for October 11, 2018 comes from Psalm 62:1 in the New International Version:

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

Three other versions of the Bible provide additional insight into Psalm 62:1

Amplified Bible:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.

New King James Version:
Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.

New Living Translation:
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Holman Christian Standard Bible:
I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.

These various versions of the Verse of the Day remind us that we are not just waiting, but we are waiting silently, quietly in a state of rest. As a blog post entered earlier this year reminds us, “We are learning to wait on the Lord with patience.” Brian Adams offers these words of encouragement:

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”

We note this Biblical definition of patience which has also been translated endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.

As we wait on the Lord, we are not in a state of apprehension or anxiety, but we are in a state of “blessed assurance,” as the lyrics to one of the most popular hymns of all time remind us:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

The closing verses of my favorite psalm come to mind when we speak of waiting:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Verse 14 provides the introduction to this expression of the present state in which we find ourselves:

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!”
—Psalm 27:14

Reassured once more we will not be left behind,
But with patience we must still learn to watch and wait.
We look into the mirror of God’s word and find
Our God has been ever faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we remain yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all of God’s will.

Meditating on Psalm 62:1 and other verses related to waiting is great way to start the day, as we watch and wait.

We conclude with Psalm 62 rendered in music by Alan Keyes:

Passion of our heart

October 9, 2018

We begin our day by taking a close look at the Verse of the Day for October 9, 2018. Here we find instructions given to the Children of Israel, as God expresses His desire for His people, instructing them how to conduct their lives:

Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV)

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

This verse contains directives to the Children of Israel expressed in the form of six action verbs that can be paired together to express how His people should conduct their lives:

Follow and Revere him

In thinking about the verb to follow, I recall the simplicity of the Children’s Ministry song: “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness:”

My Lord knows the way
Through the wilderness
All I have to do is follow

(REPEAT)

Strength for today along the way
And all I need for tomorrow
My Lord knows the way
Through the wilderness
All I have to do is follow

Instead of using the verb revere or to have reverence for, some translations use the term fear, to have respect for or to honor. Regarding the fear of the Lord, Job 28:28 (NLT) offers this reminder:

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

The Psalmist echoes a similar sentiment in Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

Amplified Bible also connects the fear of the Lord with obedience:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that leads to obedience and worship] is a fountain of life, So that one may avoid the snares of death.

Keep His commands and obey him

The scriptures reveal the benefits that come to those who follow the Lord’s commands:

Exodus 4:40 (Holman Christian Standard)

Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Note how the Word of God reinforces this message:

Deuteronomy 7:9 (Holman Christian Standard)

Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.

Regarding the verb obey, Deuteronomy 11:22 offers these words of wisdom:

“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

Serve him and hold fast to him.

The final verb means to stick to or to stick with, stay close, cleave, and keep close. It has also been translated to follow closely, join to, overtake, and catch. As believers, all of our energy and efforts should be toward pursuing and adhering to the precepts of the Lord, our God.

Deuteronomy 10:20 provides another directive to fear and to cling:

You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone.

The Psalmist makes this statement:

Psalm 119:31 (NLT):

I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
To serve and hold fast to him:

Deuteronomy 6:13 (Amplified Bible) reiterates the same message that the people of God are to serve Him alone:

You shall fear [only] the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] and swear [oaths] by His name [alone].

When Jesus Christ was tempted of the Devil in the wilderness, the Savior’s response came from this very passage in Deuteronomy 6:13:

Matthew 4:10 (Amplified Bible)

Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day and other related scripture, we find the Lord our God reveals His desire for His people. Once we recognize the inner longings of our Father’s heart, we seek to fulfill His will, an expression of

Passion of our Heart

Take delight in the Lord,

and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 37:4 (HCS)

 

The passion of our heart is to fulfill the call,

To walk worthy of the vocation, to stand tall

Yet humbly in His presence, to ever succeed

And abound in God’s grace and to sow righteous seed

That bears fruit each season, wherever it may fall.

 

To serve God with a pure heart, untainted with gall,

May we never forget His goodness but recall

The Word of God spoken to give life and to feed

The passion of our heart.

 

May we walk in peace and live to tear down each wall;

May we know the touch that will quicken and enthrall.

Touched by God’s hand, our lives now reveal such deep need.

We must do more than merely hear but must give heed

To the desire to please the Father with all

The passion of our heart.

To serve, to fear, to obey, to listen, and to cling are powerful verbs spoken as commands to the Children of Israel. In a similar way we can apply these action words to our lives today as believers. This inner yearning is personalized in the song “With all my heart”:

Trust in the Lord always

October 6, 2018

The Verse of the Day for October 6, 2018 comes from Isaiah 26:4; however, to appreciate more fully what the verse reveals about trust, we need to examine the preceding verse as well, where a familiar reference also speaks about the individual who trusts in God:

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4 Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.

Amplified Bible puts it this way:

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
4 So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Psalm 56:1-4: in the New Living Translation also speaks of trusting in the Lord. This particular passage offers great comfort, as a reservoir of strength and encouragement:

1 O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
3 But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4 I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

Verses 9-11 also reiterate the Psalmist’s determination to trust God:

9 My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
yes, I praise the LORD for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?

As believers, we learn to trust in the Lord, as we learn to follow the exhortation to walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him, but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness.
Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:
Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,
Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.
Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,
The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.
We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.
Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.
We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,
For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.
Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,
For whatever we desire according to the Word,
We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.
For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.
God is faithful and always comes through as the scriptures say:
Indeed, the just shall live by faith as we trust and obey.

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T:
We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with
Rugged determination” and
Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop
Strengthened believing” and
Tremendous confidence”

We are also learning to T-R-U-S-T:
Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Even as David encouraged himself in the Lord in Psalm 56 and throughout the Psalms, so we too encourage ourselves, as we trust God with all our heart and do not lean to our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all our ways, knowing that He will direct our paths.

We close with a song of trust written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” The lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4, the Verse of the Day that reinforces the comforting and reassuring message God will keep us in a state of perfect peace as we trust him. As a result, we should trust in the Lord God forever, for He is the everlasting Rock of Ages.

Seek the Lord

October 5, 2018

The Verse of the Day for October 5, 2018 comes from Isaiah 55:6, but to round out the context, we add verses 7-9:

Isaiah 55:6-9 (Revised Standard Version):

“Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. ‎7 Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. ‎8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. ‎9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Previous blog posts on this passage have focused on the distinction between the ways of God and the ways of man. Today, however, we would like to emphasize the opening exhortation from verse 5 to “Seek the Lord.” This expression appears in the Psalms and elsewhere as a reminder of where our focus should be as believers.

To seek is to pursue, to put forth a diligent effort. The Psalmist also encourages us in this way:

Psalm 105:3-4

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually!

In the Gospels Jesus Christ encourages his followers not only to seek but to ask and to knock as well:

Matthew 7:7-8 (New Living Translation)

[Effective Prayer] “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

This celebrated passage reveals that seeking will be rewarded, as expressed in the lyrics to this song shown as an acrostic poem that spells out the word “ask,” the first three letters of which form the three verbs found in verse 7.

Ask and it shall be given you;
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened unto to you.

Ask, seek and knock.
Ask, seek and knock.

For everyone who asks receives
He who seeks finds
And to him who knocks, it shall be opened.

Ask, seek and knock.
Ask, seek and knock.

Certainly this principle applies when seeking the Lord: that those who seek the Lord will find Him. Hosea speaks of a time when seeking the Lord will be rewarded:

Hosea 10:12

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you.

Reflecting on the Verse of the Day inspired this response:

Seek the Lord

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
Isaiah 55:6

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon Him while He is near;
Draw close; abide in the fullness of His presence. Have no fear
Come boldly before Him to find grace to help in time of need,
Trust the surety of His promises, and you will succeed.
Keep your ears near to the lips of God that you might clearly hear.

With more than enough to restore each loss, no matter how severe,
As a good shepherd provides, the Lord, our God, supplies each need.
Seek the Lord while he may be found.

As the Day Star rises and the hope of Christ’s return draws near,
Continue to move ahead as pioneers on a love frontier.
Trust in the Lord and follow His will wherever it may lead
God is always speaking that we might not only hear but heed.
Fight the good fight of faith as you stand to the end: persevere.
Seek the Lord while he may be found.

We conclude with a Christian Worship and Scripture Song from Isaiah 55:6-9:

Walking in the Spirit

September 28, 2018

The Verse of the Day for September 28, 2018 comes from 1 Corinthians 2:14 in the Revised Standard Version:

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Here is the rendering from the New Living Translation:

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

Revised and re-posted, today’s Verse of the Day contrasts two distinctive groups of people: those who are of a carnal or fleshly nature and those who are spiritual whose spiritual nature dominates. In the first instance, those of a carnal nature are led by bodily appetites, the five senses, and also by a self-exalting spirit, estranged from the life of the spirit. To those who walk after the flesh, spiritual matters or concerns of the Spirit are foolishness to those whose very nature is earthly, sensual, and devilish.

In Romans Paul contrasts those who walk after the spirit and those who walk after flesh in Romans 8:1(NKJV):

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

He goes on to explain how believers are different because we do not walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 16-18 in the Amplified Bible sharply delineate this dilemma:

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

In the midst of the turbulent times of this present age, many think of the prophetic word spoken on the Day of Pentecost proclaiming words spoken by the prophet Joel regarding the Spirit of God:

Acts 2:17-18

17 ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

Our discussion also brings to mind this original poem

The Spirit of God

“Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.”
Traditional Gospel Song

As the Spirit of God moved upon the water,
As an eagle ascends on high and stirs her nest,
Attentive to the cries of her starving young ones;
As she satisfies her young and then spreads her wings,
So Holy Spirit with a gentle wavering,
Flutter over, move upon us in a new way.
As a gentle dove would hover over her brood,
Cover our soul and saturate our whole being.
As we wait upon you, spread your wings, bear us up
That we might soar to heights above the fowler’s snare.
Renew our strength and refresh our desire to serve.
As you feed us and sustain us, we shall mount up
On eagle’s wings. We shall run and not be weary.
As we look to you, we shall walk and not faint.

We close with a reminder of how believers should be walking: “Walking in the Spirit.

We have an advocate

September 25, 2018

With the focus of the nation riveted on the unfolding drama of a courtroom, the Verse of the Day for September 25, 2018 is particularly meaningful:

I John 2:1 rendered in the Revised Standard Version in this way:

[Christ Our Advocate] My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

As I was growing up, I remember descriptions of Jesus Christ, as a “doctor in the sickroom,” “a lawyer in the court room.” Other lyrics describe the Son of God as “a lawyer who never lost a case.” First John, in speaking of Jesus Christ as our advocate, one who pleads our case, echoes this same idea.

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers describes the term in this way:
“Advocate is just a fancy term for a lawyer, someone who pleads your case before the bar or justice. . . . Jesus goes before God on our behalf and says, ‘Father, I know they are sinners, but they have repented and my blood has cleansed them. They belong to Me.’”

The word advocate is translated from the Greek word parakletos, the same word used for the Holy Spirit, also referred to as the Paraklete: one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him. The term refers to one who comes alongside to help. In this case the word is used to refer to someone who is a defender, a defense attorney.” for of all who belong to His Kingdom.

Matthew Henry writes: “The clients are guilty; their innocence and legal righteousness cannot be pleaded. It is the advocate’s own righteousness that he must plead for the criminals.” In this courtroom setting sinners are accused before God, the Lord, the righteous Judge, Jesus Christ comes in as the sinners’ Defense Attorney.

Romans 8:27 in the Amplified Bible speaks of Holy Spirit, our advocate, in this way:

And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.

Despite our best efforts, we will sin; indeed, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all sinners, saved by grace. On those occasions where we fall short or miss the mark in our efforts to serve the Lord, we have a defense attorney, a barrister, an advocate with the Father.

How comforting to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, serves as our advocate or defense attorney, who is seated at the right hand of God, as he ever makes intercession for us. Thank God that he is “a lawyer in the courtroom.” and that he has “never lost a case.”

We close with a musical rendering of the Verse of the Day: 1 John 2:1:

Watch your mouth

September 19, 2018

Earlier this week, I announced that my new book is scheduled for release on October 15, 2018. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share my holistic strategy to overcome prostate cancer. Part of my approach involves going to the Bible and looking for principles that I can apply to my situation. The Verse of the Day for September 19, 2018 brought to mind Chapter 2 which opens with Ephesians 4:29 in the Message Bible:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2:

Watch your mouth

In my situation, I recognized that I had to become a guardian or watchman of what John Bunyan calls “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” as “places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “the ear gate,” “the eye gate,” and “the mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys came to mind to remind me that I must consciously seek to “watch what I hear, watch what I see, and watch what I say.”

With regard to the mouth as a gate that I had to watch, I had to monitor not only what went into the mouth—what I chose to eat—but what came out of my mouth–what I chose to speak as well. Since “The power of life and death is in the power of the tongue,” I carefully chose the words that I would speak, as this original poem states:

We know the tongue has power to generate life,
To produce seeds that will eventually take root
And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:
Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife
Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

Throughout the whole process of responding to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, I had to encourage myself to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation. The Scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

Most amazingly I did not have to look in the mirror to watch my mouth, but then again, I did! I looked into the mirror of the Word of God and made sure that what I said lined up with what the Word of God says. The Book of James speaks of not just being one who hears the Word but also one who does the Word: “a hearer and a doer.” Indeed, my actions speak louder than my words in this instance.

To sum up what I learned about watching in a strategic way, I came across this statement attributed to Frank Outlaw, founder of Bi-Lo Stores. Each line opens with an exhortation to “watch.” What we are to observe closely could we arranged as an acrostic that can be rearranged to spell “W-A-T-C-H”:

“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.”

Each chapter of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs concludes with a psalm of remembrance of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the journey continues, I am

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

We are strengthened by the Word of God where we find
Courage to endure while seeking to watch and wait.
Those who watch and wait are never left behind,
For God has always been faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we are yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

The essence of the importance of “watching your mouth” and guarding the gates of our lives is captured in a simple children’s song that expresses profound truths: “O Be Careful Little Eyes:

We explore once more the mystery

September 7, 2018

Colossians-1 28

The Verse of the Day for September 7, 2018 comes from Colossians 1:28, but to comprehend more fully, we need to examine the preceding verses as well where Paul makes reference to the Church, the Body of Christ which is described in a most unusual manner:

Ephesians 1:26-28 (Revised Standard Version):

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generation but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.

A previous blog entry devoted to this passage from Colossians 1:27-28 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. The late Morris Cerullo referred to this concept as the greatest miracle since the creation of Adam and Eve.” 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 Apostle Paul was the first to receive this revelation, 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 meaning of the mystery of the one body. Because Jesus Christ broke down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, we can now see what others could not see. Moses in the Wilderness glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the cleft of the rock. Even then, the presence of the glory of God was so brilliant that a veil or covering had to be placed over his face when he spoke to the Children of Israel.

In the Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Queen of Sheba also glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the Court of the Gentiles. Such a glance overwhelmed her, leaving her speechless. In contrast, the believers today are members of the Body of Christ described in this unique way:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (New Living Translation):

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Another synonym for mystery is “secret counse,l” used to describe “mystery of His will” used in Ephesians 1:9, one of the verses to introduce this poetic reflection

The Mystery of His Will        

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and  

knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments,

and his ways past finding out!

Romans 11:33

 

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,

according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 

Ephesians 1:9

 

Though we seek to plummet the depths of God’s wisdom,

We barely touch the surface, for there is always more

To explore as He unfolds the mysteries of the Kingdom:

A measure of our inheritance laid in store.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,

But the honor of kings is to search out a matter,

To see what jewels of knowledge their searching may bring.

Beyond former days is the glory of the latter,

Where God freely pours out His spirit upon all flesh.

As His will unfolds, we too see just how close we are.

He draws us even closer to bless and refresh,

As we know Him intimately, not from afar.

In such treasured moments we are quiet and still,

As we explore once more the mystery of His will.

Now that the great secret is no longer a mystery, we can share the riches of the glory of this mystery which is Christ in you and me, the hope of glory”:

We close as Charlie LeBlanc offers this musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You!” (Hosanna! Music)”:

 

Call on the name of the Lord

August 24, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 24, 2018 comes from Psalm 116:1-2 in the Revised Standard Version:

[Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness] I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

The Psalmist acknowledges his love for the Lord who heard him when he called upon His name. Because the Lord “inclined his ear unto” the one who called upon Him, the caller will continue to call as long as he lives.

Verse 4 reiterates the same:

Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech thee, save my life!”

This declaration continues elsewhere in Psalm 116: 13, 17:

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,

In addition to these references, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:
1 Chronicles 16:8 and Psalm 105:1

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

We find a similar exhortation in

Isaiah 12:3-5 (RSV):

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.

In the Old Testament we find reference to a coming day when those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, as Acts 2:21 reveals:

And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 expresses the same views:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

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.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Recently I came across a series of five poetic stanzas written twelve years ago during a time when I called upon the name of the Lord in light of references to some of the specific names of the Lord:

I call upon Jehovah Jireh, who provides

Even in times of famine in a barren land,

With more than enough you continue to lead and guide.

You uphold and supply with your gracious right hand.

 

I call upon Jehovah Rophe, the Lord who heals

Diseases through the power of life-giving blood.

Whole in spirit, soul and body, your word reveals

That you will work all things together for my good.

 

I call upon Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner.

Descending in favor to bless, the gentle dove,

A sign to remind us of your gracious manner,

That your presence remains a canopy of love.

 

I call upon the name of the Lord, Jehovah Shalom,

Who dispels doubt and fear and surrounds me in peace.

As you lead us into battle, let your Kingdom come.

We plant and water but you alone give the increase.

 

When I have grown weary in the struggle at length,

In my distress I call on the name of the Lord.

I rejoice in knowing He shall renew my strength,

For He is faithful, as I stand upon His Word.

The Verse of the Day as an expression of thanksgiving for recovery from an illness seems custom-crafted for me today. I am in final stages of publishing my book which expresses my gratitude to God for my recovery from a potentially devastating illness.

When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I did not see the diagnosis as “a death sentence,” but I saw a “life sentence” that transformed his thinking. I share lessons learned from this life-changing process, revealing my holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer to show how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror.

Be sure to check out Lonnell E. Johnson’s

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs

The book should be available to the public in Mid-October. I will keep you posted.

We close with this song of worship reminding us to “Call upon the Name of the Lord”: