May 21, 2017

Soul

We know it is there—somewhere inside us.
We can feel the soul better than we can define it. We use the term loosely calling some music “soul music,” some persons an “old soul,” and a close friend a “soulmate.”

We see the souls of others and sense that they have the same worth, the same value, as we have because we each have a soul. We are not sure about our dogs but we are pretty sure about houseflies and plants—not every living thing has a soul.

In the Image of God—a Trinity.
We sense also that this mystery living in us is connected to God in some direct way. The Bible indicates that we are each made of up three distinct parts: body, soul, and spirit. Here’s how I understand this:

  • The body is our sense-consciousness.
  • The soul is our self-consciousness.
  • The spirit is our God-consciousness.

Let me explain further:

  • We process the material world through the five senses resident in the human body.
  • We maintain an inner world through memory, emotion, and various kinds of intelligence.
  • We relate to God through the spirit He gave us and for the New Covenant believer this is done with the aid of the Abiding Holy Spirit within.

The soul then is our inner person: mind, memory, needs, wounds that have been healed and those that still hurt, passions (good and bad) and unnamed urges we don’t like to own up to.

Some may ask, “What about the heart?”
I have heard it said and it make sense to me that the heart is both the soul and the spirit of a person, the total inner life. When Jesus lives in our hearts He occupies both soul and spirit.

In Psalm 116 the poet implores the Lord to deliver his soul and later gives testimony to that deliverance. We cannot overestimate this miracle. It begins deep inside and works its way out to the surface affecting the whole of our being—body, soul, and spirit.

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

Such complete deliverance bring freedom, joy, stability, and of all things—rest!

Scriptures:
Psalm 116:1-10 NKJV
I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NKJV
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
Matthew 16:24-28 NIV
“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 will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Luke 1:46-48 NIV
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
3 John 2-3 NKJV
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, from the depths of my soul I cry out to You! Like the panting deer pursued by hungry hounds, I thirst for Your presence. All that is within me, soul and spirit, longs for You—and finds You! You are near to me! You are “God with Us” and that includes me. When I stand beneath the banner of Your name, You are with me. When my mind ponders the wonders and riches of Your love, You are with me. When my wounded soul cries out for Your touch, You are there with healing virtue flowing. I repeat the words of Mary: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

Song:
Be Still, My Soul
Words: William H. Monk; Music: Jean Sibelius

1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

5. Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 20, 2017

Hunger

It is more than chemistry—calories in, calories burned, calories stored.
It is more than a process of the stomach signaling the brain that the body needs fuel. The hunger for food is so upfront in life that it retains our focus while deeper hungers drive us from deeper inside us.

There is something we want from life. When we get a slice of it, the taste and texture are pleasing but soon, like the proverbial cake which refuses to be eaten and possessed simultaneously, it is gone and the hunger remains, stronger even for the sweetness of the recent experience.

King Solomon and Mick Jagger
3000 years ago King Solomon expressed the hunger of his soul: “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” The word translated “vanity” means trying to eat the wind. There is no wind made on earth that can satisfy hunger. 50 years ago Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were just as poetic. “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

In the most immediate sense the tragedy of hunger in the nations of the world calls for those of us whose only hungers are spiritual in nature to share our abundance with their lack. God has blessed us now we must be his hands breaking bread and fish to feed this multitude.

The Hungry Heart
Back in our own kitchens with cupboards, mimicking us–bulging with excess, we must attend to these deeper hungers. Jesus said that people speak in their words and deeds actions springing from what is in their hearts.

  • If there is emptiness in our hearts it will speak.
  • If there are drives, hungers for inanimate morsels like recognition, affirmation, affection, attention, and power, hidden in our hearts, these things will prompt our words, propel our choices, and power our deeds.
  • Other people will become the means to the end of satisfying our hunger.

These inner hungers are in us because of the sins we have done and/or the sins done to us.

  • They are the stuff of Calvary.
  • They are susceptible to the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus.
  • They are fuel for the Refiner’s Fire.

They are not a life sentence.

Righteousness
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invited us to enjoy another hunger—to hunger and thirst for righteousness. This invitation to dine at the Lord’s Table comes with a promise—You will be filled! Satisfied! Not a meal made of air, but a feast of real soul food that strengths the body, new spiritual wine that gladdens the heart, and the very Bread of Life! Here is the life sentence—hunger for God and you shall be filled—no longer driven by unnamed passions and hidden fears—but free to drink of the Waters of Life freely and to feast at the Table of the Lord.

Hunger is, indeed, more than chemistry.

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:6 NIV
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
John 6:35-36 NIV
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NIV
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Revelation 19:9 NIV
Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
John 21:12
Jes:us saith unto them, Come and dine.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I long to feast at Your Table today! I want to drink deeply from the cup or Your life, poured out for me. I want to consume Your substance today, the Words of life, the example of how to live this life, and the all-giving love, unsurpassed by any other. I hunger for You, Lord! Fill me! Fill me! Fill me! Amen.

Song:
Come and Dine
Words and Music: C.B. Widmyer

1. Jesus has a table spread where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen People come and dine.
With His manna He doth feed and supplieth every need;
O, ‘Tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

Refrain:
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine;”
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time.
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine!”

2. The disciples came to land, Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called to them, “O Come and dine;”
There they found their heart’s desire, Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time!

Refrain

3. Soon the Lamb will take His bride to be ever at His side,
All the hosts of heaven will assembled be.
O, ‘Twill be a glorious sight, all the saints in spotless white,
And with Jesus they will feast eternally!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 19, 2017

Pure

The opposite of pure is polluted.
When something is pure, it has integrity from the inside to the surface.

  • There is no rotten core for the passage of time has had power to breakdown its substance.
  • No pollutants have broken its surface to spoil its contents.
  • No structural decay has weakened its frame.

It is as it always has been—full-strength, undiluted, pristine, untarnished, without rust or decay—pure.

Perhaps purity is the most amazing characteristic of the God we serve.
The angels sense this of God and they can only sing one song—“Worthy, Worthy, Worthy is the Lamb! Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.”

  • He has not grown into this purity for it was always His.
  • He has not increased in purity for He has always been completely thus.
  • He will never suffer corruption or weaken or age or even tire for time and use are His ideas.

God is other. His ways are not our ways and they are past finding out.

God with Us!
Yet He has chosen not to watch us from a distance, like some play from the back row. He has chosen to be “God with us,” on the front row. He wants to watch each scene we are in, to coach us on the dialog and help us remember our blocking.

The Psalmist tells us that He deals with us in ways we understand:

  • “To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
  • to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
  • to the pure you show yourself pure, but
  • to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.”

God does not change, but He reveals Himself to us in the way we choose to respond to Him—it is a mutual thing.

Amazing.

God is shrewd.
We cannot match Him in faithfulness or blamelessness or in purity but if we are crooked with Him—not good!

  • He will outsmart us every time.
  • He will foil our plans and wreck our dreams when we make plans and dreams without asking Him.

Why? Because His shrewdness is part of His love for us, His pure love for us.

Pure again?
When we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from the pollution of this world, we can be pure again. The same Spirit can replace the rotting timbers of our sinful frame with strong supporting beams, composites of grace and mercy and truth. We can be blameless because our sins are nailed to the cross. We can live pure in a polluted world.

The opposite of polluted is pure.

Scriptures:
Psalm 18:24-30 NKJV
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight. With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks. For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
Titus 1:15-16 NIV
To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Philippians 2:14-17 NIV
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Matthew 5:8 NIV
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Psalm 51:10-12 NIV
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Prayer Song:
Create in Me a Clean Heart
Words and Music: Keith Green

Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy Salvation
And renew a right spirit within me.

Song:
A Pure Heart
Words and Music: Rusty Nelson

A pure heart, that’s what I long for,
A heart that follows hard after Thee.
A pure heart, that’s what I long for,
A heart that follows hard after Thee.

A heart that hides Your Word so that sin will not come in;
A heart that’s undivided but You rule and reign;
A heart full of compassion that pleases You, My Lord;
A sweet aroma of worship that rises to Your Throne.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 18, 2017

Worthless?

What It Takes…

  • It takes a good eye to see the difference between worth and worthlessness.
  • It takes a good heart to understand the differences between unworthy and worthless.

I was a freshman in college, away from home for the first time, alone one afternoon in my dorm room. It was spring of 1968. I had a visitor whom I had known a long time but on this afternoon, I came to know Him better.

I was listening to my record player, a new album by a Gospel quartet called, “The Statesmen.” About the middle of one side was a song called, “Unworthy.” When the song began to play I began to weep.

That was me—unworthy.

A Call to Ministry
There was a call to ministry on my life and yet in definite steps the Lord had led me to this little state college to get a music education degree. I was active in several campus ministry groups and learning how to be a Pentecostal among those who love Jesus as much as I do but are called by some other name.

I wept during the whole song.

I lifted the needle and placed it at the beginning of the song to play it again. With repetition, my tears increased to become sobs. I paced the floor of my dorm room weeping with great heaves.

The song ended and I played it again.

I have no idea how many times this cycle repeated but I was not going to let this moment of visitation go until God was through with me. I don’t remember how it ended. I just know that I was changed by the truth of the song.

To this day I cannot put it all into words but somehow I learned the difference between worthless and unworthy.

  • Worthless things and people are useless, a burden to the world.
  • Unworthy things and people are useful, a blessing to the world.

Not without Worth
If I had been tempted to believe the lie from Satan that I was worthless, I now had the truth from God. Like everyone else I was certainly unworthy, but I was not without worth.

  • Think of the Roman whip, the hammer and nails, the crown of thorns, the twisted trials, the beatings and the cruel words like rocks hurled at Jesus until, suspended between earth and heaven He breathed His last breath.
  • Think of the blood streaming down from the cross to splash on the sand and sink down into a fallen earth.
  • Think of words of forgiveness fueled by those last few breaths falling with the rain from high above the unworthy crowd of mourners and murderers.
  • Think of Jesus and know that He was thinking of you.

Unworthy? We certainly are unworthy.

But worthless? Not on His life!

We have been deemed so precious, more precious than flawless diamonds, to the Lord Jesus that would endure the suffering and the shame to solve our sin problem.

Don’t be Confused.
The Psalmist observes that people are confused about worth. They highly prize worthless things. The Father makes no such mistakes—He does not waste the blood of His son on worthless people.

“He made me worthy and now by His grace, His mercy has made me His own.”

Scriptures:
Psalm 12
Help me, Lord, for there is no godly one left; the faithful have vanished from among us. Everyone speaks falsely with his neighbor; with a smooth tongue they speak from a double heart. … The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined from ore and purified seven times in the fire. O Lord, watch over us and save us from this generation forever. The wicked prowl on every side, and that which is worthless is highly prized by everyone.
John 3:16-18 NIV
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Isaiah 53:5-6 NKJV
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. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Matthew 16:26 KJV
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 6:25-27 NIV
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, When You came to this earth, a child born to an ordinary girl, in a stable, with shepherds and barn animals as Your attendants, it was the picture of unworthiness. Appearances were not accurate. There were angels in attendance and kings paying court—witnesses from heaven and earth to Your value, Your worthiness of honor and praise. That is what I will give You today with my thoughts, words, and deeds. My faithfulness will not balance the scales for I will remain unworthy. My value, unseen by this world, is measured in redeeming blood, in unspeakable condescension, as the King of kings became a man to solve my problems, deal with my sin and give me new life. What contradiction–unworthy and beyond price! Thank You, Jesus!

Song:
Unworthy
Words and Music: Ira F. Stanphill

1. Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,
Unworthy to hold to His hand;
Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave,
This love I cannot understand.

Chorus
Unworthy, unworthy, a beggar
In bondage and alone;
But He made me worthy .and now by His grace,
His mercy has made me His own.

2. My sorrow and sickness laid stripes on His back,
My sins caused the blood that was shed;
My faults and my failures have woven a crown
Of thorns that He wore on His head.

Chorus

3. Unworthy am I of the glory to come,
Unworthy with angels to sing;
I thrill just to know that He loved me so much,
A pauper, I walk with the King.

Chorus

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 17, 2017

Mornings

There are two types of people…
If we listen closely enough we will often hear someone declare, “There are two types of people in the world…” and go on to make some clever observation about how we human beings go about the business of being human. Usually it has nothing to do with gender.

Well, it is time to say it, “There are two types of people in the world, morning people and everyone else.” Some people do their best work late at night when all is quiet or when the noise is a chosen one. They look with deep suspicion on those who do their best thinking first thing in the morning, and their finest work to the accompaniment of birds and the early morning news.

It is a good thing when these two types of people marry; that way work or fun can happen around the clock in their house.

In the earliest days of the church, hours of prayer were kept all through each day and night. To this day some of us do our devotions in the morning and others at night. The only rule we need to consider is to give the Lord our best time, be that early or late.

A Special Gift from God
Think for a moment of a different application of “mornings” as a special kind of gift from the Lord. The broad rhythms of life are vital to our spiritual and physical health.

  • We need activity and we need rest.
  • We need wakefulness and we need sleep.
  • We need to be alert at crucial times and at other times we can tune out and the let the old earth turn without our help.

These alternating states of being come to us in the steady beat of day and night, of “morning and evening” as in the biblical account of the Creation.

Perhaps we should think of each morning as a “do-over”—a chance to try again. It is as if the darkness of night was a curtain drawn on the past and the light of day was the rising of the curtain on a future full of promise. Each morning is like a little New Year’s Day—a chance to out yesterday behind us and to improve on it today—a new challenge to keep life interesting. What a blessed gift from God!—Mornings!

Fear and darkness have always been partners.
Before the age of electricity homes and streets were dark or poorly lit by candles and lamps, slender flames against the wide darkness of night. The night held terrors both real and imagined. The ancient prayers the people of God used to pray through the night reveal this now-forgotten fear. In our modern world the troubles of the day or the frailties of the body may pain the mind or the human frame to the point of lost sleep. For these long nights, mornings are indeed a gift from God.

Of course the Bible famously promises that the loving-kindness of the Lord is new every morning. That means that as the earth is constantly turning, every moment is morning somewhere.

We can rejoice when the alarm shocks us awake. We can smile at the sunrise. We can spend time with God and a good cup of coffee, knowing that each morning holds a bit of the Resurrection morning and that God has gifted us each with a fresh start.

Maybe we will get it right this time!

Scripture:
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 for ever. 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.

Prayers for the Morning from the Book of Common Prayer
For the Renewal of Life
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep Your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done Your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give You thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Guidance
Heavenly Father, in You we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray You so to guide and govern us by Your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget You, but may remember that we are ever walking in Your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Song:
Morning Has Broken
Words: Eleanor Farjeon; Music: Gaelic Folk Tune

1. Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

2. Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

3. Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017

Garments

Garments are temporary.
No matter how they might fit, tight and clinging or loose and comfy; no matter how old or new or clean or soiled they may be, garments are just temporary. We put them on just to remove them a few hours later and replace them with something else from a closet or drawer. Temporary though they may be, our clothes last longer than we have use for them. With infrequent use, they get pushed back in the closet or deeper in the drawer until we need the space more than we need the clothes and they get taken out to be given away or to be stored so we can give them a way later.

If garments are temporary, so are the bodies we clothe with garments. We are only here for a short while so we must make the days count as the years pile up to a significant heap.

Beneath the ever-changing garments the body is changing, too:

  • Shifting weight,
  • the eventual surrender to gravity,
  • pains in places that never hurt before, and
  • mental gaps that stop us in our tracks until we remember why we came in this room.

Changes, like garments that clothe the body, also dress our souls.

  • Do we remember the wonderful wardrobe change when guilty garments were cast aside and shining white robes of righteousness replaced them? It is called “getting saved!
  • There was that bad attitude that kept hanging around in your closet until you put in on and spoiled everyone’s day. Convicted in your heart, you repented of it and threw it out of closet and out of your life. Your friends were so glad they never saw you in that again! It’s called holiness.
  • The dark clouds of depression kept you in a raincoat all the time. You kept reading and memorizing the good things from God until the clouds parted and the sun came out again and you ventured forth into a beautiful day with just a sweater. It’s called healing.
  • It seems the only songs you knew where in the key of the blues. One day it was enough of sadness and your traded your sorrows for the Joy of the Lord. It’s called worship.
  • If there was a potential danger you saw it and prepared for it. Then you recounted all the grace in your life, the bad things that didn’t happen and you decided life was worth the risk. It’s called faith.

So in preparation for the day’s activities, put on the right garments—faith, worship, healing, holiness, salvation—and see how good it all looks on you.

Scriptures:
Psalm 102:24-28 NKJV
I said, “O my God, Do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.”
Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
John 19:23-24 NKJV
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Revelation 7: 9-12
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for laying aside the garments of royalty, rightfully worn by You on the Throne. You emptied Yourself of heavenly majesty so the royal vestments were no longer appropriate. You came into the world in the scandal of human nakedness, a child born in a stable and placed in a manger. Mary dressed you as an infant and as a child. You wore the work clothes of the carpenter’s shop. In Your brief ministry You wore a seamless robe, one stained by the tears an sweat of Gethsemane. Soldiers stripped it from You and clothed You in mockery while pounding You with their fists and carving Your back with the Roman whip. You wore the cross like a cloak through the city streets and all the way up the hill called the Place of the Skull. Dying there You wore the robes of our unrighteous, so heinous a sight that, the Father turned His face away. They wrapped You in grave clothes and on Resurrection day You left them folded neatly in the empty tomb. Now You are robed again clothed in regal splendor. The rags I used to wear are gone. You have given me the garments of praise—Today I will wear them! Hallelujah!

Song:
Garment of Praise
Traditional

Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Lift up your voice to God.
Praise with the spirit and with understanding.
O, magnify the Lord!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 15, 2017

Losing

Jesus never loses a battle, but sometimes we do. 
It hurts so much that we tend to lose perspective on life when we lose a battle, a valuable asset, a trusted relationship or someone we love.  Victories are fun!  We take them in stride and pack them away into our collection of memories to be recalled when needed.  Chances are we don’t learn much from victories; they serve to affirm what we already know.  Losses, however, are a school, “the school of hard knocks,” it is called.  In this school our skills are examined and expanded and our philosophies are tested and adjusted.

If Jesus has the power to win all the time, why does the believer ever experience failure? 

There are too many reasons to explore in this devotional, but here are a few:

  • Sometimes we mess up. We lose when we let our discipline slip or when we yield to temptation.  When this happens we must accept the responsibility, repent, and pray for mercy.
  • Sometimes our methods are wrong.  God will let failure come our way when He wants us to abandon methods that do not please Him.  He loves us more than He loves what we can do for Him and He is pleased when we do things in His ways, not ours.
  • Sometimes are motives are wrong.  Improper motives can lurk deep in our spirits, unknown to us but most displeasing to God.  An unbroken stream of wins will keep these poisons out of sight so God sometimes lets us fall on our face to get our attention so we will seek His forgiveness and cleansing.
  • Sometimes others fail us.  Our faithfulness to God extends as far as our will, but we are not isolated from the failures of the people in our lives.  The wickedness, anger, deceit, and violence of the people around us can touch us in painful ways.  Think of the terrible bus accident several years ago in Kentucky where a drunk driver killed several young people returning from a church outing.  In these losses, God is an able counselor, a comfort and a friend.

Sometimes we lose and there seems to be no reason. 
When our hearts are right and our methods are pure and our faithfulness to God is intact, and we lose a battle or a loved one anyway, this is the toughest kind of loss.  There is no one to blame, no faulty methods to correct, no hidden sin to uncover and deal with.  There is no one to blame but God.

The book of Psalms contains prayers that boldly question God for His lack of action.  These make as uncomfortable as the “hallelujah” psalms make us happy.  What is the lesson?  Simply this:  It is not a sin to question God in such matters.  He can handle our inquiries.  He understands our doubts.  He remembers that we are human, not divine.  When we question from a standpoint of love, the Lord listens and comforts us with His presence, if not with all the answers to our questions.

Losses must be grieved; severe losses must be deeply grieved.
This is how God made us and it is not a sin to grieve a loss.  The psalms set an example of pouring our grief out to God. The key to this process of grief must also include solitude and listening.  “Beside still waters, He restores my soul.” In the quiet moments, after the crying is done and the tears have dried, after our legitimate questions have made the journey from our wounded hearts to His great, healing heart, God will speak to us.  We may not even have words for what He says, but He will speak.  He will be our solace.  He will touch us deep inside where no one else can reach.  He promises a greater day, a higher good, and a time to come when all our tears will be swept away by His own wounded hand.

Scriptures:
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Psalm 88
O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.  … You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them.  I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you… I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? …. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.
Revelation 7:17
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, though You are the Victor over all, You suffered losses in Your earthly ministry. One of the twelve men You chose to follow You betrayed You instead. There was a village where You did not heal the sick and rescue the demon-possessed because of the low level of faith found there. In spite of Your creative and careful teaching about the coming atoning death and the subsequent resurrection, the disciples just didn’t get it. So You understand this world where sometimes we lose. I will take your advice and shake the dust of failure from my feet and follow You to the next thing. Through You I will win! Hallelujah!

Song:
Victory in Jesus
Words and Music: Eugene Bartlett

1. I heard an old, old story, How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins And won the victory.

Refrain:
O victory in Jesus, My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, Beneath the cleansing flood.

2. I heard about His healing, Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t To me the victory.

Refrain

3. I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing, And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there The song of victory.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 14, 2017

Ponder

When something is worth considering, it is worth considering deeply.
This means to ponder a matter; to think deeply about it, turning in over and over and around and around in our minds until we get it—or until it gets us.

God is really interested in our thought processes.
He installed neurons in our brains so that could fire at each other. He gave us synapses so they could synapse (not a verb but I am using it as one) up a storm. He wants all the stuff swirling around in our disordered, post-modern heads to settle into manageable patterns. (Some truths are linear! Pardon my modernity.)

One of the most amazing verses in the NT claims that we “have the mind of Christ.”
What could that possibly mean? Certainly not that we know everything Jesus knows—that would drive us crazy. It cannot mean that we understanding everything that happens or that simply is, because we clearly don’t.

It must mean that we have access to the Mind of Christ. Better than any search engine we know about, we can ask of the Lord and expect an answer. Asking questions of God is a privilege every believer has; it is not blasphemy or doubt. Asking questions is how God designed our minds to work with His. Ponder these things:

  • We are His feet as we walk in His will
  • We are His hands as we touch hurting people in His name, and
  • His voice when we speak the truth in love and tell His story.
  • We listen to the sounds of a fallen Creation and hear what He hears.
  • We keep our eyes open so that He can see what He sees.

And when we consider the things of God and ponder what we have seen, we have access by the Spirit to the mind of Christ.

He hasn’t called us servants for it is not necessary for a servant to understand why an order is given. He has called us friends, because He shares His heart with us.

This deep thinking is a form of prayer.
We listen to an inner dialogue between His Spirit and ours, His mind and our mind. We share the feelings of the meanings of the truth. The New Covenant promises that God will write His Word into our hearts.

When we take time to ponder who God is and what He has done, He is writing His Word onto our human hearts.

Scriptures:
Psalm 107: 33-43
The Lord changed rivers into deserts, and water-springs into thirsty ground, A fruitful land into salt flats, because of the wickedness of those who dwell there. He changed deserts into pools of water and dry land into water-springs. He settled the hungry there, and they founded a city to dwell in. They sowed fields, and planted vineyards, and brought in a fruitful harvest. He blessed them, so that they increased greatly; he did not let their herds decrease. Yet when they were diminished and brought low, through stress of adversity and sorrow, (He pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes) He lifted up the poor out of misery and multiplied their families like flocks of sheep. The upright will see this and rejoice, but all wickedness will shut its mouth. Whoever is wise will ponder these things, and consider well the mercies of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2: 6-15
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
James 1:5-7
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the thought that I have access to Your mind is overwhelming. Your mind is revealed in the Word of God; I will hide it in my heart so that I might not sin against You. Your mind reveals the significance of things around me; I will see with Your eyes. Slow me down so I can ponder these things, think deeply about them, and act upon them at Your prompting. I ask You for the wisdom this day will require so that I might be single-minded as I serve You. Amen.

Song:
Praise to the Lord the Almighty
Words: Joachim Neander; Music: Traditional

1.Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

2.Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

3.Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

4.Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

7.Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2017

Quiet

On the day before the Lord’s Day, find some time for silence. 
It is not easy and it will certainly not happened by accident.  There is a kind of ancient silence that we find hard to achieve today.  With all the blessings of the industrial revolution in 19th Century and the information revolution of the 20th Century, a drawback has been the proliferation of noise.  We have learned to live with a “silence” that actually rumbles with low pitch machine noises and sizzles with high pitch whirrs and whistles.  We have to retreat far from traffic and industry and find the deep woods or the restless sea for a silence filled only with the sounds of God’s creation. For our Saturday purposes, let’s call “silence” the absence of sound and “quiet” the absence of any artificial sounds.

What is the benefit of quiet?  The Bible uses several terms to describe being quiet before the Lord:

  • be still,
  • be silent, and
  • Wait patiently for the Lord.

Stillness, the cessation of activity, is for some of us a difficult thing to achieve.
Modern life is sometimes a thing of inertia. Some of us are at rest and we tend to stay that way while others of us are in constant motion.  The Bible says, “Be still and know…”  There are things we cannot know, truths we cannot learn, concepts we cannot grasp if we are distracted by ceaseless motion.  Stillness before God requires discipline.   It is more than a physical stillness; we must also follow the words of the old hymn, “Be still my soul.”  Some achieve this spiritual stillness by quoting memorized scriptures or concentrating on the person of Jesus.  The reward for being still before the Lord is promised in the verse: “Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted in all the earth.”

Silence before the Lord is a response to the belief that “the Lord is in His holy temple.” 
This stillness, this silence in the throne room of God, stands in contrast to the majestic sounds recorded in the scriptural accounts of that location.  In these the atmosphere is filled with sound, voices singing, instruments playing, and elders calling out, an accumulation of sound that is powerful enough to shake the door posts of heaven.  The command of the prophet Haggai is given to the earth, not the worshipers around the throne of God.  The writer’s setting is the silence of the earth before God rises in judgment of Babylon. For us, we should fall silent in honor of the Lord upon His throne.  Surely He is about to speak.  Surely we need to hear what He has to say to us.

Waiting patiently for Lord is another way of being quiet before Him.
Most people have a limited supply of patience.  It is natural for us to want to hurry into the day, to fill the minutes and hours of the day with productive action.  It seems the clock and the calendar have taken control of our lives and we are dancing to their tunes.  It is important to cease from activity, to refrain from work, to find a comfortable position for waiting while at the same time we command our souls to be still, adding patience to our lack of action.  Part of that patience is expressed in listening.  When we retreat from the noise of modern life and force our minds to concentrate on the reality of God’s creation around us, we can hear “the music of the spheres,” as another old hymn says.

There are things we cannot know until we are still.  In reverence before the Lord, let us be silent.  In deliberate postures of rest let us be quiet today.

Scriptures:
Ecclesiastes 3:7
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak…
Mark 6:31
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Habakkuk 2:20
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV
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.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I quiet my spirit before You. I will lay my questions aside. I will refrain from singing. I will be still before You, even in my restless mind. In stillness and in silence I will wait and as I do my strength will be renewed. My ceaseless mind will stop in its tracks for awhile. I will listen for Your voice. Speak, Lord. Your servant listens. Amen.

Song:
The Solitude of Silence
Words: Stephen Phifer; Music by Angela Danadio

1. In the silence of my soul, Lord, I will seek You.
In the stillness of my spirit I must stay.
I will flee from all the rush and noise around me.
In the solitude of silence I will wait.

Refrain:
For Your voice cannot be heard above the clamor.
You presence does not rest upon our haste.
In the silence of my spirit I will find you.
In the solitude of silence I will wait.

2. I will ask the singing winds to serenade me.
I will let the sunlight dance upon my fears,
Thinking back to those who listened here before me—
Silent laughter, silent prayers, and silent tears.

Refrain

3. In the pages of the Book Your heart is calling
As the ancient words fall soft upon my ear.
Like an early season snowfall, cool and healing,
Heaven’s peace, a glist’ning blanket, quells my fear.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 12, 2017

Exaltation

To exalt something or someone simply means to lift up, to elevate.
There is no way and no need for us to raise the throne of God any higher on the heavenly pedestal.  We can never elevate Jesus beyond the level He now occupies:  King of kings and Lord of lords.   So what does it mean to “exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool” or at “His holy mountain?”

We exalt the Lord when we lift up His holy name. 
While the name of Jesus occupies the highest place, (Eph 1:15-22; Phil 5:2-11) this fallen world and the people in it constantly denigrate His name, trying to make it meaningless and best and a curse at worst.  It is our job to elevate the name of Jesus to the highest place in our thinking, in our speech, in our art, in our hearts, and certainly in our worship.  We must counter the denigration of the world with the volume, eloquence, and the spiritual power of our praise, our exaltation of the Lord’s name.

We exalt the Lord when we extol His character.
The ancient song of the Old Covenant must ring out in our worship, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!”  The same fallen world systems that denigrate the name of Jesus also constantly impugn the character of God.  We must counter those accusations with truth!  God is good; He is not evil, or distant, or unconcerned.  Jesus is the revelation of who God really is.  To see Jesus is to see the Father.  To know the power of the Holy Spirit is to know the power of the Creator.

We exalt the Lord when we proclaim His Word.
The world today occupies a contradictory position:  people deny the existence of absolute truth while at the same time they relentlessly search for truth.  Jesus is the Living Word!  Exalting Jesus lifts this one Book above all other titles.  When we boldly proclaim the real truth of God, the Holy Spirit, who is called The Spirit of Truth, propels the Word of God like an arrow to the heart of the person who doesn’t know Jesus.  His Word also penetrates the hearts of believers who are struggling in their walk with God.  A clear vision of Jesus on His Throne, and the veracity of His Word changes us!

We exalt the Lord when we tell our story of what Jesus has done for us. 
The psalmists say that we should exalt the Lord because of His marvelous deeds.

  • If He has touched your life and changed you forever— Exalt His name!
  • If He has been faithful to you in all things— Exalt His name!
  • If He has healed you, delivered you, and kept you saved, healed and delivered—Exalt His name!

When we tell our story of life without and with Jesus, our testimony exalts His name.
It is no wonder that we overcome the wicked one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

We exalt the Lord when we tell His story.
There is simply no story like His story, no story that enters into our story, no narrative that never ends, no epic that encounters the heart, and no saga that saves the soul like the story of Jesus.  It is the story of the Love of God.  We will never will the lost with arguments and demonstrations of excellence; the story of Jesus told with the anointing of the Spirit is the power of God unto salvation for all people.

When we elevate the cross of Christ, we are telling His story.
As the permanent symbol of our faith in Him, we dare not lift up a cross with Jesus dead or dying upon it for the Jesus story does end on that hill.  We must lift up an empty cross for it tells the whole of the Good News of the Gospel:

  • Incarnation,
  • Atonement,
  • Redemption,
  • Ascension, and
  • Everlasting Kingdom

We exalt Him when we tell the truth–The cross is empty!
God save us from a half-told story and a tragic and powerless Jesus pinned to the cross!  Jesus is the victor over death, hell, and the grave!

Today is a day for exaltation, not of ourselves but the exaltation of Jesus, His cross, His story, His love, His faithfulness, His truth, His character, and for all to hear, His lovely, holy name!

Scriptures:
Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Psalm 30: 34:1-3
I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. …I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
John 12:32-34
But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
Psalm 99:5; 9
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.
Psalm 107:31-32
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
Isaiah 25:1
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I exalt You! I award the highest place in my mind to You. I claim the deepest place in my heart for You. Compared to Your throne in heaven, these things are pitiful and petty. Yet there are what I have to give. Remind me today that Your touch makes plain things beautiful, worthless things priceless, and weak things mighty. I will exalt You today with the word of my testimony. My work shall be worship. My words will be Your praise. My mind will welcome Your wisdom and my heart your compassion. With all of my being I will exalt You this day. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Song:
I Exalt Thee
Words and Music: Pete Sanchez Jr.

For Thou O Lord art high above all the earth.
Thou art exalted far above all gods.
For Thou O Lord art high above all the earth.
Thou art exalted far above all gods.

I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee, O Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved