March 27 “Building”

Building

We are all builders, trying to build something—a life, a business, a career, a ministry.
The conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount connects all these topics and instructions into one powerful promise. To hear these words and do them, is to build one’s house on a rock—on Jesus Himself, the Rock of Ages. For those who hear these words and simply file them away with all the other things they have read, the end is not so wonderful. It is tragic. The one who hears and obeys is called wise and the one who hears and does not obey is called foolish.

There will be storms.
To follow Christ and live in relationship with Him is not to live a life without storms. Storms come to everyone. Rains descend on everyone. Winds beat against and flood waters rise on everyone. The difference is in the foundation. The house built on Jesus will stand while the one built on lesser stuff will fall and will fall with terrible destruction. What is this lesser stuff?

It is the wisdom from this fallen creation. James, the Lord’s half brother, tells about two kinds of wisdom:

  1. wisdom from below: “earthly, sensual, demonic,” and
  2. wisdom from above: “pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

This is the catalog! This is the choice. What wisdom will you use to build your life? The limited, discredited, phony, and deceptive wisdom from below may have the appearance of solid rock but it is only sand. Build on it and your house will not stand the storm. The wisdom from above is tried, true, solid, proven, genuine, and always applicable. It not only has the appearance of Rock—it is Solid Rock! All hell came against it in the greatest storm of evil ever known at Calvary. The rains of wrath pounded Him. The winds of hate beat upon Him and an overwhelming flood of sins—yours and mine—covered Him to the point that even His father could not look upon Him. The storm took His physical life for three days and then He came roaring back and angels danced on the empty tomb. Hell had done its worst and the Rock still stood, mightier than ever, tested by time and eternity. He is your foundation! Storms don’t have a chance.

Now that you have heard these things—do them!
Start building on the Rock today! There is no time to waste. Storms are on the horizon. The forecast has gone out. Why build on sand when Rock is available? You can be “blessed” even when the circumstances of life turn against you. Your light can shine in the darkness lighting someone the way. You can turn enemies into friends with “coals” of kindness. You can be a tree that bears good fruit. You can spend time every day in the Secret Place with your loving Heavenly Father who already knows everything you need. If you seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, hungering and thirsting for life itself, you can be filled. When the storms come, you will stand.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:24-29
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Solid Rock! Built upon You, my life is safe from the worst of storms. Help me to carefully hear Your words and to consistently obey them. Help me, as Paul says, to build carefully on the True Foundation so that my life’s work, like my life itself, shall stand forever. Help me to carefully attend to the wisdom from above and completely avoid the “wisdom” from below. There is no reason that I should fail at living for You when I am building on the Solid Rock! Thank You, Jesus! Amen and amen.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev’ry high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the ‘whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 26 “Fruit”

Fruit

We have seen that knocking enlists the help of others. How do we know who is worthy of our trust?
Jesus gives us the unfailing test of the life of a potential teammate—examine the fruit they produce. The facts are these:

  • A good tree will bear good fruit.
  • A bad tree will bear bad fruit.

This means a careful look at the results of someone’s work or lack of work will reveal the contents of that person’s character. When we see someone whose life consistently blesses the people around them, we can be confident there is goodness there. On the contrary, when we see someone who is constantly tearing down rather than building up, sowing discord rather than making peace, and promoting untruth as if it were truth, we can be sure that person is evil inside. Jesus gives us the acid test:

“You will know them by their fruits.”

“All of life is a stage.”
So said Shakespeare and it is true. People present themselves to the world as if they occupied a permanent proscenium. For so many this is empty theatrics, a carefully choreographed illusion with no substance beyond self, no message except ”me” and no content but conceit. If the act is so well rehearsed and the performance so relentless, many people will take it as fact when it is really fiction. How can we tell a fine performance from a fine life? Examine the fruit of that life. Compare that person and his/her fruit with our great example–Jesus.

  • Does the person seek power or welcome responsibility?
  • Is there a consistency between words and deeds?
  • Does the life of the person point to higher things?
  • Is there a genuine interest in other people?

Comparing people with Jesus is sure to make anyone come up short, but that is what a Christ-follower does in his/her own heart. We should expect no less of others.

The Critical Difference
There is a difference between coming up short in a comparison to Jesus and being a bad person. In the most direct sense, all of us have, as Paul told the Romans, “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Failure does not a person and bad tree; if it did there would be no good trees in the orchard. The four questions listed above are not about human perfection; they are about human aspiration. We all fail but we can all be caring, consistent, committed to higher goals, and considerate of others. These are the fruits of a good tree.

Pruning the Orchard
The Lord wants us all to be good trees bearing good fruit. At some point a useless tree has only one use—firewood. How much better to resign from the theatre of the fake and become a real follower of Christ! For some, a horrible day will come. After a lifetime of faking it, they will hear the most terrible words I can imagine,

“I never knew you; depart from Me…”

How much better to know Him! To enter by the narrow gate, to live this strange turn-the-other-cheek life, to find the Father each day in the Secret Place of Prayer, to keep your candle lit and shining bright, and, as we shall see next, to build your house on the Rock!

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:15-23
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make me a good tree! Help me be rooted deep in Your Word. Water me often with the Waters of Life. Let me breathe the air of Your freedom in the winds each day. In my season, may the fruit of my life bless the world around me. Even, out of season, as Your Word commands, let the fruit of my obedience to You be sweet to those who know me. When the day comes when You examine my life, I pray You find good fruit, evidence that I followed You. All for You, Lord Jesus. All for You! Amen.

Song:
If I Can Help Somebody
Words and Music: A.B. Androzzo

1. If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, how they’re travelling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.

Refrain:
My living shall not be in vain,
Then my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
Then my living shall not be in vain.

2. If I can do my duty, as a good man ought,
If I can bring back beauty, to a world up wrought,
If I can spread love’s message, as the Master taught,
Then my living shall not be in vain.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 25 “Golden”

Golden

Gold, the precious metal that can make fortunes or destroy lives, is also a metaphor for “priceless.”
When we esteem something of the highest value, we call it “golden.” Strangely enough, a paraphrase of the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount has been dubbed, ”The Golden Rule.” We often quote it this way: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What Jesus actually said was:

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

The meaning is clear in either version. When He elaborated on the rule with the words, “this is the Law and the Prophets,” He elevated this rule beyond the level of platitudes and embroidered doilies. He said that all the rules and regulations for living that came down from the stormy heights of Mt. Sinai can be summed up with this one rule. He went on to say that all the corrective prophesies from men of God sent to bring revival to a backslidden land also added up to this one rule. The holy Covenant of old was summarized as far as practical living was concerned with these simple words. It is true enough that were this rule to take effect today, strife would cease like a forgotten rainstorm, violence would strike its last blow, and poverty would vanish like a morning fog.

Of course, none of that will happen, at least not until Jesus binds Satan and casts him into the pit and then reigns on this earth. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Until then, this remains an ideal, a precious metal of promise, a golden rule.

The Narrow Way
This is also the Narrow Way, undiscovered by most people but a blessing to those who find it and enter there. The Sermon on the Mount points us to the Narrow Way. This is a supernatural life, not one that springs naturally from our inmost impulses or even our surface inclinations. If we choose to follow Jesus, we will find this a narrow path indeed. Most people will not join us. They will seek more popular roads, broad, well-paved roads clearly marked but the signs often tell lies. When following our unredeemed hearts, the miles are always longer than the signs promise. The curves are more drastic than indicated. The climbs are steeper and the plunges more dangerous than advertised. The Broad Road promises fun but the thrills soon become frightful hazards that threaten our lives. We find that the promised light is darkness instead and the destination is a mirage of shining nothingness. The word Jesus used is “destruction.”

The Narrow Way seems difficult and it is not an easy road. The differences are several and significant:

  • This road is well marked and the road signs are true.
  • The guardrails are strong and well-placed, helping us stay on course.
  • When darkness falls, the traveler has his/her own inner light to light the way.
  • When the climb is steep, we have power assistance from heaven and from the Spirit within.
  • When the road takes a plunge into a deep valley, which it will sometimes do, we have a braking system called Sabbath rest that slows us down and keeps us safe.
  • And best of all, we have a travelling Companion who has driven this road before us and who is with us every mile of the way.

We have a golden rule to keep and a golden highway to follow.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:10-14
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Isaiah 30:18-21
Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.
John 14:6
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
1 John 1:6-7
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Galatians 5:25-26
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the Narrow Way. Thank You that I can trust all the road signs You place alongside this road. Though not many travel this road, the ones who do are priceless companions. They, too, try to live by the Golden Rule. They can be trusted. Help me always to treat them as they deserve. The most wonderful thing about the Narrow Way is this: as the song says, “I see Your footprints all the way!” Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
He Keeps Me Singing
Words and Music: Luther B. Bridgers
1. There’s within my heart a melody;
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
“Fear not, I am with you, peace, be still,”
in all of life’s ebb and flow.

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know,
fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.

2. All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
stirred the slumbering chords again.

Refrain

3. Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
trials fall across the way;
though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
see His footprints all the way.

Refrain

4. Feasting on the riches of His grace,
resting ‘neath His sheltering wing,
always looking on His smiling face,
that is why I shout and sing.

Refrain

5. Soon He’s coming back to welcome me
far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 24 “Seeking”

Seeking

We come into the world seeking. It never lets up as long as we live.
The objects of our search change from age to age, but the seeking goes on. Perhaps when our feet rest on streets of gold in the great beyond, our search will be finally be over, but perhaps not. Might we spend eternity seeking out new wonders in the New Heaven and the New Earth? Could it be that we will occupy ourselves after “we’ve been there ten thousand years” with seeking out new things about our God so that we can give Him the praise He deserves? I think so.

Whatever happens then, we live a seeker’s life today. Jesus promises us, not a reprieve from seeking, but the surety of finding what we need. His promise is threefold:

  • Ask and it shall be given.
  • Seek and you shall find.
  • Knock and it shall be opened.

This the life He promises when we put His Kingdom first; He will meet our needs. Now He gives us detailed instructions on how to appropriate what we need.

Asking
Asking is done from a place of humility. If we understand Calvary, we will never look to God and demand things. It is proper to remind God of His covenantal promises but this, too, is done in humility. When we ask of God, we are not dealing with what we deserve (Heaven help us!) but with His astounding grace. It is said that the Greek verb here is one of a continuous tense: “Ask and keep on asking.” This is not presumption. Jesus instructs us to do exactly this with the parable of the persistent friend (Luke 11:5-8) Persistent asking for what we need is a precious thing birthed in humility and bathed in faith.

Seeking
While asking borders on being passive, seeking requires action. We must turn over rocks to see what might be under them. We must explore new territories to see what manner of life grows there. We must sail new seas, travel new roads, and make new alliances to find the things for which we are seeking. God guides these processes and life becomes an adventure. Remember those fishermen from Galilee whose lives were transformed from routine to romance by the Lord’s call, “Follow me.” It is so with us. The Lord installs into our heart a vision of what we might become or what we might do for Him. This vision becomes a quest and we are off on our life-long search for what He has in store for us. He has promised that we will find it.

Knocking
Sometimes in our adventure we hit a wall and it seems our progress is stopped. We must not despair—we must ask! The Lord knows what to do. We must seek; there will be a door in the wall. Now the third method comes into play—we must knock. Knocking is different from asking and seeking because knocking enlists the help of others. Asking comes from deep within us. Seeking is our personal quest. Knocking enrolls us on a team roster. We engage with others who are likewise asking and seeking. They can open doors for us and we can do the same for them. The Lord is good at building teams; think of Jesus and the Twelve. He still does that. We can find the right team by this adventurous lifestyle of asking, seeking and knocking. Watching and guiding our seeking is a loving Heavenly Father who is good to the core. He has set us on the quest and aligned us with traveling companions.

We come into the world seeking. It never lets up as long as we live.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:7-9
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Luke 11:5-8
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the quest! Thank You for this life of adventure in following You. Sometimes I have been uneasy in the quest but I have seldom been bored. When I have asked, You have answered. When I have sought, You have shown me what I need. When I have knocked on doors that were shut tight, You have sent someone to open them for me. Still there are needs today so I continue to ask. Still there are mysteries so I continue to seek. Some doors remain closed so, as You direct me, I keep on knocking. Send me the partners in ministry I need to accomplish the things You have birthed in my heart. All for Your Glory, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
Words and Music: Karen Lafferty

1. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu Alleluia

2. Man shall not live by bread alone
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Allelu Alleluia

3. Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Allelu Alleluia

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 23 “Judging”

Judging

The difference between “judging” and “judgment” is more than the difference between a gerund and a noun.
A gerund is defined as a verb functioning as a noun as in, “Judging solos and ensembles is something I love to do.” Judgment is the ability to tell the good solos from the not-so-good ones. Jesus warns us about our judging, our critical assessment of people and things in our lives. His warning? Be careful how you exercise your judgment. When you are called upon to judge, that is, duly deputized to give an informed opinion, do so gently with care not to offend but to inform and perhaps even to inspire.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
This is one of most often quoted statements of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. It is usually used as a preemptive defense against someone who is about to be critical of us. We choose less dangerous words: assessment, evaluation, critique, etc. Even these kinder, gentler terms amount to the same thing: judging. We all get our turns both at being judged and being the judge. Jesus is warning us not to let the position of judging go to our heads, feeding the ego and making us brutal in our assessment. We must remember that our turn at being judged is coming.

The Judgmental Person
Jesus warns us against being a judgmental person, one who has a critical spirit. The critical spirit is rooted in shame, in deep feelings of personal inadequacy.  We all know someone like this.

  • Nothing is ever good enough for them (though it is likely they could make no improvement.)
  • They are quick to point out the shortcomings they see (though they really have no better ideas.)
  • They criticize successful people behind their backs (though they smile and flatter them otherwise.)
  • They frown a lot as if they are looking down on lesser beings than themselves (though in truth they have little to contribute that is positive.)
  • They don’t hang around success if they cannot cut it to their size (though they attract the discontented and take some of them with them when they leave.)
  • They are bitter (though their bitterness may be cleverly disguised as sarcastic humor.)

This is no way to live yet many choose this pathway.  They get in return what they have given: Criticism, bitterness, and public failure.

“…with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use,
it will be measured back to you.”

What is the proper way to exercise judgement?
The first lesson about giving one’s opinion is simple: don’t. Nothing is more unwelcomed than advice which has not been sought. On those occasions when experience or expertise we possess is called for, we must remember the warnings of Jesus to judge as gently and thoroughly as we would want to be judged. It is best to begin with positive assessments before suggest areas for improvement. One of the most important things is this: be an encouragement! When we are called upon to assess something or someone in the service of the Lord, we must remember that doing anything for God requires courage. Do not drain courage from the one you judge. On the contrary, pour courage into them!

Judgement and Humility
Jesus links these two things when He talks about the speck in our brother’s eye which we would like to haughtily remove when we can’t see to do it because of the plank in our own eye. What is His point? Be humble when called upon to give a critique. We may be blind to something others can clearly see.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:1-6

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make me bold to speak up for You when the moment calls for it and make me wise to keep my mouth shut when my opinion has not been sought. When I am called upon to issue my judgement, give me grace to be gentle and encouraging. Lord, save me from a critical spirit. When I see things that are wrong and my judgment has not been requested, help me turn that judgment into a prayer. You can do more than I could ever do. Help me deal with others the way You deal with me, with grace, always with grace. Amen.

Song:
Grace Greater than Our Sin
Words

1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

2. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

3. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 22 “Worry”

Worry

Worry is a waste of energy—precious personal power put to no productive purpose.
Excuse my alliteration. They say even the sun, the power source of our solar system, will eventually run out of power. We should never be caught wasting our energy. Worry is a power drain that diverts our human and spiritual resources to

  • sleepless nights that produce no rest,
  • fretful days that produce no progress, and
  • endless flights of imagine that take off and land in our heads but never get us anywhere.

Worry skills come to us naturally if we can put 2 and 2 together and see all the things that might happen. We have more contingency plans than we have primary plans. As we worry, PLAN A gets covered up by PLANS B through Q.

“Do not worry.”
Jesus attacks the problem head on. OK. Right. But how do we NOT worry? His first method is one word—look. He is saying to us, “Get a grip on yourself. You are looking at the wrong things in the wrong places.” Instead of staring at the possibilities of peril, look at the realities of the real world.

  • Birds, for instance. All of their energy is used for flying, eating, and propagating their kind. They don’t worry at all because they are in the Father’s care.
  • And look at flowers in the field. God is their Gardener. Their job is to simply be beautiful and add a little grace to the place. No worries here.

All avian energy is spent flying and singing and being beautiful birds. Floral energy is lavished on color and response to the winds attracting both people and bees. No energy is diverted to defense or wasted on worry.

“Your Heavenly Father”
Birds are blessed and flowers flourish because the Father has them. Birds don’t attach themselves to the ground and flowers don’t try to fly. The secret of their worry-free lives is their peace within their calling. The first word from Jesus was, look. Then He said, consider. We might hear Him say, “Stop and think for a minute.”

Does the Heavenly Father have us? Do we have a function in His Kingdom? Do we know what it is? Are we “flying” if we are supposed to fly? Are we standing in the field dancing with the wind being beautiful if that is His call on our lives? If so, then why worry? He’s got us. His record is remarkably good at taking care of His own.

“Seek first the Kingdom.”
One of the most remarkable promises of Jesus is this:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.

This is the answer to poverty and deprivation in the world. Put the Kingdom of God in the highest place in your plans and God will take care of you. You’ll be as free as a flower and as happy as a bird. When some other kingdom supplants the Kingdom of God then we must guard our place in it against all foes. Our limited supply of energy is diverted to these illegitimate pursuits and we find ourselves earthbound with care, wilting in the heat of a pitiless sun.

How much better to be who God called us to be and use all our life’s energy to serve the One who made both the skies and the fields.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my worrying. I repent of all the energy I have wasted over the years concerning myself with things  that You had control of all along. Teach me how to turn those well-honed worry skills into meditation skills. Help me look and really see Your hand at work. Help me to consider that You are faithful and have always been faithful and will always be faithful. I want to be as happy as a sparrow and as delightful as a flower in the field. Amen and Amen.

Song:
The Sparrow Song (Think of How He Cares for You)
Words and Music: J.D. Phifer

1. When you are sad downhearted and blue,
Think of how He cares for you.
When things look bad, your courage you lose,
Think of how He cares for you.

Refrain:
Think of the sparrow He feeds with such care,
The flower He waters with dew.
Dwell on the things He’s promised to do.
Think of how He cares for you.

2. When there’s a cross you know you must bear,
Think of how He cares for you.
When you are lost in realms of despair,
Think of how He cares for you.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 21 “Treasures”

Treasures

Creation is full of objects. The mind is full of thoughts. The heart is full of emotions. Some of these things stand out from the rest.
These things are our treasures:

  • objects that may have great market value or simply personal value only to us,
  • truths that we hold dear and that hold our lives together, and
  • feelings that bring us home, give us hope, and clear our heads.

Treasures like these are carefully kept, hidden away, locked up, meticulously filed so we can retrieve them at a moment’s notice, hold them close, and consider their value. Of course, our greatest treasures are the people we love. They occupy the heart and the mind and little things that were theirs occupy the corners of our homes.

Treasures in Heaven
Jesus spoke of securing our treasures, of finding storage for them that is beyond the reach of natural disasters, wicked people, or even the ravages of time. There is only one such storage place—heaven. How can we store our treasures in so remote and removed a place?

It is a matter of offering. Do we hold to our treasures with so tight a grip that we cannot let go? For safekeeping we must give them to the Lord. The house you live in, the car you drive, the money safely invested toward an uncertain future are gifts from God. Since He is their source, He has a program in place to protect them! We must return our treasures to Him in faith:

  • objects that may have great market value or simply personal value only to us,
  • truths that we hold dear and that hold our lives together,
  • feelings that bring us home, give us hope, and clear our heads, and
  • people we treasure above all other things.

These treasures are the contents of our hearts, hearts whose source is heaven and which are safe only there.

The Treasure of Sight
Of all our five senses, perhaps the most precious is our ability to see. In this passage, Jesus is speaking about more than our ability to detect light reflecting off objects. He is talking about a deeper level of sight—insight, we call it—the ability to see the true value of things. The Holy Spirit can help us truly see the differences between the treasures and the trash around us. With this spiritual insight we can cling to the good, return it to God for safekeeping, and keep it forever.

Beware of Evil Treasure.
The old saying that “all that glitters isn’t gold” has never been more true than today. The world glitters all around us with shining sins sparkling in the sun of our own selfishness. Evil treasures do not add themselves to our collections; they make themselves masters of our lives. We cannot collect them; they capture us! The greatest of these is money. We must have it, use it, invest it, save it, but we must never serve it. The Love of money is a root that only produces evil. We cannot treasure wealth and serve God, too.

Creation is full of objects. The mind is full of thoughts. The heart is full of emotions. Some of these things stand out from the rest.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:19-24
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
James 1:16-18
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank for the tremendous blessings I enjoy, gifts good and perfect, from Your hand. These are my treasures so I return them to You for safekeeping, beyond the consumption of moths, the reach of rust. and the danger of thieves. As You continue to supply my needs, protect me from the love of money and the things it can buy. You only will I serve. Give me insight to see the difference between the treasure and the trash. For Your glory, Lord, Amen.

Song:
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Words: Rhea F. Miller; Music: George Beverly Shea

1. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

2. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Refrain

3. He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs.
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 20 “Prayer”

Prayer

Simply put, prayer is not a show.
When Jesus approached the subject of prayer and deeds of Christian kindness, He took these things off center stage. He lived in a religious culture that was corrupted by religious showbiz:

  • marketplace praying,
  • the theatrical giving of alms,
  • trumpet-announced offerings, and
  • vain repetitions as if God were hard of hearing.

None of these public displays of what is really a private set of deeds was the least bit impressive to Heaven. The only reward to be gained was the here-and-now, then-and-there recognition of the public.

Prayer and giving are private matters.
The important thing is not the one “praying” or “giving alms” or “fasting;” it is the prayer to God, the giving to His Kingdom, and the discipline of the body for spiritual concerns. No fanfares are needed. The public streets are not the proper place. The synagogue is not a stage. The Secret Place, away from prying eyes and listening ears, is the place to pray. Giving is to be a solemn secret that even each of our two hands remain unaware of what the other is giving. A multiplicity of words shouted on a street corner does not bring Heaven’s reward, only the hollow acclaim of ignorant men.

The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus not only sent us to the closet of prayer, He gave us a prayer to pray. Tradition calls this “The Lord’s Prayer” and rightly so for He gave it to us. Others insist it should be called “The Believer’s Prayer” and this, too, is proper for He gave it to us. Some of us pray it as a recitation and others take it as an outline for extended prayer. Both approaches are correct. Early Christian documents outside of the Bible indicate that first Century Christ-followers were encouraged to pray this prayer three times each day. The prayer includes forgiving those who sin against us. To refuse to do this one thing, disables everything else we do before God.

“Your Father Knows”
Prayer is based on the Character of God. Pagans prayed the same phrase, called a mantra, many times as fast as they could to try and impress their hostile little gods and keep them at a safe distance. Christian prayer is the exact opposite. We do not need “vain repetition” because our prayer does not serve to keep a god away, but to draw near to the One True God. When Jesus told us the Father already knows what we need, He was telling us who God is and how much He loves us! The intrinsic goodness of God, His holiness, is the basis of our praying. We don’t need public announcements or the acclaim of the masses, or endless repetition. God is good and His mercy endures to the moment of our prayer.

Joy marks the one who prays.
Fasting is a most serious form of prayer. Going without food can weaken the body while building the spirit within. We must keep our fasting between God and ourselves. Present to the world a clean, joyful face, hiding the voluntary sacrifice for a spiritual cause. God sees. Our spirit rules the body and our reward is on its way.

Simply put, prayer is not a show.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:1-18
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the greatest need in my life each day is a time of prayer with You. Help me be faithful to the Secret Place. Those I love are dependent upon my prayers. How can I say I love them and then not pray for them? Lord, increase my passion to pray. I want to pray the prayer You gave us. I want to privately but intentionally confess Your character and say with the hosts of Heaven, “Holy, holy, holy.” I want to intercede for those who are in need. Lord, help me find that sweet time for prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Song:
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Words: W.W. Walford; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,  my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

2. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! the joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place where God my Savior shows his face,
and gladly take my station there, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

3. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face, believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 19 “Enemies”

Enemies

When we live as “salt and light” in this world, we make enemies. How are we to respond to them?
Jesus had a way of turning every issue on its head; this one is no exception. In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the most counter-intuitive advice. To the natural mind it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Offering the other cheek when an enemy has already struck the first one?
  • Going a second mile voluntarily when only the first mile was required?
  • Surrendering a coat to an enemy when all he demanded was a shirt?
  • Giving things to thugs demanding them by force or moochers who want to “borrow?”

Human nature resists all these tactics. If we want to fight or quit before the job is done or keep an enemy in his place as an adversary, we need to ignore the advice of Jesus.  However, if we want to have peace, complete a task, make a friend out of an enemy and be a blessing to those who are cursing us, these things make perfect sense.

Getting Back what You Give
The Law of Sowing and Reaping is built into Creation. If you want corn, plant corn. If you want beans, plant beans.

  • If you want to fight, hit back every time you are struck.
  • If you want a business partner, go beyond what the job requires.
  • If you want to win over an opponent, be more than kind to him.
  • If you want to have what you need when you need it, be generous to a fault to those who do not deserve it.

When we, with God’s help, intentionally counter our fleshly, human impulse to strike back or hold tightly to what is rightfully ours and we do this in the Name of the Lord, the Lord goes to work in the life of our enemy. As foolish as this may seem, it works. We sow good when presented with evil. We change the subject from hate and selfishness to joy and generosity and faith.

“Coals of Fire.”
In Romans, the Apostle Paul echoes the Sermon on the Mount. As he does, he makes one of the strangest statements in all of the Bible. To plant these seeds of non-violence and generosity in response to the actions of an enemy, we actually:

“…heap coals of fire on his head.”

We can read all sorts of explanations of the meaning of this strange phrase most of them having to do with the essential nature of coals of fire to survival in the ancient world. It seems “coals of fire” is a metaphor for the conscience of the individual. People who are given to striking others or taking advantage or forcing their will on people have a conscience that has gone cold. To counter their violence with peace, their coercion with cooperation, their selfishness with generosity can reawaken that sleeping conscience. In the natural this may seem like a faint hope but it must be remembered: in the Sermon on the Mount we are talking about a supernatural life enabled by the Holy Spirit. Our obedience to the Word of God sows supernatural seed in the life of our enemy. We will be surprised what God can do with that!

Scriptures:
Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Romans 12:14-21
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You have called me to a supernatural life. Help me to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, and to be generous all in Your name and for Your glory. Give me the joy of seeing enemies become friends. Help me overcome evil with Good as I sow good seed into the lives of people around me, especially those who don’t like me. I want to see the surprise on their faces when I counter their evil deeds with good ones. Lord, You will fight my battles. You will be my defense. I will be Your servant in this supernatural life. Amen.

Song:
Make Me a Blessing
Words: Ira B. Wilson: Music: George S. Schuler

1. Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad; are weary and sad
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
Making the sorrowing glad.

Refrain:
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O savior, I pray,
I pray Thee, my Savior,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

2. Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love;
Tell of His pow’r to forgive;
His pow’r to forgive.
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True ev’ry moment you live.

Refrain

3. Give as ’twas given to you in your need;
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed;
Unto your mission be true.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

March 16 “Fulfill”

FulFill

Jesus knew He was susceptible to the charge of being a radical.
He also knew it wasn’t true. He had not come to destroy. On the contrary, He had come to fulfill. In a series of remarkable statements, fulfillment is the recurring theme. He teaches us how

  • to fulfill the demands of the law,
  • to conquer hate and violence in our hearts, thus fulfilling the command to love God and others,
  • to fulfill our duty to worship God, and
  • to handle conflicts with others without going to the courts.

His logic is unassailable, His instruction is sound, and His language is direct and unambiguous.

Fulfilling the Law
Far from departing from the Law, Jesus came to fulfill it. The Word of God is not some temporary tome in need of editing. It is more firm and permanent than creation itself. The Old Covenant Law was a document of prophesies of truths to come. The people in His audience were seeing the fulfillment of these prophesies in Jesus. Under the New Covenant we enjoy the fulfillment of the Law when we are in relationship with Jesus. He fulfills the demands of the Law!

The Law of Love
Each day the faithful Old Covenant believers confessed the Shema, demanding they love God completely. The Law also demanded that they love their neighbors. Jesus warned His listeners against the destructive power of hate. Hate blocks the fulfillment of the greatest commandments in the Law. Hate is revealed in name calling, in prejudice, and derision. To fulfill the Law of Love one must not deride a brother or sister with names that demean them

  • raca—“empty one, worthless one”
  • fool—“dull or stupid one”

To feed one’s anger with derision is to take a step toward violence or even murder. Some who would never kill someone with a gun are experts with character assassination using words. To live this way is a short trip to hell. To refrain from hate is a short trip to the fulfillment of the Law of Love.

The Law of Worship
Each of us is on the earth to worship God. To walk with Jesus on the Path of Life is to live the worship-filled life. Unresolved conflicts with others spoil our worship. We may be the finest of singers or instrumentalists, but if we are harboring hate, bitterness, or envy against someone, our worship does not reach the Lord’s ears, let alone His heart. Jesus said these things must be resolved if we are to fulfill our call to worship, our purpose to worship. There is no way to calculate the degree to which revival is hindered by worship that is negated by unresolved conflicts within the church. We must obey Jesus:

“…leave your gift there before the altar, and … be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

The Law of Peace
We shortchange the Grace of God if we let conflicts within the church go unresolved to the point of legal action. Jesus said

“Agree with your adversary quickly…”

That means find a consensus according to the Word of God and agree together! Remember, The Word lasts forever!

Scriptures:
Matthew 5: 17-26
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Levitcus 19:17-18 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Mark 12:29-31
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, draw me close to You! I want to fulfill the greatest commands to Love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. I want to fulfill Your call on my life to be holy and productive, loving and compassionate, creative and skilled. Keep me from hate. Keep me from name-calling and all forms of derision. Help me be a peacemaker—a child of God! Amen and Amen.

Song:
O to Be Like Thee
Words: Thomas O. Chisholm; Music: William J. Kirkpatrick

1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain:
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

Refrain

3. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.

Refrain

4. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

Refrain

5. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved