Category Archives: Worship

Just As I Am

Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Words by Charlotte Elliott, 1835
Music by William B. Bradbury, 1849


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28 – 30

For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Matthew 26:28

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:31 – 32


We all do it. We worry about what others are thinking of us. It is probably most obvious when we first meet that someone special. We begin to put on a new face. We suddenly express an interest in the things the other person likes. We begin to find out where their going to be and we adjust a schedule for “chance” encounter. We begin to change our behavior so the other person will accept us.

There is a flip side as well. A side where we see the person as so beyond us that we feel we can never be worthy of their affection. We feel that we could never even be near them or speak to them because of the fear of being rejected. This is the fear that dwells in each of us to enter the presence of God. And it should, for we are entering the presence of a Holy God. But this fear need not stand in His presence for God has called each of us from where we are. He has declared,”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We need not change before we can come before God. It is but the start of a journey and we may come exactly as we are. This is the message is Charlotte Elliot’s hymn, “Just as I Am.”

The hymn declares, “Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me. And that Thou bidst me come to Thee.” We do not need to be perfect to come before God. He came to call us from where we are. In Luke 5:31 – 32 “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” But how can we stand before a perfect and Holy God. It is only through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. It is through His shed blood that we are made acceptable in God’s sight. This is what Jesus declares at the last supper when he says, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) So he has called us to him, and all we need to do is respond.

So the hymn continues by describing the areas of darkness and trouble that we each come from. Elliott writes, “ though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without.” and “ poor, wretched, blind.” This is but a taste of where we each come from, unworthy of entering His presence. And yet, He bids us come.

We can not change to make ourselves to be worthy of entering His presence, but when we enter His presence He “wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.” He can change us to be worthy. So we come to Him, “Because (his) promise (we) believe.”

It does not matter where we have been, or what we have done. God is waiting for us to come to Him. He has opened the door with the blood of His Son, blood that can make us new. So we need not cower in fear of entering His presence, but can instead say, “O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

Read more about “Just As I Am.

Are You Washed In The Blood

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Words & Music by Elisha Hoffman, 1878

 


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them
John 7:38

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14


 

There is nothing more annoying that getting a stain on one of favorite pieces of clothing.  I can’t tell you how many shirts I have had that ended out with a permanent stain from an unfortunate drip. Now I have seen the commercials where they rub grass, blueberries and other such things into a piece of clothing to create horrible stains. Then they magically wash it with some astounding stain removing detergent and it looks as good as it did when it was new. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a detergent that can really work like that.  No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be some residual sign of the stain.

This is not unlike the stains that sin leaves upon our souls.  Stains that continually build up upon each other slowly darkening our soul.  And just like the stains in my shirt, there is nothing that we can do to make them like new.   Of course many options are pitched to us by the world – doing good works, getting an education, going to church – and while these are good things, no matter how much we do them, they can not make our soul clean like new. Thankfully, God has given us the only way to make our souls clean. It is through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. This is a theme found in Elisha Hoffman’s “Are You Washed In The Blood?”

It begins with the words, “Have you been to Jesus, for His cleansing flood? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” A cleansing flood.  The hymn starts from the truth that we are all stained with sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is this sin that stains our souls. But there is hope. In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Even though these sins have so stained our lives, our souls can be made clean by being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

This is an amazing realization, our souls can be made like new.  Our lives can be restored. When we come to embrace this, we need not fear the stains. So the hymn continues, “Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” The question is not if we have found perfection, or if we are capable of eliminating any future sins from our lives, but do we trust in Him. When we do stumble and fall, we can trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  We can trust that he will forgive us and make us clean.

So we look forward to the day when we will be made perfect. The day when we shall stand before Jesus. A day when we will “Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin.”  We shall then be clothed in the perfection of Christ. This is the day that John saw and described in Revelation 7:14 when he writes, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Through His blood, we are made clean and we are given a new source of life that will well up within us.  As the hymn writer says, “There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean.” This fountain is our source of life.  It is the fountain promised by Jesus in John 7:38 when He told us that “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

When we put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will overflow with living waters “welling up to eternal life.” When we put our trust in Jesus, we will be washed in His blood, being made new.  (John 4:14) If the eternal joy of being in Christ is what we truly seek, then we should each ask ourselves “Are (we) washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

 

 

Read more about “Are You Washed In The Blood?”

At Calvary

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my king,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Words by William R. Newell, 1895
Music by Daniel B. Towner

 


“‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.
Leviticus 4:13 – 14

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Ephesians 4:17 – 19


 

“I shouldn’t have been given a ticket for parking there.  I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.”  I spent many years working in university security and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard these words.  It was not their fault, because no one told them it was not allowed.  Sound like it makes sense, but we all know that it is not an excuse. It’s something we have probably been told since we were very young. Nicole Flatow puts it this way in the opening of her article about a recent supreme court decision at “Think Progress.”  She states;

“There is one simple concept that law students learn in their very first weeks of criminal law class: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle means that when an individual violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty.”

Whether you knew it is wrong, or not, it was still wrong. Taken further, the question is, if we do not know what we are doing is wrong, how can we ever expect to make amends.  The short answer is that we can not, but there is someone who can. This is the message of William Newell’s “At Calvary.”

The song summarize the ignorance that most of us live in far too easily.  An ignorance that many seem to revel in. After all, the old saying is “ignorance is bliss”.  So the hymn begins with the words, “Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.”

This is how we so want to live our lives . . . for ourselves.  We are nothing new in this capacity.  Jesus, when speaking of the end times uses this description in Matthew 24:37 – 39, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” In the days of Noah, people lived to meet their own pleasure, oblivious to the circumstances around them.

This life of seeking our own pleasures is an offense to God Himself. We must then come to accept these action that violate God’s law, even when done in ignorance must exact a consequence. Leviticus 4:13 – 14 tells us, “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.”

One might argue, “well that was Israel. God has revealed himself to them so of course they had no excuse.  Paul answers this objection when he says in Ephesians 4:17 – 19  “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Jew or gentile, it makes no difference.  The axiom remains true. Ignorance of the law is not excuse.

So we today easily find ourselves doing the same. We are all to often unaware that our behavior is self-indulgent, and an affront to a Holy God.  But as the hymn tells us, the truth has been made known if we will but listen.  It says “By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.”

When we realize the magnitude of our actions.  That we have lived a life seeking our own, mocking God, whether intentionally or unintentionally, at every turn, we can not help but quake with fear.  This is the Holy God, Creator of all and we have dishonored Him at every turn.  But thanks be, that we are given the way to make things right. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.

When we turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can experience the forgiveness of all sins, whether intentional or unintentional. This is the only means of making amends and God has given it to us freely.  This is why Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we accept this gift, we can know “salvation’s plan!” We can know “the grace that brought it down to man!” We can begin to comprehend “the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!”

No, ignorance is no excuse.  We remain guilty, even when we did not know what we were doing was wrong.  But praise God that He did not abandon us in our ignorance, but that provide a way to forgiveness that we might be restored to fellowship with Him. When we accept this we can join with all believers declaring, “There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.”

 

 

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Do This In Remembrance of Me

 

I am taking a brief aside from my hymn reflections to look at another aspect of worship. In this Lenten season we begin by looking at Christ as our example. We reflect on the fullness of His life. His struggles, His triumphs, His sorrows, His joys and most importantly His sacrifice. We look to Jesus as not only our Savior, but our example of living a life in service to the Father. We follow His lead in the examples He set, in the parables He told, in His teaching and in the commands he gave. I want to look specifically at something in this last category.

Communion, The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist, The Bread and The Wine. What ever term you use for it, as Christians, we are called to partake of it. The words of Jesus echo down through the ages. “Do this in remembrance of me.” This is the command that Jesus gave us, a command with a deeper meaning. It is not like the slogan of Nike, “Just Do It.” which carries not reason or meaning other than enjoying yourself. This call has real meaning. There is a reason we are to partake. Jesus said, “Do this . . . in remembrance of me.”

We find the account of the Lords supper in Luke 22 and then find Paul recounting the events with further explanation in 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Luke 22:7 – 20

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32

In Remembrance of Me

Now I realize that we could get caught up here in a debate on the substance of the Lord’s Supper, but the final conclusion will be that people hold many different position from Transubstantiation to Memorial. But from whichever belief you come, as believers we are to take part in The Lord’s Supper with remembrance of Christ.

We remember that He was born into this world in human flesh. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” This is of utmost importance, for the manger and the cross are intrinsically linked. Remove one and the other becomes meaningless. You can find more of this in the article, The Real Meaning of Christmas.

We remember that while he was born fully man, He was still fully God. John 1:1 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He was Emanuel, God with us. Not a God who remained distant from us, but a God who dwelt among us. He walked among us that He might know us and we might know Him.

We remember that he faced the very temptation we face in this life. Temptations to meet physical desires, to meet the lust of the eyes and the desire to elevate our selves above God. Yet the scriptures tell us in Hebrews 4:15 that He was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.”

We remember that he came to “give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He paid the penalty for our sins when He hung upon the cross, His body broken, His blood shed so we might not know death.

We remember that He rose triumphant from the grave so that we need not fear death. He opened the door to eternal life. This is why 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 22 tells us, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

We remember that Through Christ, we have become joint heirs with Him. We have become children of God. That we may stand before God not in trembling fear of judgement, boldly as children before a loving Father. So Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

A Word of Warning

When we come before the Lord’s table our attitude should be one of remembrance and reflection. For while we remember Christ in all of these ways, we reflect on our lives. Have we remembered to give Christ the recognition He is due? Have we confessed the sin in our lives? Have we sought to live our lives Honoring Him? Have we surrendered our lives to follow Him?

These are the questions that we must ask of ourselves as we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Supper, for Paul has warned us in 1 Corinthians 11:28 – 29 that “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” When we fail to properly prepare for the Lord’s Supper and when we fail to remember the real reason that we partake of the Lord’s supper, we make it meaningless. We take the incredible sacrifice that the Lord has given and make a mockery of it. This is the judgement Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11:29. For we have forgotten that Jesus gave everything for us.

So, as we go through this Lenten Season may we be reminded of this truth. May we prepare each day to come before the Lord’s Table. May we remember Jesus and what He has done for us. Let us truly partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him.

Power In The Blood

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Words and Music by Lewis E. Jones, 1899

 


I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14

There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.
Psalm 38:3 – 4

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psalm 104:33


 

People have searched for it since the beginning of time. Many have spent their entire lives trying to gain it.  They have schemed, plotted and even murdered to find it.  They are looking for control and influence over others. They are looking for power. But this power is simply a cheap imitation of true power.  A fleeting reflection.  For A king can be overthrown.  So, if this is not real power, then what is true power? According to Webster’s, it is the ability to produce an effect. This is the power described in Lewis Jones’ hymn, “There’s Power in the Blood.”

This is power that can effect true change. Power that can redeem those enslaved to sin and bring home the lost. Power that can give new life and make us children of God. Revelation 7:14 gives a picture of this power when it says, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is this power that can make us “free from the burden of sin.” A burden we can not bear on our own. A truth presented in psalm 38:3 – 4 which tells us, “For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.”

It is a power that can give us victory. A victory presented in 1 Corinthians 15:57 which tells us “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is power that can cleanse the most unclean. As 1 John 1:7 tells us, “the blood of Jesus . . . purifies us from all sin.”

It is power that take the darkened sinful heart and make it “much whiter than snow”. This is what Isaiah 1:18 tells us when it says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow

This is real power.  Power that does not control us, but changes us.  Power that opens the door to God.  Power that is found only in the in His Son Jesus Christ.  Kings may rule, Presidents may direct, but their power will fade and leave them. Only the true power remains.

So as we close out, let us cry out His daily praise “I will sing to the LORD all my life.” This is our highest calling. To praise God for all He is. To worshp Him at all times. Psalm 104:33 tells us that “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

True power is in the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is power that can effect our entire person.  It is power that can make us new. It is power that can save out souls. It is in reaction to this power that I declare, “There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r In the blood of the Lamb; There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r In the precious blood of the Lamb”.

 

 

Read more about, “Power In The Blood.”

 

 

Beneath The Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was giv’n,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to Heav’n.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide;
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Words by Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868
Music by Frederick C. Maker, 1881

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Isaiah 32:1 – 2

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:12

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7

“I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
Job 40:4

It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
Ephesians 5:12

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelations 22:4 – 5


I am not a fan of hot weather. My ideal temperature is in the mid-seventies. Yet I chose to spend a week with the Boy Scouts living on an island off the coast of the Florida Keys. Mid-seventies is what we were lucky to reach by morning. Needless to say, when the sun was high over head, it was well above my comfort zone. Thankfully our camp was set just within the tree line where there was shade from the hottest heat of the sun and a gentle breeze could be enjoyed. If it were not for the shelter from the sun, I do not know that I could have survived the week. This is the image which is drawn for us in Elizabeth Clephane’s hymn, “Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.”

The imagery of the break from the burning sun is presented starting in the first verse where it says, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand, The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way, From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.”

As we begin to look more closely, we see the meaning behind the picture. It is the cross, which is our shelter. Described as “a mighty rock within a weary land.” The cross becomes our place of refuge from the trial of this world. This image draws our minds to Isaiah 32:1 – 2 were we read, “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” This image is tied to the Great King, Jesus himself who hung upon that very cross.

The hymn continues by describing it as “O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet.” It then begins to change the image from that of a place of shelter, to seeing the cross as the way to God. It is a “place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!” It bridges the gap that separated us from God, bringing together His justice and mercy. Just like the stairway seen in the dream by Jacob in Genesis 28:12, the cross is seen as the direct pathway to God.

But how can a cross be the way to God? Clephane reminds us that it was the sacrifice upon the Cross that makes the difference. A reminder that should come to us as we see the cross, for “Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see, The very dying form of One who suffered there for me.” It was Christ death upon the cross that opened the way to God. His death, in our place. This is a wonder beyond our understanding, and so the hymn writer says, “And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess; The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.”

It is the wonder of God’s redeeming love that opens the door for us to know him. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We have been forgiven of all our sins. The things that separated us from God have been erased that we might stand before him. He extends to us a love that we do not deserve. We are unworthy of His gift. Job understood this in chapter 40:4 when he declared “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” So the wonder of our unworthiness should remind us of the extend of God’s redeeming love.

The cross is our shelter and our bridge. It protects us from the trials of this world and opens the door to eternal life. It will lead us into the presence of God, that we may look upon His face. His face is the only sunshine we will need for all eternity. (Revelation 22:4 – 5)

Yes, when we find ourselves standing beneath the Cross of Jesus, we find ourselves looking at the bridge to God. This item of shame to the world upon which criminals died, is to us a thing of glory. So in the company of Paul in Galatians 6:14, who said, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I join in the words of the hymn declaring, “My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.”

Read more about “Beneath The Cross of Jesus.”

How Deep The Father’s Love

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Words & Music by Stuart Townend, 1995

 


God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Matthew 27:46

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4 – 5

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Matthew 27:39 – 43

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galations 6:14

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45


 

 

Do you have one of those things in your life that you wish you could do over? Things you have said, that you wish you could take back? Times you feel you have completely disappointed someone who means the world to you?

I remember a time when I was in fourth grade we had organized flag football games during our noon recess. Parents and others would come to watch the games. It was a pretty big deal. Well one day, it was my teams turn to play. I, however, did not feel like playing that day and instead chose to spend the time inside at the “Learning Center” with a friend. Now one could argue that I let my teammates down by not showing up, but that was nothing when compared to what I felt when I got home. I learned that’s my parents had gone out of their way to see me play in the game. My mom had interrupted her work at home to come in and my dad had given up his lunch hour from work. I felt terrible that I had disappointed them. They have probably forgotten it, but 35 years later, I still remember.

As much as I felt I had let them down, that is nothing, when compared to how we feel when we honestly look at how we have failed to live up to what God deserves and what Jesus went through to reconcile us with Him. This thought permeates through Stuart Townen’s hymn, “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.”

The hymn begins “How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure.”

John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is simply unimaginable that God could love us so much that He would give His son, His only son, and for us . . . for me.

But not only did He give us his son, He put our sin upon him. Sin so great that the Father could not look upon Him and then turned away. The hymn continues “How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away, As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory.” It reflects the words of Jesus found in Matthew 27:46 where we read “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”

And so the Father turned away from the Son as He hung upon the cross carrying the burden of my sin. It fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 54:3 which says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering.” So the hymn continues, “Behold the Man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders.” And if it were to end there I would be amazed, yet it goes on. For his carrying my burden is something I did not deserve. I am as guilty as anyone of not truly realizing who He is. Townend writes, “Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, Call out among the scoffers” I might as well have been there. Surely I would have been no different than the people described in Matthew 27:39 – 43, “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying . . . “save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’”

Yes, as the hymn says, “It was my sin that held Him there, Until it was accomplished.” Everything that I have done shows that I do not deserve what He has given me. It is my nature to turn from him and instead trust my own ability. For this, I am ashamed. But, despite my failing,He will not abandon me. For with “His dying breath (He) has brought me life, I know that it is finished.”

He gave everything that we might be restored to Him, despite our failings. In light of this truth, I am embarrassed and ashamed of all I have done. So the hymn continues, “I will not boast in anything (I have done), No gifts, no power, no wisdom.” Instead there is only one thing I can boast in, “I will boast in Jesus Christ,His death and resurrection.” This is the message of Paul in Galations 6:14 when he says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Yes, there are things for which I am ashamed. There are thing I wish I could take back. Things that make me question, “Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer.” But these do not matter. The minute I put my faith in him, He forgave me. So I can say, “But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.”

 

 

Read more about “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.”

There Is A Redeemer

There is a Redeemer,
Jesus, God’s own Son;
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

Jesus, my Redeemer,
name above all names,
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
hope for sinners slain.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

When I stand in glory
I will see his face;
there I’ll serve my King forever
in that holy place.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

Words and Music by Melody Green, 1982

 


I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
Job 19:25

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:15

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31

This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
Isaiah 48:17

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9 – 11

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Revelation 22:4


 

As we enter the Lenten season we begin to prepare ourselves for the remembrance of Holy Week and the joyous celebration of Easter. With this in mind I want to take these weeks to reflect on the incredible gift that God has given us through his sacrifice and resurrection. The gift of redemption, for those who have put their faith in Christ have a Redeemer. We are reminded of this in the simple, and beautiful words of “There is a Redeemer.”

The words begin by reflecting on different titles for Jesus. The first verse reads “There is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son; precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One.” When we look at each of these titles, we begin to have revealed a full picture of our Savior.

We have a “Redeemer”, the one who paid the price we owed and restores us to fellowship with God. Job, who had everything taken from him, could stand and say in chapter 19, verse 25, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”

“Jesus”, the name we know the Savior by, is in fact the Greek form of the name Joshua (Yeshua) meaning Salvation. This is why the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

It continues with the words, “God’s own Son”. Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 tells us that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”

Next we find the title, “Lamb of God.” A direct reference to the sacrificial system for making atonement for sin. In John 1:29 we read the words proclaimed by the John the Baptist when he “saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins in our lives.

“Messiah” and its Greek counterpart, Christ, refer to the prophesied deliverer of Israel. The anointed one of God. Jesus is the prophesied deliverer. John 20:31 tells us,“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

He is the “ Holy One”, the one who is set apart. Isaiah 48:17 tells us, “This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” God Himself is the Holy One.

Each of these titles carries great weight and meaning. Each tells us of the characteristics of Jesus. When we take time to understand these titles we come to a profound understanding that He has a “name above all names.” A truth that is shared by Paul in Philippians 2:9 – 11 which says, “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Yes, He is the “Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son; precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One.” For these reasons and so many more, He is not simply someone to be praise, He is “hope for sinners.” A hope that is founded in His great sacrifice, for he was “slain” that we might live. This is the message of Romans 5:8 which tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is this hope that we can stand in. We can know that we “will see his face” and that we will “serve (our) King forever in that holy place.” A promise to all who believe. As the Bible comes to a close in Revelation 22 we read in verse 4 that, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

God has given us hope. Hope that is not based in wishful thinking, but in the truth the Jesus is our redeemer. And in a final thought we are reminded that through all of this, we are not left alone. The Holy Spirit dwells within those who have put their trust in Jesus. So we join with other expressing the feeling in our hearts, “Thank you, O my Father, for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done.”

 

 

Read more about “There is a Redeemer.”

Come, Thou Almighty King

Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy name to sing, help us to praise!
Father all glorious, o’er all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

Jesus, our Lord, arise,
Scatter our enemies, and make them fall;
Let Thine almighty aid our sure defense be made,
Our souls on Thee be stayed; Lord, hear our call.

Come, Thou incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour.
Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart,
And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!

To Thee, great One in Three,
Eternal praises be, hence, evermore.
Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see,
And to eternity love and adore!

Words by Anonymous, though some records credited it to Charles Wesley
Music by Felice de Giardini, 1769

 


He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelations 22:20

As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
Daniel 7:9

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song. May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
Psalm 68:1

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me.
John 15:26

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:19


 

We have all been invited to parties or held parties that we invited people to attend.  More often than not, these are just general get togethers, but sometimes they are held for a special occasion. It might be a birthday, a graduation or just to honor a specific person.

I remember many years ago when we hosted a celebration for my parents 25 wedding anniversary.  We planned for the activities, who would speak, and the special music.  We planned a location and a menu, which we then spent many hours preparing. We sent out invitations to friends and family to join us.  Most importantly we made sure the guests of honor would be there.  We asked our parents to do us the honor of joining us in this time of celebration to honor them. It is this type of invitation that is given in the hymn, “Come, Thou Almighty King.”

The hymn begins with those very words, “Come, Thou Almighty King.”  It is the cry of the heart for all those who know him, for our truest desire is to be in his presence.  It is a desire that is reflected in the closing words of the Bible itself. In Revelation 22:20 John writes, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

He is the guest of honor, who we seek to praise and worship.  We want to give him the honor that he deserves, honor that we feel is more than we can give.  So we ask Him to “Help us Thy name to sing, help us to praise!” For he is our Father all glorious” who is “o’er all victorious.” He is our rightful King, to whom we submit and call for him to “Come and reign over us” because He is the “Ancient of Days!” spoken of by Daniel in chapter 7 verse 9 when he writes, “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.”

The hymn continues, “Jesus, our Lord, arise, Scatter our enemies, and make them fall.” And so our call is not just our desire to praise and worship him, but to find peace and security. Psalm 68:1 says, “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.” In this world we face many dangers and adversaries, but we can trust in the truth that the enemy will scatter in the presence of God.  So we can know that if we remain strong in Him we can know peace as Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” It is in this truth that the hymn writer declares, “Let Thine almighty aid our sure defense be made, Our souls on Thee be stayed; Lord, hear our call.”

The hymn continues to call out to God as it reads, “Come, Thou incarnate Word.” And so we are reminded that the God ee call to has come to us.  He came to us as described in John 1:14 where we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Emmanuel, God with us.  So as we reflect back that God did come to us, we look forward to a day when He will return.  He will “Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success.

But as we remember that He did come and we look forward to His coming again, we are reminded that He has not left us alone.  The hymn calls out, “Come, holy Comforter.” Jesus promised that he would send a comforter, an advocate, a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit.  In John 15:26 Jesus says, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me.” An so the hymn continues, “Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour. Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart, And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!” The Holy Spirit stands as a witness, to Jesus and the Father.  He dwells within” the heart of the believer and will never abandon them.

So the call has rung out, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit would come to us.  So the hymn writer concludes by writing, “To Thee, great One in Three.” The recognition that all three person’s of the Godhead are worthy of our praise. That the Godhead, three in one, watches overs us, protects us and comforts us. For we have been called, as presented in Matthew 28:19, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The desire of our soul, is to be in the presence of God. Our hope is to know the peace and comfort that come only from His presence.  When we honestly cry out from our heart, we will join in and sing, “Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see, And to eternity love and adore!

 

 

 

Read more about “Come, Thou Almighty King.”

Love Lifted Me

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessèd presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

Words by James Rowe, 1912
Music by Howard E. Smith

 


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies,we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8 – 11

The boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:24 – 32

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23 – 24

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40 :1 – 3


 

Valentines Day! It is that one day a year we set aside to show our love for others.  After all, nothing says I love you like a card, or flowers, or a box of chocolates. But do flowers and a card really demonstrate love? Is a true demonstration of love something that can be kept in a box or pressed in a book or is a demonstration of love something more?

Think about it. When you truly love someone, what is involved? It begins to impact your whole life.  All of your actions take them into consideration.  You want to do whatever you can to have a real impact on their lives. Love like this is lived everyday. It does not simply remind people that they are loved. A true demonstration of love does not require a reminder, because it is clearly evident in actions and the impact on the lives of others.  This is the love described in James Rowe’s hymn, “Love Lifted Me.”

You see, love is not something that can be shown only now and then.  When I truly love someone it is demonstrated in all that I do.  I go out of my way to be involved in their lives.  When someone genuinely demonstrates their love for me, it effects my very life. It changes the direction I am heading. This is the love demonstrated by God.  As Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is a demonstration of love.  One who gave it all, and so changed the course of our lives.

The first verse of the hymns says, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more, But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.” The image is taken from Matthew 14 where we find the account of Jesus walking on the water. When Peter calls out to Jesus saying, “If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus does, Peter steps out onto the water to walk toward Jesus. But as he becomes distracted by wind and waves around him, he begins to sink and then to cry out for help.  Jesus then reaches out, takes him by the hand and lifts him to safety. Jesus looks at him and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Yet despite the doubt that Peter felt, Jesus’ love shines through as he lifts his disciple and friend to safety.

There are things around us that can and will distract us from seeing the love God has for us.  But God’s “love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) It is always there for us.  If we look, each day we can see it demonstrated.  And so we are compelled to respond His love.  The second verse of the hymn, presents our response, “All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling. In His blessèd presence live, ever His praises sing. Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs. Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.” We respond to His incredible demonstration of love by living in His presence, by giving Him the praise and honor due His name and by serving Him in our lives.  A love that is lived out by serving Jesus in all that we do. This is what Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:23 – 24 when he writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

So the hymn reminds us in the third verse that God is there to lift us up.  Here we read “Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves, He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves. He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey, He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.” Yes God’s love is clearly demonstrated to us, if we will take the time to look.  When we face sorrows and struggles we can turn to God to lift us up.  Psalm 40:1 – 3 tells us “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” So when we turn to God, and embrace the love he extends to us we can sing with our hearts, “Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help Love lifted me!”

 

 

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