Tag Archives: joy

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need—to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

Words by Placide Capeau, 1847
Music by Adolphe C. Adam,

 


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Luke 2:1 – 14


 

Have you ever heard a song that simply moved you as you listened to the words. A song that made you feel that you were experiencing the story being told. There are three key components to a song having this impact. The first is the words. They need to paint a picture that is so vivid you can see it all. The second is the music. Does the music draw you into it? Do you feel yourself moving emotionally with the music? The third component is that the words and music communicate the same message, that they fit together. When the picture drawn in your head by the words corresponds directly with the emotional movement of the music, you find yourself becoming part of it yourself. This is the case with Placide Capeau’s “O Holy Night.”

Now in full disclosure, this is my favorite Christmas hymn of them all. The words and music seem to transport me to that night so long ago. When I here this song performed by a singer who truly understands the dynamic flow of the music I am left silent and humbled with a vision of God’s gift in Christ.

So as we look at the words we are presented with what I believe is one of the most incredible pictures of the meaning behind Christmas. The hymn begins by setting the stage of what is to come. “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!” That is the foundation of Christmas, what the angels declared in Luke 2:11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The birth of the Savior is not done in a vacuum, however, but in a world in need. The hymn writes, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Since the fall as described in Genesis 3 the world had been slowly falling apart, waiting for the hope of a Savior. This is what Paul tells us in Galatians 3:22 where he says, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.”

Their hope was not in vain, for Christ was coming. The song tells us that the world was on a downward spiral, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” There are many things that people try to use to fill the void within them but they are all meaningless. As Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 1:2, apart from God everything is “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” But in Christ, there is hope, there is meaning, there is worth.

As the hymn continues, the music of Adolphe Adam changes tone for we have moved from the dark sadness of a lost and pining world, to the joy and excitement of the message of a new hope. The music combines with Capeau’s words, “A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” You can feel and hear the excitement, excitement that come from hope that is based in the truth. This is the message we find in Psalm 119:147, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.”

Again the music changes tone to that of awe and wonder as the words declare the only true response we can have before this Savior. So Capeau writes, “Fall on your knees, O hear the angel’s voices!” This is our response before God, as Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” The maker of the world had come to earth and we fall to our knees before him in response to the message from the angels, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

The hymn continues to tell us that this Christ has made brothers of all those who believe. As the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 2, verse 11, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” For we are not just brothers to one another, but with Christ himself.

Oh, on that holy night, so long ago, Christ was born that we might be free from sins dark hold. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:14) Therefore, with “Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy Name! Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!”

 

 

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Joy To The World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Words by Isaac Watts, 1719
Music by Unkown, (arranged by Lowell Mason, 1836)

 


Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
– Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Psalm 98

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3:17 – 19

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Luke 2:10

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
Mathew 25:31


 

It’s called anthropomorphism. Attributing human characteristics to God, animals or inanimate objects.  We use it all the time.  When our car won’t start we might say that our car hates us.  When there is terrible storm we may say that it is angry or the cold is biting. When we find ourselves looking at the mountains, forest or wilderness on a beautiful morning we might say that nature is singing.  Of course, this is not something that is unique to us today, the Bible uses these terms regularly.  Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  This is the essence behind Issac Watts hymn, “Joy To The World.”

This hymn that we typically ascribe to Christmas, is in fact based on Psalm 98 and not the Christmas story.  (In the same way that Isaac Watts paraphrased Psalm 90 with  “Oh, God Our Help In Ages Past.”)

As I sing through the ever so familiar tune what strikes me is that the song does not speak of what we typically think of as a Christmas song.  It does not speak of Christ birth or the visit from the angels, and the response of the people of the world seems almost secondary. Instead, it speaks of the world and the response of nature to the presence of God. Take a look at the words; “Heaven, and nature sing”, “While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains rrepeat the sounding joy” and “No more let . . . thorns infest the ground.” The final one being a reference to the curse placed upon the ground as a result of the fall of man as found in Genesis 3:17 – 19.  The joy that comes from God’s presence effects all of His creation.  Nature itself sing of the joy joining with the praise of man for the Savior.

But we can find joy in the knowledge that the message of Salvation was given to man.  This is why Luke 2:10 tells us, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Salvation came to man and as a result, all of creation is blessed. This is the message of redemption.  God reached out to His creation to restore it from the fall.

No this hymn is not written to celebrate Christmas, but to look forward to the future advent, when Christ shall return as the triumphant King.  The time that Jesus himself described by saying, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” The King is coming again, but until that day we can all join together remembering His birth in the stable and looking forward to His return upon the throne with the words of the hymn, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.”

 

 

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How Great, Our Joy

While by the sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!

There shall be born, so He did say,
In Bethlehem a Child today.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!

There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child who shall redeem us all.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!

This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!

Words & Music are a traditional German carol

 


Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
Psalm 47:1

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

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:8 – 20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13


 

Have you ever stopped to consider what was the happiest moment in your life. What one event has given you the greatest joy. I know that for me, I am hard pressed to narrow it down to one event. It could be the day I was married, the birth of my children, or many other events.

But as great as these events are, I think I am missing something. Having been raised in a Christian family and coming to faith at a very early age I have a tendancy to overlook one important event. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change this for anything. But I can’t help but think I missed the joy of Jesus being revealed to me for the first time.

When I hear the words of the old Christmas Carol, “How Great, Our Joy” I begin to get a glimpse that joy. Imagine what it wound have been like to be there when that news was declared for the first time.

The writer begins to recount the events of Luke 2:8 – 20 with the words, “While by the sheep, we watched at night. Glad tidings brought, an angel bright.”

Imagine you are sitting there on an ordinary night when all of the sudden an angel appears out of no where, and not simply an angel but he is surrounded by the very glory of God. From this startling sight came the news that had been so long waited for, the promised Messiah had been born. The joy must have been unmatched. To know that the long wait was finally over, the Savior had come.

Now as great as this joy is, it does not stop there. This same joy goes out to the whole world. This is why the angel declared, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” So the carol continues with these words, “There shall the Child lie in a stall, This Child who shall redeem us all.” It is a joy for all people, calling us to the words of Psalm 47:1 “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

Wht is the greatest joy? In this Christmas season take time to remember the magnificent truth. That we have been given the good news. The news that we have not been forgotten. The news that God came to earth. The news that Jesus was born to save the world.

When we truly understand this, we shall find the greatest joy of all. Then we can join our voices with all who know this joy declaring, “Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!”

 

 

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessèd Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessèd morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father a blessèd angel came;
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “Let nothing you afright
This day is born a Savior of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethl’em straightaway this blessèd Babe to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

But when to Bethlehem they came where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

God bless the ruler of this house, and send him long to reign,
And many a merry Christmas may live to see again;
Among your friends and kindred that live both far and near—
That God send you a happy new year, happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.

Words and Music by Unknown, ca 15th Century

 


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 our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

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


 

The Christmas season is full of joy and excitement. A time that many people look forward to every year. There are parties, gifts, shopping and travel. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of selfish desire when greed seems to dominate our thinking. And for some, it can be a dark, difficult time remembering those we have lost, or how little we may have. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” reminds us that it should be a time to find rest in God’s loving arms.

The author writes, “God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.” He sees people in the world who face the difficulties of life. People who selfishly look out for themselves. People who feel alone. He sees a people who are in desperate need of rest that can be found in God alone.

But how do we find this rest? The hymn continues, “Remember Christ our Savior, was born on Christmas day.” The reality is that Christ is the only means to find this rest. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is the very reason that Christ came to earth, the very reason he “was born on Christmas Day . . . To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.” Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This is the “Satan’s power” the author wrote about.

The difficulties we face can come from outside forces or they can come from the sinful choices we make or from both. But there is hope, for “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) Christ is the only way we can know that hope. He is the only source of the rest we so desperately need.

So as we remember the amazing gift that He has given us, we can find hope to rest in. So we sing with so many others, “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy; O tidings of comfort and joy.”

 

 

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I’ll Fly Away

image

Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Words and Music by Albert E. Brumley, 1929

 


I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Psalm 55:6

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16 – 17

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as also I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ
Colossians 2:16- 17

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:10

So with you: Now is your time of grief but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:22


 

Children all over have found themselves in the same place every year. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for the excitement and joy that will come with Christmas morning and the gifts that will be found under the tree.

But it is not as simple as waiting for the excitement of that morning, because these same children have been told that “he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake,” Santa Claus can see their behavior and it will have a direct impact on what they receive for Christmas.

So we find children behaving well and getting along with their siblings. We see them doing extra chores and helping out at home. In short, they are facing the the work of today, hoping for the joy to come on Christmas morning.

This is the theme behind, “I’ll Fly Away.” Brumley writes, “One glad morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away.” Just like the child waiting for Christmas has an end goal in sight, so we who have put our faith in Jesus Christ can can face the struggles of today knowing that there is an end target. This is not simply an escapist dream as some have proposed, but rather a reminder that whatever comes our way, it is temporary, giving us the strength to face it.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 17, Paul tells us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The fact is we all face troubles in our lives that are more than we can handle on our own, but our focus is not on them but the promises of God. Our hope of the end day, however does not have us living simply in the future, but giving us the strength to live today.

But even when everything seems to be going right it is a dim reflection of what is to be. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that “for we see now in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. . .” No. we look not at the shadows that darken our vision, but forward to the day “when the shadows of this life have gone.” Because Paul tells us that “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16- 17)

No, we do not look at hide away living in the future that has not yet come. Rather, we live today with the strength we find in what is to come. It is because of this that we can sing, “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away; To a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).”

 

 

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What Have I To Dread

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Words by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1887
Music by Anthony J. Showalter, 1887

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
Deuteronomy 33:27

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

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. . . For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10, 13

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
John 4:16 – 18


One of the things that I remember from growing up may seem a little strange and silly to a lot of people. At the top of the stairs in our house there was a cabinet that kept some of the nice dishes and other items. On the top shelf there was a cookie jar. It was shaped like a cow with a kitten sitting on its back. Now for some unknown reason, I not only did not like the jar, but I refused to go past the cabinet if I could see the cow. This was a problem, especially considering the fact that I had to pass the cabinet to get to my bedroom.

Well my older sister and brother came up with an interesting solution. They went up there with a couple of toy guns and “eliminated” my fear. Now the jar was still there, but for some reason I had a little less problem going by it, though sometimes, I may have been moving quickly.

Seems strange, but we all have fears. Most of them are irrational fears,or phobias. Fear of spiders, Fear of heights, Fear of crowds, Fear of cow shaped cookie jars. Sometimes these fears make us unable to move, sometimes we find strength from facing them.

Now not all fears are irrational. For instance, a fear of walking down a dark alley is actually a reasonable. It is a reminder that we need use common sense precautions in life. But in these cases, just like in the irrational ones, we need to find the strength to move past them.

In the hymn “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” we read, “What have I to dread, what have I to fear?” It speaks with such confidence. But what is the source of this confidence to face fears. In Deuteronomy 31:6 we find the answer. It reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This same message is repeated in Isaiah 41:10 where God says, “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.” and in verse 13 he continues, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

God is the answer. He is the source of the strength to face our fears. He has promised that he will always be with us and will never leave us.

This strength is made available to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ. John 4:17 – 18 tells us, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” The love of God that dwells in us, through our faith in Jesus Christ, will drive the fear away.

Yes there are still genuine dangers we need to be aware of in life, but it is not fear that should rule our response. When we realize that God holds our hand in His, then we sing the words, “ Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms”

Read more about “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.”

I Come To The Garden Alone

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Words and Music by C. Austin Miles, 1912

 


He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 King 19:11 – 13

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:15 – 16


 

We live in a hectic and busy world.  It seems we always have something on our plate.  I know personally, those times when there is nothing on the schedule are few and far between.  Between working full-time (which typically pushes over 40 hours a week, being a leader in two separate youth organizations and ministry involvement, which includes both regular preaching and writing, I have very few down hours.  Add on top of that activities of for my wife and three children, there are times when having nothing to do is simply a fantasy.

Now, on those rare occasions when we do have free time, what do we do with it. We try to find other activities.  And if we are not doing something else, then we will often find ourselves with the television or radio going.  Down time is rare and silence almost seems taboo.

As I look at the words of Miles’ hymn, “In The Garden”  I am struck by the clear theme of peace and rest.  From the beginning we read,  “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.”  This is something we have lost, and something that we so desperately need.  Time set aside from the rush of activities and the constant barrage of noise.  This is what the Psalmist refers to when he writes, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

The distractions of our daily lives can so easily get in the way of knowing God. We do not take the time to listen for God’s voice.  We miss the sweet joy about which Miles writes, “And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.” It is in the peace of the garden, when everything else is set aside, that we can hear God’s voice.  It is then that we can hear the gentle whisper of 1 Kings 19:11 – 13.

We all need time alone with God.  Jesus, the very Son of God, understood this need.  Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  If Jesus saw this need, how much more do each of us need it as well.

Yes, we need to take time away from our hectic lives to be alone with God.  To listen for His voice. To know Him.  “In The Garden” reminds us that when we take this time, we can share the joy that can come only from walking and talking with our Lord alone.

 

 

 

Read more about “In The Garden.”