May 5 “Helpless”

Helpless

To feel helpless is to be hopeless. All hope of rescue or relief, of an answer or assistance, is gone.
The helpless one has exhausted all resources and the problem remains. All one can do is seek a higher power. This was the case for a man and his son and for the Lord’s disciples.

A Disrupted Home
A father came kneeling to Jesus, desperate for help and finding none to this point.

“Lord, have mercy on my son…”

He had gone through channels, asking the disciples to cast out the demon tormenting his son and disrupting their home. The foul spirit affected the boy’s mental processes giving him violent seizures. The boy was tossed about by the demon, even into the fire and into deep waters. The man was helpless before this hellish invasion. The disciples did their best but they, too, were helpless in dealing with this particular demon. It was in a class they had never before encountered.

Jesus responded in kindness to the man and with impatience toward His disciples. When would they learn?

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?
How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy immediately. Later, the disciples asked why the demon obeyed Jesus but not them. Why were they helpless in the face of this one demon? Jesus informed them that sometimes fasting is required in addition to prayer. This was that kind of demon.

Trading Helplessness for Hope
When we do not have the answers, we must remember that Jesus does have them. The answers may be beyond our capacity to understand but that does not make us hopeless—we remain hopeful because Jesus is our hope. He is never helpless so we are never hopeless. It may be that we need to turn up our spiritual thermostats a bit and pray more or pray better. It would be good to add fasting to our prayers. Find scriptures to memorize and act upon. The Christ-follower is never hopeless although we may feel helpless.

Mustard Seed and Mountains
The helplessness of the disciples came from inadequate faith. Jesus called it unbelief. Therefore the hope of the disciples and for us is in believing—faith! All it takes to move the mountain in our path that intimidates us and makes us feel helpless is faith the size of a mustard seed. With this faith, we can speak to mountains and watch the earth quake as the mountain moves out of our way.

Tough Times Ahead
Jesus knew what was coming for His men. They would indeed be helpless in the Garden when Jesus was arrested and taken from them. Without hope, they would scatter like frightened birds when He was tried in the courts of men. They would cower in the shadows of the darkened mid-day sun when Jesus died on the cross. They would huddle together in hopelessness while Jesus lingered in the tomb.

Finally, the message of what was to come started getting through to the men “…and they were exceedingly sorrowful.”

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:14-23

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he (“has seizures” NIV)… and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my help and my hope. You have promised never to leave me or forsake me. Therefore, when I cannot feel Your presence, You are still with me. When I feel forsaken, it simply isn’t true—You are still with me. When I feel helpless, I will deliberately set my hopes on You in greater measure, disciplining the mind and the body. No demonic force that will ever attack me is stronger than You. Today I am neither helpless or hopeless. I am divinely assisted and my heart rests in great hope. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
O God Our Help in Ages Past
Words: Isaac Watts; Music: William Croft

1. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
our Shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal Home.

2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is Thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

3. Before the hills in order stood
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting Thou art God,
to endless years the same.

4. A thousand ages in Thy sight
are like an ev’ning gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

5. Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the op’ning day.

6. Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
be Thou our Guide while life shall last,
and our eternal Home!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 4 “Transfigured”

Transfgured

The miracle on the Mount of Transfiguration is a unique event in the Jesus Story.
It is a great mystery that tantalizes the student of the Bible with possible explanations. One thing is certain; this event proves that God is the God of the living and not the dead. Moses and Elijah join Jesus for a conversation—not their ghosts—but the men themselves! What sort of bodies did they have? Was this a foretaste of the resurrection to come? No one can say for sure. Here is the story.

Up into a High Mountain
Six days after the storm at sea, Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain. We can imagine the excitement in the hearts of the three men; there was no predicting what Jesus was going to do. They could never have anticipated what He had in store for them. It began with a transformation of Jesus right in front of them. Tradition calls this a transfiguration, meaning a change in form or appearance. Jesus began to shine with a bright light and His clothes glowed a brilliant white. Suddenly two men stood with Him and conversed with Him. Somehow the disciples knew these men to be Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets.

Nobody knew what to say but that didn’t stop Peter. He made a lame suggestion about putting tents up for them. While this idea was still on Peter’s lips, a bright cloud covered them all. From the cloud came a voice:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

The three disciples fell on their faces in fear. Shivering in the mountain dust, they felt the strong hand of Jesus touching them and they heard His voice telling them not to fear. When they looked up, all was back to normal. Jesus told them to keep this event to themselves until after He rose from the dead.

As they were coming down the mountain, they were silent for most of the descent. Finally one of them ask Jesus about the belief that Elijah must come before the Messiah. Jesus assured them this had already happened; John had fulfilled that role.

The Transfigured Jesus
This historical event also serves as a metaphor for us today. We encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible but He does not remain a two-dimensional literary figure. When we repent of our sins and confess Him as our Savior, He begins to shine in our hearts. He emerges from the paper and print of the Book to wear the shining white robes of His righteousness, setting Him apart from all others. He converses with Moses to give us an understanding of the Old Covenant. He reveals Himself in the writings of the prophets. Best of all we sense a glory cloud of heavenly presence and hear the voice of the Father. He is the God of the living and His is “God with Us!”

We echo the words of the Psalmist: “We worship at his holy hill.” We know also that as we behold His glory, we are being changed into His likeness! Transfigured!

Scriptures:
Matthew 17:1-13
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
Psalm 99:9 NKJV
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You outshine all others! Let me see Your glory today. I will look for it in the sunrise and sunset and in the noonday sun. I will see Your glory in the Scriptures and in the faces of my brothers and sisters. You will temper the Law and You will interpret the Prophets. I will seek the glory of Your presence and listen for the voice of the Father when You speak to me. This mountain today will be my mountain of Transfiguration! Amen!

Song:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Traditional

1. Fairest Lord Jesus,  ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,  Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

2 Fair are the meadows,  fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3 Fair is the sunshine,  fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

4 Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 3 “Confessions”

Confessions

Confessions are more than everyday statements. Confessions are the stuff of change.
I am sure Jesus was alone with His disciples when He asked them this question:

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

His question contained a confession—He called Himself the Son of Man. This is a title almost exclusively used by Jesus in reference to Himself. Scholars debate why this was His practice with many explanations offered. Let’s take the most obvious view: Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. His mother was Mary, a normal human being who was “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit when Jesus was conceived within her. To the followers of Jesus, His confession that he was a human being was not unusual. To Jesus it meant much more. Chances are He framed the question to lead His men from the obvious confession that He was a man to the amazing confession that He was indeed the Son of God.

Getting the Answer Right.
The men gave Him a summary of public opinion and Jesus made it personal.

“But who do you say that I am?”

I can imagine the 12 of them searching each other’s faces. Who would speak aloud what they all were thinking? Peter, of course.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

There it was out in the open. Peter waited to hear what Jesus would say. The answer was not long in coming. Yes! Peter, you didn’t just figure this out on your own. My father revealed it to you. This is the confession that will serve as the foundation of my church! My church will be impervious to the powers of hell itself and people will be freed from sin. With this confession the powers of hell will be bound and the streams of grace will be opened.

Then Jesus told them to keep quiet about it. Why? Because things were about to change. They would make a trip to Jerusalem and to all appearances the enemies will win. He tried to tell them about His death and the new life to follow. They didn’t get it. Peter, so recently eloquent in his confession, took Jesus aside and gently corrected Him. Suddenly the confession of Jesus changed. Peter the Rock became “Satan” because of his refusal to listen to Jesus.

To Follow Jesus
Not only would Jesus bear a cross but so would everyone who followed Him. The world would be turned upside down. To save one’s life, lose it in following Jesus. What is as valuable as a man’s soul? What would we trade for it? Judgment is coming! Eternal reward or eternal punishment, which will it be?

His heavy words hung in the air. He looked each man in the face before closing the subject. Some of their number would see the end when it came. Among them, young John, did not know that Jesus spoke of him. In decades to come, John would grow old preaching the Jesus Story only to be bound in prison on a deserted island. There he would see the coming of the Son of Man who is the Son of God in all His glory and John would share his vision with us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:13-28
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that You are the Son of Man and the Son of God. There has never been anyone like You. I will take up my cross today and follow You. I will deny myself today. I will lose my life in Your will today so that today I might find it again. I will align myself with Your amazing Church built strong and steady on the Rock of this Confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Hell can stand back and watch, raging all the while, but my voice will not be stilled. My confession stands! In Jesus’ Name.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the ‘whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 2 “Leaven”

Leaven

There was a substance in the brains of the Pharisees and Sadducees that ruined their thinking.
Jesus called it “leaven,” that living substance that ferments bread and makes it rise. Aside from the literal meaning the dictionary says this:

“a pervasive influence that modifies something…”

We might call it spiritual stupidity.

After surveilling Jesus for months observing signs and wonders by His hand, these guys asked Him for a sign. They were not the first ones to make this request so Jesus gave them the same answer as the others. They were a wicked and adulterous generation, too blind to see what was in front of their eyes. How was it they could read weather signs in the sky but they could not see the multitude of signs and the amazing wonders of healing and restoration and deliverance from the hand of Jesus? The only further sign they would get from Him was the sign of Jonah. He knew they wouldn’t get that one either.

On the Other Side
Jesus and the Twelve departed from the wicked and adulterous leaders and crossed to the other side of the lake. The men suddenly remember what they had forgotten—bread. Jesus was still ruminating about the stupidity of the Pharisees and Sadducees and was not at all thinking about dinner. He advised the men:

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

The last thing Jesus wanted was an outbreak of stupid among His men. He knew that each of them had a capacity for small thinking. They easily forgot important things. He did not want their thinking to be spoiled by some leavening agent.

They thought He was talking about dinner. He rebuked them:

“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember…”

That was it—that was the dangerous leaven corrupting their minds. They had too little faith and understanding and too much forgetfulness. These were the ones who had forgotten how to feed a multitude when Jesus was in command. He wasn’t talking about bread; he was talking about spiritual stupidity:

  • Seeing true signs and wonders and asking for a sign, or
  • Complaining that a suffering person was healed on the Sabbath, or
  • Assigning the power to deliver from Satan’s grasp to Satan himself.

He was pleading with His men not to be like that.

Faith is the True Leaven
Jesus upbraided the disciples because they did not have enough faith. He had to wonder what it was going to take for them to get it. There was a leavening agent alive in their brains to make them stronger and wiser and bolder as they followed Jesus—faith. Doubt deflates dough in the oven or on the shelf; faith makes it rise.

The doctrines of the leaders were based on self-preservation, not Kingdom expansion. Their arguments were defensive rather than offensive to the status quo. Change was a threat to them and Jesus was all about change.

We, too are quite capable of spiritual stupidity. Like the powerful leaven it is, we must add faith to our thinking so we can understand the times and rise to the occasion.

Scriptures:
Matthew 16:1-12
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, sayting, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, save me from spiritual stupidity! Banish from my brain any of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees—unbelief. Fill me with faith—the leaven of the Kingdom. I have confidence in You. I believe Your story with all my heart. I trust You with all my tomorrows and with this day and the night to follow. “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that You are able to keep that which I’ve committed unto You against that day!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
Living by Faith
Words: James Wells, R.E. Winsett; Music: J.L. Heath

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

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 1 “Wilderness”

Wilderness

Finding bread in the wilderness is not easy to do.
This was the second time the disciples had faced this challenge and they seemed unprepared. A crowd of 4000 men plus women and children had been with Jesus in the wilderness for three days with no provisions. Jesus, already motivated by the illnesses, the afflictions, and the spiritual vulnerabilities of the crowd, was moved with compassion for their hunger. He expressed this compassion to His men:

“I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

Although it seems amazing to us, the disciples seem to have forgotten about the feeding of a larger multitude just a few days before.

“Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

The only bread to be found in the wilderness is the bread someone had brought with them into the wilderness. The report was seven loaves of bread and a few little fish. Jesus took these meager provisions in His hands and blessed them. At this point surely the disciples remembered that they had done this before. They remembered the miracle in their hands as each piece of fish or hunk of bread they broke and gave to someone in the crowd was replaced by more when they repeated the process.

Food in the Wilderness, Take Two
If the disciples were slow on the uptake, so are we. We are a multitude in the wilderness, hungry for life. We are following Jesus and He is proving to be all that we need. He forgives us and sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in us. He reveals His Word to us so we can know more about what life is and how it should be lived. He connects us with others on their own wilderness trek and adopts us into His holy family. He delivers us and heals us when are overcome or ill. He makes the wilderness into a garden. Isaiah prophesied this and it happens; time and again, it happens. We find bread where no bread should be. We place the little that we have into the Lord’s powerful hands and it becomes enough—more than enough! This slightly smaller multitude had 7 large baskets full of leftovers! Jesus sent them away, healed, delivered and picking fish out of their teeth with provisions for the trip home! Jesus was Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who Provides, in the flesh.

Sometimes we forget.
One of the most important forms of praise is thanksgiving—remembering what God has done for us in the past. Remembering past wildernesses that bloomed into beautiful gardens encourages us to face the wilderness that surrounds us now. We are not empty handed. We have something to give the Lord, even if it is only a heart full of good intentions. Remember that the contents of the heart changes things and the small, mustard seed-sized faith is enough to grow a mighty tree. The secret is to put what we have in our hands into His hands. With His touch we can see another wilderness become a garden.

Scriptures:
Matthew 15:32-39
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.
Genesis 22:13-14
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord -Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Isaiah 51:1-3
“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.” For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Your delight is to lead us someplace dangerous and then provide what we need to face that challenge. You have not called us to a life lived safely behind walls of fear. When we follow You we will find ourselves in a wilderness. We are not alone; You are there. We have something of value we can give You there in the wilderness. We will watch time and time again as You take what we give You and make it enough. Lord Jesus, You are the master of the wilderness! Amen.

Song:
Come and Dine
Words and Music: C. B. Widmeyer

1. Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

Refrain:
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now,

2. “Come and dine.” The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called unto them, “Come and dine”;
There they found their heart’s desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.

Refrain

3. Soon the Lamb will take His bride
To be ever at His side,
All the host of heaven will assembled be;
Oh, ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 30 “Dogs”

Dogs

Her people lived in the land of Canaan before Joshua brought the Children of Israel across the river Jordan.
In the estimation of the Jews, she counted as less than human, no more than a dog in the streets. Jesus was of a different view. He had heard the words of His cousin John standing in that same Jordan: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”—not just the Jews but the Gentiles, too. The prophets were clear on this, but the Jews of that day hurried over the parts that didn’t fit their narrative.

Tyre and Sidon
These two cities near the Mediterranean Sea were famous for merchandise, fishing, crafts, and sin. The Canaanites who lived there were the descendants of the people conquered by the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. They served a nasty pagan god named Baal, a highly adaptable source of evil—each village had its own little Baal.

Amazingly, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, expecting nothing but contempt from His men, but desperately hoping that He was different. Two things about this woman are remarkable:

  1. She knew about the Jewish Messiah—she called Jesus, “Son of David.”
  2. She knew the power of the spirit world—her daughter was demon possessed.

We know from the writings of Apostles that household idols could host demons. This poor woman had been betrayed by her native religion. Her worship of Baal had introduced her child to a demon. She knew that hell could not cast out hell. When she heard about Jesus, she decided that He, a Jewish Rabbi, was her only hope. She braved the prejudice and pleaded her case.

Playing the Game
Jesus tested her faith by pretending to be just another prejudiced man, referring to her as a dog. Her brave reply moved the heart of the Savior.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

She called Him Lord! The leaders of the People of God called Him Satan and this pagan mother called Him Lord.

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Her daughter was instantly delivered. Then Jesus left that city to find a place to preach. He had come all that way to the region of Tyre and Sidon  to rescue the daughter of a pagan woman. But He was just getting started. A great healing revival broke out and God, the God Moses, and Joshua, and Jesus, was glorified.

Prejudice offends God.
We marvel that one group of people would consider another group of people as no better than dogs. We should not marvel. There was a time in the USA when Negros were considered only a fraction of a human being for the purposes of the census and congressional representation. Race prejudice has raised its ugly head in every civilization on the planet. The only One who has an answer for it is Jesus. He can remove it from the heart. He can exalt each individual to a place of equality. The Sermon on the Mount does this; it is the constitution of the Kingdom of God. How do we please God? Love Him and love our neighbors. How do we offend Him? Treat others like dogs.

Scriptures:
Matthew 15:21-31
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 6:26-27; 10:29-31
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Galatians 3:26-29
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.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. I want to treat people as equals. You love everyone, even the most unlovely and the most unlovable. I need help with that. From the homeless person I see on my way to church walking the street early on Sunday morning, to the prisoner behind bars, to the elderly lost in a fog and cared for my strangers to well-off in their fancy cars and snoozing in their elaborate homes in gated communities, to the radical spewing hatred, help me love them all and to show it by praying for them. They are not dogs; they are worth Your agony on the cross. Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. Amen.

Song:
Jesus Loves the Little Children
Traditional

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 29 “Hearts”

Hearts

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day had many skills. Missing the point was chief among them.
While Jesus and His men were in the North doing the work of the ministry, a delegation of scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem confronted Him. They had a pre-packaged charge to level against Jesus and His men—eating with unwashed hands. It was a big deal to them because they found power in the various traditions of the elders. Some of the rules came from Scripture but many were elaborations on the Law by teachers in past eras of time. These leaders were the keepers of these traditions and wielded power over the everyday person just trying to get by.

Hypocrisy was inevitable; they would rigidly enforce small, easily measured, readily visible infractions of these laws, while large, more important but less visible matters would be ignored if there was benefit in it for them.

Jesus was ready for them.
Instead of defending Himself and His men, Jesus leveled a counter charge involving complicated matters of inheritance. This stopped the scribes and Pharisees cold. For us it would be like someone asking about private taxation records or hidden back accounts. How did Jesus know about that? Lawmakers make laws to benefit lawmakers and they bend the Word of God to do so. He immediately applied the principle:

“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

The arrogance required to do this is simply massive. To negate the Word of God by superseding it with one’s own self benefiting schemes is an amazing way to sin against God. Their trip, begun in arrogance, ended in embarrassment and a lecture. Jesus condemned them and their like. They displayed an outward, carefully manufactured show of religiosity but their hearts were far from God. Dirty hands at dinner were not the problem; dirty hearts in power were true violations of God’s laws.

“…in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

The corruption spewing from their mouths was more damaging that dirt under the fingernails of the disciples.

When asked to explain what He meant, Jesus told us all we need to know about the heart.

“…those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

Heart Trouble
Until we meet Jesus and follow Him, the whole human race suffers from heart trouble. Our sinful words and deeds come from our sinful hearts. Even those of us who would worship God in Spirit and Truth must guard our heart for a heart full of mixed motives cannot worship in truth. Our outward show of praise does not impress God if our heart is not worshiping. The heart is led by the eyes. Sin in the heart—impure motives, lustful fantasies, proud schemes—blind us to the dangers of sin. We are deceived by these internal things, hidden from the eyes of others and we think that God is also blind to them. We become, like the scribes and Pharisees, the blind leading the blind, and the only destiny we have is the ditch.

The Heart Dealer
Jesus deals in new hearts. Yes, He repairs broken hearts. Yes, He heals wounded hearts. His specialty is this: He can give you a brand new heart! A heart that is free from sin and beating to His rhythms of grace.

Matthew 15:1-20
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” — then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Psalm 24:3-6
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,Who seek Your face.
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, like every other human being, I sometimes have heart trouble. Mold my heart into the likeness of Your great heart, full of compassion and truth, gentle and pure, holy and a blessing to all. Purify my heart, O Holy Spirit. Cleanse it from self-centeredness. Make it pliable to the will of God. I will guard my heart, as Your Word commands, and fill it with good things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Song:
Change My Heart, O God
Words and Music: Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

You are the Potter,
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me.
This is what I pray.

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 28 “Storm”

Storm

The storm is coming. Of this we can be sure.
The intensity of it is yet to be seen, but its certainty is beyond dispute. The winds may blow from the west or from some unusual direction but they will blow. The rain may pummel the ground, dropping like a hail of stones or it may join the wind and streak sideways but we can be sure the rains will come. The sky may snap with electricity and the earth shake with sound but we can be sure that violence will accompany the storm. We may find shelter or we may be caught in transit to weather the storm in the open. The storm is coming.

After the Feast
When the multitude was fed and sent away to their homes, Jesus told the Disciples to get in a boat and sail to the other side of the sea while He climbed a mountain to pray. They obeyed Him but soon the storm arose and the winds were contrary. This went on for some time, their strong fisherman arms swelling and their disciple joints complaining as they rowed against the wind. Sometime after 3 in the morning, Jesus came to their aid, walking on the raging sea. His superstitious men thought He was a ghost! Fear added itself to their inventory of troubles. Peter recognizing the form if not the face of Jesus, hailed Him:

“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Perhaps Peter didn’t really think this request through but the Lord took him up on it. He gave one of those one-word answers that changes lives.

“Come!”

What was Peter’s reasoning? Was he sure that Jesus would share this wonderful aquatic skill with him? Did Peter even think at all? Whatever may have prompted the fisherman, Peter exited the boat. Instead of jumping into the sea, Peter stepped out onto it—and it held him up! He paused for a moment just to make sure of this miraculous buoyancy, smiled at Jesus and the other men, swallowed hard and took a step. Then he took another and another. The winds still blew and the waves still did their best to upend him but each step took Peter closer to Jesus. When he was within arm’s reach of the Master, he took his eyes off Jesus. As if waking from a dream, the reality of the storm broke upon him like a tidal wave. With his eyes on the storm, Peter began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for salvation and a strong carpenter’s hand caught him just before the waters would have claimed him. Jesus laughed:

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Both of them laughing, they got into the boat and immediately the storm ceased. Any lingering doubts among the men vanished and they confessed His Lordship.

After the Storm
By the next morning they reached the other side where another multitude had gathered. Many believed that all it took was a touch of Jesus’ clothes and healing would be theirs—and it was true!

Life Lesson?
When the inevitable storm arises, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He can help us walk in places that are impossible for us to walk! Every step brings us closer to Jesus—the Master of every storm.

Matthew 14:22-36
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when You have called me to do something, that means that it can be done! Peter walked on water at Your invitation; help me to realize the fact of this! With Your empowerment I can do what You call me to do! Give me courage to obey, to get out of a comfortable boat, keep my eyes on You and walk! I trust You in all things so let me obey You in all Your commands. I know the storm is coming, Lord. Keep me steady, Lord! All for Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
I’ve Anchored in Jesus
Words and Music: Lewis E. Jones

1. Upon life’s boundless ocean where mighty billows roll,
I’ve fixed my hope in Jesus, blest anchor of my soul.
When trials fierce assail me as storms are gath’ring o’er,
I rest upon his mercy and trust him more.

Refrain:
I’ve anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I’ll brave,
I’ve anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave,
I’ve anchored in Jesus, For he hath pow’r to save,
I’ve anchored in the rock of ages.

2. He keeps my soul from evil and give me blessed peace,
His voice hath stilled the waters and bid their tumult cease.
My pilot and deliv’rer to him I all confide,
For always when I need him, he’s at my side.

Refrain

3. He is my Friend and Saviour, in him my anchor’s cast,
He drives away my sorrows and shields me from the blast.
By faith I’m looking upward beyond life’s troubled sea,
There I behold a haven prepared for me.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 27 “Feast”

Feast

Following Jesus into the wilderness was an experience not to be missed.
There were signs and wonders. There were debates with entrenched leaders (which they always lost!) and there were those wonderful stories about the Kingdom of God. Hearts were stirred. Minds were challenged. Even so, bellies still tended to report empty. The disciples reported this hunger crisis to Jesus and much to their surprise, He told them to feed them. Of course, the only thing to do was break up the meeting and send the people on their way left to their own devices as far as provisions were concerned. They were all too far into the wilderness to supply food beyond what the most farsighted of them had thought to bring. Of these farsighted ones, a solitary little boy was found to have a small lunch. Jesus commanded the small provision be brought to Him.

“Little Is Much when God Is in It”
There is a vintage gospel song by this title and it remains true to this day. Remember that Jesus measured faith in grains of mustard seed—small measures in the world’s eyes. The disciples could not see the little boy’s lunch as relevant to the massive needs of the multitude, but Jesus knew better. He took the loaves and fishes in His hands, gave thanks, and blessed them. (The word used in John’s gospel is the root word of Eucharist, the “Great Thanksgiving!) This “little” bit of food became “much” in the hands of the disciples. As they broke the bread and the fish, it multiplied before their eyes. A miracle of creation occurred with each plunge of their hands into the baskets and they had enough for each group of people all sitting orderly on the ground. There was no panic, no rush to get food before it ran out. Jesus was in charge, this one who commanded demons and disease with equal authority, so people quickly relaxed and waited their turn. If the fish needed salt, I am sure the tears of the disciples supply that seasoning as well.

The Fellowship Meal
Eating together is an indispensable method of spiritual fellowship. The Old Covenant was celebrated by the Seder and Passover meals. For New Covenant worshipers, the Communion Meal is the heart of public worship. Why are these feasts important?

  • They physically represent spiritual realities. We are family, committed to God and to each other! Our souls are nourished by this fellowship.
  • Spiritually, the things of God and His Kingdom nourish our spirits, strengthening us for demands of the times in which we live. In the Bible, the Word is called meat and bread, the flow of the Spirit is New Wine, and the waters of worship are the very River of Life.

The feast in the wilderness teaches us that to follow Jesus is to be well fed. He can take “little” and make it “much.” There is always enough because Jesus is serving the substance and life of His own victory over death.

One More Thing
Like the tiny mustard seed in the parable and the little boy’s lunch in this feast, when the Lord takes into His mighty hands what we have to give, He blesses it. He blessing is so powerful, what we have becomes enough!

Scriptures:
Matthew 14:14-21

And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Prayer:
Communion Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (adapted SRP)
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people  the Substance and Life of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

Song:
Little Is Much
Words and Music: Kittie L. Suffield

1 In the harvest field now ripened
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the voice of God is calling
To the harvest calling you.

Refrain:
Little is much when God is in it,
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.

2 Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.

Refrain

3 When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
“Welcome home, My child, well done

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 26 “Dances”

Dances

There are all kinds of dances: musical, psychological, political, mental, and deadly.
While Jesus was trying to do some good in Galilee, events beyond His control were unfolding down in Jerusalem. John the Baptist was imprisoned by King Herod, the evil son of the Herod who had slaughtered the innocents when Jesus was born, because John had denounced Herod’s marriage to his sister-in-law. I don’t claim to know how good King Herod was on the dance floor, but he was good at the political dance—keeping opposing forces under control to keep the peace with Rome. John had just gone too far, that was all, denouncing the private life of the king. Prison was where he belonged. It was not enough for with new wife, Herodias. She wanted John punished and eliminated. Her new husband didn’t feel that was necessary. Herodias knew how to dance the dance of manipulation. She arranged for her daughter to entertain the King and his guests. It is good not to try and imagine the young woman’s dance, but, coached by her mother, it pleased the king. Inflamed by her dance, Herod made a rash promise.

“Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.”

Still out of breath from her sensual dance she panted out her demand.

“Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

Surprised by the demand, Herod’s ardor quickly cooled. He realized he had been danced into a corner. For the sake of his guests, he felt he must honor his promise. What’s one prophet more or less, anyway? He ordered the execution. The party was suspended until a servant returned with the severed evidence of a promise kept. Herodias was the only one who still had an appetite. John’s disciples took his body away for burial and representatives came to tell Jesus.

Jesus Receives the News
Herod had convinced himself that Jesus was really John resurrected. His political dance had failed to bring any peace to his soul. It is certain that both John’s disciples and those of Jesus considered this a serious threat to the Lord. Hearing the sad news of His friend, cousin, and forerunner, Jesus needed to be alone. He was not a dancer, especially not the political kind. He hated plots and saw through them easily. His enemies were never successful at covering up their political schemes against Him. Neither did Jesus dance with words. He was the original man who said what He meant and meant what He said. Those who tried to dance around Him with clever words and trickery always ended up tripping and falling on their faces.

Sometimes it is good to be alone.
Here we see the humanity of Jesus. The death of a good man saddened Him. The murder of a friend broke His heart. He wanted to be still and quiet so He sought solitude. It wasn’t long before the multitude discovered His location and came bringing their needs to Him. There was little time to grieve the loss of His friend or to ponder the opposition of a powerful politician. There were sick people to heal, demons to scatter, and there was a message of hope to preach. This was no time to dance with grief.

Scripture:
Matthew 14:1-13
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the news of the death of John the Baptist broke Your heart. You had to get alone with the Father for a while. Give me the wisdom to get alone with You. You said the Father was in the Secret Place. I want to join Him there today. When I am alone with You, I am not really alone at all! Your Spirit abides within me so I am never alone.  Thank You, Lord!

Song:
Shut in with God
Traditional

Shut in with God in the Secret Place.
There in the Spirit beholding His face.
Gaining new power to run in the race.
Oh I long to be shut in with God.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved