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Welcome to the Path of Life Daily Devotional!

The Pathsrp-experiment of Life daily devotions are designed to be an aid to daily prayer. They consist of a short essay on a single word followed by a few selected verses on the subject, and concluding with songs and/or prayers on the topic of the day.

The Path of Life Daily Devotions work for morning or evening.
Start your day or end your day with an encouraging word.

Each devotion, in fact each article I write, ends with the same signature:
Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

Semper Reformanda!
Semper Reformanda! is my ministry motto. It means “Always Reforming.” The church must never stop progressing toward the Coming of the Lord. We must never cease to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We must never stop seeking God’s Face. We must never restrain from testing all things to see if they are from the Lord. This ongoing process requires a growing knowledge of what God has said and a listening ear to what God is saying. If we are not constantly vigilant in these things, our lives will be tossed about by the unrelenting winds of culture. If we are constantly available to the Spirit for instruction in righteousness, we will build our lives on the Rock! To me, Semper Reformanda! is each day’s work as we walk the Path of Life.

 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

To begin reading the devotions for this year go to the end of this article.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

Interested in Christian Worship and Spirituality?–That is my subject!  For  a plethora of articles on Worship  and Worship Renewal Go To StevePhifer.com.

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August 20, 2017 “Compassion”

Compassion

A primary expression of compassion is simply to pray for one another.
Jesus did. When Jesus walked this earth, He prayerfully walked in compassion for the people He met.  When they were hungry, He knew it and He fed them.  When they were sick or impaired, He healed them.  When they wanted to know the truth, He wrapped eternal things in temporal stories with characters they recognized even if the truth the parables told were beyond their understanding.

Each of the gospel writers comments on the compassion of Christ in some way.

  • Matthew says that Jesus healed people out of compassion while
  • Mark comments that compassion prompted Jesus’ teaching.
  • Luke describes Jesus feeling for a woman whose son had died as compassion.
  • John uses the word love while quoting Jesus as He described a most compassionate love for those who followed Him.

As we think of the day before us, let us think of the compassion of Christ.  In the gospel accounts Jesus had compassion on people because they were in pain, they were ignorant of the words of life, and because their lives were full of devastating losses.  He called a few people out of the crowd to follow Him, to hear His words, to know Him personally, and to experience the wonder of His presence.

All of this compassion was spent on His way to the cross.  In the garden, in the courts of men, in the streets of Jerusalem, and on the summit of Mt. Calvary, Jesus collected all the compassion He had demonstrated in three years of public ministry and poured it upon a fallen earth.  His holy blood flowed freely that day and His compassion still flows freely today.  Because the sacrifice is complete, the work finished, the veil in the Temple torn, the tomb vacant and empty, and because the Spirit has been given, His compassion has reached us.  In the words of Paul, God demonstrated His compassion for us by sending Jesus, not just to heal and teach, but to atone for our sins with His own sinless blood.

A Community of Compassion
Now, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of the New Covenant in His blood, we must let His compassion flow through us to the healing of the nations, the telling of the truth, and the resurrection of the sin-dead hearts of people.  We must have compassion for our brothers and sisters, who are also purchased by His blood.  We cannot let petty arguments divide the generations in the household of faith.  We must be known by our compassion for each other, a fellowship of divine love extended down from heaven and throughout the community by the touch of Jesus’ compassionate hand.

Prayer is compassion!
We cannot hate those for whom we pray. The people we pray for grow in value to us as we call their names to the Lord. Freely we have received His compassion, let us also freely share it with others in pray, words and deeds.

A primary expression of compassion is simply to pray for one another.

Scriptures:
Matthew 14:14
When Jesus … saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Mark 6:34
… he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Luke 7:13-15
When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother
John 15:9-12 NKJV
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
Romans 5:6-9 6
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to follow Your example of the prayer-filled life of compassion. I have received so much from You, help me be a channel of Your grace to others. I have been given much and I know that because of this much is required of me. Help me be faithful today to share Your love with others. When I am tempted to dislike someone, help me turn my displeasure with them into a prayer for them. This is a you command in the mountaintop sermon; let it be so in my life today. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Make me a Blessing
Words: Ira B. Wilson; Music: George S. Schuler

1. Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.

Refrain:
Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

2. Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow’r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True, every moment you live.

Refrain

3. Give as ’twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 19, 2017 “Participation”

Participation

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature. 
Instead of mankind desperately seeking God, God came to earth as a man to break the in barrier between God and man.  Instead of poets dreaming up gods of their own imaginations, God revealed exactly who He is the face, the voice, the touch of Jesus.  The glory of Jesus is not a glory to be achieved; it is a glory to simply behold in humility, repentance and faith.

The Lord’s Supper
The Table of the Lord demonstrates our participation in the mystery of redemption.  One of the Greek words for participation is koinoneo which means

“to have a share of, to share with, take part in” is translated “to be partaker of”
(Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words)

Koinoneo emphasizes the fellowship resulting from shared experiences and beliefs.  Somehow, when we come to the table we do not just observe a memorial of the ministry of Jesus.  We actually participate in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  What are these mysteries?  They are summed up by Paul in seven words:

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Last Supper
This is the theme of everything said and done at the Last Supper.  This meal marked the passing of the Passover table and the coming of the Lord’s Table.  No longer a celebration of a deliverance from in the distant past, our Fellowship Meal (koinoneo) is a participation in a current deliverance from sin and destruction.

Jesus said we should participate in the bread and the cup as a remembrance of Him.  Our English word, “remembrance” comes from the Greek word, anamnesis which means:

“a remembrance” (“again”) …not “in memory of” but in an affectionate calling of the Person Himself to mind; (b) of the “remembrance” of sins… is not simply an external bringing to “remembrance,” but an awakening of mind. (Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words)

At the Lord’s Table we do more than remember, we participate.
It is not a re-crucifixion of Jesus for that was “once and for all.” What happens is this: The Holy Spirit ministers to us as we believe in Jesus’ Body and Blood, His substance and His life.  Jesus Himself told us in John chapter six what it meant to eat and drink of His substance and life—it is to believe—this is the work of God.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28-29

At that Last Passover and First Communion, Jesus spoke of our participation in the New Covenant:

  • We would enjoy the complete forgiveness of sins.
  • We would engage in a life empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • We would be branches in Him, the True Vine, bearing much fruit.
  • We would be destined for eternal life in His Father’s house.
  • We would have the opportunity to be one with Him as He is one with the Father.  He prayed that we would seize the opportunity.

Each year as we consider the events of the final week of Jesus’ ministry of this earth, we do more than remember, we participate.  We are there

  • at the table,
  • in the Garden,
  • at the arrest,
  • through the night of trials in the courts of men,
  • on the road to Calvary,
  • at the cross,
  • in the storm and darkness,
  • hearing His last words,
  • seeing Him lifeless and still, silent,
  • weeping at the tomb through the night, and
  • rejoicing in the dawn of a new day, a New Covenant and a new life!

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature.

Scriptures:
Mark 14:22-26
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
2 Peter 1:4
… he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Timothy 3:16
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
Colossians 1:24-27
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You invite me to join You in a meal at your Table. How can such a thing be?—yet I believe it! Help me do the work that pleases You—to believe in You! I believe Your Story! I believe Your words and the record of Your amazing deeds. I believe the things I cannot explain that are clearly seen in your Word and I celebrate them in worship. I declare them in words on the page and in my mouth. I long to participate in Your Story and You are showing me how. I rejoice that You are soon to return and I marvel that You are also with me today. Thank You, Jesus!

Song:
I Am His and He Is Mine
Words: Wade Robinson; Music: James Mountain

1. Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
You have taught me it is so.
O what full and perfect peace,
Joy and wonder all divine!
In a love which cannot cease
I am his, and he is mine.

2. Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is richer green;
something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen:
Songs of birds in sweetness grow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am his and he is mine

3. His forever, his alone!
Who the Lord from me shall part?
With what joy and peace unknown
Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heaven and earth may pass away,
Sun and stars in gloom decline,
But of Christ I still shall say:
I am his and he is mine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 18, 2017 “Blood”

Blood

Blood is precious for it contains the mysteries of life.
Almost any visit to the physician’s office will involve taking samples of blood for study.  Each drop of blood contains volumes of information about the heart, lungs, digestive track, and any abnormalities or infections.  After diagnosis and treatment, the blood is tested again, this time to seek good news of recovery and a return to normality.  Without the constant coursing of blood to muscles and organs, to the brain and even inside the bones, there is no life in the body.Very early on in the Bible, the Word of God makes the purpose of  blood clear, centuries before science discovered it.

The Mystery of Forgiveness of Sins
Just as blood is essential to life, the shedding of blood is essential to the forgiveness of sin.  Sin is a destroyer of life.  There was no death until there was sin.  Sin is also a different kind of death: the separation of the sinner from a righteous God.  Sin always forms a barrier between the human spirit, soul, and body, and the God who created them.  The only solution for sin is the spilling of life’s blood—death for the sin. I cannot explain this fully; I accept in on faith.

The Old Covenant Mystery
Under the Old Covenant, the blood of a perfect, innocent animal was the payment for sin.  The New Testament makes it clear that there was no real power of forgiveness, rebirth, and restoration in the blood of animals.  In His amazing grace, God accepted this substitute for the blood of the sinner demanded by his or her sins.  He could do this without violating His own inherent holiness because one day the Final Lamb would go up to die on the final altar.  This one would not be in the Temple, not be made of stone, and not be administered by an earthly priest nor be slain by the hand of man.  This Final Lamb would be freely given over to death on a Roman cross, an appropriate representation of the sins of all mankind.  His name would be Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Our New Covenant Mystery
Since ancient times Friday has been the day of the week when set aside time to consider the cross of Jesus.  We cannot do so without imagining the blood of Christ.  First drawn by the Roman lash, then by the thorns in a mocking crown, and finally by iron nails pounded through His hands and feet and the Roman spear thrust into His side, the blood of Jesus flowed freely that day.  His human life spilled to the ground and splashed on His torturers and on the onlookers standing by.  The effect of that blood on His enemies had little effect, just an unpleasant stain to be cleaned away at the first opportunity.

However, down through time, His blood has spilled and splashed on us.  Because we reach for Jesus to save us, rather than to harm Him more or to stand by and simply watch the “tragedy” unfold, His blood has great and eternal effect on us.  We are forgiven!  The sin barrier between us and our Creator is broken.  The heavenly record of sins written by our name is expunged and the sinless record of Jesus inscribed in its place.  You see, this is the New Covenant in His blood:

  • real forgiveness,
  • real rebirth,
  • a real relationship with God, and
  • real life restored.

Today, let us draw near to the cross.  The blood of Jesus is precious; it contains the solution to for life’s mysteries.  His life still flows.  As the old song says, “The blood has never lost its power, no never!”

Scriptures:
Leviticus 17:10-12 NKJV
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Hebrews 9:11-15; 10:1-4; 19-22
When Christ came as high priest …. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. … How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.  If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.  But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God …
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I cannot imagine Your suffering at the end of Your earthly life. To think of Your innocent blood flowing from those wounds to my sins, sorrows, and sicknesses is beyond my mental capacity to understand. I believe it; I believe it with all my heart. There is no other solution to our sins, no other remedy for our sicknesses, and no other comfort for our grief. Each of us who had turned to You for forgiveness has found it. Along with forgiveness we have found health and healing! “Oh, the Blood has never lost its power! No Never!” Amen and amen.

Song:
The Blood Has Never Lost Its Power
Words and Music: Mrs. C.H. Morris

1. In the misty days of yore
Jesus’ precious blood had pow’r
E’en the thief upon the cross to save;
Like a bird his spirit flies
To its home in Paradise,
Thro’ the pow’r of Calv’ry’s crimson wave.

Refrain:
And the blood has never lost its pow’r,
No, never, no, never,
Jesus’ blood avails for sin forever,
And will never lose its pow’r.

2. I was lost and stepped in guilt,
But the blood for sinners spilt
Wash’d away my sins and set me free;
Now and evermore the same,
Praise, O praise his holy name!
Will the cleansing stream availing be.

Refrain

3. God in mercy asks you why,
Brother sinner, will you die
When such full redemption he provides?
You have but to look and live,
Life eternal he will give,
For the pow’r of Calv’ry still abides.

Refrain

4. Bring your burdens, come today,
Turn from all your sins away,
He can fully save and sanctify;
From the wrath to come now flee,
Let your name recorded be
With the blood-washed, and redeem’d on high.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 17, 2017 “Backing”

Backing

No one gets far in this life without backing.
The brilliant, highly trained naval officer is worthless without the backing of his/her ship and crew. The same is true in every aspect of life.

  • Many of us were blessed with parents who backed us when we didn’t even know who we were.  They knew who we were and saw to it that we had what we needed in every stage of childhood.  Good parents are focused on their children.  Most of their decisions are made with a primary consideration for the welfare of the children God has given them.
  • At school, good teachers back their students to the hilt.  The best ones are in the business precisely to provide their students with everything they need to learn the things they need to know.  Teachers, in turn, are backed by their colleagues, administrators, school workers, materials publishers, and college professors who form a continuing network of support.

Everyone needs good backing.
When we finally graduate from the school system and begin to make our contribution to the world, we realize we need to find some backing.  If we are starting a business or starting in business, it is going to require some support from somewhere.  Hopefully, we have learned how to make good friends and how to be a good friend.  Whatever we choose to do with our lives, we will have to walk the two-way street called “backing.”  If we are faithful to our friends, backing them when they need us, many of them will do the same for us.

This is a spiritual way of life:

  • Experienced workers should be eager to help the rookie.
  • Older brothers and sisters in the church should be available and willing to help younger brothers and sisters get started as faithful men and women of God.
  • Older pastors should be ready to counsel the young pastor when he or she needs a larger, more seasoned perspective.

On the other hand:

  • Inexperienced workers should be humble enough to seek out the wisdom of experience.
  • Younger believers in the church need to respect their elders and carefully consider their counsel.
  • The younger pastor needs to revere the elder minister and seek out the priceless wisdom he or she has learned by experience.

In short, not only does each of us need backing, there is someone close at hand who needs our backing.  Of course, few things are as un-welcomed as advice we haven’t asked for.  If you are young, have the wisdom to ask.  If you are old, have the grace to wait until you are asked.

Generational Division
We must realize the strategy of the enemy of the church—generational division.  Satan is busy buildings walls around the generations in the Body of Christ.  When our structures of worship keep the older folk from the younger folk, both ages groups lose out.  The picture they get of the church is distorted.  It looks like the church is made up of only one generation.  Nothing could be further from the heart of God.

Generational Unity
The truth is this:

  • Younger believers need their elders, and,
  • Older believers need the young folks.

This is such a contrast to the world! Dividing the generations is big business for the world; the multiply their markets. The church is supposed to be different, really different—we are called to be ONE even as God Himself is ONE. This doesn’t happen by accident—it happens when we shake off the world’s thinking and obey the Lord!

We can step out into the world today fully assured of the Lord’s backing in all we do for Him! He is the original Covenant Keeper! His promises are the best backing we could ever hope for.  He is also counting on us to provide the backing our brothers and sisters need.  No one gets far in this life without backing.

Scriptures:
2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Psalm 119:140
Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
Psalm 145: 3-7; 13-16
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and …your wonderful works.   They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.  The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Revelation 19:11
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
Hebrews 3:13; 10:23-25
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Titus 2:2-8
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech…
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
John 17:9-19 NKJV
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You have my back! As I go into this day, I am confident that I am backed by the infallible Word of God, the immutable character of God, and the unmatched power of the Holy Spirit. Who can stand against one who is so thoroughly backed? No one, Lord. Help me keep my eyes open for those who need my backing but help me keep my mouth closed until I am asked for help. Help all of us in Your family to realize how much we need each other! Help us throw off the divisive influence of the world and be ONE! For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Standing on the Promises
Words and Music: Russell Kelso Carter

1. Standing on the promises of Christ my king,
Through eternal ages let his praises ring;
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain:
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

2. Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain

3. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain

4. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 16, 2017 “Assignments”

Assignments

Weekends and Weeks
Here’s the routine: after the weekend of rest and worship, we engage in the work week. It is good to periodically conduct a review of our assignment.

  • What has God called us to do?
  • Where has He called us to do it?
  • What kind of a person has He created us to be while we set about fulfilling our assignment?

Our Assignments

  • In first instance, we are assigned to be excellent people. As representatives of Christ our moods and reactions, as well as our competence and actions, must reflect the nature of our Savior. As workers, our first assignment is to be someone who is pleasant to work with, cheerful in times of stress, dependable in our responsibilities, kind and respectful toward others. Those “Christians” who are bitter, cynical, suspicious, lazy, and grumpy busybodies and strife-mongers on the job have failed at their first assignment.
  • In the second instance, each of us has been or will be blessed with a craft with which we can take our rightful place in the world. For those of us who must provide for our families or our own lives, it is a great blessing when this life’s craft is the means of that provision. Others, may find themselves working at assignments that do not reflect their interests. These assignments are blessings from God also. Believers have the power in the Holy Spirit to transform their “jobs” into “ministries” simply by following the word of Paul to the Colossians: Let your work become worship—a holy thing!
  • In the third instance, we each have an assignment from the Lord in the mission of the church. In the imagery used by Paul, some of us are hands and others are feet, but we are all essential parts of the Body of Christ—the Church! Every church needs each of her members to accomplish his/her assignment from the Lord. When we fulfill our ministry assignments, we find joy for our souls, healthy exercise for our bodies, and rich nourishment for our spirits. We advance the Kingdom of God in our community and lives are forever changed.

Failure is bad.
When we do not take and complete our ministry assignments, two really bad things happen:

  1. Ministry goes undone as lives are not changed, pain is not relieved, and the truth remains untold to some.
  2. Some other member of the Body may have to try and be the hand they are called to be and the foot someone failed to be.

Their assignment is threatened because their energy and focus is diffused and our absence removes the special touch that God designed for us to share with others.

Today, knowing what your assignments are:

  • Who you are called to be,
  • What your are called to do in the community, and
  • What God has assigned you to do for Him,

You can say with Psalmist:

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
(Ps 118:24)

Your joy will endear you to your co-workers, provide you with your life’s needs, and bring a smile to your Savior’s face. What a great set of assignments you have!

Scriptures:
Colossians 3:16; 23-24
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
2 Corinthians 5:20
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors…
1 Corinthians 12:14
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Colossians 4:17
… “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my hand will find work to do today. I dedicate that work to Your glory. In do not just work for my boss; I work for You. I work to provide for those for whom I am responsible, but I recognize that You are my Provider. Lord, do not let me go about my work today unassisted—send Your Spirit to bless my work as a witness to You. I will not gossip or complain. I will be cheerful and encouraging to others. Let Your holy joy strengthen me today. All for Your Glory, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Song:
Jesus, Use Me
Words and Music: Jack and Billy Campbell

1. Dear Lord, I’ll be a witness
If You will help my weakness.
I know that I’m not worthy, Lord of Thee.
By eyes of faith I see Thee
Upon the cross of Calvary;
Dear Lord I cry, Let me Thy servant be.

Refrain:
Jesus, use me and Oh, Lord don’t refuse me.
For surely there’s a work that I can do.
And even though it’s humble,
Lord, help my will to crumble.
Though the cost be great, I’ll work for You.

2. I’ll stand for Thee, dear Jesus,
Whate’er the cost may be;
I’ll spread the gospel to the lost each day;
But if it be The will, Lord,
To send me o’er the sea,
I’ll follow Thee though death should come my way.

Refrain

3. He’s the Lily of the Valley,
The Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the Fairest of Ten Thousand to my soul;
He’s the beautiful Rose of Sharon,
He’s all the world to me.
But best of all He is my coming King.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 15, 2017 “Boldness”

Boldness

Boldness is expressed in bold thoughts and bolder deeds.
Bold deeds are celebrated in song and story, in reputation and renown, and in great shouts of victory as well as in quiet deeds of mercy. Boldness, then, is to be sought, a necessary thing for victorious living in this fallen world.

Boldness is a product born of its root.

  • Boldness born in myth will dissipate like a mist on the moors because it is a fiction born of a fiction.
  • Boldness born in the heart of man will strengthen his arm for battle where luck and random violence may bring either defeat or victory it really doesn’t matter.
  • Boldness of the mind of man, may actually make the soldier shrink from the fray if there is no hope of triumph saying, “Live, my son, the battle is not yours. Live to fight another day.”
  • Boldness conceived in the spirit, the God-consciousness of mankind, will insist on spiritual weapons even when the weapons of human violence are in plentiful supply. The weapons of this fight are mighty through God.

Choosing to be bold.
When the noise of battle can be heard over the horizon of the morning and the dust of an invading army clouds the early air, the soldier of faith must choose his/her brand of bravery:

  • Mythological,Human will and courage,
  • Human intelligence and cunning, or
  • The weapons of spiritual warfare.

If we choose to fight a spiritual battle with human weapons, all our efforts will be for nothing. If, however, if we choose to fight a spiritual battle with the weapons proven by the Lord Himself and those who followed Him, whose record we read in the Bible, we will see victory.

As each week begins:

  • We choose to praise God every day—praise makes us bold!
  • We give careful thought to the battles we choose to fight—the Spirit sharpens the mind for battle!
  • We recall the victory of Christ—all evil has been already defeated—such hope makes us bold!
  • We stand fully armed for battle with spiritual armor and the two-edged Sword of the Spirit—such weapons make us invincible!

Be bold this day, for the Lord stands tall in you!

Boldness is expressed in bold thoughts and bolder deeds.

Scriptures:
Proverbs 21:29
A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to his ways.
Proverbs 28:1
The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Psalm 138:1-3
I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
2 Corinthians 3:12-13
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 6:4-10;
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ…
Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Prayer,
Lord Jesus, You are my strength, my victory. Because of You I can be bold today, facing the enemies who come against me and staring down the fears within me. Doing anything for You, Lord, requires courage and You are faithful to supply the boldness this day will demand. I have Your plan, the spiritual weaponry You have provided, Your empowering Spirit abiding within, and I am stationed with a mighty army. Some of my fellow soldiers are seen here on this earth and others move in unseen realms but all move toward victory. I can be bold. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Song:
Keep on the Firing Line
Words: Bessie F. Hatcher; Music: Alphus LeFevre

1. If you’re in the battle for the Lord and right,
If you win, my brother, surely you must fight,
Keep on the firing line;
There are many dangers that we all must face,
If we die still fighting it is no disgrace;
Cowards in the service will not find a place,
So keep on the firing line

Refrain:
Oh, you must fight, be brave against all evil,
Never run, nor even lag behind;
If you would win for God and the right,
Just keep on the firing line.

2. God will only use the soldier He can trust,
Keep on the firing line;
If you’ll wear a crown then bear the cross you must,
Keep on the firing line.
Life is but to labor for the Master dear,

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 14, 2017 “Faithfulness”

Faithfulness

The Coinage of the Kingdom of God
If there is a coinage in the Kingdom of God and it isn’t what people normally treasure: talent, physical beauty, intelligence, creativity, skill, or personality. The quality that holds the greatest value in the Kingdom of God is faithfulness.

Today a new week begins. Regardless of the demands our work places on us, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, work of any kind requires faithfulness. Showing up and showing up on time is important. Faithfulness on the job has an air of predictability about it that enables us to keep a job when we are blessed to have one.

One of the most vital characteristics of God is His faithfulness.

  • He does not forget what he has promised.
  • He never loses track of His people.
  • He never sleeps nor does He slumber, so God is faithful through the longest night.
  • He is faithful and just to forgive us ours sins when we confess them freely to Him and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • He hears us when we pray, when we praise Him, and when we worship Him and,
  • He is always faithful to respond to our praise and gratitude with the gift of His presence and the comfort of His sovereignty.

God is a covenant keeping God who cannot lie and never has to reconsider a promise. Keeping Covenant is His nature. God has all power, so nothing can ever hinder Him from being faithful to His word. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is given a name, “Faithful and True.”

We are made in His image, so truth is of immense importance to us. We want to know the truth of things. We have an inherent expectation that life should make sense and that God should be true. When this does not seem to be the case, doubts about God and His faithfulness crowd into our minds. Sometimes life only makes sense to God and we can’t make heads or tails of it. Sometimes it seems the truth isn’t really true and we wonder if we have believed cleverly devised fables.

The enigmas and mysteries of life make our faithfulness important, too.

  • Let us be faithful in prayer, so that we can place the things we don’t understand before God’s throne.
  • Let us be faithful in reading the Word so the truth of God can continue to set us free.
  • Let us be faithful to God on the job so others can count on us and see in our faithfulness a reflection of the faithfulness of God.

Each faithful attitude and action adds a valuable coin of the realm to our heavenly account. In the words of Jesus, we can be “rich toward God.”

Scriptures:
Psalm 89
Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness. For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens. “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: ‘I will establish your line for ever, and preserve your throne for all generations.'” The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O Lord, and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones; For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? who is like the Lord among the gods? God is much to be feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible to all those round about him. Who is like you, Lord God of hosts? O mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you. You rule the raging of the sea and still the surging of its waves. You have crushed Rahab of the deep with a deadly wound; you have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it. You have made the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your Name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; love and truth go before your face. Happy are the people who know the festal shout! they walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence. They rejoice daily in your Name; they are jubilant in your righteousness. For you are the glory of their strength, and by your favor our might is exalted. Truly, the Lord is our ruler; The Holy One of Israel is our King.
Revelation 19:11
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
Matthew 25:19-21
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Romans 12:12-13
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Hebrews 10:22-24
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the Bible says Your name is “Faithful and True.” I believe it and confess it again today. You are faithful to all Your promises to me. You are true in all Your ways. There is no shadow of turning with You, no hint of iniquity, no fraction of malice or even inattentiveness. Lord Jesus, I want to be faithful, too. I want to be good inside, deep in my heart. I want to do good outside as my life touches others. Your Holy Spirit abides within me empowering me to live a crucified life—the flesh under control and the resurrected life—the whole man free to serve and worship You. I would be “faithful and true,” as You are, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Song:
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William Runyan

1. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

2. Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Refrain

3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 13, 2017 “Adoration”

Adoration

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”
We sing it each Christmas season, sometimes fast when we do the whole carol, and sometimes slow when we just sing the refrain, “O come let us adore Him!”

In a short definition, the worship of God is the adoration of God. The adoration of God is one of a few universal themes of Christian worship. We do not worship out of fear but from a standpoint of faith, confidence in the character of God. God is known to us for He has revealed Himself through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we know and love God; we see His character in the words and works of Christ. His works convince us that He was God in the flesh; His words work mightily in us prompting our love for Him—our adoration.

The triune God we worship lives in an internal, never-ending cycle of love:

  • The Father loves the Son and the Spirit.
  • The Son loves the Father and the Spirit.
  • The Spirit loves Father and the Son.

That wheel of love never stops turning and it spills out to be the chief characteristic of the Throne Room of God. Angels never stop adoring the Lord. The saints who have gone before us are gathered before Him there to add the Song of the Redeemed as an eternal counterpoint to the songs of the angels.

Today, when we gather with our brothers and sisters, if we are true-hearted and whole-hearted in our praise and worship, we can join the adoration songs of heaven. We don’t need to create a worship atmosphere; we simply lift our hearts to the heavenly Throne. There is no need to work ourselves up to a certain feeling; we simply tune our hearts to heaven’s music and join in the worship that never stops.

The Poet prophesies,

“Let this be written for a Future Generation…”

Let us adore Him today

  • with words of gratitude,
  • with songs of joy,
  • with bold proclamations of His character and deeds,
  • with heart-deep expressions of our love for Him,
  • with repentance for our sins against Him, the things we have done and those we have left undone, and
  •  with renewed pledges of faithfulness to His call upon our lives.

This is His day to be adored and it is our joyful honor to adore Him.

“O, come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Scriptures:
Psalm 100: 5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations “The Lord is good and mercy endures forever.”
1 Peter 2:3
…you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Matthew 6:7-8
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 22:37-38 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.’ ()
1 Peter 2:1-5; 9
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Psalm 31:23-24
Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are adored by all of heaven—let me add my adoration to the voices of the Hosts of Heaven. I adore You for the things You have done and for who You are. I will never forget how You rescued me from my own self-destruction. As Your Spirit has revealed You to me, my adoration has grown so wide and deep it can scarcely be contained. I will stir my heart. I will lift my voice. I will honor You with my thoughts and deeds and with the sum total of my life. Nothing less makes sense. Amen.

Song:
Father, I Adore You
Words and Music: Matt Brouwer

Father, I adore You,
Lay my life before You.
How I love You.

Jesus, I adore You,
Lay my life before You.
How I love You.

Spirit, I adore You,
Lay my life before You.
How I love You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 12 “Future”

Future

The Soon-to-Be
We deal with, or fail do deal with, the prospect of the future all the time.

  • In business it is called everything from a “to do” list to an annual projection.
  • In school it is the almighty calendar.
  • In church leadership it is a strange three-way dance featuring today’s demands, this week’s services, and the season of the year that has all the dancers out of breath.
  • In the home each child and adult has a personal agenda that combines with the others to create domestic chaos barreling like a runaway train toward the future.

It isn’t that we don’t know what to do about the future—we do!

We do basically four things:

  1. We ignore it.
  2. We fear it; this is another form of denial.
  3. We worry about it.
  4. We prepare for it.

We may not know the details of what will happen in the future but we have some promises from God that are as sure as the future is uncertain.

What will the future hold?
One must be careful predicting the future—one’s veracity as prophet is immediately put to the public test. I will venture three predictions—three things the future holds for sure.

  1. God has a future for each of us. The Path of Life deals with the past, enriches the present, and secures the future. This is the “Abundant Life” Jesus promised each of us.
  2. In the Last Days before the Return of Christ, there will be a great “Falling away.” The world which has never welcomed Jesus will so influence His Church that many will walk away from the faith “once delivered to the saints” in a fatal reenactment of the Babylonian Captivity. The Spirit of the Lord will be supplanted by the spirit of the age. The Bible calls this the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of iniquity. The love of many who once followed the Lord Jesus will grow cold.
  3.  Also “in the Last Days,” the Lord has promised to pour out of His Spirit “on all flesh.” This outpouring is greater than any human tradition or theological system. Nothing like this has ever happened before. It started on the Day of Pentecost and was renewed in the 20th Century. It spilled over the denominations formed by it. It brought the charismatic renewal and the rain of the Spirit has continued to fall beyond the 20th Century into this one as the whole church opens to the reality of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Poet prophesies,

“Let this be written for a Future Generation…”

He describes an unprecedented move of the Holy Spirit—an outpouring of Grace like the world has never seen:

  • God will look down from heaven and hear the voice of a hurting humanity.
  • God will open prison doors, releasing people from the death sentence of all kinds
  • The name and fame of the Lord Jesus will be declare from every coast to every coast.

What triggers this Out Pouring of the Spirit? The answer is surprising:

“… when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.”

True Worship is our privilege today and our hope for tomorrow.
We gather—not to deliberate or debate to confer or to complain—but to worship and serve the Lord!

Each day we face a choice: Will we fall away from faith in Jesus? Or will we experience the Outpouring?

  • As we walk the Path of Life each day we choose to follow the Lord Jesus, positioning us to receive our part of the Outpouring.
  • To ignore the future or to fear it or to waste energy worrying about it is to shrink back from the Outpouring and to join the Apostasy.

The daily disciplines required by the Path of Life equip us for today and prepare us for tomorrow’s demands.

The harvest of the future is found in the seeds of obedience we plant today.

Scriptures:
Psalm 102:18-22 NIV
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.
Psalm 16:11 NKJV
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Acts 2:16-18 NIV
…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 NKJV
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
1 John 4:3 NIV
…every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
Matthew 24:10-13 AMP
And then many will be offended and repelled and will ebegin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved.
1 John 3:1-3 NIV
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, all my tomorrows are in Your capable hands. I don’t need to know what tomorrow will bring because You are already there. Today I will do what is given for me to do and tonight I will rest in hope. Show me the horrid details of a church that is falling away from the True Faith; keep me from this apostasy. Show me the wonderful details of the Great Outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that I can be a part of that tomorrow. Somehow, Lord, you live outside of time, equally present in past, present, and future. This is beyond my understanding. I will remember that You laid aside Your omnipresence and entered into time. You understand how we must live—step by step, day by day—and You help us find each tomorrow. Amen.

Song:
I Know Who Holds My Hand
Words and Music: Ira Stanphil

1. I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

2. I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 11, 2017 “Sojourner”

Sojourner

He travels light, the sojourner, the Servant of God.
He has what he needs in a worn suitcase with only a hat and coat to keep out the weather. He would love to put down roots somewhere and stay for a while, but that is not his calling. He comes from a land faraway in miles but held close in his heart. He is on his way home, not by the fastest route, but by a long, curving road that takes him into the lives of many. People call him blessed. The life of the sojourner is like a broad river flowing in its own good time to the sea, watering fields and forests in every slow turn.

He is alone but he is not lonely. His solitude is a season of prayer. In crowds he is often overlooked, seen only by those who are close to him or by those who are searching for him. He is eloquent enough to speak on the courthouse square but he is no showman. He looks a person in the eyes when he talks, and he listens when others talk.

When he stays for a while it is with some important task in mind, some appointed work that he can do. In a few days the people with whom he works can’t seem to remember when he wasn’t around. If they were to stop and think, they would wonder how they ever got along without him. He does his work and it is well done. His skill and craftsmanship mark everything he does. His wages are fair and his family well cared for. He makes friends, mostly those who work with him, but he is known to be a friendly to all. No scandal comes near him. He has enemies, threatened by his character which they cannot control, but they are kept at bay by orders from his homeland and their schemes generally fail.

Then one day, the Sojourner and his family leave. The pack up the stuff they have and take to the road. Another town awaits, another work to do, another appointment to keep.

His absence will be deeply felt—at first. Then someone else will come with his own touch and tone and the void will be filled—almost. For some, the Sojourner remains in their hearts—not in competition with the new man—but in a shared passion and work, a deep bound of fellowship and a common destiny.

Down the road, around the next bend, over another hill, the Sojourner stops again for a while. He makes new friends. He does his work. He is a blessing to others. He is one stop closer to home.

The Poet says that Israel sojourned in Egypt. They dwelt there temporarily and then the moved on to the Wilderness and finally to the Land of Promise. They were sojourners, temporary residents with work to do. As was Israel in Egypt, so is the Believer in this world. As the old song says:

“This world is not my home. I’m just a-passing through.”

We are sojourners.
We must hold this world with a loose grip for we are not of it. Our story is not contained in the dimensions of the planet Earth. We come from a land far away, a different and better Kingdom. Our King gives us work to do and places to do it. He directs us from there and will welcome us there when our sojourn is done.

He travels light, the sojourner, the servant of God.

Scriptures:
Psalm 105: 23
Israel came into Egypt, and Jacob became a sojourner in the land of Ham. The Lord made his people exceedingly fruitful; he made them stronger than their enemies; Whose heart he turned, so that they hated his people, and dealt unjustly with his servants. He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron whom he had chosen. They worked his signs among them, and portents in the land of Ham. … He led out his people with silver and gold; in all their tribes there was not one that stumbled. Egypt was glad of their going, because they were afraid of them. He spread out a cloud for a covering and a fire to give light in the night season. They asked, and quails appeared, and he satisfied them with bread from heaven. He opened the rock, and water flowed, so the river ran in the dry places. For God remembered his holy word and Abraham his servant. So he led forth his people with gladness, his chosen with shouts of joy. He gave his people the lands of the nations, and they took the fruit of others’ toil, That they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Hallelujah!
Luke 10:2-10 NIV
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
Romans 10:14-15
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Acts 13:1-4
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: … While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit,,,
1 John 2:15 KJV
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Luke 12:15 NIV
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You were a sojourner here on this earth. Now You call us to walk in Your footsteps. I do not seek fame or riches or even recognition. I seek only to do Your will and touch people with Your touch. I want to represent Your faraway Kingdom well, bringing it closer. I want go where You send me and stay where You keep me. We share this adventure of glorious anonymity, a work seen only by those nearby and the Father above. All for You, Lord Jesus, all for You. Amen.

Song:
So Send I You
Words and Music: Margaret Clarkson

1. So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph
O’er hosts of hell, o’er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer-
So send I you, my victory to win.

2. So send I you-to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death’s fetters-
So send I you, to bring the lost to me.

3. So send I you-my strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence-
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

4. So send I you-to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, “well done, My faithful servant-
Come, share My throne, My kingdom, and My crown!”
“As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved