Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Worry about nothing. Pray about everything.

May 5, 2022

On Biblegateway.com, the Verse of the Day for May 5, 2022, comes from Philippians 4:6-7 to remind believers not to worry about anything but to pray about everything. I am revising and re-posting a previous entry that we can apply today and every day of our lives.

Here is the rendering of this celebrated passage in the New Living Translation (NLT):

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) also offers this reminder:

By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

The most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving we find in I Thessalonians 5:18:

 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.

The King James Version renders the verse this way:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

To facilitate memorizing this particular verse, I composed a Scripture Memory Song “In Everything Give Thanks”:

            In everything give thanks,

            In everything give thanks,

            For this is the will of God

            In Christ Jesus concerning you.

            Repeat

            When things in life don’t seem to turn out

            Just as we think they should,

            We know that God still has a grand plan

            And works all things together—

            He works all things together for our good.

            In everything give thanks,

            In everything give thanks,

            For this is the will of God

            In Christ Jesus concerning you.

            The sun shines bright or the darkest night,

            No matter what the mood,

            We still give thanks always for all things.

            In the name of Jesus Christ,

            We keep an attitude of gratitude.

            In everything give thanks,

            In everything give thanks,

            For this is the will of God

            In Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin with thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the lengthy list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, which is the innermost desire of every believer. To give thanks is to do the will of God.

J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless goodwill.” For believers, thanksgiving is a 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,” a lifestyle that some have called thanksliving.”  The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude I express in this original psalm:

Thanksliving

What shall we render to the Lord for all

His grace? What can we say to offer praise

Worthy of His glory? How can we call

With all our being upon His name and raise

A new song from the depths of our heart?

We must do more than mouth a platitude–

To express our soul in words is an art;

Yet words cannot express our gratitude.

Mere words are empty and without merit.

“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.

So we must worship God with our spirit

And must give thanks well for all of our days.

To live is to give thanks with tongue and limb;

With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

Listen to this scripture memory song based on Philippians 4:6-7 from Integrity Music

No longer a secret, the Great Mystery is revealed

April 25, 2022

The Verse of the Day for April 25, 2022, like a beautifully wrapped package, provides enjoy a deeper appreciation of God’s wisdom and grace offered to believers. This passage reveals the concept of “the mystery” unfolded in Colossians 1:27-28 in the New King James Version:

To them, God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated as “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This God, our Father, hid this “great mystery”  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. God revealed this mystery to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In the Book of Ephesians, Paul also speaks of the magnificence of God’s new creation in Christ and describes the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, would demonstrate. Our discussion of the riches of the glory of this mystery of the one body brought to mind an original psalm composed as an expression of my heart’s desire:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you [and even show you]

great and mighty ­­­­­­­­­­things, [things which have been confined and hidden],

which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

Jeremiah 33:3 (AMP)

Enlighten my eyes that I might openly see;                    

Expand my mind and widen my comprehension

To understand the temple of the mystery.

Teach me to fully comprehend each dimension                        

And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to me the true length,

            though it is endless;

Teach me to find the full breadth,

            though it is boundless;

Help me to reach the vast height,

            though it is measureless;

Teach me to probe the great depth,

            though it is fathomless.

Show me your divine design for the inner man.

Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry

Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan

For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.

Share with me the value of this priceless treasure,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.

Take my hand and lead me, as you would guide a youth,

A son who lives to explore the depths of your truth.

We close with “Christ in You!” from Charlie LeBlanc (Hosanna! Music)

God’s thoughts and His ways vs our thoughts and our ways

March 26, 2022

Combining and condensing excerpts from two previous blog posts, the Verse of the Day for March 26, 2022, with the Logos Bible software comes from Isaiah 55: 8-9 (NIV):

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Message Bible says:

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

‎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.

These verses point out distinctions between the thoughts and ways of God and the thoughts and ways of people. The term “way” in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word derek, meaning “way, road, path, distance, journey, manner” and also referred to as a direction, manner, habit, way of life, a course of life or mode of action, a lifestyle. The Greek New Testament translates the word hodos as “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).

The passage from Isaiah 55 speaks of “the ways of God” and “the ways of man,” as we see a notable contrast between the two. 2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30 provide the same rendering in the New King Version:

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

Jeremiah 10:23 provides this reminder:  

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.  

The Prophet Isaiah also makes known:  “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way.” The difference is striking, indeed. The ways of God are righteous altogether; whereas the ways of man are wicked and unrighteous.

The Verse of the Day from Isaiah 55 encourages the people of God to turn from their own unrighteous ways and follow the ways of God who is rich in mercy and who will abundantly pardon.   A series of posts on the will of God also speaks of the will of God as a path that believers should ever seek to follow. To follow the will of God is to decide which path we are going to take. Many times, it is easier to follow our own path and seek our own way rather than God’s way or God’s will. Like the Psalmist, we should choose to follow the path of truth, and when we choose to follow that path, we take comfort in knowing that as for God, His way is perfect.

The following anonymous poem also provides assurance as to where the path that is the will of God will take us.  

The Will of God
Author: Unknown

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

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

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

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

To follow the Will of God is to decide which path we are going to take. So often, it is easier to follow our own path and seek our own way rather than God’s way or God’s will. Like the Psalmist, however, we should choose to follow the path of truth, and when we choose to follow that path, we take comfort in knowing that as for God, His way is perfect. Indeed, His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways, as this Christian Worship and Scripture Song from Isaiah 55:6-9 reminds us:

A reminder: God is faithful

February 5, 2022

As I completed my morning devotional for today, I read the Verse of the Day for February 5, 2022, and it ministered to me in a powerful way. I am revising and re-posting this entry from a year ago as it 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 me 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.

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:

Transforming Power of God: Beauty for Ashes

December 10, 2021

The Verse of the Day for December 10, 2021, in the Logos Bible software, reminds us of the transforming power of God found in Psalm 30:11 (New Living Translation):

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

Today I read Psalm 30 in its entirety, and it ministered to me in a powerful way:

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave,[a] O Lord.
    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
    Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to you, O Lord.
    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will you gain if I die,
    if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
    Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
    Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind Isaiah 61:3 which contains a similar reference indicating that God exchanges the “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” About five years ago, I recall reflecting upon God’s amazing ability to transform the most horrific circumstances into a glorious display of His wisdom, power, and might, I thought of the expression “beauty for ashes.” Isaiah 61:3 offers a series of such transformations or exchanges that only God can give. That particular verse introduces an original psalm with that title:

Beauty for Ashes

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify

Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

We are blessed and highly favored–no one can deny.

That we should be chosen by God, some may wonder why,

But none can fathom God’s grace, no matter how they try.

Ascend into God’s presence on the wings of a dove:

Beauty for ashes.

Many times, it may seem as if life has passed us by,

But God is faithful; on Him we can always rely.

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

It is far beyond all that we could ask or think of.

Remember that God is not a man that He should lie:

Beauty for ashes.

Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly offer a tender rendition of the song “Beauty for Ashes.”

Let the words of my mouth. . .

October 16, 2021

The Verse of the Day for October 16, 2021,  comes from Psalm 19:14 in the New Living Translation:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We can view the Book of Psalms as a collection of songs which has been the inspiration for countless musical compositions over the centuries. The Psalms continue to be one of my favorite books of the Bible and has been such an inspiration to me as believer who writes poetry. Psalm 19:14 inspired these original lyrics expressed as a prayer to God:

Lord, give us a heart like David,

A man after your own heart.

Purify our motives and intentions,

Cleanse us and set us apart.

Lord, give us a heart like David.

Lord, give us a heart like David.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you,

With all that lies within us,

To follow in the footsteps of Jesus,

As we serve you faithfully.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you.

Lord, give us a heart of worship,

Overflowing with your praise.

May our words and our deeds give you glory.

May we serve you all our days.

Lord, give us a heart of worship.

Lord, give us a heart of worship.

Johnny Holmes concludes with a rendition of Psalm 19:14 entitled “Song of My Heart”

May these words express the deep desire of our heart uttered as a prayer as we begin this day and every day.

The Beatitudes: The Be Attitudes

October 1, 2021

The Verse of the Day for October 1, 2021, comes from the section of Scripture known as “The Beatitudes.” The following entry is revised and reposted below:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Part of the “Sermon on the Mount,” which some scholars maintain is really the “Sermon on the Plain,” the Beatitudes form a series of eight declarations that begin with the word “blessed.” Translated from the Greek word, makarios, “blessed” refers to a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity, expressing deep joy and fulfillment of the soul. The word has been translated, happy, fortunate, favored. A contemporary response when asked about one’s state of being is the expression, “blessed and highly favored.”

The following scripture memory song speaks of the passage from Matthew 5 in this way:

The Beatitudes Are the “Be Attitudes”

The Beatitudes are the “Be Attitudes.”

They help us to see. They help us to be

All that God wants us to be.

We will be blessed and be a blessing in return

When we learn to follow the “Be Attitudes.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Blessed are you.  You shall be blessed.

You shall be blessed when you follow the “Be Attitudes.”

The Beatitudes are the “Be Attitudes.”

They help us to see.  They help us to be

All that God wants us to be.

We will be blessed and be a blessing in return

When we learn to follow the “Be Attitudes.”

The Sermon on the Mount begins with Matthew 5 which offers the Beatitudes which are dramatically recited in this video:

We close with a musical rendering of the Beatitudes by Hillsong:

The anointing of honor: Before honor is humility

September 18, 2021

Philippians 2:3-4, the Verse of the Day for September 18, 2021,  is revised and reposted with  this reminder:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who serve the Lord seek to set their priorities: They say to themselves and to others, “God is first; others are second, and I am willing to be last.” The first and great commandment establishes the order for our lives:

Matthew 28:37-39:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 12:10 is another related verse that comes to mind when we think of putting others first:

10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

10 Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the term “Honor one another” and commented, “To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10.

Apostle John Tetsola notes that “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborates upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

This same sentiment is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:13:

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Dr. Tetsola, in a teaching on the subject of honor, also inspired this response:

The Anointing  of Honor          

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom;

and before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15:33

“Our honor activates the honor that is in the heart of God.”  

Apostle John Tetsola

“Before honor is humility,” says the Lord.                  

We give honor to those who minister the Word,

 Not withholding honor to whom honor is due.

We follow these precepts, for the Word of God is true,

Giving life, sharper than any two-edged sword.           

We honor one another and walk in one accord.                 

Husbands and wives—symbolic of a three-fold cord—

Must cherish honor, appreciate its value:

 “Before honor is humility.”                                  

The power of this precept cannot be ignored.   

All those who bestow honor have great reward.

We must give honor in all that we say and do,

Pressing toward the mark for the prize, we continue          

Striving for the perfection we all are moving toward:         

“Before honor is humility.”    

To wrap up our discussion, song writer Jimmy Scott sings a composition “To Honor You,” a tribute to the memory of a loved one.

All Scripture is God-breathed. . .

July 30, 2021

The Verses of the Day highlighted on the Logos Bible Software homepage for July 30, 2021, come from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and reveal the source and purpose of Scripture:

These two verses indicate the source and purpose of Scripture which is more clearly expressed in the Amplified Bible:

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture Release offers this version of 2 Timothy 3:16 as a scripture memory song:

In thinking of the Scriptures as words given by the inspiration of God or as the” God-breathed word,” another related verse comes to mind:

2 Peter 1:21

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost

In discussing “Our God-breathed Bible”, teacher John McArthur comments,

“So, when you pick up your Bible, you’re not reading the word of men, you’re reading the Word of God that was written down by men who were moved along in the process by the power of the Holy Spirit. “

When God breathes life comes forth. When God breathed into the nostrils of his creation in Genesis and he became a living soul. Likewise, the Word that God breathed is “alive and full of power” or living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). In thinking about the power of the breath of God, the hymn “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” came to mind, rendered here in a contemporary style:

Not  only is all scripture “God-breathed” but its purpose is that believer, the one who puts his trust in God, might be “complete and proficient,” fully equipped, as a cruise ship is thoroughly prepared and outfitted for its maiden and subsequent voyages.

The New Century Version offers this rendering of 2 Timothy 3:17:

Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.

The Verse(s) of the Day are wonderful reminders of the source and the purpose of the Word of God.

     

To serve is not a dirty word

May 22, 2021

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2021 comes from Galatians 5:13 in the New Living Translation and highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

This verse and other related scriptures bring to mind the idea of the servant or slave who has been set free. In the early 70s or thereabout, I was introduced to the Greek term “doulos”, translated servant or more literally “bondslave,” one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Scriptures. The portrayal of the servant or slave, as revealed in the Bible has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America.

In 1975, I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” In 1978, while completing my master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. 

Being a doulos involves a deep commitment to one’s Lord and Master.

The term doulos has become an intricate part of my life since I first learned of the concept of the “bond servant” or “bond slave” back in the early 70s. As used in the Bible, doulos is a metaphor that I have personalized and internalized. I explored the concept in master’s thesis which looked at the literary style of Paul in the Church Epistles, where he opens the Book of Romans with his “calling card”: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle (note the order).” Beyond its biblical significancethat, the concept is deeply embedded into my soul, in that it has become the essence of who I am, as I attempt to express in this poem:

More Than Metaphor

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,

separated to the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

To capture my essence, I strive to find a word,

Phrase, image or mind picture to bring clarity,

To express my deep yearning for intimacy.

Like Paul, my calling card reads: “servant of the Lord.”

Each fiber of my being and each emotion

Pulsates with lifeblood flowing from a servant’s heart.

As I endeavor to learn and live to impart

The joy of serving with pure-hearted devotion,

I pledge to work in voluntary servitude,

As I fix my eyes, looking unto my Lord’s hands,

To heed His Word and to do more than He commands,

To serve with love from a heart filled with gratitude.

Beyond a single concept, more than metaphor

Is this branded bondslave, who embodies “the more.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 13.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13. This very moving excerpt inspired another related poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet

John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel

around himself,

So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and

expose myself.

As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.

You could yourself

Perform this deed of loving service, but let me

Serve you myself.

To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,

as Christ himself

Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.

You have yourself

The key to the door of blessing for you and me:

As Jesus took

Upon himself

The servant’s form

That I myself

Might freely give

To you yourself,

So I ask you

As Christ himself

Still asks of me,

So I ask you to

Let me to wash your feet.

One of the ancient practices associated with bond servants in the Bible is the year of the Jubilee, the Old Testament practice whereby the 50th year was a special sabbatical period when Hebrew slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established. On my 50th birthday, I wrote “This Year of My Jubilee,”  alluding to this Old Testament practice:

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

I stand alone, clothed only with the wind

At the end of my seventh sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bondslave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as you command,

Pierce my ear–place your brand upon my soul.

Enlighten me so I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of your ways

And seal my vows to serve you all my days.

Once more Michael Card has the perfect song entitled “Jubilee” to accompany this poem.

I will conclude this entry by posting a PDF of the original article “Doulos: A Different View of a Slave” which was first published in 1975. Accompanying the article is a letter to  Apostle Thamo Naidoo to whom I sent the original article along with two of the poems posted above: “More Than Metaphor” and “This Year of My Jubilee.” I am grateful to my beloved Brother Lester Wiley Carver, who encouraged me to post the article. I trust that it will minister to all who read it. I welcome any comments or thoughts that this post might have inspired.

Before reading the article, listen to a powerful song written and performed by Dean Ellenwood, who captures the depth of commitment embodied in the individual called of God to be a  bondslave, a true Doulos. 

Doulos

Doulos: A Different View of a Slave

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ as Lord, that individual assumes the position of a “servant” or “bondslave”–a doulos.