Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Looking unto Jesus

July 27, 2017

Verse of the Day for July 27, 2017 is the perfect follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of Hebrews 11:1, the introductory verse to the entire chapter known as the “Hall of Faith.” This celebrated chapter offers a series of brilliant examples of men and women, champions, who accomplished astounding exploits “by faith.” For a more comprehensive view of the Verse of the Day, take a look at the first three verses of Chapter 12 of Hebrews which focus on the greatest example of faith in action, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (Amplified Bible):

[Jesus, the Example] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,

2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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

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

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
When I lay my burden down.

I stumbled up the rugged road;
I almost fell beneath the load
And spurned the pain inside my head,
Recalling words of one who said
“Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

The yoke I bear cannot compare
With all he took upon Himself:
All sins, disease, and guilt, despair
That I could not forebear myself.
His burden was not made of wood,
His cross beyond all words can name.
Have I resisted unto blood?
Could I for joy endure such shame?

From a glimpse into his face
I’m strengthened by a second wind;
My mind’s renewed to keep the pace
The load is lightened by my friend.

I feel better, so much better
since I laid my burden down.

In reflecting upon that unforgettable experience, two musical compositions come to mind. First of all, “The Burden Bearer” includes lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood, back in the day, recorded here by “Pops” Staples and the Staple Singers.

A second selection also captures the essence of my experience in light of the Verse of the Day: “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” by John Lamacang

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

What faith can do

July 26, 2017

The Verse of the Day for July 26, 2017 comes from Hebrews 11:1. Whenever I read or hear this verse, invariably my mind goes back to a Wednesday Youth Night at Camp Gray, a Presbyterian camp in Saugatuck, MI. When the request came forth for a young person to deliver a short inspirational message, I volunteered. As a rising sophomore in high school, back in the day, I put together my first Bible teaching, choosing the topic of “faith.” Using the Bible and study material of one of the camp counselors who was a seminary student, I focused on the two verses from Hebrews that have contributed immeasurably to the foundation of faith upon which I have built my life:

Hebrews 11: 1, 6 [Amplified Bible]:

[The Triumphs of Faith] Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

6 But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.

A previous blog post focusing on faith and its importance in my life offered some of the following comments:

Faith can be said to be a kind of sine qua non, an indispensable condition, element, or factor; an indispensable ingredient. These verses remind believers that faith is essential to building and maintaining a solid relationship with God, for without it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith, introduces an array of individuals who accomplished great spiritual exploits as they walked by faith. Likewise, as we progress in our walk of faith, we learn that faith must be the firm foundation upon which we build. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, as we discover that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.” Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is our sure foundation.

Without question, faith is an essential element of our lives as Christian believers. Reflecting further upon the Verse of the Day and other related scriptures inspired the following poetic response:

Faith is What it Takes

Even the righteousness of God
which is by faith of Jesus Christ
unto all and upon all them that believe:
for there is no difference:
Romans 3:22

What does it take to gain more than we can conceive?
We have the measure of faith–God says we have it.
Great promises are ours if we only believe.
Having received the title deed, our deposit,
We have the faith of Jesus Christ, so give God praise.
This faith will take us where only the brave dare go,
To a place where rivers of understanding flow;
A faith to move mountains and excel all our days.
Though we are mature, we have the heart of a child,
Ever striving to become more faithful and true;
Not stained by malice but open, ardently wild
In our passion to please God in all we say and do.
Cleansed by the Blood and forgiven of past mistakes,
To stand boldly before Him, faith is what it takes.

The contemporary Christian music group Kutless also reminds us of “What Faith Can Do.”

I hurry to keep your commandments

July 26, 2017

 

In Psalm 119:60 in the Amplified Bible we find the Verse of the Day for July 25, 2017:

I hurried and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

This is how the King James Version puts it:

I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

Here are additional renderings of the verse that describes how the Psalmist responds to the Word of God:

Psalm 119:60 (Common English Bible–CEB) :

I hurry to keep your commandments—
I never put it off!

Psalm 119:60 (Complete Jewish Bible–CJB) :

I hurry, I don’t delay,
to observe your mitzvot.

Psalm 119:60 (Contemporary English Version–CEV) :

As soon as you command,
I do what you say.

Psalm 119:60 (Easy to Read Version-ERV) :

Without wasting any time,
I hurried back to obey your commands.

The verse also brings to mind the exhortation from James: “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

The various versions all express this important truth: As the Poet says, “We place our ears near to the lips of God,” and when He speaks, we learn to swiftly obey. We do not wait, but we must learn to respond immediately, as one of the stanzas from “The Servant’s Song: My Eyes Are Only on You” reminds us:

My eyes are only on you.
My eyes are only on you.
All that you tell me that I will do.
I offer my life; I give it to you,
For my eyes are only on you.

As the eyes of a servant look to the hands of His Lord,
As the ears of a servant know so well his master’s voice,
So my mind stays focused to watch and learn how you move.
Create in me a servant’s heart; teach me to serve in love.

My eyes are only on you.
My eyes are only on you.
All that you tell me that I will do.
I offer my life; I give it to you,
For my eyes are only on you.

As I continue to wait upon my Master and Lord,
I will quickly obey and gladly submit to His will.
I fulfill my calling as I watch and wait to see
When He bids me to the wedding feast, and He will wait on me.

My eyes are only on you.
My eyes are only on you.
All that you tell me that I will do.
I offer my life; I give it to you,
For my eyes are only on you.

Biblical scholar EW Bullinger notes that Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm of 22 sections of eight verses each with each section starting with one of the 22 consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Take a look at the psalm and note that the first eight verses are labeled under Aleph, verses 9-16 are labeled under Beth; the same sequence follows for all 176 verses (8 x22).
The Verse of the Day is part of the Heth section, a portion of which is set to music as a hymn sung in the following video:

Blessed is the man

July 24, 2017

From Psalm 112:5 in the Amplified Bible comes the Verse of the Day for July 24, 2017:

It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He conducts his affairs with justice.

The New King James Version put it this way:

Psalm 112:5

A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.

Such an individual is said to be blessed and so described in Psalm 1:1 in the Amplified Bible:

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Logos Bible Software offers comments regarding this person and points out a parallel verse in Psalm 111:10 (AMP):

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever.

The Psalmist reiterates that reverence and deep respect for God and His commandment open up the way to true happiness. The person who delights greatly and meditates deeply in His precepts, the one whose primary focus is to seek earnestly to understand and obey God’s commandments, is blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] beyond measure in every way.

From the Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon come the following comments regarding the believer spoken of in Psalm 111:10:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that he is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about him, and he is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof.”

4 Him offer their musical rendition of Psalm 112:

Follow the path of truth: God will make a way

July 21, 2017

In Psalm 119:30 in the Amplified Bible we find the Verse of the Day for July 21, 2017:

I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.

The New King James Version says this:

I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.

In the Old Testament the word “way” is translated from the Hebrew word derek, meaning “way, road, path, distance, journey, manner.” It is also referred to as direction, manner, habit, way of life, a course of life or mode of action, a lifestyle.
The reference to “the way of truth” brings to mind an earlier blog entry in which I discussed “The Will of God,” using the analogy of the will of God being a road, a path or a way. Looking at the Hebrew word derek which is translated “way, road, path, distance, journey, manner,” enhances our understanding of this concept. It is also referred to as direction, manner, habit, way of life, a course of life or mode of action, a lifestyle.

In the New Testament, the Greek word hodos is translated “a way, a traveled way, road, and when used as a metaphor it means “a course of conduct” “a way (i.e., manner of thinking, feeling, deciding.  Used 100 times, the word is translated “way” 54 times.

In “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?” a poetic expression of my personal testimony, I refer to “the path of truth”:

Stumbling down the road of life,
I was wasting all my youth,
Then took a right turn to Jesus Christ;
Now I’m walking the path of truth.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

Today’s blog entry combines excerpts from two previous posts that speak of a way or path. The first speaks of the will of God as “the road less traveled by,” referring to the often quoted poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”; the second is entitled “On the way to doing the will of God, God will make a way.” Years ago I also remember one of the vivid descriptions of God, who was said to be “a way maker, who can make a way out of no way.”

In our efforts to walk with the Lord as we seek to do His will, we all encounter challenges and difficult situations that seem impossible to resolve on our own. The Bible reminds us of God’s unfailing power and strength to turn a seemingly impossible situation into a triumphant victory. Isaiah 43:19 declares what God is able to do:

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 reality of God’s faithfulness brings to mind the vernacular poem “Hand upon the Plow,” offering several examples from the Bible to illustrate that “The Lord will make a way somehow….”

Hand upon the Plow

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand
to the plow and looks back [to the things behind
is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62

“Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!”
–Black Spiritual

When life ain’t like it suppose to be,
Right then and there it occurs to me
Folks been in fixes worse than me,
Right in the Bible where I see:

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

Pharaoh said, “Kill each Hebrew boy,”
But Moses’ Ma was full of joy
Cause Pharaoh’s daughter raised her boy.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

The lions looked so lean and thin
When they throwed Daniel in the den,
But Old Man Daniel didn’t bend.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When Jesus died, God paid the cost
And at that time all seem like lost,
But God planned ahead for Pentecost.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

Paul and Silas didn’t rant and wail
When they throwed both of them in jail.
They called on God, and He didn’t fail.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When troubles start to bugging you
Remember, there’s just one thing to do:
Look to God and He’ll see you through.
What he did for them, He’ll do for you.

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

One of the inspirations for the poem is the line from the spiritual “Keep Your Hand on the Plow,” performed in the inimitable manner of the Queen of Gospel music of the 20th Century, Mahalia Jackson, who offers this inspiring rendition:

The scriptures, poetry, and the accompanying musical reminder reinforce the message that as we strive to live for God and seek to follow the path of truth, that on the way to doing the will of God, God will make a way, even in the midst of seemingly impossible situations. Isaiah 43:19 and the tragic death of his nephew became the inspiration for one of Don Moen’s signature musical compositions, “God Will Make a Way,” offered here by Hosanna! Music to conclude our discussion:

Fellowship with God and one another

July 20, 2017

The Verse of the Day for July 20, 2017  is taken from 1 John 1:7 in the Amplified Bible:

but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

Here is the verse in the New King James Version:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers, as verses 7 sets the condition: “If we walk in the light . . . we have fellowship with one another. Translated from the Greek word koinonia, this fellowship involves communion or oneness, harmony. In Acts the believers of the early Church were said to be “of one heart and one mind.” Having this close fellowship with God and with one another is God’s desire for His people expressed in 1 John.

This particular verse also brings to mind Psalm 133 and the unfolding of the breathtaking beauty of unity. In thinking about the topic, I also recall a poem related to striving to “get there”, to scale Mount Zion to arrive at the place of everlasting blessing. I also remember an excellent word of exhortation and encouragement from Al Thomas to the Body of Christ regarding God’s desire that we also reach that place of sublime communion with one another and with Him. Indeed, God will take us from “here to there,”

Here are the concluding comments he makes in excerpt ”God Said, “YOU’VE BEEN HERE WAY TOO LONG, I WANT TO TAKE YOU THERE–GET READY”:

“There ahead of you is your destiny,” says the Lord. “The hope, then dream and the fulfillment of My promise–it’s simply staring you in the face! Here, is where you are now, but how you conduct yourself today has everything to do with where I will take you tomorrow–My there. Extend My grace to others when you least feel like doing so–it will prepare you to go from here to there. Determine that you are serious to get to My there for you (Luke 9:62). You will get there by serving Me in the here and now (1 Corinthians 10:21, James 1:8).

“Are you serious about the vision you are following? If so, then build in the now (here) for what I have shown you in the future (there). If you are faithful in little, here, I will give you much there (Luke 19:17). Use the compass of praise, private prayer and undaunted searching in My word to guide you and keep you on course (Mark 4:14-20).

“Be faithful today–tomorrow is almost upon you, and it is nearly time to take you from here to there. Look up, it’s approaching and you are about to leave here and arrive there–right where I’ve been waiting for you. Pack up, say goodbye, and prepare to leave here for there. My command is coming for many to move out–out there.”

“Faithful is He that called you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

To get from “here to there” on the surface, seems such a simple process: you simply go! On the journey, however, one encounters obstacles, pitfalls, diversions, distractions and all kinds of set-backs. At times it seems as though “you can’t get there from here.” We respond to that notion as we encourage ourselves along this tedious journey called life. God ever sets before us pictures of possibilities. The glorious portrait of harmony and communion of the highest degree is set before us in Psalm 133 which inspired this poetic work:

From Here to There

1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

For brethren to dwell together in unity!

2It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron,

running down on the edge of his garments.

3It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;

For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore.

Psalm 133:1-3

 

The final phase of life’s journey from here to there,

Yearning to return to Eden, beyond the place

Of the first promise spoken to all who would hear

And receive the fullness of the measure of grace

And know the never-ending flow of perfect peace:

Where perfect love has triumphed to cast out all fear;

Where all shall dwell in harmony and wars shall cease;

Where there shall be no night for the Lamb of God is near;

Where our joy shall never wane but only increase;

Where we know intimacy far beyond Hebron;

Where our raptured souls shall find rest and sweet release

In endless afterglow of sublime communion;

Where we know the everlasting blessings of unity

As we dwell in Zion for all eternity

Our musical benediction comes from Esther Mui who offers Psalm 133 Song “Behold, How Good and How Pleasant It is” (Scripture Praise Worship with Lyrics)

No need to fear: Do not fear

July 19, 2017

 

The Verse of the Day for July 19, 2017 from Isaiah 41:10 offers words that are especially comforting and reassuring today:

Isaiah 41:10 (AMP):

Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’

Isaiah 41:13 also provides great encouragement and reiterates the message:

“For I the LORD your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord],
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Once more God, our Father, reminds us to have no fear. Previous blog posts discuss other passages related to issue of fear and God’s continual reassurance that He is with us and there is no need to fear. Here are comments from some of those entries:

In the midst of the perilous times in which we live, we cannot deny that fear seems to abound. We all recognize that fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that limits and inhibits. Pastor Rick Warren describes fear as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

In 1 John 4:18 we find the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free.

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, wanting in nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end.

The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or full in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love. When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear.

The following poem is inspired by the verse from 1 John and the statement from Rick Warren:

There is no fear in love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves torment. But he who fears
has not been made perfect in love.
I John 4:18

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you
from becoming what God intends for you to be.”
Rick Warren

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear
And abounds to transform any adverse atmosphere.
We are perfected and made whole when we walk in love,
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
Such love is pure and never repels but draws us near.

This balm of love heals all wounds, no matter how severe
With words of compassion each soul on earth longs to hear;
Love conquers any disaster and rises above.
There is no fear in love.

We follow in Christ’s steps, knowing our mandate is clear.                                                                          Assured of triumph, there is never a need to fear.    We press toward the mark, the prize we seek to lay hold of                                                                                  To ascend in victory on wings of a gentle dove.          We walk forth as bold pioneers on a love frontier:   There is no fear in love.

The essence of the message for today is “There is no fear in love.” We conclude as Wintley Phipps offers this encouraging musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”

Remain and abide in His love

July 14, 2017

The Verse of the Day for July 14, 2017 brings to mind the expression “Follow the leader,” as Jesus Christ speaks to his followers:

John 15:10:

If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

This particular verse is part of a familiar passage that unfolds a striking metaphor used by Jesus Christ to help his followers understand more fully who he is and how he relates to God, his Father, using this comparison:
His Father is the “vine-dresser” (grape farmer), or “husbandman”, as some translations have it, and that he, Jesus, is “the true vine”, and those apostles are “branches” who are attached to Jesus, the Vine. In order to be fruitful the branches must “abide” in the vine. When the branches remain intact with the vine, God is glorified as the branches bear much fruit, producing a spiritual harvest for God. Jesus Christ ends the comparison on a “love note” in verses 9-12:

9 I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you].

10 If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

11 I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.

12 “This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.

The following photo shows a fruitful vine from a vineyard that illustrates the parable where Jesus describes himself as “the true vine.” Just as the Lord remains or abides in the love of God, so we who follow his example should demonstrate our love to one another and continually abide in His love.

The photo shows a fruitful vine from a vineyard that illustrates the parable where Jesus describes himself as “the true vine.”

Esther Mui has composed a tender musical rendering of John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me” (Esther Mui) Christian Scripture Praise Worship w Lyrics:

The way down is the way up

July 13, 2017

Revised and re-posted is The Verse of the Day for July 13, 2017 found in Philippians 2:9-11 in the Message Bible:

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

To fully appreciate what God is saying about the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names, let us take a look at the entire passage found Philippians 2:5-11 in the Amplified Bible:

5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!

For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.

The extended passage from Philippians 2 reveals the heart of God where we find a place of exchange. Here we find that God exchanges something of lesser value for something of far greater value. God offers beauty for ashes, joy for sorrow, comfort for despair, honor for humility, etc. In the eyes of God, you must first go down that you might go up; as you go before the Lord in humility, He raises you up in honor. As you abase yourself, He exalts you. God puts down those who exalt themselves, but He raises up those who humble themselves.

Jesus Christ is the consummate example of God’s desire, the stunning illustration of the paradox of being abased in humility in order to be exalted or promoted in the eyes of God. God’s intent is expressed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and made himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant and becoming obedient, obedient even to the death on the cross. Because of that God has highly exalted Christ and has given Him a name that is above every name. Without question, in terms of promotion with God, humility is the key. Indeed, the way down is the way up.

Jesus Christ points to the duality of humility and promotion when he says in Luke 14:11 (AMP):

11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled [before others], and he who habitually humbles himself (keeps a realistic self-view) will be exalted.”

Jesus Christ associates being humble with a child in Matthew 18:4 (Amplified Bible)

Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The same point is made in a different way in Matthew 23:13 in the Amplified Bible:

Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.

The essence of this discussion of the paradox of humility and promotion is so clearly expressed in the title prayer from a collection edited by Arthur Bennett: The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

We conclude with a Scripture Song based on Philippians 2:3-15: “Let This Mind Be in You.”

Not by bread alone

July 12, 2017

The Verse of the Day for July 12, 2017 is found in Matthew 4:4 in the Message Bible:

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”

The King James Version renders the verse in this way:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The verse is also rendered in a similar way in Luke 4:4

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

The Verse of the Day brings to mind two experiences that occurred about eight years ago when I participated in a clinical trial involving men with prostate cancer and two types of special bread: Soy and Almond. Participants were to eat two slices of bread each day for a period of time as blood samples were examined and other tests performed.

While simultaneously teaching a writing course, I developed an analogy for composing sentences in an essay. To help students understand how sentences were put together, I commented that sentences are like “sandwiches.” As a basic unit of written communication, a complete sentence must have three elements: a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. One slice of bread could be the subject, another slice the verb, and the complete thought would represent what goes in between.

Teaching the writing class while participating in the clinical trial and daily eating two slices of bread inspired a poem that captured the application of the Word of God in a unique way:

A New Bread, a New Class, a New Analogy

Daily: Eat the entire two slices. Both slices can be eaten at the same meal as a sandwich.
Nutrition-40 Soy Bread Study—OSU Medical Center

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Luke 4:4

Halfway between the study I eat a new bread:
No longer soy-almond but pure soy bread instead.
As I am teaching a new class, I find a way
To help students understand what I’m trying to say
When I share that “Man shall not live by bread alone,”
As Jesus said when asked to make bread from a stone.
To construct a good sentence, this I admonish:
You must build a sentence as you would a sandwich:
A subject and verb must express a complete thought.
This analogy helps students see what is taught:
One slice of bread is the subject, one slice the verb,
But “more” takes you from mediocre to superb.
Much more than two slices but what goes in between
Can be a work of art to convey what you mean.

“Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” from the Gospel of Matthew includes lyrics from Matthew 4:4