DAY 12 – I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY
The history of this hymn and her sister hymn Tell Me the Old, Old Story is fascinating. Taken from a long poem, some fifty stanzas written by Katherine Hankey, both songs draw a person to realize just how precious sharing the gospel truly is.
The first reason to tell the gospel story is, of course, because some have never heard. How sad that some 2,000 years after being given the command to go into all the world we have not been completely obedient.
Another reason is also mentioned in the hymn. Those who know the gospel best still long to hear it again and again. It never gets old. It still amazes everyone when they reflect on the depth of love that God has for us. We still marvel at Jesus’ sacrificial death. We still cry on Good Friday and jump and shout triumphantly on Easter Sunday.
When we arrive in heaven, our song – the song of redemption, will be unique in the cosmos; and we will never get tires of it.
Lord, I love to tell the story of Your salvation. From the choosing of Mary and Joseph as Your earthly parents to the birth in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, the story is marvelous and amazing. How deep Your love is. How merciful Your actions. Help me to tell the old, old story, both to those who have never heard and to those who long to hear it again.
I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY by Katherine Hankey
I love to tell the story of unseen things above
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love
I love to tell the story because I know ’tis true
It satisfies my longings like nothing else can do
I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all our golden fancies of all our golden dreams
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me
And that is just the reason, I tell it now to thee
I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation, from God’s own holy word
I love to tell the story for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing a new, new song
‘Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love
DAY 11 – COME THOU FOUNT
Prone to wander – yes, that is me. Prone to leave the God I love. Why? That is the question, isn’t it. Why do we leave the place where we are safest? Why do we leave the One who has given us everything we need to live a godly life?
O, the depths the human soul has sunk to! Even when brought into a transforming relationship with the God of the Universe we still seek to go our own way. Yes, I will raise my Ebenezer, knowing full well it is only by His help, His grace and power that I have come as far as I have. Only by His help, grace and power will I arrive at the destination He has planned for me. I need to pray for Him to daily bind me to Him. Not to keep me from experiencing a wonderful life, but to keep me from danger and harm. To keep me close to Him, the Savior of Life and every good blessing.
If I cannot keep myself close to Him, and I have proven over and over that I cannot, I can ask Him to keep close to me.
Bend my heart to Thee Lord, I pray. Fetter my wandering feet so they do not leave Your path. You have said you will never leave me nor forsake me and I appreciate that very much. Forgive my sins, I pray, and draw me close to your side.
COME THOU FOUNT by Robert Robinson
Come, thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’m come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
DAY 10 – I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH
Taken from the words of Job the Wise, the title of this hymn says it all. Because Jesus lives, we have assurance of eternal life. What sets Jesus apart from all other religious teachers is that He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God.
One day, he is coming back to judge the living and the dead. He will come back to earth to redeem His own and to destroy both our adversary and death itself.
Jesus has promised us that when we die we will go to be with Him in paradise. This gives great assurance and hope to all believers when they stand at death’s doorway. We face the grave with joy, not terror. For us, death has lost its sting and becomes a transition from one home to another. That is why, although we grieve in sorrow for a loved one who has died, we do not mourn as one without hope. We know that we will see our fellow believers again and fellowship with them forever.
Grace and power are definitely in His hand. Power to conquer death. Power to judge all men. Power to traverse the universe. Grace is His to bestow on His children, those who believe in Him for salvation. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord.
Thank you, Lord, for the testimony of Scripture, of the eyewitness accounts of the Resurrected Christ. By this we know and are assured of the conquering of death by Your hand. What a wonderful truth to cling to – You live and are coming back for us.
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH by Jesse Pounds
I know that my Redeemer liveth
And on the earth again shall stand
I know eternal life He giveth
That grace and power are in His hand
I know His promise never faileth
The Word He speaks, it cannot die
Though cruel death, my flesh assaileth
Yet I shall see Him by and by
I know my mansion, He prepareth
That where He is, there I may be
O wondrous thought, for me He careth
And He at last will come for me
I know, I know, that Jesus liveth
And on the earth, again shall stand
I know, I know, that life He giveth
That grace and power are in His hand
DAY 9 – Jesus paid it all
Regrettably, I usually hear this hymn only during the response or invitation time at church. The words are so true, so biblical, it should be sung much more often. I especially love the words of verse 5. I want to shout those words as I ascend to heaven, “Jesus died my soul to save.”
Jesus accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. No more sacrifice to pay the penalty for sin is needed. There are no works we can do to pay for our salvation as it is already paid for. Only His power can replace a heart of stone, cold and indifferent to spiritual realities, with a heart open and responsive to the Holy Spirit.
Only Jesus can bring new life to one who is spiritually dead. Only Jesus can bring sight to one who is spiritually blind. Only He can cleanse our sin-stained soul and make it holy and bright.
In Jesus and Jesus alone is salvation found. There is no other name, no other system, no other achievement, no other religious teaching than His atoning death that can bring about salvation. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.
Lord, thank you for purchasing my salvation. Thank you for caring enough to redeem my sin-stained and sickened soul. I praise you for cleansing with and making me whole. Thank you for shedding Your holy blood for the remission of my sins.
JESUS PAID IT ALL by Elvina Hall
I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”
For nothing good have I, Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white, In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him, My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side, I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots And melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed, My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,” Shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down, All down at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
DAY 8 – BE THOU MY VISION
A melodious tune does nothing to soften the impact of the words of this hymn. I cannot honestly say that I don’t heed riches or the praise of man as the hymn writer pens.
Each time I think that I am making progress in those areas, something happens that makes me realize they have far more of a hold on me than I imagined. For every step forward in these areas, I seem to slip back into bad practices and habits far too often.
I pray that like David, in Psalm 46, that God would grant to me an undivided heart. I understand all too well that while I love God, I also still love the things of this world way too much. I understand what Paul was struggling with when he talked about doing things he knew were wrong and not doing the things he knew was right. Only God can help us become a consistent Christian through the power of His Spirit.
If I could capture the vision of God so clearly that His light would outshine everything else, it would help me to lead a life pleasing to Him. I can capture this vision by spending more and more time in His presence. My prayer is to see Him more clearly each day.
What a joy it would be to have a single-minded devotion to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lord, please become my vision. Help me to see you clearly in this muddled world. Grant to me an undivided heart so I may serve you with all of it.
Be Thou My Vision by Mary Byrne
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father, I thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, bright heaven’s Sun
Head of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all
One of the best messages I have heard (and I wish I could remember the speaker’s name) was entitled “Cain at the Guggenheim – the downward spiral of sin”. The speaker used the famous New York City museum, which spirals ever downward, as an illustration of what sin entices us to do. On every level of the museum there is an exit. It may be hard to find, but it is there. In the same way, through every temptation we face there is an exit, if we will discipline ourselves to look for it and take it. If we do not, we find ourselves digging a hole deeper and deeper into despair.
Sin so easily entices us. It is easy, attractive, fun for a season. The ramifications of sin, though, are destructive and entangles us so thoroughly that once we are snared it takes a miracle of God to set us free. Stop and think is one of the Bible’s overarching themes, although couched in different terms. Stop and think, is this going to please God or anger Him? Stop and think, will this build someone up or tear them down? Stop and think, is this a wise course of action or a foolish one? Stop and think, will this draw me closer to God or push me farther away? Stop and think, is this what God has commanded or simply what I want to hear?
We tell our children all the time, stop and think. Think through the consequences of any action. What will happen if I do this, what will happen if I do not do this. It is amazing to me, that God gave us this wonderful, reasoning organ we call the brain and how little we use it. Stop and think. No one “falls” into sin. We choose it. Deliberately. Because we like it, we like how it makes us feel, we think the potential consequences are worth it. Stop and think. That kind of reasoning will put you on the broad ramp spiraling down to destruction. Sin crouches at your door seeking to master you, like it did Cain. Rise up, put on God’s armor, seek His will and He will help you to master yourself and to throw off the shackles of sin.
Each of these resources are available from Amazon.com in print or Kindle editions. They are also available from our sister site: http://discernmentministries.webs.com
One of the songs we often sing at our church has a line that goes like this:
He gave His life, what more could He give?
Oh how He loves you, oh how He loves me, oh how He loves you and me!
When we come to Jesus Christ in saving faith, we are acknowledging that He gave His life to pay the penalty for our sin. That act of supreme sacrifice makes Jesus worthy of our love and worship. Even if Jesus never does anything else for us, His procurement of salvation for our souls is more than enough. Any other blessing we receive from Him is simply extra gravy on an already overfilled plate.
When we start to live our lives based on conditional requirements rather than on the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are, in effect, saying that His death was not sufficient for all our needs. We are saying that we need more proof, more tangible benefits before we will give Him the honor He is due. Can you see how arrogant that way of thinking is? Can you see how are attitude has shifted from gratefulness of being a recipient of God’s mercy to one of an expectation of God existing to serve our wants?
We all know of people who started out on fire for the Lord and who dropped out along the way. Many became angry with God for His not answering their prayers a certain way or for not protecting a loved one from harm. If we are honest we must admit that we, too, have become disappointed in God for failing to meet our expectations.
Discouragement sets in when we become disappointed. Disappointment comes from unmet expectations. Our expectations and reality often collide and rarely do we blame ourselves as having expectations that were misguided, ill-founded or unreasonable. We blame either the reality around us or God for not changing the reality to suit our needs.
When pressed by adversity our hearts reveal the truth about us and about our relationship with God. Many believers are in love with the things of the Lord but not the Lord Himself. Despite what our lips may profess, our hearts show the shallowness of our faith. We act more like the crowds who followed Jesus for the miracles of food than the disciples. After all, when one becomes disappointed in God, is it His fault for not catering to our whims and desires or ours for not understanding His ways and trusting in His goodness?
God is good. When we cease to believe that foundational principle we open ourselves up to despair and hopelessness. Even when we do not understand the reasons why things are happening to us, we must cling to that one assurance. Job did. Job was greatly disappointed. Job could not understand why all those calamities had occurred in his life. Job, though, held onto his faith that God was good. Through everything Job never lost his faith in that aspect of God’s character.
One of the ironies of the Christian life is that so many of our prayers center on God healing or delivering us from a life-threatening situation – in effect delaying our arrival at the very place of our reward! How angry people get at God for transporting their loved one to glory instead of leaving them here to endure this sinful, broken earth. It seems that we have lost sight of heaven, that death has somehow regained her sting. Dying has become less than an entrance into eternity and our selfish desires to cling to more time on earth with our loved one trumps our desire to let God determine what is best for them.
The ultimate healing, the ultimate deliverance is from this body of decay and sin and to be with the Lord in heaven. When we take a lesser view on this it diminishes our faith and trust in a God who is good. This lesson was driven home to me in a dramatic way.
The day before my son, then 17 months old, was to have open-heart surgery, my wife and I were passing through the halls of the Ronald McDonald house where we were staying. People in those places get close to each other since all there are in similar situations. One lady we had spoken with quite often was packing her clothes. “I’m going home”, she said in response to our inquiry. Knowing that her little boy was very ill and could not have possibly been released, we asked her why. “My boy died last night”, she answered. Seeing our hurt, embarrassment and shock plastered on our faces, she took us aside and said, “You’re not ready for your child to die, are you?” We shook our heads no. “You need to be. Come in here and let me tell you something.” For over an hour she talked with us about how she knew her boy was in heaven, “doing that little shuffle-step dance for Jesus like he did in church on Sundays.” She told us that she was thankful for the years Jesus had loaned her boy to her and that he wasn’t suffering anymore. She thanked Him for His deliverance and healing of her boy. She praised Him for His goodness and mercy. At that Ronald McDonald house I learned that God loves my children even more than I do and that when we pray for complete recovery and healing it may be that God takes our loved ones to heaven to accomplish just that. God is good in all He does because goodness is a central characteristic of Himself.
Our faith grows deeper when we mature enough to understand that our belief at how God can best answer our prayers is different than His knowledge of how best to answer our prayers.
To be honest, even the depth of a faith that acknowledges that God is worthy because He made a way to provide for our salvation is not deep enough. You see, God is worthy because He alone is God. Even if He had not made provision to save mankind, if He had allowed us to enter eternity forever separated from Him because of our sin, He would still be worthy of praise. He did not have to save us. He made us. He made the earth for us to live on. He made colors and sounds and our senses to enjoy them. God made a universe and populated it with myriads of wonderful and incomprehensible things. He is God. He is the Creator and Maker of All Things. He is Good and Holy and this makes Him worthy to be praised.
Now, the fact that He made us with a redeemable soul and sent His Son precisely to redeem that soul is, indeed, good news. The character of who God is, though, is what makes Him worthy of praise and adoration. His holiness is the reason that He is worthy. A faith that worships God and gives Him praise and adoration based only on what He has done for us, whether it is a family, a job, a car or even salvation is a deficient faith. God is worthy because He is God.
This was a critical point in my walk with Christ. I loved the fact that He had sent people into my life to share the gospel with me. I loved the fact that His Spirit had drawn me to saving faith in His redemptive act. I loved the family He had given me. I loved being a minister of the gospel and leading others to faith in Jesus. But I had to ask myself if my love for Him was deeper than even that. Did I love Him just because He is?
In his book, The Painful Side of Leadership, Jeff Iorg makes this profound statement:
Most leaders easily forget their primary reason for being placed in their leadership role. The primary reason isn’t for you to do things for God. It’s so God can use your leadership setting as a laboratory for shaping the image of Jesus in you. (Iorg, 2009)
Excerpt from Is Jesus Enough? available in print and Kindle editions from Amazon.com and our sister site, http://www.discernmentministries.webs.com