Archive for the ‘Verse of the Day’ Category

Pressing toward the finish

July 28, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 28, 2018 comes from Philippians 3:14, but we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Philippians 3:13-14 (Revised Standard Version):00

Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

To understand the passage more fully, we can explore some of the athletic imagery Paul uses in Philippians and elsewhere, particularly his references to “the race.” In this case, “to press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” the finish line. The runner blocks everything out except the thin white line which is only visible when the competitors are right upon it. The athletes are “single-minded,” focusing all energy and efforts on finishing the race. Not looking to the right nor to the left, certainly not looking behind, but pressing toward the mark, athletes strive to cross the finish line in first place.

A recent blog post spoke of the Church, the Body of Christ, as God’s crowning achievement and made reference to the crown or the prize in a similar athletic context. Part of the discussion centered on the ending of the race or athletic contest that believers find themselves in today. “The Finish,” a poem written for that particular entry opens this way:

In this present season God is placing a great demand
On those who excel, those seeking to run and win the race.
Though the way seems grueling, we are still guided by His hand.
God exhorts us to run as He sustains us by His grace.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

Philippians 3:13-14 reminds believers that we must finish the race that is set before us. We recognized that we have to cross the finish line before we can receive the prize.

Here are words of encouragement:

As We Finish the Work

Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment)
is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me
and to accomplish and completely finish His work.

John 4:34 (Amplified Bible)

As we finish the work God has sent us to do,
We seek to fulfill all His will and leave our mark.
The Lord will bless and refresh and make all things new.
The fire on the altar enflamed from a small spark
Beckons as we press to reach the top of the mount.
As servants of the living God, we have been blessed
To reap the good of this life’s bountiful harvest.
We reflect upon God’s favor as we recount
All the days of our lives in multiples of five,
Having received the fullness of grace upon grace,
As we persevere not just to survive but thrive
And triumph with renewed strength to finish our race.
Along the way will be many whom we will inspire
To serve the Lord, for this has been our heart’s desire.

A related passage in I Corinthians 9:24–27 offers a similar athletic analogy:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

As spiritual athletes, we continue to learn firsthand the fight we are in is real, and we are not just “shadow-boxing.” We recognize, however, we must “endure a great fight of afflictions” as mentioned in Hebrews, and “run with patience the race that is set before us.” We have already won, but we simply need to finish the course. Then we will be able to say along with Paul:

2 Timothy 4:7–8:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith: Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day: and not to me only but also all who have loved His appearing.

As I reflect upon my track and field experiences back in the day in high school, I now recognize many times we knew the outcome of the entire track meet beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events, with the last two races being relays. Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, we encourage all believers in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets,
Forget the past, press toward the mark,
Look straight ahead with no regrets.

We close with a beautiful song by the Wilds based on Philippians 3:13-14: “Press toward the Mark”:

Such great faith: crazy faith

July 26, 2018

Earlier this week, I shared the good news that the much awaited book, Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conquer, should be in print in mid-October of this year. I expressed my gratitude to God for all those who provided encouragement and support in helping to bring to pass one of my heart’s desires.

While reflecting on today’s Verse of the Day, Chapter 6 of my book also came to mind: “The Faith Factor: Without faith it is impossible. . .” with its reference to Hebrews 11:1 (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].

This excerpt serves as an appetizer to the full course meal that will be served in about ninety days, Lord willing:

Throughout my encounter with prostate cancer, I was well aware of the importance of faith because the diagnosis challenged me to go to God and seek His guidance and direction as never before. During this time, I was asked to write an article sharing what faith means to me. This task helped me to articulate the importance of faith which I describe as the “bedrock of my life.” Defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God that I 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.

I recognized that the topic has been of interest to me since high school when I first taught a Bible study on faith at a youth camp. Focusing on Hebrews 11, verses 1 and 6, I shared what little I knew at the time, but I have since expanded my knowledge of the subject and personal application of the principles of learning to live by faith. Those two verses have contributed to the foundation upon which I have built my life as a teacher and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the years following my diagnosis, I expanded my knowledge of the subject of faith, examining the Word of God and pointing to important illustrations of faith in Hebrews 11 and elsewhere in the Scriptures and in life. I endeavored to relate the simplicity of faith, being that of hearing from God by way of the written Word of God or the Bible or by revelation from God. By acting upon what you have heard, you receive the corresponding results of your actions. Romans 10:17 speaks of source of faith: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In addition, I learned about another factor that can impact faith. “Unbelief, the Thief” describes this corrosive element that can potentially undermine strong faith. In the same way that unbelief kept the Children of Israel from entering into the Promised Land, it can cause believers to forfeit their inheritance. I recognized the importance of maintaining a joyful heart of faith rather than harboring “an evil heart of unbelief.”

In the Gospels we also note the corrosive and destructive effect of unbelief in that Jesus Christ was unable to perform many miracles or many mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth and the surrounding areas because of their unbelief. This negative spiritual force has also been described as “the only thing that defeats the promises of God.”

Also recorded in the Gospels is an account of an individual who impressed Jesus Christ with his “great faith.” The centurion in Matthew 8 comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal the man’s servant. In response, the Lord says that he will come and do as he asks. The centurion counters by saying that Jesus does not have to come to his house, but he has “. . . only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” In response the Lord says, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with anyone in Israel. The centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

A contemporary term that corresponds to “great faith” is “crazy faith.” When a believers encounter circumstances that seem utterly impossible and respond that they know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to their positive expectations with, “That’s crazy!” We know, however, that we walk by faith and not by sight, and we counter with “That’s not crazy. . . That just means we have ‘crazy faith.’” Writer Larry King says, “Crazy faith is when you simply refuse to let what you perceive –that is, your circumstances, your situations, your trials, tests and obstacles – interfere with what you believe.”

Here is a poetic description:

Such Great Faith—Crazy Faith

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed,
Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,
not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10 (KJV)

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,
When the Lord returns, will he find faith on the earth?
When He appraises our faith, what will it be worth?
When all is said and done, may we add our measure,
Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed.
Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,
May our faith be found so pure that nothing defiles.
May we be living by faith in word and in deed,
For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.
May such great faith descend from the centurion
To the faithful ones who bear this criterion:
Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.
We will still be walking by faith, not by what we see,
While pressing toward the mark, reaching toward our destiny.

Here is John Waller offering a musical expression of “Crazy Faith”:

Stay tuned and keep stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe for updates on the book.

No fear in love

July 19, 2018

The inspiration for the blog post for July 19, 2018 comes from Isaiah 41:10 (Revised Standard Version) to which I add verse 13 to solidify this powerful reminder to have no fear:

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”

Last week I posted a blog entry on Friday, the 13th, related to fear and commented on this same passage. Prior to that, a post stated “Fear is not real!” and used the same passage and other related scriptures. In my forthcoming book Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror, I also discuss fear as one of the factors impacting my response to prostate cancer 18 years ago.

As noted in previous comments, we find 365 references to “have no fear” or “”do not fear” in the Bible, so some say. This encouraging word from Isaiah 41 is yet another reminder to believers: “Do not fear.” We could view these particular verses as one of those daily memos from God to have no fear.

If not properly understood and dealt with, fear can metastasize into a toxic emotion with deadly consequences. As believers, we must learn to counteract its harmful effects with the proper remedy. In this case, we find love is the perfect antidote: the love of God, the highest form of love. This love is “more intimate than friend, or kin or wife.” This close-knit love is also known as agape, a term used exclusively in the New Testament, to reveal the uniqueness of God’s love.

The book of I John also reveals the “perfect” connection between fear and love, particularly in 1 John 2:5 (NKJV):

But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this know that we are in Him.

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. Verse 18 provides the basis for love being 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.

I recall learning about the love of God as a counteractant to fear in a very simple yet profound way. One of the first books that my wife and I used to teach our daughters about our Heavenly Father was My Little Golden Book about God. This was a kind of primer for our daughters who memorized the words and associated them with the illustrations long before they could actually “read.” Some of the most cherished lines were these words which closed out the small book:

“Do not fear. I am here. And I love you, my dear. Close your eyes and sleep tight. For tomorrow will be bright. All is well, dear child. Good night.”

This simple response encourages all children of God to have no fear, for God is ever present, and He continues to say, “And I love you, my dear.” Even in distressful and disturbing situations where we do not clearly understand what is transpiring in our lives health-wise and otherwise, we must remember

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 “Have no fear—walk in love.” We conclude as Wintley Phipps offers this encouraging musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”:

The Strong, the Wise and the Righteous

July 18, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 18, 2018 comes from Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. Also known as the Torah Psalm, this passage makes reference to the Word of God in every verse, employing such synonyms as “statues, Law, judgments, precepts, etc. The Verse of the Day is the next to the last verse of the Aleph or the first section where David makes a bold declaration of his intent:

Psalm 119:7 (New Living Translation):

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!

The section ends with another declaration of intent, ending with a passionate plea:

Psalm 119:8 (NLT):

I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

David goes on to demonstrate his efforts to live uprightly and follow the precepts of God:

Psalm 119:11 (NLT):

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

At the dedication of the Temple, David, who is described as “a man after God’s own heart,” comments on the attributes of God by saying,

17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously. (1 Chronicles 29:17)

David goes on to speak of his own state before God:

2 Samuel 22:23-26

23 I have followed all his regulations;
I have never abandoned his decrees.
24 I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
25 The LORD rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.
26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.

God is always on the lookout for individuals who are “upright in heart.” A classic illustration of God looking for and finding such an “upright” person is found in Job, who is described in this way in the first verse of the book that bears his name:

Job 1:1 (Amplified Bible):

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who [reverently] feared God and abstained from and shunned evil [because it was wrong].

Psalm 11:7 (NLT) also makes known the kind of people who get God’s attention:

For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.

II Chronicles 16:9 reveals that the eyes of Lord are always scanning the planet, looking for individuals with an upright or perfect heart. Such an individual is further described in Psalm 37:37 as “the perfect man . . . the upright,” whose life is a reflection of the peace of God. These two verses are combined in a Scripture memory song with these lyrics:

II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
Throughout the whole earth
To show Himself strong, to show Himself strong,
To show Himself strong in behalf of them
Whose heart is perfect toward Him.
The man with a perfect heart is whole and complete:
Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,
For the end of that man is peace.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,
Throughout the whole earth

Ten years ago I recall a Bible teaching that described those who survive in times of famine. The Verse of the Day and related scriptures brought to mind this response:

The Strong, the Wise and the Righteous

“In times of famine, those who survive
and prosper are the strong,
the wise and the righteous.”
Apostle Eric L. Warren

In times of severe famine those who survive are the strong
In mind, those empowered by the Spirit of Might.
Though living in a strange land, they sing the Lord’s song,
Striving to please their God, in whom He takes delight.
During drought and scarcity of food the wise
Search for wisdom as bold hunters pursue their game.
They seek to do all God’s will and not compromise.
God hears every cry when they call upon His name
And satisfies the deepest hunger of their soul.
Walking worthy of their calling as faithful sons,
They learn that to run to serve is life’s highest goal.
In times of famine they shall find grace in the Lord’s eyes;
Set apart for His glory: the strong, righteous and wise.

We end our comments on the Verse of the Day “a musical rendering of Psalm 119:1-8 offer as a worship song by Jason Silver: “All Your Commandments”

Putting off the old, putting on the new

July 16, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 16, 2018 reminds believers of who we are in Christ Jesus:
Colossians 2:9-10 in the Revised English Version:

for in him dwells, in a bodily manner, all the fullness of what God is,

and you have been given that fullness by being in union with him, the one who is the head over every ruler and authority.

To understand more fully our identity in Christ, we must take a look at the preceding verses found in Colossians 2:6-10 (REV)

6Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your trust, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8See to it that no one takes you captive through empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ, 9for in him dwells, in a bodily manner, all the fullness of what God is, 10and you have been given that fullness by being in union with him, the one who is the head over every ruler and authority.

This passage reminds believers that as we have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, we are to walk in him. This practice is an aspect of renewing the mind, whereby we put off the old and put on the new.

These lines reflect our prayer to God:

Open our ears to hear the Word that we might do it,
To put on the mind of Christ and learn to renew it.

The following poem refers to this ongoing process:

Putting off the old, putting on the new

9Never lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices

10and have put on the new self that is being renewed to a true knowledge

that is in accord with the image of the one who created it

Colossians 3:9-10 (REV)

 

The Word of God instructs us to renew our mind:
To walk in the love of God is to walk in victory.
As we strive toward even deeper levels of intimacy,
We will walk in power and will not be left behind.
With laser precision we target our old man nature
And consider ourselves dead to sin once for all.
We respond in obedience in answer to God’s call;
In the secret place of the Lord who ever inhabits
The praises of His people, here we desire to abide,
To put off the old, vile, corrupt, wrapped in sinful pride
And put on the new, as one changes garments, habits.
Above all we put on compassion from the start
And abide in our hiding place, filled with a grateful heart.

The last line of the poem makes a reference to “a grateful heart,” part of the lyrics of a song reminding believers to “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.”

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)
And now let the weak say, ‘I am strong’
Let the poor say, ‘I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us’ (repeat)
Give thanks
Give Thanks

As we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, renewing our minds as we walk in love, our souls overflow with gratitude, expressions of a grateful heart.

We close with Kutless offering “Complete” based on Colossians 2:9-10:

Man shall not live by bread alone

July 12, 2018

Once again we begin by taking a close look at the Word for the Day for July 12, 2018:

Matthew 4:4 (AMP):

But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”

This verse, of course, is part of Jesus Christ’s response to the first prong of the temptation in the wilderness, whereby the Devil attempts to get the Savior to turn stones into bread. With each temptation Jesus responds with “It is written,” as Christ counters with Scripture, in this first instance, from a passage from the Pentateuch, specifically from

Deuteronomy 8:2-3:

2And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether would keep his commandments, or no.
3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Here God reminds Israel of their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness where He proved them and taught them a valuable lesson, the essence of which Jesus Christ repeats after having been in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights without food when he responds, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

I recall referring to this verse in a session of an English Grammar class I taught at Carolina College of Biblical Studies focusing the sentence, the basic unit of written communication. I shared that a complete sentence must have three elements:

• subject
• verb
• complete thought

Building a sentence is like making a sandwich: You must have two essential ingredients: two slices of bread (subject and verb), along with something to go in between (complete thought).

As writers, we can express our creativity in putting together a wide array of delicious sandwiches from the basic grilled cheese all the way to the “The Dagwood” with many layers stuffed with wide array of ingredients and condiments.

During this session I also share the derivation of the term sandwich. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “sandwich” is said to be named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), who once spent twenty-four hours at the gaming-table without other refreshment than some slices of cold beef placed between slices of toast. The word was first used in the late 1770s. The sandwich found its way into the American diet in the 19th Century and was particularly popular in the 20th Century.

During the period of time when I first developed the comparison of sentences to sandwiches, I was also participating in a clinical trial for Prostate Cancer at the James Cancer Treatment Center in Columbus, Ohio. The study involved eating two slices of bread each day, alternating between bread prepared with soy protein as its main ingredient and almond flour. These two experiences inspired this poem which I share at the end of the class session:

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 I 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.

We conclude our reflections by listening to the beauty and simplicity of words spoken by Jesus Christ set to music by Toby Pfeiffer: “Not by Bread Alone”:

Is anything too difficult? Nothing is too difficult

July 11, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 11, 2018 comes from Jeremiah 32:17 in the Amplified Bible:

‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too difficult or too wonderful for You—

The Verse of the Day is part of the prayer that Jeremiah prays to God prior to Israel’s going into captivity because of their rampant disobedience and blatant idolatry. Here are the opening words of that prayer recorded in Jeremiah 32:17-20

17 “O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! 18 You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 19 You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. 20 You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.

The prayer continues, and we find Verse 27 translated as a rhetorical question:

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is there anything too difficult for Me?”

We find a similar question raised in the midst of another seemingly impossible situation in Genesis when the angel of the Lord visits Abraham, who happens to be 100 years old and Sarah, his barren wife, is well past the years of childbearing at 90:

Genesis 18: 13-14 (AMP):

13 And the LORD asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh [to herself], saying, ‘Shall I really give birth [to a child] when I am so old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult or too wonderful for the LORD? At the appointed time, when the season [for her delivery] comes, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son.”

These two passages speak of the mind-boggling power of God: whether expressed as a bold statement: “Nothing is too difficult for you” or as a question: “Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?” both expressions come to the same conclusion: “Nothing is too hard for God!”

No matter how challenging the situation may appear to be, God can turn it into a magnificent triumph. No matter how lifeless and hopeless the circumstances we face may seem, God specializes in touching seemingly impossible situations, making “barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.” We see the amazing power of God illustrated in this way:

Barrenness

19 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.
20 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.
21 This 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 God shall make 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 God’s glory: even the barren womb
He has prepared to bring forth life-changing seed.
We 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 related verses and the poem all relate a similar message that “Nothing is too difficult for God.” The closing words of the Verse of the Day became the inspiration for one of the most popular songs of praise composed by Don Moen: “Ah, Lord God. . .” which reinforces that message.:

Power of God at work in us

July 9, 2018

Ephesians-3-20-21

The Verse of the Day for July 9, 2018 is the benediction from the prayer found in culminating verses of Chapter 3 of Ephesians:

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

That powerful prayer reveals our Heavenly Father’s intent toward believers that they might demonstrate  the exceeding greatness of God’s power or ability recorded by Paul in those two verses which shine as crowning jewels in that exquisite revelation of God’s ability. Verse 19   precedes the powerful declarative statement, reminding believers of God’s desire that we might experience the fulfillment of all that He intends us to be:

The Fullness of God

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;

that you may be filled with all fullness of God

Ephesians 3:19

 

In wisdom God gives power to loose and to bind,

To enlighten souls and open eyes of the blind.

All the promises of God are “yes and amen.”

God’s Word is true today, just as it was back then

When Christ first spoke the truth to those with ears to hear.

We walk in the spirit of love and have no fear.

We have been empowered by the spirit of might.

To serve the Lord, to please Him is our soul’s delight.

Secure, knowing nothing can snatch us from His hand,

We shall know fulfillment of all that God has planned.

Filled with all the fullness of God that we might see:

The riches of the glory of this mystery.

We walk by faith and not by sight, for we now know

God sealed us by a covenant, and it is so.

Every day we confront challenging circumstances that seek overwhelm our souls, but we must remember that we are powerful people. Literally we are full of power, the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. There is no greater power, and by exercising that power, God is able “to do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,

The opening phrase of verse 20 brought to mind the expression that “God is able,” which in turn caused me to think of the lyrics to this song:

He’s able, He’s able, I know He’s able,
I know my Lord is able to carry me through.
He’s able, He’s able, I know He’s able,
I know my Lord is able to carry me through.
He healed the brokenhearted and set the captive free,
He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
He’s able, He’s able, I know He’s able,
I know my Lord is able to carry me through.

With this awareness of who God is in mind, we acknowledge that no matter how challenging and insurmountable any situation may appear to be, we recall that nothing is too hard for God, who reminds us: “I am the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” In fact, the old gospel song reminds us,

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through?

God specializes in things called impossible,

And He will do what no other power (Holy Ghost power) can do.

We close with the magnificent benediction from Jude, a further reminder that God is able:

24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and ever. Amen.

We conclude as Shannon R. Linville offers Ephesians 3:14-20 as a Scripture Song:

You have magnified Your word above all Your name

July 8, 2018

Psalm 138--2

The Verse of the Day for July 8, 2018 comes from Psalm 138:2 in the Amplified Bible Classic Edition:

I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!

Without question God is great and greatly to be praised. Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere in the Scriptures, we find references to the name of the Lord who is great and greatly to be praised:

Psalm 148:13 proclaims:

Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

Proverbs 18:10  declares:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

The lyrics to this scripture memory song reiterate this message:

Praise Ye the Lord

(Psalm 113:1-3)

Praise ye the LORD.

Praise, O ye servants of the LORD,

Praise the name of the LORD.

Repeat

Blessed be the name of the LORD

From this time forth and for evermore.

Blessed be the name of the LORD

From this time forth and for evermore.

Repeat

 

From the rising of the sun

Unto the going down of the same

The Lord’s name is to be praised.

 

From the rising of the sun

Unto the going down of the same

The Lord’s name is to be praised.

So we see that the name of the Lord great, for the Bible states that He has “a great name.” Just as our individual names reveal our identity, so the name of the Lord reveals who He is:

1 Chronicles 29:11 reminds us of just how great God is:

Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.

The Psalmist also recognizes the magnitude of the name of the Lord:

Psalm 113:2-3 (AMP):

Blessed be the name of the Lord From this time forth and forever.

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised [with awe-inspired reverence].

Psalm 148: 12-13 (KJV) reinforces the same message:

12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven

Although there is no greater power in the universe than God almighty, the latter part of Psalm 138:2 reminds us that God has magnified His Word above all His name. Once we recognize to a greater degree the magnitude of the Word of God which is expanded far beyond the greatness of God and all that He is, our hearts should overflow with gratitude for the privilege of not only reading the Word of God, but have the privilege of teaching it. He has committed unto us “the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5: 19). What an indescribable honor to have access to the heart of God, for out of the abundance of His heart His mouth speaks, as we recognize and reverence

God’s Unfailing Power

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper

than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division

of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow,

and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 [NKJV]

 

No word of God spoken shall be devoid of power

But shall prosper in the thing to which it is sent,

Beyond all past limits, to its farthest extent

And thus abound in fruit as seed of the sower,

Returning four-fold measure to the one who lent.

It is impossible not to fulfill God’s will,

Once spoken and thus declared that the Lord might show

The wonders of His amazing ways and instill

In us His unfailing power that we might know

That in the beginning God spoke, and it was so.

Sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting as a knife,

The word is quick to energize and encompass

The past, present and future, merging to bring forth life.

While yet in our mouths, it has come already come to pass.

We close with a musical rendering of Psalm 138, a Christian Worship and Scripture Song by Esther Mui:

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is perfect in all His ways

July 7, 2018

 Psalm 18--30

The Verse of the Day for July 7, 2018 clearly reveals one of the unique characteristics of who God is and all He does. God Almighty, the creator of the heavens and the Earth, is the epitome of perfection, as the Psalmist declares:

Psalm 18:30:

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

Amplified Bible states this truth this way:

As for God, His way is blameless. The word of the Lord is tested [it is perfect, it is faultless]; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Likewise the New Living Translation offer this statement:

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.

Deuteronomy 32:4 makes the almost identical statement in the New Living Translation:

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!

In the Gospels, Jesus Christ commands his followers to be perfect, in the same way God is perfect:

Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

At first glance, to “be perfect” seems to be an impossible task, but certainly, God, our gracious, patient, heavenly Father, would never ask us to do anything that would be impossible to accomplish.

Ligonier Teaching Ministries, founded by the late RC Sproul, comments on the concept of being perfect:

In the first place, the word that is translated “perfect” literally means “be complete.” So often, the New Testament and the Old Testament will describe people as being upright and righteous—not in the sense that they have achieved total moral perfection, but rather that they have reached a singular level of maturity in their growth in terms of spiritual integrity. However, in this statement, it’s certainly legitimate to translate it using the English word perfect. For example, “Be ye complete as your heavenly Father is complete.”

Colossians 2:10 reminds us this reality:

And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

So in the sense that we are complete, lacking nothing, we are perfect, just as God desires us to be. We are what God says we are: “Perfect!” The source of our becoming perfect as we mature is the Word of God, given that we might be “perfected”–that is to be whole, complete, fully equipped, lacking nothing needed to complete the work set before us. Note what 2 Timothy has to say:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Amplified Bible broadens our understanding of this passage:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 19:10 also reminds us:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

When believers look in the mirror of the matchless Word of God, they behold their true identity, perfected in the precepts of Almighty God’s changeless law. We now behold:

Our True Identity

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory,

even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18

 

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see,

Not only who we are but who we shall become,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

Released from shackles of a slave mentality,

The bondage of Egypt we have now overcome.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see.

 

Perfected to reveal all we were designed to be,

In our hearts we have prepared for God a new home,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

“Perfect and complete”: our new reality:

As born-again models of the Father’s Kingdom.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see.

 

God’s blessings in double measure abundantly,

Flowing by the spirit in knowledge and wisdom,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

We live to fulfill our prophetic destiny,

As joys unfold with even greater joys to come.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

As Christian believers we study the Scriptures to show ourselves approved to God, and in doing so we learn more about God and His expectations for His people. Just as God is perfect in all His ways, He desires the followers of Lord Jesus Christ to be perfect, as God our Father is perfect. We close with Chris Tomlin, singing of God as a “Good, Good Father”, as the chorus resounds to remind us “You are perfect in all your ways.”