God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, sending Jesus Christ, His Messiah, to suffer and be raised from the dead to save us. Now we are to turn away from our old ways of thinking, being, and doing and re-turn to God, so that our sins may be wiped out and that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:18-19, my expanded paraphrase)
Praising Our Loving God
One metrical paraphrase of Psalm 23 begins like this: “The King of love my shepherd is, His goodness faileth never. I nothing lack if I am His, and He is mine forever.” And then the Psalm goes on to enumerate many ways the Lord Jesus demonstrates His care for His followers. In the New Testament, Christ is called the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd who lays down His life for us and takes it up again to guarantee our future resurrection. Surely He deserves for us to trust and obey Him!
Johann Sebastian Bach said that the goal of all music should be for the glory of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and for the refreshment of the human soul. All of life is given to us by the Lord for praising, honoring, following, and enjoying Him. Scripture calls us to rejoice in Christ always, to delight ourselves in Him, and to be cheerful and glad in Jesus. To help us do that, we began last time to look at John Keble’s hymn called “New Every Morning Is God’s Love.” Here are two more stanzas from the hymn with comments. We focus on Jesus so that we may experience life and eternal pleasure in His presence, even on stressful days.
If you missed it, you can read New Every Morning is God’s Love (Part 1).
Hymn: If, on our daily course, our mind Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price, God will provide for sacrifice.
Comment: To hallow is an Old English verb meaning “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate.” Nowadays we tend to use it only in the Lord’s Prayer. Keble reminds us to see all of life as holy and set apart for God. Our work, family life, hobbies, and interactions with every person we meet provide us with opportunity to honor God. Romans 12:1-2 says: “In view of God’s mercy offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Let’s not wait for big ways to serve the Lord. Let’s serve Him in ordinary ways by serving others. Here are some suggestions:
- Befriend strangers outside your comfort zone.
- Remember someone by calling, writing, or visiting them.
- Pray for people in need.
- Share your food, time, money, other possessions, talents, and God’s word with others.
- Remember Jesus’ command to help the hungry, thirsty, naked, foreigner, sick, and those in prison.1
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.2
- Ask people how you can pray for them and/or help them. Then do it cheerfully as unto Christ Himself.3
Rachel Bruner reminds Christians that we are children of a compassionate and creative God. So He will bless and help us as we are flexible and kind in serving others. The Lord will give us the needed energy, wisdom, ability, and love as we ask Him. He will give us new treasures and resources to love God by helping others.4
Hymn: Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, As more of Heaven in each we see.
Some softening gleam of love and prayer Shall dawn on every cross and care.
Comment: This hymn is about a heavenly-mindedness that sweetens all we do! Christ tells us that in this world we will have troubles. These are our crosses, cares, pains, and problems. But we are to be courageous, because the Risen Jesus has overcome the world.5 He will return for us soon to take us home to enjoy our inheritance in Him and with Him.6 And we will also be joined with all of God’s people who have gone before us, from Bible times until the Last Day.
The last page in most Bibles is Revelation chapter 22. It says:
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.7
The main point of Revelation is that God wins! We already know the outcome of human history. Revelation and the whole Bible is hopeful, giving us a bright and beautiful vision of the future to help us live faithfully for Christ in the present. Until Jesus returns for us, He urges us to trust Him, especially in hard times. He says: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms and I am going there to prepare a place for you. And I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.8
By God’s grace, Christians are on the winning side of history. Heavenly-mindedness helps us to appreciate that now, even in the muck and mess of current events. When we see the present in light of eternity, even little choices become very important. After death, we will never have another chance to share Christ with people who can be saved from Hell, to give a cup of water to the thirsty, to invest money to help the helpless and reach the lost, or to share our homes, stuff, time, and love with people in need.9
Take time to be holy, Speak often with your Lord;
Abide in Him always, And feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children; Help those who are weak;
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.10
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Matt 25:31-46. 2 Rom 12:15. 3 This list was suggested by Darla Noble. 4 Ways to Serve God Through Serving Others in the New Year, January 5, 2016. 5 John 16:33. 6 1 Cor 13:13; 2 Cor 5:8. 7 Rev 22:3-5. 8 John 14:1-3. 9 These thoughts helped by Randy Alcorn. 10 From the hymn by William Longstaff (1887).