October 12, 2017 “Leadership”

Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Old Covenant:

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

With the New Covenant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2017 “Joy!”

Joy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2017 “Doing”

Doing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 9, 2017 “Tasks”

Tasks

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

Wait.

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

It is a simple choice:

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

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

This is no small difference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 8, 2017 “Celebration”

Celebration

People were created to celebrate. 
We celebrate at the slightest provocation.  Occasions for celebration run from private gatherings in honor of intimate events like the birth of a child to big family events like graduations and weddings to huge public celebrations like championships, inaugurations and coronations.  Human beings love to celebrate even when there is nothing to celebrate like young people celebrating nothing more than the weekend.

In the words of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof,

God would like us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
How much more can we be joyful when there’s really something to be joyful for?

Is there a deeper significance to this human need or desire?  Without doubt—public worship should be a celebration.

Old Covenant Celebration
The spirituality of the Old Covenant was marked by frequent and fervent celebrations:

  • The Sabbath was a weekly celebration of God’s covenantal faithfulness.
  • Three festivals marked each year with celebrations related to the provision of God through the hard work of His people.
  • Every seven years the land itself had a celebration of rest.
  • Every 50th year was supposed to be a year-long celebration called the Year of Jubilee.
  • The book of Psalms commands singing and playing music, rejoicing and dancing before the Lord in celebration of “His abundant goodness.”

New Covenant Celebration
In the Gospel narratives, celebration is at the heart of New Covenant spirituality as Jesus presented worship in Spirit and Truth.

  • Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Old Covenant feasts.
  • Jesus instituted the New Covenant feast of the Lord’s Table.
  • The Father of the prodigal son celebrated greatly at the return of his repentant child.
  • Jesus said the angels in heaven celebrated over one lost sinner who repented.
  • The book of Revelation describes a great celebration with Jesus as Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride.

Celebrate the Lord’s Day!
Each Lord’s Day worship service should have a strong element of celebration in it.  Even if the Spirit is calling the church to solemn prayer, to “weep between the porch and the altar,” the prophet Joel said, we should also “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” as the Psalmist said.

On this Lord’s day, let us gather together to celebrate the Lord’s abundant goodness.  Let us rejoice and be glad.  Why?  Because we were made for this purpose and because the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!

Scriptures:
Exodus 23:14-16
“Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.”Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
2 Samuel 6:12-13
Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.
Psalm 30:11-12 NKJV
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 100 NKJV
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 145:3-7
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.   They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Matthew 26:18-19
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'”   So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
Luke 15: 10; 21-24
…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, on Your day I choose to celebrate! I will lift my voice with those of my brothers and sisters in the House of God! Together we will join the celebration around Your Throne in Heaven where un-numbered angels meet in joyful assembly with the saints we know and love who have preceded us to the Heavenly Zion. I will celebrate with the Song of the Redeemed that angels do not know and cannot sing. I will let the rhythms of celebration move my body, the truths we are celebrating inform my mind, and the Spirit of the Living God animate my spirit so that my whole human existence will be lost in celebration—You deserve nothing less! Hallelujah! Amen!

Song:
Celebrate Jesus!
Words and Music: Don Moen

Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!
Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!

He is risen! He is risen!
And He lives forevermore!
He is risen! He is risen!
Come on and celebrate
The resurrection of our Lord!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 7, 2017 “Because”

Because

The Incarnation
Because You came to earth, I can go to heaven.
Because You were born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, I am born again by the
same Spirit.
Because You revealed the Father, I can know who God is.
Because You are the perfect image of God, I will contemplate your glory and be changed.
Because You are the Way, I will find my way.
Because You are the Truth, I will know the truth.
Because You are the Life, I will live.
Because You are the Bread of Life, I will hunger for you and be filled.
Because You are the door, I will enter in.
Because You love me, I can love others.

The Ministry
Because You are the Great Physician, I have health.
Because You calm the storms, I can live without fear of them.
Because You died on the cross, my sins are nailed there.
Because You rose from the grave, I will live again beyond the grave.
Because You reign in majesty, I can live in peace.
Because You are the Rock of Ages, my life has a firm foundation,
Because You are the Cornerstone, my church will never fall to the gates of hell.
Because You opened up the New and Living Way, I can boldly come before the Throne
of Grace.
Because You are my Shepherd, I will enjoy green pastures and still waters and even a
table of plenty before my enemies.
Because You are my Shepherd, I will walk through the Valley of the Shadow without
fear.
Because You resisted temptation, I can live in victory.

The Names
Because You are the Prince of Peace, I can rest in safety.
Because You are the Lord of lords, I will fear no leader who opposes us.
Because You are the King of kings, I will fear no system that opposes us.
Because You are the Alpha and Omega, I will live each day surrounded by You.
Because You are the Bright and Morning Star, I will endure each long night of trial
confident of the morning to come.
Because You are great, I don’t have be.
Because You are Prophet, I will be prepared for the future.
Because You are the Great High Priest, I will offer my Sacrifice of Praise.
Because You are head over all things through the church, I will set my affections on you.
Because You are the firstborn from among the dead, I will live forever.
Because You are the True Vine, I am a branch bearing much fruit.
Because You are the Refiner’s Fire and the Launderer’s Soap, I am pure in heart and I
worship you acceptably.
Because You are Immanuel, I will never be alone.
Because You are the Wonderful Counselor, I will live each day in faith.
Because You were the Sin Bearer, my sins lie far away from me at the bottom of the Sea
beneath fathoms of Forgetfulness.
Because Your name itself is a prayer, I will keep the name of Jesus on my lips.

The Grace
Because You have hemmed me in behind and before and laid Your hand on me, I can live
each moment in safety and power.
Because You have called me and ordained me, I will bear much fruit, fruit that will
remain after I am gone.
Because You sent Your Spirit, I am a witness to the world.
Because You have broken down the walls between us, I have brothers and sisters who do not look or sound like me.
Because You are coming soon, I can live in hope.
Because You are one with the Father through the Spirit, I can be one with You and the
Father through the same Spirit.
Because You are the Rock upon which my life stands, I will not fear any flood.
Because You created me, I have meaning.
Because You have anointed me, I have power and purpose.
Because You are the song of the angels, I will sing and make music with abandon.
Because You are my song in the night, I will sing with determination.
Because You drained the cup of my sins, I will drink from the cup of Your life.
Because You remembered me, I will not forget You.
Because You included me, I will never exclude You.
Because You are on the Throne of Heaven, I will walk the earth without fear.
Because You are on the throne of my heart, I am not.
Because You are the Living Word of God, I will live by Your Word.

Because Yours is the greatest story ever told, it will be my story to tell.

Scriptures:
Psalm 29:1-2 NKJV
Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Colossians 1:15-18 NKJV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my reason. You are my cause and You are my effect. You are my life both here and now and there and then. You are my peace and my rest. You are my leader and my reward. Your will is my plan. Your love is my garment of praise. Your approval is my success. Because of Who You are, I can face this day and all those that follow. Because of You, Lord, everything that is good in my life is there because of You! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Because He Lives
Words and Music: Bill and Gloria Gaither

1. God sent his son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives.

Refrain:
Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives All fear is gone
Because i know he holds the future
And life is worth the living Just because he lives

2. How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives,
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain day because he lives.

Refrain:

3. And then someday, I’ll cross that river.
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights of Glory and I’ll know He reigns.

Refrain:

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 6, 2017: “Champion”

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!

Scriptures:
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.

Prayer:
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.

Song:
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 5, 2017 “Circumstance”

Circumstance

Circumstances; we all have them and we must sort them out every day.
This sorting of circumstances is a type of prayer.

Definitions include:

  • A condition or fact attending an event and having some bearing on it;
  • A determining or modifying factor.
  • A condition or fact that determines or must be considered in the determining of a course of action.
  • The sum of determining factors beyond willful control.

The omnipresence of circumstances yields a bevy of clichés in our speech:

  • “Circumstances permitting,”
  • “Under the circumstances,”
  • “Pomp and circumstance,”
  • “A victim of circumstance,” and
  • “Face the circumstances.”

Sorting it all out.
Our ability to live through each day with any degree of self-determination depends on our ability to sort out the conditions and facts we will face. As free will agents, there are many things we can control, enough of them to count—and to count on—to give us courage to get out of bed, cleanup, dress for the day, and even to go out the door and start the car. Free will is a gift from God and He enables those who worship Him to do this regularly and with great redeeming effect upon the world.

However, some of the circumstances we face are well beyond our ability to control.
The person without Christ must file these things safely away from the conscious mind in order to function. If the unbeliever cannot do this, the burden of life becomes too great to bear. That person must find relief in an altered state of consciousness, using anything from alcohol to drugs to soul-numbing addictions, to suicide.

The Christ-follower is never left alone to face the circumstances of his/her life. The worshiper of Jesus does not stand in awe of the Lord from a distance, but is held close in a secure embrace. There are no circumstances beyond the Lord’s control.

In prayer this morning, sort out the circumstances you will face today.
Renew your vows of discipline to fully engage the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. Look for opportunities throughout the day to change the circumstances others may face. Look squarely, fearlessly, into the circumstances beyond your control and place them in the hands of your Lord. He can handle anything.

Scriptures:
Psalm 61 NKJV
Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name … So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.
Ephesians 1:22-23
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Romans 8:28-29
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Philippains 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.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for seeing what I cannot see, hearing what I cannot hear, and knowing what is beyond my capacity to know. You already know what circumstances will come my way today. Nothing that happens will surprise or alarm You. Lord, sometimes circumstances rush at me so fast and in such numbers that my heart is overwhelmed, like a dry gully in a sudden, violent rain. But in such times, You are my Rock, Lord Jesus, my high tower of safety and you always welcome me, fears and all. “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” From the vantage point of Your towering greatness, I can see that the storms and floods are no real threat to me, because I am in You. Lord, Jesus, my all-in-all. Amen.

Song:
Living by Faith
Words: James Wells; Music: R.E. Winsett

1. I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

Refrain:
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.

2. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.

Refrain

3. I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.

Refrain

4. Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 4, 2017 “Tuning”

Tuning

On Stage
In the few minutes just before the concert, the stage is alive with the sounds of a symphony orchestra warming up. Each player has a routine involving mouthpieces and reeds, bows and resin, buzzing brass, and tapping tympani. They flex their fingers and lick their lips getting ready to make music. After the warm up comes the tune up. The oboist plays the standard pitch: “A.” All the other players listen carefully and then match the sound of their instruments to that standard.

The conductor strides to the podium to the applause of the crowd. He bows, accepting their acclaim. He shakes hands with the concert master, steps to the podium and lifts his baton to the air. He has the attention of everyone, concert-goer and concert-player alike. He gives his preparatory beat; the baton goes down and the music begins.

On the Platform
Warming up and tuning up are a part of life in church music, also. The worship leader doesn’t come to the platform (For some reason stages are often called platforms in church.) to the applause of the congregation nor does he/she shake the hand of the lead guitarist, but there is a warm-up-tune-up
routine.

Worship music requires an additional step—a spiritual warm up and tune up.
It is important that Christian singers and players get warmed up to the Lord and in tune with the Holy Spirit before they try to make the music of the Kingdom of God. There is a spiritual dimension to this type of music making that cannot be ignored. It is as important to the success of our spiritual music making as the musical elements are to the professional orchestra.

Heaven’s Standard Pitch
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries instrumental music came into its own. The symphony orchestra came to maturity as more than an accompaniment group for choirs, soloists, and opera.
The Age of Inventions—the Industrial Revolution—produced brass and woodwind instruments that could be effectively tuned with the strings. To help with the process of tuning, a standard pitch was developed. While the exact vibrations varied somewhat, A440 was the standard.

In the making of music in the courts of the King of kings, there is also a standard pitch—humility. Calvary, like the Industrial Revolution, has redesigned us from the flaws of sin and made it possible for us to make an offering to please the Lord—one of humility.

Proud hearts cannot tune.
Musically, a technical problem with an instrument or a shortcoming on the part of the musician can interfere with the tuning and spoil the performance. In the same way, on a spiritual level, attitudes and improper motivations can spoil the music of worship. In more than 40 years of leading Christian singers and players, I have found my greatest trials and challenges have come from the hearts of my musicians, not their voices and instruments. Now, I am teaching and writing and my primary mission is to teach the next generation of Worship Leaders. In this capacity, I find myself preaching a gospel of humility, humility with excellence. I am on a crusade against pride in the music ministry.

  • I have seen it ruin too many anointed ones.
  • I have seen it destroy too many creative communities within the church.

Proud hearts cannot tune. They cannot match the pitch of the Holy Spirit for they are at cross purposes with God. They are proudly building their own kingdom, not God’s.

Conflict and Resolution
Music moves in divinely determined patterns—that is one thing that makes it a comfort to us—no matter how far the song may go away from home, it will return there eventually. There are two terms that describe the roaming and returning aspects of a piece of music:

  • Dissonance is the clash of notes sounding together.
  • Consonance is the agreement of notes sounding together. This serves to resolve the conflict of the dissonance, relieving the tension.

Dissonance
Pride makes people sound bad together. O, their voices and instruments may be beautiful and well regulated, but their hearts are not in tune. God Himself is resisting them because of their pride. The dissonance of hearts must be resolved if the music is to attract the Lord and be blessed by His grace.

Consonance
Humility holds worship teams together. Conflicts happen, like dissconant chords in a song, but they are quickly resolved to consonance. A good musician learns how to step up and play the music demanded when the time comes for it to be played. A worship musician needs this skill, but also the ability step back and get out of the way. The neat thing about our humility is that when we step out of the way, Jesus can be more clearly seen.

When we are getting ready to make the Lord’s music, let’s tune our hearts to Heaven’s Standard Pitch.

Scriptures:
Psalm 57:7 NIV
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
Psalm 33:1-3 NKJV
Rejoice in the Lord , O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
James 4:1-6 NKJV
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:”God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Malachi 3:1-3 NKJV
“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, tune my heart to Yours. Just as I would stay in rhythm with Your heartbeat, I want to stay in tune with Your mind. Alert me when my pitch falls lower than Yours or rises higher. Help me tune to the standard pitch of heaven—humility. When I am humble before You, I receive Your wonderful grace and assistance. When pride rears its ugly face in me, You oppose me. I want the music we make to be beautiful, so that You might be pleased and others may be healed in its sound.
Amen.

Song:
Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord
Composer: Bob Hudson
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord.
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord.
And He shall lift you up (higher and higher.)
And He shall lift you up.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 3, 2017 “Calling”

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.

Scriptures:
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.

Prayer:
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.

Song:
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