Archive for July, 2011

Faith Is The Victory (Hymn)

Faith Is The Victory
John Henry Yates (1837-1900)

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.


On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.


To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.


This hymn serves to remind us that we are in a battle.  Our lives as Christians are spiritual battles.  Fortunately, we do not fight alone.  We are promised the ultimate victory before the battle even begins.  We are given all the armour we need to fight this “good fight of faith.”  And, as the song says, “faith is the victory.”  We have been given the victory, we just need to fight the battle!

Another Shot At Pride

Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.  The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?  Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

Obadiah 1:2-4

It seems that on just about every page of the entire Bible, there is some condemnation of pride.  God hates pride.  Pride is mentioned over and over in the book of Proverbs as one of the things that God hates.  Pride is specifically mentioned as the thing that caused Lucifer to fall.  He said in his heart, “I will…, I will…, I will…, etc.”  This is one more passage in which God reminds us just how much He hates pride.

In verse two, God tells the Israelites that He has made them small and despised among the heathen.  And He did that because of “The pride of thine heart…”  Their pride deceived them and it destroyed them.  They exalted themselves “as the eagle,” and God brought them down.

The same contrast is seen in the Bible over and over again.  If we bow ourselves in humility and lowliness, God will help us and lift us up.  If we lift ourselves up and swell up with pride, God will bring us low.  It happened to the children of Israel.  It has happened over and over again throughout history.  And it will happen to us if we allow the awful, devastating sin of pride into our lives.

The next time we feel pride swelling up within ourselves, we would do well to remember these verses: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee…”  Is our pride deceiving us today?

Woe To Them That Are At Ease…

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!

Amos 6:1

This is a famous verse.  Or, rather, a famous phrase that begins the verse, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…”  Application has been made many times to the fact that, as Christians living in a free country, we should not be sitting around doing nothing for the Lord.  We should not be living a life for ourselves and for our own pleasure and enjoyment.  Our lives, no matter where we find ourselves, should be about serving the Lord.

Think about our place as Christians in our modern world.  I have heard a lot said lately about how bad things are getting for Christians.  The world is against us.  Society as a whole is against us.  The media and entertainment industry are against us.  Even the government is beginning to pass laws that are starting to infringe upon our freedoms.  But, comparatively speaking, we have it easy.  We aren’t going to be hung or burned at the stake for claiming the name of Christ.  In fact, other than receiving a mean look or harsh word, we face very little persecution of any kind.  That has not always been the case throughout history and it is not always the case around the world today.

Thousands have died for their faith.  Thousands have lost families, land, possessions, and freedom for the cause of Christ.  We have done none of those things.  It is very, very, easy to find ourselves “at ease in Zion…” today.  Whenever I read or hear about this verse, I can’t help but thinking of those who have come before us.  They loved the Lord in life and they loved Him enough to die for Him.  We aren’t currently being asked to die for Him.  But how much of an effort are we making to live for Him?

What God Wants

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts.  Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.  But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Amos 5:21-24

God gets very explicit in His instructions to the Israelites here.  He tells them that He has no interest in their feast days, nor in their burnt offerings.  In fact, He says that He despises them.  He has no desire to hear their songs.  Was there anything inherently wrong with any of those things?  Of course not.  In fact, those were all things that the Lord had, at one point, told them to do.  Their problem was a simple one: they were doing these things only as an outward show of religion.  They had no heart behind their “worship.”

In verse 25 and 26, God tells them that while they have been offering Him sacrifices, they have also been serving their own gods, Moloch and Chium.  They were giving God an outward show of devotion, while continuing to worship the gods of their own making and, in essence, worshiping themselves.  God tells the Israelites that He wants two things.  And they are the same two things that He wants from us today:

“…let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  God wanted them to judge themselves, get rid of their false gods and idols, and serve Him.  That is what He wants from us today.  He wants us to judge the sin in our lives, get rid of anything that keeps us from Him, and follow Him completely and wholly.  Judge the sin, get rid of it, and “follow after righteousness.”  That is what God wants.

Hate Evil, and Love Good

Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.  Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph

Amos 5:14-15

As I was reading these verses, I was struck by the phrase “Hate the evil, and love the good” in verse 15.  A similar phrase, “seek good, and not evil…” is found in the previous verse.  You could very easily boil down all of the Christian life into one of those phrases.  That is exactly what we are supposed to be doing at all times: loving and seeking good and hating and avoiding evil.  Of course, as with all things, the doing of those things is usually a little tougher than the saying of them.

We would all agree that we need to be seeking and loving good.  It would be simple to make a list of “good” things that we should be doing, “good” thoughts that we should be thinking, and “good” attitudes that we should be having.  The question is, how are we doing on those “good” things?  Are we actively seeking out “good” to do?  And when we find good that we can do, are we doing it with a “I have to do this because it’s just part of my ‘job’ ” attitude or do we truly love good?

On the flip side, how are we doing at avoiding and hating evil?  Maybe through the years we have become somewhat good at avoiding evil, but what is our attitude toward it?  Do we see sin and evil as the things that are destroying people and the things that sent our Saviour to the cross?  Or do we secretly wish we could be “enjoying” those evil things?

Seek and love good; avoid and hate evil: Christianity 101.  How are we doing?

Power and Majesty

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.

Amos 5:8-9

Yesterday we looked a two verses from this chapter that told us to “Seek the Lord, and ye shall live.”  These verses tell us a little more about the Lord; the One whom we should be seeking.  I enjoy reading verses that deal with God’s power and majesty, like the ones found in the last chapters of Job and these fall into that category.  I also like seeing the contrast of things that give us small glimpses of just how powerful He really is.

He “maketh the seven stars and Orion…”  There is no explanation for that, just a simple statement of fact.  He makes the stars and constellations.  What is a simple statement of a simple fact for God is an utter impossibility for us.  We can barely see the stars to study them; God makes them and sets them where He will.

He also “turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night.”  We think in terms of day and night.  To us, it is daytime and light outside; then it is night and dark outside.  God is not bound by these restrictions.  When it is dark, He has the ability to make it light.  When it is light, He can darken the skies.  He is in complete control of nature.

He “calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth.”  He has power of water.  He can tell the sea to give up water and He can then tell the clouds where to deposit that water.  Again, God is in complete control of something of which we have a very limited understanding.

As for verse 9, just ask Goliath if that is true.  He “strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong.”  Sometimes it is good just to meditate on verses like these and remember what a powerful God we serve.

Seek Ye Me, And Live

For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:  But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.  Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

Amos 5:4-6

I would like to point out one phrase that occurs twice in these verses: “Seek ye me, and ye shall live” and “Seek the LORD, and ye shall live.”  “Ye shall live” is an important phrase.  Everyone wants life.  But not everyone knows how to get it.  There is but one way to find life and to obtain that promise “ye shall live:”  Jesus Christ.  He is the One that we need to seek.

John 14:6 says “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  John 1:4 says “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”  He is Life.  In Him we have life.  John 20:31 tells us “But these things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

There is Life in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Men are seeking for that life, and we not only have it, but know how to get it.  We should be, as John the Baptist, saying to the world “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29b)  Jesus is still calling, as in Amos, for people everywhere to “seek ye me, and live!”

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah (Hymn)

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams (1745)

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer,
Sin, and Satan and the grave,
Sin, and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

This is a great hymn.  To me, this hymn has a lot of “meat” in it.  You could take any verse and chew on it for a good long time.  There are so many things here upon which we could dwell and ponder.  I will leave you a couple that I enjoyed and you can think about whatever part the Lord points out to you.  I am truly a “pilgrim in this barren land.”  When I try to find something satisfying in this world, I can only end up asking “Bread of Heaven, feed me ’til I want no more.”  That bread is the only thing that truly satisfies.

On a side note, my wife and I watched the “royal wedding” a while back, and they sang this hymn.  It was interesting to see all of the people, most of whom probably have little or no use for the Lord, singing this great old hymn.  At first, I was annoyed by the amount of hypocrisy that I’m sure was there, with people singing “guide me, o Thou great Jehovah,” but then I just felt sorry for them and pitied them.  They don’t know that great Jehovah.  I do.  What a glorious truth!

Meeting The God of Hosts

Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.

Amos 4:12-13

The nation of Israel had rejected God over and over again.  For generations, they had refused His outstretched hand and for generations had ignored His chastening hand.  Because they had refused them over and over again, God had to judge them.  It is with this in mind that the Lord tells His people in verse 12, “…prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”  For a people who had been given such a great opportunity, this must have been a very fearful saying.  Imagine preparing to meet God after a lifetime (and, in their case, several lifetimes) of rejecting Him and His Word.  Imagine the horror of standing before the God Who loved you and gave Himself for you.  That is exactly what the nation of Israel faced in this passage and that is exactly what many, many people living today face if they continue to reject the Saviour.

After telling them to “prepare to meet thy God,” He reminds them in the next verse exactly Who they are dealing with.  They are not going to be dealing with one of their “made-up” “gods.”  This is the God that “formeth the mountains, and createth the wind.”  This is the God that knows exactly what we are thinking: “…declareth unto man what is his thought.”  This is “The LORD, The God of hosts.”  That is His name.  This is not some little idol made out of silver or gold or wood or stone.  This is The LORD, The God of hosts.

Someday we are all going to stand before Him.  How are we preparing?

What Will It Take

I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel, and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, I Israel.

Amos 4:9-12

These verses paint a sad picture of the nation of Israel.  God chose them and loved them, and then they rejected Him.  In His effort to get them to return to Him, He did many things to them.  He told them in the beginning that if they would serve Him and obey Him, it would be well with them.  And if they would not serve Him and if they rejected Him, He would judge and destroy them.

Look at all of the ways He judged them: He destroyed their fruit and their gardens.  He killed their men and allowed them to be beaten in battle.  He overthrew them, but did not utter destroy or reject them.  There was nothing more good that He could have done for them and there was nothing more that He could have taken away from them.  Yet still they refused and rejected Him and would not return.  In light of all of these examples, I have one searching question for today:

What does it take to get us to listen to Him?  Will we listen and respond at His gentle leading through reading His Word and hearing it preached and taught?  Or will He be forced to use the rod to bring us back to Himself?  What will it take for us?