Posts Tagged ‘Life’

We explore once more the mystery

September 7, 2018

Colossians-1 28

The Verse of the Day for September 7, 2018 comes from Colossians 1:28, but to comprehend more fully, we need to examine the preceding verses as well where Paul makes reference to the Church, the Body of Christ which is described in a most unusual manner:

Ephesians 1:26-28 (Revised Standard Version):

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generation but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.

A previous blog entry devoted to this passage from Colossians 1:27-28 mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God”—reflected in God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. The late Morris Cerullo referred to this concept as the greatest miracle since the creation of Adam and Eve.” This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the Earth.  Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was the first to receive this revelation, as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God’s desire is that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. Because Jesus Christ broke down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, we can now see what others could not see. Moses in the Wilderness glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the cleft of the rock. Even then, the presence of the glory of God was so brilliant that a veil or covering had to be placed over his face when he spoke to the Children of Israel.

In the Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Queen of Sheba also glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the Court of the Gentiles. Such a glance overwhelmed her, leaving her speechless. In contrast, the believers today are members of the Body of Christ described in this unique way:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (New Living Translation):

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Another synonym for mystery is “secret counse,l” used to describe “mystery of His will” used in Ephesians 1:9, one of the verses to introduce this poetic reflection

The Mystery of His Will        

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and  

knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments,

and his ways past finding out!

Romans 11:33

 

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,

according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 

Ephesians 1:9

 

Though we seek to plummet the depths of God’s wisdom,

We barely touch the surface, for there is always more

To explore as He unfolds the mysteries of the Kingdom:

A measure of our inheritance laid in store.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,

But the honor of kings is to search out a matter,

To see what jewels of knowledge their searching may bring.

Beyond former days is the glory of the latter,

Where God freely pours out His spirit upon all flesh.

As His will unfolds, we too see just how close we are.

He draws us even closer to bless and refresh,

As we know Him intimately, not from afar.

In such treasured moments we are quiet and still,

As we explore once more the mystery of His will.

Now that the great secret is no longer a mystery, we can share the riches of the glory of this mystery which is Christ in you and me, the hope of glory”:

We close as Charlie LeBlanc offers this musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You!” (Hosanna! Music)”:

 

Not just a survivor: More than a conqueror

June 3, 2018

Romans 8--37

Today’s blog entry for June 3, 2018, the first Sunday in June, is posted in recognition of 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 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 deeply 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 from which the subtitle of my forthcoming book based on my experience with cancer: Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror:

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, common expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, overpower, prevail.” 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 completely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

Each year I reflect with gratitude to God for being alive and being able to cherish another year of life. As is my tradition, I sometimes compose a poem of celebration on my birthday. Most remarkably, Romans 8:37 was the epigraph or introduction for a poem composed on my 74th birthday, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day:

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)

 

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”:

This post is actually taken from the final chapter of the forthcoming book. Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror.  Go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com and subscribe to get more publication details. You can also get more details here at 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.

No condemnation, no accusation, no separation

May 9, 2018

Romans 8--1 new

The Verse of the Day for May 9, 2018 reminds believers where we stand when we remain steadfast in maintaining our fellowship in Christ: The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:1-2:

 1THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.

2For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.

Romans 8 makes known who we are as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and reveals what we have as well as what we do not have:

No condemnation

Clearly, there is no condemnation as the Verse of the Day states. This message is also reinforced in verse 34:

34 Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us.

No accusation

Neither “the accuser of the brethren” nor any other enemy can lay any false accusation against us. Verse 33 raises and answers the question:

33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect (His chosen ones)? It is God who justifies us [declaring us blameless and putting us in a right relationship with Himself].

No separation

The Romans 8 culminates with a powerful response to a series of questions that emphatically state there is no separation for believers:

Romans 8:38-39 (AMP):

38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite the adverse circumstances of life that seek to negatively impact our relationship with God and cause us to question whether He really loves us, Paul offers this blessed assurance: Simply put, nothing can separate us from the love of God:

Beginning with death, the end of life, nor life itself can separate us;

Neither legions upon legions of angelic entities nor powers, neither all the demonic forces that follow the commands of “him who has the power of death—that is the devil”;

Nothing in this present life nor in the life to come;

Nothing is higher than the love of God which reaches beyond the highest height and lowest hell; “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Since God who is love created all things, then no created thing is outside the love of God. Nothing—literally “no thing”– shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Verse of the Day and other related passages come from Romans 8, my favorite chapter in the Bible (If I had to choose one).  Romans 8:2 serves as an introductory verse to this response expressing our desire to follow the exhortation to pursue the path of life and to walk in the spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh and pursuing the path of death. Today believers are still endeavoring to walk in the spirit:

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus 

has made me free from the law of sin and death

Romans 8:2

 

As we move into this new season, we shall see what it brings,

As we learn that the life in the Spirit is where we should be.

No longer in bondage to sin and death, we have been set free.

Since we have been brought into the new, we can now do new things,

For our desire is to please God, to succeed and to excel,

We know that we are saved by grace, not by our own merit.

We covenant with God that we will walk in the Spirit

And provide a place where the Spirit of God may dwell.

Ever aware of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness,

We embrace the Spirit of the Living God and understand

That to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh, is God’s command.

As we mature, we attain a measure of Christ’s fullness.

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free

To walk into the fullness of all God has called us to be.

Integrity Music offers a magnificent Scripture Memory Song based on Romans 8:1-2 “There is Therefore Now No Condemnation”:

If I have not love

February 10, 2018

1 Corinthians 13--1-3 New

Following closely on the heels of yesterday’s Verse of the Day focusing on “Increasing Faith” and “Abounding Love,” the passage that we will examine on February 10, 2018 directs our attention toward love, a concept we will hear repeatedly in the coming days. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV):

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Moving into the second week in February, our thoughts turn toward February 14, Valentine’s Day, a time that is set apart to celebrate love. We must recognize, however, the various forms of love, including the love of God or agape, the highest form of love. It differs from eros or passion or sensuous love of the flesh and is even beyond philos­ or love of friends or family. The root of philos is found in the designation of Philadelphia, which is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” There is a love which is “more intimate than friend, or kin or wife;” this close-knit love is known as agape. This particular term used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love

The passage offers a series of conditional phrases beginning with “If I. . .” If I performed a number of actions, followed by the results if “I” performed them outside of love, then “I” would be only so much noise or “I” would be nothing or “I” would have gained nothing. Love would not be impacted by those actions, but the individual who performed them would not fully benefit or profit from those acts if that individual chose “not to love others.”

I Corinthians 13:1-3 is also the ultimate illustration of going from articulation to manifestation. Verses 1 and 2 clearly relate to speaking or using words to express oneself, but agape or “the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation” must be present. In other words, there must be a corresponding demonstration or tangible expression of the words that are articulated. Verse 3 provides actions demonstrating the expression of love; however, the underlying motive must generated by love or else the actions are not profitable to the individual who, in reality, “gains nothing” outside of God’s love.

During this week we will have ample opportunity to think about the love of God, as we approach Valentine’s Day, but as we follow the Scripture’s encouragement, we are to walk in love every day, not just on February 14.

I Corinthians 13 is often recited at weddings, as we see so beautifully presented in 1 Corinthians 13 – The Wedding Song – Love Never Fails by Bernie Armstrong.

Finding life and obtaining favor

January 2, 2018

Proverbs 8_35

The Verse of the Day for January 2, 2018 comes from Proverbs 8:35, but to more fully comprehend the instructions given by Solomon, we need to examine the preceding verses as well:

Proverbs 8:33-35 (Amplified Bible):

“Heed (pay attention to) instruction and be wise,
and do not ignore or neglect it.
34 
“Blessed [happy, prosperous, to be admired] is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.

“For whoever finds me (Wisdom) finds life
And obtains favor and grace from the Lord.

Those who seek wisdom will not only find what they seek, but they will also find life. According to Matthew 7:7-8, we recognize that everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

God, as a beneficent Father, is the giver of life, life in all of its fullness. The expression used for life is often translated in the plural: life, vibrant and fresh, refreshing new life, in all of its richness, overflowing life that impacts others, the more abundant life that Jesus Christ came to give. Not only will those who seek wisdom find life, but they will also find favor or grace. Like Noah, they will find grace in the eyes of the Lord.

According to Herbert M. Wolf, finding favor means gaining approval, acceptance, or special benefits or blessings. He notes a close connection between favor, grace, and mercy. In the New Testament, we note that the word “favor” has also been translated “grace.” God extends His grace, His undeserved favor toward His people.  Ephesians 2:8 makes known that we are saved by grace and not by our own works; it is the “gift of God.”

To receive grace is to receive that gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” Favor is God’s graciousness extended to us; grace is His undeserved favor that abounds toward those who accept His graciousness: “Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound.”

These lyrics describe God’s super-abounding favor:

Favor, favor, favor upon favor,

Favor, favor, favor upon favor

Unprecedented favor, unparalleled favor,

Flowing from the fullness of the Father,

Is falling without measure upon those

Who seek and find the life wisdom offers.

As the New Year unfolds, may we pursue wisdom as never before and daily apply our hearts to the wisdom that we find in the Word of God, as we are

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14

 

We are strengthened by the Word of God where we find

Courage to endure while seeking to watch and wait.

Those who watch and wait will be never left behind,

For God has always been 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.

We close with “Wisdom Song” by Laura Woodley Osman

 

 

 

 

 

Life, more abundant life

December 5, 2017

John 10--10

The Verse of the Day for December 5, 2017 offers another metaphor used by Jesus Christ to help his followers understand who he and why he came on the scene:

John 10:7, 9-10 (AMP):

So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep [leading to life]. I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security). The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

He begins by describing himself as the door or gate to the sheep that serves a dual purpose.  Such a gate or door can be used to keep enemies or those with harmful motives from entering the sheepfold. It can also be used to keep the sheep within the confines of safety.  The passage goes on to contrast the “thief” who comes with ill intent and attempts “to steal and to kill and to destroy the flock.” On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ comes not only to give life but more abundant life,

Verse 10 also brings to mind the Hebrew expression L’Chaim, literally meaning “to life!” The phrase is often used as a toast to celebrate a special occasion. L’Chaim reveals a great deal about the Jewish approach to life. The phrase is not to a good life, to a healthy life, or even to a long life. It is simply “to Life!”, recognizing that life is, indeed, good and precious and should always be celebrated and savored. According to a noted Rabbi, “L’Chaim” does not just mean “to life” as it is commonly translated, but “to lives”—to life in the plural: overflowing cup life, “bright and bubbly, doubly lovely,” life in all of its fullness.

John 10:10 serves as the epigraph or opening scripture for the following poetic expression:

Life

The thief does not come except to steal,

and to kill, and to destroy.

I have come that they may have life,

and that they may have it more abundantly

John 10:10

 

From the fountain, never-ending waters of life,

Countless blessings flow from the one who lives and gives

Wisdom, knowledge, understanding and new meaning

That we might conquer the last enemy called death

And know exceeding great and precious promises

Of His kingdom, ruled by righteousness, joy and peace.

 

Surpassing all our understanding is His peace,

Refreshing cool water from the river of life

To satisfy and fulfill all His promises:

The everlasting portion of the grace that gives

Beauty for ashes to resurrect life from death

And unfold mysteries to give life true meaning.

 

Along the journey, each soul seeks to find meaning,

To sail through the storms of life to a place of peace,

To walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Every page recorded by the author of life

Speaks of the comfort and assurance that He gives

To all who decide to believe His promises.

 

Far beyond earthly treasures are God’s promises

To His dear children who come to know the meaning

Of true love from our most gracious Father, who gives

His spirit to season our speech with words of peace.

To minister to one another, to speak life:

In the tongue is the power of both life and death.

 

We know nothing separates us, not even death,

For God’s love still gives birth to untold promises

That we might be changed and walk in newness of life.

We strive to know God’s ways, understand their meaning.

To know the depths of boundless grace, mercy and peace

And endless love that empties itself yet still gives.

 

Our lives illumined with the light only He gives

To dispel darkness and nullify even death,

To brighten the way and lighten our paths with peace,

That we might stand upon abundant promises,

That enlighten us to understand the meaning

Of our fully partaking of the Bread of Life.

 

The faithful God who gives will keep His promises.

Even death can never alter the real meaning

Of perfect peace that leads to everlasting life.

We close with this lively musical rendering of John 10:10: “I have come”

In Response to “Don’t D.I.E.” “I Shall L.I.V.E.”

March 19, 2013
Psalm 118:17 has meant a great deal to me, especially over the past 13 years.

Psalm 118:17 has meant a great deal to me, especially over the past 13 years.

Recently while reflecting on the first three months of 2013, I recall that I approached the New Year with eager anticipation that it would be a glorious display of God’s favor demonstrated in a special way. Take a look at the first blog entry for Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe where I talk about “The Number 13” to see what I mean:

https://drlej.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/2013-taking-a-new-look-at-the-number-13/

During January I also participated in a life-transforming workshop presented by Dr. Tom Edwards who spoke of the place where we find ourselves in this season, and he exhorted participants “Don’t D.I.E. in the Transition.” Using “D.I.E” as an acronym, he specifically addressed some of the factors that would hinder, inhibit or stop us altogether, as we journey to next level of success:

Dr. Edwards spoke of three ways to D.I.E. expressed in this way—we should not become:

DISTRACTED,                IDLED,                            ENTICED

DISCOURAGED,            INTIMIDATED,           ENTANGLED

DEFEATED,                 IMPLODED,                       EXPIRED

As I reviewed the notes from the workshop, I developed a personal response, as I reflected upon a verse that has come to mean a great deal to me over the past 13 years.

Psalm 118:17

 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.

In addition, I added an acronym of my own: L.I.V.E.

LEARN to INVEST in and VALUE EACH day that you live.

When I first committed Psalm 118:17 to memory, I was also inspired to write a song which I sang for my former brother-in-law, Elliott Thompson, who was dying of cancer at the time.

This verse was the inspiration for a song composed for someone else, but I continue to sing it to myself.

This verse was the inspiration for a song composed for someone else, but I continue to sing it to myself.

I Shall Not Die, but Live!

Chorus:

I shall not die, but live!

And declare the works of the Lord.

I shall confess and claim the promises

According to God’s matchless Word.

Verse 1

I must work while it is day,

For there’s so much I have to do.

As I pass through the storms of life,

I know He’ll always see me through.

Chorus:

Verse 2

He’ll strengthen and encourage me

And uphold me with His right hand.

He works all things together for my good

According to His perfect plan.

Chorus:

Verse 3

He teaches me to wait on Him

And overcome each doubt and fear.

He is my Lord; in Him I put my trust.

Like a shepherd, He’s always near.

Chorus:

Verse 4

To find the answers to Life’s problems

In God’s Word His will is revealed.

Christ conquered poverty and disease:

By His stripes I know I am healed.

Chorus:

Sometime during last year my daughter, Melissa, sent me a YouTube video of a song that she said was a kind of “theme song” for me:  “I Shall Live” by Darlene McCoy

In addition to highlighting verse 17 of Psalm 118, I read over the entire psalm and a number of other verses caught my attention. The Psalm of David opens with an energetic exhortation which is repeated five times, symbolic of God’s grace, in Psalm 118:1, 2, 3, 4, and 29—

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:8 also caught my attention.

It is better to trust in the Lord
than to put confidence in man.

Some people say that this verse is “smack dab in the center” of the Bible, and others say that it is not the center verse of the Scriptures. In any case, it was the inspiration for a song with these lyrics:

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Cast aside your own selfish schemes and follow His perfect plan.

Focus your eyes on Him and stay centered in His will.

Keep seeking the Lord with all your heart, stay prayerful and be still.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

The power of man is limited, though he may do the best he can.

Put all your trust in the Lord, for righteousness shall prevail.

Keep putting your confidence in God, for He will never fail.

SONY DSC

Psalm 118:24 is one of the most recognized verses from the Book of Psalms:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This verse is the inspiration for this recording with accompanying magnificent photos recorded by the—Bob Jones Academy Choir

As I continue to reflect upon Dr. Edwards’ workshop and study and apply the Word of God to my life, I will not “D.I.E.”  in the transition, but I will “L.I.V.E.” by “Learning to Invest in and Value Every day.”

I conclude this blog entry with this stirring reminder from Fred Hammond of Psalm 118:24: