Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy the Home when God is There

I had the wonderful privilege of growing up in a Christian home – one where I never doubted my parents’ love for me, or their love for God and His son Jesus. This hymn sums up my feelings about what it’s like to live in a home where God and His Holy Spirit are present.

Our home was a place where Jesus’ name was spoken often – with reverence, and in praise. My parents taught us about God and Jesus through stories, songs, and life lessons. All the children in my family chose to follow Him at a young age, due to our parents’ influence and guidance. My parents loved the Word, and were diligent to teach us, as parents are exhorted to do in this passage:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:4-9

I am thankful for a mom who followed the Word, especially Titus 2, to love her husband, love her children and work hard at home. Among many other things, she taught me scripture and theology, mostly through songs that I still sing today. I am so grateful for her example, and for providing a home that was happy because God was there.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

Happy the Home when God is There
Words by Henry Ware, Jr.

Happy the home when God is there,
And love fills every breast;
When one their wish, and one their prayer,
And one their heav’nly rest.

Happy the home where Jesus’ Name
Is sweet to every ear;
Where children early speak His fame,
And parents hold Him dear.

Happy the home where prayer is heard,
And praise each day does rise;
Where parents love the sacred Word
And all its wisdom prize.

Lord, let us in our homes agree
This blessed peace to gain;
Unite our hearts in love to Thee,
And love to all will reign.

Monday, June 25, 2007

He Knows

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Do you feel confident about your future? This hymn is a timely reminder that God knows what our future holds, because He has already planned it. When we follow Him by faith, we can trust that our future is secure and that He is preparing us for what comes next. It’s that faith that brings the peace this song speaks of, a peace that rests in the fact that He Knows.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

What has struck me about this hymn is the author’s rejoicing over NOT knowing. She writes that “God kindly veils mine eyes” and says that it’s “blessed not to know.” That’s hard for someone like me, who wants to control everything. It is not easy to surrender – but it’s what God has called us to do. And He promises that we don’t have to be anxious even when we don’t know, for as the hymnwriter says, and Scripture confirms, He holds us with His own right hand.

'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10

The last verse is what has really made me think: “So on I go not knowing, I would not if I might.” She’d choose NOT to know? Hmmm. I have grown a lot in my faith and in my trust of our Sovereign God, but given the choice, I would probably still choose to know my future, if I could. Control issues, anyone? I must daily, even more frequently than that, surrender my will to His, knowing that He loves me and as a child of His, He is training me.

I do heartily agree with her that it’s much better to walk in the dark with God than to walk alone in the light. I desire to walk by faith, not by sight, in all areas of my life. I know that I can not go it alone, because my sight fails me every time. I am short sighted and near sighted. I don’t see what God has planned for me in the future, and how He is using the present to prepare me for that.

So I will continue to trust in Him, and in perfect peace, sing “He Knows.”

He Knows
Words by Mary Brainard

I know not what awaits me,
God kindly veils mine eyes,
And o’er each step of my onward way
He makes new scenes to rise;
And ev’ry joy He sends me, comes
A sweet and glad surprise.

Where He may lead me I’ll follow,
My trust in Him repose
And every hour in perfect peace
I’ll sing, He knows, He knows;
And every hour in perfect peace
I’ll sing, He knows, He knows.

One step I see before me,
’Tis all I need to see,
The light of Heav’n more brightly shines,
When earth’s illusions flee;
And sweetly through the silence, came
His loving “Follow me.”

O blissful lack of wisdom,
’Tis bless├Ęd not to know;
He holds me with His own right hand,
And will not let me go,
And lulls my troubled soul to rest
In Him Who loves me so.

So on I go not knowing,
I would not if I might;
I’d rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk in faith with Him
Than go alone by sight.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Most Perfect is the Law of God

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. Psalm 119:42

The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17

I am so thankful for God’s word. In it, He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) We have direction and instruction for how to live, how to act, and how to become more like Jesus. We receive encouragement from the Word, and by immersing ourselves in it, we learn more about God and His son.

This post can certainly not exhaust all that the Word does for us, but I hope it starts you thinking about the beauty of God’s truth and what it means to you. Take a moment to meditate on this short list of what we have from God’s word:

Words of eternal life (John 6:68)
Faith from hearing, and hearing from the Word (Romans 10:17)
Sanctification through the washing of the water with the Word (Eph. 5:26)
Protection from sin (Psalm 119:11)
Hope through the encouragement of the Scriptures (Romans 15:4)

God has provided us with His word so that we may know His truth and His law. And look what His law does for us: it restores our soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes!

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalm 19:7-8

Are you hungry for God’s truth, His word, His instruction? Do you look forward each day to your time in His word and how He will reveal Himself to you? Do you hide His law in your heart, and meditate on it all the day?

There is so much to be gleaned from His word, and so much we must thoughtfully and prayerfully apply to our lives.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

How has God’s truth pierced your heart today? How will you be different as a result? May our prayer be

Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
Psalm 119:18

Most Perfect is the Law of God
Words from The Psalter, 1912

Most perfect is the law of God,
Restoring those that stray;
His testimony is most sure,
Proclaiming wisdom’s way.

O how love I Thy law!
O how love I Thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
O how love I Thy law!
O how love I Thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.

The precepts of the Lord are right;
With joy they fill the heart;
The Lord’s commandments all are pure,
And clearest light impart.

The fear of God is undefiled
And ever shall endure;
The statutes of the Lord are truth
And righteousness most pure.

They warn from ways of wickedness
Displeasing to the Lord,
And in the keeping of His Word
There is a great reward.

O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

Friday, June 8, 2007

Jesus Sinners Doth Receive

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

That verse from I John fills me with so much hope and joy – if I confess my sins, God is faithful to forgive my sins and cleanse me. What a glorious thought. He can wash me and make me whiter than snow, getting rid of the dirt of sin in my life, if I only confess. And even more encouraging, we’re not on our own! The Holy Spirit dwells in us to convict us of sin, so that we can confess and be made whole again.

What a faithful God, to have such a plan – His Spirit indwells us to show us our sin, and when we confess, he forgives us and cleanses us.

As we know from Paul’s letter to the Romans, all have sinned. There isn’t one of us who doesn’t, even if we’ve been born again. We are sinners. But we have a faithful God who forgives us. His son paid the price so that we are no longer separated from God. Jesus’ blood bought our freedom and our redemption from sin.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Eph. 1:7

This hymn is a wonderful illustration of God’s faithfulness in forgiving our sin.

We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace and life proclaim.

Jesus receives sinners in order to take our scarlet sin and make it white as snow. He grants us free salvation and remission of sins. He is faithful to forgive. Hallelujah.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13-14

Jesus Sinners Doth Receive
Words by Erd¬mann Neu¬meis¬ter

Jesus sinners doth receive;
Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
And from God and Heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace and life proclaim.
Here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Sheep that from the fold did stray
No true shepherd e’er forsaketh;
Weary souls that lost their way
Christ, the Shepherd, gently taketh
In His arms that they may live—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Come, ye sinners, one and all,
Come, accept His invitation;
Come, obey His gracious call,
Come and take His free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

I, a sinner, come to Thee
With a penitent confession;
Savior, mercy show to me
Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Oh, how blest it is to know:
Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow
By Thy blood and bitter Passion;
For these words I now believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Now my conscience is at peace,
From the Law I stand acquitted;
Christ hath purchased my release
And my every sin remitted.
Naught remains my soul to grieve—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Jesus sinners doth receive.
Also I have been forgiven;
And when I this earth must leave,
I shall find an open Heaven.
Dying, still to Him I cleave—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Rise, My Soul to Watch and Pray

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. I John 3:8

When I first discovered this hymn, I was struck with how plainly the author deals with the issue of the devil, and the Christian’s response. In our modern churches, we tend not to sing hymns like this, but I urge you to carefully ponder its message. Watch, and pray, because Satan reaps his harvest while Christians “sleep.” Peter admonishes us the same way in his first letter.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

As redeemed children of God, we need to have our senses trained so that we are able to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Satan may not always appear evil: it is possible, and sometimes easy, to be tempted by something that we think is good, which is really the devil in disguise. Paul warns us about that in his second letter to the Corinthians:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
II Cor. 11:13-15

The devil’s servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. As this hymn states, we must watch so that we are not charmed by faithless friends who seek to harm us. How do we do this? By walking in the Spirit, and not walking according to the world.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:17-27

Paul tells us that when we walk in this way, when we put on the new self, we won’t be giving the devil an opportunity. Satan gets his opportunity when we do not seek God first, and when we give in to our fleshly desires and whims – when we SIN. Satan wants to discredit God and see us live a life of sin instead of a life of righteousness. James tells us that we have a way to make the devil go away – we can resist him! We can submit to God and obey His word, and send Satan packing!

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-8

Finally, the strongest defense against the devil is knowing God’s word. In Matthew 4, we have the account of Jesus going to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. First, Jesus fasted for 40 days. FORTY DAYS. It clearly says in Matthew that “He then became hungry.” I would think that’s an understatement.

So Jesus, fully man, and made like His brethren, hasn’t eaten in forty days and now the devil is trying to get at him. And what does He do to answer the devil? He quotes the Word of God. Every time the devil approaches Him with some easy way out, He quotes scripture. And here’s where Satan, in this story, uses his trickery. He quotes scripture too!

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" Matt. 4:5-6

But Jesus has an answer.

Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" Matt. 4:7

It is imperative that we not only know God’s word and what it says, but that we know how to use it – that we are able to answer to the false teachers, to the devil, and to his servants who are disguised as servants of righteousness.

The last verse of this hymn gives great encouragement. The Lord will be your stay, and He is able to increase your faith and your strength. The devil is real, and he is at work in our world and in our lives. But we have God on our side, and when we are strong in the Lord, we can stand firm against the devil and his schemes.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

Rise, My Soul to Watch and Pray
Words by Johann B. Freystein

Rise, my soul, to watch and pray, from thy sleep awaken;
Be not by the evil day unawares o’er taken.
For the foe, well we know, oft his harvest reapeth,
While the Christian sleepeth.

Watch against the devil’s snares lest asleep he find thee;
For indeed no pains he spares to deceive and blind thee.
Satan’s prey oft are they who secure are sleeping
And no watch are keeping.

Watch! Let not the wicked world with its power defeat thee.
Watch lest with her pomp unfurled she betray and cheat thee.
Watch and see lest there be faithless friends to charm thee,
Who but seek to harm thee.

Watch against thyself, my soul, lest with grace thou trifle;
Let not self thy thoughts control nor God’s mercy stifle.
Pride and sin lurk within all thy hopes to scatter;
Heed not when they flatter.

But while watching, also pray to the Lord unceasing,
He will free thee, be thy Stay, strength and faith increasing.
O Lord, bless in distress and let nothing swerve me
From the will to serve Thee.