Tag Archives: word

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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Trust and Obey

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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