March 22 “Worry”

Worry

Worry is a waste of energy—precious personal power put to no productive purpose.
Excuse my alliteration. They say even the sun, the power source of our solar system, will eventually run out of power. We should never be caught wasting our energy. Worry is a power drain that diverts our human and spiritual resources to

  • sleepless nights that produce no rest,
  • fretful days that produce no progress, and
  • endless flights of imagine that take off and land in our heads but never get us anywhere.

Worry skills come to us naturally if we can put 2 and 2 together and see all the things that might happen. We have more contingency plans than we have primary plans. As we worry, PLAN A gets covered up by PLANS B through Q.

“Do not worry.”
Jesus attacks the problem head on. OK. Right. But how do we NOT worry? His first method is one word—look. He is saying to us, “Get a grip on yourself. You are looking at the wrong things in the wrong places.” Instead of staring at the possibilities of peril, look at the realities of the real world.

  • Birds, for instance. All of their energy is used for flying, eating, and propagating their kind. They don’t worry at all because they are in the Father’s care.
  • And look at flowers in the field. God is their Gardener. Their job is to simply be beautiful and add a little grace to the place. No worries here.

All avian energy is spent flying and singing and being beautiful birds. Floral energy is lavished on color and response to the winds attracting both people and bees. No energy is diverted to defense or wasted on worry.

“Your Heavenly Father”
Birds are blessed and flowers flourish because the Father has them. Birds don’t attach themselves to the ground and flowers don’t try to fly. The secret of their worry-free lives is their peace within their calling. The first word from Jesus was, look. Then He said, consider. We might hear Him say, “Stop and think for a minute.”

Does the Heavenly Father have us? Do we have a function in His Kingdom? Do we know what it is? Are we “flying” if we are supposed to fly? Are we standing in the field dancing with the wind being beautiful if that is His call on our lives? If so, then why worry? He’s got us. His record is remarkably good at taking care of His own.

“Seek first the Kingdom.”
One of the most remarkable promises of Jesus is this:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.

This is the answer to poverty and deprivation in the world. Put the Kingdom of God in the highest place in your plans and God will take care of you. You’ll be as free as a flower and as happy as a bird. When some other kingdom supplants the Kingdom of God then we must guard our place in it against all foes. Our limited supply of energy is diverted to these illegitimate pursuits and we find ourselves earthbound with care, wilting in the heat of a pitiless sun.

How much better to be who God called us to be and use all our life’s energy to serve the One who made both the skies and the fields.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my worrying. I repent of all the energy I have wasted over the years concerning myself with things  that You had control of all along. Teach me how to turn those well-honed worry skills into meditation skills. Help me look and really see Your hand at work. Help me to consider that You are faithful and have always been faithful and will always be faithful. I want to be as happy as a sparrow and as delightful as a flower in the field. Amen and Amen.

Song:
The Sparrow Song (Think of How He Cares for You)
Words and Music: J.D. Phifer

1. When you are sad downhearted and blue,
Think of how He cares for you.
When things look bad, your courage you lose,
Think of how He cares for you.

Refrain:
Think of the sparrow He feeds with such care,
The flower He waters with dew.
Dwell on the things He’s promised to do.
Think of how He cares for you.

2. When there’s a cross you know you must bear,
Think of how He cares for you.
When you are lost in realms of despair,
Think of how He cares for you.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 21 “Treasures”

Treasures

Creation is full of objects. The mind is full of thoughts. The heart is full of emotions. Some of these things stand out from the rest.
These things are our treasures:

  • objects that may have great market value or simply personal value only to us,
  • truths that we hold dear and that hold our lives together, and
  • feelings that bring us home, give us hope, and clear our heads.

Treasures like these are carefully kept, hidden away, locked up, meticulously filed so we can retrieve them at a moment’s notice, hold them close, and consider their value. Of course, our greatest treasures are the people we love. They occupy the heart and the mind and little things that were theirs occupy the corners of our homes.

Treasures in Heaven
Jesus spoke of securing our treasures, of finding storage for them that is beyond the reach of natural disasters, wicked people, or even the ravages of time. There is only one such storage place—heaven. How can we store our treasures in so remote and removed a place?

It is a matter of offering. Do we hold to our treasures with so tight a grip that we cannot let go? For safekeeping we must give them to the Lord. The house you live in, the car you drive, the money safely invested toward an uncertain future are gifts from God. Since He is their source, He has a program in place to protect them! We must return our treasures to Him in faith:

  • objects that may have great market value or simply personal value only to us,
  • truths that we hold dear and that hold our lives together,
  • feelings that bring us home, give us hope, and clear our heads, and
  • people we treasure above all other things.

These treasures are the contents of our hearts, hearts whose source is heaven and which are safe only there.

The Treasure of Sight
Of all our five senses, perhaps the most precious is our ability to see. In this passage, Jesus is speaking about more than our ability to detect light reflecting off objects. He is talking about a deeper level of sight—insight, we call it—the ability to see the true value of things. The Holy Spirit can help us truly see the differences between the treasures and the trash around us. With this spiritual insight we can cling to the good, return it to God for safekeeping, and keep it forever.

Beware of Evil Treasure.
The old saying that “all that glitters isn’t gold” has never been more true than today. The world glitters all around us with shining sins sparkling in the sun of our own selfishness. Evil treasures do not add themselves to our collections; they make themselves masters of our lives. We cannot collect them; they capture us! The greatest of these is money. We must have it, use it, invest it, save it, but we must never serve it. The Love of money is a root that only produces evil. We cannot treasure wealth and serve God, too.

Creation is full of objects. The mind is full of thoughts. The heart is full of emotions. Some of these things stand out from the rest.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:19-24
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
James 1:16-18
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank for the tremendous blessings I enjoy, gifts good and perfect, from Your hand. These are my treasures so I return them to You for safekeeping, beyond the consumption of moths, the reach of rust. and the danger of thieves. As You continue to supply my needs, protect me from the love of money and the things it can buy. You only will I serve. Give me insight to see the difference between the treasure and the trash. For Your glory, Lord, Amen.

Song:
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Words: Rhea F. Miller; Music: George Beverly Shea

1. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

2. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Refrain

3. He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs.
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 20 “Prayer”

Prayer

Simply put, prayer is not a show.
When Jesus approached the subject of prayer and deeds of Christian kindness, He took these things off center stage. He lived in a religious culture that was corrupted by religious showbiz:

  • marketplace praying,
  • the theatrical giving of alms,
  • trumpet-announced offerings, and
  • vain repetitions as if God were hard of hearing.

None of these public displays of what is really a private set of deeds was the least bit impressive to Heaven. The only reward to be gained was the here-and-now, then-and-there recognition of the public.

Prayer and giving are private matters.
The important thing is not the one “praying” or “giving alms” or “fasting;” it is the prayer to God, the giving to His Kingdom, and the discipline of the body for spiritual concerns. No fanfares are needed. The public streets are not the proper place. The synagogue is not a stage. The Secret Place, away from prying eyes and listening ears, is the place to pray. Giving is to be a solemn secret that even each of our two hands remain unaware of what the other is giving. A multiplicity of words shouted on a street corner does not bring Heaven’s reward, only the hollow acclaim of ignorant men.

The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus not only sent us to the closet of prayer, He gave us a prayer to pray. Tradition calls this “The Lord’s Prayer” and rightly so for He gave it to us. Others insist it should be called “The Believer’s Prayer” and this, too, is proper for He gave it to us. Some of us pray it as a recitation and others take it as an outline for extended prayer. Both approaches are correct. Early Christian documents outside of the Bible indicate that first Century Christ-followers were encouraged to pray this prayer three times each day. The prayer includes forgiving those who sin against us. To refuse to do this one thing, disables everything else we do before God.

“Your Father Knows”
Prayer is based on the Character of God. Pagans prayed the same phrase, called a mantra, many times as fast as they could to try and impress their hostile little gods and keep them at a safe distance. Christian prayer is the exact opposite. We do not need “vain repetition” because our prayer does not serve to keep a god away, but to draw near to the One True God. When Jesus told us the Father already knows what we need, He was telling us who God is and how much He loves us! The intrinsic goodness of God, His holiness, is the basis of our praying. We don’t need public announcements or the acclaim of the masses, or endless repetition. God is good and His mercy endures to the moment of our prayer.

Joy marks the one who prays.
Fasting is a most serious form of prayer. Going without food can weaken the body while building the spirit within. We must keep our fasting between God and ourselves. Present to the world a clean, joyful face, hiding the voluntary sacrifice for a spiritual cause. God sees. Our spirit rules the body and our reward is on its way.

Simply put, prayer is not a show.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:1-18
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the greatest need in my life each day is a time of prayer with You. Help me be faithful to the Secret Place. Those I love are dependent upon my prayers. How can I say I love them and then not pray for them? Lord, increase my passion to pray. I want to pray the prayer You gave us. I want to privately but intentionally confess Your character and say with the hosts of Heaven, “Holy, holy, holy.” I want to intercede for those who are in need. Lord, help me find that sweet time for prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Words: W.W. Walford; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,  my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

2. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! the joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place where God my Savior shows his face,
and gladly take my station there, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

3. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face, believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 19 “Enemies”

Enemies

When we live as “salt and light” in this world, we make enemies. How are we to respond to them?
Jesus had a way of turning every issue on its head; this one is no exception. In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the most counter-intuitive advice. To the natural mind it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Offering the other cheek when an enemy has already struck the first one?
  • Going a second mile voluntarily when only the first mile was required?
  • Surrendering a coat to an enemy when all he demanded was a shirt?
  • Giving things to thugs demanding them by force or moochers who want to “borrow?”

Human nature resists all these tactics. If we want to fight or quit before the job is done or keep an enemy in his place as an adversary, we need to ignore the advice of Jesus.  However, if we want to have peace, complete a task, make a friend out of an enemy and be a blessing to those who are cursing us, these things make perfect sense.

Getting Back what You Give
The Law of Sowing and Reaping is built into Creation. If you want corn, plant corn. If you want beans, plant beans.

  • If you want to fight, hit back every time you are struck.
  • If you want a business partner, go beyond what the job requires.
  • If you want to win over an opponent, be more than kind to him.
  • If you want to have what you need when you need it, be generous to a fault to those who do not deserve it.

When we, with God’s help, intentionally counter our fleshly, human impulse to strike back or hold tightly to what is rightfully ours and we do this in the Name of the Lord, the Lord goes to work in the life of our enemy. As foolish as this may seem, it works. We sow good when presented with evil. We change the subject from hate and selfishness to joy and generosity and faith.

“Coals of Fire.”
In Romans, the Apostle Paul echoes the Sermon on the Mount. As he does, he makes one of the strangest statements in all of the Bible. To plant these seeds of non-violence and generosity in response to the actions of an enemy, we actually:

“…heap coals of fire on his head.”

We can read all sorts of explanations of the meaning of this strange phrase most of them having to do with the essential nature of coals of fire to survival in the ancient world. It seems “coals of fire” is a metaphor for the conscience of the individual. People who are given to striking others or taking advantage or forcing their will on people have a conscience that has gone cold. To counter their violence with peace, their coercion with cooperation, their selfishness with generosity can reawaken that sleeping conscience. In the natural this may seem like a faint hope but it must be remembered: in the Sermon on the Mount we are talking about a supernatural life enabled by the Holy Spirit. Our obedience to the Word of God sows supernatural seed in the life of our enemy. We will be surprised what God can do with that!

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Romans 12:14-21
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You have called me to a supernatural life. Help me to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, and to be generous all in Your name and for Your glory. Give me the joy of seeing enemies become friends. Help me overcome evil with Good as I sow good seed into the lives of people around me, especially those who don’t like me. I want to see the surprise on their faces when I counter their evil deeds with good ones. Lord, You will fight my battles. You will be my defense. I will be Your servant in this supernatural life. Amen.

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

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

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

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

Refrain

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

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 16 “Fulfill”

FulFill

Jesus knew He was susceptible to the charge of being a radical.
He also knew it wasn’t true. He had not come to destroy. On the contrary, He had come to fulfill. In a series of remarkable statements, fulfillment is the recurring theme. He teaches us how

  • to fulfill the demands of the law,
  • to conquer hate and violence in our hearts, thus fulfilling the command to love God and others,
  • to fulfill our duty to worship God, and
  • to handle conflicts with others without going to the courts.

His logic is unassailable, His instruction is sound, and His language is direct and unambiguous.

Fulfilling the Law
Far from departing from the Law, Jesus came to fulfill it. The Word of God is not some temporary tome in need of editing. It is more firm and permanent than creation itself. The Old Covenant Law was a document of prophesies of truths to come. The people in His audience were seeing the fulfillment of these prophesies in Jesus. Under the New Covenant we enjoy the fulfillment of the Law when we are in relationship with Jesus. He fulfills the demands of the Law!

The Law of Love
Each day the faithful Old Covenant believers confessed the Shema, demanding they love God completely. The Law also demanded that they love their neighbors. Jesus warned His listeners against the destructive power of hate. Hate blocks the fulfillment of the greatest commandments in the Law. Hate is revealed in name calling, in prejudice, and derision. To fulfill the Law of Love one must not deride a brother or sister with names that demean them

  • raca—“empty one, worthless one”
  • fool—“dull or stupid one”

To feed one’s anger with derision is to take a step toward violence or even murder. Some who would never kill someone with a gun are experts with character assassination using words. To live this way is a short trip to hell. To refrain from hate is a short trip to the fulfillment of the Law of Love.

The Law of Worship
Each of us is on the earth to worship God. To walk with Jesus on the Path of Life is to live the worship-filled life. Unresolved conflicts with others spoil our worship. We may be the finest of singers or instrumentalists, but if we are harboring hate, bitterness, or envy against someone, our worship does not reach the Lord’s ears, let alone His heart. Jesus said these things must be resolved if we are to fulfill our call to worship, our purpose to worship. There is no way to calculate the degree to which revival is hindered by worship that is negated by unresolved conflicts within the church. We must obey Jesus:

“…leave your gift there before the altar, and … be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

The Law of Peace
We shortchange the Grace of God if we let conflicts within the church go unresolved to the point of legal action. Jesus said

“Agree with your adversary quickly…”

That means find a consensus according to the Word of God and agree together! Remember, The Word lasts forever!

Scriptures:
Matthew 5: 17-26
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Levitcus 19:17-18 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Mark 12:29-31
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, draw me close to You! I want to fulfill the greatest commands to Love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. I want to fulfill Your call on my life to be holy and productive, loving and compassionate, creative and skilled. Keep me from hate. Keep me from name-calling and all forms of derision. Help me be a peacemaker—a child of God! Amen and Amen.

Song:
O to Be Like Thee
Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William J. Kirkpatrick

1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain:
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

Refrain

3. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.

Refrain

4. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

Refrain

5. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 15 “Good”

Good

When times are truly evil, good becomes the object of ridicule.
Words for good things become words of derision:

  • “Virgin,”
  • “Goody-two-shoes,”
  • “Teetotaler,”
  • “Boy Scout,”
  • “Choir boy,” and the most derisive of all,
  • “Holy-roller.”

People want the freedom to do as they please and, in a telling phrase, “ let the devil take the hindmost.” He does. Anyone who takes a stand against evil will be subject to appellations such as these.

Turning the Tables
On the other hand, the same people who want to be unmolested by those who promote goodness want to be treated well; they want goodness coming their way. They may be cheaters but they don’t want to be cheated. They may stretch the truth beyond recognition but they resent being lied to. Young men may enjoy the company of bad girls but they want to marry a good one.

How to Be Good
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed the issue of goodness. He employed two common metaphors: salt and light.

“You are the salt of the earth”
“You are the light of the world”

These everyday things help us see the importance of good in the world.

  • Salt—Good is a preservative. Unbridled freedom to follow our impulses will destroy a society. Goodness is the necessary restraint. It was good that tamed the Wild West, not the Colt .45. The Rule of Law is the rule of restraint.
  • Light—Good is illumination. Good points us to the next step, a “lamp for our feet and a light for our path.” Without a standard of goodness, we stumble in the shadows of our darkened minds. Creation cycles between daylight and dark. The light Jesus spoke about goes beyond the turning of the earth. It is light in darkness, a shining city on a hill whose illumination pushes ignorance back and makes us safe within our dwellings.

How then should we live?
The Bible makes it clear that being completely good is a hopeless goal on our own. We all fall short of the glory of God. Jesus came to forgive us of those shortcomings and to empower us to live good lives.

  • Christ-followers must be the salt of the earth. We must live lives that marked by restraint. Goodness expressed in every day choices and actions is a preservative for this world.
  • Christ-followers must be light-bearers. Each of us has an inner light—the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We must not hide this light. It shines when we refrain from evil in all its public and private manifestations. Together, our lights combine to make that “shining city on a hill,” so often referred to by visionaries. It is more than a vision; it is the reality of the church.

We are not showing off. The world can spot a phony in a minute. If we live with the restraints of holiness, people will know. Our workstation will become a bastion, a refuge, a place of prayer and hope. Our lives will be preservatives functioning against the chaos of impulse.

The Light within in us is Jesus Himself. We can be the light of the world because He is the Light of the World. Walk in the light as He is in the Light. We will not stumble when others lose their footing. Standing firm in a pool of light called grace, people will see and give the glory to God.

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Hebrews 12:14-16
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Romans 6:22-23
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 60:1-3
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my example. Thank You for forgiving my sins and calling me to this life of being salt and light to a decaying and dark world. Holy Spirit, empower me to “live a holy life, to shun the wrong and do the right.” When I hear the derision of the world leveled at me, help me to respond in love. Let Your voice, coming from the Light, sound louder than all those voices coming from the dark. May all who witness my life see You in it and give glory to God. Amen.

Song:
Take Time to Be Holy
Words: William D. Longstaff; Music: George C. Stebbins

1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 14 “Blessed”

Blessed

“Blessed” There are no hidden meanings in the Greek. It means what it means, “happy,” “fortunate,” even “well-off.” (Vine’s Dictionary)
Jesus, the carpenter-turned-preacher/healer/miracle worker, saw the growing multitude of people who had left their homes and businesses, followed Him into the wilderness, and were waiting now for His every word. He went up into an elevated place, like a speaker’s platform, to deliver what would become His most famous sermon, “The Sermon on the Mount.”

No platitudes, please.
These people wanted the truth, not some routine, warmed over mush meant for babies. Jesus was ready. His storehouse was stacked high with truth from the Word of God, from the carpenter’s shop, from the village, from the synagogue, from the home, and from His keen eye for observation. This sermon would challenge those who wish to live a meaningful, significant life for centuries to come. Little phrases here and there would go into the vernacular of common use:

  • Go the second mile,
  • Turn the other cheek,
  • The salt of the earth,
  • A city on a hill,
  • Let your yes be yes and your no be no,
  • No one can serve two masters,
  • Judge not that ye be not judged,
  • Do not cast pearls before swine,
  • Do unto others…, and
  • Build your house on the rock.

He also gave the world a prayer that has become the universal confession of the Christian faith.

The Beatitudes
He began with a list of conditioned responses. He itemizes life’s challenges and with each one gives a way to meet the challenge and in these ways become blessed. It is all here.

  • The human condition: poverty, hunger and thirst, loss, injustice,
  • The longings of the human heart: purity, peace, mercy, and
  • The uncertainty of the future: persecution at the hands of evil men.

To these relentless conditions, Jesus provides new and triumphant responses:

  • The poor in spirit are citizens of heaven’s Kingdom.
  • Those who mourn will be comforted.
  • The meek shall be owners of the earth’s bounty.
  • Those who hunger for God will be filled.
  • Those who have been wronged shall respond with mercy.
  • A pure heart will open to see the Throne of God.
  • Those who make peace in the middle of conflict will be those of God’s family.
  • Those who are lied about for His sake will be rewarded for the truth of their lives.

A Continuum
In the Beatitudes, Jesus is presenting a continuum, an extension of the eternal Kingdom of God into the present generation. Truth-tellers have always been attacked by those whose hopes lie in lies. To be pure in heart takes courage. To hunger and thirst after righteousness takes discipline that makes others uncomfortable. To make peace in this troubled world is an affront to those who thrive in strife. It has always been so. These things do not surprise us. We are “blessed.” Knowing the cost of following Jesus, we can rejoice that we have been called to walk in the footsteps of the prophets before us and in the light of the disciples whose writings inform us, and in the company of the Savior who walks by our side.

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:1-12
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You experienced the reality of the life we face and not from the safe distance of heaven, but from right here on earth. Your knew what it is to mourn, to be poor and persecuted, to hunger and thirst, to be lied about, and to face the challenge of making peace in a violent world. Now, You live in me! Help me be a peacemaker. Give me a pure heart. I want to hunger and thirst after righteousness and be filled. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

Song:
Wonderful Words of Life
Words and Music: P. P. Bliss

1. Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty:

Refrain:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the laving call, wonderful words of life;
all so freely given, wooing us to heaven:

Refrain

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever,

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 13 “Healing”

Healing

Signs and wonders followed Jesus as He taught and preached in the synagogues throughout Galilee.
Every kind of sickness or affliction departed the victims at His touch or His command. This kind of thing cannot be kept quiet. His fame began to spread throughout Galilee bringing multitudes to find Him wherever He might be. The news spread even to Syria where sick people and those tormented by demons and others plagued with diseases came to Him and were healed. Even those whose minds were defective and those who were paralyzed found sanity and mobility at the command of Jesus. All the while, He was preaching the Good News, calling for repentance, and teaching about the New Covenant to come. Attendance at the synagogues broke all records when He was scheduled to be there.

Healing and the Gospel
Today some believe that such Divine Healing somehow escaped this world when the Apostles died out. It is true that no one has walked this earth with healing in his wake the way Jesus did. Still, He promised that we would continue His work in the world. He even said that we would do greater things than He did. This is beyond my ability to explain, so I just believe it.

The preponderance of Scripture indicates that it has always been God’s plan to heal the sick as the Gospel is preached.

  • Isaiah predicted that the cruel stripes on Messiah’s body would be for our healing.
  • Malachi prophesied that The Sun of Righteousness would arise with healing in His wings.
  • In Mark when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said signs like healing the sick would follow those who preached the Gospel.
  • Plural “gifts of healing” are mentioned in Paul’s marvelous list of spiritual gifts for public worship.
  • James even tells us how to pray for the sick by anointing them with oil as the elders of the assembly pray.

Is this all for show? Is it just for the cameras? Sometimes it is faked but God doesn’t need actors and Divine Healing is not theatre. As the old time Pentecostals used to say, “Healing is the children’s bread.” Two great purposes arise for Divine Healing:

  1. To ease the suffering of the sick because God loves us and cares for us and,
  2. To confirm the reality of the Gospel. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!”

What about those who are not healed when prayed for?
Divine Healing is not always instantaneous. God uses time, medicine, rest, and good life habits to heal—it is all His work. We must be careful to see His hand in all of these methods and to give Him glory for His faithfulness.

When we see someone go to the grave with their illness when countless prayers have gone up in their behalf, we are puzzled and our hearts break. One such couple lost their only daughter to leukemia. Before she died she shared with her mother the answer to this dilemma:

“God heals everyone. Some of us He takes to heaven first.”

Great Multitudes
The crowds continued to grow and not just from Galilee but from the politicized south–Jerusalem, Judea—and even beyond the Jordan. Soon a crowd gathered on a mountain to hear the most famous sermon ever preached.

Matthew 4:23-25
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him — from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
Isaiah 53:5
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Malachi 4:2
But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings;
Mark 16:15-18
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
John 14:12-14
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
James 5:14-15
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your healing power. In Your name we can ask for healing and expect a touch. The cruel stripes on Your back were put there to heal our sicknesses and diseases. I know that Your healing is a surety, even if You take us to heaven first. No one on the other side is sick or lame or blind or impaired in any way. Help me be a healer in this world as You walk in me in joy and strength. Thank You, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Song:
The Healer
Words and Music: Lois Irwin

1. On the Cross crucified
In great sorrow my Saviour died
Oh the Giver of so much life was He.
Yet my Lord was despised and rejected of men
Oh this Jesus of Calvary

Refrain:
He was wounded for our transgression
He was bruised for our iniquities
Surely he bought our sorrows
And by His stripes we are healed.

2. Price for healing was paid
When those cruel stripes were made
Within Pilate’s judgment hall.
Now His suffering affords Perfect healing for all.
This wonderful Healer is mine.

Refrain

3. He has healed my sick soul
Made me every whit whole
And He’ll do the same for you.
He’s the same yesterday and today and for aye
This Healer of men today.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 12 “Fishermen”

Fishermen

The Sea of Galilee had several names and was so full of fish as to be the source of wealth for the fishermen who plied their trade in her waters.
Here Jesus called the first of the Twelve who would follow Him in His earthly ministry. They were two sets of brothers:

  • Peter and Andrew, and
  • James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
  • Matthew does not tell of their qualifications to follow Jesus, only that they were fishermen.

Jesus saw this as a metaphor for the ministry to which He was calling them.

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

We are not told why they answered this call.
Why would successful businessmen leave the source of their livelihood behind—their family business in the case of James and John—to follow this man from Nazareth? Something happened that cannot be explained. Perhaps it was a look. Something in the way He looked at them caused them to see their nets and their lives in a new light. Something in His voice must have sounded a note of adventure in their hearts. Perhaps there was more to life than they had ever dreamed. Perhaps there was a cause bigger than getting through the day, something more than cleaning and repairing their nets for the next trip out to sea. Maybe life could be an adventure. On long lonely nights on the Galilee each man had entertained the thoughts of a life that he would never know beyond the familiar horizon. Maybe this man would lead them there.

Fishers of Men
What a strange promise:

“I will make you fishers of men.”

Whatever could that mean? How were people like fish? It was certain that there were many people, much like the abundance of fish in the sea. But how were they to be caught? What type of net would it require? And why? Why would people need to be caught? Wouldn’t it be kinder to leave them alone? Fishermen knew full well that getting caught was not good for the fish! Perhaps people were trapped in some way and needed to be caught and set free from a dangerous environment. Yes, that might be it!

One thing was sure; Jesus was talking about things for which all men long. He was talking about significance and influence. Any man worth his salt wants to be significant. He wants to matter in the eyes of the people around him. He wants people to listen when he speaks. When he is old and gray, he wants to sit with honor as an elder at the gate. Surely this would be the result of a life of significance and influence if one became a “fisher of men.”

Jesus called and they responded.
We can speak of these things today because Jesus is still calling people to follow Him. We cannot see His eyes or hear His voice with our eyes and ears but we can sense His call in our hearts. We can know that He is looking deep inside and saying to each of us, “Follow me and I will make you significant. Through you I will influence the world for the better. I will make you a fisher of men.”

Scriptures:
Matthew 4:18-22
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord , thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord , and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord , and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You see the value of each individual. None of us is on this earth by accident. You have a calling, a work, an anointing, for each of us. I want to be true to my call. I want to do my part as a “Fisher of Men.” I want to tell Your story to all who will listen. I want to tell it with my words, with my choices, with my actions, with my worship and with my very life. Help me touch those around me with Your kindness. Help me be an encourager of people, pointing them always to You, always to You. “Where You lead me, I will follow!” Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Where He Leads Me I Will Follow
Words: E.W. Blandy; Music: John S. Norris

1. I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
“Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.

Refrain:
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

2. “I’ll go with Him thro’ the garden,
I’ll go with Him through the garden,
I’ll go with Him thro’ the garden,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

Refrain

3. I’ll go with Him thro’ the judgment,
I’ll go with Him thro’ the judgment,
I’ll go with Him thro’ the judgment,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

Refrain

4. He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
And go with me, with me all the way.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 11 “Galilee”

Galilee

An essential part of sensing God’s will is to also sense His timing.
The arrest of John, the Forerunner, by the authorities in Jerusalem signaled to Jesus that the time was not yet for Him to minister in Judea. He departed to His home region of Galilee. Jerusalem and the Temple and the entrenched leadership there could wait for a while.

His ministry was different from that of John. He would call people to repentance as John did, but Jesus would also bring a new perspective on the Old Covenant; there was much teaching to be done and Galilee was a good place to start, far from the forces that had imprisoned John. There were sick, wounded, and disabled people who needed a healing touch. There were demon possessed people who needed a deliverer. Miracles would set the ministry of Jesus apart from that of John; they were the prophesied ministry of Messiah. These demonstrations of the power of God flowing through Jesus would tie the hands of provincial leaders in the towns of the north. How could they move against a fellow Galilean who was so obviously approved of God? No, it was not yet time for Jerusalem.

The Words of the Prophet Isaiah
There was also the witness of the Word of God. Isaiah predicted that Messiah would come from “Galilee of the Gentiles.” The Jewish population had grown considerably in the centuries since Isaiah wrote but Galilee was still a land of mixed cultures but with a dominant culture of Judaism.

The Prophet’s description of the culture was this:

“The people who sat in darkness…in the region of the shadow of death… have seen a great light.”

The light of truth shown in the local synagogues and in the homes of the Jewish faithful but the surrounding culture was one of darkness and “the shadow of death.” What does Matthew mean by this quote of Isaiah? Pagan cultures were cultures of death. Life was cheap. The worth of each individual, such an integral part of Judeo-Christian thought, was absent. Power and superstition ruled life. Some pagan religions demanded the sacrifice of infants. The only politics were those of force and the only morality was expediency. After several cycles of being conquered and delivered through the centuries, the Jews living in Galilee survived by being true to their covenantal relationship with God. They bonded together in tightly-knit communities. If Messiah could speak truth to Gentiles, He could reach anyone.

The Preaching of Jesus
The summation of Jesus’ preaching in Galilee was this:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This was a message for both the Jews and the Gentiles. Change was coming. A revolution was imminent. An emissary of Heaven had come to earth with Good News to share with everyone. He echoed John’s call to repentance, to a moment of reversal in one’s life, and He gave a reason to repent—there was to be a reckoning. A new Kingdom was near at hand! This Kingdom would not be one like the pagan nations, filled with violence and the shadow of death. It would be the Kingdom of Heaven, filled with joy like the sunrise and peace like the cool of the evening. Sins needed to be forsaken if one was to be a citizen of this Kingdom. The time had come to repent!

Scriptures:
Matthew 4:12-17
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,Upon them a light has shined.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You began Your earthly ministry in Your home region. As beautiful as the region of Galilee may have been they had never seen anyone like You. Neither have I! Your love is amazing and constant. Your lovingkindness is indeed better than life. Your Word is truth I can count on today and for all my tomorrows. You care for me here and prepare a better place for me in the life to come. Thank You for making the journey from heaven to earth and from Your hometown to mine. “O how I love this man from Galilee!” Amen.

Song:
Sweet Jesus
Words and Music: Doris Akers

1. There’s a name that’s dear to me; Lifted me from misery;
Took me out of sin and shame. How I love His blessed name.
It gets sweeter every day. Serving Jesus really pays.
Oh how I love that Man of Galilee!

Refrain:
Sweet Jesus fellowship divine.
Sweet Jesus I’m His and He is mine.
Sweet Jesus a precious Friend indeed.
Sweet Jesus whenever I’m in need.
Fellowship divine; I’m His and He is mine;
A precious Friend indeed Whenever I’m in need.
Oh how I love this Man of Galilee!

2. If the Lord you’ve never known, You should hasten to His Throne.
Such fulfillment you’ll receive, If in Him you will believe.
Life will be so sweet to you. You’ll call Him Sweet Jesus too.
Oh how I love that Man of Galilee!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved