Words of Life ~ AMEN

AMEN  may well be the most used word in the Christian vocabulary; one of simple exclamation for what we believe is true; in answer to, or addition to, things with which we agree.

It seems fitting to end the year in our series Words of Life with the word AMEN.

It is also interesting that I did not plan it. We began in July sharing this list once a week, from word to word, without knowing where each one would fit. So, in His providence, let us look at what the Lord has for us in this word now and in the coming year.

Old Testament H543
Strong’s Concordance defines AMEN ‘amen ä·mān’ verily, truly, so be it.
It is the same word used for truth.

The word AMEN is found in 24 verses of the Old Testament, 12 of these are found in Deuteronomy after each of the curses.
We want to concentrate on the following verses which use the word AMEN twice. These verses begin with the word “Blessed” referring to the Lord God and His name, ending with a double AMEN.

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 41:13

“And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:19

New Testament G281
“The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly”, an expression of absolute trust and confidence. — HMM”

It came to be used as an adverb by which something is asserted or confirmed: at the beginning of a discourse, surely, of a truth, truly; so frequent in the discourses of Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” Blueletter Bible

The Greek word is the same for verily. Until this research, I did not realize that Jesus prefaced all His teachings with the word, verily, verily. Verily is used at the beginning of a sentence; Amen at the end to verify the truth of a statement.

The first use of AMEN is quoted by Jesus after His prayer given to His disciples; appropriate, as His prayer was to our Father in heaven.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:13).

The second time is “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. AmenMatthew 28:20  

The last of the gospels to record the word AMEN is John’s statement summing up Jesus’ ministry.

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” John 21:22

In the remainder of the New Testament, more AMENs (29) are attributed to the apostle Paul than to any other author, most of these in his letter to the Romans (not surprising, since more of the New Testament is attributed to him than any other author.) Below are a few of these.

 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

 “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

 “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:5

 “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21

 “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:20

 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

 “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16

Peter uses the word 4 times.

“That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

 “To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:11

 “Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:14

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

John ends his first two letters with AMEN (1 John 5:21;  2 John 13).

The writer of Hebrews ends the letter with a prayer and an AMEN.

“Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”Hebrews 13:21

It is fitting that the last book of God’s Word would use the word 9 times. The last two verses of the Bible end with AMEN.

“Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:12

“And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.” Revelation 19:4

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21

As we end another year of our Lord, 2018, let us sound a strong “AMEN” to His sovereign grace and rule over all things. Let us be grateful for His presence and His blessings this year. Let us echo the AMENs of the writers of His precious Word.

As we enter a new year, let us be in anticipation, with a verily, verily to what He has planned. Let us practice our AMENs, begin praising Him for whatever may be ahead and focus on Him and His Word; not ourselves and our circumstances.

Gracious Father, thank you for giving us what seems to be a simple word, yet packed with power. Fill us with your Spirit to know, accept, and submit to your Word. Enable us to not only say “Amen” to all that you speak to us but to live in agreement with all that we read in your Word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran
Jude 24-25 Music

Persecution in China

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Romans 8:35

As we prepare to spend an hour or so in a comfortable worship environment tomorrow, please consider that not all Christians have this privilege. Such is the church in China. Please read the following statement written by Pastor Wang Yi before he and his wife were arrested.

“Editor’s note: Over 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, were arrested beginning Sunday, December 9. At the time of publication of this translation, arrests are still being made. Among those taken away were Pastor Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain, and his wife, Jiang Rong, who have not been heard from since Sunday. 

Foreseeing this circumstance, Pastor Wang Yi wrote the declaration below to be published by his church should he be detained for more than 48 hours. In it, he explains the meaning and necessity of faithful disobedience, how it is distinct from political activism or civil disobedience, and how Christians should carry it out.”  

The translated statement can be read from the December 12 post of China Partnership.

I pray that we begin to understand what freedom and blessings we have, now. But also that we see the need to prepare, at least our children, for the persecution that lies ahead for those who follow Christ. Let us pray for those who stand firm for the gospel of the kingdom of our Father and His Christ in China and throughout the world. Fran

The Power of Redemption

As I continue to study Andrew Murray’s, Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness, the end of this year seems a good time to share some treasures from this book. We can take into the new year these special truths that can change our thinking and our lives. Considering if we live in pride or humility is to know if we live by the flesh as in the first Adam, or by the Spirit in the second Adam.

Think of the power of sin that was within us before we were born of the Spirit. Then meditate on the following quotes from Andrew Murray. Let us take these with us into the new year as we continue to study the power of the new life, the life of redemption that is ours in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

“Even as we need to look to the first Adam and his fall to know the power of the sin within us, we need to know well the Second Adam and His power to give within us a life of humility as real and abiding and overmastering as has been that of pride.  We have our life from and in Christ, as truly, even more truly, than from and in Adam.”

“The life of God, which in the incarnation entered human nature, is the root in which we are to stand and grow.  It is the same almighty power that worked there, and from then on to the resurrection, which works daily in us.  Our one need (now) is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours.”

There is no greater blessing than a life of humility; serving the Lord and others.

Gracious Father, we thank you for the new life that is ours in Christ. We praise you that you showed your power in His incarnation, resurrection, and redemption so that we can experience the power of His humility working in us. In Jesus’ name, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran
Have This Mind Among Yourselves
Philippians 2:5-11 Music

Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility

Heavenly Overtones

Music is designed with a melody that runs throughout the whole piece.  Other parts add harmony.  The melody is the beginning, and the ending.  It is what holds the piece together.  Lose the melody or make it a monotone—the same tone over and over— and it ceases to be music.  Overpower the melody and the music loses its meaning.

Music is a sound that began in heaven with God, our Father and Creator.  It is a major means that He provided to help us worship Him—“Holy, Holy, Holy”—one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost, is sung by the angels in heaven. (Isaiah 6:3  and Revelation 4:8)

Anthems are compositions for music that include all parts —melody, harmony, and sometimes, a descant.  A descant is a part that is sung by a higher range of voices.  It is not meant to overpower but provide an extra lift to the other parts.

Together all the parts speak to the senses to lift the spirit and the heart toward God.

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music (Ephesians 5:19).

I picture it according to His Word—the melody was begun in heaven with Jesus, His Son—“Holy, Holy, Holy”  from the foundation of the world.  He would not only be the beginning of music but the melody throughout the span of time here on earth, onward into eternity.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes…”

The melody of heaven was here
~ He was wrapped in our humanity ~
to gather around Him those that would
add the harmony to Himself,
and provide the music for His family,
the music that the Father wanted to hear.

“On the same night, there were shepherds with flocks of sheep in the field. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”

 ~ the music and the worship were about to begin.

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them with good tidings of great joy”

  ~ the prelude
the introduction to the first anthem of true worship.

To all people—unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord”

 the music begins.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest”

 ~ the descant.

“And on earth peace.” Luke 2:7-14

Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the melody of heaven, the melody of life, as God has composed it, and plays it for us by His Spirit and through His Word.

“I will declare thy name (the Father) unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  (Hebrews 2:12-13)

~ the harmony of His family.
Now He has a full choir.

The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that we learn throughout our childhood are the anthems that are carried into heaven with us, as we join that celestial choir. Others are added along the way as He gives us a repertoire.  The only soloist is the one who carries the melody—Christ, Himself.

As we live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit, He opens our ears to hear the melody and to follow Him.  Our off-keys and monotones are tuned to harmonize with other voices.  And walking humbly with Him in the obedience of faith, loving the Lord, our God, and our neighbor, we are surrounded by the heavenly overtones echoing His praise in heaven and earth. In our devotion to Christ, He opens our hearts to hear compositions we have never heard or sung before, especially during the difficult circumstances of life.

I pray that we know the Lord as our strength and song (Exodus 15:2).

I pray that we would experience “the new song as He fills us with His Spirit (Psalm 149:1).

On the Lord’s Day, we go to His House with a great expectation of hearing the melody—a strong and sure foundation for our worship—hearing the other parts, and the distant sound of the descant of the angels in affirmation that our worship is accepted.

I pray that each day we will practice our singing, individually, and in family worship, so that we are prepared for worship on the Lord’s Day—all in preparation for the great day when we see Him and praise Him in all His glory with the angels.

Our Father has composed the music
and directs the choir.

Let us sing with full hearts
to His glory and our joy.

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Fran ~ Lord’s Day 9/23/07 (Article from Waiting Is Not A Game ~ Articles and Stories of Faith. Unpublished)

A Panoramic View

How blessed we would be if we could see in God’s Word a panoramic view of Him working from beginning to end —the Alpha and Omega— through it all to bring the first and the last scene together.

How blessed we are to be in the middle as God’s people—the body of Christ—to take it all in; turning from page to page to behold His glory, His kingdom, at work in His people; His strong arm upholding His sovereign will and authority over life and death, His hand holding and molding each heart and life taken out of the degradation of sin.

How blessed we are to be turned by the power of His own Holy Spirit to see Him greater than all the circumstances of the human will and the power of the enemy combined; triumph shared with His people for eternity.

This is a view that comes through a lifetime here on this earth. The view is so breathtaking that we cannot bear it except slowly and as God, the Father, in the wisdom He gives through the righteousness and atoning work of Jesus, His Son, prepares our hearts by His Holy Spirit to conceive of Divine reality—“enlightening our eyes” to see what He allows our ears to hear.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

The tour through His Word is conducted one-on-one so that we do not miss anything that He has for each of us. It is the preparation for that which will come in eternity ~ from glory to glory ~ so that we will share in His glory forever.

The glory of God is hidden in Christ and it will take an eternity for us to behold.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:19

Dear Father in heaven, we praise you for all that you have prepared for us, what our physical eyes cannot now see; what our ears cannot yet hear; the glorious life for which we are being prepared. Continue to work by your Holy Spirit, in light of the truth of your Word, in our minds and hearts to look beyond this present world to the glory that awaits us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image:Pixabay

 

Words of Life ~ Ambassador

We are blessed to have Jim, a brother-in-Christ and a fellow-blogger, offer this guest post in our series Words of Life. He writes from the knowledge and experience of being a servant of our King; a pastor and an ambassador to other countries. You can find his blog here. Thank you, Jim ~ the Lord bless you and your ministry for Him.

*******************

Did you realize that if you are a Christian you are called by God to be an ambassador of Christ? What does that mean and what does God require of you if you are called to be His ambassador?

First, we must ask this question: What do we think about when we hear the word “Ambassador?” For many of us, we picture a man or a woman dressed in a dignified manner in a prestigious overseas assignment as a representative of one’s own country. We picture him/her being welcomed and even honored by those to whom they are sent. But is that what the Scripture and God have in mind when we are to be ambassadors of Christ? Ultimately we want to know what the word “ambassador” means as it appears in the Scriptures?

The best-known passage that talks about being an ambassador for Christ is 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. This is what it says in the New American Standard Bible:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Greek word for ambassador is a first-person plural form of πρεσβεύω. The verb πρεσβεύω appears only in one other place in the Bible: Ephesians 6:20:

for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

We will focus on 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 to see four characteristics of an ambassador of Christ so that we will faithfully represent Christ to others. However, when we look at the fourth characteristic, Ephesians 6:20 will come into play.

Characteristic #1: An ambassador is one who knows God well.
The point here is that if we are going to be ambassadors, we need to know God and know Him well. Recall 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ.” It is important to know what the leaders really want, otherwise, an ambassador might make a decision that is unfaithful and unwise for the country/state/leaders. Who do we represent as ambassadors? The passage says, “Christ.”

We must know Christ in various ways. Paul says that Christians are to know what the will of God is: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).  Specifically knowing God’s will involves knowing that “which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Notice here that knowing God will transform us. Where do we turn to know God’s will and also for that knowledge to transform us? The Bible!

We are not just to be familiar with rules of God but also to know Christ and what He has done: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). Did we catch that?  We are to know three things: “the power of His resurrection,” “the fellowship of His sufferings,” and “His death.” We also must get a taste of suffering if we are to have “the fellowship of His sufferings”

As an application: do we know God’s laws and rules? If not, how can we represent Him?

Ambassadors would read letters from the leader that sent him or her. Do we read regularly the Bible and vow to learn it more deeply so we know who we represent and what His will is for all circumstances?

A good ambassador who knows the will of the one who sent Him will also act with integrity so as not to undermine the character of the one who sent Him. How much more then, does our knowledge of God lead us to act in such a way that presents a good testimony to people around us?

Characteristic #2: An ambassador is someone who is sent for a purpose.
As an ambassador, we need to know our purpose.  Recall 2 Corinthians 5:20: “as though God were making an appeal through us…” There’s a challenge here: An ambassador is not just living for himself; he lives for his king. As Christians, our purpose is to live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!! 2 Corinthians 5:20 goes on to say “we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Yet with the challenge, there is also encouragement:  After identifying us as “ambassadors of Christ,” Paul speaks as if God is working through us when we make our appeal.  God is working through us as His ambassadors!  Let us be encouraged. He will help us if we rely on Him!

An ambassador might sometimes be in a country with which his own country does not get along. Dignity and honor might be shown to him from the other country. There may be temptations in that country to cause him to forget why he is there.

To drive the point home, we must ask ourselves these questions: Do we know our purpose in life? It is not enough just to know; are we living as representatives of God towards others? Do we desire a different purpose than what God has given us?  If this is the case, we are in sin. We must realize every other purpose in life would disappoint if it is not centered on God. Is God working through us? When we are making an appeal to others to come to know God, do we realize it is God working in us? This should encourage us?

Characteristic #3: An ambassador is one who is faithful.
Let us look at this portion of 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: “we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” An ambassador’s message is not one that he creates.  A good ambassador is measured by how faithful He is to the one who sent Him.  What is our message? The passage states the purpose of our message: “we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20b).  How we are reconciled with God is the Gospel!  “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This message tells us that we are sinners. This message tells us about Christ; that Christ is our substitute.

An ambassador is to please the one who sent Him and not those to whom he is sent; can you imagine if the country is an enemy of His country and the ambassador decides to change his message to make the enemy like it? This ambassador is not faithful; in fact, he has betrayed his country.  He is now an enemy by becoming friends of the enemies of his country.

Now, what about us? Are we faithful to the Bible’s message? Or do we try to remove the parts of the Bible we don’t like? Are we trying to be faithful or are we trying to be liked by others?

Characteristic #4: An ambassador is one who is willing to suffer.
As ambassadors, we must be willing to suffer. Remember Ephesians 6:20 states: “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” There is the real possibility of suffering as indicated by the mention of chains in the example of Paul’s life.

Some background information might be in order. There are two kinds of ambassadors. Here’s a summary:There are ambassadors (another Greek word is used here: Legati) sent from Rome to foreign nations and into the provinces.”[1]There are also ambassadors (Legati) “who accompanied the Roman generals into the field or the proconsuls and praetors into the provinces.”[2]

Here’s a description of the first kind of ambassador:

“Legati to foreign nations in the name of the Roman republic were always sent by the senate (Cic. c. Vatin. 15); and to be appointed to such a mission was considered a great honour which was conferred only on men of high rank or eminence; for a Roman ambassador, according to Dionysius, had the powers (ἐξουσία καὶ δύναμις) of a magistrate and the venerable character of a priest. If a Roman during the performance of his mission as ambassador died or was killed, his memory was honoured by the republic with a public sepulchre and a statue in the Rostra (Liv. IV.17; Cic. Philip. IX.2). The expenses during the journey of an ambassador were, of course, paid by the republic; and when he travelled through a province, the provincials had to supply him with

Here’s a description of the second type of ambassador:

“The persons appointed to this office were usually men of great military talents, and it was their duty to advise and assist their superior in all his undertakings, and to act in his stead both in civil and military affairs (Varro, de Ling. Lat. V.87, Müller). The legati were thus always men in whom the consul placed great confidence, and were frequently his friends or relations; but they had no power independent of the command of their general (Caes. de Bell. Civ. II.17, III.51; Appian, B. C. I.38). Their number varied according to the greatness or importance of the war,”

What kind of ambassador did Paul have in mind? ~ the second kind; those who are sent to dangerous places.

Paul said “we are ambassadors for Christ,” based on his life filled with hardship, danger, and suffering.  In 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 and 2 Corinthians 11, we see his suffering and trials. When Paul said “we are ambassadors for Christ” he included all who would bear the same sufferings.

I think the closest analogy today to the kind of ambassadors  Paul had in mind are military service members. I remember in Iraq working with a Marine officer who was in Civil Affairs. He’s a Marine still ~ and still armed. But he’s working with the people and the local leaders. He’s there in a spot too dangerous for civilians. We are that Marine, not the ambassador and staff in the luxury hotel of a safe capital socializing all night.

This changes the way we view our mission as ambassadors. Do we understand that we will suffer as a Christian, especially to the degree we represent him and share the Gospel? Are we presently suffering for the Lord in representing Him? We must search our hearts to see if we are compromising, fearing man, etc, and confess our sins to God. He will forgive us; and not only that, He will cleanse us in light of 1 John 1:9!

For any who may be suffering right now for the sake of our Lord, we pray that you find your comfort in Christ. Turn to Him and rest in Him! Abide in Him, commune with Him! Let Him comfort you!

(Gracious Father in heaven, we thank you for Jim, who serves you well as one of your ambassadors. We ask that you send your Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Convict, through the power of your Word, how and where we may be misrepresenting you. Show us your purpose for us as your children and your ambassadors. Open our eyes to see Christ and His sufferings on our behalf and move us to offer all that we are to know Him and to be where you want us to be. Thank you for sending your Son as your ambassador to a people held in bondage to sin to save us and bring us to yourself. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran)

[1]http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Legatus.html

[2]Ibid.