February 27 “Victory”

Victory

When you have seen something with your own eyes, it is most difficult to believe otherwise.
And so it was with the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. With their own eyes they had witnessed His death. After His body was taken down from the cross, the women who loved and followed Jesus had hastily prepared His lifeless form for the tomb. After the Sabbath had come and gone, they returned to do proper service to the body of their Lord.

We cannot imagine the grief they experienced that Saturday. Each of the women had received countless undeniable blessings from the hands of Jesus.

  • Mary and Martha of Bethany had seen their dead and decaying brother, Lazarus, come waddling out of his own tomb, wrapped in grave clothes, at the command of Jesus! How could the One who was the Master of death, be overcome by death? It made no sense, but they had seen the still body of Jesus for themselves and handled it in preparation for its rest in Joseph’s tomb.
  • Mary Magdalene had been delivered from the violence of seven demon spirits at Jesus’ command. Now His voice was stilled and she had to wonder if the forgiveness He had granted was just an illusion. Was she still in her sins?
  • From other accounts, we know that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was at the cross when he died. Without doubt she was among the women who went, early that Resurrection morning, to visit the tomb.

They went to the tomb not knowing how they would roll away the huge stone placed over the entrance by the Roman soldiers. There was little logic in their mission but they were compelled to make the effort.

When they arrived, they saw that the stone was already moved. Their first thoughts were that someone had stolen His body. Cautiously, they entered the tomb. A young man dressed in brilliant white robes was standing on the right side of the large flat stone where the body of Jesus should have been. Startled, they shrank back in fear. His voice was both commanding and soothing

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He is risen! He is not here.”

They did not, they could not, move. From other accounts we know that the linen in which the body was wrapped lay flat on the stone, as if it had been deflated. The linen that had covered His head was folded neatly at the head of the stone. The body was gone but this was not the work of mortals.

“See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

The man spoke with an authority very much like that of Jesus Himself, so they knew they must obey. They ran from the tomb but shared this experience with no one. Who would believe it, anyway?”

Other Witnesses
Mary Magdalene was the first to actually see the risen Lord. She told the other followers of Jesus, but in their depth of their grief, there was no way for them to ascend to the level this truth. They could not believe what they were hearing; they knew what their eyes had seen. When He appeared to two of them as they were walking, the two were convinced but even this was not enough to counter the witness of the eyes.

The world’s greatest victory had been won and so many could not see it. We are all witnesses to the reality of death. It is for us to see the Risen Lord with eyes of faith.

Scripture:
Mark 16: 1-13
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you told Thomas that those who believe in Your resurrection without actually seeing You, would be blessed. I am in that number. I believe You conquered death. I believe You hold the keys of death, hell, and the grave. I believe that death has been swallowed up in victory. I believe that my loved ones who have departed this life are with You now enjoying life everlasting. I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with You. I believe that You are the Lord of the living. Through Your grace, I walk each day in newness of life! The Lord is risen—He is risen, indeed! Amen!

Song:
Christ Arose!
Words and Music: Robert Lowry

1. Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain:
Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

2. Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain

3. Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

October 14, 2017 “Pleasures”

Pleasures

We are all pleasure seekers.
For some, the pursuit of pleasure is the announced purpose for living their lives. Others hide their pursuit of pleasure behind “loftier” goals but at the heart of their activities, they want to enjoy life as much as the above-board pleasure seekers. Still others find pleasure in service to others, subjugating their pleasure to the needs of those who cross their paths. The criminal mind finds pleasure in pain and the mentally ill apparently find pleasure in misery.

However we find it, pleasure and the pursuit of pleasure are primal human drives.

Often, Christians are conflicted about pleasure; we hide it behind holier words like joy, happiness, rejoicing, fulfillment, fullness, etc. But what we really are talking about is pleasure. We are afraid of pleasure because we live in a pleasure-mad world from which we must be separate.

The pleasures of sin are a constant temptation.
These pleasures are deadly and deceptive. To taste of these delights is addictive and destructive and, above all, displeasing to the Lord. We want with all our hearts to please Him, not just to gain heaven and shun hell, but because we love God and are so thankful for salvation.

We hear the words of Jesus and the apostles and we suspect that pleasure is just a trap.

  • “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matt 16:24)
  • If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away… (Matt 5:29)
  • The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but … they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (Luke 8:14-15)
  • (in the last days people will be) lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…(2 Tim 3:4)
  • … the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. (1 Tim 5:6)
  • At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. (Titus 3:3)
  • When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)

Realistically, though, pleasure itself is not at all bad.
We are made in the image of God and the Bible clearly records that God takes pleasure in things:

  • He enjoyed the acts and results of creation.
  • He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day.
  • He was greatly pleased by the sacrifices of worship and thanksgiving of those who believed in Him.
  • In heaven He has surrounded Himself with beauty in architecture, music, and pageantry.
  • He pleased to forgive our sins when we turn away from them in repentance and turn toward Him in love.
  • Jesus joyfully received the praise of children, the gratitude of those He touched, the hospitality of Martha, and the amazing gift of Mary, the two sisters who made Him welcome in their home in Bethany.
  • Jesus surely enjoyed striking fire in the hearts of the two on the road to Emmaus.

Since this is the image by which we have been formed, take this day of rest to find the pleasures of righteousness:

  • in God’s creation,
  • in great music,
  • in meaningful narratives,
  • in the company of loved ones,
  • in the solitude of the sea or the deep woods,
  • in the astonishing white snowfall and the warmth of the fireside,
  • in the joy of being husband and wife,
  •  in family laughter and fun, and in the holy presence of Jesus.

Feel Him laughing and listening, watching and wondering with us. It is good that we find pleasure in God and His creation. These pleasures are not a trap—they are gifts to enjoy.

Scriptures:
Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you knew pain when You walked this earth and You also knew life’s pleasures. Like any other infant Your first human sensations were the pleasure of Mary’s touch, her voice, and her tender love. As a child You laughed and played; we can only imagine the sound of Your little-boy’s laugh when You were having fun. As a young man You enjoyed the tutelage of Joseph in the carpenter’s shop. You learned the pleasure of working with Your hands and of work well done. In the Gospels we see a man whom children sought out. You made them laugh and You laughed with them. As You walked closer and closer to Calvary, pleasure drew farther and farther from You. There was no pleasure there or in the hollow tomb. But I am sure that when You broke the bounds of death, there was a smile on Your face. Help me know the resurrection pleasures of new life in You today. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Song:
Feelin’ Mighty Fine
Words and Music: Mosie Lister

1. I woke up this morning feeling fine
I woke up with heaven on my mind
I woke up with joy in my soul cause
I knew my Lord has been raise
Well I knew i was walkin’ in the light
cause I’d been on my knees in the night
And I’d pray till the Lord gave a sign
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

Refrain:
Well I’m feeling mighty fine
I’ve got heaven on my mind
Don’t you know I want to go
where the milk and honey flow
There’s a light that always shines
down inside this heart of mine
I’ve got heaven on my mind
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

2. We’re walking with Jesus all the time
we’re walking and talking as we climb
We’re traveling a road to the sky
where I know I’ll live when I die
He’s been telling me all about that land
and he tells me that everything is grand
And he says that a home will be mine
and now I’m feeling mighty fine

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 6, 2017 “Sing!”

Sing!

It was just another day in the Temple Courts.
The priests and Levites were in their places helping worshipers prepare and present their sacrifices. The blood of many lambs and goats and pigeons splattered on the smooth paving stones. It was noisy and out of order. If people had come to pray, God was the only One who could have heard them. The solemn ceremonies from Sinai had become big business and small politics. Profit not prophesies was the indecent order of the day.

Enter Jesus
Into this melee came a man with fire in His eyes, a whip in His hands, and a trumpet for a voice.
This Temple was His Father’s House and Jesus declared it thus. Tables were overturned. Wooden cages broke open and doves escaped to the skies. Animals broke free from the merchants who had hoped to sell them. The whip in Jesus’ hand found its mark time and again scattering coins and merchants trying to recover them. The random noise in the Temple courts now had a focal point—Jesus of Nazareth!—the gentle teacher and tender healer, the forgiver of sins and encourager of the depressed. They had heard his gentle words and now they saw the fire of judgment in His every move.

What was His issue?

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’

Jesus was quoting Isaiah and Jeremiah. Isaiah’s word for prayer was the Hebrew word meaning hymn. What was His issue?

  • They were selling, not singing.
  • They were profiting, not praying.
  • The nature and purpose of the place of public worship had been desecrated.

God Wants His People to Sing!
Singing praise to God is a joyful mandate, not a pleasant option. To my knowledge singing is the only art demanded of all people by the Word of God. It isn’t a generational command; it is issued to all ages. It isn’t limited to a particular musical system or style or selection.

There are two requirements for the songs we sing to God: Spirit and Truth:

  • They must be sung from the heart, emanating from deep in the human spirit as empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • They must speak the truth about God and about us.

This is the setting or the Lord’s Day: the People of God sing to the Lord.
Oh, there will be a preacher because we have a story to tell. There will be masters of ceremony because we have been conditioned to expect them. There will be worship leaders singing and playing to lead us because we need them. There will be announcements even though we don’t need them. Hopefully all this will happen “decently and in order.”

How can we know what is decent and orderly? Ask these questions:

  • Is this music about Jesus or about me?
  • Does this music allow me to praise, worship, and praise from my heart?
  • Does the presence of the Lord fill the house and my heart?

The point of it all is to minister to the Lord with our personal sacrificial songs of praise, worship and prayer.

Don’t let another opportunity to sing to the Lord with the saints of God pass you by!

  • Whether you know or like the chosen songs—sing!
  • If you think you have a wonderful voice—sing!
  • If you are sure you have a terrible voice—sing all the more!
  • Forget about what people might think of you—sing great stuff about Jesus!
  • When the song is a praise song—sing your praise!
  • When the song is a prayer song—sing your prayer!
  • When it is time to wait on God in silence—sing silently!

It is the Father’s house, but the song is ours to sing!

Scriptures:
Psalm 66
Be joyful in God, all you lands; sing the glory of his Name; sing the glory of his praise. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! because of your great strength your enemies
cringe before you. All the earth bows down before you, sings to you, sings out your Name.” Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people. He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot, and there we rejoiced in him. In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him. Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard; Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us just as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of refreshment. I will enter your house with burnt-offerings and will pay you my vows, which I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble. …Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me. I called out to him with my mouth, and his praise was on my tongue. If I had found evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me; But in truth God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his love from me.
Isaiah 56:6-7 NIV
…all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. (OT:8605
‎tephillah (tef-il-law’); intercession, supplication; by implication, a hymn)
Jeremiah 7:8-11 NKJV
“Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord.
Luke 19:45-46 NKJV
Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my heart is steadfast—I will sing and make music! Thank You for the gift of music and song. When I am sad, singing lifts my spirits. When I am happy, singing multiplies my joy. When we sing together, hearts bond and alliances are strengthened. Broken bonds are mended. In this glorious moment, the past retreats to the past and the future draws nearer. I know that my flesh sometimes resists singing. Help me overcome this resistance. By faith I will sing with the saints and perhaps in our song we will hear the echoes of angels singing before Your throne! In Jesus’ Name! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Sing!
Words and Music: Israel Houghton

Now is the time for all people from every land to come together
Now is the moment for worship, we enter in withholding nothing.
He’s worthy, exalted, He’s high and lifted up!

Sing, sing unto the Lord. Open up your heart;
make a joyful noise in the sanctuary.
Sing, sing unto the Lord. Lavish Him with love;
Let the praises ring in the sanctuary, sing!

Gotta open up your mouth and give Him praise
Open up your heart and give Him praise
Lift up holy hands, unashamed in the sanctuary.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 30, 2017 “Adorned”

Adorned

The Poet combines two words that do not, in our modern thinking, belong together.
They form a paradox:

“Holiness” and “Adorn.”

We think of adornments as decorations, surface improvements intended to enhance the appearance of something. Holiness is something deep and unseen.

  • Does holiness shine?
  • Does it sparkle?
  • What is its bling factor?

If the subject is your house or mine these terms do not go together.

  • What can we add to a home to tell the world that a husband and wife, still deeply in love and continuously faithful to each other, live inside?
  • Do the glittering ornaments on an artificial Christmas tree make it real?
  • Do the bright green plastic leaves give it life?
  • Beautiful jewels may highlight a beautiful face, but does that mean the heart is beautiful as well?

The Beauty of the House
How different is the House of God!

“…holiness adorns your house, O Lord…”

The beauty of the Kingdom of God is the beauty of the King Himself—the beauty of holiness! This is gold tried in the fire. This is the beautiful Rose of Sharon shining in the sun. This is the Day Star from on High, the Bright and Morning Star. This is the constant dawning of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings.

It is in the beauty of this Holiness that we are commanded to worship.
This is not a decoration. It is a deep condition of the soul—our whole being. When the world hears the church singing the praises of God, there is more to hear than music. There is a note that only sounds in the redeemed human heart. The world can sense this spiritual adornment but cannot understand it or its source—the absolute purity of the heart of God! Untouched by sin, there is no dissonance without resolution in the music of the holy. The dissonance of Calvary was resolved at the Empty Tomb.

The Beauty of the Dove
The strength of God is seen as the dove—a primary symbol of the Holy Spirit. The two covenantal shifts between the Old and the New Covenants are the true forgiveness of sins and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer.

The Bible explains to us that the Spirit of God speaks to the human spirit. This is the source of the universal longing for beauty—for adornment that is more than outward decoration. We long to observe beauty through our five senses and also to sense that authentic, inner beauty of holiness.

Worship is all about this sixth sense of the holy.

The Brooding Dove of the Spirit
So as the Dove broods over our hearts, those who can sing and make music must sing and make holy music. Those who can write must find pen and paper, their hearts “stirred by a noble theme.” Artists and art lovers must bring the inner beauty of Christ inside out into the open to be seen, heard, and felt by others.

The Beauty of Holiness is no veneer, pretty on the outside but cheap on the inside. It is no shiny decoration that glitters but is not gold. It is the splendor of a God who is good and whose mercy endures to our generation expressed in the works of the hands and hearts of those who worship Him.

The arts of True Worship, adorn the Father’s House with the beauty of Holiness.

Scriptures:
Psalm 93
The Lord is King; he has put on splendid apparel; the Lord has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength. He has made the whole world so sure that it cannot be moved; Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; you are from everlasting. The waters have lifted up, O Lord, the waters have lifted up their voice; the waters have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mightier is the Lord who dwells on high. Your testimonies are very sure, and holiness adorns your house, O Lord, forever and for evermore.
2 Chronicles 20:21 NKJV
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord , and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”
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 45:1 NIV
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
1 Peter 3:3-5 NKJV
Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, what a wonder You are! You are the object of our worship today, the content of our liturgy, the passion of our souls. I will lift my voice with the People of God in the Sanctuary of God for it is our chief purpose in life. One day all the work of the ministry to mankind will be done—no more sermons to preach, to more hurting souls to touch—but in that golden day we will still be occupied with the ministry of worship. Eternity must expand forever because we, the church and the hosts of heaven have so much worship to bring to Your Holy Name—Jesus! This is the holiness that adorns Your house. Amen and forever Amen!

Song:
O Lord, You’re Beautiful
Words and Music: Keith Green

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful.
Your face is all I seek.
For when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

I want to take Your word and shine it all around.
But first help me to just, live it Lord.
And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown,
For my reward is giving glory to You.

Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear.

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful
Your face is all I seek.
For when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 2, 2017

Holiness

Surprisingly, there is beauty in holiness. 
Many tend to tense up at the sound of the word, gearing up for expectations they know they can never fulfill, demands they can never meet, and stern judgment at the end of the road.  Those concerns come with the contemplation of our attempts at holiness.  The good thing about the Good News is that Jesus fulfilled the expectations, met the demands, and took the judgment for our shortfalls.

Our subject today is not our holiness, but the Holiness of God.  This is the day the Lord has made. It is another appointed time to “give unto the Lord the glory due His name” and to worship Him “in the beauty of holiness,” His holiness.

We are so broken by Adam’s fall and our complicity in it, that we cannot imagine true holiness.

  • To be without flaw, to be completely complete,
  • to be true from the core to the surface,

is a state of being we cannot begin to understand.

However, we can pay tribute to it. 
We can confess with our lips and believe in our hearts the absolute holiness of the Lord Jesus, pristine in pre-incarnate life and unsoiled and unspoiled by more than thirty years of incarnation here on earth.  With no sins of His own to subtract from His goodness, our sins alone left their mark on His hands and feet, on His brow, side, and His back.  Yet these scars are not flaws; they in no way mar the beauty of His holiness.  Indeed, they add to the wonder of the Father’s mercy and the Spirit’s power to bring the dead back to life.

Each Lord’s Day the Holiness of God is the subject of the liturgy we present to the Him.

  • It will be heard in all three points in the pastor’s message and even in his poem.
  • This will be the appeal in every invitation and the prayer at every altar.
  • The Holiness of God will flow in the cup when we drink it and nourish us the when the bread is broken and blessed and the truth believed.

The Glory Due His Name
Oh, there is beauty in Holiness, the beauty of the One who is the originator of all beauty, the designer of all designs, the master of all mastery and the creator of creativity.  We stand in awe of Him.  We lift our hands, our lives, our voices, and our hearts to Him in adoration, gratitude, and homage.

Most amazing of all, He responds to our praise and worship.

  • He inhabits our liturgy and reigns upon our sacred actions.
  • This Almighty One gently holds us in His loving embrace.
  • His wholeness then transmits to us and we are healed.

Oh, there is beauty in His Holiness!

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.
Isaiah 6:1-4
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Revelation 4:6-8
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 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.”
Hebrews 10:19-22
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water
Psalm 22:3 KJV (NKJ)
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel….(Enthroned in the praises of Israel.)

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I join the song of angels today, singing with all of my might of Your holiness. Let me see you high and lifted up. Let the train of Your robe cover me as I stand before Your throne in worship. Let your strength brace my knees, Your mercy bath my heart, Your peace calm my soul and Your truth bind up my mind. Your holiness is indeed beautiful, shimmering in the air of glory, not distant, but close, close enough to touch me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
I See the Lord
Words and Music: Chris Falson

I see the Lord seated on the throne exalted
And the train of His robe fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled with His glory

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

January 4



Sabbath

The center-column strength of the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple was the Sabbath.

On the Sabbath, all activities were forbidden except those associated with the worship of Jehovah and rest for the souls and bodies of people. The Sabbath principle held the Old Covenant together. The Law extended the Sabbath beyond the seventh day of worship and rest into annual festivals celebrating the agricultural seasons of the year—the production of food and wealth was halted for times of worship and rest. Every seven years the land was granted the blessings of rest and twice each century all the people were to be granted Sabbath rest and a new start in the Year of Jubilee.

When the Sabbath in all its phases was honored, God’s blessing rained on the Holy Nation; His covenantal power secured their borders and His holy presence dwelt at the center of their hearts, their homes, the politics, and their peace. Continue reading “January 4”