Archive for the ‘Word for the Day’ Category

The patience of Job

May 17, 2017

James 5--11

On May 17, 2017 let us take a look at the one of the “longest words in the dictionary”: “patience.” Although it has only eight letters, this enduring virtue has a familiar synonym “longsuffering.” In teaching children a Scripture Memory Song of the fruit of the spirit in the King James Version, the first syllable of “l-o-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g-suffering” was sung strongly for several seconds in an exaggerated way to emphasize the meaning of the term. In looking at patience in the Bible, we can learn much about this essential component of life.

Recently the Verse of the Day looked at James 1: 2-4, a passage that ends with a reference to patience:

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

That blog entry also brought to mind a more extensive discussion of patience from which the following excerpt is taken:

The passage pinpoints the importance of the character trait of patience or endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord. One of the words related to “patience”  or being patient as a verb means “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure.  The word translated patience as a noun is also translated: endurance, patient enduring, perseverance, and steadfastness.

Another passage from James stresses the importance of patience, providing an excellent example of both the verb and the noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance:

James 5:7-11 (AMP):

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

In discussing Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” we also note some distinctive features of the Book of Job. Although it is not listed with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars believe that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to be composed by Moses. Job, was, indeed, a real person, and his account is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles: God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.”

Recall Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the     LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Nate Wolf  in The Gatekeepers: Whatever God Can Get Through You, He Will Get to You further comments about the classic Biblical example of endurance:

Job’s patience was the golden secret that helped him overcome the pain he faced. Patience is more than just having the ability to not become angry in a difficult situation. Patience is the power that will carry you through the painful moments of life into the pleasurable moments of life. . . . The patience of God within you will always outlast the pain that’s trying to come upon you. .  . . Patience is the power that will keep you in the proper place and mindset, during discomfort or pain, until you possess your final promise and reach your ultimate purpose.

This discussion of the importance of patience also brings this to mind:

A Prayer for Patience

“My suggestion for people in a season of birth or 

is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.”  

Graham Cooke

 

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,

so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,

and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

 

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see

All that God is and all He plans for us to be.

We still journey down the road less traveled by

And pray that patience may serve as a trusted ally.

We must say “No” to the pressures of this life

And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.

As we stay our minds on Him, we abide in peace.

When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.

May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some

But like Job wait until at last our change shall come.

Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,

But fruit abounds to those who wait in this season.

We pray that in this time of transition and shift

That we embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We conclude with John Waller offering “While I’m Waiting”:

 

 

 

James 1:2-4: “No want state”

May 10, 2017

James 1--4

The blog entry for May 10, 2017 is based on the Word or the Phrase  for the Day: “No want state,” a powerful expression used by Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC.  He delivered a life-changing message entitled “A No Want State” based on James 1:2-4:

[Faith and Endurance] Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

The New King James Version renders verse 4 this way:

But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

The expression “no-want state” also came to mind, as I recalled a recent conversation with a fellow brother in Christ who shared that he was in the midst of intense spiritual warfare and experiencing challenging circumstances on every hand. In our walk with God, as we press on in our efforts to discover our purpose in the Father  and fulfill our destiny, we encounter all kinds of fiery trials. During these trying times when our faith is being tested, we are building our endurance as we wait on the Lord, who has promised to strengthen us. We, however, are not waiting in a state of anxiety, not in a state of doubt or fear, but we are patiently waiting, as we strive to situate ourselves where we are “perfect and entire, wanting nothing”—in a “no want state,” the title of this poem:

“A No Want State”

 James 1:2-4

 

Right now we are striving to arrive at a “no want state,”

A place of assurance that God alone is in control.

In our zeal to please God, we learn to labor and to wait

While still running to serving the Lord as our life’s highest goal.

Pressed by enemies that seek to steal, kill, and to destroy,

Our ability to trust God is once more put to the test

In every fiery trial we trust God and count it all joy,

Especially in the midst of great turmoil and unrest.

God knows where we are at this time; nothing is by chance.

He has given freely of His spirit that we might know

In Christ we prevail despite any adverse circumstance.

When our faith is tested, our endurance will also grow.

As we yield to patience and allow her to have her way,

We are perfected to stay the course and trust and obey.

Hebrews 10:36 also offers this reminder in the New Living Translation:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Knowing this, we can count it all joy when we encounter various fiery trials that test our faith and build patient endurance.

The Winans offer this reminder to “Count it all Joy.”

 

Research: Search again

March 7, 2017

Psalm-139-23-24

The Verse of Day for March 7, 2017 presents this personal petition:

Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV):

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

This celebrated passage also brings to mind a previous blog entry that focused on the word “research.” Just as it was at that time, so I am also currently teaching a composition course where my students are working on a research paper, and once again the term “research” continues to be very much in my thoughts.

Research in its most literal sense means to “re-search” or to “search again.” In thinking about the concluding  passage from Psalm 139, we recognize that this entire psalm could be viewed as an invitation to deepest, divine inspection. The Psalmist opens with recognition that God knows all about us. He has made, formed and created us. Indeed, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The psalm closes with a heartfelt request in the closing verses.

Psalm 139 also brings to mind a previous blog entry that made reference to a life-changing teaching from Dr. David Jeremiah, who taught on the refining fire of God. I made reference to that message in this excerpt from a journal entry made following hearing the teaching:

It is one of the most moving tapes I have heard, as he relates how God puts us through the process of refining in order to extract the precious metal from within us.  In the same way that a refiner breaks the stones and sends them through the fire over and over again, so God sends us through the fires of life in order to extract and purify the gold within our souls.  God removes our need to feel secure, to be in control, and to survive by putting in situations that try us, “fiery temptations” that prove who we really are.  God controls the entire process, determining the timing, the temperature, the target, and the terms of the fire. Our tendency is respond with a series of questions as to “why?”: “why me?”, “why now?”, and “why not someone else?”  Like children, we continually ask why when God, as a good parent, is not obligated to explain that which children cannot understand at the time they ask “why.”  The only questions we should be asking are “What are you trying to teach me?” and “What are you trying to change in me?”

Finally, in reflecting upon the passage from Psalm 139, my mind is flooded with an understanding of what is transpiring in my life at this time. God is doing precisely what I asked Him to do in two poems, both of which express my deepest desire:

Try Me

24Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;

24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary. . .

pure and holy, tried and true. . .

Contemporary Gospel Song


Purify my motive; assay my devotion;

weigh each desire, carat by carat, dram by dram.

In the refining fire of your furnace try me.

Test the mettle of my soul; scrape away all dross,

all debris that would adulterate my intents

and leave behind the purity of ore that I

may see my face reflected in the pool of gold.

I long to take the treasure of your precious Word,

securely hide it in the lock box of my heart

and as a faithful son, hand you the only key.

Another poem that could be described as “the second verse of the same song” is also inspired in part by the same verses from Psalm 139:

Search Me: A Song for You

“I know your image of me is what I hope to be

If I’ve treated you unkindly, can’t you see?

That there’s no one more important to me.

Oh, won’t you please look through me. . .”

“A Song for You”–Leon Russell

                                                

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.


 24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life
.

Psalm 139: 23-24 (NLT)

 

The whole of my life unfolds as an open book,

Known and read by all with eyes to see, page by page.

As you read each line, take an even closer look,

Probe the depths of each of my thoughts, as you engage

The text, searching my heart for its deepest meaning.

Your searching and knowing is the ultimate scan.

As you discern my essence, my inmost being,

I will align myself according to your plan.

Beyond MRIs, devices to diagnose,

You see and assess any abnormality.

In these times of watchful waiting, you draw me close:

Despite what tests reveal, you have healed and delivered me.

At times I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do,

“But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song to you.”

Hillsong offers a moving rendition of “Search Me O God,” an appropriate musical accompaniment to close today’s blog entry:

Forward march on March 4

March 4, 2017

march-4-blue_thumbnail0

Today we are taking a close look at the phrase of the day which is today’s date: March 4, 2017. Most remarkably, the fourth of March is the only day of the year that is expressed as a command, an imperative sentence: March Forth! We also note the intersection of another unofficial holiday, National Grammar Day observed on March 4.

The Grammarly blog offers a brief history of the holiday and explains its purpose:

“On National Grammar Day, we honor our language and its rules, which help us communicate clearly with each other. In turn, clear communication helps us understand each other—a critical component of peaceful relations.”

Host of the 2017 National Grammar Day, author Mignon Fogarty, comments, “Language is something to celebrate, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

Although the exact words “March forth” are not used in the Bible, a similar expression to “march forth” is found the Amplified Bible in Psalm 68:7:

 O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness—Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!—

Psalm 45:4 also uses a related expression:

In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.

In a couple of instances in the Old Testament, we note commands to march forward:

When the Children of Israel advanced into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, one of the first places they encountered was the ancient city of Jericho, a fortified city surrounded by a great wall. Joshua gave orders to the Israel, ultimately leading to victory:

Joshua 6:7 in the Holman Standard Bible indicates what they were told to do:

He said to the people, “Move forward, march around the city, and have the armed troops go ahead of the ark of the Lord.”

Another place where Israel marched forth into victory occurred when David inquired of the Lord before going against the Philistines, and God told him how to proceed:

1 Chronicles 14:15 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then march out to battle, for God will have marched out ahead of you to attack the camp of the Philistines.”

In yet another account, when the Children of Israel are departing from Egypt, they encounter the first of a series of challenges, as the Egyptians are in hot pursuit behind them and the Red Sea rises as a barrier ahead of them. Exodus 14:13-16 unfolds what occurred and relates the Word of the Lord for Moses and the people:

13 Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea]. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the sons of Israel may go through the middle of the sea on dry land.

In a similar manner when we encounter obstacles and situations that could so easily overwhelm us, we must follow God’s command to move forward.

In the military we hear the command “Forward March.” “Forward” is the preparatory command whereby the individual shifts weight to the right foot before stepping out smartly on the left foot with on the command “march.”

Today is a day that speaks a command: Forward March!—March Forth—on March 4th.  Today we will follow the command of the Lord and March forth into victory:

Now thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ and makes manifest the sweet savor of His knowledge by us in every place. (1 Corinthians 2:14).

We follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, our Father, the father of Faith

Like Abraham, we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Romans 4:20-21 describes the “Father of Faith” in this way:

20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

We march forward from faith to faith, from glory to glory, and from victory to victory, not just on the 4th of March but every day of our lives. Whether we are enjoying an opportunity to move forward and march forth into victory in a variety of areas of our lives or celebrating the merit of good grammar, March 4 is “a doubly lovely day.”

An appropriate song to close out this blog entry is “Moving Forward” by Israel Houghton:

Disappointment transformed: His appointment

January 19, 2017

romans_10-11

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day for January 19, 2017, we want to take a look at a Word of the Day, as we make a slight variation and transform the word “disappointment” from place of discontentment into a positive state of acceptance just by changing a single letter. The word is “disappointment” is defined as “a feeling of dissatisfaction, the emotion felt when a strongly held anticipation is not fulfilled.” As we go about our daily lives, all of us have experienced disappointment to some degree. We must recognize, however, that disappointments occurred when situations have not turned out the way we thought they would. In actuality, our disappointments – every one of them – come from the “add-ons” we attach, those things God never promised but which we add to God’s promises. In every situation whereby we might feel disappointed, we need to focus on the Word of God, and be grateful for the promises that we have rather than dwelling on what we do not have, which ultimately leads to being disappointed:

2 Peter 1:4(NKJV) reminds of the vast reservoir of God’s pledges:

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

2 Corinthians 1:20(NKJV)

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

We must continually look to God and to those exceedingly great and precious promises in His Word. As we do this we recognize that God does not disappoint nor fail to fulfill His promises. No, He does not prevent hopes or expectations from being realized, which is how we define the verb to “disappoint.” One is said to be “disappointed” or sad or displeased because one’s own hopes or expectations have not been fulfilled.

We cannot hold onto any feelings of being disappointed!  In reality, feelings of disappointments consist of our hopes and expectations. Disappointments come when God does not come through at the time that we “expect” Him to nor in the way we “expect” Him to. Disappointment is the result of “failed expectations” on our part. The late Kim Clement spoke of the “power of presuppositions.”  He goes on to say that “Presupposition is an enemy to destiny. . . .” We may sense that God has failed when our lives fail to unfold according to our prescribed patterns and plans, as expressed in this poem:                                   

Presupposition: Enemy to Destiny

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.”

Acts 15:18

 

“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny. . . .”

Kim Clement

 

Prophetic words that God desires to bring to pass

Wither as unripened fruit that fails to mature,

As our lives seem to diminish from gold to brass.

In the midst of changing times, of this we must be sure:

“Presupposition is an enemy to destiny.”

Our failed expectations shipwreck us and distort

Our view of the place where we thought that we would be,

As we accept what appears to be the last resort.

Though this downward spiral plummets to depths of despair,

We trust our all-wise Father who makes no mistakes,

For God heals broken lives that seem beyond repair

With exquisite beauty that fills all that He makes.

Known to God are all His works from eternity:

His perfect will unfolds to those with eyes to see.

We must remember that there is no failure in God, for God is good. The very essence of God is goodness. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.” Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good. When facing what appears to be disappointing aspects in life, we can look to the Word of God and find that those who trust in God will not be disappointed.

The Psalmist also reminds us that God will not let those who trust Him to be disappointed

Psalm 22:5 (AMP):

They cried to You and were delivered; they trusted in, leaned on, and confidently relied on You, and were not ashamed or confounded or disappointed.

Paul reiterates this point:

Romans 10:11(AMP):

The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.

Above all, we must remember this:

Numbers 23:19(KJV):

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said,   and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Proverbs 23:18 (AMP) reminds us:

For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) also reminds us God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The Amplified Bible expresses this truth this way:

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

Edith Lillian Young has found a simple way of countering disappointment simply by making a small change which can result in a big change in our attitude toward this particular “deadly emotion.”

Disappointment

“Disappointment – His appointment,”
Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be a blessing,
though it may come in disguise,
for the end from the beginning
open to His wisdom lies.

“Disappointment – His appointment,”
Whose? The Lord, who loves me best,
Understands and knows me fully,
Who my faith and love would test;
For, like a loving earthly parent,
He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts, unquestioned,
All that from His wisdom flows.

“Disappointment – His appointment,”
“No good thing will He withhold,”
From denials oft we gather
Treasures of His love untold,
Well He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller, deeper trust,
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

“Disappointment – His appointment,”
Lord, I take it, then, as such.
Like the clay in hands of potter,
Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan is Thy molding,
Not one single choice be mine;
Let me answer, unrepining –
“Father, not my will, but Thine.”

Phil Keaggy offers a musical rendition of these lyrics:

Psalm 1: Learning by heart

November 19, 2016

Psalm 1--3

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day for November 19, 2016, an expression also came to mind that I generally associate with this particular passage, and so once again we have the Verse of the Day along with the Word or Phrase for the Day Combo.

This familiar passage opens one of my favorite psalms:

Psalm 1: 1-2 (NKJV):

[BOOK ONE: Psalms 1—41] [The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

The First Psalm is especially meaningful to me in that it is the first passage of scripture that I “learned by heart.” We, thus, introduce the “Phrase of the Day.” I recall committing the entire psalm to memory in the mid-fifties, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I vividly remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood in a kind of impromptu Vacation Bible School in her home, which was located behind “Little’s Funeral Parlor.” She told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still “know by heart” to this day.

Here is the entire psalm in the King James Version which I committed to memory:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Recently I came across a discussion of idioms on EnglishStackExchange.com where someone asked if “learn by heart” and “learn by rote” meant the same. In making the distinction between these two expressions, one writer commented that “[to] go over many times is the process of ‘rote learning’; I learned it by heart is the effect it produced or the quality of learning that was acquired.”  Learning by heart means to learn something so well that it can be written or recited without thinking; to memorize something.

Another writer went on to say: “Learning by heart — which may be somewhat of a dying tradition — means to learn something so deeply that it becomes part of our core: it fills us; it changes us. The difference might be less in technique than in what we do with the acquired information.”

In the years that have transpired since the first time I recited the passage, I have come to identify with the man so described as “blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable” in the Amplified Bible:

In a previous blog post I express my identification with this individual in the following poetic self-portrait:

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

At first I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

 

 

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

 

 

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

 

 

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

I been truly blessed since I can remember when.

 

 

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they talking about in that First Psalm.

In thinking about the phrase “to learn by heart,” I recall another related verse which was the first verse in a set of 25 scripture memory cards that I later committed to memory as well:

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV):

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Today, more than 60 years have passed since I first encountered the First Psalm in all of its beauty and learned it by heart. Indeed, the Word of God remains deeply implanted within me.

Listen to a musical version of this beautiful psalm offered by the Sons of Korah:

Trust His heart

November 17, 2016

Isaiah-26-Verse-3post

Although the Verse of the Day has already been posted, a particular word came to mind as I progressed further into the day. Today, November 17, 2016 is a “doubly lovely day,” so I am also posting “The Word for the Day,” which is “Trust.”

Throughout the Psalms and other places in the Old Testament we find numerous scriptures using “trust” as an active verb as well as a noun.

One verse of special significance is Isaiah 26:3, rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

E.W. Bullinger points out that the figure of speech “epizeuxis” is used in Isaiah 26:3.  The phrase “perfect peace” indicates this figure of repetition where the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally “peace, peace.” God provides a “double dose of peace” to those who trust in Him.

The verse from Isaiah caused me to recognize that I must put my trust in God and His Word alone. I am continuing to learn where to place my trust.  Psalm 118:8-9, which some believe to be located in the center of the Bible, express this truth:

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. (Amplified Bible)

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

We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with

Rugged determination” and

Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop

Strengthened believing” and

Tremendous confidence.”

As we go about our living our lives of service to God, our Father, we are also learning all about  T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

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

As believers, we learn to trust in the Lord, as we learn that trust and faith are inextricably linked together. Each day we must follow this exhortation and walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,                                                                                             

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall                                                            

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

 

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God, our Father, through Christ encourages us to give:

Obey, persist and sacrifice—the just  by faith shall live.

We close this entry with a song of great encouragement by Babbie Mason: “Trust His Heart”:

Pomegranates: Spiritual implications and applications

November 5, 2016
Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Varying even more from the traditional Verse of the Day, we want to take a look at the “Word for the Day” for November 5, 2016, which is “Pomegranate.” The word is especially apropos since November is designated National Pomegranate Month in the United States. This month offers a great time to learn about the nutritional benefits of pomegranates in the form of fresh fruit or pomegranate juice. The nutritional and health benefits of pomegranates are well known across the globe, but the spiritual implications and applications associated with this ancient fruit are sometimes overlooked.

Once considered obscure, exotic fruit, pomegranates have now become increasingly popular within the past several years. Rich in antioxidants which reportedly prevent cancer and strokes, the popular fruit has been found to be useful in other conditions as well. Pomegranates are also valued for their nutritional benefits. The popularity of pomegranate juice has skyrocketed, being used in hundreds of products, internally and externally.

Indigenous to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, pomegranates are now grown in subtropical climates all over the world, especially in California and Arizona where farmers cannot keep up with the demands. Often referred to as “Chinese apple” or “the jewel of winter,” pomegranates are in season in early winter in North America.

Within the pomegranate you find several chambers of seeds, surrounded by transparent pulp from which the nutrient-rich red juice is extracted. Grenadine, a sweet syrup, is produced from the seeds, while the blossoms also have medicinal use. The leathery skin or rind is used in dye for leather.

Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates

Literally translated “seeded apple,” the pomegranate tree was believed to have been one of the trees in the Garden of Eden. Pomegranates were also among the fruit brought back by the spies when the Children of Israel inspected the Promised Land. The fruit grows on trees which produce bright red-orange blossoms which are bell shaped. “Bells and pomegranates” were embroidered on the hem of the priests’ garments in the Old Testament. Solomon is said to have maintained orchards of pomegranate trees.

The word “pomegranate” is used eight times in the Bible, with eight representing “a new beginning.” E.W. Bullinger, in his celebrated work, Numbers in Scripture, and in an Appendix to his Companion Bible, mentions that eight denotes resurrection or new beginning or regeneration or commencement. “The eighth is a new first”. . . and is said to mean “to make fat,” “cover with fat,” “to super-abound.” As a noun, it also means “one who abounds in strength.” Symbolically, pomegranates represent abundant, luxuriant fertility and life, eternal life. Note that the number 8 when viewed on its side or horizontally is the symbol of infinity.

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seedtime and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had a 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

During this period known as harvest time, we are especially aware of the application of spiritual principles expressed in the Bible in a number of ways, “Giving and Receiving,” “Sowing and Reaping,” or “Seedtime and Harvest,” or simply that “The same degree to which you give, it’s going to be given back to you.” Such principles are especially evident when you look at pomegranates which are so abundant at this time of the year.

In light of the current season for pomegranates and other fruit, we conclude with “Seedtime and Harvest” by Joel Case.

Be sober: Be steadfast

October 31, 2016

1-peter-5-8-9

Like an alarm clock that arouses us from a deep sleep, the Verse of the Day for October 31, 2016 offers this sharp reminder:

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT):

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

The Amplified Bible states the warning this way:

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]

Generally speaking, the phrase “be sober” is thought to mean “do not be drunk” or “don’t get intoxicated,” but a more precise translation renders the term: “to be sober, calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgment, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.”

This passage gives the reason for being sober: . . . because our adversary, our “opponent in the court of justice” (Zechariah 3:1), the accuser of the brethren, our arch enemy, who only seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, walks about as roaring lion, that attempts to instill fear and startle its prey before pouncing on the petrified victim. As believers, we are to resist, to stand firm in our faith—rooted, established, immovable. We are consoled in knowing that our brothers and sisters throughout the world encounter similar situations and stand strong. We are not alone.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind a Word for the Day posted earlier this year: the remarkable adjective “Unflappable,” meaning not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis; imperturbable. Thought to have its origin in the mid-1950s, “cool, calm, and collected” would be another expression associated with being “unflappable.” Other synonyms include being at ease, clearheaded, level-headed, unruffled, and untroubled, maintaining a state of tranquility, despite circumstances that generate turmoil and uncertainty. Learning to become unflappable in all situations is an admirable trait all believers should aspire to maintain.

To be unflappable to is to be at peace, to be secure, unshakable, and unmovable. A similar expression is used in 1 Corinthians 15:58 (AMP):

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Lyrics from a song inspired by this verse provide similar encouragement to believers:

Be Steadfast, Unmovable

Chorus:

Be steadfast, unmovable,

Always abounding in the work of the Lord.

For as much as you that

Your labor’s not in vain in the Lord.

(Repeat)

 

Don’t be discouraged

When mountains block your way.

In times of doubt

He’ll bring you out.

Stand fast, watch and pray.

(Repeat Chorus):

 

 

When problems press you,

Your back’s against the wall,

Cast fear aside.

God’s on your side.

Keep on standing tall.

(Repeat Chorus):

 

 

In the darkest night

God will give you a song.

Never give up.

He’ll fill your cup.

Trust God and be strong.

(Repeat Chorus):

Justin Rizzo offers a worship song, “Tree,” expressing his desire to be “Unmovable, Unshakable”:

 

Mirror image of “now” is “won”

October 2, 2016

 

2-corinthians-2-14

Rather than posting an entry on the Verse of the Day, I sometimes comment on the Word for the Day. Such is the case, for October 2, 2016, as I think of a word of enduring significance—a word for all seasons—“a right now” word—the adverb indicating time: NOW.

Years ago I recall a Bible study where I taught on this important three-letter word. I have long since lost my notes, but I remember asking the participants, “What time is it?” Several responses included the day and time, down to the minute and even the seconds as revealed on a stop watch. I then said. “The time is now.” I went on to ask, “What time will it be in 5 minutes, in 50 minutes, in 50 years, if the Lord tarries

To illustrate my point even more graphically, I had a poster board with the outline of a clock with minutes and hours marked out. On the face of the clock there were no hands, however. In the center of clock in bold block letters was “NOW.”

In the teaching were a number of references to scriptures that included the word now. 1 John 3:2 (NKJV) makes known this truth:

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Elsewhere believers are identified in this distinctive way:

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV):

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

For past several years, I will sometimes give myself a morning motivational talk, as I look in the mirror and repeat an expression attributed to Kim Clement, “I see myself somewhere in the future, and I’m looking so much better than I look right now.” I go on to add this little quip: “But right now, I’m looking good!”

The word now recently came into play at my church, Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC when the church displayed a new logo and adopted a new theme: “The Future is Now!” In thinking about that expression, I also recall this phrase from an original poem with the same title: “Now is the yet to be.” The essence of the timelessness of now is also revealed here:

The Eternal Moment

Redeeming the time because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:16

Now is always the time.

Though grains of sand

fall and form

a mountain

range,

Now

does not

add nor take;

the moment cannot change.

The time is always Now.

I made a remarkable discovery regarding looking at words in the mirror. What you observe is the mirror image of the word or the word is spelled backwards. What do you get when you reverse the letters of NOW?  The word WON: a reminder that as believers we have already won the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Another verse that begins with “now” immediately came to mind:

2 Corinthians 2:14

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

Graham Kendrick offers a song that make reference to this verse: “May the Fragrance of Jesus”