June 6, 2018 “Prophets”

Prophets

For those who are sensitive to the voice of the Spirit of God, no day is just another day.
Every day holds some hidden delight to be enjoyed, some enrichment of the soul available to anyone who really watches and listens.

In the Temple
Two ancient servants of God were allowed living quarters somewhere within the Temple courts. They had earned these accommodations through faithful living and a singular focus on Messiah.

  • Simeon had a promise from God that with his own eyes he would see Messiah. Every day he surveilled the Temple court where babies were dedicated. As his years piled up, his expectation also grew. Any day might be the day!
  • Anna, a widow of some 84 years and a prophetess, lived in the Temple courts as well. She was renowned for her spirituality, fasting and praying continually for Messiah to come. She too, watched the place of dedication every day know that one day He would come.

It is inevitable that two such Temple fixtures would have known each other. They must have crossed paths every day, encouraging each other to be faithful in all things. Messiah is near!

The Dedication of Jesus
Eight days after His birth in Bethlehem, Jesus was presented for circumcision and dedication in the Temple. Before they reached the appointed place, Simeon met them and Anna followed at an appropriate distance. The old man took the child from Mary’s arms without the slightest protest from Joseph—he was learning to let God handle things! Joseph and Mary took a step back as Simeon took the Baby Jesus and lifted him toward heaven. Just as Zacharias had done for his son, John. Prophecies began to flow from Simeon.

Simeon’s Song
Regular visitors to the Temple found the old man mildly amusing and he regularly drew a small audience. All the priests and their wives knew of Simeon’s promise. He began this way:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word”

His audience stopped to listen to the strange old man. Strange old men speaking to the People of God was part of their heritage.

“for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

A child had never been so tenderly and securely held by an old man as was Jesus that day. Reluctantly Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary. As he did, Simeon prophesied about the ministry of Jesus

“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign which will be spoken against…”

In midsentence, the Spirit spoke to Simeon about Mary. Her life was not to be an easy one.

“…yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also…”

Anna’s Song
As Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary, Anna began to sing, her thin soprano lifted high above the din of the Temple courts. Her words were not recorded for us except to say that she gave thanks to God and encouraged others to pay attention to this child. Redemption for Israel would be found in Him.

Scriptures:
Luke: 2:21-38

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord “), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, remind me from time to time that the whole story is not right in front of me. You are at work in unseen ways and always to my benefit. Joseph and Mary were simply doing what they were supposed to do and You sent them two surprise messengers to confirm them in their faith in You. Help me watch today for those You send to me. Let me hear Your voice in their words and take the strength and hope I need for today’s obedience. Amen and Amen.

Song:
Run, Run, Run!

Words and Music: Jimmy and Carol Owens from “The Glory of Christmas”

The Spirit stirs within my heart, He whispers in my ear.
He sings at last, at last He’s come. The Christ of God is here.
Run, run, run, run to hold Him in your arms!
To look into salvation’s eyes and kiss God’s baby Son.

O be consoled Jerusalem, your waiting time is done.
God’s glory rests on Israel. The Light of the world has come.
Run, run, run, run to hold Him in your arms!
To look into salvation’s eyes and kiss God’s baby Son.

Within a tiny frame of flesh all strength and wisdom lie.
The mighty host and lovers of God who bow before Him cry:
Run, run, run, run to hold Him in your arms!
To look into salvation’s eyes and kiss God’s baby Son.

Come see the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings.
The One whose birth joined heaven and earth as Prophet, Priest and King.
Run, run, run, run to hold Him in your arms!
To look into salvation’s eyes and kiss God’s baby Son.

<em>Semper Reformanda!</em>
<em>Stephen Phifer</em>
</div>
<em> © 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved</em>

November 26, 2017: “Gratitude”

Gratitude

If you want to go in, you have to find the gate.
There is a biblical way to approach Almighty God, a way He has commanded us to take.  Gratitude brings you before the King.

Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

As we seek to gain entrance to the presence of the Lord today, a day that He has made, let us do so with the most profound gratitude we can generate.

  • Dire problems may weigh heavily upon our spirits; lay them down at the door.
  • Doubts may plague our minds; set them aside.
  • Divisions may exist among brothers and sisters; call a truce.
  • Dependencies of all sorts may inhibit our concentration; depend on the Holy Spirit.
  • Destitution may have driven every choice we made all week; choose gratitude today.

There is only one way in.
His Name is Jesus, forever the Door to the Kingdom of God.  He is the Gate of Thanksgiving.  When we can count nothing else in life as a blessing, we can always look to Him and find reason to give thanks.  The writer to the Hebrews said that Jesus opened up a “new and living way” by the destruction of His own earthly life and body.  In the face of this unspeakable sacrifice, the veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom and the way to the heart of God was declared “Open!”

Let us be thankful.

Because Jesus bore our sins far away, we can enter the presence of the Holy One without fear. Without the atonement of Christ, our sins would not only disqualify us to enter His presence, our guilt would consume us to our destruction.  Because of Jesus we can stand before God as if we had never sinned.  The indictment against us has been nailed to His cross.

Let us be thankful.

Through Jesus we were emptied of the guilt of sin.  Now we have been filled with the precious gift of His Spirit!  We are being regenerated to life new and unending.  Old things pass away as all things become new.  There is power in us now to defeat the old nature of sin, and even when we do not, the Lord Jesus is there to forgive us for all our sins as we confess them to Him.  By the Spirit we can hear the voice of God deep within us.  We can obey His instructions and we can watch His power work through our humanity to help heal the world.

Let us be thankful.

This is the day for it!
The joy and the power of the presence of the King are on the other side of the Gate of Thanksgiving.  As Isaiah said, “Go through the gates!” Gratitude brings you before the King.

Let us be thankful.

Scriptures:
Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 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 generations.
Isaiah 62:10 NKJV
Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples!
Mark 15:37-39 NKJV
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Hebrews 10:19-24
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Romans 8:1-4
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,   because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Thank You for laying aside Your deity and becoming a human like us. Thank You for submitting to the facts of this life: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood to show us how it should be done. Thank You for revealing God to us. We don’t have to wonder about God—all we need to do is look to You. Thank You for Your victorious walk through this life, conquering sin by the power of the Spirit. Thank You for submitting to betrayal and injustice, pain and death to win my forgiveness and redeem my life. Yes, I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving today—what else can I do? Amen.

Song:
Give Thanks
Words and Music: Don Moen
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.
(Repeat)

And now let the weak say, “I am strong.”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us.”
(Repeat)

Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Give thanks.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 1, 2017 “Inheritance”

Inheritance

“The Reading of the Will” is always a solemn occasion.
In theatre and cinema, this scene is a staple of mysteries, comedies, high dramas, and stories of families in generational strife. Someone has left someone an inheritance and the details are about to be given.

Attorneys are present, not just the one who handled the will, but others whose clients might be blessed or cheated, depending on what is in the will. High drama, low comedy, clouds of hate and envy, pipe dreams and evil schemes fill the air:

  • If the one whose will this is was hateful and mean, there is great fear.
  • If the benefactor was kind and loving, anticipation quickens every heart.
  • If the departed one was neglected by those who should have cared, taunt faces and wary eyes seem ready for an ambush.
  • If a stranger has befriended the neglected party, suspicions lace every look and remark aimed at the outsider.
  • Plays and films feed on stuff like this.

As Christ-followers we have an inheritance laid up for us on the other side of life.
Like the scenes described above, there are details of our inheritance that we will not know until we are in heaven. We see tantalizing hints in the Scriptures:

  • “At Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore;”
  • “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is;”
  •  “…the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…;”
  • “…For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable…”
  •  “In my Father’s house are many mansions…”

To put it in high theological terms: This going to be fun!

Until then, we have what the Bible calls the “earnest of our inheritance.”
Modern translations call this the “guarantee” of the inheritance. The Amplified Bible gives others shades of meaning: “…the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste…”of our inheritance in glory. We have wonderful things “over there” and we have the Spirit of God on this side of heaven.

Of this portion of our inheritance we know much. We have:

  • The forgiveness of sins through faith in the Blood of Christ,
  • The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit,
  • The constant covenantal care of the Heavenly Father,
  • The family of God for fellowship and spiritual enterprise,
  • The private altar where the Refiner’s Fire burns and the Launderer’s soap sanctifies,
  •  Public worship where Jesus walks among us in healing, restoring power and mercy, and
  •  Deliverance from addictions and diseases and depression and any other chain hell has forged.
    We could go on and on.

We can read the will for ourselves; no attorneys needed.
No drama, no tension, no doubts, no schemes, no interlopers, can be found to cloud the air with uncertainty. The Spirit is our Guarantee, today and for all our tomorrows.

Psalm 37
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. …. The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. But the wicked will perish:…The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off. If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsake nor their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off; the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip. … The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
1 Corinthians 15:52-54 NIV
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Ephesians 1:13-14 AMP
In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit. That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it–to the praise of His glory.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my portion in this life and the next. I rest in Your covenantal faithfulness. The Bible says You are coming and Your reward is with You. I believe. One day all sacrifices will be washed away from the memory by the presence of the reward—the inheritance. I will sow seeds in obedience today that will yield fruit both now on earth and then in heaven. My inheritance in You is one of time and eternity. Lord, You are my portion in this life and the next. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Oh I want to See Him
Words and Music: R.H. Cornelius

1.As I journey through the land, singing as I go,
Pointing souls to Calvary—to the crimson flow,
Many arrows pierce my soul from without, within;
But my Lord leads me on, through Him I must win.

Refrain:
Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace;
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.

2. When in service for my Lord dark may be the night,
But I’ll cling more close to Him, He will give me light;
Satan’s snares may vex my soul, turn my thoughts aside;
But my Lord goes ahead, leads whate’er betide.

Refrain

3. When in valleys low I look toward the mountain height,
And behold my Savior there, leading in the fight,
With a tender hand outstretched toward the valley low,
Guiding me, I can see, as I onward go.

Refrain

4. When before me billows rise from the mighty deep,
Then my Lord directs my bark; He doth safely keep,
And He leads me gently on through this world below;
He’s a real Friend to me, oh, I love Him so.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 11, 2017

 

Silence

Psalm 83:1
“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.”

The human soul cries out against silence when silence is the very thing that will heal us.

We want noise, so we fill our work spaces, resting places, traveling spaces with sound—recorded books, music, podcasts, anything but silence. We especially do not want God to be silent. We want to hear His voice, the music from His Throne Room, and the hum and clatter of His creation.

In our humanity we are convinced that silence is sinister, masking plots, hiding secrets, exciting our fears and suspicions.

Sometimes silence is the sound of progress.
Perhaps, the Kingdom of God advances in silence as much as it does in shouted sermons and in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Could it be that ambient noise is more dangerous than silence? Are there sounds that are only heard when the deluge of random noise we select each day subsides?

It was so in Gethsemane. Jesus’ tortured prayer to His father was answered with silence. And this silence also, the Kingdom was advanced.

The Noisy Soul
Before Isaiah was a prophet, he was a historian writing the story of his hero, King Uzziah. When the King failed God, the noise in Isaiah’s soul must have been deafening—His hero had fallen! King Uzziah lost track of his role in the Kingdom of God and supplanted the ministry of the priests. It cost him everything, position, pride, health, legacy.

Finally, a Profound Silence
In an amazing moment of worship, the noise of confusion in the heart of Isaiah was driven out by the sound of praise from the Throne Room of God—sound so great it shook the doorposts of heaven. Even as the room was filled with smoke, clouds of confusion seemed to clear before the eyes of Isaiah and He saw the Lord “high and lifted up.” This astounding vision justified the sounds of heaven. There followed a moment of cleansing when an angel took a coal of fire from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips pronouncing his absolution.

I imagine that there followed a profound silence—angelic hosts waiting breathlessly to hear the words of God.

Into this silence God spoke. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

I am sure this question echoed through the still trembling walls until falling into a deep silence. Into this silence, the shaken prophet spoke: “Here am I. Send me!”

Worship Leaders seek this high sounding praise. We want to see the Lord high and lifted up and well we should. But there should follow this manifestation of grandeur a silence as we listen for His voice.

And in this silence, the Kingdom is advanced.

Scriptures:
Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Habakkuk 2:20 NKJV
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is a time for me to speak, to praise you with a loud voice, to cry out to You in pain, and to sing with saints and angels as we worship You. Help me know when to quiet my soul and listen for Your voice. The Bible declares that You are speaking today. Forgive me for letting this noisy world muffle Your lovely voice. Save me from the cacophony of these times. There is a place where I can go to hear Your voice and drink deeply from the pool of Your presence. You called that place the Secret Place of Prayer. You said the Father was there. I seek this silent solitude, this peaceful quiet communion with You. Thank You, Lord.

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

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

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

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

Refrain

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

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

January 19

Time

Existing in the three dimensions of past, present, and future, time is the irresistible force propelling us through life. Time never has to breathe, to regroup, to re-aim, or to rest. When we stop for those things, time leaves us behind.

Time Management
Time management is a life skill that some of us master and others do not. In many ways the thought that we can harness time and make it do our bidding is a grand illusion. We are at the mercy of time and it has no mercy.

What we can do is respond to time in productive ways.

  • We can deal with the pains and pleasures of the past by learning from them.
  • We can deal with the present moment by determined obedience.
  • We can deal with the fear of the future by washing the mind with the truth of scripture.

While the future is a clouded dream and the present moment is only a vapor, the past hovers over us like a storm cloud heavy with rain. We must deal with the past. Constant rumination over the good memories seems to improve them so that no current event can ever match them. Relentless recall of the pain of the past does nothing to heal the wounds we gained in those battles; it only keeps them bleeding.

The Grace to Forget
There is a gift from God, a grace that is so amazing. It is the grace to forget those things which are behind and to reach forward to the future God has planned for us. Only the Holy Spirit has these filing skills:

  • He can help us put memories in a place where we can access them but not be hindered by them,
  • He can empower us to seize the present moment and redeem it for the Kingdom of God, and
  • He calls us to and fearlessly prepares us for the future.

No one knows how the Spirit does this. It is a secret safely held within the mind of God. What we can do is cast our cares on Jesus because He cares for us. In a single touch each day, Jesus can heal the past and school us in its lessons, empower us for the day ahead, and prepare us for the future.

How do we cast our cares on Him? We do this in prayer. In communion with the Lord,

  • Name your pain.
  • Forgive those who have hurt you,
  • Seek His forgiveness and renewal
  • Thank God for your blessings,
  • Confess His promises, and
  • Intercede for those in need.

When you are worshiping the Lord, He covers you with His wings—all of you—past, present, and future.

Scriptures:
Psalm 144:3-4
O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.
Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
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.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank You that my life is in Your capable hands. You have graciously forgiven my past. You have called me to this moment—this day—to serve You with all my heart. You have provided for my future both in the days to come and in the eternity that begins at the end of my days. Let these truths infuse me with courage today, the courage it takes to do what You have called me to do. May my awareness of Your complete mastery of time, give me patience when things go wrong and praise when You make them right and peace whatever else may happen today. My life is in Your Hands! Thank You, Jesus! Amen!

Song:
Day by Day

Words: Carolina Sandell Berg; Music: Oscar Ahnfelt

1. Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

2. Every day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me.
He whose name is Counselor and Power.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As your days, your strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

3. Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Your promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Your holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

January 9

Mercy

Since days of the early church a particular plea has sounded in the halls of worship from humble house churches to cavernous cathedrals—“Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”

Kyrie, eléison! Christe, eléison!

In ancient Latin or contemporary English, this prayer is both thanksgiving and petition; we are thankful for His mercy and we need more of it today. It also contains a command. If we are to receive God’s mercy, then we must respond by extending mercy to others.

The cry for mercy comes from the deepest place in wounded hearts. As the final plea before any bar of judgment, the guilty one casts himself on the mercy of the court.

In the faces passing by us each day,

  • eyes look for mercy,
  • ears strain to hear mercy’s refrain,
  • wounded souls stretch to each stranger seeking a healing touch, and
  • guilty offenders cast one eye behind them to detect the pursuit of the law and one eye ahead in hopes of a glimpse of grace in someone’s face.

Walking in the mercy of Christ, as we will today, we can be God’s voice of promise, or His healing touch, or the face of His grace.

It is true that we will be taken advantage of as guilty ones repeat their offences in the face of the mercy we extend. In this we share in the injustices that Jesus endured at the cross. It is true that unthankful souls will take what we offer as if they were entitled to it, never realizing its cost to us or its source in the Lord Jesus. In their presumption we also share the abuse heaped upon Jesus by the arrogance and selfishness of people.

We must remember that we have received mercy, both as a remedy for our sins and as a gift from God to be quickly and thoroughly given away to others.

As we give from our supply of abundant mercy, our storehouse is not depleted. No! Check the inventory. You will find that the more you give, the more you have.

Kyrie, eléison! Christe, eléison!—“Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”

Scriptures:
Psalm 107:1 NKJV
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 25:4-7
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
Hosea 6:6
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for your mercy. Because I believe in you and because I asked You to, You have cast the whole record of my sinful life into a sea of forgetfulness. My sins dwell as far from me as the east is from the west. This gift of salvation amazes me every day. I ask you again today for the gift of mercy. When I think of those who have wronged me, let my first thought be mercy. May the knowledge of Your mercy take any sword from my hand except the sword of truth, the only sword sharp enough to cut away the bondage of sin. In Your lovely name, Amen.

Song:
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Words: Frederick Faber; Music: Lizzie Tourjee

1. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice Which is more than Liberty.

2. There is welcome for the sinner And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior; There is healing in His blood.

3.For the Love of God is broader Than the measure of man’s mind;
And the heart of the Eternal Is most wonderfully kind.

4. If our love were but more simple We would take Him at His word,
And our lives would then be sunshine In the sweetness of our Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved