October 8, 2017 “Celebration”


People were created to celebrate. 
We celebrate at the slightest provocation.  Occasions for celebration run from private gatherings in honor of intimate events like the birth of a child to big family events like graduations and weddings to huge public celebrations like championships, inaugurations and coronations.  Human beings love to celebrate even when there is nothing to celebrate like young people celebrating nothing more than the weekend.

In the words of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof,

God would like us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
How much more can we be joyful when there’s really something to be joyful for?

Is there a deeper significance to this human need or desire?  Without doubt—public worship should be a celebration.

Old Covenant Celebration
The spirituality of the Old Covenant was marked by frequent and fervent celebrations:

  • The Sabbath was a weekly celebration of God’s covenantal faithfulness.
  • Three festivals marked each year with celebrations related to the provision of God through the hard work of His people.
  • Every seven years the land itself had a celebration of rest.
  • Every 50th year was supposed to be a year-long celebration called the Year of Jubilee.
  • The book of Psalms commands singing and playing music, rejoicing and dancing before the Lord in celebration of “His abundant goodness.”

New Covenant Celebration
In the Gospel narratives, celebration is at the heart of New Covenant spirituality as Jesus presented worship in Spirit and Truth.

  • Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Old Covenant feasts.
  • Jesus instituted the New Covenant feast of the Lord’s Table.
  • The Father of the prodigal son celebrated greatly at the return of his repentant child.
  • Jesus said the angels in heaven celebrated over one lost sinner who repented.
  • The book of Revelation describes a great celebration with Jesus as Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride.

Celebrate the Lord’s Day!
Each Lord’s Day worship service should have a strong element of celebration in it.  Even if the Spirit is calling the church to solemn prayer, to “weep between the porch and the altar,” the prophet Joel said, we should also “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” as the Psalmist said.

On this Lord’s day, let us gather together to celebrate the Lord’s abundant goodness.  Let us rejoice and be glad.  Why?  Because we were made for this purpose and because the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!

Exodus 23:14-16
“Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.”Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
2 Samuel 6:12-13
Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.
Psalm 30:11-12 NKJV
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 100 NKJV
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 145:3-7
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 I will meditate on 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.
Matthew 26:18-19
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'”   So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
Luke 15: 10; 21-24
…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Lord Jesus, on Your day I choose to celebrate! I will lift my voice with those of my brothers and sisters in the House of God! Together we will join the celebration around Your Throne in Heaven where un-numbered angels meet in joyful assembly with the saints we know and love who have preceded us to the Heavenly Zion. I will celebrate with the Song of the Redeemed that angels do not know and cannot sing. I will let the rhythms of celebration move my body, the truths we are celebrating inform my mind, and the Spirit of the Living God animate my spirit so that my whole human existence will be lost in celebration—You deserve nothing less! Hallelujah! Amen!

Celebrate Jesus!
Words and Music: Don Moen

Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!

He is risen! He is risen!
And He lives forevermore!
He is risen! He is risen!
Come on and celebrate
The resurrection of our Lord!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2017 “Family”


Before there was church, there was family. 
Before there was a synagogue, a temple, or a tabernacle, there was the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  For generations the God’s chosen people were called the Children of Israel instead of the nation of Israel.  Family is the foundation of human existence.

The family today is like a track meet.
Each one runs his/her own race during the week, each on his/her own track with the chalk lines clearly drawn.  The starting gun sounds each morning and the finish line tape snaps each evening.  The runner huffs and puffs, rests for the night, and runs again tomorrow.  On Saturday, there is a great temptation to run a more recreational race, perhaps at a more leisurely pace and not in such demanding straight lines, but still an individual race, pursuing individual pleasures.

In addition to morning and evening conclaves at the breakfast and dinner tables, there is a greater chance on a Saturday for the runners to find time to be together, at least as individual pursuits will allow.

Wisdom from Antiquity
It is hard to imagine the pace of life for the Children of Israel as they emerged from Egypt and from slavery.  Surely life was lived at a slower pace.  It doesn’t really matter now, but a bit of wisdom from that time is all the more relevant in our technology-driven, super-sized lives today.  That ancient family of God was instructed to let the Word of God permeate family life.

Deut 6:4-9
…These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home … Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Our homes and our families should be saturated with the Word of God.

  • We must respect each other and treat one another by biblical principles.
  • There must be absolutely no difference between the public posture of worship and witness and the private practice of the same.

The truth children learn at home and in the House of God is the only antidote for the poisonous lies that saturate modern life.  The home must be a haven of truth, of rest, of safety, of peace—and not just any peace—the peace of God.

The last verses in the Old Testament predict a New Covenant that flows from a godly love in each family.

Malachi 4:5-6
… He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

We see the predicted curse all around us as modern life continues to erode family ties.  The Christian home must deliberately strengthen those ties that bind.

In quiet moments today, look for ways to openly love and affirm those most precious of all people—your family.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Malachi 4:5-6
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Colossians 3:15-21
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 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. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Lord Jesus, sensitize my heart! Help me love my family the way they should be loved. Help me be all that is needed. Let me be an encouragement to them. I want to be kind and true, dependable and faithful. Lord, show me how to fill the home with Your Word and show us how to honor You with our schedules. You are the Solid Rock, the Sure Foundation upon which our home stands. As storms rage and winds assail our home—You will keep us safe. Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken, the beautiful binding power of the Holy Spirit! Let us rest easy with our hope and faith in You. Amen and Amen.

Bind Us Together
Words and Music by Bob Gillman

Bind us together Lord
Bind us together with cords
That cannot be broken
Bind us together Lord
Bind us together Lord
Bind us together with love

1. There is only one God
There is only one King
There is only one body
That is why we can sing

2. Made for the glory of God
Purchased by His precious Son
Born with the right to be clean
For Jesus the vict’ry has won

3. You are the fam’ly of God
You are the promise divine
You are God’s chosen desire
You are the glorious new wine


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 30, 2017 “Fellowship”


Christian spirituality is more than an individual faith, it is a corporate reality as well—a fellowship.

2 Cor 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

You are never alone. Even if all your friends and loved ones were taken from you, you would still not be alone. Our Christian fellowship is rooted in the fellowship within the Trinity:

  • The Father with the Son,
  • The Son with Father,
  • The Father with the Spirit,
  • The Spirit with the Father,
  • The Son with the Spirit, and
  • The Spirit with the Son.

We came from God.
The most amazing truth is that our very existence is rooted in the existence of the Triune God—we came from God. When Adam and Eve sinned and passed on their sinful nature to us, a barrier fell to earth and barred us from fellowship with God, just as the angel with the flaming sword barred re-entry into Eden. For centuries the sin barrier remained. The Old Covenant provided forgiveness in the innocent blood of animals. Fellowship with God was based in symbolic worship and the common bond of the Word of God.

It took a Roman cross on a Judean hill to break this barrier of sin—Jesus came as the final, innocent Lamb. Just as the veil in the Temple gave way to the mercy of God for all of mankind, the sin barrier between each of us and our Creator was destroyed by the death of the Lamb of God. When we repent of our sins and confess the Lordship of Christ, we are welcomed back into fellowship with Almighty God.

Fellowship, not isolation
As personal as our reception of communion with God may be, it is not done in isolation. Communion with God initiates communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ. No matter how alone you may feel, you cannot know who among your faith family is praying for you at any moment. The same Holy Spirit who abides in your heart, abides in their hearts, leading and empowering them. Their effectual, fervent prayers avail much—in your behalf.

The New Covenant disciple should enjoy close fellowship with a group of intimate friends from the church. These companions share our faith, our passions, our interests, and even our sense of humor. Some call this an accountability group and certainly our friends should function as that, but this fellowship goes deeper than that. Miles may separate these friends but distance does not break this fellowship. Words of affirmation and admonition as well as humorous comment and heartfelt confession sustain these relationships without reference to passing time or diminishing ability.

“In the midst of the congregation”
On the Lord’s Day we gather with the local expression of the whole family of God as our fellowship with God and His Covenant people draws us another step closer to heaven. One of the most important prepositional phrase in the Scripture is, “In the midst of the congregation.” If we are to feel the presence of God in our quiet, lonely moments when we are tempted to feel alone, we must be well schooled in the fellowship of Grace at all levels: Our fellowship with the church, with our closest friends, and our fellowship with God, Father, Son, and Spirit.

Psalm 68:24-26
Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians, with them are the maidens playing tambourines. Praise God in the great congregation; praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.
Psalm 111:1
Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
Psalm 26:12
My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.
Psalm 52:9
I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
1 John 1:7 7;3:14
…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
Mattnew 28:20 NKJV
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Lord Jesus, Even when I cannot feel Your presence I know You are still with me. You have promised to never leave me and You haven’t. Expand my heart, O Lord, that I might learn from You how to love and have fellowship with others. Help me pay closer attention to people around me, to hear a note in their voice that may be a call for help, to see a look that signals trouble within. Help me be an encourager of others, helping them to walk more closely with You. For when others do this, they are also closer to me, and aa promised, walking together in the Light, we have fellowship with one another. For Your glory, Lord. Amen.

The Family of God
Words and Music: Bill Gaither

1. You will notice we say “brother and sister” ’round here,
It’s because we’re a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, The Family of God..

2. From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 29, 2017 “Friends”


Life throws people together.
We didn’t get to choose the people we went to school with or played sports with or made music with.  If we grew up in church, we didn’t choose the people in the nursery or the youth group.  Life threw us all together.

But then a mysterious process began to work its wonders.  Some of those people were more interesting than the others.  They were more fun.  They liked the same things we liked.  We selected them to be our friends.  The process was unquestioned and the need for friends was never challenged.  Somehow we just knew we needed to pare down the group to just a very few who would be our friends.  Hopefully the feeling was mutual and the people we selected also selected us.  If not, hurt feelings and jealousies ensued in the nursery, classroom, or youth group.  Groups of friends lined up against each other and cliques (a polite name for “gangs!) formed.

Of course, we all put this childish behavior away when we became responsible adults.

Of course we did.

Friends organize our lives.
We need for our lives to be organized so that the world that greets us each day seems more manageable.  There are more people in the world, in our town, school or church than we can manage so we find a few people to share our lives with.  This is not sin.

Friendship with Jesus
Jesus Himself sanctified friendship by describing our New Covenant relationship with Him as friendship.

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Oh, we are still His servants, but we do not serve blindly at a distance, knowing only what we need to know to be useful.  He has called us to His side, to hear His heartbeat, to know His thoughts, and to understand as much as we can of His Kingdom.


Solomon draws the distinction between our friends and everyone else in the world.

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

His Gift of Friendship
Through the ages of Christianity, believers have claimed Jesus as that friend.  And so, indeed, is He.
Part of His gift of friendship to us is a continuing supply of friends.

Life today tears people apart just as easily as it brings them together.

  • Jobs change.
  • Families stretch from coast to coast and even across oceans.
  • Wrenching separations break our hearts as we leave friends behind or are left behind by them.

Even these processes, so new to the world because of modern travel and communications, are in the hands of our Best Friend Forever—King Jesus!  He has new friends for us in the new place He is sending us.  We keep many of our friends over the years because of those same modern communications though miles separate us and we make new ones wherever we go.  They are waiting there for us in the church.  They need friends, too, and are looking for us.  More than life, God puts people together.

Psalm 68:5-6 NKJV
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families.

It is God’s plan for us to cultivate friends, to pare down an unmanageable world to a small set of people who laugh at the same things we laugh at, enjoy the same interests and amusements, and treasure the same values.

Today is a day to be a friend to someone.  Enjoy the blessings of friendship as our greatest Friend looks on and smiles.

Proverbs 18:24 NKJV
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 27:9
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
John 15:9-17
“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.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

Lord Jesus, there is no end to my amazement that You have chosen us not just to call us friends be to actually count us as such and deal with us as such. And to compound this blessing, You lead us to friends—brothers and sisters—in the church! You do indeed, set the solitary in families. As Your friend, I am made aware by the Spirit of Your concerns; I see things with Your eyes. I want to be worthy of this confidence. I know I can count on You, Lord, and I want You to be able to count on me. When I am weak, You are the Friend who bears me up. When I am strong, You are the Friend who keeps me in check for any pride in my heart is a barrier between us. “Friendship with Jesus!—O what bliss!” Thank You, Lord Jesus, my Friend! Amen.

Friendship with Jesus
Words: Joseph C. Ludgate; Music: Stephen Foster

1. A friend of Jesus! Oh, what bliss
That one so weak as I
Should ever have a Friend like this
To lead me to the sky!

Friendship with Jesus!
Fellowship divine!
Oh, what blessed, sweet communion!
Jesus is a Friend of mine.

2. A Friend when other friendships cease,
A Friend when others fail,
A Friend who gives me joy and peace,
A Friend when foes assail!


3. A Friend when sickness lays me low,
A Friend when death draws near,
A Friend as through the vale I go,
A Friend to help and cheer!


4. A Friend when life’s short race is o’er
A Friend when earth is past,
A Friend to meet on Heaven’s shore,
A Friend when home at last!


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 28, 2017 “Gain”


Assessing gains and losses is a matter of interpretation of facts, rather than the facts themselves. Some gains are really losses and some losses are really gains. Context is important, because the bare facts of any assessment rarely tell the whole story.

  • A lower number on the bathroom scales in the morning reports a loss of poundage but a gain of more important things: discipline, reward, optimism, and hope.
  • A business loss can be magically transformed by the inscrutable tax code into a gain with the use of a magic potion called “deductions.”
  • The loss of a beloved, believing family member can be mitigated by the knowledge he or she has gained heaven.
  • In the worldly view, great gains can actually be terrible losses in heaven’s assessment.
  • In a Kingdom of God context, a loss can be a victory, a triumph of good over evil.
  • Business people know that in starting a new enterprise, losses will most likely mount before gains begin to accrue.

The scriptures help us shake all of this confusion down to a manageable, predictable prescription:

…godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Tim 6)

These two things act to level us when loss shakes the earth beneath our feet and steady us when success brings new challenges. The productive life is lived in a dynamic tension between these two opposites:

  • Godliness motivates us to act: writing wrongs, preaching truth, living holy, gaining ground, and “climbing the Hill of the Lord.”
  • Contentment compels us to rest: waiting on God, trusting the truth, quiet obedience, holding our ground, and “standing in the Holy Place.”

Sometimes we move at the direction of and in the power of the Spirit and at other times we rest at the direction of and in the power of the Spirit. At the point of balance between these two forces is a rewarding place to live. Truly, this is great gain and it is more than an interpretation—it is a fact!

Be patient today as you work or rest, the whole story has not yet been told. The heavenly books are still being written of your deeds of mercy in the name of the Lord. Obedience to the will of God is always counted as gain. Your prayers are still being collected in a golden bowl before the face of God. Be content in your obedience to God and confident of your inevitable gain.

Proverbs 16:8
Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
Luke 21:19
By standing firm you will gain life.
Mark 8:34-38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
1 Timothy 6:6-10
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Philemon 1:20; 3:7-11 NKJV
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,1if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Revelation 5:6-8
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders…He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Exodus 15:23-25 NKJV
Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

Lord Jesus, I would make gains today! I pray that this 24 hour period will somehow make a mark in eternity. Each moment is a gift from You not to be squandered. Help me seize every opportunity to serve, hear every cry for help, see everything Your Spirit will reveal and taste the sweetness of everyday life. Just as for Israel in the wilderness, if there is bitterness in this day, may the Cross of Christ strike the bitter waters and make them somehow sweet again as did that ancient tree. As I count the day’s deeds, may Your smile be my greatest gain. Amen and Amen,

And Can It Be?

Words: Charles Wesley; Music: Thomas Campbell

1. And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

Amazing love! how can it be?
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

2. ‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.


3. He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.


4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.


5. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.



Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 27, 2017 “Contentment”


How can the true believer be content when spiritual and physical needs are present everywhere we look? 
This is an important question that can bridge the gap between two widely separated points of truth in the Bible.

  • The Word of God consistently warns against sloth, laziness, and a lack of compassionate actions on behalf of those in need.
  • At the same time, regular seasons of rest are commanded and peace is a gift from Jesus.  How can we find the dynamic center between two passages such as these?

Amos 6:1
Woe to you who are at ease in Zion…

Hebrews 4:9-11
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by… disobedience.

So what should we do? 
Work until we drop or take it easy in Zion and risk the wrath of God?

To find an answer, let’s think of the rhythms of creation:

  • God spoke and it came into being;
  • the evening and the morning marked the days;
  • the sun was to rule the day and the moon was to govern the night; and
  • Some creatures prowl the night and sleep during the day while others go about their lives in the opposite pattern.

God built rhythm into the universe. 
A form of classical music composition illustrates this for us.  The classical sonata is a form that dominated Western music for centuries.  It is a three-part work:

  1. Exposition, the introduction of themes and other musical elements,
  2. Development, the composer’s opportunity to create  extensive variations on the themes announced in the exposition, and,
  3. Recapitulation, the final restatement of the music themes, a literal “return to the head.”

Worship, work, and rest, are three movements of the sonata of life.
Each day and each week there must be time for each movement of the sonata:

  1. Daily worship and Lord’s Day worship in the company of the church, state our life’s themes:  the Lordship of Christ, the truth of God, the ever-flowing love and grace of God.
  2. Our work is the development of these truths in the context of our lives.
  3. Our rest is the comforting recapitulation of the truths we live by as each day and each week come to a close.

The result of this music is contentment.
We are not content because all the work is done, but because, all is secure in Jesus.  With tomorrow’s sunrise, His loving-kindness will be new again. His power-flow into and through our lives will reach its peak to meet the demands of the day.  We will make our music and with it change the world.

Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Romans 13:11-14 NKJV
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Ephesians 5:14 NKJV
Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Philemon 4:12-13
… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
1 Timothy 6:6-9
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”   So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
2 Corinthians 13:11
Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Lord Jesus, help me navigate these waters. Help me know when to work and when to rest. As in all other things, Your Spirit leads me. I see that I should honor Your Day—the Lord’s Day—as a day of both rest and worship. I know that You have never cancelled the Sabbath Principle. Remind me that with Your Anointing, there is rest inside the work that we do at Your Command because we are merely the earthen vessel and Your Spirit is the power within us. Help me embrace the mystery of contentment with godliness when the need before me is so great and there is so much work to be done. Help me to “labor to enter into that rest.” For Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.

Wonderful Peace
Words: W.D. Cornell; Music: W.G. Cooper

1. Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.

Peace! Peace! Wonderful Peace,
Coming down from the Father above;
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love

2. What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul;
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll.


3. I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul.


4. And I know when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the anthems the ransomed will sing,
In that heavenly kingdom shall be:


5. O soul, are you here without comfort or rest,
Walking down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept this sweet peace so sublime.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 26, 2017 “Forthright”


There are so many expressions for someone who is not being forthright:

  • Beating around the bush,
  • Dancing around an issue,
  • Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes,
  • Blowing smoke,
  • Shooting me a line,
  • Giving me the business, and
  • Others too graphic to mention.

Each of us has a natural aversion to this practice. We want the straight news, the true facts, the real deal. Our shrubs do not need to beaten around. We don’t want to be bored by verbal dancing. Smoke is not healthy to breathe and we don’t need any lines or phony business. We want people to get to the point already!

To be forthright in our dealings means to be to the point, truthful, timely, and trustworthy.
The Poet has good news for us. When we are forthright with God and man, God will be forthright with us.

“With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God;
with the forthright you show yourself forthright.”

To be faithful and forthright is part of God’s nature. Even though we are created in His image, these things are not natural for most of us—we have to learn how to be like our Creator. We also need the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit to sanctify our minds and enable our wills to do what is right and in a timely—forthright—fashion.

We begin by imitating our parents, learning how to behave, including how to speak, from them.
Children generally understand more than they can explain and they soon learn when their parents are dancing around an issue they do not want to discuss. When the child is caught doing something naughty, he/she quickly learns to talk in circles, cleverly avoiding the subject of guilt or innocence. They learned these life skills from their first teachers—Mom and Dad.

When a child of God begins to learn to pray—to talk with God—he or she usually tries to pull the wool over the all-seeing eye of God. We actually beat around the prayer bush, as if we could blow smoke so dense that God could not see through it.

One of the first lessons of prayer we must learn is to be forthright in our conversations with the Lord. One cannot pray a lie! This is one of the great things about prayer—it is a process of peeling the onion of our souls—removing layer after layer of self-deceit, of lies we tell ourselves, when we realize we cannot like to God. None of us has enough wool to pull over God’s eyes.

When we get down to the honest truth, we really start praying—and the Lord’s starts listening.
He can then speak to us and when God speaks, He gets right to the point!

“With the forthright, He shows Himself forthright.”

Psalm 18:1-28
I love you, O Lord my strength, O Lord my stronghold, my crag, and my haven. My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge; you are worthy of praise. I will call upon the Lord, and so shall I be saved from my enemies. The breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid. … He reached down from on high and grasped me; he drew me out of great waters. He delivered me from my strong enemies and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster; but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into an open place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me because of my righteous dealing; because my hands were clean he rewarded me; For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not offended against my God; For all his judgments are before my eyes, and his decrees I have not put away from me; For I have been blameless with him and have kept myself from iniquity; Therefore the Lord rewarded me according to my righteous dealing, because of the cleanness of my hands in his sight. With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God; with the forthright you show yourself forthright. With the pure you show yourself pure, but with the crooked you are wily. You will save a lowly people, but you will humble the haughty eyes.
Matthew 5:33-37; 6:5-8 NIV
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 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.

Lord Jesus, It is such a foolish notion that I should ever try to deceive You in any way—especially in prayer. You know my every thought, the hidden-most, inner workings of my soul. As I seek Your face in prayer, Your Spirit peels away each self-deceiving thing I say and shows me the real truth. In this way, You reveal the hidden things in my heart that hinder me. More than merely reveal them—You heal them! Your wonderful, cleansing blood will go as deep as I dare to pray and remove the offense, whether it is an action, an attitude, or an aspiration. To be honest with You is a great grace! Thank You, Lord!

I Must Tell Jesus
Words and Music: Elisha A. Hoffman

1. I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

2. I must tell Jesus all of my troubles,
He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
If I but ask Him He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.


3. Tempted and tried I need a great Savior,
One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus:
He all my cares and sorrows will share.


4. What must I do when worldliness calls me?
What must I do when tempted to sin?
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the vict’ry to win.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 25, “Sovereignty”


Do you want to know the truth about True Worship?
By that I mean, “Worship in Spirit and in Truth.” This is the kind of worship Jesus said the Heavenly Father was looking for—people who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. But, does anyone know what it means to worship “in Spirit and Truth?” You can get as many definitions as you want from people.

It is no great mystery, really. The words mean what they say.

  • To worship in spirit means to worship from the whole of our selves—body, soul, and spirit and to do so in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • In the same way, to worship in truth is to worship with our truth—total sincerity and according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said the Heavenly Father was looking for people who worshiped this way. He called them “True Worshipers.”

What does the Father do when He finds True Worshipers?
He responds to us. Think of that—God responds to us! How does He respond? He responds with the dual gift of His presence and His sovereignty. Where is this in the Bible? Psalm 22:3

  • The King James Version translates it this way: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
  • The New King James Version and other modern translations read: “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”

Why are there two meanings? The original Hebrew means both to dwell in and to sit as a judge—to rule.

When we worship in Spirit and Truth we come into the Holy Presence of Jesus as we come before His Throne. He blesses us with His presence and His sovereignty. Jesus’ presence is His complete nearness and God’s Sovereignty is His absolute rule.

The biblical term for God’s dwelling and ruling place is Zion.
No wonder the Writer to the Hebrews says that when we worship we “come to Mt. Zion.”

What does this mean?

It means that today, when we worship in Spirit and in Truth—Jesus will be in the room—“God With Us!” He will be there to do wonderful things: (Luke 4; Isaiah 61)

  • Preach the Gospel to the Poor.
  • Bind up the brokenhearted,
  • Open blind eyes,
  • Release captives
  • Heal the oppressed.

How can He do these things as we worship Him?
Because not only is He “with us” inhabiting our worship, He is ruling in the room!

  • His power is greater than any trouble we could ever get into and any force that would ever bind us.
  • His love will break our hate.
  • His truth will clear our minds.
  • His peace will calm our troubled lives.

The old confession is true—He Is Lord!

So, give Him praise to be His dwelling place. Give Him worship to be His Throne. Listen to His voice. Seek His face. Feel His touch. Enter the Realm of the Splendor of His Sovereignty.

Psalm 22:3 NAS
Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
John 4:24 NIV
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Colossians 1:15-20 NIV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Lord Jesus, I bow to You today. I will enter Your Gates with thanksgiving and I will extol Your glory in the Courts of Praise. I will pray to You and listen to Your Word all in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, that Golden Lampstand in the Holy Place. By Your grace I will pass through the Torn Veil into the Holy of Holies—that place where You live and reign. There, before Your sovereignty, I invite You to do whatever You want to do with me. I trust Your Sovereignty for You rule in love. Rule over me, Lord! Nothing could be greater. Take my praise to be Your home and my worship to be Your Holy Throne. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jesus, We Crown You King
Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

1. Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.

2. Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
On a throne of greatest splendor You are worshiped and adored!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of lords.

3. Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
For You ride on every tempest, make the wildest storm to cease!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of peace.

King of kings! Lord of lords! Mighty God! Prince of Peace!
We crown You now as we sing!
Jesus, we crown You King of kings!

You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.
Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, Mighty God—
King of kings!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 24, 2017


For good or evil, the image of the eagle is a symbol of strength.
With a furious frown and soaring, effortless flying, and their high nests, and dangling, dangerous talons, eagles have long captured man’s imagination. At least since Roman times, leaders have employed the image of the eagle to symbolize the power of the nation. Hitler, mimicking the Romans, used it and it is the symbol of American freedom.

Sometimes, strength is an elusive thing. Weakness at the moment of opportunity is a frightening experience. When a moment comes for which we have long prepared and we sense weakness in our bones, our minds, or our hearts, it seems that years might be lost in moments of weakness.

The prophet Isaiah saw the weakness and weariness of the people of God.
For generations they had endured what must have been a debilitating roller coaster ride of one strong king followed by several evil kings. The reformer kings tried to renew the spirituality of the people of God, cleansing the countryside of altars and idols and purging the hearts of people with prayer and covenantal worship. It was very much like the slow climb of the roller coaster car to the top of the highest track. Upon that king’s death, a wicked king would take his place and the nation would plunge a breakneck speed into the abyss of idolatry and terrible, destructive evil.

Modern spiritual life can be a bit of a roller coaster, too.
We make new commitments and begin new practices of prayer and Bible reading and we do well for a while, perhaps even a long while. We are slowly but powerfully climbing to the heights of Christian spirituality. But then we miss a day and another and another until we are plunging to the bottom again. We are ashamed to go to the Lord in the agreed upon way so we don’t. Our hearts grow cold and our strength is almost gone.

One Solution
Deep inside we know there is only one solution—we must, in Isaiah’s words, wait upon the Lord. The word translated wait means more than our verb “to wait.”

qavah (kaw-vaw’); a primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect: KJV – gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon)


  • It means to be still in confident expectation of a certain outcome.
  • It also means to serve another person. We use the word this way in reference to waiters and wait staff in restaurants.

What does this say to us?

  • To regain our strength so that we can soar like the eagles, we must be patient and fill our hearts with expectant faith in what only God can do. This is not a passive exercise.
  • As we wait for the Lord’s answer, we must also wait upon Him by serving Him. Our service to him may be entirely unrelated to the victory we are waiting for, but it all counts! Serving Jesus makes us stronger.

While we are waiting in expectation of something yet to be, we can gain strength by serving God in other ways. As we do, strength returns and soon our restored wings will carry us high, powerful, beautiful, with stamina for the work we have to do.

Isa 40:21-41:1 NKJV
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy one. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Lord Jesus, help me know that waiting on You is an act of faith. It is proactive, not an admission of defeat. Help me wait in hope. Help me know that as I wait in stillness, You are building my strength. I remember Your promise that as I wait on You, Your renew my strength. While I feel there is nothing of the eagle about me, You will cause me to mount up on eagles’ wings to soar on the winds of Your Spirit, strong and steady and secure. I will wait on You, Lord! Amen.

Teach Me, Lord
Words and Music: Stuart Hamblen

1. Teach me, Lord, to wait – down on my knees.
Till in your own good time you’ll answer my pleas.
Teach me not to rely on what others do.
But to wait in prayer for an answer from you.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles.
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Teach me, Lord, Teach me, Lord, to wait!

2, Teach me, Lord, to wait – while hearts are aflame.
Let me humble my pride and call on your name.
Keep my faith renewed and my eyes on thee.
Let me be on this earth what you want me to be.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 23, 2017 “Straight”


When I want to draw a straight line—the old fashioned way—with a pencil, I use a ruler. Sometimes, if I can’t find a ruler (Where do they run off to?) I might take a short-cut and use some sort of “straight edge,” the cover of a book or the cardboard bottom of a notepad. But if I have lots of straight lines to draw (designing a set for a play, etc.), I need to find that ruler. In fact, I will even dig out my trusty graph paper with straight lines aplenty. The abundance of the straight lines available to me, allows my creativity to bend and curve in proportion to the space available.

It is ironic but true that straight thinking by the established rules makes for intriguing shapes that are also useful and beautiful designs that also function. The beauty of the curved line is found in its reference to the straight line.

As a writer, I want to write with vivid imagery so I am always looking for the curved line that catches the eye and captures the attention of the reader. I could say what I want to say with a straight line—a simple sentence—without image or device. Chances are my message would fall on deaf eyes, so to speak.

Sometimes there isn’t time for all that.

The Poet prays to His God for straight lines!

“…make your way straight before me.”

He was in trouble, as these poets of the Psalms so often were. He didn’t need nuance—he needed news—straight up, we might say. He needed the essence, not the ornaments, the meat and not the potatoes—well, you get the point.

The Ruler with Ten Marks
In the USA we like twelve marks on our rulers—12 inches to the foot. Ancient Israel had ten marks—ten simple laws that formed the foundation of a meaningful life. Later, lots of details of the Covenant with God would be added but they all were applications of the ten, The Ten Commandments. They summarize easily.

  • You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
  • You Shall Not Take The Name Of The Lord Your God In Vain
  • Remember The Sabbath Day, To Keep It Holy
  • Honor Your Father And Your Mother
  • You Shall Not Murder
  • You Shall Not Commit Adultery
  • You Shall Not Steal
  • You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor
  • You Shall Not Covet

Theologians call this the Decalogue.

The Two Great Commandments
Jesus made a New Covenant, revealing that even these ten marks of righteousness could be summarized by two Great Commandments:

  • Love God, and
  • Love people.

Life hangs, to use the word Jesus used, on these two. All the beautiful arcs and swirls of life that make it fun and beautiful hang on straight lines.

Not complicated. Not confusing. Not easy, but simple, direct, and straight.

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation. Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I make my prayer to you. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you. For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, and evil cannot dwell with you. Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those who work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O Lord, you abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house; I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, because of those who lie in wait for me; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; there is destruction in their heart; Their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Declare them guilty, O God; let them fall, because of their schemes. Because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But all who take refuge in you will be glad; they will sing out their joy forever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your Name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 27:11-14 NIV
Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Proverbs 15:21 NIV
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.
Isaiah 30:21-22; 40:3 NIV
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Luke 13:24 KJV
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Lord Jesus, You gave me a love for beauty, for variations on a theme, for invention and graceful innovation, for the lovely arcs and swirls of truth. I am reminded today that beneath those endless embellishments are the straight lines from which they emanate. While I sing all the verses, each one a gem of creativity, help me love the chorus, too, as it is the same every time we sing it. Lord, don’t let my variations hide the theme, but enhance it. As winding as my course through life may be, help my every step to be a straight one, never moving an inch from Your good, pleasing and perfect will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

1. I am weak, but Thou art strong,
Jesus, keep me from all wrong,
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

2. Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.


3. When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more,
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved