Archive for February, 2012

He Hideth My Soul (Hymn)

He Hideth My Soul
Fanny Crosby (1890)

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

Refrain
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

Refrain

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!

Refrain

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

Refrain

This is another great hymn from Fanny Crosby.  I don’t know how many of her hymns I have put up here, but there have been several.  Every stanza is great, but the refrain is my favorite part: “He covers me there with His hand…”  What a comforting and encouraging thought: we are hidden in Him and covered with His hand!  That will bring comfort no matter what storm we may be going through!

The Importance of our Speech

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple… Then said I, Woe is me!  for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 6:1,5 

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Psalm 141:3

Isaiah chapter six was the subject of a sermon at church the other day.  One of the things that struck me was the importance he placed on his lips (his speech) immediately after seeing the Lord.  Isaiah had just seen the Lord “high and lifted up.”  He got a tremendous view of the glory and majesty of the Lord.  Immediately afterward, his first words are “Woe is me!”  Next, he says that he is unclean and undone.  The specific he gives for this is that he is a “man of unclean lips.”  He also says that he lives among a people of “unclean lips.”

Of all of the reactions to seeing the Lord, this one was surprising to me.  Of all the areas in which he could have thought about being unclean, he singled out the area of speech.  That just goes to show how important our speech really is.

Psalm 141:3 gives us a great prayer in this area: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”  Think of how much improvement our lives would see if this were true of us.  Think of what a difference it would make if the Lord Himself kept our lips.  Think of the help we could be to others if we allowed the Lord to control every word we spoke.  It would be life changing.

Often, we might neglect our speech and our words.  But, like Isaiah, when we see the Lord, we will realize the importance of our words and our speech.

A Higher Level

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

In the New Testament, we find a higher righteousness than that of the Old Testament.  In this passage, Jesus mentions that a righteousness higher than that of the Pharisees is needed.  The Pharisees had an outward righteousness that kept a strict outward adherence to the law and to their traditions.  But there is a higher level.

“Thou shalt not kill.”  That is a fairly simple commandment.  Don’t kill.  That is easy to follow.  It is an outward commandment.  There is no mention of attitude or heart.  Just don’t kill somebody.  You can “technically” hate people, make fun of them, mock them, and be an overall jerk to them.  You just can’t kill them.  The Pharisees had that one down.  They didn’t kill anybody.  They were “good” people.

But then Jesus comes along with something a little higher.  He tells the people that, not only are you not supposed to kill people, you aren’t suppose to even hate them.  You are not to be “angry with his brother without a cause.”  That is a far higher level of righteousness than that of the Pharisees.

Not killing somebody is one thing.  Not being angry at a brother without a cause is an entirely different animal.  That is not quite so easy to accomplish.  That is going to require some serious help.

Hope in Darkness

Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.  Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.

Psalm 142:6-7

In this Psalm, David was very discouraged.  In fact, he was even more than discouraged: he was downright depressed.  He was overwhelmed and persecuted by those stronger than him.  It was a dark time for him.  But I drew encouragement from this passage because even in the darkest hours of his life, he could still have hope in the Lord.

David was “brought very low.”  He was held captive by strong persecutors.  He felt as though his soul was “in prison.”  Yet, in spite all of that, he said that he wanted the Lord to release him from that prison so that he could praise His name.  How often is that our attitude?  How often do we ask the Lord to deliver us from some trouble so that we can praise Him?  That is a wonderful attitude to have and a wonderful thing to do.  So often, the Lord helps us and delivers us and we just move on, forgetting about Him and His help.  David had the right attitude.

Also, in the midst of all of this trouble, David said that “the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”  He had confidence in the Lord.  He had asked the Lord for help and deliverance, and was already thanking Him for His answer.  That is faith!  Despite being brought low, persecuted and in prison, he knew that the Lord would “deal bountifully with him.”

No matter what we may be facing or going through, we can take solace in knowing that He will help us and that He will deal bountifully with us!  What a comforting and encouraging truth!

Complaining to the Lord

I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.  I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.  In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

Psalm 142:1-3

I was reading the Psalms the other day, and these verses stuck out to me.  So often, we want to complain to other people.  We want others to listen to our problems, even if they really can’t do anything about them.  Some of us pay psychiatrists to listen to us and help us with our problems.  Some of us like to “vent” to our spouse or friends.  Sometimes, we just feel the need to “get something off my chest.”  We need a someone who can listen to our problems and can hear about our complaints and our troubles.  The problem is, we usually turn to the wrong source.

While there is not anything necessarily wrong with telling someone else about your problems and troubles, it often doesn’t do much good.  Usually the person to whom we are complaining can’t do anything about the situation.  However, there is One Who can help us and has promised to help us.

In these verses, the Psalmist tells us that he “cried unto the LORD.”  He “poured out my complaint.”  He “shewed before him my trouble.”  Why would David do that?  Because he knew that God could and would help him.

Instead of complaining to others and sharing our problems with them, why do we not more often take them to the Lord and share them with Him?  He has told us to “cast our cares upon Him…”  And He has promised to be our help in time of trouble.  We have a great and mighty resource at our disposal.  Let us remember Him the next time we need to share our troubles with someone!

How Much Righteousness, Part 2

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

Without getting into the doctrinal application of the difference between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God,” we will look at this verse and what it says about righteousness.  This passage really begins in verse 17, in which Jesus says that “I am not come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  He then begins to talk about that law and our relationship to it.

He says in verse 20 that “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…”  To me, there are two ways to look at this, and I think that both of them are true.  We looked at one way yesterday, and we will look at the other today.

While the scribes and Pharisees were known as some of the most “righteous” people of their day, they were also among the biggest enemies of Jesus.  They were constantly hounding Him and trying to trap Him.  They were questioning Him and trying to catch Him in some kind of sin.  Jesus had some harsh words for them many times during His earthly ministry.  While they appeared righteous on the outside, their “righteousness” was cold, formal, outward “righteousness.”  They had nothing on the inside.

There are quite a few “scribes and Pharisees” running around today, trying to get their own righteousness by their own works.  But as we are told in Isaiah 64:6, “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”  There are many good people who do good things, but sadly, they are depending on their own inferior righteousness instead of depending on the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.  They are depending on their outward good works instead of a relationship with Jesus that begins in the heart.

How Much Righteousness

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

Without getting into the doctrinal application of the difference between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God,” we will look at this verse and what it says about righteousness.  This passage really begins in verse 17, in which Jesus says that “I am not come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  He then begins to talk about that law and our relationship to it.

He says in verse 20 that “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…”  To me, there are two ways to look at this, and I think that both of them are true.  We will look at one today and one tomorrow.

First, you could look at the scribes and Pharisees as being among the most “righteous” people of their day.  They spent their lives studying the law.  They did everything right.  They were the religious leaders of the day.  But even though they studied the law and did their best to fulfill its demands, they couldn’t measure up.  “The best of men are men at best.”  They needed an even higher righteousness.  So do we.  That higher righteousness is found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22 says, “…the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”  We need the righteousness of God Himself and we have that righteousness available to us by faith in Jesus Christ.  Romans 10:4 tells us, “…Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”  Even the best and most righteous of men does not measure up to the standard of God.  We simply can’t measure up.  But when we, by faith, accept Jesus Christ, He becomes our righteousness.

Without Him, we would have no hope, though we were among the best people on earth.  With Him, the vilest sinner can have a righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees.  What a wonderful Saviour!

He Is Able To Deliver Thee (Hymn)

He Is Able To Deliver Thee
William Ogden (1887)

’Tis the grandest theme through the ages rung;
’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal tongue;
’Tis the grandest theme that the world e’er sung,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

Refrain
He is able to deliver thee,
He is able to deliver thee;
Though by sin oppressed, go to Him for rest;
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

’Tis the grandest theme in the earth or main;
’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal strain;
’Tis the grandest theme, tell the world again,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

Refrain

’Tis the grandest theme, let the tidings roll,
To the guilty heart, to the sinful soul;
Look to God in faith, He will make thee whole,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

Refrain

This is the “grandest theme” – He is able to deliver us.  We have been and are oppressed by sin; it is He Who alone is able to help us and deliver us.  Isn’t it great to serve a God that we know is able to deliver us?  We don’t have to wonder or worry if He can do as He said.  We know that “He is able!”

Walking as Children of Light

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…

Ephesians 5:8

I thought I would close out the week with one more post on the subject of light.  This is a great verse for so many reasons.  It really gives a nice summation of our Christian lives: we were in darkness, we are now in light, and we need to walk in the light.  We were children of the Devil.  We are now children of God.  We need to live like God’s children.

I love how the Lord words things in the Bible; often, our faith in the inspiration of God’s Word is strengthened just by the wording.  Look at the wording of this verse, and notice that it doesn’t actually say “we were walking in darkness.”  It says “ye were… darkness.”  We actually were darkness.  It also doesn’t say “now ye walk in the light.”  It says “now are ye light in the Lord.”  We don’t just have light.  We ARE light.  That is the same thing that Matthew 5:14 says – it all ties in perfectly.  Of course, we are light in the Lord: He is the one Who causes us to be light.  What a wonderful doctrinal truth!  We were darkness incarnate.  Now we are very light of Jesus Christ Himself!  What a wonderful Saviour!

Now, in light of the fact that we were darkness, and in light of the fact that we are now light the Lord Jesus, we need to “walk as children of light.”  We are light; now we simply need to live like it.  We are Christians; we need to live and act like Christians.  We are the children of God; we need to act like children of God.  We are light in Him.  I say it again – what a wonderful Saviour!

The Reason for our Light and Good Works

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:16

We have looked at the fact that we are light.  We have looked at the fact that our light comes from the true Light and that we only help others as we let His Light shine through us.  We have looked at some of the things that the light can illuminate, including our good works.  But one question remains: what is the ultimate purpose?

The ultimate purpose for our light and for our good works that are manifested by the light is so that when others see us, see our light or see our good works, they will “…glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  The ultimate purpose for letting our light “so shine before men” is to bring glory to the Lord.  That is really the ultimate purpose for all that we say or do: bringing glory to the Lord.

We know that we are created “for His pleasure.”  We know that, as Christians, we should be living for Him and living to bring others to Him.  The question is this: what do people see when they look at us?  Do people glorify God when they look at us?  Think of what a great testimony that would be for the Lord.  When people look at us, they glorify the Lord!  Most people live their lives trying to bring glory to themselves.  Most people want others to see them and then glorify them.  Not us.  We want others to see us and to see what we are doing and to then glorify the Lord.  Do they?  Are we living to draw attention to ourselves or are we living to draw attention to our Saviour?