Give fears to God. He shall lift up our head

“Give to the winds thy fears; Hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head.” (Words by Paul Gerhardt from Germany in 1656, translated to English by John Wesley, 1737).

Time and again, I read these words aloud. My thoughts seek refuge and I find it in psalms and hymns. I don’t have to come up with words. They’ve been written. The psalms speak my heart,

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5

You are God my stronghold.
    Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy? Psalm 43:2

At times we believe God has rejected us. We must seek His face with words given to us,
 Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.
 Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4

Have I praised God for His goodness today? Forget about yesterday. It’s gone. But today is what I have.

Today, I choose to praise and speak aloud. To read an old hymn from centuries ago, and believe that remedy comes.

Remedy arrives in the changing of my mind.

God abides in praise. He rescues us and changes us in the very act of praise to Him. Do we make that choice?

Let us read aloud. And be changed from the inside out.

“Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head.”

“Through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears thy way; Wait thou His time; So shall this night soon end in joyous day.”

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah  

But You. O LORD are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.    Selah  (Psalm 3:3,4).

“Leave to God’s sov’reign sway to choose and to command; So shall thou, wond’ring, own that way, How wise, how strong His hand!”

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

Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

If the Lord Almighty is with us, our dismay, changes to  hope.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

“Let us in life, in death, Thy steadfast truth declare, And publish with our latest breath Thy love and guardian care.”

“Far, far above thy thought, His counsel shall appear, When fully He the work hath wrought that caused thy needless fear.” 

Leave to God’s sov’reign sway, to choose and to command; So shall thou, wond’ring, own that way, How wise, how strong His hand!”

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8,9). 

Do not fret…trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness…commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass…rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret – it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:1-8).

This is my choosing today, and prayerfully, everyday:

“Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments], making melody with all your heart to the Lord.” (Eph.5:19, Amplified).

Let all the children say, “Amen!”

Receive the gift of Jesus today. We must,
A: Admit our  fall.
B: Believe in His provision of forgiveness.
C: Confess and Call out to Him.
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United sound brings a sweet fragrance/ Amazing Grace

Common knowledge learned, in the reach to smell a rose is, “Every rose has its thorns.”

“Ouch!”

How this world with vast beauty and joy, is also sharp and prickly. It punctures and so often, brings about so much more than a “whine”.

Yet,”For God so loves the world.

How can it be? There are days I can’t “love” anything.

I feel so far from smelling the roses. The “thorns” seem to be, like weeds, surrr-rrrou-nnn-ding.

The darkness of nursery rhymes come to the surface, “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

“Whoever wrote these rhymes anyway? Though the origins are argued, we must believe, it was a day of “thorns” in a struggle to smell the rose.

Common knowledge. Community. Comforts and joy in the reciting. Children gather, hand in hand. Going around and ’round, making familiar sounds. “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

Amidst dark clouds, and thoughts of ashes – being together, gathering around, common words chimed – heaviness dashes.

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.”

The song is sung and we all join along, even if the tone is completely wrong. The melody flows from all lips with a smile. In full agreement, hearts receive the gracious love God freely gives.

There’s no strife when hearts unify. There’s no disagreement in the “wretch” that we each be. The thirst seems quenched. The heart instantly warmed.

The smell of roses comes vibrantly alive, when we put sound on our voice and in a common hymn sing! This is where God abides. This is where He dwells. We can all agree. Yes, we agree and somehow our blindness is made to flee:

“‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.”

As if time stops. Glory invites. “For God,” gave His Son, that we might overcome. The song, is sung. And we agree together, and sing along:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”

Jesus can turn water to wine. Jesus can heal. Jesus can restore. The fragrance of joy is smelled. Let us put sound on our voice. And join together and sing.

Let us unify. Let us give thanks. Let us worship our King.

“Praise God. Praise God. Praise God. Praise God!

 

Boastful In One Thing Alone/To God be the Glory

Not boastful about family, yet full of joy, love, and pride. Our family is a gift from God, shared and loaned to each of us for a time.

Not boastful in our talents, or all of our great powers:  To think. To sing. To run fast, to draw.

To create. To figure. To fly. To build high towers. Not boastful in any of these things at all. These are gifts given to us by the great and Almighty God.

Instead – Let us boast and give glory to Him. It is high time we give glory to One who is worthy. We seek God. We desire Him. Let us open His Book and receive His whole Story.

“To God be the glory, great things He hath done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, . . . ” (1)

Boastful in one thing and one thing alone: the cross that the Son of God endured for each and everyone.

For God so loved the world, yesterday and today. Even for all who hate Him and despise Him, the cross He endured.

Who yielded His life our redemption to win,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.

The Place of the Skull, where there stood the cross. Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, To every believer the promise of God;

Not only one, but of crosses, there were three. And the story is read, of the choices of the thieves:
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son.

Boastful today about the cross alone. We’ve been redeemed, yes, bought by the Son, who paid for all the damages brought on by our sin.

Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

We must not boast for ourselves, in a gift that is given. Let’s give God the glory He so wonderfully deserves.

Those who fear man will be fearful in this. But in these last days, let us boast in Christ – let us be of the courageous.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see.

Jesus laid down His life that we might have it abundant. Living water for our thirst. Daily Bread for our hunger. His Spirit indwelling when we believe on the cross. The Father so loves that He gave His own Son.

On thing we must boast in, let us boast in the cross.

This old hymn brought out to the light was written by a woman who was completely blind. Fanny Crosby’s fingers wrote thousands of hymns. God allowed blindness in her life, only to give her incredible sight.

To God be the Glory,” one hymn out of many, has perhaps even today, opened some eyes that were blind – to see. Let’s give God praise:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

(1) To God Be the Glory. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915).

 

 

 

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

  ‘A Shelter in the Time of Storm’.

A hymn written by Vernon J. Charlesworth sometime in the 1880’s, has power to change worry to calm. Oh the power of the hymn, if we only knew these words as they did back when:

A Shelter in the Time of storm: “The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, A shelter in the time of storm.”

“O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A weary land, a weary land; O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land; A Shelter in the time of storm.”

“A shade by day, defense by night, A shelter in the time of storm; No fears alarm, no foes affright, A shelter in the time of storm.

“The raging storms may round us beat, A shelter in the time of storm; We’ll never leave our safe retreat, A shelter in the time of storm.”

“O Rock divine, O Refuge dear, A shelter in the time of storm; Be Thou our helper ever near, A shelter in the time of storm. O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A weary land, a weary land; O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land; A shelter in the time of storm!”

Thank you Vernon J. Charlesworth for your pen, that chose to write, way back when, so my heart and mind can think of this, and speak these words that bring about peace.

A hymn, so powerful to bring a calm. Rich in truth and and a healing balm. God’s word, a sword against our foe, can be our help when the storm rages so:  “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.” Psalms 32 verse seven. Do I make the choice to receive this in faith? Do I take hold of the truth, so that I might finish the race?

God gave us choice. What then? Do we stop and be still so we can hear Him? Oh, the struggle. Oh, the fight. Our very natures resist being still! We want to ‘get back’ we want to ‘be right!’

‘Pause and think quietly upon all of this.’ “Selah” is the remedy for quiet bliss: Psalm 32 verse seven is written, that I might open it up to seek God’s face in heaven.

‘Even though we may walk in the valley of the shadow of death we will fear no evil,’ because ‘in Him’ we reside.  He is a Shelter in the Time of storm, and  – in Him – we hide!

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you ,again” and again,  “it is a safeguard for you.” (Philipians 3:1, emphasis, mine.)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  (Let us choose to cling to God’s word at this time), Philippians 4:4, is our key to remember that the Lord is watching, the Lord can hear, the Lord knows everything – and yes, He is near!

‘He knows our frame. He knows we are dust’ (1). He knows we need forgiveness. He knows all the mess. He is Sovereign, …

He is Omniscient, …

He is Omnipotent.

Turn to Him,  for salvation, One time is enough, but moment by moment, draw near to Him – for power and strength and a refuge in the storm. He is Love, He is Able, He is the LORD.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -… 

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.” Phillipians  Four, 8 and 9. God’s word, and hymns and Psalms are divine, full of supernatural strength for all time.

Today, do you choose to take refuge in Him? Moment by moment, call out His name. He hears, He guides, and He calls you to come, to take refuge under the shadow of His loving arms. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28; God’s word, a refuge for us.

“The raging storms may round us beat, A shelter in the time of storm; We’ll never leave our safe retreat, A shelter in the time of storm.”

“O Rock divine, O Refuge dear, A shelter in the time of storm; Be Thou our helper ever near, A shelter in the time of storm. O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A weary land, a weary land; O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land; A shelter in the time of storm!”

May these words become well-worn. Thank you Vernon J. Charlesworth for ‘A shelter in the time of storm’. But most of all, thank you Jesus, for Your righteous right arm!

(1) Psalm 103:14.

  • * * * *

 

 

“We’ll understand it better by and by…”

Words have been written, and I dig them up from the past, because through time and ages, they speak – for me, for you –  bringing comfort to last.

God allowed hard times for the man who wrote this hymn – Charles A. Tindley, a ‘prominent, powerful, persecuted American-African. He wrote through the pain in 1851, – not in anger or in hate – but in power and love with faith -of faith in a God Whom he could not see, but with eyes focused and believing on the promise… of eternity!

1.”We are often tossed and driv’n on the restless sea of time, rolling clouds and howling tempests oft succeed a bright sunshine; In that land of perfect day, when the mists have rolled away, We will understand it better by and by. By and by.”

This hymn was written and recorded and often sung, not asking, “Why?, Why God Why?” but instead, “We will understand it better by and by. By and by.”

“By and by when the morning comes, …We’ll tell the story how we’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by.”

There is hope and there is trust in a God that is great. There is patience and  quietness and rest while we wait.

2. “Trials dark on ev’ry hand, and we cannot understand, All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed promised land; But He’ll guide us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die, We will understand it better by and by, by and by.”

Words written of wrestling, yet of surrender to God’s plan. Power is in surrender and taking hold of God’s hand.

“We’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by…When the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story of how we’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by.”

We’ll Understand it Better By and By , Charles A. Tindley – tells us why. Perhaps in our present day we should be resurrecting words spoken in  1905!

Casting cares with worship and praise

“Please pray…!””Please pray…!” So many requests come our way,

and our heart says, “Yes, I will pray, I will pray, now and today- that God will move, that God will comfort, that God will be all that He IS to you. He is a very present help in times of trouble, so we ask Him, “Dear Lord be all that You are!”

And He says, “I AM.” “Be Still.”

So, I stop and read some poems written long ago, as my heart today feels so heavy-and my mind just can’t focus- but the words help me pray- I then cast all my cares upon You:

“God counts the sorrows of his saints, Their groans affect His ears; Thou hast a book for my complaints, A bottle for my tears.” 

“When to thy throne I raise my cry, The wicked fear and flee: So swift is prayer to reach the sky; So near is God to me.”

“In Thee, most holy, just and true, I have reposed my trust; Nor will I fear what man can do, The offspring of the dust.” (Poem by CH Spurgeon).

How I can see your face so much clearer, tis true, when I repeat the words that have been written about You:

“Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus I come. Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee. Out of my sickness, into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth. Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus, I come to Thee.” (Jesus, I Come by William T. Sleeper).

“Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come. Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee….

...Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm, Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm. Out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus, I come to Thee.” (Jesus, I Come by William T. Sleeper).

Praying with spiritual poems and hymns, and the word of God increases faith:

“When I am afraid I will trust in You. In God, Who’s word I praise. In God I trust.”(Psalm 56:3,4).

“I bow towards thy mercy-seat: Haste, Lord, thy servant haste to meet, To thee, addressed, my sorrows rise; Lord, bend thine ear, accept my cries.”

“O let my prayer before thee come, Sweet as the censer’s fragrant fume; And may the hands, which thus I rear, An evening sacrifice appear!” (poem by C.H. Spurgeon).

“O lead me to the Rock That’s high above my head! And make the covert of thy wings My shelter and my shade. Within they presence, Lord, For ever I’ll abide: Thou art the tower of my defense, The refuge where I hide.” (Poem by C.H. Spurgeon).

“A shade by day, defense by night, A shelter in the time of storm; No fears alarm, no foes affright, A shelter in the time of storm. O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, weary land, a weary land. O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land; A Shelter in the time of storm.” (Hymn by Vernon J. Charlesworth, 1880).

Words written so long ago, for me today…that I might pray.

Is there comfort in our affliction?

“God, it’s comfort your people need. With bleeding hearts and righteous anger at injustice, we are in need… Your people, Your children around the world are in need…to see You. “Oh soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness to see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior. A light so abundant and free: (From the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

Turn the Light on Lord God! For ‘You are our Shepherd’, we may be in ‘need’, but we are not in ‘want’ when we are enveloped in all that You are. “This is my comfort in my affliction,” we now know what it is, but we need You to speak, because it is written that the ‘comfort in our affliction’ is Your Word.

“So, ‘speak Lord, Your servants are listening.’ Help us to hear Your voice and remember. Remind us what’s true!
I have overcome this world in which you have great trial and tribulation, be of good cheer and do not fear.” (John 16:33, my paraphrase).
“Lord today’s tribulation is spoken of so clearly in Your word, in the Book of Revelation written so long ago. It’s the voice of the martyrs. We can hear the voices in the vision written by John, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying,
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” (Revelation 6:9-11).

Yes Lord, help us remember the voice of the martyrs and shine that light…that light for a look at the Savior.

“Whoever declares openly -speaking out freely- and confesses that he is My worshipper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God.”( Luke 12:8, Amplified). This is My word. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Rev. 22:16).

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book… And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Rev. 22:7,12,13).

Comfort comes by the word of His testimony. Jesus speaks:“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.(John 16:1-3). “But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you at the beginning…” (John 16:4).

Comfort comes by the words of testimony, even of one of the disciples, recorded for us to read in the book titled, ‘Jesus Freaks’ by DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. Comfort comes from the story, “Andrew, Peter’s brother, Greece 66AD, Not Afraid of the Cross, (pgs 149-151 in ‘Jesus Freaks’), not only must ‘their stories be told’ which is the heart of the Voice of the Martyrs, but the stories need to be heard and read and remembered over time:

“Andrew boldly looked the governor in the eye. ‘it is good for you, the judge of men, to first know your Judge who dwells in heaven,” he said, his voice ringing with the force of truth. “After you know Him, then worship Him, removing from your mind false gods and blind idols.” Christians all over the empire were being executed in obedience to a decree from the Roman Senate. Peter had been crucified a year earlier, and before this year would end, six more of the the original disciples, including Andrew, would be executed. Of the twelve, only John would remain on earth.

Andrew had voluntarily come to face Aegaeas, the governor, to persuade him not to persecute the many Christians Andrew had brought to the faith in the city of Patras. 

Andrew’s words angered the king. “Are you the same Andrew who has overthrown the temple of the gods and persuades men to be of that superstitious sect which Rom has now commanded to be abolished?”

Andrew answered, “The princes of the Romans do not understand the truth. The Son of God, coming from heaven into the world for man’s sake, has taught and declared how those idols, whom you so honor as gods, are not gods, but rather cruel devils, enemies to mankind. They teach the people to do things that are so offensive to God that He turns away. In serving the devil, people fall into all kinds of wickedness, and after they die, nothing remains for them but their evil deeds.”

“Enough!” the governor commanded. “Do not teach such things anymore or you will be fastened to the cross with all speed.”

Andrew answered, “If I were afraid of the death of the cross, I would not have preached about the majesty, honor, and glory of the cross.”

The governor then pronounced sentence, “This man is starting a new sect and taking away the religion of the Roman gods. I hereby sentence him to death by crucifixion.”

As Andrew was brought toward the place of execution, he saw, from afar off, the cross prepared for him. Instead of the fear that might be expected, fervent love for Jesus rose up in his heart. He cried out, “O cross, most welcome and long looked for! With a willing mind, I joyfully come to you, being the disciple of Him who hung on you.” As he neared the cross he said,” The nearer I come to the cross, the nearer I come to God; and the farther I am from the cross, the farther I remain from God.” 

For three days, the apostle hung on the cross. As long as he could move his tongue, he instructed all who stood nearby, encouraging them, “Remain steadfast in the word and doctrine which you have received, instructing one another, that you may dwell with God in eternity, and receive the fruit of His promises.”

After three days, the Christians asked the governor to take Andrew down from the cross and release him to them. But Andrew, hearing their plans, cried out, “O Lord Jesus Christ! Don’t let Your servant, who hangs here on the cross for Your name’s sake, be released to dwell again among men! Please receive me, O my Lord, my God! You I have known, You I have loved, to You I cling, you I desire to see, and in You I am what I am.”

Having spoken these words, he committed his spirit into the hands of the heavenly Father.” (Jesus Freaks,  of Andrew, Peter’s brother).

Perhaps the old hymn, “That Old Rugged Cross” was  first written in Andrews heart, lived out by his example, and today we are changed in our view of it by his testimony. In the midst of the pain, and heart ache, we  begin to more and more ‘cherish that old Rugged Cross’,and ‘cling to that ‘ol rugged cross’, and rejoice in the fact that someday, we will exchange it some day for a crown! How do we know these things to be true?

The powerful word of the Lord! That is how we draw near to God! We’ve got to know Him, we’ve got to remember! Remember what?…Remember these things: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed,

having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. Therefore…

We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore…

We make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

This is comfort.”Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…” But what does Jesus say about our enemies? Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”(Matthew 5:44 NIV). “But God this is so hard,” we reply in our pain. Remember the cross, ‘that ‘ol rugged cross, Jesus was crucified and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).  “I will cling to the ‘ol rugged cross,’ and exchange it someday for a crown!”

“There is a place of quiet and rest…”

“Near to the heart of God.”

This is the first line to a hymn titled, “Near to the heart of God.”

“There is a place of quiet and rest,…there is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.”

Quiet, rest, comfort…is this what you and I seek for today?
Perhaps your heart is very heavy. Perhaps you know someone who has been stricken somehow, be it fear, or great sickness, or addiction or afflictions of great loss.
Maybe it is a brother or a sister or a mother or a father or maybe that someone is …you.

When asked the question, “How are you?” The only reply near to the tongue is,
“I’m tired.”
Today, I read the words aloud of an unfamiliar hymn, (unfamiliar to me that is),
“O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.”

and they brought to mind a most familiar story.

It was the words, ‘who wait before Thee,’ that reminded me of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles. Do you remember him? Well, if not, I will write one of his famous prayers from 2 Chronicles 20:12.

“O our God, will You not judge them?” (Them? The enemy that came out to battle. We won’t battle with the people of Moab, but we will battle fear and doubt everyday!) “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Could this be the prayer of your heart today? It is mine as well. I am so glad it was recorded for us. It has become an anchor prayer to troubled hearts for many, over and over again, for many, many years. (That is how the Bible remains on the best seller list year after year after year.)

Did you know that King Jehoshaphat had gathered all of Judah, with the little ones, their wives, and their children, and they stood before the LORD to pray that together? And they received an answer because the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of … who was the son of (oh, those names!)…., and the response was recorded,(after you get through all of the names!) many, many years ago, for you and for me – today. It’s in 2 Chronicles 20:14-17.

“Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves,
stand still and see the salvation of the LORD,
who is with you. O Judah and Jerusalem!”
(and repeated a second time, he continues,) “Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

Jehoshaphat then bowed his head to the ground and worshiped the LORD.

“Position yourselves,…”
And Jehoshaphat showed us how.

Today, let us speak together this hymn:
“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.

“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,…”

Ps. 96,
“OH, sing to the LORD a new song!”

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;”

Did you know that the hymn, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”, was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? Yes, the one who became known as one of Americas greatest writers. His brother, Samuel was a minister and hymnist, but this hymn was written by Henry.

It was Christmas Day in 1863, during a very dark day for Henry Longfellow, and for all of America. These were the dark days of the Civil War, but for Henry, his son Charles had recently been severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia, on Nov. 27th.

As Henry sat by his son’s bedside, he wrote:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day. Their old familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeat, Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along th’un-broken song Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “for hate is strong, and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till ringing, singing, on its way, the world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

This makes me think, how the ‘just shall live by faith and not by sight.” So I will repeat,

“Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

The ringing, the singing, the voice, the chime – “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.” What a wonderful hymn for our Christmas Day.

Not again, more about singing?

 

Is. 54:1 “Sing, O barren, You who have not borne;”Break forth into into singing and cry aloud…”

Barren means lacking or unable to produce, or having no useful result, or lacking a desirable element- it means emptiness. Perhaps barrenness is being ashamed of the past, or feeling forsaken in the present, and being completely unsure of the future.

Sing, O barren? break forth into singing?

In Is. 54:7 God says, “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.

Every day, God keeps telling me the same thing, yet in a different way: “Sing, O barren”.

So once again I am reminded of the story in 2 Chronicles 20,

“A great multitude is coming against us…” (2 Chron. 20:2) King Jehoshaphat cries out.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (2 Chron. 20:3), then he spoke to God, (in my paraphrase)

Aren’t You God in heaven?Don’t You rule over everything? Isn’t there power and might in Your hand? Aren’t we Your people, didn’t we build You a temple to dwell in? and if disaster comes we will stand before You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.
“For we have no power against this great multitude coming against us, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”(2 Chronicles20:12)

So, the  Spirit of the LORD came upon Hahaziel…the son of so and so, and the son of so and so, of the sons of Asaph! Asaph? Asaph  is the family of singers and players,( not sports, instruments!) and he said,” Don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged because of this great multitude,

for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”((2 Chron 20:15)and verse 17 says,

“You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be discouraged,…”

(I am seeing that ‘do not fear, don’t be discouraged’  is written two times, yes, I know why! because when we are barren, when we feel forsaken in our present, and completely unsure of our future, we get afraid, we get discouraged!

“Believe in the LORD your God”… King Jehoshaphat proclaimed!

And do you  remember how they positioned themselves?

They appointed those who praise and sing to go on before the army saying: “Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever.”Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set up ambushes  and the enemy was DEFEATED! 2 Chron 20:22!

Over and over again the Lord is showing me that Praise is a weapon! It will destroy the enemy of depression and the spirit of despair! It opens up the  heavy curtain of darkness and allows the light to fill that ol’ barren space!

O my goodness, The hymn Leaning on His everlasting Arms is a perfect song to sing in barrenness:

vs.3 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, I’m leaning,

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!