October 18, 2017: “Essentials”

Essentials

Every task in life has its own essentials—

  • Fundamentals to be mastered,
  • Languages to understand, and
  • Disciplines to maintain.

Today we consider the essentials of life itself—

  • The fundamentals of living a life that matters,
  • The languages of life, and
  • The daily disciplines that keep life livable.

There are not that many absolute essentials to life, but there are a few, vital factors that make life meaningful and enjoyable.

Three Essentials
Among his many detailed instructions essential to a full life in Christ, Paul elevates three essentials to the top of the list:

  • Faith,
  • Hope, and
  • Love.

The brilliance of Paul’s analysis is apparent:

  • Faith—we will believe something that gives meaning and shape to life;
  • Hope—we will function in those beliefs because they provide expectations from life that motivate us to keep going; and
  • Love—we are not alone and the best way to connect with people and with our Creator is to purposely develop and express affection and real concern for others.

Faith is an Essential.
Faith presents itself in a number of guises, among them: world view, philosophy, and theology. Faith may even masquerade as science or cynicism or sarcasm, but it is all faith. At the core of any belief system is a set of assumptions, things that must be believed without proof. Faith provides the context in which we choose to live life.

A secular faith provides us with this poverty-stricken context for life:

  • I am an accident of an uncaring universe.
  • I have no purpose beyond my own choices.
  • I am an animal controlled by instinct, driven by the will to survive and procreate.
  • I am accountable to no one except my fellow man.
  • I have no eternal destiny; this life is all there is.
  • There is no judge or judgment day beyond human existence.

Each religion provides its own context for life. Let us consider the context the Christian life provides:

  • I was created by God and He has an eternal purpose for me; my life matters.
  • Made in the image of God, I am a trinity: body, soul, and spirit.
  • I have a free will and a deep desire to know, love, and serve God.
  • Jesus took the judgment of my sins at the cross and I will stand before Him one day to receive His judgment of my deeds as a believer.
  • I will live forever to serve and worship the Lord Jesus.
  • This life is preparation for the next.

The proper faith leads to hope and love.
With this faith, we can stride into each day with confidence that God is faithful. The theme song of the Old Testament is, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.” Faith gives us hope. With this faith and hope, we can approach others through genuine love. We need not fear what man can do to us—God is for us! We can love those who love us and those who hate us. We can love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love for God empowers us to love our neighbor as much as we do our self.

Whatever details of your life you encounter today, if you carry with you these essentials, when the night falls and it is time to sleep, you will look back on a day lived to its fullest.

Scriptures:
Psalm 107:1 NKJV
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Mark 12:30-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Matthew 5:43-45 3
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-6
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach me the fundamentals! Help me to never forget the essentials. I will rehearse the faith in prayer and scripture confession. I will exercise my days in the firm hope of Your promises and Your character. I will love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength while loving others as myself. These three essentials will empower the life I live before You and before the world. Lord, these aspirations are beyond my human ability. Holy Spirit, You dwell within me to empower me to do what I cannot do in the natural. Help me live this essential, spiritual life. For Your glory! Amen.

Song:
Faith Is the Victory
Words: John Henry Yates; Music: Ira D. Sankey

1. Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise
And press the battle ere the night Shall veil the glowing skies;
Against the foe in vales below Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know, That overcomes the world.

Refrain:
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us is love, Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints before With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath, Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

3. On every hand the foe we find Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head, With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread, And echo with our shout.

Refrain

4. To him that overcomes the foe, White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know His name confessed in heav’n;
Then onward from the hills of light, Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night, In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 7, 2017 “Because”

Because

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refrain:

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

Refrain:

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 28, “Providing”

Providing

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

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

“Do not lay a hand on the boy!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song:
Doxology
Traditional

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 22, 2017 “Faith”

Faith

Faith is both common and uncommon.
It is both prevalent and extremely rare. How does faith occupy such a contradictory status? Because faith must have an object; it must be connected to something else. The object of any faith makes it common or uncommon, prevalent or rare.

Common Faith. We have faith in bridges or we would never dare cross over on them. We are confident that an airplane will fly or we wouldn’t board. We are sure those drivers hurtling toward us going the other way at least ten miles over the speed limit, inches from our car, will stay in their assigned lanes. We trust our surgeon will know what to be do when he/she peers down into the hole he/she made in us, even though we had to sign a waiver to get them to do it. We believe what is printed on food labels in the store so we buy it expecting just that many calories and carbs. Faith in these kinds of things is common; action based on this kind of faith is prevalent.

Uncommon Faith. It is rare indeed and most uncommon to find someone who deliberately puts complete faith in the character of God as He is revealed in His Word. For support over dangerous streams or steep gullies they trust in promised angels, not manmade bridges. They board boats, trains, and planes and drive cars confident of the travelling mercies for which they have prayed. Their healthcare system rests on the Great Physician rather than the best care money can buy. They consider their bodies to be Temples of the Holy Spirit, designed to be cared for through faithful obedience to the One who designed the body and supplies to it an abundant life. Faith in these kinds of things is altogether too uncommon and action based this kind of faith is altogether too rare.

Let us be the exception.
Let us be people who believe the true report summarized so beautifully in Isaiah 53:

  • Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.
  • As the Virgin-born Sin Bearer with no sin of His own Jesus has borne our sins far away.
  • The perfect One has healed us inside and out.
  • He has revealed the face of God to us even though we once hid our faces from Him.

We have believed the entire report of Scripture as the ancient Christian confession states:

  • Christ has died.
  • Christ has risen.
  • Christ will come again.

Faith is believing.
Because we believe in Jesus, we can be fearless and free to go anywhere He sends us and do anything He asks us to do. Jesus has us in His strong, resurrected arms. No power can overpower Him. No enemy can defeat this Mighty Warrior. All of God’s promises are true. He is the object of our faith. Most people place their faith in roads, bridges, and other drivers. They beleive in airplanes, food labels, and in all manner of precarious promises. Everyday life mixes people of the common faith and prevalent behavior patterns with those who live by uncommon faith in God and behave in ways consistent with His instructions. Let us be on the lookout today for someone who is ready to hear about a higher faith. May our joy and productivity reveal the object of our faith–Jesus!

This faith and these behaviors may be uncommon and rare, but this is the faith for which every human heart longs.

Scriptures:
Hebrews 11:1; 12:1-3
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 6:29
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
1 John 5:3-5
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith.
Romans 10:17
… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Luke 17:6; 18:8
…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
2 Corinthians 5:7
We live by faith, not by sight.
Romans 1:17
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let faith arise in my heart. Let it propel me into this day with confidence. You are my faith and shield. You hem me in behind and before and I feel Your hand on me this minute. As the fiery darts of the enemy come my way today, my shield of faith quenches their puny flames. Faith in Your name which is the name above all names, propels my every step toward victory. Let my faith in You be the warmth in my touch, the tenderness in my voice and the peace in personality. Faith is the victory! In You, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Song:
Faith Is the Victory
Words: John H. Yates; Music: Ira D. Sankey

1. Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies;
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain:
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory,
That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints before
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

3. On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

Refrain

4. To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav’n;
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 9, 2017 “Safety”

Safety

It has been said that the three basic needs of people are food, clothing, and shelter.
Safety comes under the category of shelter. The room in which we sleep must not only be heated or cooled to our liking, it must almost make us feel safe.

The same is true for everything in our lives from our cars to our food to our shoes. When we feel safe, we can give ourselves fully to the work that must be done or the fun we want to have.

  • A wife wants a husband who makes her feel safe and a husband wants a wife to provide for and protect.
  • A father wants to give the gift of safety to his children so that the child doesn’t even think of the danger in world beyond the locks on the doors.
  • When a small child senses danger, all the child needs to feel safe is the nearness of his/her parent.

This Dangerous World
Since the angel with the flaming sword took his post at the gates of Eden, we have lived in a dangerous world. For this reason, promises of safety have always been a part of the covenants God has made with mankind. Because the world hasn’t changed, Old Covenant promises of safety still apply to those who live under the New Covenant.

The House Built on the Rock
In the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a spectacular image of the safety of covenant living with God. He said our life would be like a house built on the rock, standing firm no matter the violence of the storm or the depth of the flood. God has promised to keep us safe from storms and circumstances and even the schemes of evil people.

  • Storms will come.
  • Evil or unthinking people will attack us.
  • The roaring lion called Satan will send his imps to howl and growl against us.
  • The armies of darkness will assault the church.

But in this dangerous world, we have a Father whose strong arms can hold us safe even while the storm roars and the battle rages. Like the child hiding behind its father’s strong presence, the Father’s presence is all the shelter we need.

As we prepare for another day of serving God, we can leave the safety of our homes and venture out into the world fully confident that we are not leaving the safety of the Lovingkindness of God. We can face whatever the day may hold knowing that no foe has more power, no trial will be too great, and no promise of God will fail.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 27:5; 37:3-3
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Proverbs 18:10
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Isaiah 43:1-3
But now, this is what the LORD says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Romans 8:35-39 NKJV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am safe in You today—I will rest! Thank You for the all the safe places in my life. Thank You for being my sure Foundation. No matter what storms may rise, I am safe in the midst of them. You are my Rock! You will keep me in my home, on any road You lead me to travel, in any temporary dwelling for the night, any place of business, and at any fun-stop along the way. You send Your mighty angels to stand guard over me and to act as sentinels and defenders from any foe foolish enough to attack. My hope is built on You, Lord, the Solid Rock! Amen!

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

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2017 “Family”

Family

Before there was church, there was family. 
Before there was a synagogue, a temple, or a tabernacle, there was the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  For generations the God’s chosen people were called the Children of Israel instead of the nation of Israel.  Family is the foundation of human existence.

The family today is like a track meet.
Each one runs his/her own race during the week, each on his/her own track with the chalk lines clearly drawn.  The starting gun sounds each morning and the finish line tape snaps each evening.  The runner huffs and puffs, rests for the night, and runs again tomorrow.  On Saturday, there is a great temptation to run a more recreational race, perhaps at a more leisurely pace and not in such demanding straight lines, but still an individual race, pursuing individual pleasures.

In addition to morning and evening conclaves at the breakfast and dinner tables, there is a greater chance on a Saturday for the runners to find time to be together, at least as individual pursuits will allow.

Wisdom from Antiquity
It is hard to imagine the pace of life for the Children of Israel as they emerged from Egypt and from slavery.  Surely life was lived at a slower pace.  It doesn’t really matter now, but a bit of wisdom from that time is all the more relevant in our technology-driven, super-sized lives today.  That ancient family of God was instructed to let the Word of God permeate family life.

Deut 6:4-9
…These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home … Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Our homes and our families should be saturated with the Word of God.

  • We must respect each other and treat one another by biblical principles.
  • There must be absolutely no difference between the public posture of worship and witness and the private practice of the same.

The truth children learn at home and in the House of God is the only antidote for the poisonous lies that saturate modern life.  The home must be a haven of truth, of rest, of safety, of peace—and not just any peace—the peace of God.

The last verses in the Old Testament predict a New Covenant that flows from a godly love in each family.

Malachi 4:5-6
… He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

We see the predicted curse all around us as modern life continues to erode family ties.  The Christian home must deliberately strengthen those ties that bind.

In quiet moments today, look for ways to openly love and affirm those most precious of all people—your family.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Malachi 4:5-6
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Colossians 3:15-21
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sensitize my heart! Help me love my family the way they should be loved. Help me be all that is needed. Let me be an encouragement to them. I want to be kind and true, dependable and faithful. Lord, show me how to fill the home with Your Word and show us how to honor You with our schedules. You are the Solid Rock, the Sure Foundation upon which our home stands. As storms rage and winds assail our home—You will keep us safe. Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken, the beautiful binding power of the Holy Spirit! Let us rest easy with our hope and faith in You. Amen and Amen.

Song:
Bind Us Together
Words and Music by Bob Gillman

Refrain:
Bind us together Lord
Bind us together with cords
That cannot be broken
Bind us together Lord
Bind us together Lord
Bind us together with love

1. There is only one God
There is only one King
There is only one body
That is why we can sing

Refrain
2. Made for the glory of God
Purchased by His precious Son
Born with the right to be clean
For Jesus the vict’ry has won

Refrain
3. You are the fam’ly of God
You are the promise divine
You are God’s chosen desire
You are the glorious new wine

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 19, 2017 “Participation”

Participation

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature. 
Instead of mankind desperately seeking God, God came to earth as a man to break the in barrier between God and man.  Instead of poets dreaming up gods of their own imaginations, God revealed exactly who He is the face, the voice, the touch of Jesus.  The glory of Jesus is not a glory to be achieved; it is a glory to simply behold in humility, repentance and faith.

The Lord’s Supper
The Table of the Lord demonstrates our participation in the mystery of redemption.  One of the Greek words for participation is koinoneo which means

“to have a share of, to share with, take part in” is translated “to be partaker of”
(Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words)

Koinoneo emphasizes the fellowship resulting from shared experiences and beliefs.  Somehow, when we come to the table we do not just observe a memorial of the ministry of Jesus.  We actually participate in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  What are these mysteries?  They are summed up by Paul in seven words:

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Last Supper
This is the theme of everything said and done at the Last Supper.  This meal marked the passing of the Passover table and the coming of the Lord’s Table.  No longer a celebration of a deliverance from in the distant past, our Fellowship Meal (koinoneo) is a participation in a current deliverance from sin and destruction.

Jesus said we should participate in the bread and the cup as a remembrance of Him.  Our English word, “remembrance” comes from the Greek word, anamnesis which means:

“a remembrance” (“again”) …not “in memory of” but in an affectionate calling of the Person Himself to mind; (b) of the “remembrance” of sins… is not simply an external bringing to “remembrance,” but an awakening of mind. (Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words)

At the Lord’s Table we do more than remember, we participate.
It is not a re-crucifixion of Jesus for that was “once and for all.” What happens is this: The Holy Spirit ministers to us as we believe in Jesus’ Body and Blood, His substance and His life.  Jesus Himself told us in John chapter six what it meant to eat and drink of His substance and life—it is to believe—this is the work of God.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28-29

At that Last Passover and First Communion, Jesus spoke of our participation in the New Covenant:

  • We would enjoy the complete forgiveness of sins.
  • We would engage in a life empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • We would be branches in Him, the True Vine, bearing much fruit.
  • We would be destined for eternal life in His Father’s house.
  • We would have the opportunity to be one with Him as He is one with the Father.  He prayed that we would seize the opportunity.

Each year as we consider the events of the final week of Jesus’ ministry of this earth, we do more than remember, we participate.  We are there

  • at the table,
  • in the Garden,
  • at the arrest,
  • through the night of trials in the courts of men,
  • on the road to Calvary,
  • at the cross,
  • in the storm and darkness,
  • hearing His last words,
  • seeing Him lifeless and still, silent,
  • weeping at the tomb through the night, and
  • rejoicing in the dawn of a new day, a New Covenant and a new life!

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature.

Scriptures:
Mark 14:22-26
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
2 Peter 1:4
… he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Timothy 3:16
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
Colossians 1:24-27
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You invite me to join You in a meal at your Table. How can such a thing be?—yet I believe it! Help me do the work that pleases You—to believe in You! I believe Your Story! I believe Your words and the record of Your amazing deeds. I believe the things I cannot explain that are clearly seen in your Word and I celebrate them in worship. I declare them in words on the page and in my mouth. I long to participate in Your Story and You are showing me how. I rejoice that You are soon to return and I marvel that You are also with me today. Thank You, Jesus!

Song:
I Am His and He Is Mine
Words: Wade Robinson; Music: James Mountain

1. Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
You have taught me it is so.
O what full and perfect peace,
Joy and wonder all divine!
In a love which cannot cease
I am his, and he is mine.

2. Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is richer green;
something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen:
Songs of birds in sweetness grow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am his and he is mine

3. His forever, his alone!
Who the Lord from me shall part?
With what joy and peace unknown
Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heaven and earth may pass away,
Sun and stars in gloom decline,
But of Christ I still shall say:
I am his and he is mine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 10, 2017 “Act!”

Act!

A Sign in the Clouds
Just after one of our Florida afternoon rains, a vivid rainbow followed me home from a trip to the store. It was complete from end to end. A second rainbow, fainter than the first and much shorter and thinner, timidly smiled just to the south of the larger one. What a sight!–all the colors of creation spread like a painter’s palette resting in the clouds.

These heavenly signs were worth looking at. I kept turning to see the rainbow as I made the rights and lefts required by the small town streets of Bartow on my way home. The unusually bright rainbows stayed with me until I parked the car to stand, staring at the sky for as long as I dared.

A neighbor lady, out for her daily walk, was concentrating on something private and paying no attention to the artwork over her head. I thought she might be discomfited by my standing in the yard, so I waved to her and pointed to the sky. “Don’t miss the rainbows!” I said. She hurried on without looking.

A Sign of the Covenant
The rainbow is the sign of a covenant God made with man, never again to destroy the earth by floods. Of course the rainbow is only an optical illusion, a clever trick done with water drops and sunlight. I tried to imagine the first rainbow after the great flood. If it had never rained before the flood, there could not have been a rainbow before. Only Noah and his family saw the first one. The same voice that instructed Noah to that point of the adventure,  told him of the meaning of the sign.

The sign of the covenant was a symbol, a presentation of light and color bearing a message.  The rainbow is an illusion but the covenant and promises are real. God has been faithful to His promise even as the “days of Noah” have returned.

Two Parties in Agreement
An explanation of the ancient customs of the covenant is far beyond these paragraphs. Two parties, one greater than the other, agree to perform acts for their mutual benefit. The rainbow is the perfect representation of such an amazing thing as a covenant between God and man—beautiful, ethereal, real but untouchable.

The Poet acts in an appropriate way when He demands action from God.

“It is time for you to act, O Lord…”

We are offended by the poet’s presumption. How can we demand anything of God? He is the greater partner in the Calvary Covenant. What right do we have to question Him?

These are modern concerns. The Poet, is exercising the ancient right of a covenant partner to call the other party to action according to the covenant. This is not pride or presumption—it is an ancient form of faith, a proper petition based on love and the expectation of God’s actions. The God-Who-Keeps-Covenant will act in our behalf.

Yelling at God
As we read deeply into the psalms we find many complaints from the poets. They don’t just complain about things; they complain to God. It is almost as if sometimes, they are yelling at God. Can this be right and proper?

The Lord “remembers our frame,” that we are only human beings. Sometimes we need to complain and the only One we can complain to is God. We can even yell at Him if we chose the time and place and do so in a very painful expression of faith. This not a public event—it is not for the worship service—it is private, intensely so.

How can this be? Won’t we offend God?

He does not turn away from us in our pain and He can handle anything we have to say to Him. He knows what is in us before we speak. When the air is clear of our complaint we will hear His gentle words of promise again— all the colors of grace in the bright rainbow after the storm–He will act!

Scriptures:
Psalm 119
I have done what is just and right; do not deliver me to my oppressors. Be surety for your servant’s good; let not the proud oppress me. My eyes have failed from watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your loving-kindness and teach me your statutes. I am your servant; grant me understanding, that I may know your decrees. It is time for you to act, O Lord, for they have broken your law. Truly, I love your commandments more than gold and precious stones. I hold all your commandments to be right for me; all paths of falsehood I abhor.
Genesis 9:8-16 NIV
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
Psalm 142:1-4 NIV
I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your promises are sure, irrevocable, unchanging. Down here on earth it seems everything is subject to change. For all we can discern with our human intelligence, there seems to be a random element to creation. I cannot reconcile Your sovereignty with this randomness. When it comes my way, I will pour out my complaint to You in prayer and You will hear me. I know that nothing lies outside of Your sovereignty. You will act in my behalf! No matter how violent the storm, I know the beauty of Your Loving-kindness, like a full, double rainbow, will guide me safely home. Amen.

Song:
Hear My Cry, Oh Lord
Words and Music: Marvia Lee Providence and G.E. Peters

Hear my cry, Oh Lord, Attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth, Will I cry out to Thee.
When my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the Rock,
That is higher than I… That is higher than I…

For Thou hast been, A shelter for me.
And a strong tower, From the enemy.
When my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the Rock,
That is higher than I… That is higher than I…

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 7, 2017 “Tabernacle”

Tabernacle

Constancy
The wilderness nights were never completely dark for the Israelites as they made their torturous way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Just so, the daytime skies were never cloudless without shelter from the sun.

  • Each night, camping in the wilderness, the Shekinah Glory of the Lord lit the sky above the Holiest room in the Tabernacle they had built as the dwelling place of God.
  • Every day the Shekinah appeared as a pillar of cloud.
  • On the days when the cloud was still, they remained in camp.
  • On the days when the cloud began to move, they broke camp and followed it.

There was no council meeting to decide what to do. No opinion poll was consulted. No vote was taken. Everyone knew the drill and they obeyed. Collect the morning’s manna, pack up the stuff, and move.

A Dwelling and the Act of Dwelling
The word, “tabernacle” is both and noun and a verb: It refers to a tent-like dwelling and it means to dwell in or take up residence in.

The Poet asks the question, “Who will enjoy the tabernacle of God?” In other words, “Who will dwell where God dwells? And, “In whom will God set up His tabernacle—His tent—His Dwelling-place?”

There are no questions more fundamental to the Path of Life than these.

If living is separated from its source—our Creator God—it becomes death, a living death. Such is the condition of the human race: separated from God by the sinfulness deep in our nature–this is called iniquity in the Bible, meaning “lawlessness”—and by the sins we commit. God cannot “tabernacle” with sin and iniquity. His proximity to wickedness would destroy the hapless sinner.

Because of the Blood
The Lord could shine each night and tower each day above the Israelites in the wilderness because blood had been shed at each passageway in the Tabernacle leading to the secluded room called the Holy of Holies, This was the Holiest Place where no sin could dwell. The New Testament principle, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” has always been the case.

Today there is a New Covenant—the Jesus Covenant—made in His sinless blood for all the sins of mankind and for humanities fallen sinful nature. Through Him our sins are cast away forever.

Our Tabernacle
In the dark, wilderness night of human experience, a bright pillar of fire shines. In the baking wilderness days of the journey of mankind out of slavery in search of a Promised Land of Liberty, a shining pillar of a cloud beckons those who will see. There is a Dwelling Place for a Holy God in an unholy world—a Tabernacle for our wilderness. His name is Jesus—God with us!

  • He is our Dwelling Place and He Dwells within us!
  • He is the Gate of Thanksgiving.
  • He is the subject of the praise in the Courts of Praise.
  • He is the Table of Bread and the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place.
  • His Spirit is the oil in the Golden Lamps burning there.
  • His human body was the torn veil, riven in two when He cried “It is finished!” from the cross.
  • He is the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Word of God and the Rod of Aaron that came to life—the Anointing of the Spirit.

Through Jesus, our nights are never completely dark and our days always have a sheltering sky as we walk the Path of Life.

Scriptures:
Psalm 15
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill? Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart. There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor. In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word. He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.
Hebrews 8:1-6; 10:19-22 NKJV
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. … 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. 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.
Revelation 21:1-7 NKJV
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my Dwelling Place, my fire by night and my guiding cloud by day. I will rest in the warmth of Your Covenant and walk in the covering of Your Loving-kindness. You dwell at the center of the church and of my life. Around me are my brothers and sisters, and my spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith; I am not alone. I have yet to cross the Jordan to enter into the Land of Promise above but I know that is my destiny. As I move or rest, Your promises remain in force and You are always faithful. Here on earth I find Your Dwelling Place and soon I will find an eternal dwelling place with You in heaven. Behold! The Tabernacle of God is with us!” Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Song:
In the Presence of Jehovah
Words and Music: Geron and Becky Davis

In the presence of Jehovah,
God Almighty, Prince of Peace.
Troubles vanish. Hearts are mended,
In the presence of the King.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 5, “Rewards”

Rewards

Confession time:

  • I like winning better than losing.
  • I am more fond of good outcomes than bad ones.
  • When dreaming big dreams leads to accomplishing great things, I really like it.
  • I love it when there is progress to report in a progress report.

To work well but without reward is the definition of misery.

The Craftsman’s Rewards
I have a life-long friend from my college and teaching days named Dennis who is a wonderful singer, actor, teacher, choral director and Christian gentleman. In his retirement he works with wood producing, among other things, beautiful wooden cases for clocks. I visited his shop one summer and found it to be full of rewards. I don’t mean trophies and plaques on the wall. I mean precision equipment of all kinds and stacks of expensive, beautiful wood from the best of trees. A case for a clock was in the works with smooth wood and careful craftsmanship. Another couple of clocks, as yet undelivered, could be seen here and there. I knew that his sharp mind contained plans for the next creation.

Where were the rewards? I saw them!

  • A proven record of past achievements,
  • the presence of a current project, and
  • the promise of future work were his rewards.

Work and reward; work and reward.
It is the rhythm of life. God, the some Creator who said “It was good” at each stage of a grand project eons ago, made us this way.

Science calls this the Law of Cause and Effect. The Bible term is the Law of Sowing and Reaping. It is not at all complicated—we reap what we sow. If we do “this thing,” this “other thing” will be the result. This is one of the first things we learn in life—“Don’t touch the stove top!” “Get away from that electrical outlet.”

If we do not learn this law:

  • We will gain weight when we eat too much an exercise too little.
  • We are likely to stress over debt when we misuse our credit cards?
  • We will find it difficult to be pure in heart if we constantly feed on impurity.
  • Our children may walk away from God, if we do not walk with Him before their eyes.

On the other hand—while we are thankful—we should not be surprised when the rewards for sowing good things come our way:

  • Except for the prospects of disease or injury, healthy living leads to long life.
  • We can be generous on all occasions because it is more blessed to give than receive.
  • We can live unspotted in this wicked age, because we feed on the good things of God.
  • We can successfully hand deliver the True Faith to the next generation.

Best of all is the reward when we stand before Jesus and give an account.
We can hear Him say,

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things,
I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

There is no greater reward than this!

Scriptures:
Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, abides under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall say to the Lord, “You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust.” He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence. He shall cover you with his pinions, and you shall find refuge under his wings; his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day; Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day. A thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Your eyes have only to behold to see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.You shall tread upon the lion and adder; you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet. Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my Name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
Revelation 22:12-13 NIV
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Galatians 6:7-10 NKJV
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NIV
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Matthew 25:21-22
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are fair in all Your ways. Your promises, so ancient in their words, still ring true today. We will reap if we faint not! When we sow in tears, this will bring a harvest of joy! From creation’s season to this one, You have blessed the cycles of this earth: seed time and harvest, the seasons of the year, and rhythm of the work week and the Blessed Sabbath, a day to rest from sowing and tending and even harvesting. You are with me in the fields reminding me of Your promises. You are coming soon and Your reward is with You. Thank You, Lord of the Harvest! Amen.

Song:
Bringing in the Sheaves
Words: Knowles Shaw; Music: George A. Minor

1.Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,

2. Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

3.Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved