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

March 26, 2022

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

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

The Message Bible says:

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

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

‎8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  ‎9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

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

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

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

Jeremiah 10:23 provides this reminder:  

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

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

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

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

The Will of God
Author: Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

Verse of the Day is my Life Verse

March 13, 2022
The Verse of the Day for today has become my “life verse” that I apply every day of my life.

The Verse of the Day for Biblegate software on March 13, 2022, continues to be especially meaningful for me. Over the years, I have designated this scripture as my “Life Verse.” According to the Middletown Christian Church, “Life Verses are those words from Scripture that anchor our faith and become touchstones that illuminate, assure, uplift and energize us to live out our faith.” Here are three of my favorite translations of my favorite verse:

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [KJV]

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. [Amplified Bible]

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [NIV]

Romans 8:28, my favorite verse in the Bible, offers this reminder that because God is good, “We know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” So no matter how bad any situation may appear to be, we know that it will work together for our good.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind another passage of scripture that has become especially meaningful to me at this time in my life:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV):

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The Amplified Bible puts it 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.

12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.

13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Although the words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years, we recognize the truth expressed in Romans 15:4 (NIV):

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah can certainly be personally applied, in that the plans that God has for each of His children are no less grand than those He has for the Children of Israel.

As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us and teach us all along the path that unfolds as a shining light that shines increasingly unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11-13 also intersect to inform us of God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”, so that we need have no fear for our future because God is good.

Romans 8:28, one of the most often quoted verses, at least for me, is the inspiration for one of Don Moen’s classic praise songs: “All things Work Together”:

One more reminder: God is in control!

February 27, 2022
Despite all that is happening across the nation and around the world, here is this comforting reminder.

For many Americans and others across the globe, this past week has been especially disturbing. We watched with disbelief, the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, as the world seems engulfed in flames leading to another global conflict that could directly impact America. News broadcasts of all that is happening across the nation and around the world can be overwhelming. As a new day dawns, I wake up with gratitude in my heart, reminding myself that “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  As another day unfolds, I remember the Quote of the Day, “True peace comes from knowing that God is in control!” These comforting words remind us of all to “de-stress” and hold to His unchanging hand that protects and provides for us. Other scriptures also come to mind, beginning with Isaiah 43:10, 13 (Amplified Bible):

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

13 
“For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord],
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Another verse providing comfort and strength, particularly at this time comes from

Psalm 46:10 (New Living Translation):

Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

The verse begins with a quiet command to be still to take no action and enter a state of tranquility. We recognize, however, following such a simple command is sometime easier said than done. Note the circumstances surrounding one of the first references to the expression found in Exodus 14:14. Here Moses is leading the Children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt moving toward the Promised Land. Shortly after departing, they encounter a crisis that screamed “No Way!” Straight ahead is the Red Sea, and behind are the armies of Pharaoh in hot pursuit. Moses speaks words of assurance:

Exodus 14:14 (Revised Standard Version):

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”

Psalm 37:7 also provides this exhortation [Amplified Bible]:

Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who conducts wicked schemes.

When believers recognize the magnitude of God’s power and His love toward us, there is never a need to fear even though we may encounter tempestuous times that attempt to shake our very foundations. The Psalmist offers thanks to God for His deliverance out of many troubles in Psalm 107:28-30:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress;
29 he made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad because they had quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.

As we encounter the storms of life, we can anchor our souls in the Lord, knowing that He is in control as we recall Psalm 46:10, the inspiration for this response:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.

Though your cherished dreams seem to have faded and gone

The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,

As I weave the tapestry of eternity.

Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,

Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,

And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:

Be still and know that I am God.

Though storms may overwhelm, and friends may abandon

When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.

These scenes reveal people whom we thought we could be,

As words of the Psalmist also help us to see,

When this life is over, and all is said and done:

Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “Selah” this message, we also give heed to these words:

We Will be Still

We will be still and know that God is with us.

We will be still and anchor our souls in peace.

As we trust in the Lord, every storm will cease.

In closing, listen to Covenant Worship offering another reminder: God is in Control:

A reminder: God is faithful

February 5, 2022

As I completed my morning devotional for today, I read the Verse of the Day for February 5, 2022, and it ministered to me in a powerful way. I am revising and re-posting this entry from a year ago as it once again highlights who the everlasting God is and what He does, as so brilliantly displayed in Psalm 33:4-5 (NIV):

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

 The passage states “He is faithful is in all He does.” Throughout the Scriptures we find references to the faithfulness of God Almighty:

Once again, David makes these powerful declarations:

Psalm 145:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.

Beyond the beauty of the Psalms of David, words of the New Testament also make known God’s faithfulness. Throughout the Scriptures we find that “. . . God is faithful and means what He says.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP) makes know this truth:

God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy, and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (AMP) further attests to His faithfulness:

Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own]. Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (AMP):

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) offers these words of encouragement:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
 

Other scriptures also ­­­­remind me that God is faithful, beginning with Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible:

6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

This blessing and benediction also remind believers of God’s faithfulness:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

In Hebrews 6:10 (New Living Translation) we find another reminder that God is faithful and that He is not unjust:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

As believers, we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another. Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), as the following poetic comments illustrate:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,

which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered

to the saints and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

All the good deeds you have done may not be extolled

When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.

Some so quickly forget all the good you have done,

And they fail to recall you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.

Time after time you were the one to meet the need.

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall our God knows all things, for He alone sees

Your labor and saves every tear you have shed.

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

In reflecting upon God’s faithfulness as expressed in Philippians 1:6 and elsewhere, I thought of this song which has come to mean so much to me: “Great Work” offered by Brian Courtney Wilson:

The man behind the name: Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King

January 17, 2022

On January 17, 2022, the national holiday, celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I would like to share personal reflections and a poetic tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

 . . . the man behind the name

the name

the good brother

hammered out his

“Here I stand,

I can do none other. . .”

and forged “A mighty fortress”

the name

the same name

thunders through four centuries

anchored with a surname

a paradox,

oxymoronic

nature of a servant/King

the name

weight of that name

the burden of the same name

obligation to be true

to one’s namesake

as Ellison’s hidden name and complex fate

resounds from age to age the same–

the battle cry to defy the status quo

more than the name

is the memory of the man

behind the name

reflections on the man

behind the name

mirror commonalities

threads intertwine in black and gold

the life of this preacher,

teacher of the Word,

Walker’s prophet for a new day,

husband, father, mentor, and more:

fellow-laborer in the Lord,

fellow bondslave and brother

heeding the higher calling

first of all,

servants of all,

we shall transcend all

. . . the man behind the name

the man

praying, preaching,

leading through troubled waters

following in the steps of Christ,

along the higher path of love

the man

     buked and scorned,

called everything,

including a child of God,

tested, arrested, tried, and sentenced

penning his letter from a Birmingham jail

the man

sitting down and standing up,      

protesting and marching and singing

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!

Keep on marchin’; keep on movin’;

keep on marchin’ toward the freedom land

from Selma to Montgomery to Memphis

where he waved and smiled the last time

the man. . .the man. . .the man

uprooting burdock and stinkweed,

bitter roots of prejudice

that blight the land

planting peace lilies instead

the man

images forever etched in my mind

an eloquent, passionate dreamer

working to weave into reality

his multi-colored dream of possibility

the vista of that gathering

with echoes of his oration

before the People of Promise

arm-over-arm, hand-in-hand

swaying in rhythmic waves

across the multitude of faces

singing softly in unison

this choir of celestial voices

“. . . Black and white together. . .”

embracing refrains from the anthem of his age:

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

We shall overcome, someday.

Oh, deep in my heart I do believe

We shall overcome, someday.

In thinking about Dr. Martin Luther King, a particular phrase comes to mind. Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” an unforgettable sermon by Dr. King, whose life and ministry embodied the beauty and simplicity of the words “To serve,” the hallmark of his life.

To Abide in God’s Presence

January 10, 2022
The theme for the Week of Prayer, Fasting, and Consecration at Grace Covenant Church and Every Nation Churches across the globe

January 10-14, 2022, marks the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer, Fasting, and Consecration at Grace Covenant Church and other Every Nation churches across the globe. The theme for this year’s observance is Abide: The Power and Beauty of God’s Word.  

Telos Fuller, one of the Associate Pastors at Grace Covenant Church—Chantilly, VA, provided the perfect prelude to this special time when he ministered regarding “The Prize” on Sunday, January 10, 2022. He touched upon the awareness, access, and emphasis of “The Presence of  God” which should be the ultimate prize that all believers aspire to attain. Examining passages from Psalm 84 and other scriptures, he encouraged believers to pursue a deeper awareness of the presence of God which becomes a different metric for measuring our success as Christians.

He went on to say that everything we need and want we find in the presence of God. He referred to Psalm 16:11 which inspired this original psalm written in response to the teaching, as my own expression of “Amen” to the truths that resonated so deeply with me:

To Abide in God’s Presence

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore                 

Psalm 16:11

To abide in God’s presence is our utmost desire,

Beyond the wealth of any treasure we may acquire.

With all of our being, we pursue the Lord, our delight,

Who brings such joy and peace to comfort us through the night.

Our desire to linger in His presence burns like a fire.

He clothes us in righteousness, garments of praise, our attire.

We seek to do God’s will and all that He may require.

We meditate on the Word of God both day and night

To abide in God’s presence.           

God has touched our lives and made us perfect and entire,          

We are learning to trust him as our sole supplier.

Challenges confront us when we seek to do what is right,

But beyond the dark is the golden edge of daylight.

We know weeping may endure only for a night,

 But we rejoice each new day, reflecting our  desire

To abide in God’s presence.

I anticipate that this week will be life-changing for all who participate in this time of dedication and consecration: “Abide—The Power and Beauty of God’s Word.”

We close with this selection by Life Worship: “Here in Your Presence”

Wrapped in swaddling clothes: What does that mean?

December 22, 2021

A recent blog post focused on some of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ with the heralding of the “good news” to the shepherds. The proclamation of the glory of God revealed specific details that would confirm the birth of the Savior of the world. As we read the passage from the Gospel of Luke, we find a more complete unfolding of the sequence of events:

Luke 2:11-14 (Amplified Bible):

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

This passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. We also find a reference in Luke 2:6-7:

6 While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, 7 and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.

These passages refer to the practice whereby a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, was to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:

Ezekiel 16:1-4 (NKJV):

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.

Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a blog entry from needleprint.blogspot.com, commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:

In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12).

The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes remained on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at precisely the right time. As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with signs, wonders, and miracles, one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

“He’s Here” sung by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”

Announcing the Savior’s birth: A Good News Day for Sure

December 19, 2021
When the angel proclaimed the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, that was surely a “Good News Day.”

On the Sunday before Christmas Day, December 19, 2021, Telos Fuller, one of the associate pastors at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, VA, set forth a most remarkably enlightening message based on the familiar passage describing the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 2:9-15. Pastor Telos emphasized the words “Glory to God in the highest…” He went on to relate various aspects of the word glory, meaning that which belongs to God alone who is worthy of glory. This the multitude of the heavenly hosts offered this unprecedented proclamation of the glory of God in the highest degree to a lowly group of shepherds, individuals who appeared least likely to be chosen for such an honor. Later I read the passage in the Amplified Bible which gives a fuller account of what occurred:

Luke 2:8-14

8And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night.

9And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.

10But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.

11For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!

12And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find [after searching] a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

13Then suddenly there appeared with the angel an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased, men of goodwill, of His favor].

Verse 10 indicates that the angel brought “good news” to the shepherds and ultimately, to the entire world. That day was “A Good News Day,” expressed this way in this original poem:

 Good News Day

 This is the day the LORD has made;

 we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 Psalm 118:24

It’s a good new day

no blues day

new shoes

no way to lose

What a good new day

It’s a great day

I can’t wait day

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Good God, a good news day

It’s a payday

goin my way day

no nay–all yea

what you say

Such a good news day

It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

As we celebrate the birth of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah) and as 2021 concludes while 2022 begins to unfold, may every day be a “Good News Day.”

We joyfully conclude with “Good News, Great Joy,” a glorious Christmas worship song by Attila Juhas:

Transforming Power of God: Beauty for Ashes

December 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beauty for Ashes

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

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify

Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

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

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

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

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

Beauty for ashes.

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

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

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

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

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

Beauty for ashes.

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

Let the words of my mouth. . .

October 16, 2021

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

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

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

Lord, give us a heart like David,

A man after your own heart.

Purify our motives and intentions,

Cleanse us and set us apart.

Lord, give us a heart like David.

Lord, give us a heart like David.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you,

With all that lies within us,

To follow in the footsteps of Jesus,

As we serve you faithfully.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you.

Lord, give us a heart to serve you.

Lord, give us a heart of worship,

Overflowing with your praise.

May our words and our deeds give you glory.

May we serve you all our days.

Lord, give us a heart of worship.

Lord, give us a heart of worship.

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

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