Not by bread alone

July 12, 2019


The Verse of the Day for July 12, 2019 comes from Matthew 4:4 in the New International Version:

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:4 NIV

The King James Version renders the verse in this way:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The verse is also rendered in a similar way in Luke 4:4

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

The phrase “not by bread alone” brings to mind an experience that occurred in 2010 when I participated in a clinical trial involving men with prostate cancer and two types of special bread: soy and almond. This particular study involved men diagnosed with prostate cancer with a slightly rising PSA. Today, I am meeting with an oncologist to learn more about hormone therapy as a treatment modality for prostate cancer with an increasing PSA score.

As I am preparing for my doctor’s appointment, I am smiling as I recall the familiar biblical reference: “. . . not by bread alone.” The Verse of the Day inspired a blog post that I am revising and re-posting as the entry for today.

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

Deuteronomy 8:2-3:

2And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether would keep his commandments, or no.
3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

Here God reminds Israel of their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness where He proved them and taught them a valuable lesson, the essence of which Jesus repeats after having been in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights without food when he responds, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Here is a revision of this original psalm inspired by the phrase found in the Old Testament as well as the Gospels:

Not by Bread Alone

And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 8:3

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

We find that the Word of the Lord so plainly reveals
This profound truth: that “man shall not live by bread alone.”
When tempted Jesus responded, and thus he made known
How we can triumph in life’s most arduous ordeal,
As we come to know that God alone is good.
Each day we are sustained not only with daily bread
But by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth instead,
For we esteem His Word more than necessary food.
During this new phase as we start hormone therapy,
I am still watching and waiting, looking above,
Ever striving to please the Master, serving in love,
Knowing God’s promise to heal and deliver me.
In yet another instance, I learn what faith reveals:
It is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord, my God, who heals.

We close with this musical reminder of the power of the Word of God revealed in “Ancient Words” with its reference that “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

As we finish the work

July 10, 2019

The Verse of the Day for Biblegate.com reminds us of the faithfulness of God expressed in Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible:

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

The New Living Translation says this:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

God completes the good work begun in us so that, as believers, we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

The Psalmist also makes this firm declaration:

Psalm 138:8

The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

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.

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.

1 Corinthians 1:8 offers words to comfort and assure us of God’s faithfulness:

He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

Philippians 1:10 also reinforces the message:

For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

A previous blog post discussed the concept of a “work in progress” or a “work in process” (sometimes abbreviated “WIP”), offering the following statement: “Each believer is a work in progress.”

Fil Anderson of In Touch Ministries acknowledges this truth:

However, I’m no longer embarrassed or afraid to admit I’m unfinished, incomplete, and imperfect—a work in progress. Neither is God surprised or disappointed with my lack of development. God’s work in my life will never be finished until I meet Jesus face to face. Desiring to follow Jesus isn’t about being complete and perfect; it’s about doing my best and trusting God to finish what He began.”

Until the Lord returns, we continue to learn and grow up in Christ, recognizing that maturation is a process that never ends. As adolescents, we envision the day when we will finally grow up and attain our new status as adults. We often think of adulthood as the final stage of the maturation process, but we recognize the process is ongoing, and we must not only accept the process, but we must embrace it:

As We Finish the Work

Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment)
is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me
and to accomplish and completely finish His work.
John 4:34 (Amplified Bible)

As we finish the work God has sent us to do
And seek to fulfill all His will and leave our mark,
The Lord blesses, refreshes, and makes all things new.
The fire on the altar enflamed from a small spark
Beckons as we press to reach the top of the mount,
Called by God, destined to be abundantly blessed,
Reaping the good of this life’s bountiful harvest.
We reflect upon God’s favor as we recount
With wisdom our days, so grateful to be alive
To know the fullness of love and grace upon grace,
As we persevere not just to survive but thrive
And triumph with strength and patience to run the race.
According to God’s divine design and framework,
What He began He will complete, as we finish the work.

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

God delights in His people

July 8, 2019

isaiah-62-4-5-1

Throughout the Old Testament God expresses His delight in His people as Jehovah rejoices and celebrates His covenant with His people. Even though they do not always follow His guidance for living the satisfying life He desires for them, His love abounds toward them, revealing His commitment:

Deuteronomy 30:9 (AMP)

Then the Lord your God shall make you abundantly prosperous in everything that you do, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your land; for the Lord will again delight over you for good, just as He delighted over your fathers,

The Expanded Bible says it this way:

The Lord your God will make you ·successful [prosperous] in ·everything you do [all the work of your hands]. ·You will have many children, your cattle will have many calves, and your fields will produce good crops […in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your land], because the Lord will again be ·happy [pleased; delighted] with you, just as he was with your ·ancestors [fathers]

Isaiah 65:19 in the Wycliffe Bible expresses a similar affection for Jerusalem:

And I shall make full out joying in Jerusalem, and I shall have joy in my people (Yea, I shall rejoice over Jerusalem, and I shall have joy over my people); and the voice of weeping and the voice of cry shall no more be heard therein.

Jeremiah 32:41-42 in the Wycliffe Bible reiterates this same message of God’s delight in His people:

41 And I shall be glad on them, when I shall do well to them; and I shall plant them in this land in truth, in all mine heart, and in all my soul. (And I shall be happy over them, when I shall do good things for them; and truly, with all my heart, and with all my soul, I shall plant them in this land.)

42 For the Lord saith these things, As I brought on this people all this great evil, so I shall bring on them all the good (things), which I shall speak to them (that I have promised them).

Not only does God express His delight and take pleasure in His people, but He offers a song of the Lord in Zephaniah 3:17 in the Amplified Bible:

The Lord your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Isaiah 62 provides a striking portrait of His beloved, as God expresses His desire that His people be redeemed and restored. The passage speaks of God’s covenant with His people. Though Israel is in captivity at the time of the writing of this passage, God promises to keep speaking and working until His purposes for Jerusalem are fulfilled. Jehovah speaks favorably of His people in a most endearing manner in Isaiah 62:4-5 (New Living Translation):

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
    or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”[c]
    and “The Bride of God,”
for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

  This celebrated passage inspired this response:                          

City of God’s Delight

 Isaiah 62:4-5

Never again to be called “The Forsaken City”                         

Nor will they say that you are “The Desolate Land,”       

But God smiles and says, “You sure are pretty,”     

 And He will uphold you with His righteous right hand.


Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”


You shall be called the “The Bride of God,” just as He said,      

 He promised to love you and always do you right.

He takes your sorrow and turns it to joy instead.         

He keeps on telling you the Lord delights in you;


He will not leave you but will always walk by your side.   

You can count on Him, for He said He will be true:    

 The Lord redeemed you and will claim you as his bride.

Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”

The contemporary worship song “O Bride of Christ” offers a glimpse of the ultimate expression of the fulfillment of God’s promise that the Bridegroom will return for his bride:

God is in control: Be still and know

July 6, 2019

Despite the pressing issues and seemingly endless turmoil that seem to engulf our world, we must remember words found on a silver-framed plaque on my desk: “God is in control!” As I begin my day, these words also come to mind, a gentle reminder to “de-stress” and hold to His unchanging hand that protects and provides for us:

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, literally 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 carries out 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:

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.

We realize that storms are inevitable. Dr. David Jeremiah and others speak of the cycle of life, whereby, as believers, we are either during a storm or coming out of a storm and preparing to go through another storm. When we encounter stormy circumstances, remember the account of the Lord Jesus Christ when the Disciples became fearful during a severe storm on the Sea of Galilee and aroused him from sleeping:

Mark 4:39 (New Living Translation)

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

As we encounter the storms of life we can anchor our souls in the Lord 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—

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still my soul and be at peace.
Rise above your circumstances and rest in me.

In closing, listen to Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

No fear in love

June 27, 2019

Recently I reactivated my subscription to Logos Bible software and decided to look at the Verse of the Day for June 27, 2019, taken from Isaiah 41:10-13. Here is the New Living Translation:

10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
11 “See, all your angry enemies lie there,
confused and humiliated.
Anyone who opposes you will die
and come to nothing.
12 You will look in vain
for those who tried to conquer you.
Those who attack you
will come to nothing.
13 For I hold you by your right hand—
I, the LORD your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

In previous blog entries, we note that this passage is one of 365 scriptures said to address the issue of fear, providing yet another reminder to believers: “Do not fear.” We could view these verses as one of our daily memos from God to have no fear.

These words of great comfort also provide the lyrics to a Scripture Memory Song:

Do Not Fear

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

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

Recognizably, fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that can run rampant to limit and inhibit.

As with each of the toxic emotions of life, we want to counteract their harmful effects with the proper remedy. When we encounter a negative emotion, we are encouraged “to move in the opposite spirit. In terms of our responding to fear by moving in the opposite spirit,” we find that love is the perfect antidote.

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

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

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, lacking nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end. The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or full in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there is no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free.

No fear in love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves torment. But he who fears
has not been made perfect in love.
I John 4:18

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you
from becoming what God intends for you to be.”
– Rick Warren

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear
And abounds to transform any adverse atmosphere.
We are perfected and made whole when we walk in love,
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
Such love is pure and never repels but draws us near.

This balm of love heals all wounds, no matter how severe
With words of compassion each soul on earth longs to hear;
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
There is no fear in love.

We follow in Christ’s steps, knowing our mandate is clear.
Assured of triumph, there is never a need to fear.
We press toward the mark, the prize we seek to lay hold of
To ascend in victory on wings of a gentle dove.
We walk forth as bold pioneers on a love frontier:

The essence of the message for today is “Have no fear—walk in love.” We conclude as Whitley Phipps offers this encouraging musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”

Reflections on My 77th Birthday

June 17, 2019

Today, June 17, 2019, marks another doubly lovely “Good News Day” for Dr. J as we celebrate my 77th birthday. E.W. Bullinger in his extensive study Numbers in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, speaks of “seven” as the great number of “spiritual perfection.” He goes on to note that the number seventy is also another combination of two perfect numbers, seven and ten. We see something of the significance of their sum when Bullinger mentions that “seventeen” stands out very prominently as a noteworthy number which is not a multiple of any other number, and therefore, it has no factors. Hence, it is called one of the prime (or indivisible) numbers. What is more, it is the seventh in the list of the prime numbers. When seven is multiplied by ten, the product reveals the importance of each in an intensified form, emphasizing both spirit and order.

In the past, I would observe my birthday with a time to reflect and celebrate the goodness of God in sparing my life to see another year. I rejoice with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God. To say that I have been blessed, not just this past year, but over the past 77 years, is quite the understatement. How grateful I am for all that God has done for me. At such a time as this, I recall the opening verses of Psalm 103, one of my all-time favorites:

[A Psalm] of David—Amplified Bible

1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—
3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;
5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!

Most often in my waxing reflective, I also wax poetic and compose a psalm of celebration. This morning I noticed a framed quotation hanging on the wall, and it inspired this response:

Still the Student Teacher

To learn and never be filled is wisdom;
To teach and never be weary is love.
Anonymous

Reflecting with joy unspeakable, my heart overflows
As I read the lines of a plaque given decades ago.
The author of such profound words I do not know,
But I marvel they so mirror the desires of my heart
Given by the Lord as I continue to learn and to grow
In Christ, as I follow in his steps, walking in the light
Along the path of wisdom, while numbering all my days.
Once more, I strive to comprehend my new identity,
Unfolding as a scroll from faith to faith, glory to glory
And victory to victory with each breath-taking sunrise.
I am grateful for the bounty of seventy-seven years
As I enter the threshold of another new season.
Fueled by this passion to learn and to teach and serve even more,
I am still watching, waiting to see what God has in store.

We close as Family Radio Broadcasting offers a musical reminder: “Teach Us to Number our Days.”

Father’s Day Reflections: The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

June 16, 2019

On Father’s Day 2019 I am re-posting this tribute to my father. May these words be a blessing to all who read

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

Lonnie JohnsonAs the sun rises on this beautiful Father’s Day, I reflect with fondness on my father, Lonnie Johnson, who passed away in 1996. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to recognize my father’s undeniable influence. In my reverie, I thought of these lyrics: “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” At my father’s funeral I shared memories of my father and paid tribute to him with a poem that speaks of his enduring influence:

plainsong

for Lonnie Johnson

1922-1996

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

Your plainsong I continue to sing, expressed not in words

but in faithful deeds borne of a heart to serve.

Your rock-solid presence like a mantle clock keeping time

View original post 324 more words

Not Just a Survivor on Cancer Suvivors Day

June 2, 2019

The blog entry for June 2, 2019, the first Sunday in June, recognizes National Cancer Survivors Day. This observance has been set aside as a “Celebration of Life” for those who have survived a diagnosis of cancer. In events conducted in communities all over the nation and across the globe, those who celebrate show the world that life, indeed, after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful and rewarding.

This post focuses on what I call the Word of the Day, in this case, “survivor.” In its most literal sense, the term means “one who survives.” FreeDictionary.com offers this series of definitions of the verb “to survive” as an action verb that has an object to receive its action. In this case, to survive cancer:

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live, persist, or remain usable through any adverse situation.
3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after.

The verb is derived from Latin: supervivere: combining the prefix super + vīvere, to live.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I have come to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor on a profoundly personal level. I recognize a “survivor” as one who, after encountering an extremely adverse situation, is revived to not only survive but to thrive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of a “survivor,” endured the cross, despising the shame, and after undergoing unimaginable physical abuse, along with emotional and psychological trauma of the highest degree, arose triumphantly over death itself. Like Christ, I have been revived not only to survive but to thrive, having been transformed from victim to victor.

The true essence of who I am as a believer in Christ is expressed in Romans 8:37, the verse introducing the final section of my newly published book based on my experience with cancer: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated from the Greek verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in “survive”—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, everyday expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, and overpower.” Although translated as such, being “more than conquerors” or “super conquerors,” is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We entirely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day:

Embracing Your Life Sentence–Not Just a Survivor

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)

Embracing Your Life Sentence–Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror,
Defying the odds as a brave conquistador.
Despite intense pressure, I learn to rest in grace,
More than enough to withstand the daily tests I face,
Not merely to survive but to thrive even more.

A mighty warrior, triumphant super-victor
With a cause, prepared not to die but to live for.
At times I fell behind but fought to keep the pace:
Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror.

To fulfill all the will of God and then to soar
To heights sublime where I have never been before.
Overcomer, bearing light in the darkest place,
I still fight the good fight, as I finish my race,
Moving forward, seeking to find the next open door:
Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror.

We close with the Rend Collection reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

For more details about how to obtain a copy of Embracing Your Life Sentence, go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com. You can also get more information here on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Not just on Cancer Survivors Day, but as believers, we are more than conquerors every day and in every way.

New view of new heaven and new earth

June 1, 2019

Revised and reposted from a year ago is The Verse of the Day for June 1. Here is a familiar passage from the last chapter of the Bible, which provides a view of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness:

Revelation 21:2-4

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Verse 5 goes on to reveal that God makes all things new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

I recall reciting this particular passage in remarks that I shared during my father’s funeral, as I concluded by looking ahead and projecting toward the future with hope. At the time, my wife was involved in planning a family reunion for her mother’s family that would take place the next month. Such an occasion reminded me of the ultimate family reunion, the marriage supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 21:1-4:

The passage from the last chapter in the Bible relates to hope not in the broad, general sense as defined as “an expectation of a future good,” but it alludes to “the Hope,” defined as the return of Jesus Christ, an event that precedes the marriage supper of the Lamb. Indeed, “the Hope” continues to be a theme that energizes believers despite these perilous times that engulf the world, as Titus 2:13 reveals:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

I concluded my remarks at my father’s home-going service by reciting I Thessalonians 5:13-18, another familiar passage related to the Hope:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In April of this year, I published an article in Medium.com about being a poet strongly influenced by music, especially jazz. I concluded my discussion about “the new heaven and the new earth,” as I envision this celestial scene when I express my gratitude to God for something that means so much to me:

Thank God for the Music

Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven
given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.

Walter Savage Landor

Day by day melodies overflow and flood our soul
With lyrics to touch the heart as God inspires them.
We compose reprises to play until the day
We sing our new song in the New Jerusalem
When all the chords of heaven and earth crescendo
In praise before the glory of the Lamb of God.
We will stand before Him and with our eyes, we will see
The jeweled walls of heaven and the streets of gold
And the Holy City descending as a bride,
Adorned in royal splendor to meet her bridegroom.
We will celebrate God’s grace at the wedding feast
And worship freely in His glorious presence
As we join in chorus with the host of heaven
To thank God for the music and the gift of song.

Inspired by Revelation 21:3-5 Esther Mui Song offers “Behold, I Make All Things New” Christian Praise Worship Lyrics:

Happy Mother’s Day, BJJ

May 11, 2019

For Mother’s Day 2019 here is a special tribute to a special mother, my beloved Brenda Joyce Johnson, mother of Melissa and Angela and grandmother of Kingston, a reminder of my love for you on Mother’s Day and every day:

One Red Rose

tender
reminder
love
grows

only
God knows
all the love
behind

one
red
rose

Love always,

LJ