Tag Archives: Jesus

When We All Get To Heaven

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and blessèd
He’ll prepare for us a place.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Words by Eliza E. Hewitt, 1898
Music by Emily D. Wilson

 


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Ephesians 2:8

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 14:2 – 3

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:11 – 12

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2


 

I am sure you have heard the old saying, you have to know where your going, or you’ll never know when you get there. Having been hiking with the scouts on numerous occasions, I assure you that this is a very useful adage. I recently had the opportunity to attend Florida Sea Base with the scouts. Part of this included canoeing more than five miles on the open ocean to live on an island. Five miles on the ocean, when all you see is water and sporadic islands can be a little disorienting, especially when you have never been there before. Fortunately, our “mate” (guide) knew where we were heading allowing us to arrive safely.

The adage applies to all areas of our lives, including our Christian faith. Yes, there are those who view Christianity as a philosophy of life and a journey of growth, but if this is all it is then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Our hope is not simply for this life, it is also for the next. The Christian faith is not just the journey, we have a destination for which we are heading. This is the theme of Eliza Hewitt’s “When We All Get To Heaven.”

The hymn paints a picture of that glorious home to which we look forward. It begins with the words, “Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, Sing His mercy and his grace.” Yes we have a destination, a destination that is available to each and everyone of us because of God’s grace and mercy. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” God’s mercy extends to us grace that opens the door for us. A door that opens to our final destination.

This is not a simple destination, it our eternal home. The hymn reads, “In the mansions bright and blessed He’ll prepare for us a place.”God himself has prepared the place for us. In John 14:2 – 3 Jesus says, “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.”

The hymn continues on with a contrast of our lives today, with the home will one day obtain. It speaks of the darkness and troubles we will face. Hewitt writes, “While we walk the pilgrim pathway, Clouds will overspread the sky.” Yes, we will face trials in this life. There will be struggles, but we can travel through knowing the reward that awaits us. Matthew 5:12 tells us to, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

So we travel on this journey striving to “be true and faithful, Trusting, serving every day.” This is the life we are called to live. This is the journey of the Christian faith, serving every day. We live the words of Joshua in 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

And so we look forward to the reward for serving, the reward for our faithful journey. The hymn sums up the greatest rewards we will know with the words, “Just one glimpse of Him in glory Will the toils of life repay.” To see the face of our Lord and Savior, one who loved us so much that He gave His very life. This is the fulfillment of our Journey for 1 John 3:2 tells us “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

So we look “Onward to the prize before us!”, knowing that “Soon His beauty we’ll behold.” Our destination lies before us, and we shall enter in when “Soon the pearly gates will open” and “We shall tread the streets of gold..” We look forward to that day of reward, when our journey shall come to an end. The day we will stand in the very presence of our Lord and Savior. Then “When we all see Jesus, We’ll sing and shout the victory!”

 

 

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Standing on The Promises of God

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Words & Music by R. Kelso Carter, 1886

 


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 10:22 – 23

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians10:13

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:16

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5


 

“But you promised!” Parents have all probably heard these words at some point from their children. Why is this the case? Because sometimes parents, just like all adults, say things without thinking them fully through. Sometimes a parent may absent mindedly make a promise to a child when they are not really paying attention. Sometime it is because the child has pestered them so long they have become worn down. Other times they may have made the promise with the best of intentions, but then circumstances changed and they could not follow through.  Another words, there are legitimate and illegitimate reasons for from breaking a promise.  But to a small a child, they are all illegitimate. To them, a promise is a promise. Thankfully, we have been given promises that we can trust. Promises that were not given without thought. This is the message of R. Kelso Carter’s “Standing On The Promises Of God.”

The second verse begins with the words “Standing on the promises that cannot fail.” This seems something that is unimaginable.  After all, our life experience is that of the child from earlier.  Promises are capable of failing.  But we are not talking about the promise of a fallible human being. We are speaking of the promises made by God himself. Surely the one who created and sustains the universe, is capable of keeping his promises. This is what we are told in Hebrews 10:23 where we read, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

God’s promises can be trusted. But what are these promises. They are too many to count, and I do not have the time to try and list them all. I have, however, chosen five promises to look at. These are promises that we can have confidence in. Promises on which we can stand.

  1. God has promised that He will meet our needs.  Philippians 4:19 tells us “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” If this is the case, then why do we worry? Because we forget that He is faithful and His promises can be trusted. Yes, God can and will meet all of our needs. This is not to say that He will give us everything we want, but we can know that in His wisdom, He knows what we need.
  2. God has promised that His grace is sufficient to see us through, even when we find ourselves unable in our own strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Yes, sometimes we will stumble, but when we face our trials and find ourselves ready to give up, we can rest in the strength that comes from the His grace.
  3. God has promised that He will always provide us a way to withstand temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Temptations will come our way.  There is nothing we can do to avoid them. When they come we can either stand up to them or lie down and give up.  It is our choice. And when we put our trust in God, we can stand up to temptations
  4. God has promised that if we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will know salvation. Mark 16:16 declares, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved . . .” We all look for salvation in different places, but salvation comes from one place, belief in Jesus. When we put our faith Him, we will be saved.
  5. God has promised that He will not abandon us. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that “. . . God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” We need not fear being alone.  We can have confidence in the fact that God is always there with us.  We need only turn to Him and remember that He will never leave.

Yes, God has made promises. But they are not the empty, absentminded promises we have to often experienced in our lives. The are promises in which we can trust.  God’s promises are true and stand the test of time. For this reason I say with confidence, “I’m standing on the promises of God.”

 

 

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O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Words by S. Trevor Francis, 1875
Music by Thomas J. Williams, 1890

 


“How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
Ephesians 3:17-18

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:5 – 7

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

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Romans 8:33 – 34


 

 

The gentle rolling waves of the ocean as they come ashore have a peaceful and mesmerizing effect on us. Now I am not talking about the powerful crashing waves that come with the storm. I am talking about the gentle waves as they wash up on the beach. The soft entrancing sound you can hear from the distance. It can relax us with its almost hypnotic steady rhythm.  It is the sound of the rolling waves that is so much the culture for those who live near the sea. They almost forget it is there until they are taken away from it.  So it is in the country of Wales located on the east coast of Great Britain. An ancient sailing nation in which the sounds of the ocean are embedded in the culture.  It is these rolling waves that we hear in the traditional Welsh melody adapted by Thomas J. Williams for the hymn, “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” When he paired the melody with the words of Trevor Francis, written 15 years earlier, we find one of the most beautiful and haunting hymns ever written. A hymn that speaks to our very souls.

The first verse, using this image of the sea, builds an incredible picture of the fullness of God’s love. It begins, “O the deep, deep love of Jesus vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!” It is an awesome thought. God’s love is something so incredible that we can not begin to wrap our minds around it.  Paul presents us with a rhetorical question of this profound truth in Ephesians 3:17 – 18 when he ask , “How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

As the hymn continues the melody rolls on as with the ebb and flow of the tide and we find the description of God’s love further developed. Francis presents us with a picture of God’s love completely enveloping us as he writes, “rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love.” It is this love of God that guides us toward our final destination like the current guides across the waters. His love is always, “Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!” As Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, “With his love, he will calm all your fears.”

The hymn transitions from the imagery of the ocean with the call to “spread His praise from shore to shore.” He first presents that God’s love is unchanging as we sing, “How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!” This reflect the profound truth of Psalm 36:5 which says, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

It continues on with the line, “How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own.” This is the magnitude of God’s love. Paul tells us this in Romans 5:10 when he says “we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”

It is because of this great love that Jesus now intercedes, on behalf of all those who believe, to the Father in heaven. So the verse concludes, “How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!” These words echo those of Romans 8:33 where Paul tells us, ” Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

God’s love is truly unfathomable.  It is a love He extends to us and that completely envelops us. It is as Francis writes, “an ocean full of blessing ’tis a haven giving rest!” It is when we understand this that the question becomes more that a simple reflection, but a profound declaration. It is then that we can truly begin to sing, “Oh the Deep, Deep love of Jesus.”

 

 

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Bonus video by John Brown University Cathedral Choir in 1997. Beautiful and Haunting.

Rise Up

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

Words by William P. Merrill, 1911
Music by William H. Walter, 1872

 


“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13 – 16

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Luke 10:27


 

It’s an old idiom, “rise up.” To rise up means to come to the surface. It is what happens in a bucket of water when the water has been stirred. As the water comes to a stop, the lighter debris floats to the top. It separates to become evident. The phrase can also be applied to people. It describes the underlying thoughts of people coming to the surface. It is used to describe, taking part in a rebellion or to take a stance in support. The people rose up against the tyranny of the King, They stood up for what was right seeking to change the status quo. It is the meaning behind this idiom that we find presented in Wiliam P. Merrill’s “Rise up, O Men of God.”

The hymn begins, “Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength, To serve the King of Kings.” Here we find the phrase “rise up” applied to the people of God.  But what is it to which we are taking a stance of support and what in the world does,  “have done with lesser things mean”? The answer to both of these questions is found in the remainder of the this stanza.

Our stance of support is “to serve the King of Kings.”  This is not always an easy stance.  It is a stance that we take in the face of a culture that does not stand for God, but for its own selfish interest. We are called to rise up, to make a difference.  Matthew 5:13 – 16 tells us, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to rise up and impact the world around for God, that He might be glorified.

So what about, “have done with lesser things.” It is an odd phraseology, but the key to understanding it is found in the statement, “Give heart and mind and soul and strength.” You see, we might understand our call to “rise up” but how much do we put into it. Too often we find ourselves giving an  insufficient effort.  We split our energies between several things.  We go through the actions, with out the commitment.  We have not risen up, we have done with lesser things.  But we are to give our all in standing for Christ. This is the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us.  In Luke 10:27 we read, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.'”

Rising up to stand for God is not something for the timid or the faint of heart.  It for those who are willing to put themselves out on a limb. Those who are willing to risk everything for Him. For those who will give every last bit of their being to see the world changed for God. When we rise up we each serve our part to “bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.”

 

 

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There is a Name I Love to Hear

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to speak its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in my sorrow bears a part,
That none can bear below.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It bids my trembling heart rejoice;
It dries each rising tear;
It tells me, in a still small voice,
To trust and never fear.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Jesus, the name I love so well,
The name I love to hear!
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

This name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

And there, with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love to me.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Words by Frederick Whitfield, 1855
Music: Traditional 19th Century American Melody

 


Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

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

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

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

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:12


 

I’ll be honest with you, I hate using the telephone.  I always have. You make a phone call to relay information. When the information has been relayed there is no point to staying on the phone.  Now I am not alone, my Grandmother was very much the same way. This doesn’t mean that I don’t know proper phone etiquette of that I don’t like talking to people, I do.  I simply do not like talking to people on the phone. That having been said, there are exceptions.  When my mom or dad call I am more than willing to spend time with them on the phone. It of course does not take the place of spending time with them in person, but sometimes it is the best you can do. But I love to hear from them.  There is something truly comforting to hear their voices. In my mind I picture them and the next thing you know I am with them.  Just the simple thought of Mom and Dad brings a warmth to my heart. This same theme permeates through Frederick Whitfield’s hymn, “O How I Love Jesus.”

The hymn begins, “There is a name I love to hear, I love to speak its worth; It sounds like music in mine ear, The sweetest name on earth.” The name of Jesus brings comfort and joy to the heart of the believer.  He is the hope for the sinner who has lost his way.  He is the comfort of those who find themselves mourning. He is the joy of new life to those who have put their faith in him.  It is music in our ears for “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

In light of this, the chorus rings out, “O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!” The music rings so wonderfully in our ears as we realize the love He has for us. A love that came to us before our love for Him. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) A love we did nothing to deserve.  A love that came to us when we were far from Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is in Jesus Christ that we find salvation. This is why the hymn continues, “It tells me of a Savior’s love, Who died to set me free; It tells me of His precious blood, The sinner’s perfect plea.” Jesus shed His very blood for our forgiveness. In his love, He died for us.  This is why Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

This love does not end with simply forgiving our sins.  It goes beyond mere redemption. It allows us to call God our Father.  1 John 3:1 tells us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” We are children of God and our Father pours His love out upon us.  This is why Whitfield writes, “It tells me of a Father’s smile Beaming upon His child.” Yes, the Father’s love is poured down upon us.

So the name of Jesus reminds us “of One whose loving heart Can feel my deepest woe; Who in my sorrow bears a part, That none can bear below.” Jesus is the one who knows what we face. He is the one stand beside us and leads us to the father as our advocate.  This is what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of in chapter 4, verse 15 where we read, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

So at the name of Jesus we are filled with joy as we listen for His voice.  The hymn says “It tells me, in a still small voice, To trust and never fear.” So God calls to us, not in the loud booming voice, but in the still small voice.  A voice that we can only hear when we choose to listen, just as Elijah did in the wilderness.  (1 Kings 19:12)

Yes, at the mere mention of the name of Jesus our hearts are filled with joy.  At the sound of His voice, we are drawn into His presence. It is at this time that we must declare His praise.  So we join with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we “sing the new eternal song, Of Jesus’ love to me.”

 

 

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Near To The Heart of God

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

Words and Music by Cleland B. McAfee, 1903

 


The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:30 – 31

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”
Isaiah 40:11

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:7 – 8

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11


 

I have spent the last 27 years living in suburban Chicago.  It is a great place. I live far enough out of the city that I need only drive a few miles to find farms and yet when I feel compelled to go to into the city (which is few and far between) I can be there in 45 minutes. Now I do like where I live and all three of my children call it home, but ultimately as nice as it is, my home will always be in rural Iowa.  We all have those places that we feel ultimately comfortable. In a hectic, high pressure, stress filled life, where we face trials and struggles on a daily basis we need those places where we can find refuge, those places where we can renew and refresh.

I know that for me personally, I love to get away into the woods and to enjoy nature.  Whether it is a walk in the forest preserve, a hike through a canyon or a camping trip away from everything. It is an opportunity to escape from the things that seem, at times, to overwhelm my life. But as great as I find those times, there is only one place that truly fits the bill. This is the message found in Cleland B. McAfee’s hymn, “Near to the heart of God.”

The hymn begins, “There is a place of Quiet rest, Near to the heart of God.” Quiet rest is something we far to often forget to think about.  We get so caught up in what we are doing, what we think we have to do, that we forget to rest.  Sometimes these things are distractions that we put in place in our lives and sometimes they are things beyond our control.  Sometimes, we may put things out there that are good things in and of themselves, but we sacrifice our opportunities to find rest because we think we are doing something more important.

Perhaps we far to often let work get in the way. Yes, we have responsibilities, but how often do we let our work begin to dominate our lives. We find ourselves thinking about it all the time, going in odd hours because something has to get done.  Perhaps it is ministry commitments that begin to dominate our lives.  What can be wrong with that, we are serving God, right? But we may find ourselves putting in extended hours, cutting our sleep short to get things done, going to a Sunday school event here, a church outing there, leading a small group.  Before we know it we find ourselves busy every night of the week and weekends.

While these things may be good in, and of, themselves, they can begin to wear us down and wear us out, if we fail to take time to find a quiet place to rest.  Jesus himself understood this as we see in Mark 6:30 – 31 where we read, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”

The place of true rest and restoration that can be found for the believer is “near to the heart of God.” What does it mean to be near to the heart of God. Isaiah 40:11 give us the image of a shepherd caring for a lamb. When he finds the lamb that has been lost and wandering the shepherd, “gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.” He carries them safely and securely back to the fold.  They have found comfort and safety being held close to the heart of the shepherd, so the image carries over to the believe who can find rest near to the heart of God.

So the hymn draws for us a picture of what it is like to be near to the heart of God.  It is “a place where sin cannot molest.”  For as James tells us in 4:7 – 8, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  When we draw near to God, when we find ourselves near to the heart of God, we can find the strength to resist temptations that come our way.

It says, “There is a place of comfort sweet.” When we face troubles in our lives, when we face the struggles that come our way, we can find comfort near to the heart of God. This is what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3 where we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction”

The hymn tells us that it is “a place where we our Savior meet.” When we draw near to God, we will find opportunity to grow in Christ.  It is “a place of full release”, “A place where all is joy and peace.” Psalm 16:11 tells us, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

In a world where we face so many struggles, where we face temptation on a daily basis, where we place so many things  in our way, we need to find time to step back.  We need to find opportunities to refresh.  We need to draw near to the heart of God.  When we take this time, we will find our faith growing and we will find ourselves refreshed and renewed. So we sing out, “O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God, Hold us who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.”

 

 

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Lead On, Oh King Eternal

156234_572903450925_1750536026_nLead on, O King eternal, The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King eternal, We lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy The heavenly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal, We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us, We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest; Lead on, O God of might.

Words by Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888
Music by Henry T. Smart, 1836

 


For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Ephesians 6:2

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

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

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Zechariah 4:6

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 3:16

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:5

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
1 Timothy 4:7 – 8


 

Remember when you were a kid, all the games you used to play. Duck, Duck Goose, Red Rover and of course, Follow the Leader.  My son used to play a version of follow the leader that he loved when he was little.  I would say, “Hey, do the dance.” He would jump up and proceed to walk me through the steps. He would call out the move and do it, then wait for me to repeat it.  Every time it was done, it varied slightly but had the same basic moves.  It was loads of fun and he would be so excited to lead. And why not? Everyone likes to be the leader.  The catch is that not everyone can be the leader.  Someone has to follow.

It really doesn’t change that much when we grow up. Yes, many of us will have the opportunities to be a leader, but all of us are followers at some point in time.  Now we really should not look down upon following, because that is how we learn and grown in our skills and roles in life. So it is to with our walk with Christ.  Christ is the leader that we have been given the opportunity to follow and learn from so that we can grow to be more like Him.  This is the theme found in Ernest W. Shurtleff’s “Lead On, Oh King Eternal.”

The hymn begins by presenting us with what appears to be a theme of war.  “The day of march”, fields of conquest” and “our battle song.” Is this really a song of war? Well to begin with the concept of a battle is not foreign to the Christian faith but we do need to see it in context.  Ephesians 6:1 says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” As followers of Christ we are in a battle, a spiritual battle.  As Paul states in this passage, there are indeed evil spiritual forces that come against us.  But we are not alone, Christ himself faced these battles as described most clearly in Matthew 4.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Christ is our example in the battle that we face each day against temptation, again the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” By following His lead, we can find the strength and guidance to stand strong in the face of these battles.

No the message of this hymn is not war, but that we can stand strong in the face of attacks that come our way when we follow the lead of our King.  So the hymn continues by not focusing on the battle, but the victory that we can have in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) So we read, “Lead on, O King eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease, And holiness shall whisper The sweet amen of peace.” While we may be in a battle, we can look forward to the day when peace shall reign. We can look forward to the day when the struggles are gone and we can rest in God’s presence.  It is a victory we can not achieve through our own strength in battle.  As Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

No the victory does not come through our strength, but through God’s Spirit which he bestows on all those who believe. So we do not set out looking for a fight, but to live by Christ example, to follow his lead “with deeds of love and mercy.” For Christ Jesus has saved us through His love (John 3:16) and mercy (Titus 3:5).

Yes, God leads us through the struggles and battles of this life.  He leads on to a day when we will can rest in the peace of His presence. And we can know that if we follow Him, “there is in store . . . the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award . . . on that day.” (1 Timothy 4:8) So as we look toward that day, we continue to call out, “Lead on, O God of might.”

 

 

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Brian Olson is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ having worked with both youth and adults.

How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Words by John Rippon, 1787
Music by Joseph Funk, 1832

 


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7:24 – 27

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10

He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.
Malachi 3:3

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10 – 15


 

We have all heard the story about the leaning tower of Pisa. How it was built straight but due to the foundation being set on unstable ground, over time it has tipped. A pretty telling story of the need for a solid foundation and anyone who has built a structure knows how true it is. The key to a building surviving is that it has a solid foundation. A truth that also applies to our lives. We need a solid foundation to keep our lives from completely falling apart. This is the theme of John Rippon’s hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.”

So the hymn begins with the words, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!” You see, a shaky foundation will never hold what is built upon it, but a solid foundation will support anything that is built upon it. So just as the foundation is the critical key upon which any structure is built, so the Word of God is the critical key upon which the Christian faith is built. Jesus himself gives us this image in Matthew 7:24 – 27  where He says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” We can never expect our faith to last if we do not have the right foundation.

The hymn continues, “What more can He say than to you He hath said, You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?” Here the hymn reflects the message of Psalm 71:3 which declares of the Lord, “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” So our minds are drawn to the image of fortress, a fortress that again would not stand without the firm foundation. That fortress, that rock, that refuge is Jesus Christ, the Living Word. (John 1:1, Hebrews 4:12)

The hymn then continues, “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.” One of the things to note about this hymn is that it is written from the perspective of God to His people. So rather than many hymns where we sing the praises of God to or about Him, here we are granted a glimpse of the incredible blessing that God bestowed upon us. In this verse we have God’s very word, taken straight from scripture, to those who believe. It comes from Isaiah 41:10 where we read, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” We are reminded that not only is God’s Word our foundation of faith and Jesus Christ our refuge, but that God will always be there for us to uphold and strengthen us not matter the situation.

As we move through the hymn we reads, “The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.” When we first hear these words it can seem a little like a change from where we were.  We have been speaking of foundation, refuges and standing strong, but suddenly we  find our selves speaking of a fire.  Our first thought may lead us to Malachi 3:3 where we read, “He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.” And while this is a picture of our growing in faith, we ask how does it fit with the theme of a foundation? When we turn to 1 Corinthians 3:10 – 15 we read, “. . . If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” When our foundation is built on the Word, we can confidently build on it.  What we build may at times be of God’s design with lasting materials, but far to often we build of our own design with things that can not last. When the the fire come, that which we built of our own will not remain, but we can find confidence in knowing that the foundation will continue.

Yes, there are many things we can build our lives upon. But at some point, each of these will fail. But we need not be dismayed, for God has given us a foundation that will not fail.  A foundation found in His Word. When we have put our faith in Jesus Christ and allow Him to build on the foundation, we can believe with confidence that it will stand and we will never be alone. We can know that God tells us that He will “never, no never, no never forsake.”

 

 

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Jesus Loves Even Me

I am so glad that our Father in Heav’n
Tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n;
Wonderful things in the Bible I see,
This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

Though I forget Him, and wander away,
Still He doth love me wherever I stray;
Back to His dear loving arms I do flee,
When I remember that Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
When in His beauty I see the great King,
This shall my song through eternity be,
“Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

Jesus loves me, and I know I love Him;
Love brought Him down my poor soul to redeem;
Yes, it was love made Him die on the tree;
Oh, I am certain that Jesus loves me!
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

If one should ask of me, how can I tell?
Glory to Jesus, I know very well!
God’s Holy Spirit with mine doth agree,
Constantly witnessing Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

In this assurance I find sweetest rest,
Trusting in Jesus, I know I am blessed;
Satan, dismayed, from my soul now doth flee,
When I just tell him that Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1870

 


 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136:26

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 18:13

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.
Isaiah 53:6

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:9 – 11

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


 

 

Love. For some, it gives us tingly feeling just to talk about it. For others, such as those of us who tend to be more stoic, it can make us feel uncomfortable. In either case we have in our minds a definition of love. But do we all have the same definition? Another words, what is love? Now I am sure this is not a question that will be answered in a few short paragraphs, but we do need to think outside the box of what society has told us is love.

The ancient Greeks had four words for love; Eros, Phileo, Storge and Agape. Eros is a reference to erotic love, passionate and sexual in nature. Phileo is used for affection and fondness, a love that refers to the feelings for a special object or person. Storge is a love that deals with a natural obligation, feelings between a husband and wife or a parent and child. Agape is an unconditional love, a love to which we make a conscious choice and commitment regardless of the reciprocation. It is this final love that Philip P. Bliss speaks of in his hymn, “Jesus Loves Even Me.”

The hymn begins with the words, “I am so glad that our Father in Heav’n tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n.” There are so many ways that we can see God’s love. We see it in the world He has prepared. We see it in His sustaining hand. But the clearest is found in the Bible, which comes from God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed . . . ” The Bible is the very word of God, and is in fact an account of God’s love for the world.

Through out the Bible we find the theme of God’s love. Psalm 136:26 tells us to “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

It is a joyous thing to realize how God’s love reigns over us. So the hymn states, “Wonderful things in the Bible I see, This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.” You see, it is not just Storge, an obligatory generic love for His creation, it is a love for each of us individually. John 18:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” No this is not a generic love, it is a love for individuals, individuals He calls friends. Jesus calls us friends and loves us so much that He would die in our place.

Unfortunately we to often begin to forget. We become distracted by everything else in our lives, and we lose sight of God’s love. So the hymn continues, “Though I forget Him, and wander away, Still He doth love me wherever I stray; Back to His dear loving arms I do flee.” Our minds are drawn to the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53, verse 6 where we read, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” Yes, we do forget the love of God, but the unconditional love of God gives us hope, and so the verse continues, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The question we began with was, “What is love?” John gives us an answer in 1 John 4:9 – 11 where we read, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

He also summarizes this love in John 3:16 where we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Yes, God is love, a love that he extends to each and everyone one of us no matter what we have done. A love, we need only open our hearts to. When we accept this love that he has given us, we receive from Him the gift of eternal life. It is when we truly accept, receive and remember the love that God gives us we can join in the words, “I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me”

 

 

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Again I Say Rejoice

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!

Words by Charles Wesley, 1744
Music by John Darwall, 1770

 


The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice! Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
Dark clouds surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world. The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness; every nation sees his glory.
Psalm 97:1 – 6

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1 – 2

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 3:16


 

Everybody loves a celebration.  Some are looking for a huge blow-out, while others simply want a little recognition. My birthday is coming up in a few weeks, which of course seems like a good reason to celebrate. Now are we going to have a big party? Probably not.  But people will wish me Happy Birthday and I will appreciate the recognition.  Some may not consider this celebrating, but however you define celebration, it is a time of excitement and rejoicing.  This is the theme of Charles Wesley, “Rejoice The Lord Is King.”

The title and first lines sums up the whole point of the hymn, “Rejoice the Lord is King.” That is to say, we need to be filled with excitement at the realization that the Lord is King.  A message that draws our minds to Psalm 97:1 where we read, “The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice!”

The Lord as King is a theme that is found through out scripture. But we as Americans have a unique challenge in understanding what that really means.  You see, for Charles Wesley in 18th century England, the idea of a King was in the front of his mind.  He lived in a Monarchy where the King was the final power and authority, but for us, the concept of a King is very foreign to our minds. We live in a land where no one person holds that level of power.  So we must ask ourselves, what does it mean to say, “The Lord is King.”

For one thing, a king is a ruler for life. A reminder that God is not simply in a position of authority here and there. It is authority that spans from the time before creation and on through eternity. Beyond this, a king  is usually revered as the sovereign leader of his nation. So God is the sovereign ruler of all He has created. From this world and beyond, He is ruler. And more specifically, He is the absolute ruler over his people.

The Lord is King, the sovereign ruler over all creation. This could be a terrifying reality, but our God is not a malevolent ruler, but a God who cares for His creation. This is why Wesley writes that we are to rejoice.  And then, in an echo of Philippians 4:4, he writes, “Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!”

The hymn concludes that our rejoicing in not simply that the Lord is King. We also “Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come, And take His servants up to their eternal home.” This is the hope that Paul wrote of in Romans 5:1 – 2 where he states that, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” We have peace with God and can come before the throne of our glorious King. We need not fear Him, for by grace we have been justified through faith in Jesus.

No, we need not fear God, rather we can rejoice that He cares for us.  We can rejoice that He has opened the door for us to know Him.  We can rejoice that He has provided the way to eternal life. (John 3:16) We can rejoice that He is King.  When this joy wells within us, we can not help but Lift up our hearts and voices declaring, “Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!”

 

 

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