Tag Archives: glory

Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Words and Music by George Bennard, 1913

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
John 19:17 – 18

he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

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!
Romans 5:10

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

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:10

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17

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


When I was very young, before I can even remember, I was given a little blue teddy bear. It is something that, to my memory, I always had. I called him Boo Bear. (The attempt of a small child to say Blue.) A name he retained even after I had learned to say it properly. I kept him with me all the time. He was one of those things that was so loved that he eventually lost most of his fur. At one point, when I was a little older, I stitched new eyes on him, though I honestly do not remember his original eyes.

It has been a long time since I was a small child. But even today, if look on the top shelf of bookshelf, there he sits. Something that I cherish. Despite the wear and tear that is evident when you look at him, he is still something special. I know I am not alone in cherishing something so dear from my childhood. But imagine having this same cherished connection with something that is despised by everyone. Something that represents torture, suffering, shame and even death. How could someone have such cherished thoughts of something like this. Yet as Christians, we find ourselves right there. The most brutal form of execution devised by man is cherished by those whom it has touched. This is the message of George Bennard’s “Old Rugged Cross.”

The hymn begins, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.” It is a poetic description of the events some two thousand years ago. The events described in John 19. As we look at verses 17 – 18 we read, “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” They crucified him. This was the very purpose of the cross. Something we so easily forget today as we see people wear it for jewelry or when we look upon the beautifully designed cross hanging at the front of the church.

We don’t stop to remember that this cross was perhaps the ugliest thing imaginable to the eyes of the people of that day. It was used for the execution of criminals. Philippians 2:8 tells us that he “died a criminal’s death on a cross.” So how can we cherish this thing? How can it be so dear to our hearts?

The hymn continues, “O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me.” And it does have an attraction that is great, an attraction that pulls us to the one who died upon it. For as Romans 5:10 tells us, “. . . while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. . . ” You see, it is not the cross itself, but was accomplished upon that cross that draws us to it. “For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary.” Christ himself, came to earth ”to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Yes, “’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.” It is in his death that I find forgiveness. It is through his blood that I am sanctified and made holy. Hebrews 10:10 tells us, “. . . we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. . .”

So this cross, which should be despised, becomes cherished. It is not something we run from, but it becomes the representation of what we hold most dear. This is why Bennard writes, “To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear, Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.” This is what we are told in Romans 8:17 where we read, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Through His death and resurrection, we receive new life and will dwell with him forever.

So the cross, for all its dark and loathsome meaning, has become our sign of hope. Hope as we look forward to the day that we will receive the crown of glory that He has promised to all who believe. It is in the cross alone that we can boast of our salvation. (Galatians 6:14) So it this hope that we hold on to and join with others declaring “I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”

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Praise Him! Praise Him!

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honor give to His holy Name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
In His arms He carries them all day long:

Praise Him! Praise Him!
Tell of His excellent greatness.
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Ever in joyful song!

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.

Praise Him! Praise Him!
Tell of His excellent greatness.
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Ever in joyful song!

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring!
Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever.
Crown Him! Crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King!
Christ is coming! over the world victorious,
Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong.

Praise Him! Praise Him!
Tell of His excellent greatness.
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Ever in joyful song!

Words by Fanny Crosby, 1869
Music by Chester G. Allen,

 


Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
Psalm 96:8

Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150:5 – 6

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!
Psalm 138:1 – 3

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


 

“Let me tell you about this amazing person I just met. He can do anything. From the first time I met I him I was astounded at the places he had been and the things he had done. I can’t imagine anyone having done more things in this world. And despite all of this, he is quite likely the nicest person I have ever met. . . “

This may seem a bit over the top, but have you ever met someone who so impressed you, that you had to tell everyone about them. You simply were driven to sing his praises. This is the driving force behind Fanny Crosby’s, “Praise Him, Praise Him.”

In the hymn we see that it is Jesus of whom we are driven to sing praises. A message that echoes the message of scripture. Over and over again, we are told to praise God. In Psalm 29:2 we are told to “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” In Psalm 96:8 we read “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.” And again in Psalm 150:5 – 6 we are told to “Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”

It is clear that we are instructed in scripture to sing our praises of and to God. This call then goes beyond us to all of creation. Crosby reminds us of this when she writes, “Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory.” This echoes the words of Psalm 138:2, “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!”

So Crosby reminds us that we are called to “Praise Him.” But she does not simply leave it at that. Rather she drives home the truth that He is worthy of the praise we give. She writes “For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died. He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation, Hail Him! Hail Him! Jesus the Crucified. Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows, Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.”

This is the God we are called to praise. And when we stop to realize who He is, when we stop to see what He has done, praising Him is not something we need to be told to do, it is something we feel compelled to do. Crosby gives us an amazing list of why to praise Him, but it is far from exhaustive. So when we find our focus on all of these reasons, to give Him praise is the least we can do in response.

And the hymn does not stop there. Not only are we called to praise Him because of who He is, not only are we called to praise Him because of what He has done, but Crosby reminds us that we are called to praise Him because of what He is yet to do. The hymn continues, “Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever; Crown Him! Crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King! Christ is coming! over the world victorious.”

As we look to the future we can know the end. He is the prophet, priest, and king. He will reign forever and ever for He is victorious over the world. If this is not enough, he provides us with the way to victory as well. Despite the troubles we face in this world, when we put our faith in Him we will know the victory over this world that is found only in Him. A victory of which Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:57 when he writes, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Yes, scripture instructs us to praise Him. But when we begin to sing His praise and to realize what we have to praise Him for, we can not keep it to ourselves. We will want everyone to know of Him. So we go out to the world to “Tell of His excellent greatness.”

 

 

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When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

Words and Music by James M Black, 1893

 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 18

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Matthew 24:30 – 31

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – 57

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23


 

 

The practice of using a trumpet or bugle to communicate to large groups or over a distance, especially when it comes to military application, traces its history back to ancient times.  One clear example is that God commanded Israel to use trumpets when they marched around Jericho in Joshua 6.  Trumpets were used to announce celebration of victory, to sound an attack  and to signal a retreat.  As the use continued and developed they began to us it to signal the start of the morning, the roll call and the end of the day in military camps.  Traditionally in an american military setting “Taps” signaled the end of the day and “Reveille” signaled the start of the day and roll call. This is the image that James Black draws upon in his hymn, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.”

Black writes, “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more.”  The Trumpet is used as a signal of the end times in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where we read, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”  The blast of the trumpet signals something is happening.  In this case, the apostle Paul is speaking of a day all Christians await.  The day Jesus will fulfill the promise of Acts 1:10 – 11 and return.

The hymn continues “When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” This time Black draws our minds to a second passage that references the sound of the trumpet signalling the end of time.  In Matthew 24:31 we read, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The hymn continues by saying, “On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise, And the glory of His resurrection share; When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies.”  Again, we are brought back to the 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 17 where Paul tells us, “and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” The glorious news is there.  Death has no final power over those who believe in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55) For as Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In light of this truth, the hymn declares what our response should be.  It says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care.” If the gift of God is eternal life, if we can know with confidence that we will one day share in his glorious resurrection, then our response can be nothing else.  We are compelled to give our all for Him knowing what we have been given.  “Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done, And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

 

 

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I Love To Tell The Story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

Words by A. Katherine Hankey, 1866
Music by William G. Fischer, 1869

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:1- 3

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:12 – 13

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Psalm 28:18 – 20

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6 – 8

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9


Everyone loves to tell stories, some more than others. Just ask any fisherman. Stories allow us to communicate things to others in a way that is interesting and exciting.  In our stories, we can emphasize what we think is important and minimize items we feel take away from our point. Some stories are of course completely made up, but other are accounts of real events.  Whatever the story, when it is told well, listeners can be transported to the time and place of the events as if they are actually there when it is happening.

Now I never claimed to be a great story-teller, but I have friends who can have you hooked from the first word out of their mouth.  Ultimately, however, the biggest components of a good story is the commitment of the story-teller and  the attention of the listeners. Katherine Hankey drew on these and the theme that runs through her hymn, “I Love To Tell The Story.”

The story that the hymn writer loves to tell is one that has been told time and time again.  It has been called, “Th Greatest Story Every Told.”  Hankey describes it as the story of “unseen things above.”  Seems a little strange at first.  How can you tell the story of unseen things?  She clarifies further that she is speaking “Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.” How do we tell the story of Jesus glory and love?  We tell it from what has been told us and from our own personal experience.  I can tell you of the Mansions awaiting believers in Glory, because Jesus himself told of them in John 14:1-3.  I can speak of His love because I have experienced it first hand, for John 15:12 say, “Love each other as I have loved you.”

The hymn writer next hits the most important point of the entire story, the reason we love to tell the story. She writes, “I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true.” There are lots of stories that we can tell.  From the time we are little children we hear hundred, even thousands of them, but when the story told is true it changes the impact.  All the more so, when the story-teller is a direct participant of the story. So it is with those who have come to know Christ as their personal savior.  It is more than simply a nice story.  It is something that comes from their heart.  It is something that they can not keep inside.  This is why the hymn continues, “It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.”

So we are driven to share a story that is more than simple words. It is a story that becomes everything to us. It is a story of which the hymn describes as, “more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.” There is no story that stands in comparison with this true story that has touched our very lives. And so we repeat again and again the story which “seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.”

Hankey next hits a point that while she shares from her own desire, it echoes the command of Christ who told us in Matthew 28:18 – 20 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The hymn says, “for some have never heard The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.” So we share the message they have not heard out of love and obedience to Christ.

We share whar it truly the greatest story every told for the Bible tells us that God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) It also tells us that “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Finally, lest we forget, like any dearly loved story people who know it, love to hear it again and again. So the hymn continues by saying, “I love to tell the story, for those who know it best, Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” The story is so beautiful, so incredible, we can not hear it enough.  Again and again we are drawn in to the story of Jesus love for us.

The song echoes in the heart of everyone who knows Christ personally. So just as we sing it heartily today, so we shall again and again for all eternity.  Therefore, let us begin today by declaring to the world, “I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”

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Born That Man No More May Die

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Words by Charles Wesley, 1739
Music by Felix Mendelsshon, 1840

 


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:8 – 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
John 17:24

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:3, 16


 

Have you ever noticed how quickly the news of a babies birth can spread. It seems that everyone wants to be the person to deliver the message. And why not? Look at the reaction that people have to the news. There is such joy and excitement in the faces of the people as they hear the news. The overwhelming desire to share the news of a newborn babe is what lies behind the song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Based on the declaration of the angels in Luke 2:8 – 14, Charles Wesley presents us with the picture of those who must share the birth of no mere child but the birth of a King. He writes, “Christ, by highest Heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord.” This child, this King that is adored by the angels themselves is none other than “Christ, the everlasting Lord.” He is the eternal God who existed before the world. (John 1:1, 17:24)

The excitement of this news can not be contained. The world waited so long for his birth. 700 years earlier the Prophet Isaiah had predicted His coming when he said in Isaiah 7:14, “The Lord will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” It is a sign to the world that this is no ordinary child, He is “the incarnate deity”, God made flesh. He is Immanuel, God with us.

But the joy of the news continues to grow for He was “Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” This draws us to the truth found in John chapter 3.  Verse 16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is through belief in Christ alone that we can find eternal life.  Through him we need no longer fear death. This is the “second birth” we find described in John 3:3 where “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”

This is the message the angels declared to the shepherds, “God and sinners reconciled!” This is the message that continues to ring through the ages.  God himself was born of a virgin.  He came that we might believe in him and know eternal life. So just as the angels were compelled to share the news, may we too share it with the world and joyously declare, “Glory to the newborn King!”

 

 

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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Words and Music by Helen H. Lemmuel, 1922

 


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1 – 2

“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

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5

For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24 – 25


 

I always hate showing up to the movie theater after things have started. First, because it means I missed the previews, and sometimes those are the best part of the movie. Of course, when this is the case, I feel like I wasted my money on the movie.

The other reason is trying to find somewhere to sit. This problem doesn’t necessarily have to do with how full the theater is, but trying to see in the darkness. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. You come in from the lights of the hallway, and can’t see anything in the room. You then have to stand there a couple of minutes while your eyes adjust and you can see where there are seats available.

The longer you remain in the room, your eyes continue to adjust until you can see around the room without any problems. But if you step back into the hallway your eyes focus on the light and again everything else fades into darkness. This is the image that Helen Lemmuel draws upon in her hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

Lemmuel writes, “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?” The words draw our minds to Jesus words in Matthew 11:28 where He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

“All you who are weary and burdened”. If we are completely honest, we have to admit, that anyone who has spent time in the world, is weary and worn down.

But there is hope in this weary world. The hymn goes on, “There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!” When we turn our eyes on Christ there is hope that can free us from the weariness of this world. This is why John writes, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

And thank God that He has not abandoned to be on our own. Yes, He has given us a light in the darkness. And the light is found in his Word, which is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105)

We can then rest in the truth that “His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well.” As 1 Peter 1:25 has told us, “But the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Yes, as weary as we are, as alone as we may feel, there is hope in the darkness that surrounds us. So when we turn our eyes on Jesus and “look full in His wonderful face,” then we will see that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

 

 

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Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Words by Fanny Crosby, 1873
Music by Phoebe Knapp, 1873

 


Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:19 – 23

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,“Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:12 – 17

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Romans 8:33 – 34


 

Do you remember what it is like when you try something new for the first time? Hopefully we are all trying new things and stretching ourselves as much as we can. But maybe it will help to think back to when we were young, after all everything was new then. One of those new big things that almost all of us has expereinced is driving.
This is fresh in my mind not from having learnef to drive, but having an 18 year old son who has recently gone through it and a 14 year old son who is about to. It’s nerve racking from both sides without a doubt. But I came to realize that the best thing I could do was not simply correct their mistakes, but to affirm what they do right and reassure them that they can do it.

You see, when we are trying hard and simply keep struggling we can quickly become discouraged and see no hope. But when we have someone come along side of us, place their hand on our should and tell us, “It’s okay, you are not alone. You can do this, just give it another try.” we find the strength to go on. That assurance can mean everything.

This is the message that Fanny Crosby relates to us in her hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” We all know how hard this life is. Every day the struggles can seem to get worse. Sometimes we don’t know how we are going to go on. Now your probably expecting me to say that Jesus is the answer. Well, He is, but I am not simply saying “let go, let God.” Even as believers there are times that we can become so burdened down that we loose sight of God, and “sound bite” answers simply do not give us assurance.

So how do we find that assurance that can so easily evade us? How do we remind ourselves that God is there? The answer is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

When we turn to Hebrews 10 verses 19 we are reminded that “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.” You see one of the barriers that stands in our way is that we do not turn to God because we are so distracted by our struggles, and often because we feel unworthy to come before Him. But we are reminded that we may enter His presence with confidence.

We are children of God who can come to our father. Romans 8:15 – 17 tells us, ” the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,’Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”

Chapter 8 continues to tell us in verse 33 – 34 that if we an then children of God, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

No, as hard as the struggles we face are, we are not alone. Christ interceded for us. We as little children may come before our
Father and He will hear us. When we are reminded of this, that we may “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.” (Hebrew 10:22)

God has given us that needed reassurance in His Word. Now that We indeed have this assurance, we can join with the words of Fanny Crosby declaring, “Pefect submission, all is at rest. I in my savior, am happy and blest.”

 

 

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Forbid It, Lord, That I Should Boast

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Words by Isaac Watts, 1707
Music by Lowell Mason, 1824

 


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
1 Corinthians 6:14

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7 – 11

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:1 – 5


 

We always want to encourage children in their efforts. We want them to grow to have confidence in what they do. I know I received this encouragement. But as I got older I remember this beginning to sink in differently. I began to transition from confidence in what I was doing to pride in what I had done. And what was wrong with that? I had accomplished something significant, why shouldn’t I be proud? But before long I found myself seeing “my” accomplishment as deserving to be praised. In fact, I simply expected it.

Now, I know I am not alone in this. Most of us have been there. For some, it is one particular thing that they are indeed accomplished at for which people praise them. For others, they have simply come to believe they are good at everything, and they may be. It is this pride in our accomplishment, however, that can become our greatest barrier to knowing Christ and accepting His gift of salvation.

This is the theme of”When I survey.” Isaac Watts realized it over three-hundred years ago, and it is the same today. Our nature is to look inward, and see ourselves and our accomplishment. But we need to stop, and change our focus from inward, to Christ. When we do this, our perspective on our accomplishments will change. Watts writes, “When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.”

This is what Paul is telling us in Philippians 3:7 – 9 when he says, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

As much as I may have learned to be proud of my accomplishments, and sometimes for valid reasons, when I compare them to the actions of Christ they are meaningless. In fact, it is contemptuous for me to even compare them to Christ sacrifice. It is for this reason that Watts goes on to write, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God!”

For all I have accomplished the only thing that should be praised, is the sacrifice Christ made for me and all who believe. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” No matter how great, how big, how significant of things I have accomplished, they are nothing compared to Christ sacrifice on the Cross. A sacrifice that has reconciled us with God. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) It is for this reason that Watts writes, “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

I and my accomplishments are nothing compared to what Christ has done, and there is nothing I can do to repay it. So, I triumphantly sing the words of Isaac Watts, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

 

 

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Trust and Obey

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Words by John H. Sammis, 1887
Music by Daniel B. Towner

 

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26:4

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
Proverbs 3:5 – 6

but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.
Jeremiah 7:23

Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared
Jeremiah 38:20

 

One of the stranger scenes I remember from my college days was watching people walk around campus with a paper bag over their heads.  Now, it wasn’t as strange as it first appeared when you realize that the people we part of a class.  You see, students were paired up.  One of them would then place a paper bag over their head and the second person was then responsible for guiding them safely around campus. The purpose of this Psychology class was to come to understand what lies behind trust.

Now, from my experience, trust is not something that comes easy to us.  It’s because we each like to be in control.  We do not like the feeling of finding ourselves dependent on someone else.  But as hard as it is, this is what we are called to do in scripture and is the theme behind the hymn, “Trust and Obey.”

How then do we get past that overwhelming desire to be in control?  How do we obey the Lords commands?  It is a simple, but not always an easy thing.  In Jeremiah 7:23 God says, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.” Clearly we are commanded to obey God in what we do, but to blindly obey is not something that comes naturally.  Thankfully, God has not called us to blind obedience.

You see, while obedience is one side of the coin, the other side is trust.  Proverbs 3:5 – 6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  You see, the key to obedience, is trusting the one you obey.  This is why Sammis writes, “But we never can prove the delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.”

Until we are willing to risk that trust and show our obedience, we can never  fully experience the peace that comes from doing so.  Thankfully, the scripture are clear that God can be trusted.  Isaiah 26:4 tells us, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”  God can be trusted because he is the eternal Rock.  He does not change or move.  1 Corinthians 1:9 tells us that “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  God can be trusted because He is faithful.

When we have this trust, then obedience is not as hard.  We know that we can confidently obey Him because we can trust that God is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11)  and that there is with Him no shifting shadow (James 1:17).  When we understand this fully, we can join in the chorus of “Trust and Obey” declaring, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

 

 

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To God Be The Glory

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Words by Fanny J. Crosby, 1870
Music by W. Howard Doane, 1870

 

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Galatians 1:3 – 5

I have worked with youth for the better part of 20 years. Some of these have been as a supervisor at work. Some of these have been as a youth group leader in the church. Some of these have been as a Chaplain and an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America. And most recently it has been as a Trail Master with Trail Life USA. What I have seen in each of these is that youth like to be recognized for their accomplishments. They like to have the nod of a head, the pat on the back or the word of congratulations.

Now this of course this is youth, but as adults we are no different. While we may not do things for the recognition, it is always nice to have a pat on the back or a “well done.” After all we have put all this work into something, it is reasonable that we should get some recognition. When we do not get the recognition, then we start to feel under appreciated. We feel as though no one cares. In fact, the only thing worse that not getting recognized is when we do all the work and someone else gets the recognition. Any of us who have ever been an employee have probably found times when our supervisor or a coworker gets the credit for all we have done. How frustrating this can be.

Now if we think we deserve to get that recognition how much more does God deserve recognition for what He has done. This is what Fanny Crosby lays before us in her hymn, “To God Be The Glory.” Here she worships and praise God not simply because He is God (which is a valid enough reason in and of itself) but because of what He has done. In this case she draws us to God’s greatest accomplishment.

She writes, “So loved He the world that he gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life gate that all may go in.” John chapter three verse sixteen tells us, “God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believed in Him would not die, but have eternal life.” Surely this is the greatest thing God has done. But no, Crosby tells us further that” The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

This gift is not simply for those who are “good” people, those who give an appearance of righteousness. It is for everyone. You see, those of us who now follow Christ at one time were no different than that “vilest offender” , and without Christ would be there today. A point Paul drives home 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 when he writes, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

In Christ we have been made new. In Christ we may come before the Father no matter what we have done. So I join with the words of Fanny Crosby, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done.”

 

 

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