Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

The return of Christ: comfort one another

May 31, 2017

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

Each day we are confronted with this harsh reality: There is “a time to be born and a time to die.” Even though death can be one of the most challenging issues to confront us, the Scriptures provide great encouragement, comfort, and hope. Such a passage is found in 1 Thessalonians, an epistle whose focus is the return of Jesus Christ. Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 31, 2017 speaks of the glorious appearance of our Lord and Savior in this way in the Message Bible:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.

Often recited at funerals or memorial services, this celebrated passage makes reference to a subject that continues to generate much discussion: the return of Jesus Christ. Whether referred to as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” or somewhat irreverently called “the Big Snatch,” the Return of Christ still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Bridegroom, went away to prepare a place and promised to return for his bride. That promise ignites passion in the heart of believers. Lately this “enduring flame” burns even more brilliantly, as we grow older and witness the passing of family members, friends and loved ones, especially contemporaries of our same age range. Such occasions bring to mind the words of the Psalmist who describes our lives as but a vapor.

Whether the person who dies is a celebrity in politics, entertainment, or some other area or an ordinary co-worker or neighbor who lived and died in obscurity, during such times we may experience the depths of sorrow and a sense of loss that can be overwhelming. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we take comfort and encouragement from the passage that includes the Verse of the Day. The New Living Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 offers great comfort and assurance:

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

The lyrics to one of the classic hymns inspired by the hope of Christ’s return provide a vocal picture of what will occur “When He Shall Come”:


James 1:2-4: “No want state”

May 10, 2017

James 1--4

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

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

The New King James Version renders verse 4 this way:

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

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

“A No Want State”

 James 1:2-4


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

A place of assurance that God alone is in control.

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

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

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

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

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

Especially in the midst of great turmoil and unrest.

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

He has given freely of His spirit that we might know

In Christ we prevail despite any adverse circumstance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Don’t waste your time: Redeem it

May 8, 2017

Colossians-4 5

The Verse of the Day for May 8, 2017 comes from Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT):

Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-believers), make the most of each opportunity [treating it as something precious]. Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].

Some may be more familiar with the King James Version:

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Similar words of encouragement are found in Ephesians 5:15 -17 (AMP):

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise–sensible, intelligent people;

Making the very most of the time–buying up each opportunity–because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.

These passages offer an exhortation to “live wisely” or “walk in wisdom” or “walk circumspectly.” In this instance the term “To walk circumspectly” means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”  Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

As we mature in our Christian walk, these scriptures exhort us to make the most of our time, “to redeem the time.“ Time in the Word Ministries discusses the verb “redeeming” in the phrase “redeeming the time” which is translated from a Greek word which means “to be in the marketplace.” Literally it means  “to purchase out, buy up;  buy out of the hands of a person; to set free; to buy off, to secure for oneself or one’s own use; to buy up from the power or possession of any one.”

The word “time” in this instance does not refer to time in a general sense, rather the Greek word from which it is translated refers to a “ moment; a specific point in time. The term “a kairos-moment or season” is used to describe–a strategic moment; opportune time; moment or window of opportunity that God creates when something must be done now. We must cooperate with Him now to accomplish what we need to accomplish.

One way of understanding the concept is to see it as being in the right place at right time to purchase exactly what you need because the price is right. You are passing through the department store and you hear the “blue light special” for the item you came in to purchase at a reduced price.”

This idea of time as a quantity or entity to be purchased is powerfully expressed in this prophetic exhortation from Dutch Sheets:

“. . . We must buy or purchase the opportunities or opportune times God creates for us. We must be willing to spend our money; we must be willing to spend our time. It is a season for readjusting our priorities; it is a time when we begin to think very differently; because [of] the opportunities that God has created now we must spend whatever is necessary and purchase those.  We are going to have to spend our time, our money, our talents, our energies, our efforts, much prayer time; we are going have to be ready to do whatever it takes to do what God says in order to purchase those opportunities that are coming.  Tell my people that I’m about to create a season of tremendous opportunities . . . a season of ‘suddenlies’. . . I’m about to move them into a season where opportunities are about to come very, very quickly and they’re going have to be ready to move into them very quickly.”

The essence of “redeeming the time” is also captured in this poem:


So teach us to number our days,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12


Our lives begin with a handful of coins.

To wisely invest or squander each dime

The daily choice, though the Bible enjoins

Us to walk as wise, to redeem the time,

As a wise buyer with talents would keep

His eye on best buys sought before the chime

Should ring to bring each soul to his brief sleep

Or those who remain shall be gathered to

The bosom of the Father, there to reap

Their rewards, as each shall receive his due.

Time is fixed; we cannot borrow nor lend.

The coins we are given seem far too few.

Life is the sum of the coins that we spend

Before our time in life’s market shall end.

The accompanying video, while not the usual musical selection, shows the amount of time we have, and it urges us to “redeem the time” which is part of our walking in wisdom.

The essence of the message of Colossians 4:5 and other related verses is set to music with “Redeem the Time” by Joshua Simpkins:

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving

November 20, 2016

Psalm 95 1 2 310904561

The Verse of the Day for November 20, 2016 is found in Psalm 95:1-2 in the New King James Version of the Bible:

[A Call to Worship and Obedience] Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

During the remaining days in November, moving toward Thanksgiving Day, we are encouraged to be thankful or to offer thanksgiving to God. Throughout the Bible, we find reminders to express our gratitude. The Book of Psalms with its array poetic expressions or compositions written by David and others contains several passages that relate to thanksgiving. Here are eight such verses to reflect upon with a grateful heart during this season:

1. Psalm 26:7

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

2. Psalm 50:14

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

3. Psalm 69:30

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

4. Psalm 95:2

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

5. Psalm 100:4

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

6. Psalm 107:22

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

7. Psalm 116:17

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

8. Psalm 147:7

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:


A previous blog entry discussed “Thanksgiving in the Psalms” and examined these passages and others related to the practice of giving thanks to God. In addition, we looked at background information and the lyrics to one of the popular songs of the season, “He Has Made Me Glad” by Maranatha! Music which is reprinted here:

Maranatha! Music began as a non-profit outreach of Calvary Chapel in 1971. Coming out of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, song writers began to compose new hymns and worship songs with a folk-rock style. Maranatha! Music was founded at this time in order to publish and promote this new type of Christian music. The ongoing desire of Maranatha! Music involves “Connecting the song of faith with today’s church.”

One of its signature musical compositions has been He Has Made Me Glad with its opening refrain from Psalm 100:4: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.



We joyfully enter the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving, not only during the week of Thanksgiving Day, but every hour of every day of every week of every year our hearts should overflow with gratitude to God.

Walk the walk and talk the talk in wisdom

October 22, 2016


The Verse of the Day is a word of wisdom from the Book of Wisdom found in Proverbs 15:23 in the New Living Translation:

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The Amplified Bible says this:


A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!


Believers today sometimes speak of words that another believer may speak to them or words flowing  from the Scriptures as a “rhema word from the Lord spoken in due season.” The website speaks of the Greek word rhema which means utterance, as a portion of scripture that “speaks” to a believer. “In most cases, a rhema word received while reading the Bible applies to a current situation or need. In essence, the rhema word is timely and extremely valuable in a Christian’s walk with God.” We can think of a rhema word as a “right now word in a right now moment.” Indeed, the Verse of the Day reminds us such a response is saying “the right thing at the right time.”

In the New Testament we find a corresponding passage related to exercising wisdom in how believers should conduct their lives:

Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT):

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Some may be more familiar with the King James Version:

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

The passage begins with an exhortation to “Live wisely” or “Walk in wisdom.” Another most enlightening scripture regarding walking in wisdom occurs in Ephesians 5:15 (NLT):

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.

Correspondingly, here is the verse in the King James:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

In this instance the term “To walk circumspectly” means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”  Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

We can view these references in the New Testament as illustrations of what it means to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” If you say that someone talks the talk and walks the walk, you mean that the person acts in a way that agrees with the words that are spoken. There should be a corresponding action to accompany the words that an individual speaks.


As believers the Scriptures encourage us to “walk in wisdom” as well to speak words of wisdom when we talk.

Stephen Curtis Chapman offers these words of wisdom in the song “Walk with the Wise.”




To serve, to fear, to obey, to listen, and to cling

October 9, 2016


Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of the Day for October 9, 2016 taken from Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT):

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

This verse contains directives to the Children of Israel expressed in the form of five verbs:

To serve, to fear, to obey, to listen, and to cling: in a similar way these action words could be applied to our lives today as believers.

To serve:

Deuteronomy 6:13 (Amplified Bible) reiterates the same message that the people of God are to serve Him alone:

You shall fear [only] the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] and swear [oaths] by His name [alone].

When Jesus Christ was tempted of the Devil in the wilderness, the Savior’s response came from this very passage in Deuteronomy 6:13:

Matthew 4:10 (Amplified Bible)

Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

To fear:

Regarding the fear of the Lord, Job 28:28 (NLT) offers this reminder:

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

The Psalmist echoes a similar sentiment in Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

Amplified Bible also connects the fear of the Lord with obedience:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that leads to obedience and worship] is a fountain of life, So that one may avoid the snares of death.

To obey:

Regarding this verb, Deuteronomy 11:22 offers these words of wisdom:

“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

To listen:

In addition, the people of God are to “listen to His voice:

Deuteronomy 13:18 tells us:

“The Lord your God will be merciful only if you listen to his voice and keep all his commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases him.

The expression “listen to his voice” brings to mind the following poem which encourages believers to perfect listening as a highly developed art:

The Art of Listening

God has something to say to you,

God has something to say.

Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

God has something to say.

Children’s Song


The Lord GOD has given me

The tongue of the learned

That I should know how to speak

A word in season to him who is weary.

He awakens me morning by morning,

He awakens my ear

To hear as the learned.

The Lord GOD has opened my ear;    

And I was not rebellious,

Nor did I turn away.

Isaiah 50:4-5


Listen, listen, children: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.

To listen intently and obey is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass every word I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, children: hear with the inner ear.

To cling:

The final verb means to stick to or to stick with, stay close, cleave, and keep close.  It has also been translated to follow closely, join to, overtake, and catch. As believers, all of our energy and efforts should be toward pursuing and adhering to the precepts of the Lord, our God.

Deuteronomy 10:20 provides another directive to fear and to cling:

You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone.

The Psalmist makes this statement:

Psalm 119:31 (NLT):

I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!

We conclude our discussion with a musical reference to the final verb:

“Cling to Christ” by Sovereign Grace Music




“Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise”–Day 8

May 22, 2013
As we go through life, we encounter difficult situations whereby we can grow if we apply the lessons learned.

As we go through life, we encounter difficult situations whereby we can grow if we apply the lessons learned.

Many times as I begin my day in a meditative way, a passage of scripture or song lyrics will come to mind to jumpstart my day. This morning I thought of the lyrics to a powerful song performed by Barbra Streisand called “Lessons to be Learned:

Why did that right road take that wrong turn?

Why did our heart break, and why did we get burned?

Just like the seasons there are reasons for the path we take:

There are no mistakes—only lessons to be learned.

I began to think of some of the lessons that God is teaching me this season of my life. As a life-long learner, an ever-eager student in the University of Life, I am continually learning more about God and my relationship with Him, particularly in terms of applying the principles of wisdom, not just this month during this time of sharing “Words of Wisdom” from the Book of Proverbs, but each day abounds with opportunities to learn and grow.

A most valuable lesson that I am learning relates to using wisdom in terms of the words that we speak. An original poem that mentions wisdom in the context of the Spirit of Wisdom is “The Power of the Tongue:”

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8


We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So I covenant to guard the gates of my lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

I desire life and long to see good all my days,

So I speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, I want my tongue to speak what God says.

I seek to be wise but never in my own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

I seek not just a word but the Spirit of wisdom.

The last line of the poem brings to mind another song that captures the essence of that for which I am seeking: “Seekers of Your Heart” rendered by Steve Green, Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris.

This blog entry is the first in a series featuring "a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

This blog entry is another in a series featuring a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

“Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise”–Day 3

May 8, 2013
With the dawning of a new day, I begin by reflecting on wisdom, asking, "Where do I begin?"

With the dawning of a new day, I begin by reflecting on wisdom, asking, “Where do I begin?”

“This is the day that the Lord has made. . .” and I am rejoicing and celebrating His goodness, as I begin my day by reflecting upon wisdom, as I read from the Book of Proverbs once again. Here is another blog entry, a poem, a “Word of Wisdom–a daily dose of words to the wise poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.” Today I am once again thinking about wisdom and asking, “Where do I begin?”

The Beginning of Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

Psalm 19:9

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:

And knowledge of the holy is


Proverbs 9:10


I begin and stand in absolute awe of You,

Thoroughly washed in the fountain of holiness.

The old has passed away—Behold, You make all things new:

Redeemed and justified by Christ, my righteousness.

As You search the earth, may I find grace in your sight.

I seek to be wise but never in my own eyes.

Here stands a perfect man, one destined to walk upright,

A beloved son, whose heart Your Word purifies.

I am filled with knowledge and wisdom from above

And bound by a covenant no one can sever,

For nothing can separate me from God’s love:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

I am renewed in strength and upheld by God’s Word,

As I pursue wisdom, growing in the fear of the Lord.

Thanks for stopping by and partaking of this blog entry, another daily dose of “Words of Wisdom,” more “good medicine” placed on the shelves of “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.”

This blog entry is the first in a series featuring "a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

This blog entry is another in a series featuring “a daily dose of “words to the wise, poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.”

Psalm 103: An early morning sweet treat

May 7, 2013
Sometimes reading the Word of God early is the morning is as satisfying as that first cup of coffee or tea with a sweet treat.

Sometimes reading the Word of God early in the morning is as satisfying as that first cup of coffee or tea with a sweet treat.

Have you ever risen early in the morning and sat down to enjoy a sweet treat with your morning cup of coffee or tea? Perhaps you enjoy a buttery croissant topped with marmalade or your favorite fruit spread. Maybe you enjoy a fresh baked bran muffin or a warm slice of carrot-zucchini bread or cinnamon roll laden with pecans and sticky stuff. As the day begins to unfold, you relax and enjoy sweet moments of quietude.

This morning I read Psalm 103, one of my favorites, in the Amplified Bible, as I took my time and savored each of the verses, in a series of “Selah” moments, whereby I paused and considered deeply this magnificent Psalm of David. After an extended period of joyful and tearful reading and reflecting, I completed the passage and looked for a musical expression of the Psalm to cap off my time of worship. I came across a version that I had not heard before by Zach Jones.

In a similar way, I am posting Psalm 103 in the Amplified Bible, followed by a musical version of the psalm. Enjoy this morning treat, as I did moments ago.

Psalm 103

[A Psalm] of David—Amplified Bible

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—

Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;

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]!

The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed.

He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.

He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.

10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

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

13 As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].

14 For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.

17 But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children—

18 To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.

21 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, all you His hosts, you His ministers who do His pleasure.

22 Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103 by Zach Jones

Halloween Reflections: To the Rescue

October 31, 2012

In thinking about Halloween, I recall an experience a friend shared regarding a horrible prank that occurred as a child.

Halloween and some of its negative aspects, such as pranks, remind me of an incident a friend shared with me when he went to live with a relative in the rural South where there was no indoor plumbing, and everyone used an outdoor toilet known as an “outhouse.” Unbeknownst to my young friend, the custom on Halloween night was to move the “outhouse” from its original position so that when a person stepped inside, he would fall into the pit. That’s exactly what happened, and my friend immediately cried out, “Daddy, Daddy, come and get me!” His father came running with a flashlight and reached down and grabbed his son by the collar and snatched him out of the horrible pit.
That incident never fails to remind me of a spiritual parallel whereby I, like the young boy in horrific circumstances, called out to my Heavenly Father in desperation. I identified with my friend and expressed my thoughts in some of the lines of “my testimony in poetry”:

With lovin arms you reach way down
And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,
Sought me and flat-out rescued me,
Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

(from Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance)

Many times as we go through life, we become entangled in circumstances that restrict our efforts to succeed and impede our progress. Like the Psalmist we may find ourselves in situations whereby we cry out to God:

Psalm 35:17
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

The calling out to God in desperation to “come rescue me” is beautifully expressed in this rendition of “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful:

When I think about being rescued from a dangerous situation, I recall some of the lyrics of this familiar “vintage hymn” from childhood days of growing up in the Church. The hymn was “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” which had these lines:

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

The words have become even more meaningful today. I was absolutely overwhelmed by this rendition of the song from the combined choruses of Brigham Young University:

Like Daniel in the den of lions, we sometimes find ourselves in desperate, seemingly impossible situations from which we cannot extract ourselves on our own. When we think of such situations like that of Daniel, we must remember the King’s response when God delivered Daniel:

Daniel 6:27

He [the God of Daniel] delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

In thinking about the record of Daniel in the lion’s den, the words of a Black Spiritual also raise an important question:

Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, Deliver Daniel?
Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel? Then why not every man?

“Hand upon the Plow” gives account in poetry of a number of instances where God came to the rescue of Daniel and other believers:

Hand upon the Plow

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand
to the plow and looks back [to the things behind
is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62

“Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!”
–Black Spiritual

When life ain’t like it spose to be,
Right then and there it occurs to me
Folks been in fixes worse than me,
Right in the Bible where I see:

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

Pharaoh said, “Kill each Hebrew boy,”
But Moses’ Ma was full of joy
Cause Pharaoh’s daughter raised her boy.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

The lions looked so lean and thin
When they throwed Daniel in the den,
But Old Man Daniel didn’t bend.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When Jesus died, God paid the cost
And at that time all seem like lost,
But God planned ahead for Pentecost.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

Paul and Silas didn’t rant and wail
When they throwed both of them in jail.
They called on God, and He didn’t fail.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When troubles start to buggin you
Remember, there’s just one thing to do:
Look to God and He’ll see you through.
What he did for them, He’ll do for you.

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

From Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance

During times of intense pressure when I forget just how faithful God has been, He gently comforts and reminds with these words:

Listen to Me
Isaiah 46:3-4
Listen to me. Open your ears and clearly hear
I have always been there. Though you had not perceived
My presence in the wasteland, I was ever near.
Indeed, I knew you before you were first conceived.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He
Who still holds you and causes you to remember.
I open deaf ears and cause blinded eyes to see
The passion that consumes your soul was once an ember.
Though I seem to be delayed, I will not tarry
But will return for the faithful ones who remain:
Those whom I have made those I will also carry;
Those whom I have called by name I will sustain.
Rest in me: I will perform all I said to do.
Know that I will sustain you and will rescue you.

Every Halloween when I recall my friend who found himself in a horrific situation and called out to his father or whenever I find myself in a horrible mess, generally of my own making, I am also reminded of this truth that when I cry out, my Heavenly Father will come “to the rescue.”

When I recall the circumstances from which God rescued me, many times I am overwhelmed with gratitude, as I shudder to think when I might be if He had not intervened in such a dramatic manner. In reflecting upon God’s intervention, I composed this poem which I use to conclude this blog.

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”

Let Israel now say—

Psalm 124:1

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Helen Baylor offers her testimony in song with a selection with the same title: “If it Had Not Been for the Lord.”