Listening to Stories

Since working with hospice as a chaplain, my children have asked me what it is that I actually do. When I was the pastor of a church, my role was easy for them to see. As I speak at conferences and seminars, they often travel with me. Even on mission trips around the globe they have sometimes accompanied me and know what it is that I do while I am gone. As a chaplain, though, they weren’t sure what it was that I do all day.

My answer? I listen to stories. I listen to the stories of people. I listen to the stories of those who are actively, imminently dying. I listen to the stories of their spouses, children and grandchildren. I listen to the stories of those who know them best. And I pray with them. Every person has a story. Everyone’s life tells of who they are, what they dream of, what they value and whether they are ready to stand before God and have their life story read back from His books. People are fascinating. No two are alike. Everyone has a unique story, yet the end of the story is the same for everyone. It is appointed for man once to die, and then the judgement. The beginning may change, the characters may be different, the adventures unique — but the end is the same. We all must stand before God and give an account to Him of our lives and whether we have included His Son Jesus as the central character in our story.

How about you? Are you ready for your story to be read before the Almighty?

Hymn Devotions Day 35 – Praise To The Lord, The Almighty

DAY 35 – PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY

             This hymn is packed with doctrinal truth. One could use it to teach a class on the doctrine of God to new believers, taking a stanza at a time. God is King. He is the Creator. It is in Him that we find salvation and abundant life. He is worthy to be praised and adored.

I love the second verse. Can you not see, the writer asks, how God works in our life, gently changing our hearts and minds to desire, to want what is His desire for us? He doesn’t force us to His will, He changes our will to His own. We look and see and wonder, when did I change? When did I stop wanting that? When did I start desiring this? O how smoothly the Spirit of God works His transforming power!

God’s grace and mercy are given to us daily. He doesn’t leave us on our own to stumble about, He doesn’t leave us at the mercy of the storms of life, He shields and defends us, calming the storms and providing victory over them.

When it seems as if evil is winning. When it looks like the ungodly are prospering, God reminds us that He is in charge. Good will triumph, evil will be judged. We are assured of everlasting rewards, evil of everlasting punishment. The light always overcomes the darkness. It chases away shadows and reveals what is hidden. Nothing can withstand the light of His presence. What fantastic reasons to sing praise to the Lord, the Almighty, our Rock and Captain of our Salvation.

Praise be to You, O Lord. You are almighty. You are all-powerful. You and You alone are worthy to be praised. Thank You, for surrounding me with Your presence each day.

PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY by Joachim Neander

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation

O my soul praise Him for He is thy health and salvation

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near

Join me in glad adoration

 

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth

Shelters thee under His wings, yea so gently sustaineth

Hast thou not seen, how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth?

 

Praise to the Lord who hath fearfully wondrously made thee

Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Hymn Devotions Day 14 – Holy, Holy, Holy!

DAY 14 – HOLY, HOLY, HOLY

               What a magnificent, majestic song to sing in praise to God! Yes, all the saints do adore Him, the God of our Salvation. When we stand before the throne we will cast down our crowns at His feet, acknowledging that He and He alone is worthy of any honor. The great angels and other heavenly creatures also will bow in reverence, honor and awe before our great God.

We cannot see Him now. To witness His holy glory would destroy us. Our sinful bodies are simply not capable of withstanding His perfect presence. One day, we will have a new body and be cleansed from all sin but for now, He is hidden from our sight. Now, we see as through a glass darkly, but then we will see clearly.

At the coming of the Lord Jesus, when this present heaven and earth pass away and everything is made new, only those who belong to the Lord will inhabit the universe. All His works will praise His name. All will give Him the glory He deserves.

Every time I sing this song, I am swept up in emotion as I reflect on how wonderful and amazing God is. I sing this with all my heart and mind, praying that He takes joy in my offering to Him. Early in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, late in the evening, all are appropriate times to ring out praise to our most holy God.

 

               Most high and holy God, I offer to You everything I have. Nothing I am or will be is in any way a worthy gift to such a magnificent God, but all I have I give to You. You alone are worthy of praise and glory and majesty. I bow before Your glorious throne.

HOLY, HOLY HOLY by Reginald Heber

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty

God in three persons, blessed Trinity

 

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee

Who wert and art and evermore shall be

 

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee

Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee

Perfect in power, in love and purity

 

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty

All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea

Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty

God in three persons, blessed Trinity