We know what real love is

April 6, 2017

1 John 3--16

The Verse of the Day for April 6, 2017 speaks of the love that God has for all of His creation, a love that is so clearly demonstrated during this time of the year:

1 John 3:16 (NLT)

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

In thinking about the concept of love, the lyrics to a song from The Sound of Music, one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all times, come to mind:

 “A bell is not a bell till you ring it. A song is not a song till you sing it. Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

The last line reminds us that with love, there must be a corresponding demonstration or manifestation to express the reality of that powerful emotion. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible John 3:16 (NLT):

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Both John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 bring to mind this anonymous quote: “Love is a verb. Love is doing, saying, showing. Never think just saying you love someone is enough.” There must be corresponding action to show that we love.

Elsewhere in the Gospel of John we find a similar exhortations to follow Jesus Christ’s example of walking in love:

John 5: 9 (Holman Standard Christian Bible):

[Christ-like Love] “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.

Likewise, Ephesians 5:1-2 also encourages believers to demonstrate love:

5 Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

Verse 18 of 1 John 3 further reminds us,

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or brought to maturity in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love.  We must do more than think about love or talk about love; we must demonstrate love by what we do, just as God did in offering His son as a demonstration that He so loved the world.

We conclude our comments with this video inspired by 1 John 3:18 that speaks of about love being action and not merely words.

No disappointment in God

April 5, 2017

Romans 10--11

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day for March 5, 2017, we want to take a look at another Quote of the Day, based on the Faith:

“Faith and trust will never meet with disappointment.”

The statement reiterates the message of assurance found in Romans 9:33 (AMP):

As it is written and forever remains written, “Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense; And he who believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

Romans 10:11 (AMP) also reinforces the same promise:

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

Here is an excerpt from a previous blog entry that examined the same subject of “disappointment”:

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.

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.

Proverbs 23:18 (AMP) further 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 again 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 same lyrics:

Looking unto Jesus, our burden bearer

April 3, 2017

Hebrews-12-1-2

Revised and re-posted from a previous blog entry, the Verse of the Day for April 3, 2017 comes from the Hebrews 12:12 in the New Living Translation:

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

For a more comprehensive view, take a look at the first three verses of Chapter 12:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

In thinking on this particular passage, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975.  During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that everyone else’s load was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore on my behalf.  As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrive at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

 

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

 

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

 The Verse of the Day also brought to mind this song: “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” offered by Michael W. Smith:

My experience at the Total Fitness Institute also inspired “The Burden Bearer.” The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood days, recorded here by Pops Staples and the Staple Singers.

When we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” we will see that he, indeed, is our “Burden Bearer.”

Enough is enough: More than enough

April 2, 2017

Matthew 20_17-19

From the Gospel of Matthew with its focus on Jesus Christ as the King comes a passage in which the Lord tells the Twelve of events that will transpire in the days ahead:

Matthew 20:17-19 (NLT):

[Jesus Again Predicts His Death] As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

The Verse of the Day for April 2, 2017 begins with conjunction “and,” the most frequently used word in the King James Version of the Bible, being used 28,364 times.  The figure of speech known as polysyndeton involves using “many ands” where emphasis is placed on each item listed in any series connected by the conjunction. Here “and” is used nine times in the three verses where Jesus prepares his disciples for the forthcoming events which are utterly unthinkable in their minds.

The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside along the way and said to them,

18 Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes; and they will sentence Him to death

19 And deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and whipped and crucified, and He will be raised [to life] on the third day.

In reflecting upon the horrific circumstances leading up the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and his subsequent resurrection, we attempt to comprehend to a limited degree the unimaginable anguish and suffering that the Savior took upon himself on our behalf. The scriptures speak of “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. . . .” As we read about or view in a film or some other graphic portrayal of his Passion during this season of the year, we are sometimes tempted to scream, “Enough is enough.” Such sentiments express the intensity of the suffering the Savior willingly endured:

More than Enough

How much is enough?

Can you measure the length of each scar on his back?

Can you trace the depth of each gash and follow each track?

Can you extract and analyze sweat, like drops of blood?

Can you remove water and blood and then weigh the good?

Can you collect the tears and hold them in a vial?

Can you assess the shame and disgrace of trumped up trial?

How much is enough?

One more mocking bow, one more man to spit in his face,

One more taunting gesture, one more mark of disgrace.

One more lash, one more gash, one more blow to the head,

As he endured the cross, despising the shame as he bled.

To smash once more, one blow short of certain death.

He cried, “It is finished” then yielded his last breath.

How much is enough?

Who can assess the worth of his blood and establish a price

For the precious Lamb of God, unblemished, sinless sacrifice?

God’s bounty of mercy is sufficient. His deep love will suffice.

Despite the deficit, God balances each account to set it right.

Where sin once had free reign, now grace has abounded instead.

The Lord himself provided the Lamb, whom He raised from the dead.

In His gracious goodness Jehovah-Jireh reminds us

That He is more than enough, yes, so much more than enough.

Listen to this corresponding musical composition, “More than Enough” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Despite the devastating circumstances that will occur, the Lord proclaims a triumphant conclusion with “and the third day he shall rise again.” We take great comfort in knowing that God, our gracious Father, always has the last say so. . . Amen          !

Whose fool are you?

April 1, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 1, 2017 is found in Psalm 14:1 in the New Living Translation:

[Psalm 14] [For the choir director: A psalm of David.] Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!

The NLT offers the same rendering of the Psalm 53:1:

1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does go

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind that April 1 is known as April Fool’s Day. The Book of Proverbs provides striking portraits of those who act as “fools” and those who “walk in wisdom” as “the wise.” The Apostle Paul likewise points out the distinction between the wisdom of men and foolishness of God in light of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, described in this way:

1 Corinthians 1:23-25 (NLT):

23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Paul goes on to remind believers: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”

The story is told of a man who wore a sandwich board in New York City as he walked the streets. On the front written in bold letters was this statement: “I’m a fool for Christ’s sake!” People passed and chuckled or snickered, but they changed their expressions when they turned around to read the back of the sign which asked, “Whose fool are you?”

The lyrics to the chorus of the popular song “Everybody Plays the Fool” also remind us of this truth:

Everybody plays the fool sometime
There’s no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool

Since everybody plays the fool sometime in life and in love, many have decided that, like the gentleman in New York, we will be a fool for Christ’s sake, since the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger that men,” so say the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Most assuredly here is a situation where we note the distinction between the ways of men who purport themselves to be wise, and the ways of God who uses foolishness to confound the wise:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

The whole idea of being a “fool for Christ’s sake” on April Fools’ Day evokes this portrait:

My Madsong

We are fools for Christ’s sake,
but you are wise in Christ!
We are weak, but ye are strong!
You are distinguished, but we are dishonored.
I Corinthians 4:10

I am stark raving mad as a gitsy;
I am insane and crazy as a loon.
Though my voice is stronger,
My lyrics are wronger.
My madsong is plainly out of tune
(But all the while I smile).

I am a rare and bizarre exception
Who loves to laugh out loud and cry.
My mind borders hysterical;
Each day I see a miracle.
I live on earth with my home in the sky
(And all the while I smile).

I make my point with certainty–
Another fact which clearly shows
That I am deceived or naiver,
With the mind of a child, a believer
Who knows that he knows that he knows
(Why all the while I smile).

So I still dream my dreams and live
My life in such a simple style.
The world wants to eat me for supper,
But I just laugh and keep the upper
Hand and keep walking mile by mile
(As all the while I smile)

They call me kook, fanatic and fool
Because of my peculiar knack.
Folks think me still odder
Because I talk with God, my Father,
And furthermore, yes, He talks back
(And all the while I smile).

On April Fools’ Day and every day, our desire is to walk in “The Perfect Wisdom of God:”

All of this provides more food for thought on April Fool’s Day, 2017.

Christ, our Passover Lamb

March 31, 2017

Isaiah 53-5

Verse of the Day for March 31, 2017 comes from Isaiah 53, the Old Testament passage that describes the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, who would be born to redeem Israel, as a just payment for the sins of all humanity:

Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT):

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

As the month of April begins to unfold, Christians across the globe will be moving toward “Holy Week” and the commemoration of events associated with the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Beginning with Palm Sunday, believers recall Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem leading up to his crucifixion, death, burial, and ultimate resurrection celebrated on the following Sunday.

During this same period, Jews around the world will be preparing for the start of Passover. The 8-day festival begins this year at Sundown on Monday, April 10 and ends on the evening of Tuesday, April 18. Passover, also known as Pesach,  commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, as families traditionally gather for a Seder dinner, where they retell the story of the escape from slavery, through the plagues, and to the parting of the Red Sea.

The passage from Isaiah 53, also brings to mind a reference to the Passover Lamb found in the latter part of 1 Corinthians 5:7 (AMP)

Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new batch, just as you are, still unleavened. For Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder, the traditional meal served as part of the observance of Passover. Comments regarding 2 Corinthians 5:7, posted on the home page of Logos Bible Software, remind us that Jesus Christ died at the precise time that the Passover Lamb was slain.

The celebrated passage from Isaiah 53 and its connection to 1 Corinthians 5:7 also bring to mind a most memorable intersection of Good Friday and  the Passover which occurred in 1998 as I was partaking of Holy Communion at that time. That particular experience inspired the following:

Christ, our Passover Lamb

Isaiah 53

“For Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.

2 Corinthians 5:7b          

 

Cursed with a curse, He was hung on a tree.

The suffering servant bartered for a price,

Battered and bruised for our iniquity.

Behold the Lamb, unblemished sacrifice,

Offered once, Jesus Christ, our Passover.

Afflicted, stricken, smitten that God should

Freely pour out His mercy, moreover,

Lay on Him the chastisement of our peace.

From His side flowed water and sinless blood,

A new covenant established that we might cease

From dead works by a new and living way.

God’s good pleasure no longer concealed:

Man of sorrows, with His stripes we are healed.

Abiding in the presence of the Great I Am,

We are cleansed and made whole by the blood of the Lamb.

Isaiah 53 also brings to mind the reality of the covenant God made with the Children of Israel so expressed in Exodus 15:26:

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

This verse was the inspiration behind the Don Moen song of worship: “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” a most appropriate way to close today’s entry.

As ambassadors

March 29, 2017

 

The Verse of the Day for March 29, 2017 comes from 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV):

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As the culminating verse of the familiar passage from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, this section helps us to comprehend more fully our rights, privileges, and responsibilities as “Ambassadors for Christ.” This revealing metaphor speaks of our responsibility to mediate terms of agreement between two opposing forces. In the same way that we have been reconnected to God through Jesus Christ, we are to stand in the place of Christ, the original reconciler or mediator between God and humanity, described in this way:

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

In this celebrated passage the words “reconcile” or “reconciliation” appear five times, the number of grace. The verb means to change or exchange something. The basic meaning of the noun is “a change on the part of one party only, induced by some action on the part of another.”

Biblegateway.com notes:

Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the noun katallage (reconciliation) and verb katallasso (to reconcile). The basic idea is to change or make otherwise. In Paul’s writings, God is always the reconciler. Those in need of reconciliation are hostile human beings (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Romans 5:10-11).

God, who initiates the relationship, changes a relationship of enmity to one of friendship. William F. Beck translated 2 Corinthians 5:18 in the following way:

“But God has done it all. When we were His enemies, through Christ He made us His friends and gave us the work of making friends of enemies.”

Once we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, we then stand in his place, and reconcile others, in light of the truth that God has committed to every born-again believer the ministry of reconciliation. The reconciled become the reconcilers, and so the exchange goes on. Our designation as “ambassadors for Christ” inspired this poem:

As Ambassadors

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first
and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him
who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, uhe sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.

Luke 14:31-32

As Christ, the Lord, implores and calls each soul to be reconciled,
So we beseech you in mercy and stand in his stead,
That mankind might reconnect–no longer exiled.
Just as a great king will send an entourage ahead
Of his army and offer terms of agreement,
Expressing his desire to redeem and restore
With a covenant that shall forever cement
And make known his will, even in times of war,
We see that behind every plan unfolds a process,
Conceived in wisdom long before the world began.
From God’s gracious right hand that shall forever bless
Flows loving favor, expressing His divine plan.
The day is forthcoming when all conflict shall cease,
As ambassadors offer final conditions of peace.

We conclude with The Reconciliation Song from Promise Keepers of 1998:

Watching, waiting, seeking

March 27, 2017

The Verse of the Day for March 27, 2017 is taken from Psalm 62:7 in the New International Version:

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Three other versions of the Bible provide additional insight into the Verse of the Day:
Amplified Bible:

On God my salvation and my glory rest; He is my rock of [unyielding] strength, my refuge is in God.

New Living Translation:

My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

The Message Bible

My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God— So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.

The foundation for the confident expression of strength that believers receive from God who is our refuge is established from the very beginning of Psalm 62 which makes this declaration:

Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV):

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

These various versions of the Verse of the Day all remind us that we are not just waiting, but we are waiting silently, quietly in a state of rest. In such a tranquil state of assurance we see the power of three verbs: Watching, waiting, seeking. . . All are expressed in the present tense, continuous action, over and over. The intersection of these three verbs also  bring to mind the words of John Milton, 17th Century British statesman and poet, who said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” His word are incorporated into this poem:

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress,
Psalm 59:9 (NIV)

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.
Psalm 39:7 (NKJV)

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence].
1 Chronicles 16:11 (AMP)

We are strengthened by the words of the bard gone blind,
Who said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
We look into the mirror of God’s word and find
That God has been ever faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we are yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

Aaron Keyes offers a musical rendering of Psalm 62: Praise Song (My Soul Finds Rest in God Alone)

Meditating on Psalm 62:7 the Verse of the Day, is great way to start the day, as we are watching, waiting, and seeking.

To know Christ

March 26, 2017

Philippians-1-29

The Verse of the Day for March 26, 2017 comes from Philippians 1:29 (NIV):

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,

This verse also brings to mind this passage from Philippians 3:10-11

God desires that each individual believer might know Christ, that is, have a personal knowledge of who he is, to know him. This kind of knowing corresponds to the Greek word ginosko, translated “to know” in the New Testament.  Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger in his Critical Greek Concordance and Lexicon translates the verb:

To perceive, observe, obtain knowledge of or insight into.  It denotes a personal and true relationship between the person knowing and the object known, i.e. to be influenced by one’s knowledge of the object, to suffer one’s self to be determined thereby (p. 485).

Once an individual knows God on such an intimate, experiential level, that person “knows for himself or herself,” and that individual is forever changed.

God also desires that we know him, as He expresses His deep desire for intimacy on a very personal level. We come to know God through the Word of God. As we establish and maintain our relationship with him, we also experience not only the power of his resurrection but also the fellowship of sufferings, knowing that if we suffer with him we will also be glorified with him, as Romans 8:18 makes known:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

As we move into the season preceding the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we take comfort in knowing that as we partake of his suffering, we shall also be partakers or those who share fully in the glory of his resurrection.

About four years ago, a dear friend was sharing some of the trying circumstances that he was going through at the time. While I was not living under identical conditions that generated great stress, I remarked, “I know what you mean.” He looked up at me and smiled, as he fought back the tears, recognizing that I understood at a deeper level the anguish that he was enduring at the time that we were speaking.

In a similar way, we express our desire to know Christ on such an intimate level.  We thus become “seekers of God’s heart.” We close our discussion with in this moving song by Sandi Patti, Larnelle Harris, and Steve Green:

If we confess, God is faithful to forgive

March 25, 2017

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for March 25, 2017 which is taken from 1 John 1:9 (NIV):

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers. Translated from the Greek word koinonia, fellowship involves communion or oneness, harmony. In Acts the believers of the early Church were said to be “of one heart and one mind.” Having this close fellowship with God and with one another is God’s desire for His people expressed in 1 John 1:3-10:

3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Verses 6-10 begin with the conditional clause “if we” followed by a verb: “If we say…, if we walk…, if we say…, if we confess…, if we say….” These expressions establish the conditions which if met on our part, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part. These two parts of the conditional sentences are especially noted in 1 John 1:9. If we do our part, which is confess our sins, our faithful and just God will do His part, which is “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What does it mean to confess our sins to him? The phrase is also translated . . .”to confess our trespasses . . . our offenses . . . our sins.” To confess is to say with one’s mouth. With our mouths we acknowledge our shortcomings, our misdeeds, our sins of omission and sins of commission. We acknowledge that in far too many instances we have missed the mark and fallen short. I John 1:9 in the Amplified Bible assures us that:

9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

If we confess, God will forgive. . . . To forgive means: to send away, dismiss, set free; to acquit by a verdict; to give no punishment to the guilty person and to view the guilty person as if he is innocent. Another definition means to let loose or set at liberty (a debtor).

Many times in thinking of confessing personal sins to God, my Father, the lyrics to this song come to mind:

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.

When we confess our sins, God forgives our sins, and in essence, God does more than wipe the slate clean. The words of the Psalmist reveal what really transpires

Psalm 103:12:

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The lyrics to the chorus of the familiar Gospel song also remind us:

My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)
My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)
They are buried in the depths of the deepest sea:
My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)

We conclude our discussion, as Morgan Cryar offers a musical rendering of 1 John 1:9 in “What Sin?”