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Welcome to the Path of Life Daily Devotional–New for 2018–The Jesus Story!

The Pathsrp-experiment of Life daily devotions are designed to be an aid to daily prayer.  This year I will post a daily narrative from the Life of Christ, beginning with the Gospel of Mark.  Matthew’s Gospel will be the source of devotions from March-May.  As in 2017, I will use a single word title followed by a few selected verses on the subject, and concluding with  a prayer and a song.

Join me for a detailed walk through the Life of our Lord in this devotional form.  If you haven’t already “followed” these devotions, please select that button and register to receive email notification of each posting, including those at StevePhifer.com.  Let’s draw closer to the Savior in 2018!

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 an extensive of articles on Worship  and Worship Renewal Go To StevePhifer.com.

 

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August 21, 2018 “Pilate”

Pilate

His title was “Procurator” which could mean either an official overseeing taxes or a governor of a small province.
Pontius Pilate seemed to fill the second role as Procurator of Rome for Israel. One source described his office:

“He possessed civil, military, and criminal jurisdiction.”
(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

He hated his assignment and he hated the Jews; they hated him in return. His service was filled with violence toward them. The leaders of the Jews dealt with him in stony, false gestures of respect. He was temporary but the Roman government he represented seemed to be permanent. His headquarters were in Caesarea but for the Passover, a dangerous season of every year, he ruled from Jerusalem, a city he also despised. A sophisticated Roman who loved the public baths, theatres, and hedonistic nightlife of Rome, he was bored with the religiosity of Jerusalem. He was a miserable man doing a miserable job. From other sources, we learn that Pilate’s wife must have hated the place, too, although she was intrigued by the “one god” religion and the stories of the ancient prophets and their miracles. Perhaps the place was stealing her sanity. She was given these days to strange dreams.

The Sanhedrin Present Jesus
He had been up all night. He had progressed from agonizing prayer in the Garden to chains and beatings as He was grilled before the council. After such a night, there was nothing of the king in His appearance. Pilate barely glanced at Him—another crazy Jew captured by all these other crazy Jews. The delegation representing the Sanhedrin thrust Jesus before Pilate without explanation, afraid to speak before spoken to. Pilate waited for them to make their case. He wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. Finally, the leader of the delegation cautiously began to speak. He led with the things he judged to be most interesting to Pilate.

“We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar,
saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

Wonderful! Another Messiah! Were there enough crosses in Jerusalem to handle this outbreak of deliverers? This was going to be simple. Any man who claimed to be king instead of Caesar was headed for his own cross.

Pilate took a closer look at Jesus. How could such a pitiful specimen be taken seriously as a king, real or potential? His face was deeply bruised from the fists and open palms of the Temple guards. His simple clothes were all askew—although that robe, was it woven in one piece?—was a nice touch. He was dirty and evidently friendless since there was no one to testify in His favor. To Pilate’s mind this was about the kind of king one would expect from these people.

King of the Jews?
He went along with the delegation. Let’s get this over with…

“Are You the King of the Jews?”

He smiled at the thought and waited for an answer. Would this filthy “messiah” admit to His crimes? Jesus’ hoarse voice could barely be heard.

“It is as you say.”

At this Pilate’s condescending smile erupted into laughter.

“I find no fault in this Man.”

Sensing they were losing their case, they extended their indictment.

“He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

When they mentioned Galilee, Pilate saw a means of escape from this distasteful business.

Scriptures:
Luke:23:1-5
NKJV
Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You, the innocent Lamb of God, stood before the courts of men. Beneath the torn clothes and deep bruises, You were still great. Despite the accusations or true sinners, You remained without fault. Chained at the wrists and the feet, You were still filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Angels stood at the ready to rescue You from this injustice if You gave the slightest signal. But rescue was not the plan of God. His plan was for this supreme injustice to pay the price of all the guilt of the world. Such love! Such amazing grace. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Amen.

Song:
I Find No Fault in Him

Words and Music: Andrea Crouch

I find no fault in Him. I find no fault in Him
Yet He was rejected, despised of men,
But I find no fault in Him.

They led Christ to Calvary but He never said one word
Just the cries of lost sinners Was all the Savior heard.
And then they pierced Him in the side
And His blood came streaming down.
And that’s how he purchased my salvation
And I find no fault in Him

I find no fault in Him. I find no fault in Him
Yet He was rejected despised of men,
But I find no fault in Him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 20, 2018: “Sanhedrin”

Sanhedrin

Countries must have rulers and rulers must have councils to sit with them in judgment.
The term “Sanhedrin” comes from Hebrew words meaning “sitting together.” Such councils “sit together” in many capacities:

  • As lawmakers,
  • As courts to judge lawbreakers,
  • As elders deciding issues within the community, and
  • As keepers of the flame, so to speak, the ones who hold on to the traditions that define the nation itself.

The Sanhedrin performed all these tasks in the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day.

Before the Sanhedrin
After the arrest and pre-trial examination at the home of the High Priest, Jesus was dragged before the Sanhedrin Council. These were not necessarily evil men. They had the most difficult challenge of holding the nation of Israel together while occupied by Rome. They were a monotheistic—one God—nation ruled by a polytheistic—many gods—occupying force. Their job was to find the dynamic center between two powerful polar forces.

  1. The traditions of their true religion calling them to worship one God, and
  2. The power of Rome threatening to devour them and absorb their religion, culture, and customs into the melting pot of the Roman Empire.

They “sat together” in hopes of surviving the Roman scourge and preserving their own way of life. This succession of “Messiahs” rising up to challenge Rome was no help at all. This man called Jesus was the most threatening of them. He moved in the power of God, it seemed, and spoke of the Kingdom of God with an authority they had never before witnessed. They had Him now, in their grasp, and standing before the Council.

Who were these men?
It is a mistake to think that these were all evil men. We can see men of spiritual wisdom among them:

  • Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43),
  • Nicodemus (John 3:1; 7:50) and
  • Gamaliel (Acts 5:34)
  • The High Priests were also members of this council: Annas and Caiaphas (Luke 3:2). (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary © 1968)

Sincere men, men of heavy responsibilities, were “sitting together” with the opponents of Jesus. These men—scribes, Pharisees, priests—opposed Jesus, not out of principle but out of greed and lust for power. If Jesus was anything at all to them, He was a threat to their positions of influence and wealth.

The Examination
The central question was put to Jesus directly:

“If You are the Christ, tell us.”

It was a trap of course. To declare such a thing was blasphemy of the highest order. Jesus was above all their trick questions and dodged this one.

“If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.”

They waited for Him to elaborate so He gave them something unexpected to consider:

“Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

They demanded a more explicit answer:

“Are You then the Son of God?”

Silence filled the room driving all the air from the chamber. No one breathed while the Council waited to hear Jesus’ answer.

“You rightly say that I am.”

The silence continued one last minute as those sitting together took a collective breath, issued a collective groan, and then shouted with joy. It was over. They had their evidence from His own words. Two of them, Joseph and Nicodemus did not join in the rejoicing. They were not at this meeting.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:66-71
NKJV
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us. “But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
Matthew 10:27-33 NKJV
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your courage before the Sanhedrin is an inspiration to me. When I am called upon to testify about You before people, help me to be so bold. Your Word tells us not to fear those who can destroy the body for that is extent of what they can do to us. We must rather live in reverence of God, who made the body in the first place and who holds the keys of life eternal. Give me the courage and strength to confess You before all people today. Make me fearless for You, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Song:
I’ll Tell the World that I’m a Christian

Words and Music: Baynard L. Fox

Verse 1
1. I’ll tell the world that I’m a Christian.
I’m not ashamed His name to bear.
I’ll tell the world that I’m a Christian.
I’ll take Him with me anywhere.
I’ll tell the world how Jesus saved me
And how He gave me a life brand new.
And I know that if you trust Him
That all He gave me He’ll give to you.
I’ll tell the world that He’s my Savior.
No other one could love me so.
My life my all is His forever
And where He leads me I will go.

2. I’ll tell the world that He is coming.
It may be near or far away.
But we must live as if His coming
Would be tomorrow or today.
For when He comes and life is over
For those who love Him there’s more to be.
Eyes have never seen the wonders
That He’s preparing for you and me.
O tell the world that you’re a Christian.
Be not ashamed His name to bear.
O tell the world that you’re a Christian
And take Him with you ev’rywhere.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 19, 2018 “Tears”

Tears

The disciples, strong men every one, needed no more swords.
The sight of Jesus bound by the guards and offering no resistance was too much for them. They scattered out of the Garden and down the mountain. Most of them didn’t stop until they found a safe place to hide. Most but not all. Dr. Luke tells us that Peter followed at a safe distance. John reports in his own gospel that he did as well.

From a Distance
Out of sight from the guards and priests, Peter watched as the soldiers took Jesus to the home of the High Priest. Outside the house, a small fire did its best to illumine and warm a public gathering place, a courtyard for those who wished to do business with the High Priest. Peter did his best to blend in as one of those waiting for a dawn meeting. With walls separating him from the events in the house, Peter could hear but not see Jesus before the elders. Hearing it was more than enough.

A Peace Disturbed
Just moments before, the peace of this quiet night in the courtyard outside the home of the High Priest had been greatly disturbed when the temple guards dragged Jesus, bound and gagged, through their company and into the house. As order slowly returned to the group, there was only one topic of conversation—Jesus. They had all seen and heard Him and opinions were as numerous as the lips that spilled them into the moist night air. A servant girl noticed Peter and moved closer to him to inspect who this interloper might be. As the light from the fire danced across his terrified face, she recognized him.

“This man was also with Him.”

Peter tried to draw a breath but there was no air to be had. Finally, he choked out a response.

“Woman, I do not know Him.”

He moved away into the shadows and the attention of the group went elsewhere. The muffled sounds of trial and torture claimed the attention of the crowd. Another in the crowd recognized Peter.

“You also are of them.”

Peter denied knowing Jesus. An hour later it happened again. A voice from the crowd lifted about the sounds coming from inside the house.

“Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter was forced to defend himself. He cursed and said:

“Man, I do not know what you are saying!”

Dawn
At that moment, the Eastern sky began to glow with the promise of a new day. A rooster awakened to his duty announcing the morning. To all it was a welcomed and common sound, to all except one. Peter remembered the Lord’s prophecy. At the same moment, the guards emerged from the house manhandling Jesus through the courtyard. They stopped long enough for Jesus to look into the face of Peter.

The strong fisherman, master of the sea, leader of men, follower of Jesus, broke from the group, running away from the guards and Jesus. If anyone could have seen Peter’s face, they would have seen his tears.

The Scourge
A prisoner before this bar of justice had no rights. The guards began to strike Jesus, demanding that He prophecy by naming them. As Peter retreated farther from the scene, the sound of the blows and the taunts faded but the bitterness of his tears kept growing.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:54-65 NKJV
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your night of suffering is commemorated every year and well it should be. There in the dusty streets of Jerusalem You, the innocent One, submitted to the authorities of men, authorities not of God but born in hearts and methods of sinful men. Cruel chains bound You. Heartless soldiers stuck Your face. Witnesses lied against You. The leaders of the People of God bent the laws of God to their own purposes to Your harm. Why? Because You love people. You, the Second Adam, were undoing the failure of the First Adam. No one but You could do this and You did. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

Song:
In the Garden Boldly

Words and Music: P. P. Bliss

1. In the garden, boldly, Peter would have fought;
Now he answers coldly, Nay, I know Him not.

Refrain:
I would stand forever near my Savior’s side,
Lest to glory yonder I should be denied.

2. Tho’ life’s stony pathway be with dangers fraught,
Let my falterings never say, I know Him not.

Refrain

3 Though long years of sorrow be my earthly lot,
Let my murmurings never Say, I know Him not.

Refrain

4 In the dark temptation, vows and prayers forgot,
Let my yielding never way, I know Him not.

Refrain

5 So, in toil or pleasure, deed or word or thought,
Let me never, never, say, I know Him not.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 18, 2018 “Gethsemane”

Gethsemane

The strong angel was used to standing in the shadows.
A spiritual being, he was usually unseen by the people who received his ministry. He waited for Jesus in the usual place, the Garden of Gethsemane, a mountainside retreat often used by Jesus and His men for a night’s rest. There would be no rest on this night.

The angel watched as the disciples followed Jesus into the garden. Their bellies were full. It was late. The trek up the mountainside wore them out. They quickly found their usual resting places and started to settle in for the night. Judas was not among them. Jesus spoke a last piece of instruction.

“Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

They were too tired to even think about praying. Jesus withdrew from them so that His prayers would not disturb them. He knelt to pray.

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me…”

The angel moved closer to Jesus, wondering if the Father would answer this desperate prayer. In the Garden, only the usual night sounds could be heard. In the spirit realm, neither Jesus nor the attending angel detected a reply. In a moment, Jesus broke the silence.

“…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

The angel stepped to Jesus and touched His shoulder. Jesus lowered His head to touch the angel’s hand. In the contact, the power of the Holy Spirit flowed from heaven to earth. With new strength, Jesus prayed all the more. Such was His effort in prayer that He began to perspire. As His effort became agony, the tiny blood vessels in his forehead broke and His perspiration became flushed with blood. His blood fell to the floor of the Garden, the first drops of so much blood that would spill this night.

The Betrayal
Jesus arose from prayer and returned to the disciples. The angel, weeping, retreated to the shadows. He knew he must not stop the events about to unfold. Jesus, hearing the approaching guards, stirred His men awake.

“Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

While He still spoke, a detachment of Temple guards, led by priests who in turn were led by Judas, emerged from the shadows. Without hesitation, Judas approached Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. For some reason the guards froze in position as Jesus responded.

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Now they were sure. The guards seized Jesus. Peter drew one of the swords asking,

“Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”

Without waiting for an answer he struck off the ear of one of the guards. Before the other guards could retaliate, Jesus rebuked Peter saying,

“Permit even this.”

He reached down to the injured man and healed the ear. In view of such a miracle, the guards were hesitant to touch Him. Jesus spoke to the priests,

When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour,
and the power of darkness.”

As the guards seized Jesus, the powerful angel held his power in check although every angelic fiber of his angelic being wanted to strike the guards and the priests and Judas but he knew this was not the plan.

It was the hour of darkness, indeed, and the long night was just beginning.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:39-53
NKJV
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, never has such love been seen on earth! Never such passion! Bearing no guilt of Your own, You took the sins of the world on Your shoulders. Faced with the bitter cup of iniquity, You drank it all. Your sleeping friends could not help You. The angel standing by could not rescue You for it was to the moment that all Your footsteps led. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord.

Song:
To See the King of Heaven Fall (Gethsemne)

Words and Music by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty

1. To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees,
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief.
What nameless horrors must He see,
To cry out in the garden:
‘Oh, take this cup away from me!
Yet not my will but Yours
Yet not my will but Yours.’

2. To know each friend will fall away,
And heaven’s voice be still,
For hell to have its vengeful day
Upon Golgotha’s hill.
No words describe the Saviour’s plight
To be by God forsaken
Till wrath and love are satisfied,
And every sin is paid,
And every sin is paid.

3. What took Him to this wretched place,
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adam’s curséd race,
For every broken soul.
No sin too slight to overlook,
No crime too great to carry,
All mingled in this poisoned cup,
And yet He drank it all
The Savior drank it all,
The Savior drank it all.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 17, 2018 “Swords”

Swords

At the Last Supper, Jesus tried to prepare the men for what was ahead.
Only much later, after the Passion and the Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, would the disciples understand the things Jesus told them that night. It was His duty to warn them. He began with Peter.

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Simon Peter would have none of it. He boasted that He would follow Jesus even to prison or to death. A silence followed this boast as the other disciples lowered their heads, tiring of Peter’s impulsive answers but hoping that each of them would do the same.

In that silence, Peter’s thoughts raced. He had no way of knowing how Satan worked on the inside of a man, invading his private thoughts and suggesting unspeakable behavior. He only knew that he had left all to follow Jesus. He believed everything Jesus said. He knew the power of Jesus’ name on his own lips as he healed the sick and cast out demons. He felt the fish and bread multiply in his own hands in the wilderness. He had seen the winds and waves obey the voice of Jesus and walked on the water to meet Him. Yes, Peter believed it all, all except this strange prediction that he would fail Jesus. Fear and disbelief fought each other in the fisherman’s heart.

Jesus let the silence linger before smiling at Peter and answering quietly.

“I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Silence. Peter’s empty boasts were all used up.

Preparing for Battle
Jesus began to prepare the men for the conflict ahead. He compared His former call to ministry to the days that were upon them.

  • Previously He told them not to carry provisions and everything they need was provided.
  • Now they must plan carefully and carry provisions for an ongoing battle.
  • Previously He told them to turn the other cheek, now He told them to arm themselves with a sword.

He was about to be “numbered with the transgressors” and they must defend themselves. One of the disciples said,

“Lord, look, here are two swords.”

Jesus replied:

“It is enough.”

Two Swords Are Enough
A sword can be both a defensive and an offensive weapon. To wage warfare in Jesus’ name we need two swords:

  1. The defensive, real-world sword to protect our lives and those we love and
  2. The “Sword of the Spirit” to wage warfare in against spiritual wickedness in high places.

As He did so many times in the history of Israel, God blessed the weapons of His people when they fought earthly foes. If He had not done this, they would have failed in their mission to bring Messiah into the World. When attacked by enemies of the flesh, we can and must use natural weapons to defend ourselves.

Over and above the human forces arrayed against us are the armies of Satan. Here we fight both a defensive and an offensive warfare. We are commanded to take up the whole armor of God which includes one offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, a sharp, two-edged blade. This is the second sword.

It is enough.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:24-30
NKJV
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
Ephesians 6:10-20 NKJV
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus You are the King of Glory. I will lift up the gates of Praise and in this way I will do battle! “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, The Lord, mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10 NKJV)

Song:
Mighty Warrior

Words and Music: Debbye Graafsma

Refrain:
Mighty Warrior, dressed for battle.
Holy Lord of all is He!
Commander in Chief, bring us to attention
Lead us into battle to crush the enemy

1. Satan has no authority here in this place.
He has no authority here.
For this habitation
Was fashioned for the Lord’s presence,
No authority here.

Refrain

2. Jesus has all authority here in this place.
He has all authority here!
For this habitation
Was fashioned for the Lord’s presence,
All authority here!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 16, 2018 “Greatness”

Greatness

Passing a cup among them and taking a bite of bread, the Twelve quickly forgot the words of Jesus.
They started squabbling among themselves. Who among them would be judged the greatest? In kindness to these men, let us remember that this was before Calvary and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They had no power over their sinful natures beyond their own will power.

Life as Competition
In groups as small as two, someone has to be the leader. In a group of 12 with the leader established beyond question, the competition will be for the number one spot among the followers. On this night of all nights, it must have been discouraging for Jesus to have to deal with this issue when He was trying to establish the New Covenant. He took what His men gave Him and taught them about leadership under the New Covenant.

“Not So Among You!”
The Kingdom of God is fundamentally different from the kingdoms of men so it must be led in a different way. Pagans follow their human nature and “exercise lordship” over those they lead. Jesus drew the contrast:

“But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”

Leaders must be servants. Elders must be as optimistic and idealistic as the young. Age should not breed cynicism or pessimism but patience and faith, those iron tools forged in fires of experience. Power is not some brute force, as destructive as a tornado. It should be an intelligent influence building confidence and consensus.

The Principle—Servant-Leadership
Where could the men go to find examples of this leadership principle? Certainly not the Temple. The accumulated power of a hypocritical priesthood and the corruption of the ruling Sanhedrin Council amounted to force personified. The Romans? Force was their weapon of choice as well. Garrisons of soldiers occupied the city and mounted patrols watched every country lane and village street. Was there really another way to lead? Who could show them that way?

The Jesus Way
He was sitting there with them at the table. He reminded them of what they had seen in Him every day.

“For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

He was their example of servant-leadership and He is our example, too. This was true Greatness in the Kingdom of God. Christian leaders must shun power and welcome responsibility. Our authority must rest in our anointing, not in our selves. The calling God gives a leader puts him/her on a path to leadership the Jesus-Way, the power of self-giving love, of faithfulness, and of servant-leadership. Tough decisions still have to be made and those who are in the wrong have to be compassionately dealt with by the Scriptures. The way of a Christ-like leader is not easy but it is never enhanced by worldly methods. To lead the People of Jesus, we must lead the Jesus Way.

A Kingdom Bestowed
As human and flawed as the men were, with one of them already in league with the enemy, Jesus poured out His commendation on them. They could not see it, but He was in the process of passing the leadership of His Kingdom on to them. This was their last supper but it was the first of an eternal communion feast at His table in His Kingdom.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:24-30
NKJV
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am of this world by nature so competition and power come to me naturally. But I have been born again into Your Kingdom, a Kingdom where servants rule and peace reigns in all hearts. Lord, I accept my calling and the responsibilities it brings. Help me be faithful in all things. I will love those I serve as leader for they are serving You and we are serving You together. May the world, so full of the struggle for power and position, witness the servant-leaders in our church and see a different Kingdom, a Kingdom of peace. Amen and Amen.

Song:
Lord, Make Me Like You

Words and music: Jimmy and Carol Owens

Lord, make me like You. Please make me like You.
You were a servant, Make me one, too
O Lord I am willing. Do what You must do
To make me like You, Lord.
Please make me like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 15, 2018 “Communion”

Communion

The sudden disappearance of Judas did nothing to retard the preparations for Passover.
Jesus sent Peter and John to find a suitable room for them to celebrate the covenantal meal and to see that it was properly prepared. It would be very much like finding the colt of the donkey. Jesus predicted events and people who would lead them to their goals. It happened just as Jesus prophesied:

  • They met a man carrying a pitcher of water. (Such work had to be completed before sundown.)
  • They followed the man to his house and entered.
  • They asked the question Jesus gave them:

“The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”

Just as Jesus predicted, the man showed them to a large room. They took possession of the room and prepared the Passover meal

Peter and John marveled at the control Jesus had over events and people. Surely nothing could happen to Him that He did not allow to happen. Their inner sense of security warmed within them as they prepared the room and the meal for their beloved leader. They hardly noticed when the other ten appeared for the meal that Judas was back among them.

The Last and the First
The meal that followed these preparations is called the Last Supper for, indeed, it was the last fellowship meal until in a few days, under a New Covenant, they would all eat freshly caught fish by the sea. This Passover was also the last such religious ceremony of the Old Covenant serving as a memorial to the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. To be sure, Passovers and Passover meals have been celebrated in all the years since that night, but they continue as a sign of the Old Covenant. On this night a New Covenant would be announced to take its place. It would be a celebration of a broader deliverance.

This meal was also the First Communion celebration. Jesus recast the role of the meal as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the initiation of the New. Just as in the Old Covenant, the sign of the New Covenant will be this ceremonial meal, redefined by the work Jesus was about to do. Hear His words:

“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

As wonderful as the deliverance from Egypt had been, believers would from this point celebrate the deliverance of the mankind from sin. The Twelve had celebrated this meal their whole lives and now Jesus was about to reveal the true meaning of it.

His Body and Blood
Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke it an distributed it among the men, saying

“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Next, He took a cup of wine and blessed it. He gave it to the men with these words:

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

It was confusing to have things one had always understood radically redefined. The next words of Jesus added to their sudden discomfort:

“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.”

Forgetting the significance of the cup and the bread and the New Covenant, eleven of the twelve wondered if Jesus meant one of them. The twelfth man knew.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:7-23
NKJV
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

Prayer:
Eucharistic Prayer
from the Book of Common Prayer Rite II (Adapted by SRP)
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to symbolize for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. AMEN.

Song:
Communion Song

Words and Music: Barry McGuire

1. Take this bread I give to you And as you do remember Me
This bread is My body broken just for you Take it, eat it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.

2. Take this cup I fill for you And as you do remember Me
This cup is the new covenant I’m makin’ with you Take it, drink it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.

Verse 3
Take this love I’ve given you And as you do
Remember Me. Remember Me. Remember Me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 14, 2018 “Judas”

Judas

The prophet Isaiah describes Messiah as what is called “The Suffering Servant.” (Isaiah 53)
The Jesus Story is one a suffering, to be sure. We have seen the sufferings of Jesus in the story thus far and we have yet to arrive at the account of His passion.

  • We saw His grief at the rejection in His hometown synagogue when they wanted to throw Him off a cliff.
  • We have seen Him retreat in pain to the wilderness after a town sent him away.
  • We watched Him weep over Jerusalem’s misunderstanding of Him.
  • When people received His miracles but rejected His message, his heart broke.

Still, the greatest pain was yet to come—His Passion: betrayal, arrest, trial, scourging, torture, and death at the hands of people He loved.

Judas
The Passion of the Christ begins with the betrayal of Judas, a man hand selected by Jesus for greatness, for the privilege of taking the Good News to the world. Of all the injuries Jesus suffered prior to His passion, the betrayal of Judas was the most painful. We tend to isolate Judas from the others because he carried the purse or because he was a thief. To Jesus, the kiss of Judas was as painful as it would have been if Peter had delivered it, or John, or James, or any of the others. Jesus loved the way God loves—not by degrees, this one more than that one—Jesus loves us all the same. The betrayal of Judas was a knife to the heart of the Lord.

The Passover Plot
Defeated at every point by the brilliance of Jesus’ answers and shackled by His constant display of power, the leaders of the people were out of options. The Feast of Passover was almost there. They had to find a way to discredit Jesus, arrest Him and try Him before the people and kill Him. But how?

Their opportunity came from a surprising source, one of His own men, one Judas Iscariot. Novelists and screenwriters feel they must reveal the motivations of Judas. Why did the man betray Jesus? The writers of the Bible make no attempt at this fruitless conjecture. It simply doesn’t matter why Judas turned on Jesus; it only matters that he did. Dr. Luke gives us the only hard evidence of how this happened.

“Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.”

This fact does not absolve Judas from the responsibility of his actions but it does identify the source of the incident—Satan himself. The snake of Eden, the accuser of the brethren, the tempter in the wilderness, the father of lies somehow corrupted the mind of Judas; it does not matter how.

It does not matter

  • what lies he told just as he did to Eve,
  • what past sins he included in his indictment of Judas,
  • what enticements he dangled before the man, or
  • what scriptures he misquoted to deceive the disciple.

None of this matters for the decision was final

Deeds Done in the Dark
Under the cover of darkness, Judas sought out the leaders, shuffling through the ranks of guards, soldiers, and servants until he was ushered in before the desperate councils of the priests and elders. The details were agreed upon and the price. The mountainside retreat on Olivet, safely away from the crowds, would be the setting. The suffering would begin, as it had in the beginning, in a beautiful garden.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:1-6
NKJV
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there has sometimes been betrayal in my heart as well. There have been times when You wanted me to stand and I took a seat, when You wanted me to speak up for You and I stayed silent, when I was tempted by sin and lost the battle. I will not allow myself the deception of considering myself superior to Judas. Help me be true, Lord Jesus! Judas did not possess the indwelling Spirit of God to make him strong but I do. By Your grace every gesture of affection I give to You will be worship, not betrayal. Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true. Amen.

Song:
Keep Me True

Traditional Chorus

Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There’s a race that I must run.
There are victories to be won.
Every hour by Thy power, Keep me true.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 13, 2018 “Watchfulness”

Watchfulness

There is nothing of the ostrich in the true Christ-follower.
Our heads are not buried in any kind of sand. We are called to be a watchful people, carefully observing events and people around us. We observe events because these are the Last Days and civilization is hurdling toward an end and a new beginning. We observe people because this is an age of deception, of false messiahs preaching false hope. Careful observation is a necessity. This is the lesson Jesus taught in the Temple courts.

“…the kingdom of God is near.”
Jesus established a routine. He spoke all day in the Temple courts and spent the nights on the heights of the Mount of Olives. He and His men found a grove where they could rest. Early every morning, a crowd gathered in the Temple courts to hear Him again. His message was simple and pressing. Just as one could observe the signs of the seasons, we can also observe the signs of the times.

“So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

It was a not a new subject; Jesus had been explaining the details of the Kingdom of God for the three years of His earthly sojourn. This was the content of His teaching. The time was short; an urgency sounded in His voice—this generation would not pass away until all was fulfilled.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”

What should the people do? His words to them are His words to us.

“Watch therefore, and pray always…”

Looking to the Heavens
Jesus tells us to look up for our redemption is drawing near. This means that our understanding of what we see in events and in people is interpreted through a particular prism: the Eternal Word of God. We are commanded to observe but the Spirit helps us understand what we see. There is a God in heaven who watches the earth. He has a people of faith who have been redeemed from the wickedness of this world even while remaining in it. He is working through these people to reach the lost and save the sick, just as He did when He walked this earth so long ago.

Set Our Affections on Things Above
There is a Kingdom higher than those of men—the Kingdom of God. It is here that our affections must be planted. When the Kingdom of God is ushered in, justice will prevail at last. Wrongs will be righted forever. Freedom will sound its clarion call from shore to sea to shore and back again. This Kingdom is higher than any other and it is coming! In no other port should our passions anchor. In no other castle should our hopes reside. Our worship must sing of no other One but Jesus. Only the things above can help us make sense of things below.

Behold the Lord
Far from holes in the sand, our heads are tilted heavenward! Through our worship we can see our Savior in those regions above! To see Him there, to behold Him there, is to be changed. This not some cosmetic change but a deep transformation—from glory to glory—the Bible says.

Scriptures:
Luke:21:29-38
NKJV
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.
Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as the Bible predicted, perilous times are here. The kingdoms of this world press on us from all sides. Help me to lift my eyes beyond their glittering towers to Your Kingdom above. I want to fix my heart there. I set my affections on Your throne, Lord Jesus. Let me interpret events and people today in the light of eternity. As I behold Your glory, change me Lord from glory to glory. In these Last Days, may I find the Outpouring of the Spirit and shun the great falling away. I want to be a watchful, faithful follower of You, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Song:
Open Our Eyes, Lord

Words and Music: Robert Cure

Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him, And say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord, And help us to listen,
Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus.

Open our hearts, Lord, That we might receive You,
Open our spirits, and teach us to worship.
Open our lips, Lord, and teach us to praise You,
Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 12, 2018 “Shaken”

Shaken

Substantial structures will shake when the ground beneath them trembles.
A trembling house will cause the hearts of its occupants to shake as well. In general, we don’t care for shaking. We like stability, predictability, sure foundations, and rock solid mountains on the horizon.

Perilous Times
The Apostle Paul warns us about the last days.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come”

Sometimes there is a shaking in human events:

  • Armies march over the horizon to lay siege to our city and shaking predicts the assault.
  • Public morality erodes the behavior of the average citizen, shaking the safety of our institutions disturbing the peace at its core.
  • Crime stalks the streets as greed stalks the chambers of commerce and the value of the currency trembles.
  • Rising tides of wickedness threaten to inundate our villages and towns in filth and we feel the trembling before the flood.

As much as we long for stability, we can still feel the ground shaking beneath us. These times do not come without warning; the sense of shaking is the warning.

Impending Disaster
The people in Jesus’ audience were about to experience shaking of the most perilous kind. The Romans would finally tire of the constant rebellion of the Jews and conquer the city. Hear the prophesy of Jesus:

“…Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

In 70 AD the shaking became an earthquake of destruction as a Roman army laid siege to the city, denuding the surrounding countryside of timber to build their machines of war. The broke through and destroyed the Temple and the city.

The Diaspora
In today’s passage, Jesus warned the people, instructing them in the meager defenses available to them.

“…let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…”

The nation of Israel would be destroyed and given over to the Gentiles. They would be scattered over the earth until the “times of the Gentiles” would be fulfilled. Because of the strength of their traditions and the skills of their lives, they would take root wherever they went and be productive in spite of the hatred of the nations where they settled.
Much of this history is well known and is a testimony to the faithfulness of God to His covenantal promises.

The Times Fulfilled
In May of 1948, the United Nations voted to establish the nation of Israel in their ancestral homeland. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The city of Jerusalem and the site of the Temple were in the hands of Gentiles until June of 1967 when Israel defeated a host of invading nations to win back the city. Many believe that this event completed the “times of the Gentiles” of Jesus prophecy. The Last Days are upon us.

The Last Days
As the Lord prepares the church for His return, a new kind of shaking will happen,

“…the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

This is more than a storm of nature; this is the coming of the Holy Spirit to the earth! It began on the Day of Pentecost and continues to this day. It is  a shaking that is leading to the return of Christ:

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Along with the “perilous times” of the great falling away, will be the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When we feel the foundations shaking,

“…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Scriptures:
Luke:21:20–28
NKJV
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Hebrew 12:25-29 NKJV
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
Acts 2:17-18 NKJV
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe that just as You came to this earth to fulfill Your holy mission of Redemption, You will return to this earth to finish the work. Thank You for the nation of Israel, a living witness to Your faithfulness. You preserved them when they were scattered to the winds and You restored them to their homeland, fulfilling the “times of the Gentiles.” Help them and help all of us, to hear Your wonderful story and call upon You. Help us all be ready for You are soon to return! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen and amen.

Song:
Redemption Draweth Nigh

Words and Music: Gordon Jenson

1. Years of time have come and gone since I first heard it told
How Jesus would come back to earth someday.
If back then it seemed so real, then I just can’t help but feel
How much closer His coming is today.

Refrain:
Signs of the times are everywhere.
There’s a brand new feeling in the air.
Keep your eyes upon the Eastern skies.
Lift up Your head, your redemption draweth nigh.

2.Wars and strife on every hand and violence fills our land.
Still some people doubt He’ll ever come again.
But the Word of God is true. He’ll redeem His chosen few.
Don’t lose hope for soon Christ Jesus will descend.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved