October 6, 2017: “Champion”


Satan marshaled the might of Rome against Him with a tax, and a cruel journey, but could not stop Him. The Champion was determined to abandon Heaven for earth. Bethlehem closed its doors but could not shut Him out. A stable was enough.

The Champion was born.

All the pits and perils of boyhood came against Him but, at age 12, Jesus emerged a man, a man about His Father’s business. As a youth, Jesus was tempted as every young man is tempted, yet without sin.

The Champion was in training.

Then, as Satan slinked in the Spirit-shadows of the Jordan, Jesus plunged beneath the
waters of obedience. The Heavens opened as if to take the Champion back where He
belonged. Instead, the Spirit came upon Him as a dove and the Father’s voice was heard.

The Champion was ready.

Forty days later, He was hungry, tired, thirsty. Satan made his move.
“Eat,” he said.
“Jerusalem,” he said.
“Worship me,” he said.
“It is written. It is written. It is written,” Jesus said, and the tempter could not stay.

The Champion was in command.

For three years Satan threw everything he had at the Champion: sin, sickness, demons,
religion, politics, pride, faithless friends, hostile crowds, lies, twisted truths. Jesus handled every pitch.

The Champion prevailed.

Then one night in a garden, sweat became blood as companions slept through the Champion’s prayers. A friend’s kiss betrayed and soldiers came, one last attack by a defeated Devil. But this time, Jesus let them come. “This is the hour.” they heard Him say.

The Champion submitted to His Father’s will.

Fists, spears, shouts, thorns, a whip, trials, soldiers, nails, a cross and a sponge of sour wine on a stick. A sudden cry to His Father –“It is finished!”

The Champion was dead.

Earthquakes, lightning, thunder, darkness in the middle of the day. Weeping, fresh linen, burial spices, a borrowed tomb, a huge stone.

The Champion was buried.

Roman guards. It was over. All was secure. Hell rejoiced, flames made demon shadows dance. Captive souls despaired for their Champion. Unseen by the soldiers, a force they could never have stopped entered the tomb and the linen collapsed, empty.

The Champion was alive.

Into hell’s shadowy celebration came a figure of light. A path cleared before the shining One as He strode the paving stones of perdition with silence following him close. Jesus the Champion, stood before Satan with a nail-scarred hand outstretched.

Suddenly keys—those of death, hell and the grave—sprang from Satan’s grasp into the hands of the Champion. Prison doors surrendered to the Champion’s keys. Demons scattered like rats as Jesus led the righteous souls to the Father’s Throne Room.

The Champion had won.

Heaven took Him back. The Father proclaimed His name far above every other name. And still, the enemy roars seeking whom he may devour. But those who know the Champion do not fear. For Satan is a toothless terror. Soon the Champion will bind Him forever.

The Champion rules heaven and earth

Until then, the Champion prevails, Master of storm and sea; of sickness and circumstance; faithful to rescue those who call upon Him in faith; true to His nature and to His Word for He is Jesus—Champion of the Ages!

Soon a trumpet will bring the Champion back. We will see our loved ones again and be with Him forever for in His triumph He makes each of us a champion—A Champion for our Age!

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Revelation 5:9-14 NKJV
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

Lord Jesus, my victorious King, You have won the battle for my soul, for the souls of people everywhere. Help me walk in that victory today. I step forth into this day fully armed with Your might. My head is covered by salvation and I wear the shoes of a gospel prepared. My belt is truth and my heart and lungs are protected by Your righteousness imputed to me. I hold in my hands the shield of faith, impervious to any satanic strategy and I brandish the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Your victory is mine today! Because You are the Champion, I am, too! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Victor’s Crown
Words and Music: Robert Gay

Oh the glory of Your name, the splendor of Your name
And none can compare with the power of that name
You are Jesus. You are Lord. You are God

You have won the victor’s crown.
You have triumphed over sin and death
Your name is lifted high and rings through all the earth
Every demon spirit of hell trembles when Your mighty
Name is heard

And we Your church proclaim Your victory in the world.
Oh the glory of Your name, the splendor of Your name
And none can compare with the power of that name
You are Jesus. You are Lord. You are God!
You are Jesus, You are Lord. You are God!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 3, 2017 “Calling”


Following Christ
At the heart of the believer’s relationship with the Lord is a sense that He has called us to follow Him.  The promises of the New Covenant are those of a personal relationship with God.  We are not following a philosophy as best we can; we are following the Master who has called us personally to follow Him closely.  We know His voice and recognize His authority.  We trust His judgment as we voluntarily submit to His Lordship.

Daily Staff Meeting
If we choose to, we can have a personal staff meeting with the Lord each day in morning prayer.  If we listen, we can hear His voice throughout the day warning us, guiding us and revealing His great heart to us.  As the day closes and we meet with Him again for evening prayer, we sense His pleasure or His pain at the day just past.  We can feel what Jesus feels and rest peacefully in His faithfulness.

There are some things every believer is called to do:

  • To read and understand the Word of God,
  • To praise and worship the Lord Most High,
  • To witness to those who do not know Him through holy living and intercessory prayer,
  • To serve others; (even leaders are called to be servant-leaders)
  • To do good work as the Lord’s crafts-persons, and
  • To take our place in the company of the Redeemed to honor God and touch a hurting humanity.

There are also specific things the Lord calls individuals to do.

  • Some are called to make music or create some other art.
  • Others are called to teach.
  • Still others have been called to lead the church.
  • Some people are called to work in retail sales and some are called to manage businesses.
  • The Lord calls some to be involved in health care.
  • Craftspeople are called to make things and repair things.

There is no end to the possibilities of occupations the Lord has designed His people to do.  Just as King David appointed priests and Levites to make the music of worship at David’s Tabernacle. King Jesus appoints His followers to places of responsibility and blessing.  Some doubt this, saying we just need to love God, live by the Word, and do our best.  The scriptures indicate otherwise:

  • The words of the writer to the Hebrews encourage us to hear the calling of the Lord through the details of each day.
  • Jesus said His sheep would know His voice.
  • In the Revelation Jesus encourages us to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

You heard Him, too!
Just like those ancient fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and others of low estate, who heard Jesus say, “Follow me!” you have heard Him, too.  Even if your are not sure that the job you go today is one God has called you to do, you can go to that job sure that He has called you to integrity and faithfulness, and to life in the power of the Spirit.  He has appointed you to greatness today.  If He is the only one to witness your success, that is more than enough.

John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life…
Hebrews 1:1
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…
Revelation 2:7
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
1 Chronicles 16:4-5
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel:
2 Peter 1:10-11
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 3:1
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:1
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Matthew 4:18-20
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.
John 21:15-22
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  … Then he said to him, “Follow me!”  … You must follow me.”
Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Lord Jesus, there is no voice like Your voice. It sounds everywhere: in creation, in circumstances, in the storm and in the still after the storm, even in the words of others when they are touched by Your Spirit. The two places where I hear Your call most clearly and in the Word and in my spirit, deep in my inmost part. You have promised to write the Word into my heart and that You have done. I hear Your call. It is a fixed milestone in my life; other considerations may fade, but Your call remains clear. It is the central organizing point of my life. Help me not only hear You today, but follow You as well. Following You is success, regardless of any outcome. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

A Charge to Keep Have I
Words: Charles Wesley; Music Lowell Mason

1 A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify,
a never-dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.

2 To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill,
O may it all my pow’rs engage to do my Master’s will!

3 Arm me with jealous care as in Thy sight to live,
and now Thy servant, Lord, prepare a strict account to give!

4 Help me to watch and pray,and still on Thee rely,
O let me not my trust betray,but press to realms on high.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 30, 2017 “Investigate”


Each of us has a bit of the snoop in us.
We like to find things out, to investigate matters, to ask questions that provide insight into a mystery. For some this is a life’s work. The professional may be a scientist, an explorer, a reporter, a policeman or government agent, a student or anyone whose work and main interest is investigation. Some who do not make a living at it, may be amateur sleuths, hobbyists, or students who investigate things for fun. At the bottom of the list of perpetual investigators would be gossips, whose natural curiosity has mutating into malice.

A Gift from God
Curiosity, as the old saying goes, may have killed a cat or two, but it is really a gift from God. We were created to be inquisitive. The desire to discover how something works is deep in the human heart. The need to understand what we see, hear, and taste is a prime mover of the human mind.

For all the ages of people on the earth, the night sky has prompted awe and wonder peppered as it is with clear points of light all moving in each its own way. Some even stream fire as they race to an appointment primitive people could only wonder about. God placed a huge bright disk in the night sky and made it appear to change shapes regularly and move lazily from horizon to horizon, sometimes hiding behind clouds and at other lines pulling on our brains with tides of wonder as the moon pulls the waters of the seas. Why would God do something like that? Surely it was to cause us to wonder, to imagine and eventually to actually go there, a journey made possible by mankind’s desire to investigate.

“The heavens are telling…”
The marvels of creation are a testament to who God is and to the precision of His handiwork. From the tiniest particles of matter, light, and energy to the vast reaches of an ever-expanding universe, God the Creator, has given us a cosmos designed for investigation. Like the whole of creation, the flower of all creation, the human being, is so minute in the mysteries of life in the cell, so complex in the workings of mind, and so spectacular in the capabilities of the body, that investigators have been compelled to explore the cell, probe the soul, and to celebrate the arts and athletics of mankind. It must delight the Lord God when we unravel a mystery He has hidden for us to explore.

As just one example, think of the ability to fly.
The desire to fly like the birds predated the discovery of powered flight by thousands of years, years of experimentation and investigation. Surely no one smiled a bigger smile than the Lord at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. The same could be said for the multigenerational searches that led to discoveries that benefitted mankind. When we investigate creation, we are doing the work God put us here to do.

Are You and Investigator?
Do not protest that you are not a scientist or inventor or explorer so there is nothing for you to investigate.

  • Remember The Book. God has given us a detailed, demanding document for our investigation. Asking questions of God is an ancient spirituality that delights Him.
  • The Psalms are full of questions, some answered and some not. The faith God wants us to enjoy is one of asking, inquiring, seeking, finding, listening, and receiving.
  • Even the silence of God on a matter tells us much if we are truly investigating.
  • The heart of God is revealed in Jesus; if you want to know who God is, investigate Jesus.

Follow your God-given desire to know and to understand. Ask in faith instead of cynicism or doubt and you will receive. Never lose the wonder of the night sky with its stunning stars and mystifying moon, for the heavens are still telling of the glory of God!

Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 40:4-5
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
Psalm 89:5-8
The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Genesis 1:1-2
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Lord Jesus, It gives You great joy when I investigate Your goodness, Your creation, and Your plan for me. Help me be consistent in my consumption of Your Word. Excite my curiosity concerning Your world. Assist me to look deep into my own heart as the Holy Spirit illumines my mind. Let there be no wicked ways in me. Give me insight into the hearts of the people in my life so that I might serve them better. Show me Your ways, O Lord! Show me Your ways. For Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.

Show Me Your Ways
Words and Music: Russell Fragar

Show me Your ways That I may walk with You
Show me Your ways I put my hope in You
The cry of my heart Is to love You more
To live with the Touch of Your hand
Stronger each day Show me Your ways

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 29, 2017 “Empty”


Empty Hearts
Yes, of course these hearts beat. But this is not about pumping blood. This is about life and these hearts are empty of life. These hearts belong to good people. People who work hard and do the right thing and go to church and mow their lawns and try to treat others they way they would like to be treated.

But something of their childhood dreams has eluded them. Perhaps they came to Florida to start over. Perhaps they came to sit in the shade and watch the sun go down. Perhaps they came to fish or to start a new business or a new marriage. But sunsets and fishing tackle haven’t filled their empty hearts. Church membership and a good job still leaves a hole in their heart where the joy leaks out. The new marriage or new business or the old fantasies of childhood have filled their lives with activity but have failed to make them happy. Think of it! Within 30-40 minutes of your church, there are unnumbered empty hearts.

Empty Lives
“What are his vital signs?” asks the paramedic over an unconscious man. Meaning, “How alive is he?” There are vital signs other than pulse and respiration rates. There is life —life itself, a spark in the eyes, a bubbling laugh, a sigh of satisfaction, the quick step of a man on a mission. These cannot be measured on medical instruments. Most people have nothing in their lives. They may be on the street, obvious in their poverty, or they may be living in the seaside mansion hiding their poverty behind wealth.

“Life does not consist in the things a man possesses.” Jesus said.

But “things, things, and more things” form the substance we try to use to fill our lives. But the hole found in empty hearts is in the empty lives too. The stuff won’t stay. It keeps draining out and leaving the life empty. Just think, unnumbered lives have just trudged through another day—hoping for the weekend and maybe some more stuff.

Empty Places
Meanwhile, at church, people stand and sing praises to their King—scores of them, or hundreds, or a thousand or more gathered at the appointed hour to sing and serve and seize life from their Savior. Their lives are brimming with the substance of the King’s domain—righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Each has a calling—a function in life that fills him to overflowing and makes his life count for something. These hearts are full of gratitude, of praise, of adoration, of worship. Peace is found there and hope.

Yet, scattered between these worshipers, all around the edges and way up in the balcony are places where no one has put down a Bible or purse or a coat. No one stands there worshiping. The Word comes to these seats looking for a heart to invade but falls on fabric instead, the sound of the Words of Life dissipates in a cushion. Empty seats—so many spaces for someone to fill; some empty-hearted servant of the Lord who longs to be filled with the Spirit of God or some empty-lived servant of hell who never knew there was salvation.

  • Empty hearts—tradition and lack of knowledge has robbed them of joy—a tragedy.
  • Empty lives—sin has beaten the breath from their souls—a crime against God and man.
  • Empty places—a gift from God wasted—a catastrophe.

Lord, help us. Show us how to fill the empty places. Show us how to sense the empty heart and fill it with your Sprit. Teach us to recognize the empty life and bring it to you. Lord,countless empty souls are rushing to hell as fast as they can all around us. They are shooting each other and jumping off bridges. They medicate each other with contraband and betray their vows in little, musty rooms. They roam our streets like scavengers unable to get their fill and they stalk the halls of business like predators unable to get enough.

Lord, You are what they are looking for! Please, Lord, help us fill these empty places.

Luke 12:15 NIV
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 7:37-39 NKJV
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Lord Jesus, let my heart be broken for the lost. Help me feel the pain in Your heart when we you such lost souls here, where I live. Sensitize my soul to their emptiness. Let the very sigh of empty places in our church disturb me, strike me to the heart. Show me how to fill our empty places. Show me how to fill the empty lives all around me, beginning with mine. Help me reach out to the empty hearts within my reach. I want to be ready with the word of witness, the compassionate touch in Your name, and the loving gesture at Your command. Let the spring of Living Water in me flow so strong that those who know me best will also know that Your life flows through me. For Souls, Lord for Souls! Amen.

People Need the Lord
Words and Music: Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh

1. Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What could be too great a cost
For sharing Life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the Words of Life
Only we can share.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 28, “Providing”


Jehovah Jireh
At one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Old Testament history God revealed one of the most heart-building covenant names—Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Who Will Provide.

At the summit of the mountain of testing, Mt. Moriah, Abraham was resigned to the demand of God.  Perhaps he had sharpened the blade of his knife to reduce the pain he would inflict on his only son, Isaac, to bring about a quick and merciful death.  Just as Abraham raised his strong arm to plunge the knife into his long awaited promise, the voice of an angel stopped him and spoke for God—

“Do not lay a hand on the boy!”

Abraham had passed the most demanding test imaginable. 
Another voice split the wind at the summit of Moriah: the bleating of a lamb caught in a thicket.  Jehovah had indeed provided a lamb, fulfilling the promise Abraham had made to Isaac as they climbed the mountain trail.  Abraham learned something more about this God who met with him and spoke with him—He was the God who provides.

Today so many of us will go off to work like we do every weekday. 
In this we are following the image of God in us—we are those who provide.  This provision goes far beyond paychecks and retirement accounts.  Those who work outside the home provide resources needed inside the home.  Those whose work keeps them in the home provide resources needed outside the home as they send out their family members rested, clothed, and fed—ready to meet the world.  As we work, we are providers.

However, our provision to the needs of others does not flow from our own capacity—we are sharing with others what God has shared with us.  Abraham brought the wood, fire, and Isaac, but God put the lamb in the thicket.  We provide what we can because God has already provided what we need.

The Psalmist said that God-Who-Provides does so for all of creation.

Psalm 145:13-16
The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.   The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

It is said that the one who provides for the family “brings home the bacon.”  True enough, but God made the pig, the pig farmer, the pig processor, the pan and the gas or electric to cook it on, or the microwave to nuke it in.

There is a flow to all of this, a flow of grace and provision.  And the whole thing makes the Father smile.

Luke 12:32NKJV
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom…”
Genesis 22:9-14
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”  “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Matthew 6:11
Give us today our daily bread.
1 Timothy 5:7-8
Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore 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? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Lord Jesus, the Holy Scriptures tell the story of Abraham and Isaac—You lived it. Somehow, Your Father restrained His mighty hand as cruel men abused You and nailed You to the cross. A multitude of angels held their weapons in check as Satan had his day. Though each angel wanted to, none cried out to stop this murder. The knife that Isaac was spared became the rusty Roman nails that pierced Your hands and feet, the bits of iron in the whip cut Your back and the poison spear that tore Your side. All the while, You, Father God, were providing: love for a world that hated You; forgiveness for a humanity soaked in sin, and life for those living in a culture of death. I rest amazed in Your provision. All I will ever need is found in You! Thank You, Lord. Amen


Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above you heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 27, 2017 “Anyway”


One of the first pastors I worked for was a pilot licensed to fly small planes.
I was in awe of this of course. Once he tried to assure me that it was no mysterious gifting. He said you could teach a chimpanzee to fly a plane but what you could not teach him was how to adjust to the changing situation.

Situations do change, either to our delight (“Finally!”) or to our dismay (“I never saw this coming!”). And sometimes things do not change with similar results: “I knew I could count on this!” or “I am beating my head against a wall!”

Jesus described life as shifting sands. He was correct. Those who make their daily choices based on what happened the night before are at the mercy of the winds and sands and desert mirages—images they see shimmering on the horizon that aren’t real at all.

Jesus offered us an alternative—solid Rock!
He is the Rock that stands unaltered by the winds of the moment. He is the Rock that laughs at the waves incessant casting of themselves upon Him only to break up and slink back out to sea, take a breath and try again. He is the Rock and the foundation of our lives, when we build upon Him.

How do we do that?
It isn’t a mystery but it is beyond the abilities of chimps:

  • Listen to Him (Read His Book—the Bible is the story of Jesus from beginning to new beginning!)
  • Take Him as Lord and Savior and follow Him.
  • Receive His Spirit as your abiding Helper. You cannot do this on your own.
  • Spend time with Him, both just you and Him, and with the church He is building.
  • Do what He has called you to do, in His time, in His way and in His love.
  • Join His family. You can’t follow Him without being a part of the “Called-Out-Ones.”

So, what does all this mean?

  • If the politics of the day are crazy, we will be sane anyway.
  • If the world is cruel, we will be kind anyway.
  • When the world is full of prejudice, we will love anyway.
  • When the economy is falling, we will rise both to give and to receive anyway.
  • When the media tells lies, we will tell the truth anyway.
  • When the moral climate is polluted with filth, we will breathe the clean air of heaven anyway.
  • When people swear using the name of God in vain, we will praise His name anyway.
  • When the earth is shaking, we will stand anyway.
  • When the world is crashing, we will fly anyway.

Jesus teaches us to fly and the Holy Spirit leads us to adjust to the changing situation.

1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NKJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Galatians 6:7-10 NKJV
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Colossians 3:15-17; 23-25 NKJV
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Lord Jesus, “Pilot me!” the old song said. It is a good prayer. Take the controls, Lord. You know the flight plan. You know the plane and the instruments. You take account of the changing things: fuel, winds, altitude, and emergency landing strips if needed. No detail of this trip escapes Your notice. You know every mile of this journey before it slips beneath us on the ground. When this day surprises me, I will continue on anyway. When things confuse me, I will keep believing You anyway. Help me trust You, Lord, and help me to obey what I know to do even as situations change around me. For Your glory, Lord. Amen

Trust and Obey
Words: John H. Stammis; Music: Daniel B. Towner

1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.


3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.


4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.


4. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 26, 2017 “Magalene”


She had not slept, really.
O there were periods of unconsciousness, of fitful, restless nothingness, but no real sleep. It was still dark as she looked in on the Lord’s mother. This Mary from Magdala would have to awaken the Mary from Nazareth. They had to go to the tomb.

As she gently shook Mary’s shoulder, the older woman’s deep breathing shallowed into a sigh. She turned and smiled at the younger woman. Mother Mary’s eyes were as red as any in this company of care-givers. They had fed Jesus, clothed Him, boarded Him, listened to Him and loved Him through His amazing life, and amazingly, through an agonizing death. They had clothed Him one final time in the linen of the grave.

Without speaking they prepared for their journey. Mary Magdalene’s thoughts raced through her tired brain. Random words of scripture confronted her. Since she was a little girl, like all the girls in Magdala, Mary had prayed the Psalms, memorizing them. Throughout her life, at the oddest times, words from the Psalms would suddenly spring to the front of her mind. For a woman who had fallen into a life of sin, these sudden bursts of scripture were a nuisance. But since Jesus delivered her, she welcomed them.

This morning it was this:

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; My body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.

She would not let herself think of Jesus, still and cold, in that dark stone tomb. The words continued to assault her.

“You will not abandon me to the grave.”

She knew something of the grave. She had lived her own living death, like a tomb guarded by seven demons. They forced her, controlled her, used her. She remembered when Jesus found her. When she heard the voice of Jesus, quiet and clear, slicing through the hellish din of her seven tormentors, they screamed in agony at His presence but were powerless before Him. At his calm command they fled Mary’s soul. As light seeped into her darkness, she saw Jesus’ face for the first time. Her empty soul flooded with one question:

What would this strong man demand of her?

In His face she saw no reason to fear. She emerged from her private tomb into a world of peace and light, of rest and security. It was all in His face! He would not force her. He would never use her. His Lordship over her would be a reign of peace, not terror, of disciplined joy, not shackles and bruises and broken promises.

Now He was in His own tomb. Her memories shrank into the reality she had to face. The voice inside spoke again.

“…nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.”

In the darkness of her soul, her thoughts began to break down. It was all an illusion, the foolish dreams of foolish women who had believed the words of a man. As long as Jesus was in that tomb, Mary’s sins were still in her soul. The emptiness of the tomb-life was nothing compared to the emptiness she felt at the foot of the cross.

“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Silently, shrouded in black against the pale dawn sky, the women arrived at the tomb. The earth began to shake. An angel in shining raiment appeared and rolled the heavy stone away. Each feminine heart stopped as each woman ceased to breathe—a brief moment of death for each of them.

“Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come see the place where He lay.”

Their hearts started beating again as they resumed breathing, a brief moment of resurrection for each of them. The angel told them to go and tell the men.

As they went, Jesus met them. He even called Mary of Magdala by name. She fell at his feet as Jesus swept away the darkness of her soul. It was not all a foolish dream.

“Do not cling to me, Mary. But go and tell the others.”

She obeyed. But she would always cling to Him, in prayer as she found Him in the ancient psalms, and in life as His presence was with her always. There were no broken promises from this man!

Mark 16: 10; 1-9
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
John 20:11-18
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,* and that He had spoken these things to her.

Lord Jesus, let this day have a touch of “Resurrection Day” in it. I will cling to You as Mary Magdalene did. You are my hope, my strength, my victory, my cause for rejoicing. May I never forget all that You have done for me and may I always remember Your unfailing promises to me. Let me live today like it is Easter morn! Amen and Amen.

He Arose
Words and Music: Robert Lowry

1. Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave he arose; with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

2. Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


3. Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 25, 2017 “Consistency”


What Really Counts
Like a drowning man reaching for a lifeline, we who struggle with consistency, stretch every muscle and tendon to grasp the ability that eludes us—the ability to be consistent in the things than count.

  • It isn’t that we don’t know their importance; we know it deeply.
  • It isn’t a lack of concern for the future or the lack of vision for tomorrow; we are obsessed with thoughts of the future and plagued by a plethora of visions.
  • It isn’t even a lack of the ability to concentrate for we can get so deeply involved in some things that all other considerations fade to black.

The hindrance to consistency in the things that count, is not a lack of things to do, but an over abundance of things to do.  Not knowing where to start, we don’t start at all.

Yet, the world at large and Kingdom of God in particular belong to the consistent.
Those are valued most are those who stay on schedule, meet deadlines, and whose daily disciplines prepare them both for the planned and the unplanned events of the day.  We admire those people and want to have plenty of them around.  We marry them, work for them, and depend on them. We depend upon the very consistency they possess but cannot share with us.  We must be a terrible drain on them.

We won’t give up.
We will keep on making new starts, attempting new strategies, and buying new planners, calendars, and cell phone apps.  We will by new Bibles, devotionals, and prayer books.  For a while, each new attempt succeeds.  Each new device enables, and we are consistent at last.  Then something derails us:

  • Illness,
  • Financial setbacks,
  • Shifting living circumstances,
  • Extra stress at work or at home, and, scariest of all,
  • A cloud of depression blots out the life-giving sunlight we need to keep going.

With the unexpected, the discipline is broken.  We don’t give up easily.  We try to recover the discipline, but too many times, the planner goes into the box with all the others.  The food plan is violated.  The exercise routine is interrupted.  The new Bible goes on the shelf, another addition to the collection.  The devotional gets way out of date and the prayer book gathers dust.  We are practically right back where we started.

Except for this: during the time of consistency we actually produced stuff!

We did our work.
We prayed.  We lost weight and gained strength.  Consistency always yields progress.  Even as discipline evaporates in the face of whatever knocked our life’s train off the tracks, the train is in in a different place than where we started.

The train has cargo that still can be delivered to its destination.  There is a record of appointments kept, schedules completed, and consistent dependability.  It may feel like we are right back where we started, but we are not.  Our season of consistency has been a season of peace and productivity.

Starting Over
When life has knocks us to the ground, we really have only one choice—get up and start again!  There is no shame in a new start.  They all count and they all mount up to something that would not exist even we hadn’t started again.  No one else can do our work, write our poems, sing our songs, speak our words, or hold the hurting people in this world with our arms.

When we seem to lose the disciplines of life, we have to find them again and make another new start.  There is no other option.  Even if we only do it in fits and starts, we still make a contribution to the world for good.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10
…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Philemon 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 Peter 1:5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Galatians 5:22-26
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Lord Jesus help me be true to You today in everything I say and do, think about doing and intend to do. Sometimes my intentions don’t ever become deeds. Forgive me for falling short of what You want me to do. Thank You for distracting me from doing things that would displease You. Lord, You know me and all my struggles. Forgive me for the times I have failed and help me remember the times I have been consistent and finished the work You assigned. As I behold You today, strengthen me and steady me so that my consistency might be established in You. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Living for Jesus

Words: Thomas O. Chisolm; Music: C. Harold Lowden
Thomas O. Chisholm
C. Harold Lowden

1.  Living for Jesus a life that is true,
striving to please him in all that I do,
yielding allegiance glad hearted and free
this is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to you,
for you in your atonement did give yourself for me.
I own no other master my heart shall be your throne:
my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for you alone.

2.  Living for Jesus, who died in my place,
bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace:
such love constrains me to answer his call,
follow his leading, and give him my all.


3.  Living for Jesus wherever I am,
doing each duty in his holy name,
seeking the lost ones he died to redeem,
bringing the weary to find rest in him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2017


Not only does God deserve our worship today, He deserves our respect.
A necessary part of worshiping God is honoring Him. In the Bible honor is often linked to aspects of His character holiness, glory, power, wisdom, goodness, and worthiness. Honor springs from the profound humility of the worshiper and is an expression of gratitude.

Honoring God in worship is an act of obeisance to the Lord. Obeisance is defined thusly:

  1. a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission (as in a bow)
  2. an acknowledgment of another’s superiority or importance

Another word that signifies honor is homage:

  1.  respect or reverence paid or rendered
  2. something done or given in acknowledgment or consideration of the worth of another

Just as worship is an acknowledgement of the worthiness of God, honor is giving homage to the Lord. It is at one time both a deliberate act of obedience and a spontaneous reaction to the revelation of who God is by the Holy Spirit. In this way, spirit and truth come together as we honor the Lord:

  • We honor God from our spirit as we are led and empowered by His Spirit.
  • We honor God with our truth through total sincerity and according to His truth as it is revealed in the Word.

Honoring the Lord is a total, body, soul and spirit praise effort.
We honor Him in all aspects of public worship:

  • We prepare our hearts before the service.
  • We arrive on time.
  • We look our best in honor of the Lord.
  • We participate in the whole service.
  • We pay attention to what is going in the service.
  • We respect the Lord’s house and those who serve us there.

Today you will be led in worship. Let nothing hinder you. Sing the songs whether you like them or not. Focus your mind and heart on the Lord Jesus. Honor him with your attitude and actions as well as with what you say.

He is worthy, holy, good, merciful, powerful, just, and wise—He deserves the homage you bring, the honor you give.

Revelation 4:8-11
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revevelation 5:11-6:1
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Hebrews 2:8-9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
1 Timothy 6:15-16
…the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 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.
Matthew 15:7-9
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”
Isaiah 58:13-14
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Lord Jesus, I honor You today. I honor You with my heart, my schedule, my mind, and with the songs I will be given to sing. Help me rise above my personal tastes to give You the honor due unto Your name. This is far more important than any other consideration. Thank You for the community of faith—my family of God. When we gather today, help us be one in Your worship, just as You prayed we would be. As we honor Your with our praise and worship, we will draw closer to each other. This is your plan. I will honor it today. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Words: Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans (Translated by J.M. Neal) Music: Melchior Teschne

1 All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming, the King and Blessed One.

2 The company of angels is praising you on high;
and we with all creation in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems before you we present.

3 To you before your passion they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted, our melody we raise.
As you received their praises, accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness, O good and gracious King!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 23, 2017 “Peace”


Peace is not passive. Peace needs to be made, kept, and embraced.
We obtain peace from God through action on our part by active faith—choosing to act on the promises of God.

Jesus is our peace, Paul said, for He has broken down the walls life builds between us and others, between us and life. But walls don’t come down for us until we obey the commands of the Lord.

The first two are simple and lead to success in all the others:

  1. Love God with the sum total of our humanity, and,
  2. Love others as we do ourselves.

Jesus said success in all the other requirements of living with God flow from these two. Peace and faith are integrally related to each other.

There is a spiritual progression from no peace to much peace:

  • Our confidence in God’s faithfulness to His promises gives us peace when He seems to be paying no attention to us at all.
  • Faith is ours according to the depth of our knowledge of the Word of God.
  • The more we know of the Word of God the more of His peace we enjoy.
  • The greater our availability to the Holy Spirit, the more we will know about Jesus, the church, worship, service, humility, and the Kingdom of God.

We make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit through regular prayer and Bible reading and through an unbreakable commitment to the local church in worship, fellowship, and service. Faithfulness to God provides peace that passes all understanding.

Peace is not accidental; sometimes it must be made.
Jesus said those who made peace would be called the children of God. The most obvious meaning of this is to help peace come to others through the ministry of reconciliation. Those who foment conflicts among people are not doing the work of the Kingdom. Believers are called to help bring an end to conflicts by fairness, truth-telling, and by being a friend and good listener.  Peace is not passive; sometimes we need to go get it.

Perfect Peace
Isaiah said that those who fill their minds with the things of God will have not just peace, but perfect peace. When peace has flown from our lives we should deliberately go to the Book or to the place of prayer and pour truth about who God is and what He has promised into our minds. With that rehearsal of eternal truth, the peace we need will flood our souls.

Peace is not passive; sometimes we have to keep it.
One of the most ancient of Christian ministries was called “the passing of the peace.” At a special time in worship services believers turned to embrace each other with the words, “The Peace of Christ be with you.” The one who was embraced responded with, “And also with you.” In the early church this part the worship service was considered so important and so powerful it was reserved for only those who had been baptized into full fellowship with the church. Perhaps it is time to return to this ancient spirituality. The personal touch, the kind prayer, the good will in this moment of sharing would surely promote peace within the church. Church strife could be avoided and the proper focus of each believer could be maintained—loving God and loving people.

On this day, don’t wait for wait passively for peace. If you don’t have it,

  • Embrace it (go get it.)
  • Make it (speak peace to others.)
  • Keep it (do the work of the Kingdom.)

And watch Jesus tear down some walls.

Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Isaiah 26:3 NKJV
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Romans 14:17-19
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Lord Jesus, I want to be a peace maker. Help me know when to speak and what to say. Help me know when to be silent and what to pray. Let Your peace that is beyond all understanding emanate from my heart, through my face and hands to be seen and felt by those I contact. When gossip comes my way let it end with me. When strife rise up before me, let the defend the right and defuse the wrong thus ending the strife. There is so little peace in this world. Let me be a peacemaker. Then I will truly be a child of God. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis
Music by Sarah McLachlan

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved