WHAT A GATHERINGOn that bright and golden morning, when the Son of Man shall come,And the radiance of His glory we shall see,When from ev’ry clime and nation He shall call His people home,What a gath’ring of the ransomed that will be!Chorus:What a gath’ring, what a gath’ring,What a gath’ring of the ransomed in the summer land of love!What a gath’ring, what a gath’ring,Of the ransomed in that happy home above!When the blest, who sleep in Jesus, at His bidding shall ariseFrom the silence of the grave, and from the sea,And with bodies all celestial they shall meet Him in the skies,What a gath’ring and rejoicing there will be!When our eyes behold the city, with its many mansions bright,And its river, calm and restful, flowing free,When the friends that death hath parted shall in bliss again unite,What a gath’ring and a greeting there will be!O the King is surely coming, and the time is drawing nighWhen the blessed day of promise we shall see;Then the changing “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,“And forever in His presence we shall be.
- From every clime and nation – As many of you know, I love when there are words in old hymns that I don’t know. Words that make me go to the dictionary. Clime is one of those words. Clime is essentially a climate. From every climate and nation. Every place on the earth. Hot, cold. Wet, dry. Humid. Arid. Desert. Island. Mountain. Valley. God will bring His children from every clime and every nation. Every part of the earth will be represented in heaven. You think the Olympics opening ceremony is cool with athletes from around the world? Wait until you see God’s procession of saints from every clime and nation. Oh what a sight that will be!!
- Friends that death hath parted shall in bliss unite again – Think about this. Every family member, that was a Christian, you will have the opportunity to see again. No regrets. No “I wish I could’ve” done this or said that. Grandparents, parents, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children. Friends. Loved ones. We will blissfully reunite with tears – tears of joy. We have already cried our tears of sorrow. At that great gathering, we will shed blissful tears. I think we will also reunite with people we didn’t know had become Christians. People that confessed their sin at the 11th hour, and made things right with God and we never even knew about it. What a wonderful blissful surprise that will be!!!
LIFT HIGH THE NAME OF JESUS
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our King.
Make known the power of His grace,
The beauty of His peace.
Remember how His mercy reached
And we cried out to Him.
He lifted us to solid ground,
To freedom from our sin.
Oh sing my soul,
And tell all He’s done,
Till the earth and heavens are filled with His glory!
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our Lord.
His power in us is greater than,
Is greater than this world.
To share the reason for our hope,
To serve with love and grace,
That all who see Him shine through us
Might bring the Father praise.
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our Light.
No other name on earth can save,
Can raise a soul to life.
He opens up our eyes to see
The harvest He has grown.
We labor in His fields of grace
As He leads sinners home.
Written by modern day hymnwriters, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash, and Fionan de Barre, this is truly a hymn that I think will last the generations. I have attached a link to the song since it may be unfamiliar to many of you.
The song is an upbeat, toe tapping, fiddle-playing, praise song about worshiping the Lord. About lifting His name high. But it is not just a fun song to listen to, or a just a great song to sing, but it’s lyrics are truly Biblical in their foundation, and they have great meaning, and that is why I call it a hymn. Couple of comments on the lyrics:
- He was lifted up, and then He lifts us up – In John 12, Jesus says “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” Jesus was lifted up on the Cross. He was raised on a cross that was supposed to be for criminals, murderers, thieves, and sinners. Another old hymn says “Lifted up was he to die. It is finished was His cry. Now in Heaven Exalted High. Hallelujah, what a Savior!!!” Not only was He lifted up to die. But He was lifted up that He might lift us up. That He might save us, redeem us, free us from the penalty of sin. Another great “lifting” hymn says “He lifted me out. Of the deep miry clay. He planted my feet on the heavenly way. I’ll tell it where ere I go. For I want the whole world to know. I’m glad that He loved me so that He lifted me out.” His lifting up and His lifting out ought to cause us to praise and worship Him. His lifting ought to cause us to do some lifting of our own. We ought to be lifting high the name of Jesus.
- “Greater than this world” – I John 4:4 encourages believers with these words – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Isn’t it amazing to think the Holy Spirit of God Almighty dwells in each one of us? That we haven’t been lift comfortless, but we have been given a Comforter who is greater than the world. We have received the Holy Spirit that empowers and endues us to do great things for God. That truth ought to cause us to once again lift high the name of Jesus.
- “We labor in His fields of grace” – Jesus said that the fields were truly white for harvest, but the laborers were few. He said to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers, and that is what you and me are. We are workers in His fields. We are co-laborers in His vineyard. Some of us He hired many years ago, and we try daily to be faithful workers in His fields of grace. But I am grateful today that He hasn’t reached full employment. He is still hiring harvest workers. He is still bringing on laborers. At the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and yes even at the 11th hour. He is still calling laborers to His fields of grace.
One of the concerns that I have with the modern church in America is that we are missing this concept of lifting high the name of Jesus. We do a lot of lifting of things, but I am not sure we are lifting in the right place.
- We lift up our worship music and praise bands – “Come to our church. We have an awesome music program.”
- We lift up our facilities – state of the art buildings with the latest creature comforts – “Come to our church. We have the latest TV’s, Ipads, lighting systems, game systems, sounds systems, and the most comfortable seating in town – better than the movie theater.”
- We lift up the name of our congregation online with likes, tweets, posts, and blogs. “Go to our website where you can participate in worship online, follow other members of the congregation, listen to sermons via podcast, give online, and never even have to darken the door of the church.” (Sorry, I may have crossed over the sarcasm line.)
But are we lifting high the name of Jesus in our churches? Is He central to our worship? Is He the focus of the facilities we build? Is He the central focus on our websites and facebook pages? Or has He become an after-thought? Do we give him bottom shelf treatment, when He desires to be on the Top shelf of our lives?
I pray that we are people who will Lift High the name of Jesus. Of Jesus. Our Lord. Our King. Our Light. As He is lifted up, people will be drawn to Him.
I know it has been awhile since I sent out a hymn of the week. I really don’t have a good excuse. I have lots of excuses, but none of them are really that good. I hope you will forgive my slothfulness, and take the time to read some great words today written by the great hymn writer – William Cowper.
As some of you may know, William Cowper was the kind of person that experienced wonderful “highs” in his life. He was a friend of John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) and he co-authored the Olney Hymns with Newton. He was one of the most popular poets of his day. But he also had his “low” moments. Times in his life where he felt far from God. He battled melancholy and depression during different parts of his life, and was even institutionalized for a couple of years, and even tried to commit suicide on multiple occasions.
Although I am not aware of a specific incident related to this song, it is believed that this hymn was based upon the passage of Scripture found in Genesis 5:24 – “And Enoch walked with God.”
These lyrics tell you of a man who desired to walk with God. As you read these lyrics, I hope you see a troubled man who longed to be closer to the Lord. The hymn is a personal testimony and prayer, and maybe today, you can empathize with the author of this hymn. Maybe you are in a low place today, and are desiring that closer walk with the Lord. I hope these lyrics encourage you today.
O FOR A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.
- Couple of comments on the lyrics:
- “An aching void” – There is an old saying that says “There is a God-shaped hole in every human heart” and I believe that is true. There is something inside all of us that longs to have a right relationship with God. People try to fill that void with a variety of things. Career, fame, fortune, family, drugs, alcohol, etc. Those things cannot fill the aching void of not having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. All of these things are empty and void of satisfaction. Only God, by the Holy Spirit, can fill the void and silence the aching that we feel.
- “Return O holy Dove” – Cowper realized that he needed a renewing of the Holy Spirit in his life. A refilling. A refreshing. A comforting. The Holy Spirit is those things for us. He empowers and endues. He comforts and calms. The Holy Spirit is a fresh wind, and the Living water. Cowper is praying for the Holy Spirit to return in a mighty way to give him rest.
- “The dearest idol I have known” – In reading the Old Testament, one of the things that you encounter over and over again is the Hebrew people chasing after pagan idols. They would exchange the God of the Universe with idols made of gold and wood. The Baals. Ashteroths. When they would turn back to God, one of the things that they would routinely do is tear down and burn up the idols. There had to be the removal of the things that caused separation between them and God. The same was true in Cowper’s day, and the same is true for us today. We may not have golden idols that we worship, but we have things that separate us from God. Those things, those dearest idols, have to be torn down in order to get closer to the Lord.
I want to encourage you today with some verses about having that closer walk with the Lord that you find in this great hymn. These are great promises for those seeking a closer walk with God.
- James 4:8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- Proverbs 8:17 – I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.
- Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
I hope your prayer today is “O for a closer walk with God” and that you will embark on a diligent journey to find Him. In prayer and in His Word.
I have attached a link to a version of this song by the Getty’s. I trust you will enjoy.
ONLY TRUST HIM
Come, every soul by sin oppressed;
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.ChorusOnly trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.
For Jesus shed His precious blood
Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood
That washes white as snow.
Yes, Jesus is the truth, the way,
That leads you into rest;
Believe in Him without delay
And you are fully blessed.Come, then, and join this holy band,
And on to glory go
To dwell in that celestial land
Where joys immortal flow.O Jesus, blessèd Jesus, dear,
I’m coming now to Thee;
Since Thou hast made the way so clear
And full salvation free.
- I was reminded of this great hymn recently at the His Hands Extended Devotion. This song was written by John Stockton in the 1800’s. Mr. Stockton was a Methodist Episcopal church minister who worked with D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey in their revival meetings in the 1800’s. This particular hymn was an invitational hymn sung at the end of powerful revival services led by Reverend Moody. The goal of these invitational songs was to have a simple, clear message in song that would stir a response in the listener to heed the Gospel call and respond in believing faith. I can see why they liked this song so much because it certainly fulfills that goal.Within a week or so of being reminded of this song, I came across a passage of Scripture in I Samuel that tied in so well to this hymn. Here’s what I found in that passage:
“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
So what was the tendency of the people in Samuel’s day? To mix their worship of God with the worship of foreign gods. That is what I call “buffet style” religion. The kind of worship that allows you to pick what you like, but avoid the stuff you don’t. But Samuel spoke truth. He said that you must “serve Him only.” God is a jealous God (Exodus 20). Not willing to share the worship that is due Him with any others. It is the same truth as the words found in this song to Only Trust Him. Don’t trust in yourself. Your family. Your government. But to only trust in Him. All others will fail you. In our world filled with lots of little “gods,” the tendency is to serve them and give them our worship. Fame, fortune, leisure, sports, personal wisdom, and self, all desire to have our worship and devotion. We can very easily begin to worship other gods, but from the beginning of the Bible, God’s response remains “Serve Me Only.”
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
- “His” – Verse one of this song reminds us about where we find rest for our souls – by trusting in His word. Not in our strength. Not in our wisdom. Not in our wallets. But trusting in His Word. Isn’t it amazing how the Word of God can speak to our hearts like nothing else can do? It is His word, but it speaks to us individually. God’s Word is powerful. God’s Word is true. God’s Word is reliable. God’s word is encouraging. It is His Word for you and for me today.
- “Him” – The chorus tells us clearly who we have to trust in – Him, Jesus. John 1:12 tells us ” But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” How can one receive salvation? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
- “He” – Finally, I want to focus on the word – He. In Psalm 100, the Psalmist gives us clear direction on how to think right. He says “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” He is in control. He is in charge. He is God.If you are a sports nut like me, when you saw the name “John Stockton” earlier in the email, you probably thought of the great Utah Jazz point guard. John Stockton was a small man in a big man’s world. He was 6 foot one playing in a league with guys, 6′ 10, 6′ 11, or even 7 foot tall. Yet despite his comparably small stature, he accomplished great things in his career. He was a great “assist” man. Not the man who scored a ton of points. But the man who dished the ball to his fellow teammates at just the right time so they could score a ton of points. Being a great assist man requires humility on the court because you are giving up your own chance to score while allowing someone else to get the glory. John Stockton remains to this day the all-time NBA leader in assists.
You, too, have someone to assist you. Someone that is your helper – The Holy Spirit. One will lead you and guide you and direct you. One who will illumine the Scriptures for you as you study them. So, remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 14:
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Only Trust Him!!!
WHERE WE’LL NEVER GROW OLD
I have heard of a land on the faraway strand,
’Tis a beautiful home of the soul;
Built by Jesus on high, where we never shall die,
’Tis a land where we never grow old.
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old;
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old.
In that beautiful home where we’ll never more roam,
We shall be in the sweet by and by;
Happy praise to the King through eternity sing,
’Tis a land where we never shall die.
When our work here is done and the life-crown is won,
And our troubles and trials are o’er;
All our sorrow will end, and our voices will blend,
With the loved ones who’ve gone on before.
For me, it is a dangerous thing to flip through old hymnals. I come across so many songs that I know, and then, like last night, I come across a song in the Redback hymnal that seemed vaguely familiar. I typically will scan the chorus and if I can’t come up with the tune in my head, it drives me crazy. I can’t read music and can’t figure out the tune on my own, and so I have to go to Youtube and see if the Gaither’s have done a version of it. I was not disappointed. I found the attached video of this great old song, and somehow, some way, it seemed very familiar.
I don’t know why, but there is something really appealing about this kind of place – a place where we never grow old. Maybe it is that I am getting older myself. More gray hair. More aches and pains. More longing to do what I used to could do. It’s not that growing old is all bad. The Bible says some great things about the old. Proverbs 16:31 says “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” The Bible says Zacharias and Elizabeth were “advanced in years” but they were used by God in their old age. Simeon and Anna, who was “great in age,” saw great things in their old age. Old age typically brings wisdom and experience. During our older years, we have more time to fellowship, to pray, and to study God’s word. But old age comes with it’s challenges too. Sickness, pain, loneliness, and the death of family and friends. I get the sense, from this song, that the author has had some struggles in his older years. Maybe physical struggles. Maybe emotional struggles. And he longed for that place where he would never grow old. I, too, am longing for that place. Not just because I don’t want to grow old. But because I know that Heaven is so much better than what we have here on earth. Yes, the Lord blesses us with joys on this earth. But these temporary joys will pale in comparison to the eternal joy we will have in Heaven. That place where there is no more crying. No more death. No more sickness and disease. How beautiful Heaven must be!!!!
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
- “Built by Jesus on high” – Jesus said in John 14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” What kind of house do you think Jesus would build? Shoddy? Thrown-together? Cheapest grade wood, and carpet, and cabinets? Not at all. The house that is built by Jesus on high will be perfect. Without spot or blemish. No cutting corners. No hidden problems behind the walls. A place that He has prepared for His children. A place built by the Master Carpenter.
- “We’ll never more roam” – I hate to think of my journey through this life as roaming or wandering. I like to think I have a plan. I like to think I am expertly executing my plans – day by day, week by week, and month by month. But Peter calls us “pilgrims.” Ones who haven’t found their final resting place. The writer of Hebrews says we are more than pilgrims. We are strangers. We are sojourners. We are roamers. But there is a time and place where the roaming will cease. No more wilderness wanderings. No more dark valleys to walk. We will never more roam. Hallelujah!!
- “Our voices will blend” – As a person who loves good singing, there is just something beautiful about a congregation singing a song a capella. It is awesome to hear all the parts and voices sing in harmony. I think it is even more beautiful when our hearts are in unison along with our voices. A time of worship when God is exalted with worship that comes from clean hands and pure hearts. But this lyric reminds me that I will also one day get to blend my voice with loved ones that have gone before. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and loved ones. We will sing together again one day. Our hearts and our voices will join in song in praise to the King.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15.