As for me and my house

November 8, 2017

Joshua 24v15

For the Verse of the Day for November 8, 2017, we find our way to Joshua 24:15 in the New King James Version:

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Notice this rendering in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Joshua 24:15

But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.”

Joshua confronts the Children of Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land as to whom are they going to worship: the gods of the idolatrous ethnic groups that had occupied the land that God has promised to His people or Yahweh, the true and living God.

Just as Joshua shows a relationship between serving and worshiping God, Paul also connects these concepts in Romans 12:1 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

The New Living Translation put it this way:

[A Living Sacrifice to God] And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

A previous blog entry pointed out a popular song from the seventies where the inimitable Bob Dylan made a profound statement: “You got to serve somebody . . . it may be the Devil, it may be the Lord, but you got to serve somebody.” Just as the question was raised by Joshua when he confronted the Israelites, as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, so the question is raised to believers today, “Whom are you going to serve or worship this day?”

God desires that His people worship and serve only Him. From the First and Great Commandment, He clearly states “You shall have no other gods before Me” and reinforces the message throughout the Scriptures; notably 1 John also exhorts: “My little children keep yourselves from idols.” A teaching heard years ago points out that problems arise not from the idols or “Ites” that we destroy but from the “‘Ites’ that Remain,” the title of the following poem:

The ‘Ites’ that Remain

It’s not the ‘Ites’ that you destroy

that determine your victory

but the ‘Ites’ that remain.”

Apostle Eric L. Warren

 

On the verge of the final breakthrough, moving into

The Promised Land, we encounter each enemy,

And like Caleb we claim our reward and pursue

And conquer each “Ite” in spirit, soul or body.

Though fierce as the sons of Anak, the “Ites” that remain

Shall never keep us from the ultimate victory.

As we obey, we dispel these giants and gain

A more expansive view of new territory.

We must first drive out the enemy right where we live

And displace the “Ites” that hinder our progress.

We learn never to hold back but cheerfully give

To utterly destroy the idol of selfishness.

We are willing to count the cost and pay the price

And offer our body as a living sacrifice.

John Waller offers a musical rendering of the Verse of the Day expressed in “As for Me and My House”:

As we pray

November 7, 2017

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for November 7, 2017 which includes a heading that encourages believers to pray and introduces four types of prayer or ways of communing with God. This previous blog entry certainly has application today, as we acknowledge the truth: “There is always something to pray about”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In closing, we offer the following poem that reminds of the importance prayer:

As We Pray

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as we pray always for you,

Colossians 1:3

 

During these dark times, we focus on the Kingdom,

Established and grounded on a sure foundation.

As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,

New paths of this Apostolic Reformation

Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.

Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.

Aware of consequences of each decision,

We look to God, our Father, bountiful resource.

As we renew our minds, we are transformed and change:

With a “kingdom mindset” we now see with new eyes.

Beyond past narrow limits our view is long-range.

We number our days with each sunset and sunrise,

As the Word commands: pray without ceasing, night and day,

Knowing that God always fulfills his will, as we pray.

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

God delights in you

November 6, 2017

Ephesians 1-9

We begin the day with the Verse of the Day for November 6, 2017 found in Ephesians 1:9-10 in the New King James Version

having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

The New Living Translation renders the passage this way:

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

Here we learn that God has made known unto us, as believers, “his mysterious will” or “the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure.” In a previous blog post, we examined the intriguing phrase “His good pleasure” and asked “What is God’s good pleasure? What brings God delight?

Bible teacher, John Piper, examines the phrase “good pleasure “and notes it is a verb in Greek: “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see the meaning of the expression is in Philippians where the noun form of the word is contrasted with its opposite:

Philippians 2:13 (Amplified):

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

The New Living Translation says this:

13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

In response we ask, “What delights God? What brings Him pleasure? What is His good pleasure?”

In Psalm 149:4 (Amplified) we find this declaration:

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

Ephesians 1:5 also makes reference to “the good pleasure of His will” which is the title of the following piece using that verse as its introduction or epigraph:

The Good Pleasure of His Will

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:5 [NKJV]

 

“The safest place in the whole wide world

 is the perfect will of God.”

Contemporary Christian Song

 

God makes all things new in yet another new season,

In this place where our divine destinies intersect.

As we finish the work, what we lack, He will perfect,

Far beyond anything our mortal minds can reason.

To abide in God’s perfect will Jesus led the way.

In the garden, he said, not my will but yours be done,

Praying that as he and the Father, so might we be one

To reverse the curse of Adam who chose to disobey.

God’s desire is that we know joy without measure.

In fulfilling God’s will His presence is ever near.

Signs, wonders, and miracles happen when we are here

Where we prove His perfect will and know His good pleasure.

The will of God is a safe haven where we can hide:

In the good pleasure of His will we long to abide

We conclude with 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (KJV):

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Sovereign Grace Music reminds us “God Delights in You”

Lessons in giving from the pomegranate

November 3, 2017
pomegranate-seeds-2

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

November is National Pomegranate Month in the United States, offering 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, 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 over the past twenty years. Rich in antioxidants, this “super fruit” reportedly prevents cancer and strokes, and provides additional nutritional benefits. The popularity of pomegranate juice has skyrocketed, being used internally and externally in a hundreds of products across the globe.

Indigenous to Middle Eastern and Mediterrean 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.

It was one of the fruit brought back by the spies when the Children of Israel inspected the Promised Land. The fruit grows on trees which produces 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.

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. Symbolically pomegranates represent abundant, luxuriant fertility and life in all its fullness, eternal life.

Spiritual Applications from Pomegranates

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. The pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seedtime and harvest.”

God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, nor 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 produce 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 couldn’t calculate total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of 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 the fertile soil of the heart.

During this period called harvest time we are especially aware of the application of spiritual principles expressed in the Bible in a number of ways: “Giving and Receiving,” found in Philippians 4:15;   “Sowing and Reaping,” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:6-14 and Galatians 6:7-9 or “Seedtime and Harvest (Genesis 8:22),” 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 looking at pomegranates which are so abundant at this time of the year.

We conclude our discussion, as Ron Kenoly offers “Give to the Lord,”  a musical rendition of the same principle expressed in Luke 6:38: “The same degree to which you give, it’s going to be given back to you.”

 

Riches of the glory

November 1, 2017

Ephesians 1 18

Taken from Ephesians 1:18, the Verse of the Day for November 1, 2017 makes a bold declaration. In actuality, verse 18 is part of the introduction to a powerful prayer expressing God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 1:17-18 (Amplified):

17 [I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].

18 And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people),

Verse 18 brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

An intriguing expression “the riches of the glory” is used in verse 18. God desires that we know, in a most intimate and personal manner, meaning experientially know, that as believers we are part of God’s priceless inheritance. The same expression occurs in Colossians 1:27 where God makes known His desire that believers might know in the same manner something else:

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.

This verse speaks of “this mystery,” a spiritual phenomenon whereby Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden 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.

Not only does God, our Father, desire that His children know that “this mystery” has been revealed, but we also desire to be enlightened as to what that really means, as these lyrics express:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Enlighten our eyes, help us to see

All that you have called us to be.

Share with us the secrets from your treasury,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in you and me, the hope of glory.

Not only is our prayer that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, but God’s prayer for us is the same, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1:14-23:

Scripture Release offers a musical rendering of this compelling prayer:

Reformation Day 2017 and the New Apostolic Reformation

October 31, 2017

Originally written in Latin by Martin Luther in 1517, the Ninety-Five Theses, which Luther posted on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenburg, are regarded as a primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

The last day in October is special for many Christians who recognize and celebrate Reformation Day. Today marks the 500th Anniversary of one of the most significant events in Western Christian history when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, igniting the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 1517. Luther and other reformers who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, and William Tyndale, were not only concerned with what the Scriptures taught, but they also wanted the common people to have access to read the Bible in their own language. The conditions were perfect, as the truths declared by Luther set most of Europe ablaze with the biblical doctrines of grace.

From the Protestant Reformation emerged five phrases that summarized the movement. Using the word Sola, the Latin word for “alone,” these basic theological beliefs stood boldly in opposition to the prevailing teaching of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.

  • Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) teaches that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself.

 

  • Sola fide (“by faith alone”) teaches that justification, the act of “being declared right by God”, and assumed to mean exactly “salvation”), is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though in classical Protestant theology, saving faith is always evidenced by good works.

 

  • Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) teaches that salvation comes by God’s grace or “unmerited favor” only. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

  • Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) Teaches  that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other.

 

  • Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”) Teaches  that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

With Scripture alone as the sure foundation, the Reformers affirmed that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone because of Christ alone — for the glory of God alone. Today Christians around the world give thanks to God for Martin Luther’s bold proclamation which occurred 500 years ago and for the unfolding of God’s design for Church.

New Apostolic Reformation

In reviewing the history of the Christian Church, some historians recognize that the Protestant Reformation was actually the Second Apostolic Reformation, with the very first movement occurring in the 1st Century with the launching of the New Testament Church in the Book of Acts. The Protestant Reformation transitioned the Church from the “Dark Ages” to beginning the period of the restoration of the Church, described in Acts 3:21 as the “restitution or restoration of all things.” The underlying purpose of the second reformation was to restore and build the Church to another new level of maturity through the ministry of Christ Jesus.

A number of church historians indicate that the Third and Final Apostolic Reformation is underway. One of the largest, broadest and most powerful movements within Christianity today is The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  Described by Gary Gilley as “a loose coalition of mostly Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, organizations and churches,” one of the focal points of the movement is the restoration of the five-fold gift ministries spoken of in Ephesians 4:11-13. Central to the NAR is the belief that beginning with the apostles and prophets, signs, wonders and miracles be will be evident throughout the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:20).

As we not only look back and rejoice, celebrating one of the most remarkable moves of God, we  also look to the future, recognizing God continues unfold his intent and purpose for the Church to rise triumphantly as the remarkable display of the multi-faceted wisdom and demonstration of the glorious power of God (Ephesians 3:10).  Christ will restore His Church to fulfill God’s original purpose and intent as the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. The beauty and splendor of the Church in its fullness is yet to be seen, as another mighty move of God is gaining momentum.

A new sound for a new movement:

Out of the Reformation, came forth a “new sound”, commonly called “the hymn.” We now recognize the distinctive nature of this musical form, as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” became known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Luther composed the song after reading Psalm 46 which became the text for this most popular and best known hymn.

Likewise, we note a “new sound” representative of the times in which we live. One of the tenets coming from Luther is Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”).  Here is a contemporary worship rendition of “In Christ Alone.”

More grace

October 30, 2017

The Verse of the Day for November 30, 2017 focuses on the mind-b0ggling concept of God’s grace, His priceless gift revealed in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJ):

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Here is the passage as rendered in the Amplified Bible:

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

The Amplified Bible offers perhaps the most common definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” To receive grace is to receive a gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”

This passage speaks of what Hodge calls “the gratuitous nature of salvation” which involves the opposing ideas of grace and works, of gift and debt; of undeserved favor and what is merited. One excludes the other. “If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” so says Romans 11:6.

Another related verse also comes to mind:

Corinthians 1: 4-5 (KJV):

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

In reflecting upon God’s grace, we note that even though God’s grace is described as “sufficient,” God gives even more grace to those who are humble, according to James 4:6 (Amplified Bible):

But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].”

The expression “more and more grace” is also used once in the epistles to Peter:

1 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

2 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Not only is grace a difficult concept to grasp, but “more grace” is an even more mentally overwhelming idea to consider. The expression is the inspiration for this response:

More Grace

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6

Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.
To abide in your presence we must seek your face,
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

Our defenses suddenly weaken and crumble
When we seek to dwell with you in the secret place.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.

As vessels now grounded, we no longer tumble
But are strengthened from within to quicken the pace.
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

In the fullness of your presence we still tremble,
As we strive to please you and know your warm embrace.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.

May we not be wise in my own eyes but simple
To savor fullness of favor—grace upon grace.
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

We must glorify God in our earthly temple.
Like Paul, we fight the good fight and finish the race.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble,
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

Don Moen offers a moving rendition of the classic hymn “He Giveth More Grace”:

We continue to marvel at God’s amazing grace; I shudder to think where we would be without this precious gift received by faith.

 

The word of the Lord remains forever

October 28, 2017

1 Peter 1--24-25

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for October 28, 2017 proclaims the enduring properties of the Word of God:

1 Peter 1:24-25 (New Living Translation):

As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But t.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

In James 1:11 we find a similar reference to fleeting nature of all mankind.

11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.J

The Verse of the Day is also an expression of Isaiah 40:6-8 which echoes the same message:

A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade more
but the word of our God stands forever.”

This particular passage is used as the epigraph or introduction to a poem written almost 45 years ago while living in northwest Ohio. I recall standing on the stump of a massive oak tree that had gradually died over a period of time, eventually having to be cut down. Although the tree had been around for centuries, its demise brought to mind how fleeting life is in the light of eternity.

The Old Oak Stump

 The grass withers, the flower fades,

 because the breath of the LORD blows upon it:

 surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

 but the word of our God stands for ever.

 Isaiah 40:7-8

 

I stand dead center on the old oak stump,

The ruin of a woodland monument,

My feet encircled by the woody rings

That number far beyond remembered years.

I read between the lines of annual

Reports a history of all you have seen:

You saw the Shawnee dance around his fires;

You knew the name of each German who came

To farm, to build, and to beget his sons

Under the shaded beauty of your boughs;

You spread your arms and offered shelter as

A dwelling place for bird and beast and boy.

Yet time’s swift stroke condemned the tenement

As progress served its eviction notice.

Men leveled the tree whose lease had expired,

Legend of a people, long since cut off,

Like meadow grass overgrowing the land

Where I stand and read man’s life history:

Fleeting as baby’s breath, man’s day sprinkles

Grasslands for a season, then blows away.

All life evaporates like dew, except

The Word of God, which ever shall inspire.

The Psalmist also proclaims the same truth:

Psalm 119:89

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:160 reiterates this message:

 The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.

Jesus Christ, himself, makes a similar declaration in Matthew 24:35 (KJV):

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Indeed, the Holy Bible, the Book of Life, the Word of God, the word of the Lord endures forever.

We close with Ken Whitson offering “The Word Will Stand Forever.”

 

God-breathed Word of Life

October 26, 2017

2 Timothy 3 16-17

The Verse(s) of the Day for October 26, 2017 is taken from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in the New King James Version:

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

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 also 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.

Not  only is all scripture “God-breathed,” but its purpose is that the 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.

Upon further reflection, the God-breathed Word inspired this poetic expression:

The Word of God

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: 

but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed                                                 

with faith in them that heard it.

Hebrews 4:2

 

Quick, powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword,

Once spoken, the Word energizes to give birth

And clearly reveal the perfect will of the Lord,

Proclaimed and framed in the heavens and in the earth.

Searching the hearts of men—ungodly and righteous,

As the critic, the Word examines each intent.

This Word was preached unto them as well as unto us.

It critiques motives, whether to praise or lament,

Discerning those who bring God pleasure or cause grief.

God’s Word penetrates soul and spirit, probing the source,

Piercing both pure and evil hearts of unbelief

To act as Judge, arbiter of final recourse.

The spoken Word dispels fear and banishes strife,

Confirming, ever-living, God-breathed Word of life.

When God breathes, life comes forth. When God breathed into the nostrils of his creation in Genesis, mankind 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 song “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” came to mind, rendered here by Hillsong United:

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

 

Forgiveness Day is every day

October 25, 2017

 

Ephesians 4--32

Recognized as a time to forgive and to be forgiven, the last Saturday in October has been designated National Forgiveness Day by the Positive Peaceful Partners and Center of Unconditional Love. Various organizations in a several countries sponsor “Forgiveness Day,” but the name has been changed from “National” to “International” or “Global,” with dates that vary, with most occurring during the summer months from June to October. No matter which National Forgiveness Day individuals choose to celebrate, the universal ideals of pardoning and reconciliation are always worthy of recognition.

We know that forgiveness is a vitally important concept in Christianity, and the ideal is also seen in the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. In Christianity, however, forgiveness is not a one-time act on a one-way street, but the virtue is a two-way street. Not only are believers asked to forgive others, but they also ask others to forgive them for any offenses or violations, real or perceived.

This virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ spoke before his death on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Forgiveness begins with acknowledging some kind of error or offense has occurred. Once the mistake has been acknowledged, many times what follows is a verbal expression of the ten most difficult words to say in the English language: “I’m sorry—I made a mistake. Please forgive me.”

Those words bring to mind lyrics to an original song which begins by asking God to forgive me, followed by asking others to forgive me and to forgive others, and finally telling others that God forgives them:

Please Forgive Me

 

For each careless word and each thoughtless deed,

For each time I failed to follow your lead,

Each time I ignored you and went astray.

And let go your hand and walked my own way.

 

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me this time.  Please forgive me each time.

Please forgive me.

 

Though I may have offended unknowingly,

I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.

As God in Christ Jesus has forgiven me,

I release all past hurts and I set you free.

 

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

 

God first gave to us so that we might live.

We give to others when we learn to forgive.

Jesus, our example so perfect and true,

Said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

 

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

 

Do not resist Him; He wants you to yield.

Accept His forgiveness, and you will be healed.

Each sin committed, each iniquity

Is cast into the depths of the deepest sea.

 

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you this time. God forgives you each time.

God forgives you.

 

When it comes to “forgiving and being forgiven,” we do not have to wait until the last Saturday in October or some other designated day. Each day of the year is Forgiveness Day.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

We conclude with Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety: