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

September 22, 2017 “Faith”

Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refrain

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

Refrain

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

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 19, 2017 “Story-teller”

Story-teller

“This is the west, Sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”—from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” 1962 dir. John Ford

Each of us is a storyteller. I don’t mean that we are all liars, although many are. I mean we tell a story with our lives. What’s more, we live our lives based on a story that we believe is true.

What makes a story?
The elements of a story are three:

  1. Character,
  2. Conflict, and
  3. Conclusion.

The narrative structure of a story is also a three-part reality:

  1. Exposition,
  2. Development, and
  3. Finale.

If life were a play, we would say it this way:

  • Act One—the Beginning: childhood,
  • Act Two—the Middle: adulthood, and
  • Act Three—the End: eternity.

Apply these three trinities to the Jesus Story:

  • Act One—The Exposition:
    -The backstory of creation and the Nation of Israel
    -The Nativity
    -Theme: The Coming Redemption of Humanity
  • Act Two—Development
    -The earthly ministry of Jesus
    -The early church and the wisdom of the Apostles
    -Theme: Redeeming Love
  • Act Three—Finale
    -The End-time drama of Revelation
    -The absolute Victory of Christ over evil
    -The New Heaven and the New Earth
    -Theme: Redemption and New Creation

No Legend, This!
We live in a world of lies and legends. As Isaiah predicted, “Truth has stumbled in the streets.” We who tell a story that is neither legend nor lie have work to do. We don’t need filmmakers, or the news media, or atheists, or cynics, or comics, or celebrities, or gossips on social media. We need the love of Jesus in our hearts, the fire of the Spirit in our bones, and the truth of God in our souls.

Jesus said the contents of our hearts would come spilling out of our mouths.
Let’s fill our hearts with the Story of Jesus.

  • Let’s tell it with words of truth, deeds of mercy, tithes and offerings, prayers and supplications, and with praise and worship.
  • Let’s tell it to each other, to our children and grandchildren, to our neighbors and friends, to our enemies, to those passing and let’s tell it to ourselves in prayer every day.
  •  Let’s tell it as we work, rest, and play and let us dream of it when we sleep.
  • Let’s let the zeal of His house consume us until we disappear into the blinding, healing revelation of who Jesus is right now.
  •  Preachers, tell it when you take the pulpit. It is the power of God unto salvation for all!
  • Worship Leaders, tell it when you choose the songs.
  • Musicians, tell it with your voices and instruments.
  • Writers, write it; painters paint it; poets, set it to verse.

And let us be sure to tell the whole story, Act One, Act Two, and Act Three:

  • Jesus is our Savior.
  • Jesus is our Healer.
  • Jesus is our Baptizer in the Spirit.Jesus is our Soon-Coming King!
  • No other story rescues people from sin and destruction. No other story drains the heart of its despair and fills it again with hope and peace.

Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.

Storytellers We Must Be!

Scriptures:
Isaiah 59:14-15 NIV
So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Romans 1:16-17 NIV
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Matthew 24:12-14 NIV
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 26:6-13 NIV
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Colossians 3:17; 23-25 NIV
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.
Romans 1:15 NKJV
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel…

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have a story to tell—Your story! Like the Apostle, I am not ashamed of Your story for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Help me to tell your story with words and deeds, with thoughts and intentions of the heart, and with compassion and empathy for all I meet. Never let my humanity spoil the story. Never let me betray the truth with phony living. I invite the Holy Spirit to anoint me in all dimensions so that my life will be an open letter to the world, a moving narrative of Your life in me. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Words: Fanny Crosby; Music: John R. Sweney

1. Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.

2. Fasting alone in the desert, Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted, Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor, Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted, Homeless, rejected and poor.

Refrain

3. Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him, Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender, Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper, “Love paid the ransom for me.”

Refrain

4. Tell how He’s gone back to heaven, Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory For all the saints of His love.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 17, 2017 “Presenting…”

Presenting…

Today’s worship service includes a special presentation.
In honor of the occasion, a valuable gift will be given to the honoree.  In recognition for outstanding services rendered far above all we could ever ask or think, a small but important token of esteem will be presented.  Though small the gift may be, it represents the best the giver has to give, the finest tribute available.

What is the occasion?  Who is the honoree and what has He done to deserve this honor?  What is the precious gift?

The occasion is the promised entrance of King Jesus.
The King of kings and Lord of lords has announced plans to inhabit the praises of His people.  In fact He has pledged to rule upon their worship and take their worship hall and their hearts to be His very Throne Room.

The gift for this special presentation is—your heart of praise!

There is more planned today than just the singing of songs.
The time has been designated as a worship service. This will be your opportunity to make your presentation to the Lord.

  • No one else can present your worship.
  • Without your voice the “Song of the Redeemed” is incomplete.
  • The “glory due His name” requires your contribution.

The Reasonable Service of Worship
You have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light for this purpose: to present to the Lord spiritual sacrifices because He has made you His Holy, Royal Priest.  He has lavished mercy on you without restraint.  In view of His mercy, it is your reasonable service of worship to present your whole self to him as a living sacrifice of praise.

There will be time in the service for you to present your requests to Him, but before you do that, present your praise to Him, your worship, your love, your deepest commitment.  He deserves no less a gift.

The Alabaster Jar—the Costly Sacrifice
As the service begins, go to the top shelf of your life and find your alabaster jar, your finest tribute—your time, attention, love and affection.  It has been hidden away long enough.  Break its container and let the aroma of it fill the house and mix with the combined scent from all the other alabaster jars as they are broken all around you.

This is the glory due unto His name! 
This is what we gather together in His house to do.  Think of it—Jesus will be pleased by your presentation!  In your heart you will hear Him say as He did to Mary of Bethany, “You have done a beautiful thing to me!”

Scriptures:
Psalm 29:1-2 NKJV
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 56:13
I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Matthew 2:10-12
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Matthew 5:23-24
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Mark 14:3-7
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.  “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
1 Peter 2:4-10
As you come to him, …you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are worthy of my praise! You have earned my worship today. Your faithfulness is more certain than the sunrise. Your loving-kindness shines through the darkest night—like a moon that does not wax and wane. Your promises are recorded for all to see and so is their effect—as sure as gravity pulls a river to the sea, Your Word rolls through my life as an increasing tide of grace. So today, on Your Day, I will present my thanksgiving to You; swing the Gate wide to take me into Your presence! I will proclaim my praise—take it to be Your Royal Throne! I will bow my heart in worship and adoration—take my worship to be Your holy nearness. In view of Your mercies, this is my reasonable service of worship. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated
Words: Frances Ridley Havergal; Music: Henri A. 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 10, 2017 “Sunday”

Sunday

Sunday is the Lord’s Day.
He gives us seven days, but claims one of them as His own.
It is not a bad deal. Life as an endless stream of days would be unbearable. We need the organizational point of the Lord’s Day each week. It is a chance to end things and start them up again.

Perhaps the slaves-turned-landowners who crossed the River Jordan into Canaan’s Land needed a day to knock off work and take up worship and rest. Without this grace, they would have worked themselves to death.

Just like we sometimes do.

In Isaiah the Lord calls it, “My Holy Day.”
It is not rightfully ours to spend as we please. Early Christians, in honor of the Lord’s resurrection, expanded the Sabbath, the seventh day, to Sunday, the first day of the week. The Sabbath Day of the Old Covenant converged with the Resurrection Celebration of the First Day to become the New Covenant Lord’s Day.  On Sunday we gaze at the cross through the door of an empty tomb.

The seeds of sanity, rest and worship, are sown in this weekly break from our routines:

  • Rest for weariness or to avoid it, and
  • Worship to renew us and reconnect us to the Lord and His family.

The Lord’s Day is a day to rise above our musical preferences to sing the music of others.
It is a day to thank God for His faithfulness and to honor His work in our brothers and sisters as we hear the testimonies of both

  • the young and the old,
  • the victor and the vanquished, and
  • the sick and the healed.

The Lord’s Day is a time to praise and worship the Lord, to seek His face in intercession and to hear His Word.

On the Lord’s Day we focus our hearts on Jesus.
In response to our attention, He lavishes us with love and truth and peace. His Holy Spirit expands our hearts so we can know Jesus better and experience more of His strength. When we close out the clamor of the week in Lord’s Day worship, our hearts can hear the worship going on in heaven as we encounter His holy presence on His Holy Day.

Offering ourselves to Him gives the Lord opportunity to retune our internal instruments to face another week proving His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

There is no day like the Lord’s Day. Let us gather together in His presence. Let us give Him the glory due His name, for as He promised, in giving we receive.

On Sunday we gaze at the cross through the door of an empty tomb.

Scriptures:
Exodus 20:8
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Matthew 12:11-12
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27-28
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
John 20:1
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread
Revelation 1:9-11 NKJV
I, John… was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,”
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:
Dearest Lord Jesus, today we will give You thanks. We will give You the glory due unto Your name. This day is Your Day not ours. It is Your holy day and we will not profane it. We focus on You. We seek Your face. Like the woman in the crowd we press through to touch You. We need Your healing virtue. We need a Word from You, Lord. We need to sense Your nearness and rest in Your mercy. You have called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light so that we might give You praise. And this we do, today, Your Day! Amen.

Song:
This Is the Day

Traditional Scripture Chorus

This is the day (This is the Day)
That the Lord has made (That the Lord has made)
I will rejoice (I will rejoice)
And be glad in it (And be glad in it)
This is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day (This is the Day)
That the Lord has made!

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 3, 2017 “Passion”

Passion

Today, like every other day, is a day for passion.
The scripture tells us to gather all our inner feelings and concentrate them on actions that express love for the Lord. There is no reason to hold back, to keep a measure of our love in reserve. When the moment comes, we must release the joy pent up in our hearts.

Judging Our Passion
Our opening acts of praise in the worship service to come must be full-throated, hot-hearted, and mentally captivating. No less praise will do. Why?

  • The measure of our praise is not that of our passion for God, or our knowledge of God, or even our faith in God.
  • The standard we are given in the Scriptures has nothing to do with our feelings, our knowledge, or even with the level of our faith.
  • The standard, the measuring rod is this: “the glory due unto His name.”

Ps 29:1-2 NKJV
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

An Unchanging Standard
All other measures are changeable as passions heat and cool, knowledge is gained and forgotten, and faith swells and shrinks in our hearts. His worthiness goes on and on and on and on forever. Our praise is a matter of justice—the praise due unto His name! He is worthy of nothing less than our very best praise—our best music, our finest words, our most sincere gratitude and our most humble hearts. Any part of our mind held back for lesser considerations is a sacrilege, a selfish, careless oversight to be corrected at once as we martial all our mental resources to consider and express the wonders of Who God is.

On the Lord’s Day, when you have joined the Saints of God in the House of God and the call to worship sounds, lift your eyes beyond the music and the lights, the singers and players of music and their leaders, and tune your heart to heaven’s songs.

  • Some of them are recorded for us in the Bible. Others are works of the Spirit through His troubadours. The Spirit speaks through songs in every generation.
  • Surrender to the spirit of the song and join the songs of angels, thousands of them in joyful assembly.
  • You will also be singing with loved ones who have gone before you, gathered as a special choir of the redeemed in a gallery made just for them. You will take your seat with them someday and today you may add your voice to theirs in worship.

Lord, send a heavenly fire to ignite a passion for You in each of our hearts today!

Scriptures:
Hebrews 12:22-24
…you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…
Colossians 3:1-3
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Mark 12:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Isaiah 58:1
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Psalm 47:1
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 150
Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 103:1
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are worthy of my praise, my passion! I will lift my hands to You, my heart to You, my voice to You! You deserve my passionate praise. You have earned my utmost worship. Let me somehow join the worship around Your throne: angels in joyful assembly, saints gathered before You, heavenly beings flying and crying before You. I want to hear heaven’s music and sing along. Lord, strike a fire in my heart and let it burn through this day, burn with passion for You. You deserve nothing less than this! It is “the glory due Your name!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
I love You, Lord
Words and Music: Laurie Klein

I love you, Lord And I lift my voice
To worship You Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King In what You hear.
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 25, “Sovereignty”

Sovereignty

Do you want to know the truth about True Worship?
By that I mean, “Worship in Spirit and in Truth.” This is the kind of worship Jesus said the Heavenly Father was looking for—people who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. But, does anyone know what it means to worship “in Spirit and Truth?” You can get as many definitions as you want from people.

It is no great mystery, really. The words mean what they say.

  • To worship in spirit means to worship from the whole of our selves—body, soul, and spirit and to do so in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • In the same way, to worship in truth is to worship with our truth—total sincerity and according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said the Heavenly Father was looking for people who worshiped this way. He called them “True Worshipers.”

What does the Father do when He finds True Worshipers?
He responds to us. Think of that—God responds to us! How does He respond? He responds with the dual gift of His presence and His sovereignty. Where is this in the Bible? Psalm 22:3

  • The King James Version translates it this way: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
  • The New King James Version and other modern translations read: “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”

Why are there two meanings? The original Hebrew means both to dwell in and to sit as a judge—to rule.

When we worship in Spirit and Truth we come into the Holy Presence of Jesus as we come before His Throne. He blesses us with His presence and His sovereignty. Jesus’ presence is His complete nearness and God’s Sovereignty is His absolute rule.

The biblical term for God’s dwelling and ruling place is Zion.
No wonder the Writer to the Hebrews says that when we worship we “come to Mt. Zion.”

What does this mean?

It means that today, when we worship in Spirit and in Truth—Jesus will be in the room—“God With Us!” He will be there to do wonderful things: (Luke 4; Isaiah 61)

  • Preach the Gospel to the Poor.
  • Bind up the brokenhearted,
  • Open blind eyes,
  • Release captives
  • Heal the oppressed.

How can He do these things as we worship Him?
Because not only is He “with us” inhabiting our worship, He is ruling in the room!

  • His power is greater than any trouble we could ever get into and any force that would ever bind us.
  • His love will break our hate.
  • His truth will clear our minds.
  • His peace will calm our troubled lives.

The old confession is true—He Is Lord!

So, give Him praise to be His dwelling place. Give Him worship to be His Throne. Listen to His voice. Seek His face. Feel His touch. Enter the Realm of the Splendor of His Sovereignty.

Scriptures:
Psalm 22:3 NAS
Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
John 4:24 NIV
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Colossians 1:15-20 NIV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I bow to You today. I will enter Your Gates with thanksgiving and I will extol Your glory in the Courts of Praise. I will pray to You and listen to Your Word all in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, that Golden Lampstand in the Holy Place. By Your grace I will pass through the Torn Veil into the Holy of Holies—that place where You live and reign. There, before Your sovereignty, I invite You to do whatever You want to do with me. I trust Your Sovereignty for You rule in love. Rule over me, Lord! Nothing could be greater. Take my praise to be Your home and my worship to be Your Holy Throne. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Jesus, We Crown You King
Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

1. Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.

2. Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of all lords.
On a throne of greatest splendor You are worshiped and adored!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the Lord of lords.

3. Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
For You ride on every tempest, make the wildest storm to cease!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of peace.

Bridge:
King of kings! Lord of lords! Mighty God! Prince of Peace!
We crown You now as we sing!
Jesus, we crown You King of kings!

Ending:
You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You, Lord, we exalt You!
Jesus, we crown You the King of kings.
Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, Mighty God—
King of kings!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 15, 2017 “Boldness”

Boldness

Boldness is expressed in bold thoughts and bolder deeds.
Bold deeds are celebrated in song and story, in reputation and renown, and in great shouts of victory as well as in quiet deeds of mercy. Boldness, then, is to be sought, a necessary thing for victorious living in this fallen world.

Boldness is a product born of its root.

  • Boldness born in myth will dissipate like a mist on the moors because it is a fiction born of a fiction.
  • Boldness born in the heart of man will strengthen his arm for battle where luck and random violence may bring either defeat or victory it really doesn’t matter.
  • Boldness of the mind of man, may actually make the soldier shrink from the fray if there is no hope of triumph saying, “Live, my son, the battle is not yours. Live to fight another day.”
  • Boldness conceived in the spirit, the God-consciousness of mankind, will insist on spiritual weapons even when the weapons of human violence are in plentiful supply. The weapons of this fight are mighty through God.

Choosing to be bold.
When the noise of battle can be heard over the horizon of the morning and the dust of an invading army clouds the early air, the soldier of faith must choose his/her brand of bravery:

  • Mythological,Human will and courage,
  • Human intelligence and cunning, or
  • The weapons of spiritual warfare.

If we choose to fight a spiritual battle with human weapons, all our efforts will be for nothing. If, however, if we choose to fight a spiritual battle with the weapons proven by the Lord Himself and those who followed Him, whose record we read in the Bible, we will see victory.

As each week begins:

  • We choose to praise God every day—praise makes us bold!
  • We give careful thought to the battles we choose to fight—the Spirit sharpens the mind for battle!
  • We recall the victory of Christ—all evil has been already defeated—such hope makes us bold!
  • We stand fully armed for battle with spiritual armor and the two-edged Sword of the Spirit—such weapons make us invincible!

Be bold this day, for the Lord stands tall in you!

Boldness is expressed in bold thoughts and bolder deeds.

Scriptures:
Proverbs 21:29
A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to his ways.
Proverbs 28:1
The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Psalm 138:1-3
I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
2 Corinthians 3:12-13
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 6:4-10;
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 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…
Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Prayer,
Lord Jesus, You are my strength, my victory. Because of You I can be bold today, facing the enemies who come against me and staring down the fears within me. Doing anything for You, Lord, requires courage and You are faithful to supply the boldness this day will demand. I have Your plan, the spiritual weaponry You have provided, Your empowering Spirit abiding within, and I am stationed with a mighty army. Some of my fellow soldiers are seen here on this earth and others move in unseen realms but all move toward victory. I can be bold. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Song:
Keep on the Firing Line
Words: Bessie F. Hatcher; Music: Alphus LeFevre

1. If you’re in the battle for the Lord and right,
If you win, my brother, surely you must fight,
Keep on the firing line;
There are many dangers that we all must face,
If we die still fighting it is no disgrace;
Cowards in the service will not find a place,
So keep on the firing line

Refrain:
Oh, you must fight, be brave against all evil,
Never run, nor even lag behind;
If you would win for God and the right,
Just keep on the firing line.

2. God will only use the soldier He can trust,
Keep on the firing line;
If you’ll wear a crown then bear the cross you must,
Keep on the firing line.
Life is but to labor for the Master dear,

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved