February 8 “Authority”

Authority

True Authority is something a leader either has or does not have.
If it is missing from the life of the leader, there is little he or she can do to acquire it. It doesn’t come with education because we have all seen educated idiots. It does not reside in ignorance for this results in noise and chaos. Authority may appear to abide in personality but time will reveal its absence or presence. Authority can come with position when a leader climbs some sort of ladder making friends along the way who are obligated to him or her. These leaders may even exhibit public careers for decades within the corrupt system that props them up in a cruel theatre of public relations. Beneath the facade, there is cover up after cover up and good people lose their careers to the evil powers of those who get the headlines and the riches but whose authority is disingenuous. Another source of false authority is inherited, not earned. It also rings hollow and must be maintained with power and manipulation.

Chief Priests, Scribes, and Elders
When Jesus and the Twelve returned to the Temple area, an assortment of leaders like those described above, were ready for them. They grouped together for safety when they saw Him coming. Seeing He had no whip and did not seem to be angry, they bravely approached Him, calling Him out. They asked the question each of them wanted answered. What was the source of His authority?

“By what authority are You doing these things?
And who gave You this authority to do these things?”

He was not a priest and, though it was said He was in David’ royal line. He was not a scribe or an elder. What ladder did He climb to this position of authority? Sickness fled at His touch. Demons jumped and screamed at His command. Miracles were within His purview. Where did He get such authority?

What was their purpose? Surely to stop Him; perhaps to enlist Him; and perhaps, for a few of them, to investigate the possibility that He was sent from God. Regardless of the motive, the question was asked and He had to answer.

Answering a Question with a Question
Jesus read them like a scroll. He posed a question to them He knew they would not answer.

“I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John — was it from heaven or from men?

Not to be deterred by their show of force, He followed the question with a command.

“Answer Me.”

The leaders stepped back, affronted both by the question and the command. They improvised a huddle, whispering among themselves how to give an answer. Slowly, they realized that Jesus had beaten them at their own game. There was no answer that wouldn’t get them into deeper trouble. If they said John was a prophet, He will challenge them for not believing and if they said he was not, the people would lose faith in them. They simply must avoid the question.

“We do not know.”

Jesus smiled. This was better than the whip He used the day before!

“Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Real Authority
They had the robes; Jesus had the power. They had the position; Jesus had standing with God. They had the tradition; Jesus had the moment. They had the questions; Jesus had the answers.

True Authority is something a leader either has or does not have.

Scriptures:
Mark 11:27-33
Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John — was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men'” — they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is no authority higher than Yours! No name is higher. No power greater. The forces of hell and earth may oppose You but they never will overcome You. You rule and overrule. Yours is the finale word. Someday every tongue will confess that You are Lord of all. Until that day, this will be my confession. I willingly submit to Your matchless authority and Oh the peace and joy that is mine today! Amen and Amen.

Song:
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Words: Edward Perronet; Music: (Coronation) Oliver Holden

1. All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!

2. O seed of Israel’s chosen race now ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace, and crown him Lord of all!

3. Let every tongue and every tribe on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all!

4. Oh, that with all the sacred throng we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

November 27, 2017: “Foundations”

Foundations

Sometimes how things seem to be is not how things really are.
Our daily perspective is earthbound and wrapped in time—swiftly passing ticks on a clock hidden somewhere beyond our reach. We grasp for the good moments but often they pass away before we can safely lock them into our hearts.

Our memories, good and bad, represent a tiny fraction of the days we have lived and the moments through which we have passed.

  • The beautiful moments we capture are like jewels in our mind, shining, sparkling, with only the slightest amount of light.
  • The horrid moments of our history lurk in the shadows of memory, obstacles we trip over in the dreams of the night.

Memories of People
Along the way, we have been opposed by some and assisted by many. Calling these two rolls brings both praise and repentance.

  • “Lord thank you for____________.”
  • “Lord help me forgive__________.”

Our story continues, a new chapter with the rising of every sun and the going down of the same. Each day is just a partial collection of memories, never the whole story, a chapter, not the complete narrative.

When Foundations Begin to Shake
Sometimes from this earthbound perspective, it seems the very foundations of life are trembling and about to fall. It isn’t true but the feeling is very real. Hear the words of the Psalmist:

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

In such a moment, the poet wants to flee like a bird to the mountain and so do we. No longer earthbound, we seek a higher place of safety, a truer perspective far from the trembling foundations that threaten to collapse beneath us. What is the Lord’s answer to this heart-cry?

Remembrance.
What should we remember? Not the little library of stories that have happened to us, the bright jewels that cheer us and dark obstacles that hinder us. No we must call to mind a much bigger story—the Story of God!

  • He is the Creator of all things!
  • He is the lover of all His Creation!
  • He rules in Heaven and bends all the hosts of Heaven to our rescue and to our safety.

The foundations are safe. No one can pull down what God has ordained to stand and that includes us.

When it seems the foundations are shaking, remember Who God Is!

Scriptures:
Psalm 11
In the Lord have I taken refuge; how then can you say to me, “Fly away like a bird to the hilltop; For see how the wicked bend the bow and fit their arrows to the string, to shoot from ambush at the true of heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold the inhabited world; his piercing eye weighs our worth. The Lord weighs the righteous as well as the wicked, but those who delight in violence he abhors. Upon the wicked he shall rain coals of fire and burning sulphur; a scorching wind shall be their lot. For the Lord is righteous; he delights in righteous deeds; and the just shall see his face.
2 Timothy 2:14-19 NKJV
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
1 Corinthians 3:9-15 NKJV
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my Rock. I have heard Your words and I am building my house upon them. When the storm arises, as it is sure to do, You and I will stand strong. When the winds and rains and waves crash against us, we will not crumble, we will not fall. You have already taken the worst blast Hell can offer and it did not move You an inch. Thank You for Your proven strength in the storms I have to face. Lord, by Your Spirit, corral my memories, monitor my thoughts, and when my perspective slips toward despair, remind me of Who You are! –The God Who Keeps Covenant, unshakable, eternal, fixed in purpose and power, loving and true. You are my security, my foundation, and my mighty fortress. Amen and Amen.

Song:
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Words and Music: Martin Luther

1. A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 31, 2017 “Responsibilities”

Responsibilities

The Big “I”
Did you ever notice how many times the letter “i” is found in the word, responsibilities?—4 times!  Excessive, don’t you think?  No wonder we tend to think that fulfilling all our responsibilities depends on us.  Since we do not form theology on numbers and letters, it is good to sort out the relationship between us and the things for which we are responsible.

Responsibility vs. Power.
Many people seek power; others accept responsibility.  These are not the same thing.  Power is the partner of pride. Responsibility is the ally of humility.  There cannot be a wider gap between two attitudes.  The Jesus way is to accept responsibility; the devil’s way is to seek power.  The Scriptures make it clear:  God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.

The sources of human power range from physical prowess, to political position, to financial force, to intellectual influence.  All this power is rooted in a fallen, but still able, human capacity to desire, plan, and produce.  Personal power is essentially selfish and self-sustaining using any means available.  Pragmatism, not principle, pushes the protagonist from deed to deed, drama to drama without concern those who get stepped on from scene to scene.

Responsibility only gets headlines when connected to crimes.  Indeed, the life of responsibility in the things of both time and eternity begins when one accepts responsibility for one’s sins.  We do not blame parents, or teachers, or culture; we accept the blame ourselves.  With godly sorrow comes repentance and then, amazingly, forgiveness from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
Soon, this new creature, forgiven and filled with the Spirit of God, seeks not power, but responsibility.

Jesus, Use Me!
The old song said it well…

Jesus, use me.  And, oh, Lord don’t refuse me.
Surely there’s a work that I can do.
And even though it’s humble, Lord help my will to crumble,
Though the cost be great, I’ll work for you. (Jack Campbell)

Salvation brings a desire to serve.  All of life is redefined according to the teaching of Jesus:

  • The desire to come in first becomes the desire to put Jesus first.
  • The desire to be a star becomes the desire to be a servant.
  • The desire to lead becomes the desire to be led by the Spirit.
  • The desire to be in the driver’s seat becomes the joy of being a passenger, liberated from watching the road and seeing the world rush by the window while the sky lingers in the distance.

Taking Up Our Cross
Just as Jesus carried the cross, we shoulder the will of God for our lives, the set of responsibilities we are privileged to carry in the will of God for us.  Sometimes there is pain because we are sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings.  Sometimes there is breathtaking joy as we see the work of the Spirit of God being done in the arena of our calling.  All the time there are our responsibilities, not burdened with “I’s”, but joyfully blessed with His—His strength, His wisdom, His victory, and His approval.

Scriptures:
James 4:6 NKJV
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 10 NKJV
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Mark 8:34-38
… “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 9:35
… Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Mark 10:41-45
…Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Romans 8:12-17
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation…(to live) by the Spirit … because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children… heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Matthew 25:21
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Philippians 3:10-11
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want my life to count for You—I want what I do in my time on earth to matter in eternity. . Help me follow Your example and shun power while welcoming responsibility. Help me be the kind of person others can depend upon. Give me broad shoulders so I can carry the load You want me to carry. Give me a careful mind so I can remember the right things and forget the things best forgotten. Give me a caring heart so that I can be sensitive to others and to Your Spirit. Defend me against distractions that would get me off the job You have given me to do. Keep me focused on You and the work of Your Kingdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Jesus, Use Me
Words and Music: Jack Campbell

Refrain:
Jesus, use me, o Lord, don’t refuse me,
Surely there’s a work that I can do.
Even tho’ it’s humble Lord help my will to crumble,
Tho’ the cost be great, I’ll work for You.

V. 1 Dear lord I’ll be a witness, if You will help my weakness.
I know that i’m not worthy, Lord, of You.
By eyes of faith I see You, on the cross of cal-v’ry,
Dear Lord, I cry, “let me Your servant be”

Refrain

V.2 He’s the Lily of the ValleyThe Bright and Morning Star
He’s the Fairest of ten thousand to my soul’
He’s the beautiful Rose of Sharon, he’s all the world to me,
But best of all He is my coming King

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 27, 2017: “Destiny”

Destiny

“Our Heavenly Father” is not a puppeteer.
We do not dangle from controlling strings attached to His manipulating fingers. The essence of the life we have received from God is choice; we choose our destiny.

This is not to say we control it for any day can bring things

  • which we did not foresee,
  • for which we did not plan and
  • with which we must deal.

Yet with each surprise, we have a choice to do the right thing or to do the wrong thing. That choice is one of destiny. When we choose to live in relationship with Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ, we walk the path He has chosen for us—our destiny. The Bible calls this, “The Path of Life.”

A Light and a Lamp
For this pathway there is a light illuminating the way ahead. The Word of God is a headlight searching the way before us, revealing hazards, sharp turns, and dangerous ravines on either side of the path. The truth of this path is not a temporary, passing truth; it is a truth that has always been true and a Word that will never cease to be true—the substantial stuff of destiny.

As if this headlight were not enough, we carry a torch, a lamp for each step. We need never to stumble for every footfall is made in the footprints of Jesus, marked by the scars in His feet. He has walked this way before us showing us how to live. The steps we take today may not be the same we took yesterday and tomorrow’s steps may be different yet again. Each step we take in the will of God is a current truth, the application of an eternal Word for the present moment. He is the torch in our hands, the lamp for our feet. He is our choice, our destiny.

Within the Mind of God
We cannot imagine how the mind of God works, independent of time, unlimited by space. He is not playing some cosmic game of chess with each of us the inanimate pieces which only move when he moves us. This game of grace is like a chess game with each piece an independent agent with a mind of its own. We have a choice but He is still the master of the game.

When we choose our destiny—His will for us for life and for each passing moment—He works everything in our lives toward our good. He sets us on a path of blessing, power, and creativity full of good works, choices to make each day that He has laid our for us from eternity past. A puppeteer He is not and puppets we are not. He is master of all time and space and he holds a plan for each of us, a destiny we can choose today.

And so it was in the Garden called Gethsemane.
Jesus chose His destiny, the arrest, the trials, the torture, the cross, the tomb, and finally, the firstborn from among the dead. His chosen destiny opened up a new and living way for each of us, a destiny we can choose every day.

Scripture:
Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Psalm 139:1-6; 13-16
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
John 15:16-17 NKJV
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.

Prayer:
Lord, I do not understand everything about my freewill and Your will for me. I know that You have made with a will of my own and You have always had a plan and purpose for my life. I am not a puppet but the greatest life I could ever live is the one I would live in the center of Your will. In a very real sense, we are a team, You and I. I am the junior partner for all the power is Yours. Still You have blessed me with human ability as well as human will and You wish to utilize my humanity to do the work of Your Kingdom. What a joy to find Your will and do it! Amen.

Song:
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Traditional

1 I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

2 Though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
though none go with me, I still will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.

3 My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
my cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
my cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

4 The world behind me, the cross before me;
the world behind me, the cross before me;
the world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 25, 2017: “Holding”

Holding

Holding and hoarding are not the same. 
When we hold something, we treasure it, tend it, protect it, and let it perform its function.  To hoard something means to collect things compulsively and then neglect those things to their own destruction.  Things we hold, we can access readily when we, or others, need them.  Hoarded objects, emotions, or ideas pile up in random stacks, stuffed drawers, and messy cabinets so that specific things known to be in the “collection” can never be found when needed by us or anyone else.

As believers in Jesus, there are wonderful treasures filed neatly in our inner selves, things that we hold dear:

  • The Word of God,
  • The sweet presence of Jesus,
  • The abiding comfort of the Holy Spirit,
  • The divine embrace of the Father,
  • The spirit-deep assurance of salvation,
  • The confidence in the Covenant that is called, “faith,”
  • The call of God on our lives,
  • The two families we belong to, one of blood and name and the other of faith, and
  • The hope of the life to come.

When someone is rich in the wealth of the world, that wealth can be measured by adding up the holdings of that individual.  As Christ-followers, the list above is only a partial list of our holdings.

Tending our Holdings
The things we hold in our hearts are not all the same.  There are different ways we must tend to them.  Some things we hold on to as treasure while other things need to be thrown out with the trash.

May we never hoard things like these:

  • Wounds to the body, soul, or spirit.  These should be held long enough for Jesus to heal them.  Then we can let them go so completely that all that is left of them are memories.
  • Sins that lie hidden in our hearts.  These holdings spread death in the center of our life.  They must grow so abhorrent to us that we lay them before the Lord in repentance so that he can deliver us.  These holdings are fit only for the Savior since He has already borne their cost.
  • Ambitions that life has given us, selfish motives, and wicked dreams.  These things need to be replaced with the “dreams and visions” that come with the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  We need to let go of our own glory and seek to hold in our hearts the Glory of God.

Other holdings we possess are designed to flow through us to others:

  • We cling to the love of God, and as we do, His love flows through us to the people around us.  In this way we obey both of the top two commands: love God, love people.We hold truth dear and build our lives upon it.  As w
  • We live out the Jesus story, building our house upon the Rock, we are re-telling the Jesus story to anyone who is paying attention.  The truth of God flows through us even as we hold it fast in our hearts.
  • Praise and worship flow through us.  We treasure the presence of the Lord each day and then, like an Old Covenant priest carrying the Ark, we carry the Lord’s presence out into our world.  On the Lord’s day, we join our passion to that of the Holy-Royal Priesthood and the Glory of the Lord is revealed in public worship.

As this day begins, check your holdings. 
If you find unworthy things in your inventory, do not hoard them!  Cast them out and cast yourself on the mercies of God.  Treasure the eternal, beautiful things in your well-ordered heart.  From the abundance of your heart’s holdings, your life will speak eloquently of the Glory of the Lord.

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
2 Corinthians 4:7-8 NKJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Luke 6:43-45
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Mark 12:29-31
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
1 John 4:20-21 NKJV
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
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.”
Philippians 3:12 NKJV
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as Paul said, You have laid hold on me—thank You! This is my peace and security. Help me to lay hold of You and of all the treasures You have hidden in Your Word, in the church, and in all of creation. There are wonderful, beautiful things I can hold in my heart to regulate my emotions. There are equally splendid things I can hold in my mind to focus my thoughts. There are spiritual ideals I can live my life by to be a good and productive person. Because of Your Spirit within, these amazing things are within my grasp! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand
Words: Jennie Wilson; Music: Franklin L. Eiland

1 Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Refrain:
Hold to God’s unchanging hand,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

2 Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.

Refrain

3 Covet not this world’s vain riches
That so rapidly decay,
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures,
They will never pass away.

Refrain

4 When your journey is completed,
If to God you have been true,
Fair and bright the home in glory
Your enraptured soul will view.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 19, 2017: “Reaping”

Reaping

Few things in life come with a true guarantee. 
Reaping a harvest of good for the glory of the Lord and the benefit of mankind is one of them.  Two verses from the Bible express the inevitability of the harvest, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

  • Psalm 126 promises that the one who lives with passion for man and God and plants the Word of God, that person will doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing a great and joyful harvest.
  • Galatians promises a great harvest to those do not grow weary in doing the right things.

The promise of the Old Covenant is continued in the New Covenant.
Combining the two gives us the conditions of the promise:

  • The sower pictured in Psalm 126 is said to sow in tears.  The guaranteed reaping flows from the passionate life.  The heart that sees the harvest is the one moved by the plight of those without God.
  • The seed that brings the harvest is the precious seed of the Word of God.  Good will and positive thinking doesn’t guarantee anything but the good seed of the Word will have its affect those who hear.  Some will laugh and turn away.  Others will engage in a shallow attempt to follow God until conditions worsen and the seed planted in then comes to naught.  Still others will gladly receive the seed of the Word and it will become new life in them forever.
  • Galatians presents perseverance as the final condition.  The sower who gets the happy harvest celebration is the one who learns how to ward off weariness with rest and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

The “Doubtless” Harvest
Passion, knowledge of God’s truth, and consistent faithfulness in the work God has given us to do will “doubtless” bring a harvest of joy.  The tears we shed for the lost,

  • for the church,
  • for the pain of the world,
  • for the pain in our own hearts when others treat us the way people treated Jesus,
    will water the good soil of those who listen to us and the harvest will come.  Tears will be forgotten in the laughter of the time of reaping.

That time is more sure than tomorrow’s sunrise.  It doesn’t matter how long the night may last until that dawning of the day of reaping.  Until then, let us be passionate, full of truth, and faithful in all things.  The happy harvest is one of life’s few sure things.

Scriptures:
Psalm 126:5-6 KJV
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Matthew 13:3-9;18-23 NKJV
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!””Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Galatians 6:7-10
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the God of guarantees! Your promises are sure, irrevocable, and powerful in real life. Your truth is fixed but is also marvelous in its many applications. Help see Your Precious Seed and perhaps the fresh plowed fields where I might sow that seed. The day will come when before Your judgment seat I will lay down my harvest at Your feet—the faithful record of my faithfulness—souls won to You, deeds of mercy, acts of righteousness, words of truth fitly spoken. I want with all my heart to hear You say, “Well done!” Amen and 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,

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.

Refrain

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,
Tho’ 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

October 17, 2017: “Competing”

Competing

Competition is an unavoidable part of life.
Two competing quotes:

“Winning isn’t everything; it is the only thing.”  Coach Vince Lombardi (among many others!)
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Jesus Christ

Today each of us goes to our place of work.  In the vast majority of those places workers will compete.  When the competition begins, the need to win becomes paramount.

  • Fathers and mothers compete against the conspiracies of the media, the marketplace, and the mania of the post-modern milieu for the future of their children.
  • Salespersons compete against others in the marketplace and even with other personnel.
  • Those in the medical profession compete against the onset and spread of disease.
  • Teachers and administrators compete against ignorance.
  • Physical therapists help disabled people compete against impairment.
  • Mental health professionals compete against sicknesses of the mind and soul.
  • Christian ministers compete against sin and its destructive forces arrayed against society.
  • Christians compete against their own inclinations to wander away from God and the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
  • The Church competes with the powers of darkness in high places, in the name of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, in the warfare of worship and with the irresistible force of radial obedience.

The list could go on and on.

This is not a game; this is war.
The coach’s quote above and the words of Jesus differ in one really significant way.  Lombardi was talking about professional football—a game.  Jesus was talking about eternal life, not at all a game.   Today we do more than take our places in the work force, we take our positions in a line of battle.

  • The enemy never takes a day off.
  • His propaganda outlets never cease broadcasting.
  • His agents in the field are tireless.

He has formed an evil empire that roars and stalks the innocent like a universal pride of lions, hungry, always hungry, seeking those unguarded ones to devour them.

When wars are lost, suffering breaks upon the defeated peoples far exceeding the pain of the war itself.  If we lose our families, our marriages, our children, or our country, it doesn’t matter what trifles we traded them for.  It will be a bad bargain.  No matter how difficult the battle may be, the defeat will be worse.

But we will not lose.  Jesus is victor!
You take your place in the line of battle with spiritual weapons for this spiritual warfare.  They are mighty through God, not through electricity, or pyrotechnics, or computing, or fossil fuels, or even nuclear power.  Our weapons are mighty through God to the destruction of strongholds and every device or deception that exalts itself to obliterate the name of Jesus.

Enter today’s competition assured of victory because winning this war is the only thing that matters!

Scriptures:
Mark 8:36-38
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Colossians 2:14-15
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Mark 8:34-38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I step into this day confident of Your overcoming grace. You have face all my enemies and defeated them. The competition wasn’t even close! You know my heart, Lord, how sometimes it strays from what is right. Temptation draws me away, competing for my attention. As You told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Your blood has cleansed my heart and Your Spirit dwells within. That makes me a winner no matter what the contest today. Help me prevail in today’s competition and to do so with a smile for my co-workers and especially for those who compete with me in unholy ways. Help me overcome evil with good. I want to walk in Your victory today, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Song:
Victory in Jesus
Words and Music: E.M. Bartlett

1. I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.

Refrain:
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

2. I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 12, 2017 “Leadership”

Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Old Covenant:

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

With the New Covenant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2017 “Doing”

Doing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2017

Honor

Not only does God deserve our worship today, He deserves our respect.
A necessary part of worshiping God is honoring Him. In the Bible honor is often linked to aspects of His character holiness, glory, power, wisdom, goodness, and worthiness. Honor springs from the profound humility of the worshiper and is an expression of gratitude.

Honoring God in worship is an act of obeisance to the Lord. Obeisance is defined thusly:

  1. a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission (as in a bow)
  2. an acknowledgment of another’s superiority or importance

Another word that signifies honor is homage:

  1.  respect or reverence paid or rendered
  2. something done or given in acknowledgment or consideration of the worth of another

Just as worship is an acknowledgement of the worthiness of God, honor is giving homage to the Lord. It is at one time both a deliberate act of obedience and a spontaneous reaction to the revelation of who God is by the Holy Spirit. In this way, spirit and truth come together as we honor the Lord:

  • We honor God from our spirit as we are led and empowered by His Spirit.
  • We honor God with our truth through total sincerity and according to His truth as it is revealed in the Word.

Honoring the Lord is a total, body, soul and spirit praise effort.
We honor Him in all aspects of public worship:

  • We prepare our hearts before the service.
  • We arrive on time.
  • We look our best in honor of the Lord.
  • We participate in the whole service.
  • We pay attention to what is going in the service.
  • We respect the Lord’s house and those who serve us there.

Today you will be led in worship. Let nothing hinder you. Sing the songs whether you like them or not. Focus your mind and heart on the Lord Jesus. Honor him with your attitude and actions as well as with what you say.

He is worthy, holy, good, merciful, powerful, just, and wise—He deserves the homage you bring, the honor you give.

Scriptures:
Revelation 4:8-11
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revevelation 5:11-6:1
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Hebrews 2:8-9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
1 Timothy 6:15-16
…the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Matthew 15:7-9
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”
Isaiah 58:13-14
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I honor You today. I honor You with my heart, my schedule, my mind, and with the songs I will be given to sing. Help me rise above my personal tastes to give You the honor due unto Your name. This is far more important than any other consideration. Thank You for the community of faith—my family of God. When we gather today, help us be one in Your worship, just as You prayed we would be. As we honor Your with our praise and worship, we will draw closer to each other. This is your plan. I will honor it today. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Words: Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans (Translated by J.M. Neal) Music: Melchior Teschne

1 All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming, the King and Blessed One.

2 The company of angels is praising you on high;
and we with all creation in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems before you we present.

3 To you before your passion they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted, our melody we raise.
As you received their praises, accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness, O good and gracious King!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved