Posts Tagged ‘love’

Power, love, and self-discipline

February 28, 2018

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Not fear but power, love, and sound mind

February 28, 2017

2 Timothy 1-7

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for February 28, 2017 found in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV):

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP):

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

In this epistle written to Paul’s “faithful and true spiritual son,” Paul explains what kind of spirit God has not given to believers, in contrast to the kind of spirit that He has given:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear.” God who is love, loves us and as 1 John so clearly makes known that there is no fear in love. The spirit that God gave us was not a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, and cringing and fawning fear, all of which reflect weakness.

On the other hand, the spirit that God has given is one of “power, love, and sound mind.” As the Amplified Bible elaborates:

[He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

Spirit of Power

The word power is translated from a form of the Greek word dunamis, an expression of potential power, as demonstrated as the root of the English words, dynamite and dynamo, both of which reveal power at rest, power that must be demonstrated or activated or manifested. Power always accompanies the Holy Spirit. The Church of Jesus Christ began with the fulfillment of the promise that believers would receive into manifestation power:

Luke 24: 49 ( AMP):

49 Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.”

This promise is echoed in Acts 1:8(AMP)

But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”

In 2 Timothy 1:8 Paul continues to exhort Timothy:

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel [continue to preach regardless of the circumstances], in accordance with the power of God [for His power is invincible],

Love—agape

In this instance, love refers to, the love of God or agape, a unique term which is used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love, so clearly defined in I Corinthians 13, particularly verses 4-7 of the Amplified Bible illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

With the love of God, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God whereby there is a manifestation or demonstration of that love.

Sound mind—whole thoughts

Having a sound mind relates to having whole thoughts or being “sober-minded.” As the Amplified Bible puts it having “a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” It is the opposite of an “unsound mind.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “A person of unsound mind is an adult who from infirmity of mind is incapable of managing himself or his affairs.” The term is related to persons designated as “insane.”

The expression “being of sound mind and judgment” is a phrase often included in the introductory paragraph of a will in which the testator (writer of the will) declares that the individual signing the will is “of sound mind and memory.”  That person is aware of their surrounding and is capable of making rational judgments regarding his/her personal affairs. Again, Black’s Law Dictionary offers this definition of “sound mind”: Having the ability to think, understand and reason for oneself.”

The Verse of Day reveals that believers are endowed with a tri-fold power source: God desires that we might know the exceeding greatness of God’s power to those who believe according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:18). He also wants us know, intimately, personally, as we experience the power of the love of God which is beyond our understanding. Finally, our Father desires that we do not conform ourselves to the world’s standards but that we transform ourselves as we renew our minds and thus prove what is that “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Listen to this musical reminder that, indeed, God has not given unto us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind:

Have no fear: Love trumps fear

January 20, 2017

1-john-4-18

In reflecting on the unfolding events of January 20, 2017, I recall the words posted a week ago on Friday, the 13th, regarding fear and its remarkable antidote, love. Although a week has passed, the demonstration of fear still grips the land, particularly on Inauguration Day for the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. In fact, that post has been revised and re-titled “Have no fear: Love trumps fear.” In discussing fear and its potentially deadly consequences, we commented:

Fear, an emotional response to potential danger, if not properly addressed can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Fear, an emotional response to potential danger, if not properly addressed can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Unbridle fear, a toxic emotion, limits and inhibits. Proverbs 29:25 makes this clear:

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Some of the responses to the events taking placing in Washington, DC indicate that some people are overly concerned about the future which has led to anxiety. We are encouraged not to be overly concerned about the future nor anything for that matter in Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Bible addresses the issue of fear with numerous reminders that as believers we are not to fear. This comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” occurs 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear. We could look at each one of these exhortations, not as the Verse of the Day but as “a Verse of the Day” for every day.

One such passage offering great encouragement during the trying times in which we live comes from Isaiah 41:10, 13 from which these lyrics are taken:

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 it is I, the LORD your God, who holds your right hand;

It is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

“Do not fear, I will help you.”

“Do not fear, I will help you.”

It has been said that fear is the only thing that defeats the promises of God. Pastor Rick Warren describes fear    as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

A previous blog post on this topic discussed 1 John 4:18 where we find the perfect antidote to fear:

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.

The Book of 1 John makes known that those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, wanting nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there 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. Without question, “Love casts out fear. . .” Indeed, “Love trumps fear.”

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we walk in power of God’s love, we will recognize a notable change, not only in our own lives individually, but we will also experience fruitfulness and favor upon our land, even in the midst of famine. The following poem expresses the two-fold blessing that God generates through “Perfected Love”:

Perfected Love

The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied by them;
I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

Joel 2:19 (NKJV)

 

Jehovah, creator, author and finisher,

Who initiates to nourish perfected love;

Ever-abiding source and resource, publisher

Of declarations of genuine love to move

The soul of man to return to the place of his first

Love, the Beloved, whose heart overflows to give,

For only this passion can satisfy our thirst,

As you refresh us and teach us how we should live.

You have pledged your love through a sacred covenant.

If we maintain our vows of love, you will sustain

Our souls and feed us so that we shall never want.

You will shower with mercy as the gentle rain

And will bless and multiply the fruit of our land

With “grain, wine, and oil” supplied by Your gracious right hand.

Despite the challenges that confront us as individual believers or collectively as a nation, the Word of God exhorts us to be bold and take courage, not just on this particular Inauguration Day but every day of our lives. We are reminded that “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it, as we put on our “no fear gear”, as we walk in the love of God which casts out all fear. We close with the reassuring words of Wintley Phipps, who tells us one more time, “No Need to Fear:”

Grace, love, and fellowship

September 21, 2016

2-corinthians-13-14

From the closing verses of the second epistle to the Corinthians comes this benediction which serves as the Verse of the Day for September 21, 2016:

2 Corinthians 13:14 (MSG)

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

The powerful benediction at the end of 2 Corinthians embraces believers as a three-fold cord which begins with “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the means whereby we “receive and experience “the love of God,” which leads to sublime, indescribably sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The verse also brings to mind the lyrics to “Blessed be the ties that bind,” the classic hymn sung countless times in the small church where I grew up in the 1950s, way back in the day:

This verse was also the inspiration for:

Grace, Love, and Fellowship: A Three-fold Cord

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

 Dr. John Fawcett

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (New Living Translation)

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and fellowship bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

That the love of God never fails cannot be ignored.

Spanning from age to age the same, this love shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Fellowship with God abounds when we live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

We commune with God and find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.                

Here are three notable songs that express the essence of these three spiritual qualities:

Grace:

 A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

Love:

“The Love of God,” as performed by Mercy Me, is among the most recognized songs describing God’s love:

Fellowship:

The contemporary Christian group A cappella describes “Sweet Fellowship” in song:

Unflappable 2: more in store

May 30, 2016

Psalm 1--3

A couple of days ago, instead of sharing the Verse of the Day, I chose to share the Word for the Day on May 27, 2016  when we looked at the word  “unflappable” and noted how it applied to us. After reviewing my notes and upon further reflection, I have chosen to continue the discussion of this distinctive adjective and other related terms. We, thus, have “Unflappable 2—more in store” on the Word for the Day on May 29, 2016.

Take a look at this definition of the term on  YouTube:

The previous blog entry also mentioned the term “unflappability”, a character trait demonstrated by those who remain composed and having sound judgment at all times, being impossible to fluster. An individual described as being unflappable exemplifies “unflappability”: remaining composed and level-headed at all times, being impossible to fluster.

Other related terms include the adjective “un·flapped,” meaning not upset or confused, unperturbed. Some additional forms include nouns “unflappability” and “unflappableness,” along with the adverb “unflappably.”

Following the initial post on “unflappable,” I reviewed some notes from a previous teaching that I had heard, and I came an acrostic that I had composed in connection with four attributes of spirits of wickedness: Fear, Lust, Anger, and Pride.

Often when these negative emotions are stirred up in situations that believers encounter, we become anything but “unflappable” under circumstances where we should remain confident and assured, unmoved, but we fail to maintain our state of “unflappability.” In such situations we need to respond to the tactics of the adversary of our souls and “unflap” the enemy by moving in the opposite spirit. Although you cannot find the verb “unflap” in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, I am coining the term and using it in a spiritual context.

We “unflap” the enemy by learning to be unflappable. To come out of the cave—those dark caverns of our minds that the enemy constantly seeks to lure us into, we must move in the opposite direction and “FLIP the FLAP.” When we encounter Fear, we move forward in Faith; In situations where Lust abounds, we respond with Love; Where we find “Anger” we walk away “In Peace”; Where Pride seeks to dominate, we counter with a “Pure heart of Humility:

Fear to Faith

Fear is said to be the only thing that defeats the promises of God. In a recent blog entry posted on Friday the thirteen, I commented that expression, “Do not fear” or some variation of “Fear not” occurs 365 times in the Bible, corresponding to a daily memo from God to have no fear. When we encounter the precursors of doubt and worry that too often culminate in fear, recall the comforting exhortation to Philippians 4:6

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

We, of course, recall the acronym for fear: “false evidence appearing real” recognize that evidence is something that is seen Instead of reacting in fear, based on what we see, as believers must learn to act or move out in faith which is defined In Hebrew 11:

Hebrews 11:1, 6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Lust to Love

In the ongoing spiritual battle that confronts believers every day, we endeavor to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Titus 3:3 (NLT) reminds us:

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) offers this reminder of the source of lusts or inordinate affections, excessive inner yearnings that draw us away from God’s heart:

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

In the same way that love is the perfect antidote to fear, in that perfect love casts out all fear, Love also counters Lusts.

Anger to abiding  “In Peace”

In the midst of times of intense pressure and opposition, situations that we encounter may arouse anger within us, but the Psalmist exhorts us:

Psalm 4:4

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah

Psalm 37:8(NLT) repeats this message:

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.

How about this statement from Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB):

Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.

James 1:19 (NIV) offers these words of wisdom:

[Listening and Doing] My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

When we find ourselves in midst of situations that generate anger, we counter anger when we walk “In Peace.” The lines from the spiritual assure us:

We shall walk through the valley in peace;
we shall walk through the valley in peace.

Refrain:
If Jesus himself shall be our leader,
we shall walk through the valley in peace

The first blog entry discussing “unflappable” spoke of maintaining the peace of God in stressful situations whereby believers learn to “Hold Your Peace.” Without question, the peace of God only comes from the God of Peace through His Son, the Prince of Peace.

Pride to “Pure Heart of Humility”:

Pride, the most dangerous of emotions, if left unchecked, can lead to destruction, as indicated in the closing lines of “Dangerous Emotions”:

Each deadly emotion yields deadly consequence.

Pride, described as the most dangerous of them all,

Leads to destruction and goes before a downfall.

In thinking about pride, I recall the first poem that I wrote, long before I recognized my poetic inclination and seriously pursued developing the poet’s craft and art. As a sophomore in college, I enrolled in a poetry appreciation course taught by a well-known poet and teacher who asked the class to write a couplet, and these two lines came to mind:

Beware, Pride locks the heart and keeps the key.

Take care that Pride has not a lock on thee.

Among the seven negative attributes that God hates, “indeed, seven are repulsive to Him” . . .  the first being “A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Those who walk in pride are despised in God’s eyes, but those who walk with a pure heart in humility bring a smile to God’s face: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Proverbs 18:12 tell us:

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

More than 40 years after the first couplet that I wrote regarding pride, I wrote another two lines with this message:

We know that when we touch the heart of God,

We show that true humility is the key.

As believers each time we “flip the flap” and move in the opposite spirit when confronted by Satan and the forces of evil, we “unflap” the enemy and score a victory: Now thanks be unto Christ who always causes us to triumph in Christ, thus being “unflappable” each time.

To close out our discussion of “unflappable” here is “Tree” by Justin Rizzo, inspired by Psalm 1, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory and which expresses my ultimate desire and prayer to be like the man so described:

 

 

 

 

Straight from my heart

February 14, 2016

BJ photo

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, when countless numbers of people think about love and all that it means, I think of the love of my life, my Beloved Brenda, and offer these words:

A Love Song Straight from my Heart

“This is my beloved. . .”

 

If I could I would croon a tune

That would make you swoon:

A ballad so tender

For my beloved Brenda,

A love song straight from my heart

That overflows with gratitude

Each time I remember

How God brought us together

And answered each other’s prayer.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beautiful.

With all my love,

Lonnell

Here is one of our favorite songs: “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics:

He who abides in love abides in God

September 15, 2015

1 John 4--16

The Verse of the Day is found in 1 John 4:16 (NKJV):

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Amplified Bible expresses the verse this way:

16 And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

In 1 John 4:8 we find an expression of who God is:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Rendered in the Amplified Bible this way:

 He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

For Christian believers nothing is more satisfying than to know that God is love and that God loves us, and nothing can separate us from that love.

Hillsong offers this reminder that “Our God is Love.”

In John 15:5, 8 (NLT) we find parallel scriptures used by Jesus, who speaks of a parable where he uses this comparison:

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

This reference relates the parable of the vinedresser, the vine, the branches and the fruit. That is, it explained how the Twelve were to produce a spiritual harvest for God.

The passage from John 15 records how Jesus, during the evening when he was betrayed and captured, said to the eleven apostles who remained at the table with him (Judas had departed and gone to betray the Lord), that his Father was a “vinedresser” (grape farmer), or “husbandman” as some translations have it, and that he, Jesus, was “the true vine”, and that those apostles were “branches” who were attached to Jesus, the Vine. In order to be fruitful the branches must “abide” in the vine. When the branches remain intact with the vine, God is glorified as the branches bear much fruit. When thinking of fruit, the fruit of the spirit comes to mind, and what is the principal fruit of the passage from Galatians 5:22-24? Love, as the Scriptures also remind us.

The accompanying photos show a fruitful vine from a vineyard that illustrates the parable where Jesus describes himself as “the true vine.” We conclude as Laurie Sterling offers another musical rendition of this metaphor: “You are the Vine.”

Man of faith. . . pursue

April 6, 2015

1 Timothy_6-11Recently I did not have an Internet connection one morning, and I could not access BibleGateway.com to start off my day with the Verse of the Day. As I made my morning cup of tea, I noticed a special cup that my daughter had used the night before. On the outside of the black ceramic cup was the inscription “Blessed is a Man of Faith.” Around the light green rim which had been widened and flattened to a degree were these words: As for you, man of God. . .pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness—1 Timothy 6:11. I read the verse and smiled, thinking I’ll let this be my personal Verse of the Day. God seemed to be speaking directly to me, as I considered deeply the word that Paul directed to Timothy, his true son in the faith:

Pursue

The word pursue is translated from the Greek word dioko, which has been translated “to pursue, to follow after, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire.” Clearly, to pursue is to put forth effort; it is an active verb with an object of pursuit in mind.

Righteousness

Matthew 6:33 reminds us of what should be our priority:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

Indeed, righteousness is a vital component of the Kingdom of God:

For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 4:17).

Andrew Womack comments regarding various aspects of the Greek word translated righteousness. “This word refers to our actions toward others (equity of character or actions) as well as our relationship with God (justification). Our relationship (righteousness) with God is an accomplished fact, but our godly actions toward others must be walked out daily.”

As believers, we should always desire to live righteously and pursue righteousness.

Godliness

Godliness refers to a true and vital spiritual relationship. With any relationship, both individuals must be mutually committed and intentional in their desire to see that the relationship continues to grow and thrive.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 4 that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Faith

Faith, the bedrock of my life, is defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God that I will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is essential to living a successful Christian life. Hebrews 11 reminds us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” For us, faith is the essence of life itself, for the just shall live by faith.

Love

In addition to pursuing faith, the man of God is to pursue the love of God or agape. With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Not only is this the verse so often referred to during the time of the celebration of the resurrection, but this is a verse for all seasons.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in this poem by John Oxenham:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives.

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give

 

Endurance

As one of the fruit of the spirit, “patience” is translated: “to stay, remain, abide”, literally “abiding under.” As a verb it figuratively means, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure. The essence of the word involves the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy. It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies God, not merely to grin and bear it.

The epitome of patience in an individual is Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance.” One of the spiritual principles that the Book of Job demonstrates is that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” The scriptures offer this reminder: “You have need of patience, that after that you have done the will of the Lord you might receive the promise.” As I pursue patience, I am patiently waiting.

Gentleness

Here we find yet another the fruit of the spirit which is often associated with meekness. Stanley Horton comments that “Gentleness includes true humility that does not consider itself too good or too exalted for humble tasks.”

Paul also instructs Timothy regarding this quality: The servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves.

As I sipped my tea while considering the words of 1 Timothy 6:11, I thought of this poem that express my deepest yearning to follow Paul’s exhortation:

The Proof of Desire

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,

but especially that you may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:1

The proof of desire is pursuit.

Mike Murdock

In each new season may my life abound with fruit,

As I follow after God and seek His favor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

This passion to please is my relentless pursuit,

As I seek to taste His goodness and to savor.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit.

As a seasoned tree is strengthened from leaf to root,

I flow with fullness of joy as I labor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

Though I may seek as silver His wisdom and truth,

This life swiftly passes, fleeting as a vapor.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit.

I have yearned for God’s presence, even as a youth.

I now forsake all to scale the heights of Mount Tabor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

I ever seek to know God’s will and to do it,

To follow in the steps of Jesus, my Savior.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

The verse that I designate as my personal Verse of the Day also brings to mind the Don Moen song: “My Soul Follows Hard after Thee”:

Flourishing faith and growing love

February 9, 2015

2 thessalonians 1-3

The Verse of the Day for February 9, 2015 comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3 in the New Living Translation:

[Encouragement during Persecution] Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT):

Today’s verse notes two areas of growth in Christian believers: faith and love which are mentioned in Thessalonians, the Church Epistles whose focus is hope, the hope of Christ’s return.

Faith

Faith is not static but God’s desire is that our faith grow, increase and abound. When the apostles said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith,” he responded:

 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6)

The plant mentioned by Jesus Christ to illustrate faith is the very small seed of the mustard tree, a pod-bearing, shrub-like plant, growing wild, which is also cultivated in gardens. The little round seeds were an emblem of any small insignificant object. Faith is described in this way: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth.” Jesus goes on to say, “It [faith] is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.” A mustard seed once planted and nurtured grows into a mighty tree, just as our faith should grow and abound.

Love:

Not only are believers to grow in faith, they are also exhorted to abound in love, as is mentioned in

2 Corinthians 8:7

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

Philippians 1:9

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

1 Thessalonians 3:12

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

One of the classic metaphors that describe love is a rose. Indeed, love is a rose that grows—

The budding rose never stays the same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

The Verse of the Day reminds us that our faith and love are to increase and abound.

The Epistles of First and Second Thessalonians with their emphasis on the Return of Jesus Christ are sources of strength and encouragement for believers. There is no correction or reproof to “the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The passage for today opens with this note in the New Living Translation: Encouragement during Persecution

In thinking about the encouraging words found in Thessalonians, I recall Thessalonians 5:11 which provided the inspiration for this poem:

Encourage

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Don’t stop now—keep on pursuing

Keep seeking His face

Don’t get weary in well doing

You must keep the pace

Seek and you shall find

The strength to be transformed–

Renewed in the spirit of your mind

Encourage yourself

And encourage one another

Build each other up

Every sister and brother

Speaking the truth, we grow up

Therefore, encourage one another

The accompanying video “Encourage one another” is also a compilation of the same verse from I Thessalonians 5:11 and other scriptures along with words of encouragement from Kimberly Culpen. May we all be strengthened and encouraged today.

 

Grace,love, and fellowship: A three-fold cord

September 21, 2014

2-Corinthians-13-14

The Verse of the Day for September 21, 2014 can be seen as a benediction to close out the second epistle to the Corinthians, rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

This verse was also the inspiration for:

Grace, Love, and Fellowship: A Three-fold Cord

                                      

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

Dr. John Fawcett

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (New Living Translation)

 

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and fellowship bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

 

That the love of God never fails cannot be ignored.

Spanning from age to age the same, this love shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Fellowship with God abounds when we live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

 

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

We commune with God and find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.                

 

Here are three songs that express the essence of these three spiritual qualities:

Grace:

A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

Love:

The Love of God, as performed by Mercy Me, is among the most recognized songs describing God’s love:

Fellowship:

The contemporary Christian group A cappella describes “Sweet Fellowship” in song: