Hymn of the Week

by Jeff Mowery

Surrender All

Surrender All

Take all I am, Lord, and all that I cling to 
You are my Savior I owe everything to 
Take all the treasures that lie in my storehouse 
They cannot follow when I enter Your house 

CHORUS 
So I surrender all to You 
I surrender all 

VERSE 2 
Take all my cravings for vain recognition 
Fleshly indulgence and worldly ambition 
I want so much Lord to make You the focus 
To serve You in secret and never be noticed 

VERSE 3 
Take all my hunger for all that’s forbidden 
Every desire and sin I keep hidden 
Search me and know me I want to bring to You 
A life that is holy and sanctified through You 


This particular song is a modern hymn written by Rich Dalmas who is part of Sovereign Grace ministries – a wonderful Christian ministry that is producing great modern hymns of faith.   If you have never heard this song before, here’s a youtube link to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6_oUbGhYtQ

In my opinion, Mr. Dalmas wonderfully merges the themes of two great hymns of the faith – “I surrender all” and “Take my life and let it be.”  The theme of surrendering all that we are, laying these things at the Lord’s feet, and living a life that is sold out and surrendered to him.  The Lord is looking for that kind of sacrifice from His people.  As He did with Abraham, He is looking for our all – for the most important things in our life to be committed to Him.  He asked Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son.  He is also looking for the type of surrender like Hannah did in I Samuel.  The Lord answered her prayer for a son, and He gave her Samuel.  With a heart of thanksgiving and commitment, she then gave that treasured possession back to the Lord for use in His kingdom.

When I read the words of this song, I think about my giving the Lord “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:”

  • The Good – Verse 1 reminds us that we have been blessed in many ways here on this earth.  He has given us a storehouse of blessings.  Sometimes this storehouse contains financial blessings.  Other times it is a blessing of family and church, or health or peace or wisdom.  The prayer in verse 1 is for a willing heart to give the Lord the “good” things in our life.  To bless others because we have been so blessed.  Not to give Him our leftovers, but the firstfruits.  The Good.
  • The Bad – Verse 2 reminds me of giving of one’s self.  The secret cravings for recognition that no one may ever see.  Outsiders may think our motives are always pure, but the reality is that there are times we do things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit.  This verse is a prayer for the Lord to take those bad thoughts and wrong motives.  A prayer for a heart that is satisfied serving Him and going unnoticed.
  • The Ugly – Verse 3 is about the sin in our heart.  The sinful desire for things that are forbidden.  The hidden sins that no one sees.  The author is once again praying that the Lord would take these things to exchange the “Ugly” for a life that is holy.  A life that has been surrendered and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

As I have mentioned before, I have always had a far-fetched dream to write a hymn.  How cool it would be to write words that might be sung 50 years or 100 years or 300 years from now.  That would be awesome.

Well, this past Sunday at church, after singing this song “Surrender All,” some words came to my mind.  I am not claiming that they are from the Lord.  I will just share what was going on in my life this past Sunday, and the words that I wrote down quickly before my Pastor started preaching. 

My wife has been struggling with some health issues lately.  Not the kind of issues where I am concerned about her living from day to day, but ongoing, lingering, frustrating, irritating health issues.  She is a prayer warrior.  She prays for healing.  She prays for a touch from the Lord.  But there are some days where she just struggles.  The words that I wrote will probably never be published in a hymnal.  And I am okay with that.  But I hope that these words encourage her, and that they would encourage you if you are struggling physically today.

Take all my sickness
And all my diseases
The pain that I suffer,
And all of my weakness.

This body I give you
To serve you in worship.
In health or in sickness,
My reasonable service.  

So I surrender all to you.  Yes, I surrender all.

 Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

 

When Trials Come

WHEN TRIALS COME

When trials come no longer fear
For in the pain our God draws near
To fire a faith worth more than gold
And there His faithfulness is told
And there His faithfulness is told

Within the night I know Your peace
The breath of God brings strength to me
And new each morning mercy flows
As treasures of the darkness grow
As treasures of the darkness grow

I turn to Wisdom not my own
For every battle You have known
My confidence will rest in You
Your love endures Your ways are good
Your love endures Your ways are good

When I am weary with the cost
I see the triumph of the cross
So in it’s shadow I shall run
Till You complete the work begun
Till You complete the work begun

One day all things will be made new
I’ll see the hope You called me to
And in your kingdom paved with gold
I’ll praise your faithfulness of old
I’ll praise your faithfulness of old

Written by modern day hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty, “When Trials Come” is based upon the theology found in James chapter one.  I prefer the language found in the King James Version of verse 2 which reads My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations..”  James doesn’t take long in his letter to “dive” into some deep theological waters.  He instructs fellow believers to not look upon trials and tribulations, or divers temptations, with a negative light.  But to count them as joy.  This song written by the Getty’s has that same kind of deep water truth.  “When trials come, don’t fear.”  Wait a minute.  Fear is natural, isn’t it?  But having no fear is super-natural.  Trials comes and depression sets in.  That is natural.  But what is supernatural is counting those trials and temptations as joy.  In my opinion, one can’t really read and comprehend the words of James, or sing and understand the words of this song, without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.  We need the Holy Spirit to take the truths of Scripture (what we know in our heads) and apply it to our heart.  We can only live in a state of joy and peace by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Three doctoral degrees in Biblical hermeneutics cannot give us the peace, comfort, and understanding that only comes by the Holy Spirit.  My prayer for you today if you are in the midst of a trial is that the Holy Spirit would visit you, comfort you, and be there during those trying times.

I did want to comment on a couple of the lyrics:

  • “To fire a faith worth more than gold” - The initial picture that may have come to your mind is gold being refined by fire.  But I also want to share another possibly image here.  It is the image of a clay pot being fired in the kiln.  Picture a potter with a lump of clay.  He puts the clay on the potters wheel.  It appears to be spinning out of control.  He pounds the clay.  He punches it.  He shapes it with his hands, and with water, into a beautiful vessel.  But the potter is not done.  He then paints the vessel.  If you have ever seen a clay pot painted prior to being put in the kiln, it is not really that pretty.  The colors aren’t vibrant.  They are rather dull.  At this point in the process, one might even say to the potter “You might want to add a little more color to the pot.  It is not that pretty.”  The potter quietly responds, “Trust me.”  The clay pot is put into the kiln.  It has to be fired to be come useful.  It has to be fired to become beautiful.  A pot that has not been shaped and fired lacks usefulness and worth.  But a pot fashioned by the potter and fired in the kiln is valuable, and beautiful, and useful to the potter.  Jeremiah 18:1-6.
  • “As treasures of the darkness grow” – This line is probably the most challenging to me from this song.  I ask myself “are there really treasures in the darkness?”  We are children of light.  Light has no fellowship with darkness.  Darkness has to flee when light comes.  Right? But I don’t think evil is the kind of darkness the Getty’s are talking about.  I think they are talking about those dark, lonely times.  Those times when you may feel that God has forgotten you.  Maybe it is a time of loss.  Maybe it is a time of suffering.  Maybe it is a time when you feel like no one understands.  Many great hymns were written during difficult times and in my opinion became “treasures of the darkness.”  The end of Psalm 34 also has some real “treasures” for those that are in the darkness too.  “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.  18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.  19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.  20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.  21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

The Bible is an amazing book.  It is the very word of God.  It is inspired, infallible, and inherent.  It is deep enough for an adult to spend an entire life learning from it, yet simple enough for a child to understand it’s words.  It was written thousand of years ago, yet still relevant today.  Even the simple choosing of words by the author, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can pack a punch.  James 1:2 would have a completely different impact if James had said “Count it all joy brethern, if ye fall into divers temptations.”   The difference between “if” and “when” is tremendous.  “If” means it might not happen to me.  “If” means it might take me by surprise, but I don’t have to deal with it until I am surprised.  “If” means there’s a chance that if I do all the right things, I might be able to avoid trials and tribulations.  But “When” means it is going to happen.  “When” may not be certain as to an exact time and place, but “when” is certain when it comes to whether or not it will occur.  “Count it all joy when…” So how do we live differently in those “when” times?  By the power of the Holy Spirit. By trusting in His grace.  James says later on in his letter in chapter 4 verse 6  “But He giveth more grace.”  Praise be to God that we can get more grace during these “when” times.  He giveth….and giveth…..and giveth again.

I Gave My Life To Thee

I GAVE MY LIFE TO THEE

I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be, and raised up from the dead
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?

 

My Father’s house of light, My glory circled throne
I left for earthly night, for wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?

 

I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, to rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?

 

And I have brought to thee, down from My home above,
Salvation full and free, My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee, what hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee, what hast thou brought to Me?

I am going to do something a little different today.  This is the first time I have included a picture with the Hymn of the week, but to fully understand the background of the hymn and its author, I thought it was important.  The following painting is entitled “Ecce Homo” or “Behold the Man.”  As you can see, it is a picture of Christ with a crown of thorns on His head.  You may also have noticed, there are some Latin words at the bottom of the picture.  Translated they mean “I have done this for you;  what have you done for me?”  The author of this hymn, Frances Havergal, saw this painting at age 17 while in a museum, and the words to this hymn came to her as she studied the picture.

This particular hymn asks some extremely poignant questions of each of us.  So important that the author repeats the question in each of the verses.  I want to emphasize that I do not think the author was indicating a pre-salvation requirement of doing “things” i.e. good works to earn a salvation, but I do think the questions are as pertinent today as they were in the 1860’s when they were written.  There are four key questions the author uses to determine our commitment to Christ.  One of the great things about these questions is that we can find examples of how to or how not to answer them in Scripture.

  • Give - The Bible says to Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  Are you giving as it has been given unto you?  Freely, abundantly, running over?
  • Leave – Jesus told the women caught in adultery Go now and leave your life of sin.”  We may not have committed the sins that she did, but we too are commanded to go and leave a life of sin.  Have you become a new creation?  Have old things passed away?  Have you left a life of sin?
  • BearBear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Col. 3:13  Do you put up with people that drive you crazy?  Are you looking to bear someone’s else burdens or do you think that you have too many of your own?  Paul’s instructions here are not recommendations, but commands to bear with each other and forgive one another as Christ forgave us.
  • Bring – I was recently reminded of a difficult passage of Scripture in Malachi Chapter 1.  God is speaking and is admonishing His people for bringing blind animals or crippled animals for sacrifices.  In verse 10 of that chapter, God says “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.”  In verse 13 of that chapter, God asks a hard question “When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?”  I am convicted by these verses because I know I am guilty.  I have brought “injured, crippled, and diseased” offerings to the Lord.  No, not animals for sacrifices, but I have given Him my leftovers, my seconds or even my thirds.  I have brought Him “second rate” offerings, and He is saying to me, “I am not pleased.”  Have you been there before?  Are you there now?

 

As a parent of three children, there are times when I have asked my kids to look me in the eye when I am talking to them.  Sometimes I do this to determine if they are really focused on what I am saying, and to make sure they understand what I might be asking them to do.  Other times, I do this to find out if they are telling me the truth.  For those of you that are parents, you will agree that you can tell a lot by looking into the eyes of your children.

The author of this hymn was impacted by gazing into the eyes of Jesus in a painting – the image of Christ wearing a crown of thorns asking a tough question.  So I encourage you to look into the face of Jesus – the Wounded Christ – the Suffering Savior who died for your sins.  Then answer the questions the author asks in this hymn – What have you given to Him?  What you have left for Him?  What have your borne for Him?  What have you brought to Him?

Often times, I don’t have really good answers to those questions.  I am like a child who is too embarrassed to look his father in the eyes because I am ashamed that I have fallen way short and have disappointed him.  My prayer is that my devotion will be stronger, and that my commitment to do the things Christ asks of me will increase.  I pray that I will “give, leave, bear and bring” what He asks me to.  I hope that after you gaze into the eyes of Jesus that this is your personal prayer, too.

There Is A Balm In Gilead

THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD

Chorus

There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole;

There is a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin-sick soul.

 

Sometimes I feel discouraged,

And think my work’s in vain,

But then the Holy Spirit

Revives my soul again.

 

Don’t ever feel discouraged,

for Jesus is your friend,

and if you look for knowledge

He’ll ne’er refuse to lend.

 

If you can’t preach like Peter,

If you can’t pray like Paul,

Just tell the love of Jesus,

And say He died for all.

 

This week’s hymn has both an interesting inspiration and an unknown origin.  It’s inspiration comes, like many great old hymns, from an obscure question found in Jeremiah 8:22 which reads “Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there?”  Jeremiah asks a question thousands of years ago, and the author of the hymn answers that question emphatically by saying “There is a balm in Gilead” and His name is Jesus.  What is unique about this hymn/spiritual’s origin is that there is no known author attribution.  It’s words appear in hymns in the 1800’s, and appear to have been merged from other older hymns which was not uncommon for spirituals from America 200+ years ago.  Part of the lyrics appear to come from John Newton’s writing (the author of Amazing Grace).  Newton wrote:

 

“How lost was my condition

Till JESUS made me whole!

There is but one Physician

Can cure a sin–sick soul.”

 

There is another red-back hymnal song (“Hide Thou Me”) begins:

 

“Sometimes I feel discouraged….and I think my work in vain….

I’m tempted oft to murmur, to grumble, and complain….

But when I think of Jesus…and what He’s done for me…..

Then I cry to the Rock of Ages…..Hide Thou me…..”

 

So, I can’t speak definitively on the author or origin of this hymn, but what I can do is speak definitively about the answer to Jeremiah’s question.  Is there no balm in Gilead?  Oh yes, there’s a balm in Gilead!! For that balm has cleansed and healed my sin-sick soul.  And that balm has been applied to millions of hearts throughout the ages, and that balm is still available today to heal the sin-sick soul.

 

Couple of comments on the lyrics:

  • “Sin-sick soul” – This phrase reminds of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9.  The people bring a paralytic to Jesus.  He sees their faith, and He responds by saying “Your sins are forgiven.”  This infuriated the scribes.  How can this man claim to forgive sins?  Jesus, knowing their thoughts, does something amazing.  He proves His authority by healing the man of his physical illness as well.  This song reminds us that Jesus can make the wounded whole, and can heal the sin-sick, and physically sick, soul as well.
  • If you look for knowledge, He’ll never refuse to lend” – This phrase reminds me of James words in James 1:5. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  So who does God give wisdom to?  Anyone who lacks and asks.  How does God give His wisdom?  The verse in this song says He lends it.  I believe He gives it.  Generously.  Not looking for repayment.  But gives to the one who asks – freely, abundantly, generously, pressed down and shaken together, and without reproach.

 

In researching this hymn, I came across something very interesting, at least very interesting to me.  There is a famous poem written by Baltimore’s own Edgar Allen Poe that many of you will remember.  It is the poem “The Raven” the namesake of the NFL team – The Baltimore Ravens.  The most famous line from this poem is repeated over and over, and is “Quoth the Raven, Nevermore.”  This poem, like many of Poe’s works, is very dark.  What is interesting is that in a later stanza in this poem, Poe actually quotes from Jeremiah 8 himself when he writes ” Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”  I will admit, I personally haven’t done a complete analysis of Poe’s exposure to Christianity or what his beliefs, or lack thereof, were about God.  I cannot tell you if he was a student of the Word, or one that was merely around the Word and had a familiarity with Christian doctrine.  The darkness of his writings, however, cannot be argued.

 

Poe was, however, in this famous poem asking essentially that most important question.  Is there a balm in Gilead?  Is there someone who can heal my sin-sick soul?  Is there someone that free me from the shackles and chains of sin in my life?  I want to leave you a quote from the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore’s website about his religious beliefs:

 

“It would certainly have been understandable if Poe had lost confidence in a divine hand, one that directs our daily lives for purposes of our own spiritual benefit. The sad and youthful deaths of so many loved ones (his mother, Mrs. Stanard, Frances Allan, his brother and especially the long and lingering illness of Virginia) would have tested anyone’s faith. Poverty, illness and failure no doubt seemed his constant companions. If we can accept the testimony of Dr. John Moran, which generally must be taken with more than a little scepticism, Poe’s last words were “Lord, help my poor soul.”   

 

I am reminded of two types of people Jesus talked about in Luke 18.  “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

 

If on his death bed, Edgar Allen Poe repented of his sin, and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as His savior, then he went down to his house justified.  We can answer this question for Him – There is a balm in Gilead.  To heal the sin-sick soul.  Quoth the Christian – Evermore!!!

Let My Life Be A Light

LET MY LIFE BE A LIGHT

Let me live blessed Lord, in the light of thy word. Let my life be a light on a hill.
Leading souls now astray to the straight narrow way. Help me do some good deed while I live. 
 
Chorus
Let my life be a light shining out through the night. May I help struggling ones to the fold. 
Spreading cheer everywhere to the sad and the lone. Let my life be a light to some soul. 
 
Give me wisdom and power everyday every hour, let me drink from the fountain above. 
Guide my footsteps a right through the dark stormy night. Give me peace, give me joy, give me love. 
 
Give me souls for my hire, let my life be on fire, shining out to the world as a guide. 
Help me rescue someone sinking now with no hope that in Heaven we shall ever abide. 
Found on page 169 of the Redback hymnal, “Let my life be a light” was written by J.R. Varner and copy written in the 1940’s by the Tennessee Music and Printing Company from right here in Cleveland, Tennessee.  If you are not familiar with this song, here’s an acapella version as sung by one of my favorite gospel bluegrass groups – Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
The theme of this hymn is essentially a prayer – Lord, let my life be a light.  As a Christian, each of us should desire that the light of the Gospel would shine through us.   Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 are a reminder of this truth.  “You arethe light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  We are called to make a difference in the world through our actions and our words – good works that glorify our Father in Heaven.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
  • “Help struggling ones to the fold” - This is one of those interesting phrases that in some ways may seem contradictory to Scripture.  We know that Jesus is the only one who saves.  Jesus’ sacrifice paid for our sins.  So can we, as Christians, help struggling ones to the fold?  Is there anything we can do to save somebody?  I believe the answer to that is yes and no.  If you mean, can I save someone else?  Clearly the answer is no.  There is nothing I can do to save someone from their sins.  However, if you mean, can my life and my testimony help someone to the point where they make a decision for Christ? Absolutely.  Peter preached in Acts 2 and 3,000 were saved that day.  Did Peter save them?  No.  Did Peter help struggling ones to the fold? Clearly he did.
  • “Guide my Footsteps a right” – I just love old phrases like this. To me, it is a reminder that we can live life with footsteps a-right and footsteps a-wrong.  The Bible does say in Psalm 37:23 “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.”  God plays an important part in guiding our footsteps.  But we also have a part to play.  Psalm 50:23 says “And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”  God guides our footsteps a-right and we can keep our footsteps a-right.
“Let” – This is a very interesting three letter word.  In the book of Genesis, when God says “Let there be light” it was automatic – there was light.  When God says, let there be water and living creatures, guess what?  It happened immediately at the word of His command.  But “let” as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5 is not always an automatic.  Just because Jesus said “let your light shine” doesn’t mean it happens automatically.  It requires effort.  It requires obedience.  It often times requires sacrifice.
I pray today that as followers of Christ we can begin to respond automatically to the “let” commands of Jesus.  To respond immediately, completely, and whole-heartedly.  Not to pat ourselves on the back.  Not to receive the praise of men.  But to do it because Jesus commands His followers to do so.  Let your life be a light!!