LO! He Comes with Clouds Descending


Lo he comesCharles Wesley, 1707–1788

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
When Jesus made His first entrance to earth, He was seen by only a small group of people—a few lowly shepherds and later by some wandering wise men. Bethlehem’s stable birth attracted little attention and had limited immediate effect upon the rest of the world. It was nearly 30 years before Christ’s earthly ministry gained much notice.

What a contrast it will be when He returns for His second advent—every eye “shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Even those who crucified God’s Son will see and mourn, as will people from every tribe and nation because of their rejection of Him. But for those who have trusted in His redemptive work, the days of mourning will be over, not just beginning. For the Christian, the anticipation of Christ’s return is a joyous prospect—“O come quickly, Alleluia! come, Lord, come!”

In 1758 Charles Wesley published in his Hymns of Intercession for all Mankind a four stanza text, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending.” Eight years earlier an associate of the Wesleys, John Cennick, had written a hymn with a similar text. This present version first appeared in 1760 and is really a combination of both Cennick’s and Wesley’s texts.

This is an excellent scriptural hymn and one that should be used much more frequently when believers contemplate and anticipate their Lord’s return.

Lo! He comes, with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain; thousand thousand saints attending, swell the triumph of His train: Alleluia! alleluia! God appears on earth to reign.

Ev’ry eye shall now behold Him, robed in dreadful majesty; those who set at naught and sold Him, pierced and nailed Him to the tree, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee high on Thine eternal throne; Savior, take the pow’r and glory, claim the kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly, O come quickly, Alleluia! come, Lord come!

Fill My Cup Lord I lift it Up Lord


Fill my cup LordLike the woman at the well, I was seeking

For things that could not satisfy.

  1. And then I heard my Savior speaking—
    “Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”

 

 

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

  1. There are millions in this world who are seeking
    For pleasures earthly goods afford.
    But none can match the wondrous treasure
    That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.
  1. So my brother if the things that this world gives you
    Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
    My blessed Lord will come and save you
    If you kneel to Him and humbly pray—

The story of this hymn is fascinating. I like the way Robert Cottrill put it. So here is the narrative from Robert Cottrill of Wordwise Hymn

Richard Blanchard was born in China of missionary parents. When they returned to the United States, they lived in Indiana, then North Carolina. In his adult years, Blanchard served as a pastor in the United Methodist denomination for forty years.

A severe lung condition required two surgeries, leaving him with only one third of the normal lung capacity. But in spite of physical limitations, the pastor continued to serve the Lord, even launching a television ministry popular in the Miami area. He also wrote numerous songs and, interestingly, a musical about Francis of Assisi. Fill My Cup, published in 1959, is by far his best known song.

The writing of Fill My Cup came about in an unusual way. Pastor Blanchard was waiting for the arrival of a couple for marriage counselling. They were late for the appointment. Not a little irritated, the pastor sat down at the piano to kill time while the minutes ticked away. That’s hardly the best frame of mind to write about fullness of life in Christ! But it was then the idea for a gospel song came to him. He said, “When I was not in the mood to be used of God, God was in the mood to use me.”

The song is based on the Lord’s encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, in a place called Sychar (Jn. 4:5-42). As Bartlett describes her, she was indeed a woman who was searching for something. Searching for happiness, for meaning, for contentment. But so far she’d been looking in all the wrong places! Married five times, and currently living with a sixth man (vs. 17-18), she was about to find the answer to her lifelong quest.

She had come to draw water from the well for her daily needs. And the Lord Jesus used that water to start a conversation about spiritual things. This is a wonderful technique to use in our own witness. Take a common interest or experience, and use it to introduce the Saviour.

Christ began by asking for a drink (vs. 7). This was unusual, given that “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (vs. 9), and the two groups were generally hostile to one another. When she puzzled over this, Jesus said:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water….Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (vs. 10, 13-14).

The Spirit of God, and the work of the Spirit, are symbolized or pictured by water a number of times in the Word of God. Just as water is refreshing and revitalizing to us in a physical sense, the Holy Spirit brings new birth and new life, and reviving to us spiritually.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn. 7:39-39).

At the well that day, the woman not only became a believer herself, at least in an elementary way, but immediately she sought to bring others to Christ (vs. 28-29, 39-42).

1) Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Saviour speaking:
“Draw from my well that never shall run dry.”

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

In his second stanza, Mr. Bartlett draws a parallel to the “millions in this world” who are looking for satisfaction in “the pleasures earthly things afford.” But he declares that none can match the soul satisfaction found in Jesus Christ.

That leads him to make a gospel appeal in the final stanza. He invites those who have been searching, and finding nothing that truly satisfy, to come to Christ and trust in Him for salvation and life abundant.

3) So, my brother, if the things this world gave you
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you,
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray:

http://wordwisehymns.com/2014/01/03/fill-my-cup-lord/

 

Conflict Management – Lessons from Uncle Abraham and Lot


New Year 3It is New Year again and I find myself thinking of the same hymn I analysed on New Years day last year. It is the hymn, I am resolved no longer to linger. Since we have already looked at the story behind this hymn and also shared some devotional about it, I will not do so but refer you to the link if you wish to refresh yourselve about it (http://austinbhebe.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/i-am-resolved-no-longer-to-linger/).  But today I want to use the hymn to invite you to become a better christian in 2014.  Be resolved no longer to linger in 2014. According to the Oxford University Press, resolve means to decide firmly on a course of action. One of the resolutions that I have been meditating on this year is to become wise in how I manage conflicts. I happen to have been studying the book of Genesis and the story of Uncle Abraham and Lot came so alive to me and I just want to share some thoughts from it.

For the past 4 years Enid and I have been involved in teaching pre-marital classes to would be couples. It has been a ten week schedule. One of the topics that we have handled year after year has been Conflict and Communication in marriage. An interesting topic which while preparing to teach, we ourselves have been students of our own materials. Now while usually we have looked at how couples can manage conflicts in marriage, I have also found very interesting salient points about managing conflicts in families.

Conflicts seem to be inevitable, whether family, friends, workplace, neighbours. Conflicts always happen. I have picked a few lessons from the relationship of Uncle Abraham and his nephew Lot. Theirs speaks to those times of conflict also to the times when we need to make choices, decisions that direct the paths of our lives.

Lot was the nephew to Abram son of Abram’s brother Haran.  His own father had died back in Mesopotamia years before back in Ur. (Genesis 11:27-28).  Abram had taken his nephew into his own family and Lot had travelled with Abram down into Canaan. When Abram left Ur, Lot went too. When Abram left Haran, Lot went too. When Abram left Canaan and went to Egypt, Lot went too. Lot had gone to Egypt and had seen the disastrous results of Abram’s deception and now Lot is again with his uncle in Canaan.  It is not long before trouble arises. Chapter 13 of Genesis opens up with the men traveling back to Canaan.

There are three things I want to us to see about Uncle Abram and his nephew Lot. (i) Circumstances can lead to Conflict Gen 13:1-7; (ii) Choices reveal Character Gen 13:8-13 (Abram/Lot) and (iii)  Covenant is Claimed Gen 13:14-18

Circumstances can lead to Conflict – Gen 13:1-7

Here we see the word conflict used. The Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary describes conflict as a difference that prevents agreement. We are specifically told that the ensuing conflict or strife was between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.  This does not necessitate that Abram and Lot entered into this same strife.  On the other hand, the fact that Abram sees it necessary for he and Lot to separate suggests that there was a rift between the two of them and that it went deeper than merely overzealous herdsmen.

We have already noted the problem of strife between the servants of Abram and the servants of Lot.  Their circumstances were such that called for these two men to go their separate ways.  There is a principle here.  It is that God regularly uses circumstances to work out His plan and to guide His people.

Some salient points:

A. Conflict inevitable and Circumstances can cause them: Abram and possibly Lot had prospered materially in Egypt. Wealthy in livestock and silver and gold, servants. Wealth in cattle demands land for grazing, water for all animals. Question became: whose flocks would have choice pasture? Whose would be the first at the wells for water? What would happen to sheep that strayed away into other folds? Petty quarrelling over resources between the servants would inevitably affect Abram and Lot’s relationship. We know from chapt14 that Abram had 300+ trained men in his household, Lot probably had a significant # too. We can see the possession of wealth showing its ugly side- the side that tends to divide families, isolate brothers, embitter friends, conflict of material possession.

B. Conflicts are  observed:. Any wonder why the Canaanites and Perizzites are mentioned here again? Possible reminder to us that whenever we are at odds, conflict, strife, dissention- there is someone watching. The Canaanite and the Perizzite were living in the land at this time. They are mentioned here because it was in their midst that Abram had been proclaiming the name of the Lord.  Perhaps Abram had shared with them the promise of God for a Deliverer who would come through the seed of the woman.

Now these Canaanites and Perizzites see the servants of two believers in the Lord as they begin to quarrel and fight among themselves.  What will they think?  How will the name of the Lord be glorified by these events?

1. Waiting to see if this quarrelling might be an opportunity for them to move in. Limited resources in the land.A family feud that might lead to war between the 2 men could be a chance for them to step in, conqueror one or both, take the wealth and livestock, people into captivity.

2. Watching their testimony. They might have said “these 2 men refused to worship our gods, they’ve said they worship the one true living God, created all earth, above all gods, they serve this God-and they’re fighting over their animals? Can’t even get along with each other. This little sentence= reminds us how people are watching how we handle conflict in our homes and our churches. “She supposed to be a Christian and she can’t get along with her mother-in-law, I thought Christians were supposed to love everybody? Or she fights all the time with her husband and she wants to tell me about peace with God?” The world is watching us. Take care.

Truth: Conflict is inevitable and there will always be someone watching how you handle it. How you handle this, what behaviour choices you make reveal something about you.

Choices reveal Character – Gen 13:8-13

First we see the character of Abraham in Gen 13:8 and 9. Abram has a decision to make.  He is faced with the problem of continuing conflict between his servants and the servants of Lot and he must decide how to deal with it.  The obvious solution will be for them to separate.  There is a lesson here.  It is that there are times when it is necessary for two family members or believers to admit that they need some distance between the two of them.

1.  Confront the problem Directly- Abram faced the situation, not in denial. He knows very well that there is a problem. Break had to come, they needed more space. They had outgrown staying together; surely this parting could be done peacefully. He resolved to solve this conflict. I have learnt the lesson of confronting my problems the hard way, but we need to do so.

2. Discernment and wisdom are important. We are family members, the relationship we share is far more important than our possessions. The use of biblical principles is important. We ought to let the principles of the Bible guide our decision making process.  Abram was able to do this, too.  He had already been told by God that he would be a blessing to the world.  In light of this promise, he had come into the land where he could proclaim the name of the Lord before the watching world.  That proclamation was now being drowned out by the strife between his shepherds and the shepherds of Lot.  A separation between himself and Lot will allow Abram to continue to be a blessing to the part of the world in which he lives.

3. Dignity and generosity- “Abram says please no more quarrelling. Having decided that a separation is necessary the next was where should Abram go for this separation to take place?   But he says to Lot, you choose first, I’ll take what you don’t want” We know that Abram is Lot’s senior, his uncle, Abram should have the prior claim, stronger, leader of the households, spiritually=heir to God’s promises. He let Lot choose first because his strong desire is to make peace Mt 5:9 -blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God. World says you’re a fool if you let someone else take advantage of you, God says you are blessed if you give up your rights for another.

Here we see the aspect of Self Sacrifice.  The way in which Abram approaches Lot indicates to us that he has yielded all of his personal rights to the Lord.  Abram owned the land.  It was his by divine promise.  The Lord had given it to him.  Abram had every right to tell Lot where he could go.  Instead, Abram yields all of his rights to God.  In this way, he allows God free reign to show His personal will and guidance.  This is a measure of his faith which brings us to the fourth point.

4. Faith- Hadn’t God promised to take care of him, bless him with inheritance. Hadn’t God taken care of him in Egypt, wouldn’t he continue to be true to His word? Abram had developed a confidence that God would guide him.  His confidence is seen in that he leaves the choice to the Lord.  He permits God to show him the divine place through the decision of Lot. F.B.Meyer  says “The man who is sure of God can afford to hold very lightly the things of this world. God Himself is his heritage and in having God, he has all.”

If God gave him things, he would hold them as a steward, in trust for God. If God took them away, that was fine too. Abram’s relationship with God was primary and everything else was secondary. He sacrificed his own “rights” to make peace with his nephew, He chose second because he trusted God first.

Here is a truth worth noting: When you are trusting God to take care of you, you can relinquish your “rights” for the sake of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Life of faith like Abram is a life of reversed values. Jesus would tell us the same thing in the Beatitudes. You think blessings come in being wealthy and powerful, but I tell you it’s in being poor in spirit; you think you should love your neighbour and hate your enemy, I tell you love both your neighbour and your enemy; you think if someone wants you to go a mile for them, I tell you go two…and on and on. Living reversed values can only be real if you’re walking in faith and trusting God. When you do, you reflect the Kingdom on earth, you incarnate Jesus Christ.

Secondly, we see the behaviour of Lot Gen 13:10-13 . It is said that “Lot lifted his eyes”. His eyes were the binoculars of his heart. As Lot looked to the east of the central mountain ridge of Canaan, he would have seen the Jordan River Valley.  It was well watered everywhere.  The one place in Israel where there is a constant flow of water is the Jordan River.  Fed by the melting snows of Mount Herman, this river overflows it banks in the spring and it narrows to a small, muddy stream in the fall, but it does not dry up completely.

It is also interesting to note that the Bible here also mentions Egypt. Why?  It is because, to the minds of his readers, Egypt was the most fruitful place they had ever seen.  Indeed, every time the Israelites in the wilderness encountered difficulties, they would immediately wish they were back in Egypt.  By comparing Lot’s choice to Egypt, the writer is identifying this slave mentality with Lot’s desire for Sodom and Gomorrah.

If the decision of Abram portrays how a spiritual believer makes a decision, the example of Lot presents how a worldly person makes a decision.  This passage lists for us the factors that went into Lot’s decision.

Self-focused – life is about me and enjoying the beauty that my eyes have seen. The apparent delights that were there. Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (13:10). That was the first factor that went into Lot’s decision, it  involved what he saw with his eyes.  This was a materialistic mindset and it shows us that Lot was not concerned with spiritual results as much as he was with physical criteria.

When Abram offered the choice, if Lot had truly been a righteous man he would have deferred and said “no uncle, you must choose first, I’ll take what you don’t prefer” That’s not what happened. Lot snapped up the offer. In his spiritual short-sightedness he chose what looked good even though he knew v13 the men of Sodom were wicked before the Lord. Ez 16:49-50. This means that they were arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, did not help the poor and needy, haughty, did detestable things before God.

2. Superficial Financial  and social gain- Gen 13:10-Put yourself in the picture, standing on the heights of Bethel, looking over the land of Promise. On looking at  3 sides, there was not much to attract you, business of raising sheep, hills all around. But to the southeast, broad valley, waters of the Jordan spread out, green, luxurious. The Bible tells us that, it looked like Garden of the Lord, Eden, or the land of Egypt, maybe it reminded Lot of Egypt. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were reminiscent of the land of Egypt from which Abram and Lot had recently come from.  It is likely that Lot had been in love with Egypt.  It was a rich land and culturally advanced beyond anything Lot had previously seen.  Lot made his decision based on what would be financially and socially best for himself, without regard to what God’s will was for his life. When he saw these cities of the plain, they must have been large and wealthy, land of opportunity, you could get rich quick in the right kind of business. Perhaps Lot saw this as an opportunity to leave raising cattle and livestock, that’s exactly what happens. In time, he would live to regret his decision.

3. Independent of God – Gen 13:11 We never read of Lot building an altar or calling upon the name of the Lord.  There is no prayer or seeking the Lord for guidance.  It does not appear that the Lord was either consulted or considered.  “He chose for himself”. No mention of prayer, asking God. Like Abram he has flocks, herds, tents, but no altars are mentioned in Lot’s life, he makes decisions for himself, based on what he thinks is best, what he can see. He doesn’t ask “Is this right for my family? Is this a good place to raise a family? Is this a place where we can worship God freely?” God is not involved in his decision, “MY WAY” Here is another Truth: Our choices must not be based only on our desires but on divine guidance.

Our eyes, feelings, our goals alone are not to be trusted. “The heart is deceitful and wicked and who can trust it” Me, without God, is very me first then you. I desperately need God’s divine guidance is what is truly best for me and others around me.

Lot’s choice is seen in strong contrast to that which had been made by Abram.

 Abram

Lot

God led him by means of his circumstances. He took advantage of his circumstances.
His choice led to the furtherance of the divine commission. His choice led to the furtherance of his own wealth and social status.
He yielded up all his personal rights. He took the rights that were properly that of his uncle.
He left the choice up to the Lord. He made his own decision.

Out of all the cities of the plain, Lot chose to camp near Sodom.  This city would become  a symbol for wickedness.  Lot’s move to this location would begin a downward spiral in which he would eventually fall into great sin.  There is a principle here.  It is that association often leads to compromise resulting in sin.

Association

Compromise

Overt Sin

When you go outside on a rainy day wearing white gloves and pick up a ball of mud, spreading it over your hands, the mud hardly ever becomes “glovey.”  Rather the pollution of the mud makes the gloves muddy.  Lot’s association with the city of Sodom would soon result in an eroding of his spiritual values.  In the same way, when you allow yourself to enter into close fellowship with unbelievers, it is often the case that you are pulled down.

The location of Sodom and Gomorrah has been the source of considerable discussion.  All attempts to conclusively identify the ruins of these cities have thus far met with failure.  Several theories have been put forth as to their original location.

The traditional location for these cities has been the southern section of the Dead Sea.  This southern portion of the Dead Sea has been submerged beneath 15-30 feet of water throughout most of recorded history, but recent diversion of the waters of the Jordan have resulted in a lowering of the level of the Dead Sea so that this entire area today is dry.  Ruins of several ancient cities have been uncovered along the east side of this area, but none have been positively identified as corresponding to the names of the cities given in Genesis.

The final part we see that the Lord fulfils the promise to Abraham. The Covenant is claimed see Gen 13:14-18

Painful as it was to see Lot pack up and move away, together a long time. Yes they had problems, yes Lot took the best land, but they were family and Abram would miss him. It must be recognized that at a glance, Lot would have appeared at the beginning to be the solution to the running problem of the Abraham.  Abram had been given a promise by God that from him would come a great nation.  How was this to take place in light of the fact that Sarah was barren and could not bear any children?  Perhaps the required offspring would come through Lot.  He was, after all, the nephew to Abram.  Perhaps he would become the adopted son of Abram and thus fulfill the divine promise.

As we come to the end of the chapter, Lot has removed himself from the presence of Abram and has gone off to live in the area of Sodom.  By doing so, he has effectively removed himself from Abram and the promises of a great nation.

It is in such a context that the Lord comes to Abram and confirms the earlier promise.  God comes to Abram, reassures him of promises. Abram, this is your land to your descendants, not Lot’s, I’m giving this land to you forever.

Not only is that promise confirmed, we also read additional elements.  Not only will Abram be a great nation, but his descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth.  If you have seen pictures of Israel, you know there is a lot of dust there.

Not sure, but it’s possible that God wants Abram to experience this promise, not just believe in his heart, walk it with his feet, enjoy it, travel through it, look on this land, receive it with eyes of faith. This is exactly what God wants for us: Possess the Promises. These are POCKET PROMISES-There are God’s promises for his children, but they really aren’t yours until you personally possess them, apply them to your life.

Abram is told to enter into a discipline of faith.  He is to walk about the land through its length and breadth.  He is to walk in the land that has been promised to him by God.  This walk will be a walk of faith as he acts in accordance with the promise of his future possession.  We are called to do the same thing.  We are given a promise of eternal life and an eternal inheritance.  In the meantime, we are called to live as though this inheritance were a present possession.  We are called to live as overcomers because of the One who has overcome on our behalf.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that Genesis 13 is a chapter of spiritual victory.  The victory in this chapter is especially striking when contrasted with the defeat of the previous chapter.

 Genesis 12

Genesis 13

Begins with God’s promises and ends with Abram going down into Egypt. Begins with Abram coming back out of Egypt and ends with God’s promises.
Abram enters Canaan for the first time. Abram enters Canaan for the second time.
Abram decides to go into Egypt. Abram permits Lot to make the decision where he should go.
Abram intent on self protection. Abram gives up his personal rights to the Lord.
A test of trust — failed. A test of values — passed.

Lot chose for himself.  God chose for Abram.  The contrast between the two reminds us of One who made the ultimate choice on our behalf.  Jesus was tempted by Satan to seek His own rights and His own comforts, but He gave those up to obtain an eternal inheritance for us.

Conflicts, choices, we have them too, we live in the same fallen world. We too have a short time here to make our life investments. Chose like Lot, do our own things, grasp for the pleasures of this world, give God the leftovers, or we can chose like Abram to make our life choices, our life direction based on God’s Word to us, trusting that his way is best.

 

 

We speak of the realms of the blest


Eliz­a­beth K. Mills, 1829

We speak of the realms of the blest,
That country so bright and so fair,
And oft are its glories confessed—
But what must it be to be there!
We speak of its pathway of gold—
Its walls decked with jewels so rare,
Its wonders and pleasures untold—
But what must it be to be there!

We speak of its freedom from sin,
From sorrow, temptation and care,
From trials without and within—
But what must it be to be there!
We speak of its service of love,
Of the robes which the glorified wear,
Of the church of the Firstborn above—
But what must it be to be there!

Our mourning is all at an end,
When, raised by the life-giving word,
We see the new city descend,
Adorned as a bride for her Lord;
The city so holy and clean,
No sorrow can breathe in the air;
No gloom of affliction or sin,
No shadow of evil, is there.

Do Thou, midst temptation and woe,
For Heaven my spirit prepare;
And shortly I also shall know
And feel what it is to be there.
Then o’er the bright fields we shall roam,
In glory celestial and fair,
With saints and with angels at home,
And Jesus Himself will be there.

Very little is written either about this hymn nor its author. After much gleanings, I came across the following. This hymn was written by Mrs Mills who was the daughter of Philip King. She was born at Stoke Newington in 1805; married to Thomas Mills M.P. and died at Finsbury Place, London, April 21st. 1829. Her popular hymn, “We speak of the realms of the blest” (Heaven) is thus annotated in Millers Singers and Songs, etc. 1869, page 483. We are much indebted to John Remington Mills, Esq. M.P. for information about this hymn, written by his accomplished relative. The original has six stanzas, and was composed after reading “Bridges on the 119th. Psalm” (on verse 44 page 116) … Already deservedly a favourite, new interest will be added to this hymn when we know that the authoress was early called to the “realms of the blest” of which she sang so sweetly, and that she wrote this hymn a few weeks before her death. The text of this hymn is usually given in an imperfect form. Few children’s hymns have been received with more favour. It is found in almost every hymn book published for children in Great Britain and America during the last fifty years (1865-1915). In some collections it begins “We sing of the land of the blest” and in others, “We talk of the land of the blest”.

Mrs. Mills’ hymn in ‘Spiritual Songs’ is no. 433, ‘We sing of the realms of the blest”. It may have been written as a children’s hymn, but its longings and anticipation of glory with Christ is something that adults can appreciate.

Be Thou My Vision


English Translation

by Mary Byrne, 1905

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart

None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.

Be thou my meditation by day and night.

May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.

Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.

Be thou with me, be I with thee

Be thou my father, be I thy son.

Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.

Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.

Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.

Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.

Be thou every good to my body and soul.

Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.

Be thou solely chief love of my heart.

Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.

Till I am able to pass into thy hands,

My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love

Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.

I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.

Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.

For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.

Thy love in my soul and in my heart –

Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.

O King of the seven heavens grant me this –

Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.

With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,

May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.

Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.

Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.

O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,

O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

He-Leads There is an interesting story behind the writing and composing of this hymn. It begins back in A.D 373. That is the year that Patrick (better known as St. Patrick) was born NOT in Ireland, but along the banks of the river Clyde in Scotland. According to Robert J Morgan,  an author of hymn stories, Patrick’s father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. Raiders seized Patrick when he was 16 and took him to Ireland as a slave. It was there that he gave his life to the Lord. He later said, “The Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief in order that I might remember and run with all my heart to the Lord my God”.

Patrick later escaped and returned home to Scotland but had a dream reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s vision of the Macedonian man in Acts 16. Patrick saw a vision of an Irishman pleading with him to come and evangelise Ireland. So at age 30, he went back to the land of his former captors with just a copy of the Latin Bible – and evangelised the countryside. Despite the opposition of the Druids, Patrick planted about 200 churches and baptised over 100,000 converts to Christianity. Fast forward to the 19th century, we find that an unknown poet wrote a prayer asking God to be his vision, his Wisdom and his Best Thought by day and by night. Finally, in 1905, Mary Elizabeth Byrne, a scholar in Dublin, translated this old poem into the English language. Another Scholar, Eleanor Hull of Manchester, England, crafted it into verses and rhyme and meter … it was set to a traditional Irish folk song, “Slane “, named for an area in Ireland where Patrick reportedly challenged local Druids with the gospel.

Eleanor Hull 1912 made the following  version which  was popularised by virtue of its place in the  English Hymnal.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,

Be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;

Thou my best thought in the day and the night,

Both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,

Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;

Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;

Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;

Be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;

Be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:

O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise:

Be thou mine inheritance now and always;

Be thou and thou only the first in my heart;

O Sovereign of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of Heaven, thou Heaven’s bright sun,

O grant me its joys after victory is won!;

Great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.

This far by Your Grace Oh Lord: Your Eternity and Our Frailty


shelter12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90, what an appropriate Psalm to end  an old year and start a new one. Time to pause and do some stocktaking. Like God of whom it speaks, this psalm has been, for generations, something to which men have constantly turned for refuge. Some of its phrases have entered our common speech, e.g. “three score and ten”. It is the source for the immortal hymn, “Our God, our help in ages past” by Isaac Watts. Its verses are constantly heard when one remembers the past. Psalm 90  preaches man’s mortality in immortal words. Two parts – (1) the sharp contrast between eternal God and mortal man, and (2) in light of the brevity of man’s life, a prayer asking God to do certain things for us.

For one thing, this psalm includes the word “year” more than any other psalm. In the Hebrew text of Psalm 90, the word translated as “year” (shena) appears seven times. No other psalm includes shena more than twice.

But, apart from the frequency of the word “year” in Psalm 90, its themes speak to us as we wrap up another calendar year. It begins by noting that God has been our home “through all the generations,” from year to year to year (90:1). Even “before the mountains were born,” God is God (90:2). God is always there for us.

The stark contrast of God’s eternity and man’s mortality

With a few bold strokes of the brush, the psalmist depicts God’s eternity and greatness. In the history of God’s people, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations (Psalm 90:1). The God we worship is the One who appeared to Abraham, spoke to Moses, called Saul, chose David, revealed Himself to the prophets, sent His Son the Lord Jesus, and changed the life of the Apostle Paul. He is the God of the Bible, and the God of His people since – Polycarp, Augustine, Luther, Bunyan, Wesley, Spurgeon, and our God today each one of us. People have turned to Him in every generation – the same eternal unchanging God,

Then the Psalmist looks at the created world. Before the mountains and earth and world, there was God from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2). (Mountains thought of as the oldest part of creation.)

“But while mortals rise and perish, God endures unchanging on.”

When we turn our mind backward – God is always there. When we turn our mind forward – God is always there. God was there when there was nothing else. He is never-ending, boundless, and everlasting. Time means nothing to Him. For a thousand years (33 generations of men) in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4). Think of all that happens in the lives of men in 1000 years – all the kings, people, rulers, empires, events, and achievements – to God, that was just yesterday. In fact, less than yesterday. A watch in the night was just 3 hours.

With just one word from God, the greatest and mightiest men turn to death (Psalm 90:3). How breath-taking, and how the mind reels to conceive of this almighty, infinite, eternal, living God of the Bible. And how breath-taking that puny, insignificant men ignore, disobey and blaspheme Him as they pursue their own little schemes for such a brief while. They live to please themselves and for their own glory.

In contrast to God’s eternity there is man’s weakness and frailty. You sweep men away in the sleep of death (Psalm 90:5). N.B. In the AV this is translated “Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep”. The picture is of a swollen river, carrying away something in its flood, and it is soon gone. This is a more literal translation. The word “death” added by the NIV is not present in the Hebrew.

They are like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered (Psalm 90:5,6). In the East, just one night of rain can work a miracle – bring forth a field full of green blades of grass next morning. But the hot scorching wind of the day dries it out, and it is dead by sundown. This history of grass – sown, grown, blown, mown and gone – so like our own history.

The underlying idea of both these images, and whichever translation you use, is the insecurity and brevity of life. Then the psalmist goes on to say life is shorter and harder because of God’s wrath (Psalm 90:7). All our sins, including our secret sins, are open to His view. We finish our years with a moan (Psalm 90:9). There is no justification for the AV’s translation of the Hebrew here as “tale that is told”. The basic idea is that our prolonged effort comes to nothing. Compared with God’s eternity, our seventy years of life, of which the last few are full of trouble and sorrow, pass so quickly (Psalm 90:10).

These are blunt and brutal facts, but we might as well face the truth. It is wisdom to face this solemn and serious subject. Men reckon on everything except the brevity and uncertainty of life. We cannot stop life moving on. We pass this way only once. The past years cannot be recalled. Even those who live longest say at the end of life that it has “flown by”, they don’t know where the years have gone. Time seems to go more quickly every year. Only one thing is certain in life – death.

A Fervent prayer to God

In the light of these uncomfortable but indisputable facts, the psalmist writes this prayer. An excellent prayer to pray at the beginning of a new year. The psalmist’s desire is to face these facts fairly and squarely, and to act wisely in the light of them. Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

It is said that we spend a third of our life in bed. The first ten years are spent in infancy and childhood. Then if we take out the time spent in normal and necessary affairs of adult life, our time left to serve God directly is limited indeed. We are living on borrowed time. We can look back over our lives so far, time which we cannot have back, and consider how little we have done. How much time we have wasted and frittered away on self-centred pursuits. This prayer is that we may realize how much or how little time is left, so that we make the most of what is left.

Augustine was said to number every day as his last day. If today had been our last day, is that how we would have wanted to spend it? Are we satisfied with our lives? We must pray for wisdom to realize that a day not consecrated to the Lord is a day wasted. A day spent not in vital touch with the Lord is a day wasted. A day when we haven’t sought the Lord with all our heart is a day wasted. How many wasted days have you had since conversion? How few are left?

“Redeem thy misspent moments past, Live each day as if twere thy last”

We need grace to lament the past, use wisely the present, and realize the future is so uncertain we need to live closely with God and obediently with Him. Life is too short to waste time. F.B.Meyer knew the difference between 10 minutes and a quarter of an hour. Life at its longest is brief. Make sure what is left is wisely and properly spent. View lives as they will look at the last day – this will surely lead to readjustments in lives, reassessment of values, changed attitude to use of money, prayer, Bible, stewardship of time, Christian service.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love “Satisfy us early with thy mercy” (AV), that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14). Either translation is acceptable – early in the day or early in life. We need to know God’s mercy early in life so that we can surrender our best years to Him. In fact, most people who are converted are converted early in life. Never despise child conversion. It is certainly possible at the age of 5 to be converted. It is certain at ages 7-8. The possibilities increase until age 11. They grow rapidly till 16. Then they decline till 20, and are quite rare after 30.

Saviour, while my heart is tenderI would yield that heart to Thee”

 The Countess of Huntingdon, when 9 years of age, saw the dead body of a little child her own age, being carried to the grave. The girl followed the funeral. Then the Holy Spirit convinced her of her need of a Saviour. “Flee from wrath to come – my dear little children. Fly to the Lord Jesus without delay. Escape for thy life. If no longer in childhood, how much more urgent that we should do so.” (Sermon by R.M.McCheyne). R.M.McCheyne was particularly passionate about child conversion. When he returned from Israel in 1839, he founded 39 Prayer Meetings, including five conducted and entirely attended by little children.

May the favour of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us (Psalm 90:17). We ask God to provide stability and success to our work, that it may have enduring quality. May it last because it is in the will of God and for the glory of God.

“Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Jesus will last”

Then we will not be ashamed when we see Him face to face. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

Thank You Lord for your blessings


BanaThere’s a roof up above me, And I’ve a good place to sleep,
There’s food on my table, And shoes on my feet,
You gave me Your Love Lord, And a fine family,
Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me!

Thank You Lord for these past few weeks, in which You have spoken to me, blessed me, and changed me more than I could ever imagine. Thank You for teaching me about love. Thank You for reminding me to trust in You with my life. Thank You for teaching me to love others just as I love myself. Even though I sin, even though I will never become perfect on this earth, may you please continue to mould me, break me, and transform me into the man You want me to become.

  • Thank you Lord for my trials which I know you have brought me through. When my friends turned their backs I could always look to you. Thank you for your mercy, your blessings, and beautiful grace during this frightful and sinful race. Thank you for giving me hope, and an everlasting faith to believe in you. I’ll be sure to tell everyone I know what God can and will do for you.
  • Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayers. My impatience is sinful but your deliverance is divine.
  •  I lift these hands, dear God, to You, in praise and thanks for all you do. You light the path through all my days and bless me with your loving ways… I lift these hands dear God, to You, in troubled hours when joys are few. You bear me up on eagles’ wings and see me through each test life brings. I lift these hands, dear God, to You, please grant me wisdom, patience, too. Then fill my heart with love and caring, precious gifts you’ve made for sharing. Amen…
  • Thou hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, – a grateful heart; Not thankful when it pleases me, As if Thy blessings had spare days, But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
  • A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer.
  • Thank You Lord for reminding me of this chapter in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger, and neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails. Prophecies will cease, tongues will be silent, and knowledge will pass away……There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. I pray to You my dear Lord, may Enid and I continue to live in Your heart with our love for each other. In Jesus Name. Amen.
  •  Thank You God for Blessing me much more than I deserve
  • Lord I want to thank you each hour of the day for giving me the strength I need to see me on my way.  Many things in life today are difficult to bare but through your love you’ve shown me how much you really care.  Sometimes it’s such a challenge to try things on my own and yet,  I know with you Lord I’ll never be alone. I’m trusting in your judgment Lord, for you know what is best, and I will wait and love you Lord and put my mind at rest.
  • Thank you for your blessings Lord, thank you for your love be with us with each step we take and watch us from above.  Put your arms around us Lord, and hold us in your hand and
    know dear Lord, we’ll spread your word around this blessed land.
  • “Never doubt God in the darkness what he has given us in the light.”

 

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 778 other followers

%d bloggers like this: