8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[c] that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,[d] both to the wise and to the foolish.15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The Salvation Army is a church where people are encouraged to stand up and give there testimony (though not everyone prefers to do that). Another way of testifying is through song and I found this toe tapping song to sing along to
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Not so long ago The Salvation Army released music of the same title of today’s blog to which they put the words of a well known hymn.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
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.
Several years ago Geoffrey Nobes, former Bandmaster of Portsmouth Citadel Band, composed a tune to words by hymn writer Nick Fawcett.
He dedicated this arrangement to the memory of his friend Bandmaster Derek Wilding of Lavenham Corps.
Speaking personally I love the words of this tune.
How in verse 1 it asks that the Lord’s love is not always easy to spot and an answer to our purpose here . When I read the words of verse 2 I think of all the terrorists attacks not only in this country (UK) but abroad as well (especially at the point where it says ‘ Innocents suffer and evil holds sway’). Then there is the question of ‘Faith’ in verse 3 where we pray for that support that his light will bring us through the darkness
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
According to the editor of The Oxford Edition of the Works of John Wesley, “And Can It Be” was written immediately following Charles Wesley’s conversion to Christianity on May 21, 1738. Wesley had known his Bible well before this time but had not yet experienced affirmation of new birth or the wholeness of grace in his life.
Wesley starts the first stanza by expressing admiration over the love shown by Jesus dying for him and wonders how we who “pursued” his death are now graced by it.
In the second stanza, Wesley calls for appreciation of God’s love and mercy in this sacrifice. In the third stanza, Wesley conveys the unending grace and mercy of Christ’s love and humility in the incarnation, death, and finding of lost sinners. In the fourth stanza, Wesley harkens to the “imprisonment” of his own sin and the freedom he found in Christ.
Finally, he reviews the results of Christ’s loving and merciful work: there is no condemnation for those made alive in Christ and clothed in his righteousness; rather, there is open access to the throne as we have the right to claim the divine crown.
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25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The above passage has got to be one of the most well known passages on Worry in the Bible. So much so I recall using it in a blog about a week ago called ‘No Worries’
While Jesus tells both you and I not to worry I must admit this is a very hard thing to do sometimes.
Granted some of us worry more than others and our partners or friends may use the phrase ” I don’t know what your worrying about” I’ve said it myself.
A Childs Burden
My Mother’s name is worry, In summer she worries about the water; In winter she worries about coal and briquets, and all year long she worries about the rice.
In daytime my mother worries about living; At night she worries about her children, and all the day long she worries and worries.
Then, my mother’s name is worry. My father’s name is drunken frenzy. And mine is tears and sigh.
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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. 6 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.
7 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.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 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. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 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. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Matthew 13:53-58New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
A prophet without honour
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his home town, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. 55 ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ 57 And they took offence at him.
But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.