September 9, “Knowledge”

Knowledge

Divested of divine omniscience—Jesus laid aside all divine qualities to become a man—Jesus depended upon the Holy Spirit.
In this, He serves as an example for us. The voice of the Spirit of God was constantly sounding in Jesus’ hearing. Sight and insight from the Spirit flashed on the screen of His human mind. That is how He saw Nathanael under the fig tree. This is how He read the minds of the priests and Pharisees. All minds were open to the Spirit and thus available to Jesus.

Jesus and Passover
John tells of Jesus’ first Passover visit to Jerusalem during His ministry. He had been here before as a child, a young man, and as simply a man of Israel. This time He did not come to listen and ask questions as He did at age 12. This time He came to give answers to the questions of others, to point the way to the Kingdom of God, and to work the wonders predicted by the prophets.

There had been others who claimed to be Messiah—slick politicians and marginally mad rebels—but none of these candidates did what Jesus did. Constantly informed by the Spirit of God, Jesus revealed the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven and invited people into it. He brought the healing power of creation to rebuild lives and bodies ruined and ravaged by diseases. No other “Messiah” had done these things.

Some of the People Followed Him
The result was division. People were divided in their response to Him—some responding in faith and others in skepticism. The leaders were not so divided. Very few of them welcomed Jesus. By the Spirit, Jesus knew the difference. John says that He needed no screening committees to investigate who might be for or against Him.

“He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man,
for He knew what was in man.”

So Jesus did not commit Himself to any of these groups. The time would come when all would have to decide who they believed Him to be, but not just yet. Now was the time to plant the seeds of the Kingdom, to spread the Word, and to flow as a healing stream through the wounded nation.

Divine Knowledge Shared
The truly amazing thing about the Incarnation of Christ is this exchange of the Divine for the Human. He laid aside His divinity to become a human being like us. In this Jesus set the example how New Covenant spirituality would work. We, of course, do not walk in complete knowledge, but we have “the mind of Christ” as we live the Christian Life. God knows all, and through His Divine Spirit, He informs us of the things we need to know to rise to meet the challenges of the Christian life.

Principles and Power
One of the promises of the New Covenant is that the Lord would write the Word of God into our hearts. (Hebrews 8:10, 16) This enables us to “know” what is really going on around us. We have principles to live by that are proven true. At moments of crisis and opposition, we also have spiritual power to give answers, reveal hidden agendas, and rebuke unrighteousness as the Spirit delivers “the mind of Christ.”

In short—Jesus knows! And, as we need it, He shares what He knows with us.

Scriptures:
John 2:23-25

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
Philippians 2:5-11 NLT
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1 Corinthians 2:10-16 NKJV
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, how lovely is the voice of Your Spirit sounding in my heart! You do not leave me to my own thoughts, but inform my thinking according to Your Word. Your words are the words of life. They are candles in the darkness of this world. The Psalmist said that You are with us at all times and all the time You are speaking. Thank You for the sweetness of Your tender voice and the profound truth You keep before me. Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Song:
Speak, My Lord

Words and Music: George Bennard;

1. Hear the Lord of harvest sweetly calling,
Who will go and work for Me today?
Who will bring to Me the lost and dying?
Who will point them to the narrow way?

Refrain
Speak, my Lord, speak, my Lord,
Speak, and I’ll be quick to answer Thee;
Speak, my Lord, speak, my Lord,
Speak, and I will answer, Lord, send me.

2. When the coal of fire touched the prophet,
Making him as pure, as pure can be,
When the voice of God said, Who’ll go for us?
Then he answered, Here I am, send me.

Refrain

3. Millions now in sin and shame are dying,
Listen to their sad and bitter cry;
Hasten, brother, hasten to the rescue;
Quickly answer, Master, here am I.

Refrain

4. Soon the time for reaping will be over;
Soon we’ll gather for the harvest home;
May the Lord of harvest smile upon us,
May we hear His blessèd, Child, well done.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 8, 2018 “Temple”

Temple

Marketplaces murder worship.
When worship leaders trade the prophetic for the profitable, they make a truly terrible bargain. They destroy the worship before it can traverse from the earthly to the heavenly. The songs, the confessions, the well-rehearsed gestures, and the beautiful vestments all become commodities stained with human pride and disqualified for the courts of heaven.

The Angry Jesus
The gospels relate only a very few incidents where Jesus showed public anger. Each of them involved the desecration of the true worship of Jehovah or the abuse of power. Why did the apostasy of the Temple anger Jesus so? Perhaps it was because Jesus remembered the Throne Room of God in Heaven. The tabernacles and temples the Jewish people built for worship were patterned after the Throne Room of God in heaven[–His Throne Room! (Hebrews 8:3-6) False worship desecrated this holy pattern.

Also, false worship did not deliver the promises of God to the people who came to worship with sincere hearts. They would come in obedience but go away unchanged, still laboring in their guilt and pain. Jesus had such great love both for the Temple and the people, this daily failure broke His heart. He would walk these same streets in power. He would heal and deliver in this same Temple Court. The wilderness would be His school and His healing station. But on this day, near the time of Passover, the power of God was missing from the House of God.

Jesus struck at the most visible representation of the apostasy—the Temple merchants. They were profiting from the sale of animals for use as sacrifices in the Temple, a severe desecration of the Holy Place.

With Whip in Hand

The sounds of worship—cymbals, chants, silver trumpets and ram’s horns—mixed with the sounds of commerce—animals and auctioneers, coins and clamorous hucksters, pickpockets and pious priests—greeted Jesus in the Temple courts.

“He made a whip of cords, (and) He drove them all out of the temple.”

Never was a there such a day in the Temple Courts. He shouted as He drove them out.

“Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

His disciples were used to the commercial chaos in the Temple but today they ran for cover like everyone else. Some of them, though, could see His point though they had never before considered it. They remembered a verse from childhood.

“Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

The Counter-Punch
After a time, things settled down and after a moment, beggar, thief, merchant, and priest alike, all scrambled to recover the scattered coins and corral the liberated life stock. The leaders made a quick huddle, elected a spokesman and challenged Jesus.

“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

Seemed reasonable—a man has to have some sort of authority to create such a ruckus. Jesus answered with a whole new thought.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The leaders looked at each other and broke out laughing. They reported the facts—This Temple was 40 years in the construction and still unfinished—raise it up in three days? Laugher erupted all around.

Jesus did not explain that He was talking about a different Temple—His own body. He threw down the whip and departed the Temple; His men followed silently. The strength in His stride quenched the laughter like water thrown on a fire.

Scriptures:
John 2:13-12

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Hebrews 8:3-6 NKJV
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your House is still to be a House of Prayer and nothing else—the prayers of praise, worship, adoration, intercession, faith and desperation. May we always keep Your House pure and free from lesser concerns. You have promised to meet with us when we pray, when we call out to You. You pledged to inhabit our praise and be enthroned upon our worship. I know You are faithful to these promises. Help me be faithful in prayer. Amen.

Song:
The Lord Is in His Holy Temple

Words: Habakuk 2:20; Music:George F. Root

The Lord is in his holy temple,
The Lord is in his holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence,
Let all the earth keep silence before him –
Keep silence, keep silence before him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 7, 2018 “Wedding”

Wedding

Everybody loves a wedding.
Weddings–they happen every day. They happen in every family. Marriage, of course, is the fundamental building block for a godly society. Matthew records Jesus describing the wonderful bond of marriage as God’s plan from the beginning. So, in Cana of Galilee, there was a wedding with Jesus and His mother and the first of His disciples in attendance. Weddings happen somewhere every day, but, not like this!

Inclusion was by invitation only so it is reasonable to assume these were close relatives or at least friends. We are not told why, but when the hosts of the wedding feast ran out of wine, they took their problem to Mary, Jesus’s Mother. Neither are we told why Mary took the problem to Jesus but that is what she did.

Mary, Mother of the Savior
Unlike the other Evangelists, John introduces Mary in this scene rather than in the dramatic events of the birth of Jesus. By this time, there were 30 years of history between Jesus and Mary. Every mother pays close attention to her children and we can be sure that the half-brothers and sisters of Jesus received the proper care and attention from her. It is also certain that Mary and Jesus enjoyed a special bond, different from the others. As she watched Jesus grow through the normal stages of childhood all the way to young adulthood, Mary continued the process, begun so long ago, of “hiding things in her heart.” Of all people she would have known when it was time for Jesus to leave the carpenter’s shop to strike out on His particular Messianic mission. Perhaps at this wedding in Cana, she gave her Son a little nudge.

Water to Wine
He protested to her a little bit and I can imagine a look from her convinced Him that this was the right thing to do. She told the servants,

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

(A good rule to live by, still today!) Jesus told the servants to fill 6 water pots full of water and serve it to the guests as if it were wine. They obeyed thinking all the while that it wasn’t going to be their fault when people complained. When they served the master of the feast, there were no complaints. On the contrary, the newly created wine was called the best. The master couldn’t remember buying such excellent stock but the servants knew the truth.

The First of Many
There is no indication that anyone but Mary, the servants, and Jesus knew what had really happened that day. This was the first of all the wondrous things Jesus would do. After the feast, in the warmth of the wine, Jesus and His family journeyed to Capernaum for a short visit.

Divine Approval
In the centuries since that day, preachers have taken this miracle as a blessing from Jesus on the institution of marriage. Marriage, indeed. is the plan of God and the fundamental organizational institution of mankind. The church itself is mirrored in the family. Metaphorically, Jesus is seen as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Holy Bride.

Time has proven the wisdom of this, in spite of the failures of marriages, there is no better organizational structure for the home and the health of the next generation. Mary’s advice still holds today where God’s Word is concerned.

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Man has never invented a better way to preserve the things of God to the next generation.

John 2:1-12
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.
Matthew 19:8-9 NKJV
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am thankful that You began Your miraculous ministry in such a homey way—at a wedding! It tells me that You are concerned about our normal lives. Little things matter to You. So many times, what matters to us matters to You. Help me be like those servants who filled the pots and poured the new wine. I want to be delighted every day to follow Your instructions and see the results of Your plan. Help me take Mary’s advice and do whatever You tell me to!

Song:
Bless Be the Tie that Binds

Words: John Fawcett; Music: Lowell Mason

1. Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

2. Before our Father’s throne  we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,  our comforts and our cares.

3. We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows  the sympathizing tear.

4. When we are called to part,  it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,  and hope to meet again.

5. This glorious hope revives our courage by the way;
while each in expectation lives and waits to see the day.

6. From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin, we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign  through all eternity.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2018 “Disciples”

Disciples

A man has to take his shade where he can find it.
A man from Bethsaida, Philip, by name, found a fig tree with just the shade he needed. Though unconcerned about what people might think of a man sitting under a fig tree, Philip could not shake the feeling someone was watching him.

Disciples have to be called.
John the Baptist set the pattern. We are not told how they were selected, but we know that John had followers allied with him—disciples, they were called. The dictionary makes the meaning of the word clear and flexible:

“…a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower:” (Dictionary.com)

John seems such a lone figure, it is likely these disciples volunteered to follow him. Jesus, on the other hand, singled out men and called them to follow Him and become His disciples. Jesus was building a team and wanted faithful leaders to learn from Him and spread His message. John, the Gospel writer, describes the beginning of a process that is still at work today: Jesus is still calling people by name to follow Him.

Andrew and His Brother, Simon
Two fishermen brothers from Bethsaida had elected to follow John the Baptist. Hearing Jesus speak, they started following Him, not realizing that there was more than their personal choice involved. Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted. They called Jesus, Rabbi—meaning teacher—and asked about accommodations. Jesus answer was classic:

“Come and see.”

They obeyed but somehow one of the brothers had business elsewhere. When the remaining brother, Andrew, heard Jesus, he retrieved his brother, Simon, saying,

“We have found the Messiah”
He delivered his brother to Jesus and Jesus looked him over carefully. He liked what He saw, inside and out and gave this report.

“You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas”

Philip and Nathanael
The next day two more Galileans came to Jesus. It happened this way. Philip was called first and went immediately to find Nathanael saying,

“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Nathanael, comfortable in the shade of the aforementioned fig tree, expressed doubt that anything good, let alone Messiah, could come from Nazareth. Philip repeated the invitation of Jesus to “come and see.”

When he arrived, before Nathanael could speak, Jesus greeted him. Nathanael wanted to know how Jesus knew him. The answer was also classic:

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

It was enough to convince the man to confess that Jesus was Messiah.

“Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus smiled. It was a smile His disciples would soon treasure as much as all the things they saw Jesus say and do.

“Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe?
You will see greater things than these.”

What things? Heaven meeting earth in the words and deeds of Jesus. Such was the shade cast by the Tree of Life.

Scriptures:
John 1: 37-50

The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have heard Your call. It is more real than if I heard the sound of Your voice calling my name. I want to answer and be Your Disciple. I want to learn how to live the earthly life by the rules of heaven. I want to be a Peacemaker and thus be a Child of God. I want to tell Your story to those who will listen and live it before those who will not. Holy Spirit, take me to school each day and teach me the ways of my Savior, my “Rabbi.” Amen

Song:
I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Words: Mary Brown; Music: Carrie E. Rounsefell

1. It may not be on the mountain’s height, Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s frontMy Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”

Refrain:
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.

2. Perhaps today there are loving words Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin, Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide,Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say.

Refrain

3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care, And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 5, 2018 “Lamb”

Lamb

The delegation from Jerusalem could detect no potential Messiahs in the crowd listening to John.
Relieved, somewhat, they returned to Jerusalem leaving this crazy man in camel’s hair to his river, his crowd of fanatics, and their vacant hopes for a Deliverer. It was a mistake. The very next day, Jesus came to John for baptism.

Why Did Jesus Feel the need to be Baptized?
Since the baptism of John was an act of repentance, why did Jesus, who had no sins, submit to John’s ritual? From other sources we understand that, far from a remedy for personal sins, His obedience to the Man of God was an act of righteousness. In the New Covenant, baptism in water would take the place of circumcision as the sign of the covenant, the visible confession of membership in the Body of Christ. Jesus was already at work, showing us how to live for God in this world.

Behold! The Lamb of God…
When John saw Jesus coming to Him, he was moved in his spirit to confess:

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John never sought his own glory. His job was to point the way to Jesus and to warn people to prepare the way of the Lord. In this moment of revelation, John went a step further. The Spirit had spoken to John that when he saw a heavenly dove descend upon Jesus, he would know that He was the Messiah. As Jesus came up from the river, the heavenly dove came to rest on Him and John made His historic announcement. He went on to prophesy,

“…this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

The baptismal ministry of John would continue into the ministry of Jesus and, along with water baptism, a new immersion in the depths of the Holy Spirit would be granted to those who followed Jesus.

Two Baptisms
One, an actual immersion into water, would become the sign of the New Covenant and the other, a metaphorical but still very real immersion into the Holy Spirit, would be the empowerment to follow Christ.

  • Water Baptism signals to the world that sins are forgiven.
  • Spirit Baptism empowers the believer to be a victorious witness to the Jesus Story.

We must be careful not to confuse these two experiences; they both are essential if we are to live victorious lives for Jesus and effectively tell the world His story.

Receive What God Has for You!
Theological debates swirl around the details of these baptisms.

  • Some say water baptism is a means of saving grace and is necessary for salvation.
  • Others see it as an act of obedience and an outward sign of an inner reality.
  • Some believe, as do I, that Spirit Baptism brings a new level of prayer unhindered by the human mind. Others believers define “prayer in the Spirit” differently.

Let us be zealous to receive everything God has for us. Each of us must hunger and thirst for righteousness in order to be filled! To follow Jesus means to follow Him into the waters of baptism and to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Such is the power of the Lamb.

Scriptures:
John 1: 29-36

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
Matthew 3:13-15 NKJV
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Acts 1:4-5 NKJV
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, immerse me in Your Spirit! Fill me to overflowing with Your Truth. Empower me to live a victorious life every day. Anoint me to serve others in the power of the Spirit. Let every detail of my life be a witness. May my voice tell Your Story. May I walk in the center of Your will. May Your love flow through me and bless others. May Your light shine from me to counter the terrible darkness of this world. O Lamb of God, thank You for water baptism that marks me as Yours and for Spirit Baptism that draws You so near! Amen,

Song:
Spirit of the Living God

Words and Muisc: Daniel Iverson

Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 4, 2018 “Wilderness”

Wilderness

There was more than one wilderness in those days.
There was the barren wasteland through which the Jordan River flowed and there was a spiritual wilderness where the hearts of the leaders of the nation made their homes.

The Wilderness of Judea
This was the abandoned, uncultivated region East of Jerusalem stretching all the way to the Dead Sea. Although the Jordan flowed through this region, it retained its desert character with no fertile lands beyond the banks of the stream. It was poor ground for grazing so the land was given over to beasts of the wild and scavengers on the wing. Here John the Baptist preached his call to preparation for Messiah. Here was his pulpit found, his platform, and the fashion of the wilderness—a belt of camel’s hair—was his only vestment.

The Wilderness of a Vacant Religion
Why did the crowds leave their comfortable country homes and city dwellings to travel to a wasteland to hear this strange man and his discomfiting message? The answer is found in the other wilderness, the spiritual wilderness of an apostate religion. A new Temple was under construction to replace the one Zerubbabel had constructed to replace the one King Solomon built centuries before. The whispered scandal was that the Holy of Holies, the heart of any Temple where Jehovah was to be worshipped, was empty. The room was there and the heavy veil intended to shield the Ark of the Covenant from an unholy humanity, but the Ark itself was missing, captured long ago by enemies. Its location is a mystery to this day.

The empty Holy of Holies is the perfect representation of the state of the relationship of God with His Chosen People in the time of Jesus. Because of conquering nations, the leadership had become more political than spiritual. The highest councils and appointed leaders were engaged in the impossible task of maintaining the traditions of Israel and submitting to the Romans. Since the Jewish religion was monotheistic, demanding that only Jehovah was to be worshiped, the people and polytheistic Romans were on a collision course.

The only Spirituality remaining was highly personal, a remnant of faithful worshipers continuing to seek the Kingdom of God, putting their hopes in the promised Messiah. These are the ones who made the trek into the Wilderness of Judea to hear the Man of God and his message for their generation. They followed John into the waters of repentance and baptism.

A Delegation in the Wilderness
The apostate leaders from Jerusalem were wary of any prophet who threatened the delegate balance of life as a Roman province. They quizzed John, there in the wilderness, and he did not pretend to be more than he was, the Forerunner, not the Messiah. In this capacity, John proclaimed his message. Get ready, Messiah is coming!

“I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.”

A ripple of fear ran through the delegation. Heads turned as security agents hidden in the crowd began to search for the One of whom John spoke. Laughing, John continued,

It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”

Still laughing, John welcomed the next repentant sinner into the waters of the Jordan.

Scriptures:
John 1: 19-28

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,”‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, repentance is one of the things that makes grace really, really amazing. I understand that repentance is more than mere sorrow. Repentance involves a deep sorrow rooted not in regret for getting caught, but a true hatred for the sin itself. Repentance means to completely reverse course, forsaking the sin. It is the pathway out of the wilderness. This painful task is met with Your smile, not Your frown. May I ever pursue actions and thoughts that make You smile. Amen.

Song:
Just as I Am

Words: Charlotte Elliot; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 3, 2018 “Flesh”

Flesh

John does not tell the Christmas story.
Instead he provides a brief meditation on the meaning of the Incarnation, the fundamental mystery of the Jesus Story. The world is always ready to hear another story about a fine young man ahead of his times, misunderstood by his contemporaries, and cut down in the in his prime by the ignorant, uncaring mob. That is not the Jesus Story. This story is one of intentionality. Jesus was on a mission to save the world. So much entertainment today concerns itself with superheroes who save an imaginary, computer-generated movie world. Forget that nonsense. This story is real. This eternal Word, present and active at Creation and ruling from the Throne of Heaven, had come to do both a cosmic and personal work:

  • Jesus will personally defeat the powers of evil.
  • Jesus will provide true forgiveness for our sins and open up a “new and living way” for us to walk with God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

John’s description here. and a few verses later, brings these lofty concepts into real life.

 

“The Word Became Flesh”
Oh, the wonder of this, the mystery of the Incarnation! It wasn’t enough for God to raise up another prophet. This mission was more than even the highest angels could achieve. This required the Second Person of the Godhead, eternally existent with the Father and the Spirit, to travel across the impossible divide between heaven and earth, between the human and the Divine. Only Jesus could do this. We can taste John’s wonder at this in his words.

“…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John’s testimony towers above the other remarkable, amazing confessions found in the Jesus Story.

  • John the Baptist would proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
  • Peter would confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
  • Only John the Beloved called Him the Word, and not just the Word, remote and mysterious, to be believed but not understood, but the Word made flesh and dwelling among us

These testimonies are not academic conclusions drawn from careful observation or from the, obedient study of accepted scholars. These accounts are the very breath of God, the same breath that God breathed into Adam to give mankind life. This is real, spiritual, invisible yet full of power and effect.

The Nativity
Even without the narrative of Christ’s birth, John tells us more about Christmas than any of the other evangelists. When the old, old story unfolds before us,

  • We wonder at the plan of God with Mary and Joseph,
  • We hear the angel choir singing over the shepherds, and
  • We join the Wise Men in their journey of adoration,

Yet all the while, this is the wonder that draws us in—the Incarnation—the Eternal Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

  • The Eternal One entered into Time.
  • The Omniscient One emptied Himself of all knowledge except what an infant knows.
  • The Omnipotent One, laid aside His divine power to depend on the Holy Spirit.
  • The Omnipresent One, abandoned heaven to dwell in the earth, to be only there and only then.

John the Baptist declared that grace and truth came into the world through Jesus and it is so. May we never lose the wonder of Jesus, the Living Word, who was and is and is to come.

Scriptures:
John 1: 14-18

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 8:10-12 NKJV
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Colossians 2:13-15 NKJV
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am so amazed at Your journey from eternity to time, from heaven to earth, from omnipotence to infantile weakness, from omnipresence to a manger in Bethlehem, and from the source of all knowledge to the dim light of a baby’s knowledge, emotions and feelings alone. May I never lose the wonder of the Incarnation. May I never confuse it with tinsel or twinkling lights of sugar cookies. This journey is the real “Joy to the World!” Amen and amen.

Song:
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Words: E. S. Elliot; Music: Timothy R. Mattews

1. Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2. Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3. The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4. Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5.  When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 2, 2018 “Light”

Light

John, called the Baptist, came preaching in the wilderness. The multitudes found him there.
He spoke of a Light that was soon to come into the world. He made it clear that he was not that Light, only a witness to it. John’s message was one of preparation for the Light to come. He is called the Forerunner, the one Isaiah prophesied, a voice,

“crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.”

There was much to be done to prepare the way of the Lord. The Light was coming and those who prepared would be blessed and those who failed to prepare would be blinded by the Light but go away annoyed and unchanged.

The Wilderness Highway
In the desert-dry hearts of the people a Highway must be built but barriers stood in the way.

  • Valleys of apathy must be filled with passion for God.
  • Tall, ancient hills of tradition had to feel the grader’s blade.
  • Crooked places where life turned away from the ways of God had to be corrected, made straight for generations to follow.
  • Rough roads of carelessness and misplaced values must be made smooth by daily obedience to the Word of the Lord.

The Glory of the Lord was coming, coming right down this Wilderness Highway! John’s message was repentance of sin with the sign of baptism. The ancient Jordan, the historic passageway to the Promised Land, provided the cleansing stream.

The True Light
John made it clear that he was not that Light, only the witness to it. The True Light would shine brighter than any yet seen. His Light would pierce the darkness of men’s souls to reveal the secret things known only to God and to the sinner’s heart. The Light would also speak of repentance for that is the point of the revealing light. It would do no good to reveal the secret sins of the heart and not offer a remedy.

  • This True Light was a healing Light shining from the One who invented light. For those who would welcome the Light, darkness would flee from wounded hearts. Understanding would shine into the darkest corners of the seeking soul, ending fear and doubt and bringing peace.
  • The Light would be a transforming Light, addictions would give way to freedom, blindness to sight, deafness to music, and frozen limbs to dancing. Demons who thrive in the dark would flee this Light in terror for there was power even in the sound of the Savior’s Name—Jesus.

To those who believed would be given the right to become the Children of God.

“He came to His own…”
John’s perspective is one of looking back on his time with Jesus. As thrilling and hope-filled as the story is, it is always tinged with sadness, the tragedy of those who saw the Light and turned away from it.

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

John’s story is filled with people who witnessed the Light. Some received and were transformed while others turned away from Him. As we prepare to daily enter this story, let us do the work of preparation.

Scriptures:
John 1: 6-13

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Isaiah 40:3-5 NKJV
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the World! Break forth into my life! Shine into the darkest places in my soul and show me if sins lurk there. I want to prepare for Your coming into my life. May I never be listed with those who turn away from You. May I take full advantage of full membership in the Family of God, a Community of Light, standing against the agents of darkness and shining bright in the gloom of life today. Break forth, O Heavenly light in me! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light

Words: Johann von Rist; Music: Johann Schop

1. Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light, and usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with affright, but hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy, our confidence and joy shall be;
the pow’r of Satan breaking, our peace eternal making.

2. Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light, to herald our salvation;
He stoops to earth–the God of might, our hope and expectation.
He comes in human flesh to dwell, our God with us, Immanuel;
the night of darkness ending,our fallen race befriending.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 1, 2018 “Word”

Word

Words are practically living things.
Parents wait for the first words spoken by a baby, usually some variation of ‘Momma” or “Dadda.” If there is an older sibling, “No, No, No!” will soon be added to the child’s vocabulary. Young lovers are quick to say the magic words, “I love you” while, a few relationships later when it is time to choose a mate for life, the same words are much more carefully said.

Words are connectors. They connect ideas with actions.

  • They summarize complex systems into simple rules.
  • They crystallize belief systems into propositions and conclusions.
  • They connect people with people, certain people. Well-chosen words draw those we love closer or send those we do not love away.
  • Words connect the generations as values and beliefs are expressed in words to those who follow us.
  • In our minds thoughts may race like stock cars on an oval track until we “find the words” to stop the race and share what is on our heart.

Good Words and Bad
Some people scoff at the idea that words can be good or bad, but like people, words can be holy or they can be evil. Dictators take over countries with evil words. God communicates His love for people with holy words. Souls are damaged or healed with the power of words. Why? How? Because words express ideas and Creation runs on ideas, not gravity or centrifugal forces, but on the words, “Let there be….”

The Word
So far we have been dealing with the plural. John begins His Jesus Story with the singular—The Word. All of these definitions and functions apply to the Gospel.

  • As newly re-born babies we learn to speak the name of the Father in prayer and tell Jesus our inmost thoughts and concerns.
  • As siblings in the Family of God, we learn how to properly speak to our brothers and sisters.
  • In worship we learn how to express our love to the Lord, so easy at first, but sometimes so difficult when troubles pile on us.
  • Words help us understand and express spiritual truths, often using metaphors and analogies, to define abstractions like holiness, faith, eternity, and the Love of God.

All of these highly functional words spring from –The Word.

The Written Word
One of the greatest gifts of God to mankind is His Word. It is a supernatural book with a supernatural history. It must be approached with an expectation of supernatural enablement by the Holy Spirit. Purely academic or scientific study of the Bible is not enough; so much error has entered the world through Bible study by human means alone. This is the meaning of “the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life.”

The Written Word is a treasure, as ancient as it is current. There are two ways we approach the Written Word:

  1. To prayerfully read it is a flow of grace into our souls each day and,
  2. To study it is a fountain of wisdom for our lives.

The Living Word
The greatest benefit of the Written Word is this: in it we encounter the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Himself. He was with God in the beginning and was God and through Him everything was made. Life was and is found in Jesus and that light is the light of men. Want more good news?

“And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].” (Amplified Bible)

Scriptures:
John 1: 1-5 NKJV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Hebrews 10:5-7 NKJV
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me —To do Your will, O God.'”
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Thank for the unquenchable light of Your Word! Indeed, the darkness of this world has never understood Your Light and certainly has never put it out. Indeed, You have come to me “in the volume of the Book written” of You. You are more than words on paper, You are light, powerful, life-changing, with healing in the sound of Your Truth. Thank You for the Written Word. It is as secure as heaven and earth. Thank You for the Living Word, so alive in my heart by the Holy Spirit. I rejoice in Your Word today! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Holy Bible, Book Divine

Words: John Burton; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Holy Bible, Book divine, Precious treasure, thou art mine:
Mine to tell me whence I came; Mine to teach me what I am.

2. Mine to chide me when I rove, Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard; Mine to punish or reward.

3. Mine to comfort in distress, Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith, We can triumph over death.

4. Mine to tell of joys to come, And the rebel sinner’s doom:
O thou holy book divine, Precious treasure thou art mine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2018 “Promises”

Promises

The Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.
Dr. Luke’s version of the Jesus Story does not end at the last chapter of His Gospel. As he announced at the beginning of his Gospel, another volume would follow. It is called the Book of Acts, more properly, “The Acts of The Apostles.” To conclude our devotional study of Luke’s version of the Jesus Story, we will visit the open scenes of the Book of Acts. Here we find an expanded account of the Ascension.

A Promise of Power
In this account, Luke tells us how many days Jesus appeared to the disciples—40, to be exact. This is important because the Feast of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover. On the Day of Pentecost, “the Promise of the Father” came to the church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit would take this name and be called, “Pentecostal.”

Jesus made “The Promise of the Father” even more explicit:

“which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water,
but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

He introduced this image describing the experience of receiving the promise—baptism, an immersion into the Holy Spirit. Through the ages, this imagery has remained a vivid description of being filled with the Spirit. This baptism would empower believers to fulfill the mission Jesus had given them. This was good news. There was no way these men and women could do what Jesus had commissioned them to do in their own strength. They needed the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and they knew it.

Another Promise
The idea that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and revive the Old Covenant still lingered in the minds of some. They ask if this was the time for this. The answer Jesus gave took them deeper into the New Covenant and into their mission.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”

This was not a pressing issue. They would have to leave the timing of God’s plan in His hands.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This was the pressing issue. This was their mission.

As they looked at Jesus, He rose from their sight and disappeared into the Heavens. Two angels stood among them. The disciples cleared a circle for them to address them all.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

The second promise—Jesus will return to this earth someday! This is the promise that puts time into its proper perspective. This was the pressing issue—receive the Promise of the Father to prepare for the Promise of His coming. As Jesus commanded, they went back to Jerusalem and waited.

The Jesus Story ends with two promises that remain in force to this day.

Scriptures:
Acts 1:1-11
NKJV
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your story is the hope of the world. There is no other saving truth. There is no other redemption for lost lives, wounded souls, and broken bodies. Give me a passion for the lost. Holy Spirit, empower me to tell the Jesus Story in words, deeds of mercy, and in worship, in both the blaring light of day and the deepest of dark nights. Help me to disappear into the revelation of Your glory. May my story be another chapter in Your Story, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Song:
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

Words and Music: H. Ernest Nichol

1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.

Refrain

3. We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.

Refrain

4. We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved