Hymn Devotions Day 2 – Rock of Ages

DAY 2 – ROCK OF AGES 

One of the greatest hymns of all time, Rock of Ages packs deep spiritual truths in its short stanzas. The Rock of Ages is, of course, Jesus Christ, the One who was cleft for us on the cross. He was pierced for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. To Him alone we must go for salvation. The final part of verse one, though, is truly deep:

Be of sin the double cure

Save from wrath and make me pure

God’s wrath is poured out on the sinner. Even now they are under His condemnation (John 3:17). The precious blood of Jesus, poured out on the penitent crying for mercy and salvation, satisfies the wrath of God the Father. Not only that, but it cleanses us from all unrighteousness, hence “the double cure.” So much truth packed into so few words.

The rest of the song hammers home the inability of man to save himself, whether by works, (labor of hands) enthusiasm, (zeal) or by sorrow (tears). Only Jesus, alone, can save. This is the great truth about our Lord. Not only can He save, but He does save.

One early, alternate version of the first stanza ended like this: Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power. While this version is not used as often, it also contains a great truth. Sin is a terrible power that makes all of us stand guilty before God. Truly, we need to fly to the fountain filled with the blood of Jesus to be washed clean.

As you spend time in prayer and contemplation, thank Jesus for His saving grace. Thank Him for substituting Himself for you on the cross, taking the wrath of God in your place and being willing to save.

 

Thank you Father, for sending Your Son as the means of salvation. Thank you Jesus for atoning for our sins by paying sin’s penalty. Be our Rock, we pray, where we can find shelter for all eternity. 

Rock of Ages by Augustus Toplady

 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me find myself in Thee

Let the water and the blood

From Thy wounded side which flowed

Be of sin the double cure

Save from wrath and make me pure

 

Not the labor of my hands

Can fulfill Thy laws demands

Could my zeal no languor know

Could my tears forever flow

These for sin could not atone

Thou must save and Thou alone

 

In my hand no price I bring

Simply to Thy cross I’ll cling

Naked, come to Thee for dress

Helpless, look to Thee for grace

Foul, I to the fountain fly

Wash me Savior, lest I die

 

While I draw this fleeting breath

When my eyes shall close in death

When I rise to worlds unknown

And behold Thee on Thy throne

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee

 

What Does It Mean To Wait On The Lord?

So many times I hear people telling me that they are waiting on the Lord, and what they mean by that is, they are sitting still, waiting for some move on God’s part to give them a clear direction. I would argue that the better understanding of waiting on the Lord is that of a waitress or waiter at a fancy restaurant. A good waitress or waiter is very attentive to the customer. They are there, asking is everything is okay, seeking to be there when the customer is ready to order and seeking to be there when they are ready to leave, seeking to be there when the customer has a need.

I would say that we are to wait on the Lord this way. Hovering, anticipating, ready at a moments notice to spring to His side when summoned. Willing to serve, knowing that there are things we are to do that is common to all His children: serving the poor, ministering to others, edifying the body, witnessing to the lost, discipling the brethren. Just as a waiter has jobs that he does for each customer – filling drinks, taking orders, etc. There is never a time when they are not busy working, even if a particular customer hasn’t summoned them yet.

Instead of sitting and doing nothing until we hear a specific call or direction, maybe we should be actively waiting – doing those things already commanded for us to do by our boss, the Lord Jesus.

You see, the two definitions of the word wait that show two completely different ideas. The first is to be in a state of  repose or to remain inactive until something expected happens. That is how most Christians define waiting on the Lord. The second is considered archaic,  to attend upon or escort, especially as a sign of respect. I would argue that it is this archaic definition that is the more biblical one.

How are you waiting on the Lord?

Repentance, Replacement and Ministry

In repentance, a person is not only moved by godly sorrow over actions that offend and displease God to confess them, asking forgiveness, but to also turn from those sins. The New Testament talks about replacing those ungodly actions with their godly opposites. Beyond that, though, the New Testament command us to begin ministering in Jesus’ name in that same area. For example, Paul tells those who are guilty of stealing to not only stop stealing but to work for what they want. Then he goes further and commands them to work until they have an overabundance so that they can share with others who are in need. In another example, we are told to let no unwholesome or ungodly, corrupt speech come from our mouth. Then we are told to replace it with what it is good, giving praise and glory to God. Beyond replacing bad speech with good, we are told to use our speech to edify or build up our fellow believers.

This is the essence of true repentance. Merely feeling sorry and confessing isn’t repentance. Neither is simply replacing the bad with good. It is going beyond and changing habits, starting new ones that advance the cause of Christ that show repentance has taken place. When that occurs we get off the merry-go-round of confessing, crying, promising to do better and spending next week confessing, crying and promising the same old things. We are now doing something positive for God’s Kingdom, ministering to others, changing our lifestyle to reflect that of Christ.

How repentant of your sins are you?

What it Means to be a Pastor

                Being a pastor in Montana means many different things to me. Since arriving in 1995, I have served churches in Red Lodge, Columbus and Havre. Being a pastor in Montana means unloading trucks outside at work at 4:30 in the morning in  -40°F weather so that the church can still afford to have a pastor.  It means reaching out to people who have never heard basic Bible stories such as Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath or the real Christmas story.

Pastoring in Montana means enduring weeks of loneliness, isolated by geography and finances from family, friends and even other pastors. It means driving hours to conferences for the fellowship with friends and the opportunity to sharpen ones skills. It means penetrating reclusive lives and investing time into communities. It means sharing your home with people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds. It means being vulnerable and authentic and living a transformed life in front of a watching world.

Pastoring in Montana means that you start laying the foundation for future works to take place.  Very quickly you learn that there is no prestige, no glory, no “bigger” church to aspire to. What there is, is plenty of is hard work, years of discipleship, mentoring, teaching and engaging. There is the joy of seeing a second generation come to know and serve the Lord. There is the joy of seeing families and marriages being put back together. There is the satisfaction of establishing stability and credibility in a community that is constantly watching to see if your Christianity is real. There is the awesome exhilaration that comes from seeing new believers mature and go out in service for the kingdom, taking the gospel to yet another place that needs to hear it.

Being a pastor in Montana is a tale of two extremes. It is a tale of hardships and frustration and of rapture and joy. It will cause you to grow closer to God than you thought possible because there is no one else around for you to turn to. It will drive you to your knees over and over seeking strength, guidance and wisdom. It will also lead you to give God all the credit because only He could possibly penetrate the darkness and hardened hearts of those who do not know Him.

Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary, sums up what I think being a pastor in Montana is all about when he says in his book, The Painful Side of Leadership, “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.[1]

I pray that the image that is being shaped in me, as I pastor in Montana, is that of Jesus Christ.


[1] Iorg, Jeff. The Painful Side of Leadership. P12. B&H Publishing Group 2009