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 21, 2017 “Laughter”

Laughter

Laughter comes so naturally to us that we never have to learn to do it.
Tiny babies will giggle, and chuckle, and even guffaw without ever being taught how. We laugh with them, not because we see the infantile humor they see—that always seems to mystify adults—but we laugh because laughter is contagious.

Everybody loves to laugh. It releases tension built up inside of us and it relieves fears and worries. We need to laugh some every day if we are to be healthy, whole human beings. We even justify unusual behavior by saying we are just “doing it for laughs.” Surely God smiles when we have a good laugh.

What is laughter? It is part of a human phenomenon called primal speech—sounds that express our feelings but not in words. Primal speech includes: wailing, sighing, groaning, and expressions of amazement like, “Oh!” or realization like, “Ah!” or a pleasant taste like, “Ummm!” One reason why music is so important to people is that musical sound operates in the soul like non-verbal speech saying things we feel deeply but things for which we have no words.

The Best Medicine
Laughter is perhaps the greatest form of primal speech ranging an internal laugh signified only by a smile, to a chuckle deep in our chests, to a chortle in our throat, to a loud, continuous howl.
According to the scripture, laughter is one of the best medicines God has given us. Not only is it healthy, laughing is fun! The relaxation that results from a good laugh is part of the Sabbath rest the Lord has given to us. Responding to something funny is refreshing. Even in times of great stress, the sense of humor of those who bear the burden with us serves to relieve the tension.

It is impossible for us to follow the command of the Lord to rest without engaging in pleasantries, laughter chief among them. The Bible has much to say about laughter and joy.

  • Remember Sarah’s incredulous laughter at the prospect of having a child and her astonished laughter when Abraham’s son came along? It was so important, she named the boy, Isaac, which means, ”laughter.”
  • In the Book of Psalms commands to be joyful abound.
  • Solomon’s writings declare there is a time to laugh and that cheerfulness is like a feast.
  • Jesus Himself said that those who mourn will soon be laughing. Surely He also laughed as children played at His feet and in His lap.

Good humor is more than an ice cream company—it is a requirement if we are to ride out the unsettling waves of life as time rolls them in.

Find something to do today that will bring joy to your heart, put a smile to your face, and coax a chuckle, chortle, giggle or guffaw out of you. As laughter escapes your soul, peace will come in to occupy the space where once was fear, or, sadness, or grief. This is the medicine each of us needs today.

Scriptures:
Genesis 21:6-7
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Psalm 126
When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
Ecclesiastes 3:4
…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
Luke 6:20-21
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 15:15
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Prov 15:30
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Habakkuk 3:17-18
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Psalm 100:2
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Psalm 68:3
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when man was crafted by the Creator out of clay of Eden, one of the gifts You gave us is the gift of laughter. It is fun but it is not frivolous. A good laugh is like a good medicine, lightening a heavy moment, brightening a dark day, and soothing a withering soul. Part of this gift is the ability to see what is funny so we can laugh about it. From the absurd to the ironic to the silly, funny happens. Thank You, Lord! Help me take several doses of this medicine today! Amen!

Song:
Joy Unspeakable
Words and Music: Barney E. Warren

1 I have found His grace is all complete,
He supplieth every need;
While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,
I am free, yes, free indeed.

Refrain:
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Full of glory, full of glory;
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Oh, the half has never yet been told.

2 I have found the pleasure I once craved,
It is joy and peace within;
What a wondrous blessing, I am saved
From the awful gulf of sin.

Refrain

3 I have found that hope so bright and clear,
Living in the realm of grace;
Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,
I can see His smiling face. [

Refrain

4 I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
How its waves of glory roll;
It is like a great o’erflowing well,
Springing up within my soul.
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

September 25, 2017 “Consistency”

Consistency

What Really Counts
Like a drowning man reaching for a lifeline, we who struggle with consistency, stretch every muscle and tendon to grasp the ability that eludes us—the ability to be consistent in the things than count.

  • It isn’t that we don’t know their importance; we know it deeply.
  • It isn’t a lack of concern for the future or the lack of vision for tomorrow; we are obsessed with thoughts of the future and plagued by a plethora of visions.
  • It isn’t even a lack of the ability to concentrate for we can get so deeply involved in some things that all other considerations fade to black.

The hindrance to consistency in the things that count, is not a lack of things to do, but an over abundance of things to do.  Not knowing where to start, we don’t start at all.

Yet, the world at large and Kingdom of God in particular belong to the consistent.
Those are valued most are those who stay on schedule, meet deadlines, and whose daily disciplines prepare them both for the planned and the unplanned events of the day.  We admire those people and want to have plenty of them around.  We marry them, work for them, and depend on them. We depend upon the very consistency they possess but cannot share with us.  We must be a terrible drain on them.

We won’t give up.
We will keep on making new starts, attempting new strategies, and buying new planners, calendars, and cell phone apps.  We will by new Bibles, devotionals, and prayer books.  For a while, each new attempt succeeds.  Each new device enables, and we are consistent at last.  Then something derails us:

  • Illness,
  • Financial setbacks,
  • Shifting living circumstances,
  • Extra stress at work or at home, and, scariest of all,
  • A cloud of depression blots out the life-giving sunlight we need to keep going.

With the unexpected, the discipline is broken.  We don’t give up easily.  We try to recover the discipline, but too many times, the planner goes into the box with all the others.  The food plan is violated.  The exercise routine is interrupted.  The new Bible goes on the shelf, another addition to the collection.  The devotional gets way out of date and the prayer book gathers dust.  We are practically right back where we started.

Except for this: during the time of consistency we actually produced stuff!

We did our work.
We prayed.  We lost weight and gained strength.  Consistency always yields progress.  Even as discipline evaporates in the face of whatever knocked our life’s train off the tracks, the train is in in a different place than where we started.

The train has cargo that still can be delivered to its destination.  There is a record of appointments kept, schedules completed, and consistent dependability.  It may feel like we are right back where we started, but we are not.  Our season of consistency has been a season of peace and productivity.

Starting Over
When life has knocks us to the ground, we really have only one choice—get up and start again!  There is no shame in a new start.  They all count and they all mount up to something that would not exist even we hadn’t started again.  No one else can do our work, write our poems, sing our songs, speak our words, or hold the hurting people in this world with our arms.

When we seem to lose the disciplines of life, we have to find them again and make another new start.  There is no other option.  Even if we only do it in fits and starts, we still make a contribution to the world for good.

Scriptures:
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Philemon 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 Peter 1:5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Galatians 5:22-26
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus help me be true to You today in everything I say and do, think about doing and intend to do. Sometimes my intentions don’t ever become deeds. Forgive me for falling short of what You want me to do. Thank You for distracting me from doing things that would displease You. Lord, You know me and all my struggles. Forgive me for the times I have failed and help me remember the times I have been consistent and finished the work You assigned. As I behold You today, strengthen me and steady me so that my consistency might be established in You. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Living for Jesus

Words: Thomas O. Chisolm; Music: C. Harold Lowden
Thomas O. Chisholm
C. Harold Lowden

1.  Living for Jesus a life that is true,
striving to please him in all that I do,
yielding allegiance glad hearted and free
this is the pathway of blessing for me.

Refrain:
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to you,
for you in your atonement did give yourself for me.
I own no other master my heart shall be your throne:
my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for you alone.

2.  Living for Jesus, who died in my place,
bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace:
such love constrains me to answer his call,
follow his leading, and give him my all.

Refrain

3.  Living for Jesus wherever I am,
doing each duty in his holy name,
seeking the lost ones he died to redeem,
bringing the weary to find rest in him.
Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 21, 2017 “Need”

Need

Desires and Needs
The desires of the heart and the requirements of our work and play can sometimes work against each other producing a state of confusion.  If we really want something, it feels like we need it.  If we have a goal to reach, there are certain things the quest requires.  We want to reach the goal so much this also feels like a need.

Need, however, is much simpler than the desires/requirements state of confusion.  Desires and requirements are noisy little nuisances that clamor through our days distracting us here and there according to the conflicted hungers of the human body and soul.  Need, on the other hand, is a quiet, persistent call to survival, not entertainment or achievement.

Human need can be expressed with a very short list of physical needs:

  • Air,
  • Water,
  • Food,
  • Shelter, and
  • Clothing.

The spiritual life has an even simpler expression of need—Jesus:

  • His grace,
  • His truth,
  • His Spirit,
  • His presence,
  • His power, and
  • His church.

A Method to see the Difference
Prayer is a method for sorting out the confusion that sometimes exists when we deal with desires, task requirements, and real needs.  The Lord has promised to meet all our needs.  When we ask for something in prayer and it does not happen, it may be that that thing is just a desire and not really a need.  When we are attempting to do what God has called us to do and that work requires things that we ask for in prayer but do not receive, this also may be an indication that those things may not be requirements after all.  God will show other ways to do His work as He supplies what we really need.  Of course there is a third possible explanation for not having what we need when we have prayed for it; perhaps it just isn’t God’s time yet.  We hear it said that there are three answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait.  There is much truth in this.

Two Sets of Needs
There are two sets of needs that should concern us:

  • our needs and
  • the needs of those we care about.

God has covenanted with us to supply all our needs.  He also wants to use us to supply what others within our sphere of influence need.

  • Bread winners in the home provide the human needs listed above for the rest of the family.
  • The spiritual head of the family supplies regular access to Jesus so that spiritual needs can be met.
  • The household of faith, the family of God must be our concern as well.  Supporting the local church in offerings and service is one of the ways God uses us to meet the needs of others.

By exalting the name of Jesus with our worship, our work, and our witness, thereby touching a hurting humanity with the Good News about Jesus, we help meet the greatest need of others—a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:6-8; 31-34
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Philemon 4:10-13; 19
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
James 2:14-17
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise to meet all my needs. As I delight in You, even the desires of my heart change into Your desires for me. You have promised me those as well. Help me to delight in You today! Change the desires of my heart to match the desires of Your heart. Cleanse me from selfish motives and ungodly desires. Let me echo Your great prayers: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” here and now, just as it is in heaven. I will “seek first Your kingdom and righteous” and I know all me needs will be met. You are my sufficiency! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William M. Runyan

1. “Great is thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changtest not, thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.

Refrain:
“Great is thy faithfulness!” “Great is thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided–
“Great is thy faithfulness!” Lord unto me!

2. Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above.
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Refrain

3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 13, 2017 “Duty”

Duty

Sometimes hope shines from an empty tomb.
Sometimes it sings in the quiet following a violent storm.  Sometimes hope whispers inside us while the storm still rages outside. Always, hope hardens the will as each day we perform our duty.

Duty is not a thing of sadness, nor is it a thing of parades and marching bands.
Duty is the quiet song of the sparrow in the morning, at noon, and in the late afternoon, as the worthless little brown birds fly joyfully from bush to bush, doing what God made them to do.

  • They don’t get the press that eagles get, high on their perches or soaring almost too high to see.
  • They don’t signal doom like circling buzzards or danger like the watching hawk.
  • They don’t form graceful lines as they fly like geese overland or like pelicans over the sea.
  • They do not make formations that we can discern.
  • They fly close to the ground in short hops, almost falling even as they fly.

Yet, the Lord told us to observe and learn from birds as examples of the Father’s excellent care. Sparrows are the least of these. We are certainly more valuable to God than sparrows!

He does not look for graceful arcs or impressive appearance or stunning skills.  God looks for the one who will do his/her duty, day after day, night after night.  The Lord prizes the one of the humble and contrite spirit who hits the mark and performs the job dependably at each opportunity.

What is our duty?
As His ultimate creation, each person has a duty to honor God.  We honor God

  • Through consistent and faithful prayer,
  • Through constant consumption of the Word of God,
  • Through continuing compassion for others, and
  • By walking through the doors He opens for us and refusing to enter those He closes to us.

Solomon’s Experiment
King Solomon had the resources and the time to conduct a grand experiment to determine the meaning of life.  Like a good researcher, he reported his findings in a thesis called “Ecclesiastes.”

  • When life is lived in vain, Solomon’s observations are bitter and realistic —it is like trying to eat the wind.
  • His conclusion is the hope that strengthens the heart—love God and keep His commands; this is the whole duty of man.

King Jesus lived that life for us.
He did His duty, taking up the cross of God’s love and justice and bearing it to Calvary.  His command to us signals the start of every day and shines like a bright star through every night—take up your cross—your duty—and follow me. That duty may seem small and little noted by others, but it is the brief flight of a sparrow that holds the intense attention of heaven. Each sparrow is an eagle in heaven’s eyes.

We should not underestimate the power of consistent living.  As we live faithfully each day, hope shines from an empty tomb, sings in the quiet following a violent storm, and whispers deep inside us while the storm still rages outside.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:25-28; 33 RSV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? …But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Matthew 16:24-27
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “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 will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Isaiah 66:1-2
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD.”This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Acts 23:1-2
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 12:13 AMP
I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied myself by heart and mind to seek and search out by [human]  wisdom all human activity under heaven. It is a miserable business which God has given to the sons of man with which to busy themselves. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a striving after the wind and a feeding on wind…All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to do my duty to You today. I will sing Your praise. I will respond to You with worship. I will read Your Word and listen prayerfully as I read. I will perform the tasks You have given me to do today. These things I will do with joy, anticipating Your reward both now and in eternity. Thank You for bearing Your cross of pain so that I can follow You, taking up my cross of joy in serving You. Show me my duty, Lord, make it clear. I will obey. In Your lovely name! Amen.

Song:
Give of Your Best to the Master
Words: Howard B. Groce; Music: Claribel

1. Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

2. Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

3. Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

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

September 8, 2017 “Unworthy”

 

Unworthy

A Day to Remember the Cross
Ancient Christian spirituality holds Friday as a day to remember the crucifixion of Christ. This day even has its own prayer in the Book of Common Prayer.

For Fridays
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first He suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord. Amen.

“The way of the cross” is guaranteed to bring us to the question: How could God love us so much? Surely we are unworthy of such love. We are worthy instead of punishment for our many sins. In these Friday thoughts a critical distinction must be made.

Unworthy is not the same as worthless.
In fact, the difference between them is not at all slight.

  • We are unworthy of constant attention of God the Father.
  • We are unworthy of the love Christ demonstrated at Calvary.
  • We are unworthy of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, this is just one side of the story.

  • We are created in the image of God.
  • We are “the apple of His eye,” meaning we are precious to God the Father.
  • We were created with a capacity to fellowship with God and a deep desire to do so.
  • Jesus endured the cross because a certain joy was set before—the joy of a relationship with each of us.
  • Each of us is worth every stripe on His back, every nail in His hands and feet, the spear in His side, and the crown of thorns on His head.
  • Though we are the stuff of earth, each of us has the potential to do the work of heaven.

Don’t listen to the Devil!
The enemy of our souls would tell us that we are worthless, ruined beyond repair, and unfit for a relationship with the Almighty.

Such an idea actually impugns the character of God Almighty. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus based our whole life with God on the sterling character of God the Father.

  • Pagans pray to hostile deities who must be kept at a safe distance through endless repetitions of mindless mantras and senseless sacrifices.
  • Jesus said that we should pray to the Father God who loves us and already knows our every need. When He began His model prayer with “Our Father in heaven…,” our eternal worth and God’s eternal goodness were established beyond dispute.

The issue here is humility.

  • True humility requires total honesty. We are aware of both our guilt and of our imputed innocence. God loves us because we are worth so much to Him.
  • We are worth so much to the world because God loves us.

And all the time, we are unworthy. God opposes the proud and gives abundant grace to the humble.

“The way of the cross” is a lifestyle based in profound humility and lived in the boldness of an undisputed, undiluted, undying, unfading glory, the glory of cross.

Scriptures:
Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Psalm 17:6-9
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer… Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
Matthew 6:6-9 7
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven…
Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Galatians 6:14-15
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I remember Your cross. I will never let it fade from my mind. Every day I will take up my cross to follow You just as You commanded me. How different are our two crosses! Mine is the delight of family and purposeful living, in the world but not of it, and connected to other members of Your Body in living fellowship with joy as our collective strength. Your cross was heavy with the sins of us all, rough on your shoulders, unforgiving to obtain our forgiveness and unyielding to open the new and living way to God. Amazingly, through it all, there was a joy that was set before You, the joy that Your cross of pain would make my cross a thing of joy. Lord Jesus, today, however unworthy I may be, I remember Your cross. Amen and amen.

Song:
Unworthy
Words and Music: Ira Stamphill

1. Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,
Unworthy to hold to His hand.
Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave.
This love I cannot understand.

Refrain:
Unworthy. Unworthy!
A beggar in bondage and alone.
But He made me worthy and now by His grace,
His mercy has made me His own.

2. Unworthy am I of the glory to come,
Unworthy with angels to sing.
I thrill just to know that He loves me so much,
A pauper I walk with the King.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 5, 2017 “Clarity”

Clarity

A heavy fog is a dangerous impediment to orderly travel.
Some drivers ignore the fog and continue to drive at their normal above-the-speed-limit speeds, a practice that is very hard to understand.

  • Fogs turn the presumed safety of multi-lane highways into a blinding menace. In the fog brakes scream and smoke, crashes, unseen but clearly heard, fill the thick air and lives slide and crash as our suppressed terrors become real though still unseen.
  • Daylight brings the horror into view, cars and trucks frozen at odd angles up and down, often merged into mangled sculptures of meetings missed, promises broken, lives interrupted, ended or hanging by a thread, and the occasional miracle of someone simply walking away unscratched.

Even on a clear sunny day, life can become a fogbound journey.
The way ahead is obscured by clouds hanging low to the ground, even to our shoe tops and we cannot see which step to take next.

We need clarity.

We need a fresh wind of the Spirit of God to blow our way, clearing the path before us.

Jesus told us the Holy Spirit moved like the wind in ways beyond our understanding but obvious in their effect in our journey. Like a morning fog, the warmth of the Word and the soft breezes of the Spirit can clear the air for us at the beginning of each day.

Why do we choose the fog over the sweet clarity of the Word of God?
It is not as though all our questions are answered.

  • Mysterious remain, things about God or life that lie just beyond our ability to understand.
  • But mysteries never form a fog bank. They are high flying clouds that momentarily hide the sun only to see it reemerge in light and warmth.

Mysteries cast only fleeting shadows on the path before us. The light behind them is constant and clear.

Of course, we must not be a fogbank to others.
In prayer ask the Lord to show you if your witness has clarity. Let the wind of the Holy Spirit breathe away any fog in your way of living that diffuses the light He has put in you.

Clarity from Him and clarity in witness to Him are ministries of the Holy Spirit.

Scriptures:
John 3:7-8
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Job 28:23-28
God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'”
Job 37:21-24
Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean. Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”
Psalm 68:1-3
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. As smoke is blown away by the wind, may you blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 135:6-7
The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Jerermiah 51:15-16
“He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Acts 2:1
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting…

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my constant source of light. When clouds of circumstance hide Your light from me, it is only for a little while. The Bible clearly states that nothing has and nothing ever will extinguish Your light. If today should be one that is overcast, send the refreshing winds of Your Spirit to blow away the cloud cover. And Lord, help me today that I will not cloud the vision of anyone else; not a seeker desperately seeking Your light or a fellow believer looking to me for help. Keep us all safe on the dangerous roads we must travel even when the fog rolls in. Safe in You, Lord Jesus. Safe in You! Amen.

Song:
Open My Eyes that I May See
Words and Music: Clara H. Scott

1. Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes; illumine me,
Spirit divine!

2. Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear.
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears; illumine me,
Spirit divine!

3. Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere.
Open my heart, and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart; illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 1, 2017 “Inheritance”

Inheritance

“The Reading of the Will” is always a solemn occasion.
In theatre and cinema, this scene is a staple of mysteries, comedies, high dramas, and stories of families in generational strife. Someone has left someone an inheritance and the details are about to be given.

Attorneys are present, not just the one who handled the will, but others whose clients might be blessed or cheated, depending on what is in the will. High drama, low comedy, clouds of hate and envy, pipe dreams and evil schemes fill the air:

  • If the one whose will this is was hateful and mean, there is great fear.
  • If the benefactor was kind and loving, anticipation quickens every heart.
  • If the departed one was neglected by those who should have cared, taunt faces and wary eyes seem ready for an ambush.
  • If a stranger has befriended the neglected party, suspicions lace every look and remark aimed at the outsider.
  • Plays and films feed on stuff like this.

As Christ-followers we have an inheritance laid up for us on the other side of life.
Like the scenes described above, there are details of our inheritance that we will not know until we are in heaven. We see tantalizing hints in the Scriptures:

  • “At Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore;”
  • “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is;”
  •  “…the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…;”
  • “…For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable…”
  •  “In my Father’s house are many mansions…”

To put it in high theological terms: This going to be fun!

Until then, we have what the Bible calls the “earnest of our inheritance.”
Modern translations call this the “guarantee” of the inheritance. The Amplified Bible gives others shades of meaning: “…the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste…”of our inheritance in glory. We have wonderful things “over there” and we have the Spirit of God on this side of heaven.

Of this portion of our inheritance we know much. We have:

  • The forgiveness of sins through faith in the Blood of Christ,
  • The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit,
  • The constant covenantal care of the Heavenly Father,
  • The family of God for fellowship and spiritual enterprise,
  • The private altar where the Refiner’s Fire burns and the Launderer’s soap sanctifies,
  •  Public worship where Jesus walks among us in healing, restoring power and mercy, and
  •  Deliverance from addictions and diseases and depression and any other chain hell has forged.
    We could go on and on.

We can read the will for ourselves; no attorneys needed.
No drama, no tension, no doubts, no schemes, no interlopers, can be found to cloud the air with uncertainty. The Spirit is our Guarantee, today and for all our tomorrows.

Psalm 37
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 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. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. …. The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. But the wicked will perish:…The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off. If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsake nor their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off; the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip. … The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
1 Corinthians 15:52-54 NIV
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Ephesians 1:13-14 AMP
In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit. That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it–to the praise of His glory.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my portion in this life and the next. I rest in Your covenantal faithfulness. The Bible says You are coming and Your reward is with You. I believe. One day all sacrifices will be washed away from the memory by the presence of the reward—the inheritance. I will sow seeds in obedience today that will yield fruit both now on earth and then in heaven. My inheritance in You is one of time and eternity. Lord, You are my portion in this life and the next. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Oh I want to See Him
Words and Music: R.H. Cornelius

1.As I journey through the land, singing as I go,
Pointing souls to Calvary—to the crimson flow,
Many arrows pierce my soul from without, within;
But my Lord leads me on, through Him I must win.

Refrain:
Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace;
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.

2. When in service for my Lord dark may be the night,
But I’ll cling more close to Him, He will give me light;
Satan’s snares may vex my soul, turn my thoughts aside;
But my Lord goes ahead, leads whate’er betide.

Refrain

3. When in valleys low I look toward the mountain height,
And behold my Savior there, leading in the fight,
With a tender hand outstretched toward the valley low,
Guiding me, I can see, as I onward go.

Refrain

4. When before me billows rise from the mighty deep,
Then my Lord directs my bark; He doth safely keep,
And He leads me gently on through this world below;
He’s a real Friend to me, oh, I love Him so.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved