January 23, 2018

In Christ Alone

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my Light, my Strength, my Song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my all in all—here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that Cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—this is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home—here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

Keith and Krystin Getty and Band
written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

The words of a song can be so stirring!  For myself, I have found hymns to have this effect on me.  A choir director once told me that hymns are songs that “are soaked in doctrinal truth.”  One definition of hymns says that they are “… songs that help teach faith.”  What we sing through this type of song can profoundly affect how we think and feel.  And each of us have our own favorite hymns and choruses…they come to mean so much to our hearts!  This song, In Christ Alone, is considered a modern-day hymn. It contains such foundational truth.

Take for example, the very first three words of this song, “In Christ alone…” You could say them in other ways, too—‘only Jesus…’ ‘Jesus is everything to me…’ ‘You, Lord, JUST You…’

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
And He is the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:15-18

In and through Jesus we have been given so very much!  He truly is our ‘Light… (John 8:12), our Strength… (Psalms 28:7 and 8), our Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5 and 6)!’

I just love to sing these next lines of this song; they are so beautiful!

What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

Through Jesus, also, we have love (Romans 8:38 and 39), peace (Philippians 4:7), comfort (Psalm 46:10)!  He IS our ‘All in All.’

And when all things shall be subdued unto him,
then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him
that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:28

In Jesus our hope, our trust, our constant assurance is in the right place—on the solid foundation of who we are in Christ.  In my own life I seem to need continual reminding  to not let my feelings get in the way or my circumstances be allowed to dictate my actions.  But, as we (I!) stand firmly on the unchangeable truths of the gospel of Christ, our (my!) faith is being continuously built.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us….
Hebrews 6:19 and 20

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

How about you?  Do the words of this beautiful hymn evoke a response in your heart when you hear them?  (I would so LOVE to ‘hear’ your answer in the comments below.)

Count Your Blessings

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
[*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
*Alternate text

Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr ~ Music by Edwin O. Excell ~ Sung by Ann Williamson

  *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Written over a hundred years ago (1897), this hymn is still sung today and is still reminding us that we have much to be thankful for.

Be thankful in all circumstances,
For this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

When I sing the first verse, I think of the disciples out on the stormy sea.  Actually, there are two accounts I want to share.

Matthew 8:23-27, tells the story of Jesus and His disciples in the boat when a fierce storm came up.  The water was swamping the boat, and the disciples were panicked! Jesus was calmly sleeping because the storm wasn’t bothering Him.  In the midst of the storm, Jesus was right there with them.  Instead of seeing Him as their example to stay calm and trust God to protect them, they cried out to Jesus for Him to use His faith to save them.  Thankfully He was there, He did intercede for them, and commanded the wind and the waves to be calm.  The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power, and were counting it a blessing that He was with them.

In the next account (recorded in Matthew 14:22-33), Jesus sent the disciples out in the boat without Him.  Night came, and a storm developed.  The disciples were fighting the strong winds and heavy waves, but to no avail.  They hadn’t even thought to call out to God, evidenced by the fact that when Jesus came to them walking on the water, they didn’t even recognize Him.  But He came, because He loved them, and never had planned on leaving them helpless.  Peter even walked on the water—until he took his eyes off of Jesus.  When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, the storm died and the waters calmed.  The disciples (maybe especially Peter!) were surprised and blessed that Jesus came to them and saved them.

In our lives there are times when we are ‘tempest-tossed,’ and we do become very ‘discouraged, thinking all is lost.’  As believers, we can count on Jesus to be there for us.  He’s in the boat with us.  He is our example of trust.  And even in the times when we are trying to carry our heavy cross alone, He’s walking on the water toward us.  He just wants us to call out…even to walk out to Him…and He will lift us up. What a blessing!

Proverbs 10:6, tells us that “The godly are showered with blessings.”  Do you count your land, your home, your money as blessings?  Yes, they are, but they are just to help us get by here on earth.  God has so much more for you/us. Do you count your salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, God’s love for you, your family’s love, your reward in Heaven, and other spiritual gifts as blessings?  Money can not buy any of those because they are priceless blessings from God.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is by His great mercy that we have been born again,
because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance
—an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled,
beyond the reach of change and decay.
And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power
until you receive this salvation,
which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”
1Peter 1:3-5

“So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, (remind yourself) God is over all. Count your many blessings.” It will lift you up, and it just may surprise you to see what the Lord has done!

  *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Dear Lord, in this season of Thanksgiving we come to You with our hearts bursting with thanksgiving.  We, as Your children, have so many blessings to count!  Truly, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).  All day and all night, in every season, we count our many blessings and our voices lift up praises to You, the Giver of all good gifts!  Praise the Lord!  It Is So!

Nothing Compares

I’ve heard all the stories
I’ve seen all the signs
Witnessed all the glory
Tasted all that’s fine

Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Lord
Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Lord

I see all the people
Wasting all their time
Building up their riches
For a life that’s fine

I find myself just living for today
‘Cause I don’t know what
Tomorrow’s gonna bring
So no matter if I rise or fall
I’ll never be alone, oh no

Singer/Songwriters:   Johnny Mac Powell, Bradley B. C. Avery, Mark D. Lee, David Carr, Samuel Tai Anderson  ~ Third Day

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

As I listen to this song, I’m taken into His Word, in the Book of Psalms, chapter 40, verse 5:

Many, Lord my God, are the wonders You have done,
the things You planned for us. None can compare with You;
were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Have you ever sat and just thought about all the Lord has done for you?  From the day you were born, and really before, He made plans for your life.  Full of blessings and hope for great things.  And look in the Bible, way before our time, how many times He saved His people from destruction.  And then there’s the most amazing gift that He gave us—Jesus.  And so many blessings in between.  I encourage you to read the Old Testament and just see all the ways He loved and all the ways He cared.

As the song says, I, too, have heard all the stories. I have witnessed miracle after miracle in my own life and the lives of others.  I have been blessed with food to eat,  shelter, clothing and so much more.  But without Him…none of those things matter. Knowing God and having a relationship with Him is all that is important.

We are on this earth such a short time in comparison with how long we will live with Him in eternity.  This is our temporary home.  Let me ask you a question: When you go on a trip to the beach or the mountains and you have rented a condo, do you unpack your stuff and maybe put them in the drawers (depending on how long you are planning on staying.)?  Do you use their plates and cups, and you sleep on the beds that are provided?  Even if the decor isn’t what you would have picked, you accept it. You don’t go to target and get new curtains and towels that match your taste, do you? You don’t take down the drapes and replace them with something more ‘you’, do you?  and you definitely don’t go out and buy new paint colors.  Why?  Because it is temporary!  You won’t live there permanently.

Friends, we won’t live here permanently either. Your real home is in Heaven with Jesus.  So yes, we do live in this world, but our focus should be on the things of Heaven—leading others to Him, giving to the needy, nurturing the children, and guiding them in the ways of  Jesus.

You can’t take your boats and planes and not even your savings account to Heaven. I’m not saying those things are wrong.  And, of course, you need money to live, but take your focus off of worldly possessions and look to Him to fulfill you.  He is all you need.  Things come and go.  Houses get foreclosed on and cars break down.  But God loves you…and He is forever!

Friends, we are only guaranteed this moment.  We have no idea what tomorrow holds.  So please, I encourage you to put Him first!  If you have strayed, run home to Him. He is waiting and will never turn you away!  And remember, in Him, you will never be alone!

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.
Isaiah 40:8

And the Lord will be King over all the earth.
On that day there will be one Lord—His name alone will be worshipped.
Zechariah 14:9

Oh!  What a day that will be!  But until then, seek Him, praise Him, give Him thanks for all He has done and will do in your lives and spread His love to the world.  Nothing will ever bring you more joy!

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

Let us pray…

Dear Lord, You are awesome and amazing.  You love us so much, even when we don’t love ourselves.  Even when we continue to place other things above You, You are patient and continue to bless us.  Open our eyes to those around us that need You.   Give us the courage to step out in Your name, and to lay up our treasure in Heaven with You.  Oh Lord, You are all that matters, You alone fulfill our every need.  Help us to live in today and to have our affairs in order, so that, when You do come and the trumpet sounds, we will be ready!  Thank You for being FOR us.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

Psalm Of Gratitude

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Psalm of Gratitude
Psalm 138

I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing Your praise;
I bow down toward Your holy temple
and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness,
for You have exalted above all things
Your Name and Your Word.
On the day I called, You answered me;
my strength of soul You increased.
All the kings of the earth shall give You thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of Your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly,
but the haughty He knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

 Composed by Esther Mui  ~  Scripture, NKJV

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

What do you think of when someone mentions that it is November already … Christmas, snow, shopping, Black Friday…?  I dare say that many times our minds jump right over the National Holiday of Thanksgiving (at least until we think of the big family dinner we have to prepare!)  We have much to be thankful for—now and all year ‘round.

Perhaps you’ll agree with me as I say that I need to slow down from the busyness of this time of year, and take time to sing and meditate on this psalm.  God deserves our thanks from our WHOLE heart:

  • He gave us His WHOLE heart, His steadfast love and His faithfulness, when He gave His only Son to save us. (John 3:16)
  • Not only that, but everyday when we call out to God, He answers us. His Holy Spirit dwells with us to increase our strength. God preserves our life, and His right hand delivers us. (Psalms 23:3-4)
  • God has a purpose for each of us, and He promises to fulfill it in us. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
  • God’s love is so solid that He promises to NEVER forsake the work (you and me) of His hands! (Jeremiah 32:38-41)

There are over 130 verses in the Bible that use some form of the word “thank” in it.  As I have been thinking of Thanksgiving, many of these verses keep coming to mind.  Here are just a very few that you might incorporate into your personal worship time or at your Thanksgiving table:

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
Psalms 95:2-3

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 7:17

The LORD is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Psalm 28:7

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:17

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge.
1 Corinthians 1:4-5

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

Will you join me, today and throughout the rest of this month, in giving thanks to our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  He deserves our all.

They sang,
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.
Revelation 7:12

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great Presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Written by Thomas O. Chisholm / Music by Rev. William H. Runyan

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Other than “Jesus Loves Me” this is surely my favorite song.  I have sung it since my earliest memory, and I never get tired of it.  Whether I’m in the valley…in dark shadows, or on the mountaintop, this song reminds me that I can ALWAYS trust God.  It is so full of truth, promise, and encouragement.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Every morning that I awake, I can say “Great is Your faithfulness, Your mercies are new, and You will provide all I will ever need.” God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change, and neither does His compassion.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I love all of nature (yes, even this crazy cold winter) so I join with all nature in praise to God’s great faithfulness.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12

I have been pardoned from sin and have His peace.  I sense His presence, strength, and hope.

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

God’s blessings are mine—are yours—because He is faithful to His Word and loving to His children.

Surely You have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.
Psalm 21:6

God is faithful, He is merciful, He does provide, He is full of love, He does forgive, He gives peace, He is ever-present, He is our strength, He is our hope, surely His blessings are all mine/are all yours!  Praise the Lord!

Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:6

In Christ Alone

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

 ~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my Light, my Strength, my Song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my all in all—here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that Cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—this is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home—here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

 

~  In Christ Alone; words and music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend  ~

 *   *   *   *   *

The words of a song can be so stirring!  Particularly, I have found hymns to have this effect on me.  A choir director once told me that hymns are songs that “are soaked in doctrinal truth.”  One definition of hymns says that they are “… songs that help teach faith.”  What we sing through this type of song can profoundly affect how we think and feel.  And each of us have our own favorite hymns and choruses…they come to mean so much to our hearts!  This song, In Christ Alone, is considered a modern-day hymn. It contains such foundational truth.

For example, the very first three words of this song, “In Christ alone…” You could say them in other ways, too—‘only Jesus…’ ‘Jesus is everything to me…’ ‘You, Lord, JUST You…’

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
And He is the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:15-18

In and through Jesus we have been given so very much! He truly is our ‘Light… (John 8:12), our Strength… (Psalms 28:7 and 8), our Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5 and 6)!’

I just love to sing these next lines of this song; they are so beautiful!

What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

Through Jesus, also, we have love (Romans 8:38 and 39), peace (Philippians 4:7), comfort (Psalm 46:10), and joy (John 15:11)! He IS our ‘all in all.’

And when all things shall be subdued unto him,
then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him
that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:28

In Jesus our hope, our trust, our constant assurance is in the right place—on the solid foundation of who we are in Christ.  In my own life I must need continual reminding  to not let my feelings get in the way or my circumstances be allowed to dictate my actions. But, as we (I!) stand firmly on the unchangeable truths of the gospel of Christ, our (my!)faith is being continuously built.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us….
Hebrews 6:19 and 20

How about you? Do the words of this beautiful hymn evoke a response in your heart when you hear them?  (I would so LOVE to ‘hear’ your answer in the comments below.)

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Interested in joining us for our next Online Bible Study that starts on January 13, 2014?   Click HERE for more details!