Song for Sunday: By His Wounds

 

By His Wounds was written by Third Day lead singer Mac Powell, and was recorded in 2007 for the the worship album Glory Revealed. For the recording, Powell is joined by Christian artists Stephen Curtis Chapman, Mark Hall and Brian Littrell.

He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds we are healed

He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds we are healed

We are healed by Your sacrifice
And the life that You gave
We are healed for You paid the price
By Your grace we are saved
We are saved

He was pierced for our transgressions
And crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds we are healed

We are healed by Your sacrifice
And the life that You gave
We are healed for You paid the price
By Your grace we are saved
We are saved

He was pierced for our transgressions
He was crushed for our sins
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him
And by His wounds, by His wounds we are healed
And by His wounds, by His wounds

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

The song takes most of its lyrics directly from the prophecy in Isaiah 53 that we discussed in the last post. A second scripture reference comes from the book of Ephesians.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— (Eph 2:8)

The tag at the end comes from an old hymn called “Nothing But the Blood” written by Robert Lowry in 1876.

Here is of video of Mac Powell and the other three artists singing “By His Wounds” at the 2007 Dove Awards. The video was uploaded to YouTube by thelanavs.

See you in Church!

Connie

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God’s Amazing Plan: Part 2

Last week, we started looking at God’s plan to redeem mankind.  We read that God told the serpent that Eve’s offspring would crush his head. We read that God told Abraham all nations would be blessed through him. Israel (Jacob), when blessing his sons, said that the “ruler’s staff” would remain with Judah’s descendants until its rightful owner came for it. Moses told the Israelites there would be a another prophet like him, and that they should listen to that prophet.

We also looked at the feasts God instituted, particularly Passover and Day of Atonement.

If you missed last weeks post, you can read it here.

So what’s next?

After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:6-9)

So, apparently, that whole generation had failed to teach their children about the Lord. Things went downhill from there.

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:16-19)

It was a real mess. The book of Judges ends by saying,

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21:25)

Israel had no king because God was supposed to be their King. Not only did the Israelites completely ignore God’s law, they also decided they wanted an earthly king to rule over them. God told Samuel that the Israelites were not rejecting Samuel as judge, they were rejecting God. He told Samuel to give them what they wanted, and make Saul king. g1Sa0921Dore_SamuelBlessingSaul

Saul would prove a disappointment, but that was part of God’s plan too, because He had someone else in mind.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Sam 16:1)

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have? There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.(1 Sam 16: 1-13)

Years would pass before David actually became king, and we’re not going to through all of that now, but once he was king, and reigning in Jerusalem, he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. The Lord said “no”, but He also said this:

The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (2 Sam 7:11-16)

Do you seem some similarity between that and Israel’s blessing on Judah? Oh, if you didn’t already know; David is a direct descendant of Judah. According to this post at Bible.org, it was from this point that the Messiah, was called “son of David”.

Well, David’s heir to the throne was Solomon, and you can read all about him in 1 Kings.

 

i2Ch0111Dore_Solomon

Unfortunately Solomon had many wives and they turned him away from the Lord. Once again, things went downhill. The kingdom was divided, with ten tribes still calling themselves Israel, and two calling themselves Judah. The books of Kings and Chronicles follow both kingdoms, until Israel is taken by Assyria, and pretty much disappears. Later, Judah is taken by Babylon, who is in turn taken by Persia. In time, the Jews (as they were then called) are allowed to return home. The chronological history of the Old Testament ends with the book of Esther, the story of the Jewess who becomes Queen of Persia, and saves her family from annihilation.

lEst0705Dore_EstherAccusingHaman

What about God’s plan?

A little longer, please.

David wrote the majority of the Psalms and his son Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs, as well as Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Today, the remaining books of the Old Testament are called the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. Some prophets lived during the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, some during the time of the Babylonian exile and some after the return from exile.

Psalms and the writings of the prophets contain the main portion of what we call the “messianic prophecies”; those which foretell about the one who would come and rescue Israel. There are well over a hundred of such prophecies in the Old Testament. No, we aren’t going to list them all here, but this article has a good list, as well as fulfillment scriptures from the New Testament.

Here are just a few.

Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
(Psalm 22: 16-18)

nIsa0608Dore_Isaiah

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Is 7:14)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
(Is 9:6-7)

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Is 53:4-6)

oEze0103Dore_EzekielProphesying

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken (Ezek 34:23-24)

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan 7:13-14)

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Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech 9:9)

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. (Mal 3:1)

These are just a few of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. He was to be from the family of Judah, a son of David, from Bethlehem, born to a virgin, righteous, victorious and sovereign. He would rescue Israel, and rule forever.

Is that your plan God? Awesome!

Wait a minute. What about redeeming mankind?

There has to be more.

There is. For a hint, scroll up and look at Isaiah 53:4-6 again.

When the New Testament opens, about four hundreds years have passed since the writings of Malachi, the last prophet. What was once the mighty kingdom of Israel is now a Roman province called Judea, where Herod the Great is King. Caesar Augustus is the  Emperor of Rome.

It’s time.

Until next week

Connie

Songs for Sunday: I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me

 

This is going to be a short post.
Sometimes a song pops in my head and just runs around in there all day.

That’s what happened with this one, so I thought maybe the Lord wants me to share it with you.

I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me
I don’t know why Jesus loved me
I don’t know why He cared
I don’t know why He sacrificed His life
Oh, but I’m glad, so glad He did

Where would I be if Jesus didn’t love me?
Where would I be if Jesus didn’t care?
Where would I be if He hadn’t sacrificed His
life
Oh, but I’m glad, so glad He did

He left His mighty throne in glory
To bring to us redemption story
And then He died but He rose again
Just for you and me
Oh, but I’m glad, I’m glad He did.

I don’t know why Jesus loved me (Oh I don’t
know why)
I don’t know why He cared (Oh I don’t know
why)
I don’t know why He sacrificed His life
Oh, but I’m glad (so glad), so glad He did
Oh, but I’m glad (so glad), so glad He did

I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me was written by Grammy Award winning songwriter and composer Andre Crouch (1942-2015), and first appeared on the album “Keep on Singing” recorded by Andrae Crouch and the Disciples in 1971.

Although Andrae went to be with the Lord in 2015, a website containing his biography and information about all his music is still up and running. You can find it here.

This video of a reunion of The Disciples in 2011 was uploaded by YouTube by Boyd Matson.  Andrae is at the piano, of course, and his twin sister Saundra is the singer on the far left.

See you in church.

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan: Part 1

Last week, I said,
“So we know that sin (transgression, offense, trespass) is disobedience to God, and that disobedience makes us unfit to be in His presence. If we remain in that corrupted, defiled state, all that remains for us is the eternal spiritual death called Hell.”

Then I said God had a plan.

God had a plan from the beginning. He knew Adam and Eve would sin, and He knew that He would make a way to reconcile mankind back to Himself.

I don’t know why He even bothered, but I’m glad He did!

Remember what He said when He cursed the serpent?

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Gen 3:15)

Did you notice that God’s reference to Eve’s offspring is singular? He and his, not they and their. Did He have a particular offspring in mind?

God’s plan was to send His Son, but He needed to wait for the right time, the right place, and the right family.

Abram was a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood by entering the ark.aGen1201Dore_AbrahamJourneyingIntoTheLandOfCanaan

Beginning in the 11th chapter of Genesis, and running through the end of the book, we learn of how God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promised to make him a great nation (when he was childless) and gave him a child in his old age. God told Abraham that “all nations” would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). The story continues with Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob had twelve sons, one of which was sold to slave traders by his brothers. That son was Joseph, and he would rise to be the right hand of Pharaoh, and save his family’s life during a great famine. Israel and his entire family moved to Egypt. aGen4605Dore_JacobGoethIntoEgypt

Before he died, Israel blessed his sons. The blessing on Judah is particularly interesting.

Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. you are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:8-12, bold emphasis mine)

Genesis closes with the death of Joseph.

So what does all this have to do with God’s plan? Well, we know God told the serpent Eve’s offspring would crush his head. We also know that he told childless Abram that “all nations” would be blessed through him. We also know that Israel said that Judah would have the “ruler’s staff” and he would keep it until the one to whom it belonged came for it.

Who was the rightful owner of the staff?

Wait. There’s more.

Exodus continues the story of Israel’s descendants, only now they are in trouble. They have become numerous in Egypt and the current Pharaoh doesn’t remember Joseph. He only knows that there are too many Hebrews and they might try to overtake his kingdom. So, he made them slaves and went so far as to make them kill their newborn sons. That was about the time Moses was born. Moses’ family were descendants of Israel’s son Levi. God had a plan for Moses. He would use Moses to get His people out of Egypt and back to the land He had promised Abraham. Because Pharaoh was so hardhearted and stubborn, God sent ten plagues on Egypt.

The final plague in Egypt was the death of the first born.bExo1229Dore_TheFirstbornSlain

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household…The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast…This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. (Ex 12: 1-3,5-8,11-14)

This is the first of seven annual feasts God established for the children of Israel. He would use them to set a pattern for future events. Their observance always required several sacrifices.

One feast came in the fall of the year. It was called the Day of Atonement. You may also recognize it for it’s Hebrew name Yom Kippur.

Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. (Lev 16:6-10)

The high priest was required to make a sacrifice first for himself, then one for the whole nation. The whole process is outlined in Leviticus 16.

Just in case you were wondering about the necessity of blood sacrifice:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Lev 17:11)

Hold that thought. It’s important.

We’ll get back to the feasts later. They figure into God’s plan

We’ve talked about Moses and the Law before. We’ve also talked about how Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land and how Joshua would take his place. Before he goes, Moses tells the Israelites about someone else.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (Deut 18:15)

Eventually, this prophet would be identified as “Messiah” or “anointed one”.

Like God promised, the children of Israel, led by Joshua entered and took control of the promised land of Canaan. Then Joshua died, and everything went down hill from there.

What about God’s plan?

We’ll we’ve already gone on long today, so come back next week and we’ll learn more about God’s amazing plan.

Songs for Sunday: Come Ye Sinners

I had never heard this hymn until our community choir performed last year’s Easter Cantata. We only sang part of it.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking through an old hymnal, I saw it. Thinking it kind of fits with our current subject matter, I decided to learn more about it. Most of what I found comes from hymnary.org. It’s a great place to find a lot of information about old hymns.

The short story is the hymn was written by Joseph Hart (1712-1768), sometime around 1759. His early life is described as “obscure”, but “In 1757, after living a life he described as ‘carnal and spiritual wickedness, irreligious and profane,’ Joseph Hart turned to Christ (Psalter Hymnal Handbook)”

The rest of the story is the song was published in 1239 hymnals. At first, I feared there might be 1239 versions of the hymn

In the first column below is the version that usually shows up when you do a search. It is the one I found at cyberhymnal.com, The second one is from Hymnary.org, and may actually be closer to what Joseph Hart wrote.  Hymnary.org also says that Hart’s original lyrics had “seven stanzas of six lines each.” It goes on to discuss different changes until there were 20 different versions. No, it isn’t 1239, but I think it’s still 19 too many.

1.Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

    • Refrain:
      I will arise and go to Jesus,
      He will embrace me in His arms;
      In the arms of my dear Savior,
      Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
  1. Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
    God’s free bounty glorify;
    True belief and true repentance,
    Every grace that brings you nigh.
  2. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
    Lost and ruined by the fall;
    If you tarry till you’re better,
    You will never come at all.
  3. View Him prostrate in the garden;
    On the ground your Maker lies;
    On the bloody tree behold Him;
    Sinner, will this not suffice?
  4. Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
    Pleads the merit of His blood:
    Venture on Him, venture wholly,
    Let no other trust intrude.
  5. Let not conscience make you linger,
    Not of fitness fondly dream;
    All the fitness He requireth
    Is to feel your need of Him.
1. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more!

2. Let not conscience let you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him.
This he gives you, This he gives you, This he gives you:
‘Tis the Spirit’s glimmering beam.

4. Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, Not the righteous, Not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

5. Agonizing in the garden,
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him:
Hear Him cry, before He dies:
“It is finished!” “It is finished!” “It is finished!”
Sinner, will this not suffice?

6. Lo! The incarnate God ascending,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture freely;
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, None but Jesus, None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

Once we decide on which lyrics to use, then we can disucss the tune. Hymnary.org lists 34 different tunes used with this song. Some of the tunes are used for several other songs as well. The top three for Come Ye Sinners are “Come Ye Sinners” composed by Jeremiah Ingalls (used in 53 hymnals), “Arise” aka “Restoration” composer unknown (used in 72 hymnals), and Greenville composed by Jean-Jaques Rousseau (used in 120) hymnals.

The tune “Restoration” was the one used in our cantata.

I’ve told you before that I inherited my grandpa’s books, but I also got my grandma’s sheet music. She was an extraordinary pianist, and her collection of music included several hymnals. Of the ten I looked at, four didn’t have “Come Ye Sinners” at all, the other six that did were all different from each other, although two did have the “Restoration”tune.

After you get through all the different versions of the lyrics, and all the different tunes, the message is still the same: Sinners need Jesus to save them.  That is the important thing.

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Dave Hunt. It uses the popular lyrics and the arrangement is based on the “Restoration” tune. It is performed by Fernando Ortega and Amy Grant. I like it.

See you in church!

Connie

All Have Sinned

We’ve talked about the literal definition of the word translated as “sin”, and we’ve talked about how Jesus came to save us from sin by dying on the cross. If you missed them, you can find them here and here. There are a few more things we need to clarify about sin and salvation. Why did Jesus need to save us from sin? What’s the big deal? What exactly constitutes a sin

We know “sin” can also be described as offense or transgression, and with a more literal meaning of “missing the mark”. The latter refers to aiming at a target as with spear, or an arrow. I think we can all understand the concept of missing that bulls eye.

Well, after God created human beings, he set down some rules. It was pretty simple really. God gave Adam “dominion”, which generally means control, over all the earth. God would come every day and walk with Adam and Eve in the garden. How cool is that? The Creator of the universe coming over every night to just hang out.

However, He told them they could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life. He told them if they did, they would surely die.

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Image from page 18 of “The Bible panorama, or The Holy Scriptures in picture and story” (1891) Downloaded from Flikr

Well, without getting into the whole conversation between the serpent and Eve (we’ll save it for later), lets jump ahead to the fact that they, both Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they were cast from the garden The whole earth was cursed, and death entered the world.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent,

Because you have done this,
Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said,

I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said,

Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, You must not eat from it,’

Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:7-19)

aGen0324Dore_AdamAndEveDrivenOutOfEden

Their sin infected all of us.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Romans 3:23)

Everything we do has a consequence. The long term consequence of sin is death.

The one who sins is the one who will die… (Ezekiel 18:20a)

The wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a)

It doesn’t mean immediate death, although sometimes a person’s sin leads to the end of their (or someone else’s) physical life here on earth. This death is even more permanent than that. It is a spiritual death that makes separation from God permanent. Jesus called this place the darkness, as well as the blazing furnace, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 8:12, 13:41-42) It is also called the lake of fire and Hell.

Sin separates us from God. After they were banished from the garden of Eden, the Scripture never records another conversation between God and Adam and Eve. I imagine they missed those walks in the cool of the evening. Think of the regret. Sin brings that too. The Bible doesn’t say how long Eve lived, but Adam lived for 930 years. That is a long time to think: “If only…”

I don’t pretend to understand exactly how sin separates us from our holy and righteous God, but it does. It makes us unclean and defiled. We cannot stand in God’s presence. No matter how good we think we are, we can never be “good enough”. There is no such thing as being a “good person” in God’s eyes.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Is 64:6)

All sin, in all of it’s forms, boils down to one thing: disobedience to God.

What exactly does that look like?

In a nutshell? If God said “no” and you did it; that’s sin. If God said, “Do it” and you didn’t, that also is sin. How do we know what He wants? Look in His word, the Bible.

The Ten Commandments? That’s a good place to start getting an idea about what God had in mind.

Or this from Proverbs:

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community
(Proverbs 6:16-19

Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28)

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matt 15:18-19)

There are sins of commission (the things we do), and sins of omission (things we left undone).

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17)

As far as God is concerned, there are no grades of sin. One sin is exactly like the other to Him. Human beings count one sin worse than the other, but God counts them all the same. If you have ever in your life had one bad thought (even if you didn’t act on it), you are just as guilty before God as someone like Charles Manson.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)

Ok, so we know that sin (transgression, offense, trespass) is disobedience to God, and that disobedience makes us unfit to be in His presence. If we remain in that corrupted, defiled state, all that remains for us is the eternal spiritual death called Hell.

Thankfully, God didn’t want to leave us like that, and He had a plan.

God always has a plan, and His plan is always good.

Until next week.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Statue of Liberty

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Photo by Ximena Torres Rodríguez on Unsplash

For many people, the Statue of Liberty is the symbol of American freedom. In the early 1970’s a Gospel singer/songwriter named Neil Enloe was on a cruise ship in New York, when he got a close up look at the statue. According to an article at St Augustine.com, the sight had a profound effect on him.

“Because I was raised in the Midwest, suddenly everything patriotic in me rose to the surface. I had never seen the Statue of Liberty so closely. It was so very, very close. In my own mind and heart I realized, anew and afresh, the liberty I have as an American citizen.”

“I turned to the gentleman with me and said, ‘There must be a counterpart to my American freedom. It is liberty in Christ. There is surely a monument to this freedom! There is no greater symbol to Christian liberty than the CROSS!’ I also said, ‘There should be a song somewhere in this.’”

And there was. You can read the rest of the article  here.

Statue of Liberty

In New York Harbor stands a lady
with a torch raised to the sky
And all who see her knows she stands for
Liberty for you and me.

I’m so proud to be called an American
To be named with the brave and the free.
I will honor our flag and our trust in God
And the  Statue of  Liberty.

On lonely Golgotha stood a cross
With my Lord raised to the sky.
And all who kneel there live forever
As all the saved can testify.

I’m so glad to be called a Christian.
To be named with the ransomed and whole.
As the statue liberates the citizen
So the cross liberates the soul.

Oh the Cross is my Statue of Liberty
It was there that my soul was set free.
Unashamed I’ll proclaim that old rugged cross
Is my Statue of Liberty.

Neil Enloe belonged to a Gospel group called The Couriers, and they recorded his song, which won a Dove Award in 1974.

I don’t know how many artists have recorded the song, but the first time I heard it was when Merrill Womach sang it a few years later. His book, Tested by Fire, had just come out, and it seems like he may have actually come to my home church. When I started thinking about this post, I tried to find a recording of Merrill singing this song, but couldn’t.

I did however, find a recording of The Couriers in what was supposed to be their final appearance together. I believe Neil Enloe is the speaker in the video. The YouTube video was uploaded by Tim Enloe

See you in Church.

Connie

Free Indeed

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Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

Last week, we started talking about sin.

We are going to continue that conversation next week, and maybe a week or two after that, but today, I’m talking about freedom.

On July 4th, Americans will celebrate Independence Day; the day that our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. The document told King George of England that we no longer considered ourselves his subjects. Eight years later, we finally earned our freedom, but even then, not all were free. That wouldn’t come until 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.

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Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash

Freedom is a big deal to us, but if you asked the average person what freedom means, you will probably get a host of different answers.

Jesus talked about freedom too.

17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”(Luke 4:17-21)

Jesus told the Jews in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-34)

Jesus said that his followers would know the truth and the truth would set them free. Later he would tell Thomas

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:16)

So His followers would know the truth that would set them free, and the Truth is Jesus Himself, as the only way to God.

Set them free from what?

Sin.

38“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

How did He do that?

He died.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Rom 6:7)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Heb: 9:15)

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Rev 1:5)

Why?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But why was it even necessary?

Next week.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Almost Persuaded

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This hymnal is the one used in my home church up until I was about 15 years old. I don’t know how long they used it before that, but the copyright is dated 1937 with Roman numerals. IMG_2142

Since I am trying to alternate between old hymns and contemporary music, I decided to look through it to see if anything jumped out at me. Well, that worked. Everything jumped out at me!  Unfortunately, when I tried to get a picture of the hymn I wanted to use, the camera did it’s thing again. Looks like it’s time for a new one.

Written by P.P. Bliss, in 1871,  Almost Persuaded was often used as the Invitation Hymn; the song after the sermon, when the preacher invited anyone who was not already a Christian to come forward, make his or her confession of faith, and get baptized.

Almost Persuaded

“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”

“Almost persuaded”, come, come today;
Almost persuaded”, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!

“Almost persuaded”, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded”, doom comes at last!
Almost” cannot avail;
Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
Almost”, but lost!

While the song does issue an invitation in the second verse, the theme of the song is that some one had an opportunity to come to the Lord, missed it, and was forever lost. It’s heartbreaking.

Phillip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) wrote both the words and music to Almost Persuaded.  Bliss was one of several 19th century hymn composers, including  Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley and Ira Sankey, whose hymns make up much of our hymnals today.  He was a friend of evangelist D.L. Moody and sometimes took part in Moody’s revival meetings.  Wholesome Words.org has links to several biographical sketches on Bliss as well as Moody’s sermon on the day after Bliss and his wife were killed in a train wreck.

Hymntime.com says this of his death
“December 29, 1876, Ashtabula, Ohio. Bliss and his wife died in a tragic train wreck caused by a bridge collapse. He survived the initial impact, but went back into the flames in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his wife.”

On the same page, there is a quote from Fanny Crosby’s autobiography.
“The night before that terrible railroad accident at Ashtabula…he said to his audience, ‘I may not pass this way again’; then he sang a solo, ‘I’m Going Home Tomorrow’. This indeed proved prophetic of his own home going.”

Bliss was 38 years old when he died. His wife Lucy was 35. They left two small children. A list of the known songs of P.P. Bliss is found here. The list is a long one. Only God knows how many he would have written had he lived.

In another biography listed on the Wholesome Words site, author Ed Reese says this about Almost Persuaded.

Outside of Just as I Am, this has been the most successful gospel invitation song ever written. In the early 1870’s, Mr. Bliss was listening to a sermon by Rev. Brundage, a friend of his, in a little church in the east. The preacher closed his appeal with, “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved. But, to be almost saved is to be eternally lost!” These words impressed Bliss so deeply that it led him to write this great hymn.”

Other sources suggest the scripture reference for that sermon was Acts 26:27-29.

King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Here is a nice recording of Almost Persuaded uploaded  to YouTube by ihatetoro in 2010.

If you have a decision to make for the Lord, make it now!  Don’t wait! You may not have another chance.

See you in church.

Connie

The Unpopular Word

The word “sin” is unpopular; even in some churches. No one wants to hear what they are doing, or the way they are living their life, is wrong. We don’t want someone to point it out to us, and we definitely don’t want to hear that it will send us to hell.

Well, before we get into that, lets look at the word “sin” and see what it means.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, sin means
1. a : an offense against religious or moral law
b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible it’s a sin to waste food
c: an often serious shortcoming: fault
2 a : transgression of the law of God
b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

Ok, so what does it mean according to the Bible? Well, lets’ find out.

Bible Gateway says sin is used 326 times in the Old Testament, and 104 times in the New Testament. That is the exact word “sin”. It does not include, sins, sinning, sinner, etc.

To get a clearer meaning of the word as it was intended, I looked in both Strong’s Exhaustive and Young’s Analytical Concordances. There are several different words, with slightly different meanings, translated as “sin”. Sometimes, a word may be translated as “sin” in one place, and something similar in another. For an explanation of how the concordances work, as well as better pictures, see this post about the word “glory”.

I dropped my camera a few weeks ago. It landed lens down, with the lens open, and has been unpredictable ever since. When I turn it on, it may work or it may not, especially if I need to adjust the focus. After several tries, I was able to get this shot. Then the camera shut itself off again, so this is what we have. I didn’t realize until I uploaded it that I didn’t get the whole entry.

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Page 966, second column, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

This picture is from Strong’s. You can see the heading for the word “sin”. Then there is a subheading that says “1. A Transgression”. That means this is the first definition for the word. So in all the following uses of the word “sin”, the general meaning is “transgression”. The other two definitions refer to a place (like the Desert of Sin), and don’t apply here. Under the “Transgression” subheading, each entry has a number that corresponds to the actual Hebrew word used.

The first entry is the first use of the word “sin” in the Bible. It is Genesis 4:7.

Here it is in the King James, since that is what both concordances use.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

The same verse in the NIV.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

The number listed at the end of the entry (which you cannot see in the picture), is 2403. It refers to the listing in Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary at the back of the concordance. This word is chattath (English spelling of course). It means “sin”. Ok, I was hoping for a little more than that. I looked up the same word in Young’s, and got the same meaning. Young’s however will also show you how the same word was translated different ways, and how many times that way was used.

For example, for chattath:
punishment 2 (the word chattath is translated as punishment two times)
punishment of sin 1
purification from sin 2
purifying 1
sin 169
sin offering 116
sinner 1

Not terribly helpful in this case, but you can see chattath is translated as “sin” 169 times.

Going back to Strong’s, under the dictionary entry for 2304, it said the root word was 2398. I remembered that number was also listed under the “transgression” subheading in the front of the book. As a matter of fact, of the 11 Hebrew words listed under the “transgression” subheading, six of them refer back to 2398. The word is chata, and it means “to sin, to err, to miss the mark.” Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Young’s listing for chata says:
be in fault 1
bear blame 2
commit (sin) 5
do sin 2
have done harm 1
offend 4
sin 165
trespass 1

Again the most frequent translation is “sin”.

A scripture reference for chata is Genesis 42:22.

Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.

Other Hebrew/Chaldee words translated “sin” mean
guilt
error
fault
iniquity
offense
trespass
transgression

The picture is getting clearer, isn’t it?

Moving to the New Testament, the number of Greek words translated as “sin” is significantly less. There are four. They mean:
offense
transgression
error
miss the mark and not share in the prize.

The last word in the Greek  is “hamartano”

Young’s listing says:
offend 1
sin 39
trespass 3

A scripture reference for hamartano is Matthew 18:21.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

No matter which word was used, it is plain to see that sin is a bad thing.

Now that we know what the word means, we can find out how it applies to us.

We’ll do that next week.

On a lighter note, I left the concordances on the dining room table while I was typing this post. I looked up from my laptop to see this, and the camera cooperated for a minute. They are so helpful!

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Adora and Bookworm saving my spots in the concordances.  Yes, this is why she is named Bookworm.

Connie