Tag Archives: Jesus

Where You There?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

Words and Music are a Traditional Negro Spiritual

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
Mark 15:25 – 37

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
John 20:25

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:40 – 42

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24:1 – 8

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


There are those songs that have come down through the ages. Songs that speak to our very souls. They come from a place of struggle and sorrow. They embody the deepest cries of our heart, those cries that we often can not even put into words. In America, we trace many of these songs back to some of the darkest days in our history. The days of slavery, when the cry of the heart was to be released from the oppression of this world. These songs place us in the events they describe. They transport us to a new place, a place that separates us from our situation and brings us to a place of hope. This is the case with the old Negro Spiritual, “Where you there?”

The the first verse starts our mind meditating on the events of that Friday two thousand years ago. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” So our minds begin a journey, looking back to that day. What must it have been like to stand there and see the events of Mark 15:25 – 37.

“It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

Imagine to have spent all those years with him. To have become friends and to have come to believe that he was the promised messiah, only to seemingly have it all ripped away. Imagine witnessing him dying the death of a criminal. The words of the verse continue with what is all to true. “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” We shake and tremble at the loss of the one we loved so dear.

The next verse now begins to go deeper into the crucifixion. We read, “Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?” This is the nature of the crucifixion. Perhaps the most brutal form of execution ever devised by man. To be nailed to a tree, arms stretched wide. Nails through your hands and your feet. (John 20:25) To have to lift your body’s weight to breath, causing the tearing of flesh in the your hands. Every breath excruciating until you finally give up your last breath. This is what was witnessed by those who were present at the crucifixion.

The hymn continues, “Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?” There he was, their Lord and Savior. The man they had followed, waiting to see God’s power revealed, dead on a cross. So they lowered him from the cross and laid him in a tomb. There he laid, motionless with no life remaining. John 19:40 – 42 tells us that “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Once they were finished, the tomb was closed with a stone across the entrance and He was left there.

But this is not the end. This is not where the story closes. The next verses ask the question “Were you there when the stone was rolled away? Were you there when the stone was rolled away?” The stone had been placed to close the grave. It was a visual evidence that there was no life inside. It was a place that none would go. Yet we discover it has been rolled away. Luke 24:1 – 3 tells us that, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” Why would the stone be rolled away? Why would someone want to enter a grave?

But we learn that someone did not enter the grave, but left the grave. Luke 24:4 – 8 reads “but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.” He had risen. He was alive. So the hymn turns to asking not a question of sorrow, but a question of joy. “Were you there when He rose up from the dead? Were you there when He rose up from the dead?”

Our savior and messiah is not dead in a grave, but alive. He has conquered death and now He stands as our mean to the Father. When we stop to truly consider the message of the cross and the grave, we need not sorrow, but find joy that if our Savior has conquered death, we need not fear it. In Him we to can have victory. (I Corinthians 15:57) When we are filled with the awe that comes from knowing what he has gone through on our behalf, that he died and rose again, we for a whole new reason declare, “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”

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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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My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Words by William R. Featherston, 1864
Music by Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876

 


for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice
Psalm 95:7

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

We love Him because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38 – 39


 

Deep down we are all the same. Yes, some of us prefer to be alone and some prefer to be around other people. Some of us prefer to be with people we know well and some prefer to continually meet new people. Some of us prefer to be with people like us and other prefer to spend time with people who are different. Yet despite all of these differences, deep down we are all want the same. We want somewhere to belong.

And so we search for a place. Some search in relationships with other people. Some search in drugs and alcohol. Some search in money. Some search in work. Some search in helping others. And while these, at least for a short time, seem to give us a sense of purpose, in the end, even the most well-meaning of them, leaves us feeling empty.

So we continue to seek somewhere to belong. Somewhere that we are accepted and wanted. Somewhere that we are loved. The love that we seek is found in Christ. It is in His presence that we can find the one place we are accepted and always belong. It is in response to this sense of belonging that William Featherston wrote his hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”

The hymn begins “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.” We are looking for a place to belong, it is found in Jesus. And this belonging has a flip side found in Psalm 95:7 where we read, “for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture.” We are His and He is ours. This is the ultimate level of belonging, to know that we belong to someone and we can reciprocate.

So when we know we have this level of belonging, we are willing to give everything in response. When we know that we have found belonging in Christ, we are willing to sacrifice all our selfishness. This is the declaration of the hymn, when it says “For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.”

So we share our love with Him. A love that does not always come so easily to us, but is the only possible response to the love that He has shown us first as the hymn continues, “I love Thee because Thou has first loved me.” Our love does not exist in a vacuum, it is the response to the love that He has shown us. This echoes the words of I John 4:19 which tells us, “We love Him because He first loved us.”

He loved us first, and with a love that is not simply words, but demonstrated in the most incredible of actions. It echoes Jesus words in John 15:13 were we read, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” As the hymn puts it,he “purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.”

It is in this love that we find our purpose and meaning. It is a love that has no end. It is what leads Featherston to write, “I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow.” He is our love not just of this lifetime, but forever, just as His love can not separated from us. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38 – 39)

In Christ, we can find what our hearts desire. A place to belong which is engulfed in his love. So we respond by loving Him who has loved us first. When we begin to understand the love that God has extended to us we can join with others proclaiming, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

 

 

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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!”

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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?”

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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.”

 

 

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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!”

 

 

Read more about “Love Lifted Me.”

Our God Reigns

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

He had no stately form, He had no majesty
That we should be drawn to Him.
He was despised and we took no account of Him.
Our God reigns, our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

It was our sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him.
It was our sin that brought Him down.
When we like sheep had gone astray our Shepherd came
And on His shoulders bore our shame.
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

Meek as a lamb that’s led out to the slaughterhouse,
Dumb as a sheep before its shearer,
His life ran down upon the ground like pouring rain
That we might be born again.
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty;
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side
Yes we know, He is alive.
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

Words & Music by Leonard E. Smith, 1974

 


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:2 – 7

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
Luke 24:37 – 39


 

Psalm 47 tells us in verses 6 – 8 to “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.” This is what we are called to do, praise God who reigns as King over all. This call is the foundation behind Leonard Smith’s hymn, “Our God Reigns.”

In his hymn, Smith chooses to present us with a simple presentation. We are presented with a paraphrase of scripture followed by a proclamation that God reigns. This simple A – B formula draws us to the truth that scripture teaches us about Christ and reminds us of reasons why he is worthy of praise.

There is a great truth that is communicated in this simplicity, a truth that needs little explanation. Sometimes, that is exactly what we need. A hymn that does not need thorough explanation, but simply communicates the truths of scripture.

The first verse proclaims “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him Who brings good news, good news; Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness Our God reigns, our God reigns!” A paraphrase of Isaiah 52:7 which says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

As the hymn continues on, we find that verses 2 – 5 combined paraphrase Isaiah 53:2 – 7 which tells us “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

This passage is fascinating in the portrayal of the King we worship. We are presented with a reality that flies in the face of what the world tells us. It is best summed up in God’s response to Samuel when he anointed David. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” There was nothing special about Jesus that drew people’s attention, but he gave everything for those He loved. He willingly took upon Himself our sins for our forgiveness. It is for this reason, that we are compelled to worship Him.

The final verse of the hymn reminds us that not only did He take the penalty for our sin upon Himself, He rose victorious from the grave bearing the signs of His sacrifice. The holes in “His hands, His feet, His side.” Our God reigns victorious. So we celebrate with great joy and excitement for “Yes we know, He is alive.”

 

 

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