A Better World

Hebrews 11 New International Version

Faith in Action

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

1 There is a better world, they say,
O so bright!
Where sin and woe are done away,
O so bright!
And music fills the balmy air,
And angels with bright wings are there,
And harps of gold and mansions fair,
O so bright!

2 No clouds e’er pass along that sky,
Happy land!
No tear-drops glisten in the eye,
Happy land!
They drink the gushing streams of grace,
And gaze upon the Saviour’s face
Whose brightness fills the holy place;
Happy land!

3 And wicked things and beasts of prey
Come not there!
And ruthless death and fierce decay
Come not there!
There all are holy, all are good;
But hearts unwashed in Jesus’ blood,
And guilty sinners unrenewed,
Come not there!

4 And though we’re sinners every one,
Jesus died!
And though our crown of peace is gone,
Jesus died!
We may be cleansed from every stain,
We may be crowned with bliss again,
And in that land of Glory reign;
Jesus died!

Derek Kane & The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army

I am thine O Lord (The Story)

Hebrews 10 New International Version 

A Call to Persevere in Faith

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswerving to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Two people collaborated to write “I Am Thine, O Lord”—a song that quickly became a favorite in Christian circles, and remains so in many places today.  Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote the words and William Doane (1832-1915) composed the music.

Doane was a successful businessman who served as the president of a Cincinnati company that produced woodworking machines.  He also held a number of patents for the machines that they produced.

While he enjoyed his business, Doane enjoyed Christian music even more.  During his lifetime, he composed the music for hundreds of hymns, and edited a number of hymn collections.

Crosby’s story was even more dramatic.  Blinded in infancy, she had the good fortune to have a grandmother and a caretaker who dedicated themselves to helping her memorize the Bible.  They assigned weekly goals for memorization, and drilled Crosby to help her reach those goals.  As an adult, Crosby tapped that rich reservoir of memorized Bible verses to write her hymns.

And write hymns she did—8000 hymns and Gospel songs total—to include many of the old favorites that are still found in many hymnals a century after her death.

“I Am Thine, O Lord” grew out of a conversation that Crosby had with Doane while visiting his home.  They were talking about the nearness of God when Crosby was seized by inspiration.  Soon she was reciting the verses and choruses—very much as we find them in hymnals today.  Doane set her words to music, and the song that they produced has blessed generations of Christians.

The song is a prayer, celebrating the joy of faith—and the desire for an even deeper faith.  The chorus asks:

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,

To the cross where Thou hast died.

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,

To Thy precious bleeding side.

I can personally testify to the power of this song, having sung it often as I was growing up.  If sung at a spirited tempo, it had an upbeat mood.  But often the chorus—in particular the last chorus—was sung more slowly and deliberately, inspiring an introspective mood.  I don’t often hear it sung today, but would be happy to have the opportunity to sing it again.

1. I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
and it told thy love to me;
but I long to rise in the arms of faith
and be closer drawn to thee.
Refrain:
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to thy precious, bleeding side.

2. Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord,
by the power of grace divine;
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
and my will be lost in thine.
(Refrain)

3. O the pure delight of a single hour
that before thy throne I spend,
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
(Refrain)

4. There are depths of love that I cannot know
till I cross the narrow sea;
there are heights of joy that I may not reach
till I rest in peace with thee.