Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

God is faithful; that’s for sure

February 5, 2021

The Verse of the Day for February 5, 2021, once again highlights who the everlasting God is and what He does, as so brilliantly displayed in Psalm 33:4-5 (NIV):

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

The passage states “He is faithful is in all He does.” Throughout the Scriptures we find references to the faithfulness of God Almighty:

Once again, David makes these powerful declarations:

Psalm 145:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.

Beyond the beauty of the Psalms of David, words of the New Testament also make known God’s faithfulness. Throughout the Scriptures we find that “. . . God is faithful and means what He says.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP) makes know this truth:

God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy, and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him, you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (AMP) further attests to His faithfulness:

Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own]. Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (AMP):

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) offers these words of encouragement:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Other scriptures also remind us that God is faithful, beginning with Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible:

6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God completes the good work begun in us so that as believers we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

This blessing and benediction also remind believers of God’s faithfulness:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

In Hebrews 6:10 (New Living Translation) we find another reminder that God is faithful and that He is not unjust:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

As believers, we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another. Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), as the following poetic comments illustrate:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,
which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered
to the saints and do minister.
Hebrews 6:10

All the good deeds you have done may not be extolled
When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.
Some so quickly forget all the good you have done,
And they fail to recall you were the only one
To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.
Time after time you were the one to meet the need.
When others were busy and chose to walk away,
You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.
In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,
Recall our God knows all things, for He alone sees
Your labor and saves every tear you have shed.
Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,
And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.
As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:
Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

In reflecting upon God’s faithfulness as expressed in Philippians 1:6 and elsewhere, I thought of this song which has come to mean so much to me: “Great Work” offered by Brian Courtney Wilson:

Imitating God by walking in love

January 7, 2021

Taken from Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT), the Verse of the Day for January 7, 2021, offers this exhortation:

[Living in the Light] Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

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

Verse 1 establishes the idea of being followers or imitators of God, and verse 2 provides a notable example of such a faithful follower, as displayed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the ultimate illustration of “Like father, like son.”

The passage from Ephesians also brought to mind something written more than ten years ago that we can apply to our lives, especially today:

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, we follow their lead as they show us 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 strengthened and encouraged in this new phase
And pledge to press onward for the rest of our days.

Elevation Worship offers “Walk in Love” inspired by Ephesians 5:1-2 and other verses:

A slice of bread from a “gratitude sandwich”

November 22, 2020


Colossians 3:15, the Verse of the Day for November 22, 2020, offers another reminder to be thankful. When we look at the context of this verse and read the two verses that follow it, we find a wonderful “gratitude sandwich.”

Colossians 3:15-17 (New Living Translation):

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

In this “Thanksgiving season,” we find that in its most basic sense, the term is the application of an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.”

As believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses negative thinking patterns. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair, and any other toxic emotions of life. We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly, we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings we sometimes describe as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. Of course, we must remember that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.”

For believers, maintaining such an attitude of gratitude is our magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude” or “Thanksliving,” as some call it.

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, we express our gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is always an appropriate time to give thanks to God. One of the songs I recall from years ago declares, “Now is the right time to praise the Lord!” No matter the circumstances, no matter the conditions, weather-wise, health-wise, or any otherwise, we are to follow this exhortation:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.


At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1



When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds, and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
Till we can scarcely scream the Lord’s name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason,
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”


We close with this musical reminder from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: In Everything (Give Him Thanks).

Enlighten me: Open the eyes of my heart

November 16, 2020

The Verse of the Day for November 16, 2020, is a prayer request expressed in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

A corresponding petition is found in Lamentations 3:23

Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.

Most providentially, a corresponding Verse of the Day for November comes from Ephesians 1:18 (KJV):

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

In actuality, verse 18 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

These two verses were the inspiration, in part, for the following poem:

The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:17-18 (AMP)

God gives the Spirit of wisdom and revelation
That we might know Him and experience His great love,
Striving to know more fully total restoration
That flows from the wisdom that descends from above.
We walk as mature, not foolish offspring who rebel,
But we pursue wisdom and do whatever it takes.
We make choices, knowing what will attract, what will repel,
For each life mirrors a lifetime of choices that one makes.
We do not shun the Lord’s reproof but embrace correction.
God wants us to know the hope of His calling in this hour,
The riches of His heritage, the greatness of His power.
We press toward the mark, to reach ultimate perfection.
God floods the eyes of our understanding that we might see
And know intimacy with God to the highest degree.

The passage from Ephesians 1, along with the previously cited verses, brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes That I Might See” which is, in essence, a similar prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on the piano:

Another contemporary song offering a similar request is “Open the Eyes of My Heart” performed by Michael W. Smith.

Not only is our prayer to God like that expressed in Psalm 119:18 and Jeremiah 3:23: that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives, but we also recognize that God’s prayer for us is the same: that by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our heart may be flooded with light, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

Once again, praying for all men

November 7, 2020

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for November 7, 2020, includes a heading that encourages believers to pray and introduces four types of prayer or ways of communing with God. This previous blog entry certainly has application today, as we acknowledge the truth: “There is always something to pray about”:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (New King James Version)

[Pray for All Men] Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Supplications

With these prayers, we entreat our Father with specific requests. Such petitions focus on our necessity, expressed as a personal need, rather than God’s sufficiency to supply it. White-hot zeal and insatiable hunger ignite prayers of supplication. Strictly speaking, supplication also conveys an accompanying attitude of prayer, noting the “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

Intercessions

To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. Intercession will involve meeting with someone on behalf of someone else. Those who act as intercessors are also described as “standing in the gap” or “making up the hedge” which provides protection. (Ezekiel 22:30).

Prayers

As we acknowledge the magnitude of God, we offer prayers as an expression of our personal devotion. Other examples included in this category are the “prayer of faith,” “prayer of agreement” and “prayer of dedication or consecration;” also the prayer Jesus taught his disciples or “The Lord’s Prayer.” Paul reminds believers to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” (Ephesians 6:18)


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving should be an essential part of our ongoing conversation with God. Literally, it is “giving of thanks” as an expression of “showing oneself grateful.” It is an all-encompassing “attitude of gratitude” involving everything we do and say: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

________________________________________

This introductory discussion of prayer is by no means exhaustive. Countless volumes have been written and continue to be produced on this topic of vital concern for Christian believers who are exhorted to “Pray without ceasing.”

In closing, we offer the following poetic reminder of the importance of prayer:

As We Pray

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we pray always for you,

Colossians 1:3


During these dark times, we focus on the Kingdom,
Established and grounded on a sure foundation.
As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,
New paths of this Apostolic Reformation
Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.
Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.
Aware of the consequences of each decision,
We look to God our Father, bountiful resource.
As we renew our minds, we are transformed and change:
With a “kingdom mindset,” we now see with new eyes.
Beyond past narrow limits, our view is long-range.
We number our days with each sunset and sunrise,
As the Word commands: pray without ceasing, night and day,
Knowing that God always fulfills His will, as we pray.

Gateway Worship offers a musical selection with the same title: “As We Pray”:

Verse of the Day on Black Poetry Day 2020

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

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

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

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


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


The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:


Psalm 25:14-15:


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


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


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


The following poem refers to this account and speaks of

The Power of Covenant


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


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

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

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

Pray: The latter rain is on the way!

September 20, 2020

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

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

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

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


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

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

Deuteronomy 28:9-11(NLT):

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

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

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

Acts 2:16-18

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

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

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

“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James 5:7:

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

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

James 5:17-18

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

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

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

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

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

September 6, 2020

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

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

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

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

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible)

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

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

A Dwelling Transformed

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Times of Visitation

As you once visited Abraham, our father,

and sent angelic hosts to reinforce your pledge,

in these times of barrenness and seeming defeat,

where are the times of visitation set for us?

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

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

so prepared for you to come with friendly intent

that on each occasion where you show up

that your ultimate purpose is most apparent.

As you clearly reveal your promise to fulfill

your will, receive our obedience as sacrifice,

may favor be our portion as your faithful ones.          

May you find us yielded vessels, clean and fitted

for the glory of your presence that you might pour

blessings without measure to overflow and flood

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

May we never squander times of visitation

but shut the door in face of the enemy,

as we open wide the portals of our spirit

and transform our hearts into your habitation.


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

All things are possible–Nothing is impossible: Same difference

July 11, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Matter How You Phrase It

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


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

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

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

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

Barrenness

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

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


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

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

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

March 26, 2020

Psalm 18_1--3

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

Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We conclude our petitions with this declaration:

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

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