Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "Jesus Calls us o'er the Tumult"

Our hymn this week is the work of Cecil Frances Alexander, an Irish nineteenth century hymnwriter and poet. "Fanny" as she was best known, began writing at an early age, and wrote many many poems and hymns, including some well-known children's hymns. In fact, hymns for children was her specialty. This week's hymn is one of the few that she wrote that weren't for children.

 Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult
Of our life's wild, restless sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth
Saying, "Christian, follow Me;"

As of old, apostles heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home and toil and kindred,
Leaving all for His dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world's golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, "Christian, love Me more."

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
"Christian, love Me more than these."

Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.
Cecil Frances Alexander

Every day Jesus calls us. When we are in our sin, struggling with life, Jesus calls us to follow Him. He calls us the same way that he called the disciples and apostles thousands of years ago; from our worship of the created things, Jesus calls us to love the Creator. He calls us to love Him more than all the things that seem so big and important to our lives. I pray that you hear Jesus calling you.

Be blessed and shine, answering the call of Jesus!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "O Happy Day"

This week's hymn is by Philip Doddridge, and eighteenth century writer, teacher and hymn-writer in Britain. Doddridge was the youngest of twenty (!) children, and a clergyman of an independent church in Britain.

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away! 
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day 
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away. 

 O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

 ’Tis done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

 Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.
Philip Doddridge

Sometimes in life we forget that our salvation is a joyous event. This hymn calls on us to rejoice in remembering the day, and the days during which we experience(d) the saving grace of God. It is a call both to remember with joy the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, as well as the day we decided to answer the call that Jesus makes to each of us to follow Him. What a happy day indeed!

Be blessed and shine with happiness!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Heart's Desires

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

I used to think that verse meant that if I loved God and if I delighted in Him, God would give me what I really wanted. I mean, that's basically what it says right?

But I have (slowly) come to realise that if that was all that I ever understood from that verse, I'd be missing out on a whole lot. And if I try to delight myself in the Lord because I want things or so that I can have my heart's desire, then I'm really not delighting in the Lord.

The entire psalm, one of the many written by David, talks about patience and trust in God. David's words came at a time in life where he was trusting God to make things right. His delight was in the Lord not so that the Lord would be on his side, but because he knew that the Lord was faithful to his people.

But David was a man who went all in (and all out) when it came to God. When he took delight in God, God became the desire of his heart. That's why David also wrote the words "my soul thirsts after you in a dry and weary land"(Ps 63:1) and "one thing...will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (Ps 27:4). In his wholehearted pursuit of God, his desire turned to God only. All the other things that might have crowded his heart, clamoring for his attention were silenced. Once his focus was on God, none of those things mattered, yet they were all taken care of.

AW Tozer writes this in The Pursuit of God: 
The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.

And David isn't the only place in the Bible where God shows us what our hearts desires should be. David's words here foreshadow those of Jesus which came several hundred years afterward: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33), and those of Paul years after that "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." (Phil 4:4)

It is in taking our delight in God, pursuing God, making God alone the cry of our hearts that we can truly receive, or even understand the fullness of true prosperity, which is not limited by the extent of what our minds can perceive. Delighting in God, desiring God is a positive feedback loop where in wanting God and getting Him, we want Him all the more.

So truly take delight in the Lord, and make Him the desire of your heart. Pursue God, seek Him, for God has never yet forsaken the righteous. Let us work on changing the desires of our hearts

Be blessed and shine with new heart's desires!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! In the Cross

This week's hymn is another one by Fanny Crosby! I've featured a few of her hymns before, much earlier this year. Fanny Crosby was a blind hymnwriter from the nineteenth century. Called one of the most prolific hymnwriters ever, Fanny wrote over 8000 hymns.

Jesus, keep me near the cross, 
There a precious fountain 
Free to all, a healing stream 
Flows from Calvary’s mountain. 

 In the cross, in the cross, 
Be my glory ever; 
Till my raptured soul shall find 
Rest beyond the river. 

Near the cross, a trembling soul, 
Love and mercy found me; 
There the bright and morning star 
Sheds its beams around me. 

Near the cross! O Lamb of God, 
Bring its scenes before me; 
Help me walk from day to day, 
With its shadows o’er me. 

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait 
Hoping, trusting ever, 
Till I reach the golden strand, 
Just beyond the river.
Fanny Jane Crosby

I'm constantly amazed at the visual imagery that Crosby speaks of in her hymns, particularly given her blindness practically from birth. This hymn reminds us of what was done for us at the cross, and reminds us to keep Jesus, and the gift that He is to us ever close to mind and in our hearts. In the cross is life, freedom and healing that is freely available to all who come.

Be blessed and shine with a heart near the cross!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life Happens and Seasons Change

Hello there!

It's been a while since I've really been here...but you know, life happens. And lately, so much life has been happening that I haven't had time to write about it, or about anything else. But I promise that I'm back, and I'll be sticking around!

Part of the reason that I haven't been here in a bit is because I've felt a little disconnected from God. I mean, we still see each other, and we chat and stuff, but we haven't had time to really connect recently. This is probably because I've been alternating between being busy and being exhausted, even though Jesus has been like, "but I'm your rest. Come to me." I'm still learning what that really means, to rest in Jesus as I walk through life with Him.

Life has a way of keeping things rolling, and sometimes, instead of a gentle current going along, it feels more like you're in an avalanche and you don't know which way is up. Or at least I do. But even in these moments God reminds me of His sovereignty and His love, be it through a beautiful sunny morning, or a breathtaking view of trees along the river, or the beauty of the fall foliage.  Through my busyness, God still calls to me to stop and consider His wondrous works.

I'm reminded through these little moments that even as I am tumbling along through life, God's hand is still in all of it, especially as I watch the seasons change in the leaves and trees, and the seasons change in my own life.

Every year the trees instinctively know what to do, their lives set on a cycle that continues through each new generation. The leaves change, and fall off the trees, but they do not despair, for they know that this loss has a purpose and new life will bloom again. I take comfort in these trees, in their beauty, and in the knowledge that the trees' lives have been planned and mapped out by my Creator, and so has mine.

Seasons change, and they should.

Be blessed and shine through life!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

This week's hymn is one by Edward Perronet, a contemporary of John and Charles Wesley. Perronet was also and Anglican priest, and worked closely with the Wesley brothers during the eighteenth century revival.