Friday, May 25, 2007

For the Beauty of the Earth

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory. Isaiah 6:3

I have the privilege of working somewhere that showcases God’s beauty in creation every day of the year. And today I am overwhelmed as I have just come inside from walking around that space and seeing so many beautiful plants, flowers and trees that are coming to life and pointing to God’s glory.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

I so agree with Paul who says that even if men have not heard the word of God, they will be without excuse if they have not acknowledged Him, because all of creation points to the Creator.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

God’s power and His divine nature are clearly seen in our world today. Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise!

Today I am overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s creation on land, but this hymn exhorts us to praise Him also for the sun, moon, and stars of night. Isaiah tells us that He keeps the stars in their place by the strength of His power.

Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

Each gift is freely given – the Lord is faithful to bestow each perfect gift, including grace divine. Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. Rev. 4:11

For the Beauty of the Earth

Words by Folliot S. Pierpoint

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I Lay My Sins on Jesus

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I Lay My Sins on Jesus
Words by Horatius Bonar

I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us from the accursed load;
I bring my guilt to Jesus, to wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious, till not a stain remains.

I lay my wants on Jesus; all fullness dwells in Him;
He heals all my diseases, He doth my soul redeem:
I lay my griefs on Jesus, my burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases, He all my sorrows shares.

I rest my soul on Jesus, this weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces, I on His breast recline.
I love the Name of Jesus, Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes His Name abroad is poured.

I long to be like Jesus, strong, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus, the Father’s holy Child:
I long to be with Jesus, amid the heavenly throng,
To sing with saints His praises, to learn the angels’ song.

I know I write about this a lot, and I will keep on writing about it, because I still find it incomprehensible: Jesus died a criminal’s death for me, so that I could be reconciled to God. As this hymn so aptly states, He bears our sins and frees us from the accursed load. He bore our sins on the cross and through His death paid the ransom for us, buying our freedom from the curse of sin. Sin no longer has power over us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t sin: God is the only one free from sin. We can continue to lay our sins on Jesus, and He will wash us clean; our crimson stains of sin will be made white like snow.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

Jesus wants us to do more than lay our sins on Him; He wants all of us: our wants, our fears, our burdens, our griefs. He can share in our sorrow because He has been there – He has experienced everything we have (Hebrews 2:17) and He has the power to release us from our burdens.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Psalm 68:19

It’s such a great comfort to know that we can come to Jesus, even when we are tired and weary. I can relate to King David and His longing for God in Psalm 63. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dry and weary land, and I need the Lord like I need water.

God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Does your soul thirst for God, your flesh yearn for Him? Come to Jesus, He is waiting for you. He will take your sins, your burdens, your cares and your weariness. And He will give you rest, peace and strength.

"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."
Matt. 11:29

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:29

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Search Me, O God

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24

I worked in my flower areas today pulling weeds. (It would be a stretch to call it a garden or even a flower bed, so I just call it an “area.”) It was a big job and I’m still not done. But it gave me a lot of time to think, and as I got frustrated that the weeds seem to grow more and more each year, I had a sort of revelation: maybe the weeds come back so prolifically because in the past I only pulled at the tops of the weeds and left the root there.

This got me thinking about sin. We are all sinners. But we have a choice in how much we let sin take root in our lives. Sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like I’ve been “working” at ridding myself of a sin, and it turns out I’ve only been pulling at the top of it, instead of getting the root of the sin out of my life. When the root is still there, the sin can grow and grow, and take over the whole “garden” of my life, much like the weeds have in my flower areas.

I must be diligent to keep sin from rooting in my heart and mind. I must rely on the Holy Spirit to convict me of sin, and to show me the errors in my life. And I must have ears to listen, eyes to see, and a humble heart to respond to the Spirit’s leading.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51:1-3

Search Me, O God
Words by J. Edwin Orr

Search me, O God,
And know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior,
Know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be
Some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin
And set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord,
For cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy Word,
And make me pure within.
Fill me with fire
Where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire
To magnify Thy Name.

Lord, take my life,
And make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart
With Thy great love divine.
Take all my will,
My passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord
In me abide.

O Holy Ghost,
Revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival,
Start the work in me.
Thy Word declares
Thou wilt supply our need;
For blessings now,
O Lord, I humbly plead.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Beauty of the Holy Spirit

Welcome to this week's Carnival of Beauty, celebrating the beauty of the Holy Spirit!

Join Blair at Scribblings to contemplate being filled with the Spirit and attesting that Against such things, there is no law.

Welcome Olivia to blogland! Her first post at Secret Toast focuses on the Spirit of Christ as the keeper of the treasure house of hope.

In my post, Come, Holy Spirit, I meditate on the amazing truth that God lives in us through His Holy Spirit.

I hope you are encouraged and spurred on to a closer walk with Christ through this week's Carnival of Beauty!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Come, Holy Spirit

I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Joel 2:28

Just before the Passover, Jesus warned His disciples that He wouldn’t be with them forever. That His teaching would soon be over, but that the Father would send a Helper to remind them of what He said.

These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14: 25-26

Not long after, Jesus was crucified. It’s hard to imagine what it was like for Jesus’ disciples to have witnessed that, and then His triumphant rising from the dead. I’m sure they were just getting used to having Him with them again when He broke the news to them that He would be leaving for heaven. And then He promises the Holy Spirit to them once again: that through the power of the Holy Spirit, they would be His witnesses throughout the whole earth.

He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

Soon after, that promise came true. The Holy Spirit came upon the believers gathered together. I love reading the account of the day of Pentecost!

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4

As believers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us! Although we likely won’t experience the tongues of fire or the noise like a violent rushing wind, we do have the privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit. We are sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, given to us as a pledge of our inheritance.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

Paul reminds us in several of His letters that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. II Timothy 1:13-14

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? I Cor. 6:19

The Holy Spirit dwells in us! God is in us! That’s a great reassurance, knowing that we are not on our own – God has provided His Spirit to lead and guide us. The Holy Spirit is within us to be our teacher, convict us of sin, renew us and keep us on the path of righteousness. Isn’t it a relief that we don’t have to rely on ourselves? I am so grateful for God’s provision of His Spirit, and for His work in my life.

I echo David’s sentiments from Psalm 51:10-11:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Come, Holy Spirit

Author unknown, circa 11th century
Translated from Latin to German by Martin Luther
and to English by Catherine Winkworth

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!
Let all your graces be outpoured
On each believer’s mind and heart;
Your fervent love to us impart.

Lord, by the brightness of Your light,
You in the faith do men unite
Of every land and every tongue;
This to Your praise, O Lord, be sung.

From every error keep us free;
Let none but Christ our Master be,
That we in living faith abide,
In Him with all our might confide.

Lord, by Your power prepare each heart
And to the weakness strength impart,
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to You ascend.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

My Faith has Found a Resting Place

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

This wonderful hymn tells it straight: it is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me. I need nothing else. My faith is in His work on the cross that bought my salvation. If you have acknowledged that you are a sinner, and that Jesus died on the cross to save you, then you don’t need to trust in anything else. You don’t need a device, or a creed, you just need the living God. Isn’t that a great assurance? It is your faith that saved you, not the reciting of a prayer or the practice of a “device” – God saved you because of your faith, and as Paul reminds us, it is His gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

As sinners who have been saved by God’s grace as a result of our faith, we press on to live in righteousness. As Paul reminds the Philippians, this righteousness isn’t one we can earn by following the rules or getting “it” right all the time, and it certainly is not within us – this righteousness is a result of faith in Christ.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil. 3:8-11

What is your faith resting on today? If it’s on any thing other than Jesus Christ, you will be disappointed. If it’s in any person other than Jesus Christ, no matter how perfect or holy he/she seems to you now, you will ultimately be disappointed. Paul is clear in his letter to the Corinthians: faith must be in God and not man.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. I Cor. 2:1-5

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6) My heart’s cry is the same as the apostles in Luke 17:5, "Lord, increase my faith!"

My Faith has Found a Resting Place
Words by Eliza E. Hewitt

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s Name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.