Hope in the Darkness 

Jeremiah 31:16-26 New International Version 

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
    “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
    “Your children will return to their own land.

18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:
    ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf,
    and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return,
    because you are the Lord my God.
19 After I strayed,
    I repented;
after I came to understand,
    I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
    because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
20 Is not Ephraim my dear son,
    the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
    I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
    I have great compassion for him,”
declares the Lord.

21 “Set up road signs;
    put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
    the road that you take.
Return, Virgin Israel,
    return to your towns.
22 How long will you wander,
    unfaithful Daughter Israel?
The Lord will create a new thing on earth—
    the woman will return to[a] the man.”

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity,[b] the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.

1
Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
2
Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storm and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
3
Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
4
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into the joy and pleasure, Thine own,
Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the flock Thy love doth enfold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee!

Following the Lord

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Luke 18 New International Version

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.’[a]

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Serving Christ

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Matthew 16: 21-28 New International Version 

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

The words and music of this song written by two former General’s of The Salvation Army mean so much to me that I find myself somehow returning to it quite a lot. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a simple tune with such true and earnest words to it

What was crucifixion like?

Ever wondered what the crucifixion was like?

I came across this video last night in preparation for today and found it very interesting and thought I would share it now that Easter is over and Jesus is Risen!See the source image

The video tells us that before actually whipping Jesus the Romans attached broken glass ,nails bone or lead weights to the whip. Can you imagine the suffering and pain that must of caused and how weak it must of made him before he had to make that journey with the cross. The bible tells us that Jesus was crucified at a placed called Golgotha or ‘Skull’ (a small hill shaped like a bears skull). It tells us crosses were shorter than thought and placed at eye level This was to let onlookers see the consequences of opposing Rome. It is interesting what was found by archaeologists in 1968.

International Woman’s Day 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.

Baptized with the Spirit

Acts 9 New International Version (NIV)

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Oh What A Wonderful Wonderful Day
Day I Will Never Forget
After I’d Wandered In Darkness Away
Jesus My Savior I Met
Oh What A Tender Compassionate Friend
He Met The Need Of My Heart
Shadows Dispelling With Joy I Am Telling
He Made All The Darkness Depart

Chorus
Heaven Came Down And Glory Filled My Soul
When At The Cross The Savior Made Me Whole
My Sins Were Washed Away
And My Night Was Turned To Day
Heaven Came Down And Glory Filled My Soul

Born Of The Spirit With Life From Above
Into God’s Fam’ly Divine
Justified Fully Thru Calvary’s Love
Oh What A Standing Is Mine
And The Transaction So Quickly Was Made
When As A Sinner I Came
Took Of The Offer Of Grace
He Did Proffer He Saved Me
Oh Praise His Dear Name

Now I’ve A Hope That Will Surely Endure
After The Passing Of Time
I Have A Future In Heaven For Sure
There In Those Mansions Sublime
And It’s Because Of That Wonderful Day
When At The Cross I Believed
Riches Eternal And Blessings Supernal
From His Precious Hand I Received

Solemn Vow

When I first heard and sang this song I fell in love with it straight away and have loved it ever since. It is a song of dedication and commitment . The words of the song tell a story. Powerful words to an equally wonderful tune.

In verse one we red of the writer’s faith, in verse two we read how the writer see’s Christ. Verse three goes on to tell us the writer has nothing but love and how they wish to have his saving power. Finally in verse four the writer speaks of the suffering cry of him who died for all mankind

My Solemn Vow – Catherine Baird

Eternal Spirit, my unchanging friend,

I come with joy for Thou art ever near;

O bless my eyes with vision, boundless, pure;

My promise hear in realms where truth is clear.

My faith in Thee I boldly own,

Since Jesus led me to Thy Throne.

Spirit of truth attend me now,

While I present my solemn vow:

All that I am I pledge to Thee,

Spirit of love abide in me.

I see Thy splendour in the Holy One,

Thy might revealed in lowliness and grace;

O may I choose a stable or a cross

If He be there to sanctify my place.

O glory of the Christly name,

Be Thou my treasure and my aim!

All I possess, apart from Thee, is naught,

Still would I offer Thee my life, my love;

So shall the desert be a harvest field,

And my whole being Thy abundance prove.

Lord, I would witness every hour

To my Redeemer’s saving power!

O may I hear, in every suff’ring cry,

The call of Him Who died for all mankind;

Help me to share the Shepherd’s lonely watch,

Or climb the steeps His lost to find.

I dedicate my love to Thee,

That love may overflow in me.

Abandoned

Image result for My God, my God, why have you forsaken me

Mark 15 New International Version 

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus,was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the Jews.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] [a] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

ALAS! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my sovereign die?
Did he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

2 Was it for sins that I have done
He suffered on the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!

3 Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature?s sin.

4 Dear Saviour, I can ne?er repay
The debt of love I owe!
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
?Tis all that I can do.

Chorus
Remember me, remember me,
O Lord, remember me;
Remember, Lord, thy dying groans,
And then remember me.

    • Refrain (Hudson):
      At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
      And the burden of my heart rolled away,
      It was there by faith I received my sight,
      And now I am happy all the day!

Coming to the Cross

Mark 8 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Predicts His Death

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”Image result for coming to the cross

The Way of the Cross

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

To thy cross I come, Lord,
There for me is room, Lord,
Poor unworthy me, even me.
Pardon every sin, Lord,
Place thy power within, Lord,
Then I from this hour will follow thee.

Being close to God

Genesis 28 10 – 22

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!See the source image
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus: Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus

There let the way appear steps unto heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,

A sixth verse was later added to the hymn by Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr. as follows:

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Saviour’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Chorus