October 18, 2017: “Essentials”

Essentials

Every task in life has its own essentials—

  • Fundamentals to be mastered,
  • Languages to understand, and
  • Disciplines to maintain.

Today we consider the essentials of life itself—

  • The fundamentals of living a life that matters,
  • The languages of life, and
  • The daily disciplines that keep life livable.

There are not that many absolute essentials to life, but there are a few, vital factors that make life meaningful and enjoyable.

Three Essentials
Among his many detailed instructions essential to a full life in Christ, Paul elevates three essentials to the top of the list:

  • Faith,
  • Hope, and
  • Love.

The brilliance of Paul’s analysis is apparent:

  • Faith—we will believe something that gives meaning and shape to life;
  • Hope—we will function in those beliefs because they provide expectations from life that motivate us to keep going; and
  • Love—we are not alone and the best way to connect with people and with our Creator is to purposely develop and express affection and real concern for others.

Faith is an Essential.
Faith presents itself in a number of guises, among them: world view, philosophy, and theology. Faith may even masquerade as science or cynicism or sarcasm, but it is all faith. At the core of any belief system is a set of assumptions, things that must be believed without proof. Faith provides the context in which we choose to live life.

A secular faith provides us with this poverty-stricken context for life:

  • I am an accident of an uncaring universe.
  • I have no purpose beyond my own choices.
  • I am an animal controlled by instinct, driven by the will to survive and procreate.
  • I am accountable to no one except my fellow man.
  • I have no eternal destiny; this life is all there is.
  • There is no judge or judgment day beyond human existence.

Each religion provides its own context for life. Let us consider the context the Christian life provides:

  • I was created by God and He has an eternal purpose for me; my life matters.
  • Made in the image of God, I am a trinity: body, soul, and spirit.
  • I have a free will and a deep desire to know, love, and serve God.
  • Jesus took the judgment of my sins at the cross and I will stand before Him one day to receive His judgment of my deeds as a believer.
  • I will live forever to serve and worship the Lord Jesus.
  • This life is preparation for the next.

The proper faith leads to hope and love.
With this faith, we can stride into each day with confidence that God is faithful. The theme song of the Old Testament is, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.” Faith gives us hope. With this faith and hope, we can approach others through genuine love. We need not fear what man can do to us—God is for us! We can love those who love us and those who hate us. We can love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love for God empowers us to love our neighbor as much as we do our self.

Whatever details of your life you encounter today, if you carry with you these essentials, when the night falls and it is time to sleep, you will look back on a day lived to its fullest.

Scriptures:
Psalm 107:1 NKJV
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Mark 12:30-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Matthew 5:43-45 3
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-6
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach me the fundamentals! Help me to never forget the essentials. I will rehearse the faith in prayer and scripture confession. I will exercise my days in the firm hope of Your promises and Your character. I will love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength while loving others as myself. These three essentials will empower the life I live before You and before the world. Lord, these aspirations are beyond my human ability. Holy Spirit, You dwell within me to empower me to do what I cannot do in the natural. Help me live this essential, spiritual life. For Your glory! Amen.

Song:
Faith Is the Victory
Words: John Henry Yates; Music: Ira D. Sankey

1. Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise
And press the battle ere the night Shall veil the glowing skies;
Against the foe in vales below Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know, That overcomes the world.

Refrain:
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us is love, Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints before With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath, Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

3. On every hand the foe we find Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head, With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread, And echo with our shout.

Refrain

4. To him that overcomes the foe, White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know His name confessed in heav’n;
Then onward from the hills of light, Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night, In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 17, 2017: “Competing”

Competing

Competition is an unavoidable part of life.
Two competing quotes:

“Winning isn’t everything; it is the only thing.”  Coach Vince Lombardi (among many others!)
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Jesus Christ

Today each of us goes to our place of work.  In the vast majority of those places workers will compete.  When the competition begins, the need to win becomes paramount.

  • Fathers and mothers compete against the conspiracies of the media, the marketplace, and the mania of the post-modern milieu for the future of their children.
  • Salespersons compete against others in the marketplace and even with other personnel.
  • Those in the medical profession compete against the onset and spread of disease.
  • Teachers and administrators compete against ignorance.
  • Physical therapists help disabled people compete against impairment.
  • Mental health professionals compete against sicknesses of the mind and soul.
  • Christian ministers compete against sin and its destructive forces arrayed against society.
  • Christians compete against their own inclinations to wander away from God and the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
  • The Church competes with the powers of darkness in high places, in the name of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, in the warfare of worship and with the irresistible force of radial obedience.

The list could go on and on.

This is not a game; this is war.
The coach’s quote above and the words of Jesus differ in one really significant way.  Lombardi was talking about professional football—a game.  Jesus was talking about eternal life, not at all a game.   Today we do more than take our places in the work force, we take our positions in a line of battle.

  • The enemy never takes a day off.
  • His propaganda outlets never cease broadcasting.
  • His agents in the field are tireless.

He has formed an evil empire that roars and stalks the innocent like a universal pride of lions, hungry, always hungry, seeking those unguarded ones to devour them.

When wars are lost, suffering breaks upon the defeated peoples far exceeding the pain of the war itself.  If we lose our families, our marriages, our children, or our country, it doesn’t matter what trifles we traded them for.  It will be a bad bargain.  No matter how difficult the battle may be, the defeat will be worse.

But we will not lose.  Jesus is victor!
You take your place in the line of battle with spiritual weapons for this spiritual warfare.  They are mighty through God, not through electricity, or pyrotechnics, or computing, or fossil fuels, or even nuclear power.  Our weapons are mighty through God to the destruction of strongholds and every device or deception that exalts itself to obliterate the name of Jesus.

Enter today’s competition assured of victory because winning this war is the only thing that matters!

Scriptures:
Mark 8:36-38
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Colossians 2:14-15
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Mark 8:34-38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I step into this day confident of Your overcoming grace. You have face all my enemies and defeated them. The competition wasn’t even close! You know my heart, Lord, how sometimes it strays from what is right. Temptation draws me away, competing for my attention. As You told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Your blood has cleansed my heart and Your Spirit dwells within. That makes me a winner no matter what the contest today. Help me prevail in today’s competition and to do so with a smile for my co-workers and especially for those who compete with me in unholy ways. Help me overcome evil with good. I want to walk in Your victory today, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Song:
Victory in Jesus
Words and Music: E.M. Bartlett

1. 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:
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 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

October 16, 2017 “Effort”

Effort

Effort comes in various sizes from little to medium to large to maximum. 
Effort costs something.  Supplies of energy or brain power or will power need to match the size of the effort put before us.

To get another week started takes effort on our part.  If the weekend went well and we were faithful to rest, worship, and have some fun, the amount of effort it takes to get back to work may be small and routine.  If the weekend was more demanding than usual with extra events and maybe some long distance travel, Monday morning may take a much larger effort.  In either case, those who can shut off the alarm and turn on the energy on Monday morning will have a better week than those who spend much of the day recovering from the weekend.

For the Christ-follower, effort has a strange companion—dependency. 
This is far from the negative dependency of drugs or alcohol.  This dependency is a wonderful companionship with the Holy Spirit.   At the last supper, Jesus told the disciples wonderful things about their coming new relationship with the Holy Spirit.

  • Under the Old Covenant believers had the Holy Spirit with them when they were given specific tasks to do for God, but there was no abiding presence of the Holy Spirit because full atonement had not been made for the sins of people.
  • Under the New Covenant forgiveness of sin was real and complete because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  The human vessel could be truly cleansed from sin and fit to be the habitation of God by His Spirit.  The Holy Spirit would take us residence in them instead of just being with them.

Jesus called the Spirit by a particular name, the paraclete, meaning literally, “the one who comes beside.”

parakletos
“called to one’s side,” i. e., to one’s aid, is primarily a verbal adjective, and suggests the capability or adaptability for giving aid

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Comforter.  He adds supernatural ability to our human effort.  We work and He works with us.  Our efforts are often located in the physical and mental realms—we work hard and think hard and believe hard with all our humanity.  The Comforter (the paraclete) comes along side to add His power to complete the task.  The Spirit is at work when we are at work.  He works in the material world and in the spirit realm, too.

By faith we choose to depend on the power of the Spirit. 
We never want to be listed with the “foolish Galatians” who thought they could finish in the power of their effort what they had begun in the Spirit.  Paul said they had been bewitched to believe such nonsense. Paul reminded the Corinthians that he deliberately chose not to depend on his considerable gifts but on the power and demonstration of the Spirit.

As this week starts, bring your “A-game,” as the saying goes.

  • Match your resources to the effort required for the job.
  • Work “smarter not harder.”
  • Do your work as unto the Lord and not unto men.
  • Learn to lean on the paraclete, the Holy Spirit who lives inside you and works alongside you in every task.

Your effort and God’s power will make this a meaningful week.

Scriptures:
John 14:15-18; 25-27
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. … But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:6-15
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. … when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
Galatians 3:3-4
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 2:1
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.   For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Colossians 1:29; 3:23-24
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
.
Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my strength, my endurance. I will give my best to the work today, fully expecting You to come to my aid. You will make my work better, my efforts somehow charged with the power of the Spirit. My work will be a compound substance consisting of earth and heave, the human with the divine. I hold no delusion that I can do this work along; I hold a promise that You will be with me in every effort. For Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Give of Your Best to the Master
Words: Howard B. Grose; Music: Charlotte Alington (Claribel)

1. Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

2. Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

3. Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 15, 2017 “Praise!”

Praise!

Everything that exists in time has a beginning, a middle and an ending.
Worship is no exception. Praise is the starting place for a service of worship. Psalm 100 states that praise is the gateway to the courts of the Lord. We enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving.

If your worship leader understands his/her ministry, the praise part of the service today will enable you express your gratitude to God for His faithfulness to you. There should be an opportunity to boldly and joyfully proclaim the praises of God, perhaps with the ancient words of a biblical psalm or with a classic hymn of praise with four stanzas: one for the Father, another for the Son, still another for the Spirit, and a fourth for the Kingdom of God. You may be led in a contemporary song that extols the majesty and love of God or the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. However it is done, praise is the starting point.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Praise focuses our minds on God and not on us.
  • Thanksgiving humbles us before our God.
  • Exaltation of the Lord Jesus establishes His heavenly Kingdom here on earth.
  • The Lord responds to our praise with His presence and His sovereignty.
  • The praise of the Church is heard by the spiritual wickedness arrayed against us.
  • The greatness of God is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
  • If there is un-confessed sin in our hearts, humility leads to repentance.
  • Praise renews the mind and clears away any confusion we may have collected during the week.

Tempo is not the Issue.
Songs of praise do not have to be fast songs. Sometimes a slower song that really exalts the Lord can be an excellent starting place for a worship service. Many times, though, our bodies need a little help getting into a worship state of being. In times like these a little bit or rhythm can help us release our praise. A catchy tune can help us recall the words of scripture so we can enter into the service.

It is an act of obedience.
Praise has another strategic advantage: it is not a matter of feeling. Praising God is not an involuntary or emotional reflex, it is an act of obedience. The Bible says the Lord is pleased by the Sacrifice of Praise. King David set the example in a terrible, judgment-filled moment of crisis when he refused to offer a sacrifice to the Lord which costs him nothing.

Today, become a proactive praise-er.
Go ahead and praise God whether you like the music or not. Lift your heart, your mind, your hands, and your voice in praise as act of obedience. Don’t wait for a feeling. Let your praise be a costly sacrifice. It may cost your comfort, your position, your pride, your dignity, or even your embarrassment, but if you praise the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will find yourself through the gates and into the presence of the Lord.

Scriptures:
Psalm 22:3,
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. KJV … You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Psalm 147:1
Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
Psalm 103:1
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Psalm 100:4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generation
James 5:13
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
2 Samuel 24:24
I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ephesians 3:10-13 10
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Hebrews 13:15-16
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, if I learn anything at all from the scriptures it is that You are worthy of praise. Your excellence is beyond our understanding so what we must do is celebrate it. Thank You for making praise and thanksgiving the gateway to Your presence. How fitting and pleasant it is for Your people to give thanks for all You have done and to praise You for Your excellent greatness. You found us in the darkness of our messed-up lives and brought sweet healing light to our souls. Now You have called us out of darkness for the purpose of proclaiming Your praise. This I will do today! Amen and Amen!

Song:
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Words: Fanny Crosby; Music: Chester G. Allen

1. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory,
strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children;
in His arms He carries them all day long:

Refrain:
Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness!
Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song!

2. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins, He suffered and bled and died;
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
love unbounded, wonderful, deep, and strong:

Refrain

3. Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Heavenly portals loud with hosannas ring!
Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever;
crown Him! crown Him! prophet and priest and King!
Christ is coming, over the world victorious,
power and glory unto the Lord belong:

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 14, 2017 “Pleasures”

Pleasures

We are all pleasure seekers.
For some, the pursuit of pleasure is the announced purpose for living their lives. Others hide their pursuit of pleasure behind “loftier” goals but at the heart of their activities, they want to enjoy life as much as the above-board pleasure seekers. Still others find pleasure in service to others, subjugating their pleasure to the needs of those who cross their paths. The criminal mind finds pleasure in pain and the mentally ill apparently find pleasure in misery.

However we find it, pleasure and the pursuit of pleasure are primal human drives.

Often, Christians are conflicted about pleasure; we hide it behind holier words like joy, happiness, rejoicing, fulfillment, fullness, etc. But what we really are talking about is pleasure. We are afraid of pleasure because we live in a pleasure-mad world from which we must be separate.

The pleasures of sin are a constant temptation.
These pleasures are deadly and deceptive. To taste of these delights is addictive and destructive and, above all, displeasing to the Lord. We want with all our hearts to please Him, not just to gain heaven and shun hell, but because we love God and are so thankful for salvation.

We hear the words of Jesus and the apostles and we suspect that pleasure is just a trap.

  • “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matt 16:24)
  • If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away… (Matt 5:29)
  • The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but … they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (Luke 8:14-15)
  • (in the last days people will be) lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…(2 Tim 3:4)
  • … the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. (1 Tim 5:6)
  • At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. (Titus 3:3)
  • When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)

Realistically, though, pleasure itself is not at all bad.
We are made in the image of God and the Bible clearly records that God takes pleasure in things:

  • He enjoyed the acts and results of creation.
  • He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day.
  • He was greatly pleased by the sacrifices of worship and thanksgiving of those who believed in Him.
  • In heaven He has surrounded Himself with beauty in architecture, music, and pageantry.
  • He pleased to forgive our sins when we turn away from them in repentance and turn toward Him in love.
  • Jesus joyfully received the praise of children, the gratitude of those He touched, the hospitality of Martha, and the amazing gift of Mary, the two sisters who made Him welcome in their home in Bethany.
  • Jesus surely enjoyed striking fire in the hearts of the two on the road to Emmaus.

Since this is the image by which we have been formed, take this day of rest to find the pleasures of righteousness:

  • in God’s creation,
  • in great music,
  • in meaningful narratives,
  • in the company of loved ones,
  • in the solitude of the sea or the deep woods,
  • in the astonishing white snowfall and the warmth of the fireside,
  • in the joy of being husband and wife,
  •  in family laughter and fun, and in the holy presence of Jesus.

Feel Him laughing and listening, watching and wondering with us. It is good that we find pleasure in God and His creation. These pleasures are not a trap—they are gifts to enjoy.

Scriptures:
Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you knew pain when You walked this earth and You also knew life’s pleasures. Like any other infant Your first human sensations were the pleasure of Mary’s touch, her voice, and her tender love. As a child You laughed and played; we can only imagine the sound of Your little-boy’s laugh when You were having fun. As a young man You enjoyed the tutelage of Joseph in the carpenter’s shop. You learned the pleasure of working with Your hands and of work well done. In the Gospels we see a man whom children sought out. You made them laugh and You laughed with them. As You walked closer and closer to Calvary, pleasure drew farther and farther from You. There was no pleasure there or in the hollow tomb. But I am sure that when You broke the bounds of death, there was a smile on Your face. Help me know the resurrection pleasures of new life in You today. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Song:
Feelin’ Mighty Fine
Words and Music: Mosie Lister

1. I woke up this morning feeling fine
I woke up with heaven on my mind
I woke up with joy in my soul cause
I knew my Lord has been raise
Well I knew i was walkin’ in the light
cause I’d been on my knees in the night
And I’d pray till the Lord gave a sign
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

Refrain:
Well I’m feeling mighty fine
I’ve got heaven on my mind
Don’t you know I want to go
where the milk and honey flow
There’s a light that always shines
down inside this heart of mine
I’ve got heaven on my mind
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

2. We’re walking with Jesus all the time
we’re walking and talking as we climb
We’re traveling a road to the sky
where I know I’ll live when I die
He’s been telling me all about that land
and he tells me that everything is grand
And he says that a home will be mine
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 13, “Paying”

Paying

Justice or Injustice?
Jesus was the only human being who understood what was really happening that dark Friday.  Throughout the night He had stood before the Jewish authorities and the Roman authorities as they took turns abusing Him.  The religious authorities used words and fists.  The political leaders used false praise, fists, whips, a crown of thorns, and a mocking kingly robe.  They all knew exactly what they were doing.  Yet they could never have imagined what Jesus was doing.

He was no passive prisoner at the mercy of cruel men.  He was Prince of Heaven on an earthly mission fulfilling His part of the grand enterprise of redemption.

With the cross on His back, the crown pressed into His bleeding head, and with His back beaten raw by the Roman whip, Jesus walked the Way of Suffering, through the narrow city streets, crowded with uncaring onlookers.  The pitiless procession passed beneath the balconies of the well-to-do, living in finery and festive pride as well as second-story villains of all vices.  Windows closed at the sight of another execution underway; it was no concern of theirs.  They did not understand what Jesus was doing—for them—the price He was paying

The crowd grew as the parade passed through the city gates toward the Place of the Skull.  More and more people came to enjoy the ghastly spectacle.  They could never have known what was really happening before their eyes.

About fifty days hence, praise in countless languages would capture their attention and Peter would stand among them to explain what Jesus had done. Three thousand would remember this day on that Day of Pentecost and they would believe.

On that Friday, they did not believe.  There was nothing to believe.  That nice man who spoke so well and helped so many people must have done something wrong to be given the sentence of death. Surely this was justice. They were sure this was another tragedy of a young man defeated by the entrenched leaders of the nation. Perhaps it was injustice.

Soldiers, horses with ropes, hammers, nails, curses, and crosses were lifted against a darkening sky.  Rain, thunder, and wind made the work harder and the soldiers angrier and more brutal.

Jesus spoke but only a few heard what He said.  They didn’t know what He was doing, the price He was paying.  Their confusion rang out in abusive taunting shouts:

“He saved others but he cannot save himself!”
“Come down from that cross, if you are the Son of God!”
“Healer!  Heal yourself!”

In the rain, soldiers gambled for the robe He had worn.  As one last irony, they nailed Pilate’s sign into place, reading, “The King of the Jews.”

Pilate didn’t know the truth He spoke.
As the storm on Calvary reached the private chambers of the palace, the Roman Governor could not shake the feeling that he wasn’t in control of these events.  He pondered Jesus’ answer about his power to take Jesus’ life or give it back to Him.  “You would have no power all except what you have been given from above.”  Could a higher authority be at work in this bloody business?  It was true, Jesus was doing what He came to do.

Jesus was paying the price, the ransom, the debt.  He was paying for our redemption, laying down His humanity for the sake of all humanity.  The perfect sacrifice, He was making atonement for us. He was opening a “a new and living way” for us to enter into fellowship with God.

That terrible Friday, Jesus was paying the cost with all that He had—and it was enough!

Scriptures:
John 3:16-17
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.
Matthew 20:28
…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John 19:9-11
Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.  “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.
John 19:30
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
1 Timothy 2:4-6
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.
1 Cornthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Galatians 1:3-5
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 85:9-10 KJV
Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.  Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, never was there such injustice than at Calvary. You were more than innocent, You were holy—with a holiness tried in the fire of life here on earth. You had no sins of Your own but You took the judgement for my sins, for all the sins of mankind. Justice and injustice mingled together in Your blood at the foot of the cross. Because You paid the price, I can face this day forgiven, a new creature, standing before God as if I had never sinned. I can pass through the new and living way You opened for me to dwell in peace at Your throne. Thank You, Lord, for paying the price. Amen.

Song:
Jesus Paid It All
Words: Elvina M. Hall; Music: John T. Grape

1. I hear the Savior say,”Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”

Refrain:
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,He washed it white as snow.

2. Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots And melt the heart of stone.

Refrain

3 For nothing good have I Where-by Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

Refrain

4 And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”My lips shall still repeat.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 12, 2017 “Leadership”

Leadership

The leader is also a member of the team.
This simple truth is so often lost in the way we do things today. The church should be led by player-coaches who are active in the contest, not just watching from the dugout.

The astounding words of Jesus about leadership only make sense when the leader realizes that the Kingdom of God has only one King.

  • Jesus wears the crown.
  • Jesus sits on the Throne of Majesty.
  • Jesus is the center of the adoration of heaven.
  • His fullness fills all in all.

The local leader must also be one who is being led. He/she must not just crack the whip, the leader must take up the traces and pull his/her part of the Lord. Leading and commanding are not the same things at all.

Top Down? Inside Out?
From heaven, the church is a top-down organization; here on earth it is an inside-out organism. In these matters the contrast between the Old and New Covenants is stark:

Under the Old Covenant:

  • The Holy Priesthood represented God to man and man to God.
  • The word of the patriarch, the judge, the king, the prophet was meant to be obeyed, not explained.
  • Most of the time leaders ascended to leadership through family connections.
  • Unquestioned power drives the Old Testament leader.
  • Violence in the maintenance the authority of the King was to be expected.
  • The leader lived a separate life in the tabernacle, the temple, the palace, the prophet’s chamber, or in the wilderness.
  • The Holy Spirit came upon leaders for specific tasks in times of need, but found no dwelling place in their hearts.

With the New Covenant:

  • All of us are Holy-Royal Priests unto the Lord; we are a Kingdom of priests.
  • The words of a New Testament leader are judged by all as the Holy Spirit affirms His voice in the voice of the leader.
  • Leaders are chosen by the will of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
  • The power of God, not the power of politics, empowers the New Covenant leader.
  • Maintenance of position is never done by violence, abuse, or coercion.
  • The Holy Spirit abides in the heart of the Leader at all times as a permanent anointing to live as well as to lead.

Today, if you take the reins of leadership, do so in a New Covenant manner.
You are not a ruler. You are not a king or queen. You are a priest, a servant, a shepherd, and a follower of Christ. Lead the way He led—in the power of the Spirit, from a humble soul, according to the truth of God, and always—always—from a loving heart.

Scriptures:
John 12:26; 15:20 KJV
If any man serve me, let him follow me… The servant is not greater than his lord…
Mark 9:35; 10:42-45
“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 23:10-12
The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
2 Timothy 2:24 KJV
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men…
John 14:16-18 NKJV
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth… He dwells with you and will be in you.
Acts 15:28
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sometimes leading the way You told us to lead goes against my instincts. It seems unnatural until I obey and do what You said to do. In that moment I sense Your joy in me and my human instincts shrink back into the place where Your Spirit sent them. Your Word makes spiritual sense, even when it defies human nature. Help me lead Your way. Lord, I pray for all my leaders. Help them to lead me well according to Your example and teaching. Help us to serve those we lead. Rebuke us when we act like lords and kings. Help us seek out the lower place, the supporting role, and to be quick with the encouraging word. Teach us to take joy in the success of others. Lead us not into the temptations of pride and position and deliver us from the evils of selfish ambition. For Your glory, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Make Me Like You
Words and Music: Jamie Owens Collins

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2017 “Joy!”

Joy!

The joy of the Lord is not so elusive as we might think.
So close to life itself, this joy rushes into us when we inhale and remains in us even as we exhale. It courses through our veins and arteries with our life’s blood, nourishing each cell of our being with the energy and oxygen of spiritual life.

Because He has sent us His Spirit to abide in the deepest part of us, His joy has come too. We don’t have to work it up. We don’t even have to feel it. This joy dwells in a place deeper than feelings, a place of covenant and constancy where the promises of God run round the clock, the machinery of God’s faithfulness, without vibration or hum or even blinking lights and whirling gages. His grace operates in the deep place where there is great strength and greater peace.

Joy in the center.
When the joy of the Lord seems far away, this is where it has gone—to the center of us, where Jesus abides, the Father watches, and the Spirit empowers. If there is no joy today, dive deeper into Him. He will meet you in the Secret Place. He said the Father is already there and the Spirit is ready to take you to Him.

How is this done? In these well-known ways:

  • Pray the prayer He gave us.
  • Honor Him.
  • Seek His Kingdom and His forgiveness.
  • Forgive those who have wronged you.
  • Trust Him with every detail of the day ahead.

He will guard you when the trials come and deliver you from any brand of evil or any class of evildoer this day may hold. Go so deep into Jesus that you see His throne towering above all other authorities and hear His voice more clearly in your heart than any other voice.

Jesus is Lord.
He rules. He reigns. Nothing confuses Him. No rebel has deposed Him. His saints still sing His glory and angels still attend Him. “Thousands at His bidding speed” as well as those others who also serve Him as they stand and wait.

Take your place among those who love Him. As you stand before Him, He dwells within you. And with Him, His joy—the strength you need for this day.

Scriptures:
Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 126:5-6
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
John 15:9-11
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete
Nehemiah 8:10
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of joy. Thank You for joy that is deeper than happiness, finer than comfort, and more permanent that any pain I might experience. You said this amazing joy is Your joy, the joy You saw coming as You endured the whip and the chains and the curses and the shame. You saw the joy that awaited You when all the pain was past, when all Your blood spilt and all Your work completed. Clear in Your vision You saw the joy of the believer’s embrace, of broken fellowship restored, and of paradise reclaimed. This was the “joy set before You.” You endured the shame of the cross and found in this peculiar joy the strength to overpower death. Lord, I take joy in Your victory today and that joy, indeed, is just the strength I will need. By Your Spirit, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Song:
Joy of My Desire
Words and Music: Randy Rothwell

Joy of my desire, all consuming fire;
Lord of glory, Rose of Sharon, rare and sweet.
You are now my peace, Comforter and friend,
wonderful, so beautiful, You are to me.

I worship You in spirit and in truth.
Lord, I worship You in spirit and in truth.
There will never be a friend as dear to me,
there will never be a friend as dear to me,
there will never be a friend as dear to me,
as dear to me as You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2017 “Doing”

Doing

A King’s Last Command
King David, sensing death nearby, whispered to his chosen son Solomon a word of advice that would make his life a blessing.  “My son, do the work…”

Some people are good at planning things to do, but seldom get around to actually doing them.  Others talk a good job but never seem to be caught actually working.  Still others carefully time their entrances and exits when the work ends or when it is just getting started so that to the casual observer it looks like they have done something but they really haven’t done anything.  There are also dreamers who imagine themselves as productive people but their deeds are also merely dreams.

We can’t do anything about those kinds of people.  We can only make sure we are not found in their company.  If we have made plans, let us get busy doing what is necessary to achieve the plans.  If we can “talk the talk,” let’s make sure we also, “walk the walk.”  Let’s put as much thought into finding out what needs to be done and lending our strengths and efforts to the tasks as others do avoiding work.  Let’s bring our heads down out of the clouds and get our hands dirty with the work that must be done.

Wisdom for the Ages
King David’s charge to his son Solomon as the moment of this transfer of power is one of the most useful pieces of instruction in the Bible.  Twice David told his son to, “Do the work.”  This is wisdom for the ages.

When we see those we admire for their great abilities, there is more than talent on display.  We are observing the effective work of someone who has “done the work” it took to develop talent into skill.

  • Talent, the ability to readily learn to do something, is God’s gift to us.
  • Skill, the ability to do something well, is our gift to God.

One of the most amazing things about watching an orchestra play in concert is the realization that in the space of an hour or so of musical presentation, we are reaping the benefits of countless hours of lessons and practice, drills and rehearsals on the part of the players.  One doesn’t learn to play an instrument well without “doing the work.”

Faith without Works
In the New Testament the Lord’s brother warns us that our faith is demonstrated by what we do, not just by what we know and certainly not by what we say.  The apostle makes it clear that each believer has work to do for God, not to earn his/her salvation by good deeds outweighing bad ones, but by demonstrated the power of the redeemed life.  We are called to be more than good planners, exciting talkers, clever work avoiders, or useless dreamers.  We are called to me people of good hearts and good deeds.  Our hearts have been cleansed by the washing of the water and the Word and our daily deeds are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This week, do not be a hearer only; be a doer!  Hear King David whispering across the ages of time, “Do the work!”

Scriptures:
1 Chronicles 28:9-10; 20-21
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”… David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
1 Peter 3:11
… turn from evil and do good…
James 1:22-25; 2:18-19
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.
Hebrews 13:16
… do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth… Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Colossians 3:17; 23-25
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Ephesians 2:9-10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, all around me today, there is work to be done for You. Help me to see it and to do my part of it. Some tasks are one-time events and therefore are opportunities not to be missed. Other work is part of a longer process. These jobs won’t be finished today but the work we do today is important to the final result. Help me function as a problem solver on the job today. Give me the solutions my co-workers are looking for. Help me esteem my fellow workers as brothers and sisters. Let me be the kind of person they can count on. May the work of my hands be praise and worship unto You, today! For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated
Words: Frances Ridley Havergal; Music: Henri Cesar Malan

1 Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.

2 Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.

3 Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee,
filled with messages from thee.

4 Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose,
every power as thou shalt choose.

5 Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne,
it shall be thy royal throne.

6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee,
ever, only, all for thee.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 9, 2017 “Tasks”

Tasks

Tasks—things we have to do—there is no shortage of these for most of us.
Make a list of them and keep in front of you all day so you can check them as you get them done.  That makes for a successful day.  A successful day today makes for a successful week this week, so let’s get to it!

Wait.

Just as the sun rises on a new day and a new week, the compassion of the Lord rises upon us each day, new and freely flowing.  Before the day and the week get rolling, the supreme task awaits our faithfulness—prayer.

It is a simple choice:

  • Do we rush into the day because the day is rushing into us?
  • Or do we wait for the power of Christ to envelope us as we pray?

The Paraclete
The list of things to do today doesn’t change; it will be there calling, demanding our time.  What will change is us.  Will we attempt today’s tasks in our own strength or will we be assisted throughout the day by the paraclete, the Holy Spirit, our Helper who “comes along side?”

This is no small difference.

  • It is the difference between unfinished tasks and completed ones.
  • It is the difference between who we are and who we want to be.

Will the world in which we operate have to deal only with us, our sparkling personality, piercing intellect, and irresistible compassion? Or will the world have to deal with the real us—humble before God and greatly assisted by the power of heaven.  There is a huge difference!  Daily prayer connects us to the power source we need to get our tasks properly taken care of.

An essential part of prayer is the prayerful reading of the Word of God.
This is different from studying the Bible.  This is an act of prayerfully consuming the truth of God.  Daily reading of scripture as a part of faithful prayer builds spiritual understanding, strength, and endurance.  If food meals are omitted for some earthly reason, (not fasting before the Lord) it won’t be long until physical and mental weaknesses will prevent us from checking off the tasks on our list.  Our spiritual insight, strength, and stamina operate the same way; we need daily intake of the Words of Life.

There is no reason to “go it alone” today. 
The God Who Keeps Covenant has promised to be with you in every meeting, at every task, and in every relationship.  Task Number One—Prayer—opens your heart to Him on this new day.  Through the open door of your heart, God will pour in grace sufficient for any task.  Just as His mercies were new this sunrise, our commitment is renewed today in prayer—Task Number One.

Scriptures:
Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Luke 11:1-2 KJV; Matthew 6:5-13
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them…
“…when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Lamentations 3:22-24
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
John 14:15-18 NKJV
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever –the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Psalm 55:16-17
But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

Prayer:
The Lord’s Prayer
From the Book of Common Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever.  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

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved