September 25, 2017 “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  The devotional gets way out of date and the prayer book gathers dust.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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 7, 2017 “Tabernacle”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 15
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill? Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart. There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor. In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word. He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.
Hebrews 8:1-6; 10:19-22 NKJV
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. … who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Revelation 21:1-7 NKJV
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

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

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

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

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 2, 2017 “Waiting”


Do you know anyone who is good at waiting?
Waiting occupies the time between the moment a need is realized until it is met.

  • It could be a few seconds, like waiting for the thunder after the lightning struck nearby.
  • It may be a matter of minutes as in waiting for your food to arrive after the waiter has taken your order.
  • We wait for days for an order we placed online to arrive in the mail.
  • It certainly is a careful accounting of weeks and months until a new baby arrives.
  • Perhaps we wait (and work) faithfully for years building the credits to be awarded the degree.

We wait seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years—and sometimes, a lifetime.

It would be accurate to suppose that any moment in anyone’s life is a moment spent waiting on something.

A Skill Learned in Childhood
Just when a child is old enough to communicate what he/she wants, he/she has to learn how to wait. Even as adults, we are never quite happy about “waiting our turn” if what we are waiting for promises to be pleasurable.

On the Path of Life, waiting takes its place alongside the other essential skills required by the prospect of getting from here—life on earth—to there—life in the glories of heaven:

  • Learning skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking—and waiting;
  • Spiritual skills: believing, confessing, praying, praising, reading the Word—and waiting;
  • Interpersonal skills: loving, being lovable, supporting, being supported, honoring; receiving honor—and waiting;
  • Financial skills: giving, receiving, saving, investing, spending, selling, buying—and waiting.

I need not go on.

A Skill Demanded by Adulthood
I don’t mean a certain age, though sometimes age and adulthood arrive simultaneously. What I really mean is spiritual maturity. Waiting is an exercise in faith, a demonstration of confidence in God, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in advance of answered prayer.

Since waiting is something we all must do, let’s put a smile on our heart as we wait on God.

  • Parents of prodigals—God has heard your prayers and is at work in their rebellious, trouble hearts.
  • Pastors of troubled churches—keep preaching the Word, loving God and feeding the sheep. Jesus still brings down walls of hostility.
  • Worship Leaders and Lead Worshipers—keep praying and leading in prayer, praising and leading in praise. The Lord has promised to pour out His Spirit in the Last Days.
  • Students—keep on studying; salesmen keep on selling; managers keep on managing and workers keep on working.

Waiting is not passive inactivity. Waiting is the work life demands—the planting, watering and tending that brings the harvest.

Psalm 130
Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication. If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.  I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy; With him there is plenteous redemption, and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
Hebrews 6:13-15 NIV
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Psalm 27:13-14 NIV
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 37:1-7 NIV
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.
Jude 20-21 NIV
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Titus 2:11-14 NIV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Romans 8:23-25 NIV
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Lord Jesus, help me to wait in faith believing! When answers to prayers are delayed, I will wait in faith believing. When needs persist, I will trust in You and wait in faith believing. When it seems the enemy will win, I will wait for Your victory in battle. As I praise You, give me confidence. As I obey You today, going about my work as if everything is just fine, each completed task draws me closer to Your answer, Your provision, Your reward. I will wait upon You and You will renew my strength! Amen and Amen.

Waiting on the Lord
Words and Music: Charles F. Weigle

1. Waiting on the Lord, for the promise given;
Waiting on the Lord, to send from Heaven;
Waiting on the Lord, by our faith receiving,
Waiting in the Upper Room.

The Power! The Power!
Gives victory over sin and purity within;
The Power! The Power!
The power they had a Pentecost.

2. Waiting on the Lord, giving all to Jesus;
Waiting on the Lord, till from sin He frees us;
Waiting on the Lord, for the heavenly breezes
Waiting in the Upper Room!


3. Waiting on the Lord, longing to mount higher;
Waiting on the Lord, having great desire;
Waiting on the Lord, for the Heavenly fire;
Waiting in the Upper Room.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 18, 2017 “Springs”


Springs are natural sources.
They are self-sufficient, requiring no pumps or pipes, no acts of congress to create or engineer’s blueprints to build, no helping human hands to handle, or leaders to keep them motivated. They simply do as their name describes—they spring—from mountain sides and desert floors, from flowering meadows and at the bottom of clear water pools.

The Psalmist has a message for artists, (he mentions musicians but this applies to all artists) those who create new and better things in the Kingdom of God. Remember where the springs are found—In Zion! I’m not talking about the Holy Land; in the New Covenant Mt. Zion refers to the place where God lives and rules. So let me rephrase:

Creative people! Remember where your springs are found—in the Kingdom of God!

All of My Springs Are In You
The springs in our faith are many. The Word of God is a whole field of springs:

  • The Life of Christ—drink deeply here and often.
  • The Psalms—every human emotion is brought before the Throne of God here.
  • The Histories—the inspiration and admonition of the accounts of the People of God and their enemies have much to say to us.
  • The Prophets—this steaming spring of passion for justice and purity mirrors our own times.
  • The Wisdom Literature—well-crafted wells of godly truth and human observation full of irony and riddles are found here.
  • The Letters—these real words from real persons are inspired by the Spirit to speak to every generation.

Worship is a bubbling spring of strength:

  • Fellowship with God,
  • Fellowship with other believers, and
  • Shared ministry, joy, sorrow and hope.

Witness is a spring in the town square:

  • Making a public stand for the truth of God,
  • Touching a hurting soul with the compassion of Christ,
  • Telling the Jesus story with words and deeds, and
  • Living pure in a polluted world.

There are other springs.
The artist must go into the world to learn his/her craft but we must be in these arenas, not of them. Like the liberated slaves who escaped Egypt loaded with the riches of their oppressors, we must plunder this world of its corrupted gold and return it to the uses of God: music, dance, visual arts, dramatic arts, technology, narrative, poetry, and language itself.

We must not drink from the springs of profanity and cynicism, of despair and degradation, of hate and prejudice, of lust and self-absorption. These are poison springs.

The invitation of Jesus must never leave our minds:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

All my springs are in You.

Psalm 87 NKJV
His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.'” And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; And the Most High Himself shall establish her.” The LORD will record, When He registers the peoples: “This one was born there. “Both the singers and the players on instruments say, “All my springs are in you.”
John 4:13-14 NIV
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 7:37-41 NIV
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.”
Revelation 21:6-8 NIV
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Psalm 84:5-7 NIV
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, (sorrow, weeping) they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

Lord Jesus, I am thirsty! It seems I must drink from the Spring of Living Water again today. I have tasted the bitter wine of this world and it left me thirsty still. As You promised, Living Water becomes in me a spring, flowing upward from my spirit to nourish my soul and refresh my physical being. It is a good thing that I cannot tank up on Living Water today and have enough for tomorrow. When I come to the Spring, it is a time of fellowship with You. Thank You, Lord.

Springs of Living Water

Words and Music: John W. Peterson

1. I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.

Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now am I, My soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply!

2. How sweet the living water from the hills of God,
It makes me glad and happy all the way;
Now glory, grace and blessing mark the path I’ve trod,
I’m shouting “Hallelujah” ev’ry day.

3. O sinner, won’t you come today to Calvary?
A fountain there is flowing deep and wide;
The Savior now invites you to the water free,
Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 15, 2017 “Study”


It is really quite simple: a real student really studies.
For twelve years or so each American is more or less forced to be a student. However each student retains the option to study or not to study. Many of us studied just enough to get by. My own high school scholarship was based on interest: if I was interested in the subject, I studied. My grades testified of this eloquently. I was blessed that in my college and post graduate studies I was interested in everything! My grades testified of this, also.

True study takes motivation.
To study against one’s will is not to really study at all. Such students learn things long enough to pass the test and then they quickly forget most of what they “studied.” Motivation to study springs from interest in something. When this is the case we don’t even think of it study—we are just having fun, learning about something we really want to know about.

Today we have so many study tools to help us learn:

  • books, magazines and the libraries where they are found; the internet and EBooks and
  • documentaries on DVD, and computer programs containing amazing amounts of information.

It is practically true that we can study anything all on our own without ever setting foot in a classroom.

The unknown composer of what we know as Psalm 119 makes this intriguing statement: “Your decrees are my study.” We would have to say that this is an unusual hobby! There is no way to know why the Psalmist is so interested in the Law of the Lord for it to command his interest.

  • Perhaps his job was to prepare and present the music of worship and he wanted to make sure that his songs were full of truth.
  • It could be the composer simply loved the God he worshiped.

Study and Passion
This is more than a vocational, professional study; I see true passion in these words.

  • When he read, he read the Law.
  • When he settled into deep thought, he meditated on the Law.
  • When he met with friends, they discussed the Law.
  • When he walked through life making all the routine decisions that life demanded, he made those decisions based the Law he had studied.

His study of the Law shaped his life.

For us there is a difference between Bible reading and Bible study.

  • Bible reading is a devotional. It is an essential part of daily prayer. We read in several places each day: the Psalms, the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel. We read prayerfully listening for the voice of the Lord in our hearts making application of the Word.
  • Bible study is topical. We research the Scriptures seeking to understand God’s will about a certain topic. Also we can study a certain author or a certain history. This is more than reading, this is compare and contrast, letting scripture interpret scripture. Bible study requires tools that are available today on the computer: commentaries, dictionaries, study Bibles, concordances and other helps. It is not difficult to study the Word of God.

The motivating factor makes the difference.
The Lord can give us the gift of a love for His Word. Like the Psalmist, it can be our study.

  • When we read, we read the Word.
  • When we settle into deep thought, we meditated on the Word.
  • When we meet with friends, we discuss the Word.
  • When we walk through life we make decisions based the Word we have studied.

Through our study of the Word, the Lord shapes our life.

It is really quite simple: a real student really studies.

Psalm 119: 97-112
Oh, how I love your law! all the day long it is in my mind. Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies, and it is always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your decrees are my study. I am wiser than the elders, because I observe your commandments. I restrain my feet from every evil way, that I may keep your word. I do not shrink from your judgments, because you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste! they are sweeter than honey to my mouth. Through your commandments I gain understanding; therefore I hate every lying way. Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path. I have sworn and am determined to keep your righteous judgments….Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; truly, they are the joy of my heart. I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes for ever and to the end.
Ezra 7:8-10 NIV
Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Psalm 119:9-11 NIV
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

Lord Jesus, I want this day to count for something so I will begin with a study of Your Word. Throughout this day, I will make my life a laboratory of study as I put Your Word to the test in my thoughts, intentions, and deeds. When this day ends, I will report to You in prayer my findings—Your Word is true and reliable for it stands the laboratory test of daily living; it holds up under close scrutiny, and it continuously reveals truth both old and new. By contrast, I will see the shallow philosophies of this world, the endless circles people without You must run, and the impenetrable darkness the wisdom of this world offers to those who can study nothing else. I will arise and shine for Your Light has come and it covers me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

More about Jesus
Words: Eliza E, Hewitt 1887; Music: John R. Sweney

1. More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

2. More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.


3. More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.


4. More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 3, 2017 “Mornings”


Mornings are matters of perception.
We perceive the sun is moving but really it takes no effort at all for the sun to rise in the east. All it has to do is stay where God put it and burn until its allotted fuel runs out and chances are that will never happen.

Mornings for us, however, require effort. We are the ones who have to move. We move stiff muscles and crooked necks and rub our eyes which remain only half open. We stumble through our morning routine only half-conscious until the hot shower water baptizes us to a new life. Before long we might be singing, much to the annoyance of those nearby. We moved alright.

Some things are certain.
“As sure as the turnin’ of the earth,” mumbled John Wayne as the bitter Ethen Edwards in John Ford’s magnificent film, The Searchers, “We’ll find her.” He was searching for his niece lost in a raid by hostile Indians. His fatalistic measure of time was not the seeming motion of the sun, but the sure and certain turning of the earth.

And it is certain; we can be sure of many mornings to come. As sure as the turning of the earth they will come but the one uncertainty that remains is how many we will enjoy. How many will bring us pain we can’t rub away? How many mornings remain until our allotted fuel runs out as our inner fires cool to cold ashes?

Of course, we don’t know the answer.

So we have this one, this morning, another gift from God. We can make this one count.

  • We can be who God has called us to be.
  • We can do what God has called us to do.
  • We can plant seed where no one has sown before.
  • We can water the good seed others have planted.
  • Who knows? Before the night falls we could even bring in a harvest for the Lord Jesus!

Mornings are the product of the night, the inevitable consequence of darkness is the rising of the light. There may have been tears in the night, but there is joy in the morning. If there was fear in the darkness, it turns to faith in the morning sun.

One of these many mornings will begin the day of our translation. This mortal will put on immortality. This fading, corruptible body will be made new and better, impervious to the wear of time and the tear of circumstance, made like His glorified body. On that day we will see Jesus and those who left us on mornings past—a grand reunion that day will bring!

Mornings are full of promise—as sure as the turning of the earth.

Psalm 30 NKJV
I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord , you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.” Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. I cried out to You, O Lord; And to the Lord I made supplication: “What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord , be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
2 Peter 1:19 NIV
…we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Ps 90:14-17 NIV
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 59:16-17 NIV
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
Psalm 5:1-3 NIV
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord , you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
Because of the Lord ‘s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 NKJV
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory?”

On this morning, Lord, Your mercies are new again! Today, as the scriptures say, You have “hemmed me in behind and before and laid Your hand upon me.” I will not fear this day for it has started well, here in Your presence, here in the Secret Place where You, my Father meet with me, knowing my every need before I even ask and yet asking is an act of fellowship with You. Clouds may hide the risen sun, but nothing will hide Your presence and faithfulness from me. I will not be guided by my senses or my emotions. I will walk by faith in You this morning and throughout the day. Amen.

Reunion Day
Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

Reunion Day! Yes, there will be
A gathering by the Crystal Sea
Where we will see
Those who’ve gone before,
Faces we adore,
Sweet voices, Lord, will sound once more
On Reunion Day!

Reunion Day! Oh, Reunion Day!
It can’t be long till we sing the song
Of the Redeemed.
Reunion Day! Reunion Day!
Soon the trump will sound.
We’ll find higher ground
On Reunion Day.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 13, 2017 “Wilderness”


The journey of all journeys: from Egypt to the Promised Land, a journey through the wilderness.
This is the history of a people, a nation chosen by the Lord God because He loved them, chosen to be the people who would bring the Savior to a world that had itself become a wilderness. It was once a garden, a garden with a snake hiding in it. By stealth and untruth the serpent deceived the population of Eden by locating a hunger in the hearts of Adam and his wife, and feeding that hunger with poison. Cast out of the Garden, the perfect world became a wilderness for them and all their children.

Through God’s covenants with people the nation of Israel became the focus of heaven on earth. They journeyed from

  • slavery to freedom,
  • hopelessness to promise, and
  • from a pagan environment to the worship of Jehovah.

History for Israel is a metaphor for us.
We are on a journey

  • from inability as an infant to multiple abilities as an adult,
  • from  illiterate child to a reading and writing communicator,
  • from apprentice to craftsman,
  • from student to graduate, and
  • from novice to effective practitioner.

This journey isn’t easy and neither is it optional. It is in the wilderness that we “make something of ourselves.”

Or, do we?

Israel was not in the wilderness alone.
They had a tabernacle at the center of their camp. Over that tabernacle a cloud hovered, brilliant and reflective by day, never lost in the sun, and flaming at night, never even threatened by the darkness. The cloud was the manifest presence of God. When the cloud moved, they moved. When it rested, they rested.

For us, Jesus is our guiding friend, our bright hope by day and our flaming faith by night.
Today we continue the journey.

  • Our wilderness may be a desert, but we have a spring of Living Water bubbling inside.
  • It may be a mountainous trek, but we have someone breaking the trail for us.
  • If they dare confront us, seas will divide and rivers will roll back at the Word of the Lord.
  • Dangers abound in the wilderness, but angels, armed to their spiritual teeth, camp all around us.

He has extracted us from slavery, baptized us through the sea, fed us from heaven, and sweetened the bitter wilderness waters with a tree called Calvary.

Why? Because we are children of His promise, the holy nation camped in peace with Jesus at the center, the travelers from grief to grace with an unbreakable promise beckoning to us toward the wilderness horizon.

Numbers 9:15-23
On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant; and from evening until morning it was over the tabernacle, having the appearance of fire. It was always so: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, then the Israelites would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the Israelites would camp. At the command of the Lord the Israelites would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they would remain in camp. … Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, resting upon it, the Israelites would remain in camp and would not set out; but when it lifted they would set out. At the command of the Lord they would camp, and at the command of the Lord they would set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.
Isaiah 40:3-5 NIV
A voice of one calling:” In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Psalm 105:37-45 NIV
He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them. He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night. They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for — that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.
Hebrews 11:29-30 NIV
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
John 16:33 NKJV
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Lord Jesus, the journey continues today. Thank you for the lighted path and for the steady lamp that guides each step. Whatever awaits me this day in my trek through the wilderness of these moments, be it an enemy, a storm, a river, a trial, an ocean, or even shifting sand lurking in my path, You, Lord Jesus, are the master of it. Whatever it may be, it comes from this fallen world and You said You overcame the world. So, in You I have peace today, peace in the wilderness. Amen.

I’ll Go where You Want Me to Go
Words and Music: Mary Brown

1. It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front,
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls,
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

2. Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek;
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my guide,
Though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo Thy message sweet,
I’ll say what You want me to say.


3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place,
In earth’s harvest fields so white,
Where I may labor through life’s short day,
For Jesus the Crucified;
So trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

For more on thriving in the wilderness go to: “Candles in the Desert.” 

June 9, 2017 “Ruins”


Some say the worship of the church today is in ruins.
The old ways, the tried and proven ways, are gone and in their place are experiments of dubious origin and doubtful outcome.

Others say the church is in ruins. The world has passed her by. She clings to outdated thinking and methods. It is time to rethink, redefine, and retool. We must become all things to all people to win some.

Still others say the world is in ruins. Man’s worship of Himself as the measure of all things has proven to be the most destructive of all idolatries. Despair has become the highest hope of the best people.

Anything that people built will eventually fall into ruin.
The world is littered with the ruins of great civilizations whose crumbling temples, palaces, castles, and monuments testify silently of the temporary nature of the most ancient of things. Tourists climb over them and take pictures, trying their best to recapture the past when real people occupied these old structures and the silent crumbling walls were sturdy and reflected the sounds of real life.

Societies of concerned citizens organize to protect the falling down houses and restore the neglected historical sights before time can destroy them completely. Why? Ruins of the past seem to somehow speak to us of the future. We are in the middle of a journey others have started and still others will finish. We need a connection to the past that gives meaning to today and a promise of tomorrow.

Ruin is the way of the world; time and gravity win eventually. All that is left are the hollowed out walls and arches of cathedrals hundreds of years old and the dry-rotted clapboard and collapsing roofs of humble country churches only a hundred or so years old.

But ruin is not the way of the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ!
Restoration is the business of King Jesus. Just as He was a builder in His shop in Nazareth for 30 years, He is now the rebuilder of broken lives. In this He does the work of His Father. It is practically routine that biblical heroes were reduced to ruins at some point and when they turned to God, he restored them.

If this is not your story yet, it probably will be someday. The enemy deals in ruin and few escape it completely in this life. Satan tells us the story is over. The curtain has fallen and there is no reason to go on.

But, as the old-time preachers used to say about the Devil, “He is a liar and the father of it.”

There is no ruin that Jesus cannot renovate, no relic that He cannot restore, and no derelict beyond His re-design. Impervious to time and untouched by gravity, the Lord’s work is quality work, work that stands the storm and resists the ravages of time.

But ruin is not the way of the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ!
Restoration is the business of King Jesus. Just as He was a builder in His shop in Nazareth for 30 years, He is now the rebuilder of broken lives. In this He does the work of His Father. It is practically routine that biblical heroes were reduced to ruins at some point and when they turned to God, he restored them.

If this is not your story yet, it probably will be someday. The enemy deals in ruin and few escape it completely in this life. Satan tells us the story is over. The curtain has fallen and there is no reason to go on.

But, as the old-time preachers used to say about the Devil, “He is a liar and the father of it.”

Look at people through the eyes of Christ.

  • When we see the homeless one leaning against the wall of a building in the center of the city,
  • when we hear of the recluse locked away in a fog of regret and pain, and
  • when we see young people speeding down the many roads to ruin, we should pray,

“Lord, speak to them somehow! Let some human hand be Your hand, some human voice tell them of Your love.” They are ruins waiting for someone to restore them before time and circumstance have finished their work.

There is no ruin that Jesus cannot renovate, no relic that He cannot restore, and no derelict beyond His re-design. Impervious to time and untouched by gravity, the Lord’s work is quality work, work that stands the storm and resists the ravages of time.

Psalm 74 
O God, why have you utterly cast us off? Why is your wrath so hot against the sheep of your pasture? Remember your congregation that you purchased long ago, the tribe you redeemed to be your inheritance, and Mount Zion where you dwell. Turn your steps toward the endless ruins; the enemy has laid waste everything in your sanctuary. Your adversaries roared in your holy place; they set up their banners as tokens of victory…They burned down all the meeting-places of God in the land. There are no signs for us to see; there is no prophet left; there is not one among us who knows how long. How long, O God, will the adversary scoff? will the enemy blaspheme your Name for ever? Why do you draw back your hand? why is your right hand hidden in your bosom? Yet God is my King from ancient times, victorious in the midst of the earth…Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the moon and the sun. You fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. …Arise, O God, maintain your cause; remember how fools revile you all day long. Forget not the clamor of your adversaries, the unending tumult of those who rise up against you.
Isaiah 58:11-12 NKJV
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Isaiah 51:3 NKJV
For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Lord Jesus, help me see people with Your eyes! Each one is a creation in Your image, though that visage may be horribly marred by things done to him/her or the things his/she has done. I divest myself of any pretense of superiority on my part. Ruin has touched my life, too. But when I called to You, You answered with a healing, restoring touch. Your carpenter’s hands are skillful and willing to touch anyone I can see as I walk this earth. Restore us, again, O Lord! Amen.

The Healing Waters
Words: H.H. Heimar; Music: L. L. Pickett

1. Oh, the joy of sins forgiv’n,
Oh, the bliss the blood-washed know,
Oh, the peace akin to Heav’n,
Where the healing waters flow.

Where the healing waters flow,
Where the joys celestial glow,
Oh, there’s peace and rest and love,
Where the healing waters flow!

2.Now with Jesus crucified,
At His feet I’m resting low;
Let me evermore abide
Where the healing waters flow.


3.O, this precious, perfect love!
How it keeps the heart aglow,
Streaming from the fount above,
Where the healing waters flow.


4.Oh, to lean on Jesus’ breast,
While the tempests come and go!
Here is blessèd peace and rest,
Where the healing waters flow.


5.Cleansed from every sin and stain,
Whiter than the driven snow,
Now I sing my sweet refrain,
Where the healing waters flow.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

For an article on the restorative ministry of the Holy Spirit go to: “Turning Hearts”

May 17, 2017


There are two types of people…
If we listen closely enough we will often hear someone declare, “There are two types of people in the world…” and go on to make some clever observation about how we human beings go about the business of being human. Usually it has nothing to do with gender.

Well, it is time to say it, “There are two types of people in the world, morning people and everyone else.” Some people do their best work late at night when all is quiet or when the noise is a chosen one. They look with deep suspicion on those who do their best thinking first thing in the morning, and their finest work to the accompaniment of birds and the early morning news.

It is a good thing when these two types of people marry; that way work or fun can happen around the clock in their house.

In the earliest days of the church, hours of prayer were kept all through each day and night. To this day some of us do our devotions in the morning and others at night. The only rule we need to consider is to give the Lord our best time, be that early or late.

A Special Gift from God
Think for a moment of a different application of “mornings” as a special kind of gift from the Lord. The broad rhythms of life are vital to our spiritual and physical health.

  • We need activity and we need rest.
  • We need wakefulness and we need sleep.
  • We need to be alert at crucial times and at other times we can tune out and the let the old earth turn without our help.

These alternating states of being come to us in the steady beat of day and night, of “morning and evening” as in the biblical account of the Creation.

Perhaps we should think of each morning as a “do-over”—a chance to try again. It is as if the darkness of night was a curtain drawn on the past and the light of day was the rising of the curtain on a future full of promise. Each morning is like a little New Year’s Day—a chance to out yesterday behind us and to improve on it today—a new challenge to keep life interesting. What a blessed gift from God!—Mornings!

Fear and darkness have always been partners.
Before the age of electricity homes and streets were dark or poorly lit by candles and lamps, slender flames against the wide darkness of night. The night held terrors both real and imagined. The ancient prayers the people of God used to pray through the night reveal this now-forgotten fear. In our modern world the troubles of the day or the frailties of the body may pain the mind or the human frame to the point of lost sleep. For these long nights, mornings are indeed a gift from God.

Of course the Bible famously promises that the loving-kindness of the Lord is new every morning. That means that as the earth is constantly turning, every moment is morning somewhere.

We can rejoice when the alarm shocks us awake. We can smile at the sunrise. We can spend time with God and a good cup of coffee, knowing that each morning holds a bit of the Resurrection morning and that God has gifted us each with a fresh start.

Maybe we will get it right this time!

Psalm 5 
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation. Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I make my prayer to you. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you. For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, and evil cannot dwell with you. Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those who work wickedness. You destroy those who speak lies; the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O Lord, you abhor. But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house; I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, because of those who lie in wait for me; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; there is destruction in their heart; Their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Declare them guilty, O God; let them fall, because of their schemes. Because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But all who take refuge in you will be glad; they will sing out their joy for ever. You will shelter them, so that those who love your Name may exult in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.

Prayers for the Morning from the Book of Common Prayer
For the Renewal of Life
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep Your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done Your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give You thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Guidance
Heavenly Father, in You we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray You so to guide and govern us by Your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget You, but may remember that we are ever walking in Your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Morning Has Broken
Words: Eleanor Farjeon; Music: Gaelic Folk Tune

1. Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

2. Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

3. Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 13, 2017



Time is God’s invention.
We cannot understand time. It is linked with existence itself. If something is—then it may not have always been and it may not always exist forever. I’m not sure about eternity—that particular time of “forever.” Will it be a single moment that simply never passes or will it be an endless passage of time that never wears on us? Either way it will be good for those who have heard and responded to the Lord’s call. For others? Not so much.

I lean toward the endless passage of some sort of measure of time because the book of The Revelation describes the worship of heavenly creatures as ceaseless: “Day and night they never stop saying: ‘”Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”’

Locked into Time
There is no doubt that we are locked into time, this thing that God created. We may not know what “day and night” means in heaven, but we are certain of what it means here on earth. It means we will each live a certain number of days and nights and then we will make our exit. For those of us who want to accomplish something in this life, it is a race between our skills and opportunities and the relentless calendar.

We deal with this truth with a number of sayings:

  • Time waits for no one.
  • All we have is today.
  • Tomorrow will take care of itself.
  • Let go of the past.
  • I won’t think about that right now; tomorrow is another day.

These platitudes are of little help to us. They neither speed up the clock nor slow down the calendar. They are also more easily spoken than accomplished.

Where can we go for some “forever” help?

A Timeless Book
The Creator who invented time also speaks to us from a supernatural—a timeless—book. God can speak with authority about forever—he is already there! The Bible tells us that before our personal clock started ticking, the Lord knew who we were and what He had planned for us. Our times are in His gentle hands.

The theme song of the Old Covenant was “For the Lord is good and His love (mercy) endures to all generations.” This is the chosen anthem of the great moments in Old Testament history from the giving of the Law to the dedication of Solomon’s Temple to the army of musicians King Jehoshaphat sent into victorious battle.

This central truth is fulfilled in Jesus.

“The Lord is good!”
We must not entertain theories from the culture which question the character of God saying that if He exists at all He must be either evil or indifferent.

“His mercy endures forever.”
The passage of time so destructive to us, never wears God down. A day will never dawn when His mercies aren’t fresh and new. God is the God of Covenant—binding promises to those in covenant with Him.

Today, just as in Psalm 136, let us make every statement end with a statement of faith—“The Lord is good and His love endures forever!”

Psalm 90 NKJV
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. … The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. …Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
1 Chronicles 16:34; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 20:21 NIV

  • Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
  • The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in raise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.”
  • After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

Revelation 4:8 NIV
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
who made the great lights — His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
…to the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.
and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. Amen.

Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand
Words: Jennie Wilson; Music: F.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.

Hold to His hand, to God’s unchanging hand.
Hold to His hand, 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.


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


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.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved