Songs for Sunday: Something Beautiful

If you are a born again child of God, you probably have an intimate understanding of this song’s lyrics written by Gloria Gaither. The song (with music written by her husband, Bill) first appeared on the album, “The Bill Gaither Trio: Because He Lives”, which was also the first appearance for the title track.  Both songs now appear in church hymnals.

“Something Beautiful”

If there ever were dreams
that were lofty and noble,
They were my dreams at the start;
And the hopes for life’s best
Were the hopes that I harbored
Down deep in my heart;
But my dreams turned to ashes,
My castles all crumbled,
My fortune turned to loss,
So I wrapped it all
In the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross!

Something beautiful, something good —
All my confusion He understood;
All I had to offer Him
Was brokenness and strife,
But He made something beautiful of my life

Gloria tells the story behind the song here

Here is a YouTube video, published by Gaither Music TV, of a performance from 1990 of Bill, Gloria and Michael English singing “Something Beautiful”.

 

He made “something beautiful” of my life too! How about you?

See you in Church!

Connie

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A Repurposed Life

I posted the following on my personal Facebook page a few days ago.

I like junk.

I keep boxes, bottles, jars, cans and all kinds of odds and ends. I have a box full of stuff that we’ve found on the place, like pieces of glass or pottery. Libby does a lot of excavating in her pen, so I am always finding things there.

Why, do I keep it?

Some of it is probably genetic. Grandpa Charlie never threw anything away…ever. My dad keeps a lot of stuff too, so I got it from both sides.

Sometimes I keep things like glass jars, because I can reuse them. Most of the time, though, I really don’t have a clear picture about that. Until I need something, and then I remember what I have that will work for what I need.

Probably though, the best thing, is creating something totally new from bits and pieces of “trash”, like the planters I made from coffee cans. I see possibilities in so many different things, and I have to keep them until I see what comes out of it.

IMG_0725
Repurposed coffee can planters. As you can see, their faces are made from repurposed stuff too. This picture was not part of the original Facebook post, because I had shared it on another one. 

Today, I guess we call that “repurposing”.

Here is the thing. I spent a lot of my life feeling like “trash”. Shame made me feel dirty, broken and useless. God, however, saw the possibilities and through Jesus, took the mess that was me and made a new creation. He repurposed me! I still have to fight the enemy’s lies, but I don’t do it alone. Yes, there are scars, but you know what? Those let me reach out to other broken people and show them how they can be repurposed too.

I posted that a few days ago, but God really put it on my heart to share it here too.

He wants you to know that He loves you and He is just waiting for you to give the mess to Him. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. When you give yourself to Him, He makes you new and gives you a new purpose: the one he had planned for you all along.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

That doesn’t mean your life will be perfect, but you will be living a life designed by the One who is!

What are you waiting for?

Connie

 

God’s Amazing Plan, Part 5: The Holy Spirit

Last week, we learned that Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s promise. Then He ascended to heaven. The angels told the disciples that Jesus would come back the same way he left. The disciples went back to Jerusalem, rejoicing, to wait like Jesus had told them.  They spent a lot of that time in the temple.

Let’s back up a little and look back to what Jesus said to them before His arrest. We’ve looked at them before, but lets take another look.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.(John 14:16-17)

the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all thingsand will remind you of everything I have said to you.(John 14:26)

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (John 14:26)

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness,because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”(John 16:7-13)

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

Then right before He ascended to heaven, He said,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

All these scripture references are from the NIV. The King James uses the word “comforter” instead of advocate. The Amplified Bible offers “Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—” In John 14:16.

So this promised Holy Spirit that they were to wait would bring power with Him (we often refer to the Spirit as an it, but Jesus says “he”). He will be an advocate, counselor, comforter, reminder and guide. He’s a big deal.

Now, let’s back up a little more and talk again about Jewish feasts. We’ve talked about the Day of Atonement and Passover, but there were several other feasts the God ordained for His people. In Leviticus chapter 23, God gives instructions for all the feasts. This one, called the Feast of Weeks. On the second day of Passover, they were to count off seven weeks (49 days). Then on the feast on the 50th day, They were to present an offering of new grain as well as sacrificial animals.

Greek speaking Jews in Jesus day called this day Pentecost (50). It was one of the festivals during which all men were required to come to Jerusalem. Ten days after Jesus ascension to Heaven, Jerusalem was full of Jews from all over the world there to celebrate Pentecost. Of course, the disciples were there too, just like Jesus had told them to be.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues  as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (Acts: 2:1-13)vAct0202Dore_TheDescentOfTheSpirit

There are some who say that they disciples were in the upper room at that time because of the word “house”, but that doesn’t make any sense. That would have been where they slept. They wouldn’t have been there at nine in the morning. They were in a public place, most likely in or near the temple. Where else would all those people been able to hear the disciples speaking the wonderful works of God in their native tongues? And some people thought they were drunk, I would assume because they didn’t understand what was said, and felt the need to respond. You know there is always somebody like that. Peter had an answer for them…Peter, who had denied Jesus, then ran and hid, stood up and addressed the crowd.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.(Acts 2:14-41)

The day of Pentecost marks the birth of the church, and with the help of the newly received Holy Spirit, Peter preached the first sermon. Three thousand “came forward”.

That day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, and Peter told the crowd that they too, could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So what does the “gift of the holy spirit” mean?

When you ask people today that question, many people talk about speaking in tongues, prophesying or gifts of healing, and those things certainly have been manifestations of the spirit (1 Corinthians 12), but that isn’t what it’s really all about.

Jesus replied,“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

How does He he do that? Guess?

By sending the Holy Spirit, God sent part of Himself.

In Romans 8 (which is an amazing chapter), Paul says,

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom 8:9-11)

In his letter to the Colossian church, he says,

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

So what is the point of having Christ in us? Well, for one thing, He reminds us of the things we have been taught in God’s word. He tells us when we are doing wrong, He encourages us to do right. He proves we are children of God (Rom 8:15-16). He intercedes for us, when we don’t know how or what to pray (Rom 8:27-28)

So God’s amazing plan wasn’t just that he would come to earth as a human being and die for all our sins, it was also that he was going to leave a piece of Himself in each and every one of us who accept his gift. The gift is not only to help us while we remain here, but also to empower us to share the good news so that others come to Him too.

But there’s more.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor 1:21-22)

So what is to come?

Remember what Jesus said in John 14:2-3 and what the angels said in Acts 1:11?

He’s gone to make a place for us. He left His Spirit with us, to help us while He’s gone. He’s coming back for us!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess 4:16-17)

So God’s amazing plan was that He would come as a human, and live a sinless life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for sin. That way we would be able to fellowship with Him like Adam and Eve did in the garden before they sinned. For those of us who accept His gift, he seals the deal with His Holy Spirit which He put in us to help us know Him and lead others to Him. Then when it’s time, He is going to come back and get us, so that we can live with Him, in His presence for eternity.

We could say a lot more about that, but we’ve gone long here. We may do another series just on the subject of eternity…or at least the little bit we know about it.

I have to ask. Do you know Jesus? Have you accepted the gift he freely offers? If not, please don’t wait. Accept Him as your savior and your Lord today. Get buried in the waters of baptism and rise up to walk in your new life! Will your life be perfect? Of course not, we still live in a broken, fallen world, but you’ll be able to say with the apostle Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers>neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 35-39)

Hallelujah!

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan, Part 4: Now What?

Last week, we talked about how it was part of God’s amazing plan for Jesus to die as a final perfect sacrifice for sin. How that yearly sacrifices would no longer be necessary

The Hebrew writer says,

He (Jesus) did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. (Heb 9:12)

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. (Heb 9:24)

So, Jesus paid the price for our sins.

Now what?

The disciples should have known what was coming, because Jesus told them. Probably more than once. Last week, I shared verses where Jesus told them he would die and be resurrected three days later. I also mentioned John 14. Here are just a few verses from that chapter, that should have given the disciples some inkling of what was going to happen.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-4)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:16-21

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:25-27)

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.(John 14:28-31)

Twenty four hours later, they didn’t remember any of that. All they knew was that Jesus was dead. They were heart broken and scared to death. They were also afraid they would be next, so they were hiding out.

However, two men who had been following Jesus secretly for “fear of the Jews” laid their fear aside to care for His body.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)

Other gospels say it was Joseph’s own tomb that he laid Jesus in.rMat2760Dore_TheBurialOfChrist

I have to wonder if their boldness at this point was caused by guilt. Maybe if they had spoken up, Jesus would not be dead. Not that it matters. The whole thing was just another part of God’s plan.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’Then they remembered his words. (Luke 20: 1-8)

The writers of the gospels don’t tell us exactly when Jesus came back to life. They only say that he did. Matthew writes that there was an earth quake and an angel appeared. The guards became like dead men and the angel rolled away the stone and sat on it.(Matt 28). Mark says that when the sabbath was over, the women came to finish preparing the body, concerned that they would not be able to move the stone. The stone was already moved and Jesus was not there (Mark 16). John records only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and then running for the disciples (John 20). Both John and Luke records Peter going to the tomb to look for himself. John says that John went too. (Luke 24 and John 20)

I believe Jesus was gone before the stone was moved. That was done for the people there…and for us.

Why seek the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. (Matt 28:6)rMat2805Dore_TheResurrection

Jesus did make himself known after he was resurrected. The gospels record several different “appearances”, but not all of them. Paul later says,

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (I Cor 15:3-8)

Just in case you don’t know, “Cephas” is Peter. People saw Jesus.  A lot of people. They knew he was alive. The scriptures say they were overjoyed, but still, now what? Luke records in his gospel and in the book of Acts

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple,praising God. Luke 24:46-52

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

sMar1619Dore_TheAscension

Jesus had a job for them to do, but it wasn’t time to do it yet.

They had to wait in Jerusalem until the promise came. Then they were to go to all the world and tell them what Jesus had done. Jesus said he would be with them always, and then they saw him leave. You know they must have been staring up with their mouths open, when the angels told them that Jesus would come back they same way they saw him go.

So they went back to Jerusalem to wait. They knew they needed to wait a few days,  and they weren’t exactly sure what they were waiting for, but they believed Jesus and they were full of great joy.

They still didn’t quite understand, but they would soon. They wouldn’t have to to wait long.

Until next week,

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan. Part 3: If You Want Something Done Right…

I closed my last post on this subject by saying “It’s time”, then I left you hanging for over a year. For that I apologize.

In the 400 hundred years or so since the close of the Old Testament, the children of Israel had been under the rule of the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great, The Syrians under Seleucus (one of Alexander’s generals), The Egyptians under Ptolemy (another of Alexander’s generals),  The Syrians under Antiochus Epiphanes (who tried to exterminate them), themselves under the Maccabees, and finally, the Romans.

God’s timing is always perfect. He had told Micah the messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

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)

Mary was chosen to be the mother of the messiah, but she was in Nazareth, and she was poor. Isn’t it amazing that Caesar Augustus chose that particular time to order a census?

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)tLuk0215Dore_TheNativity

In the first two posts, we looked at the hints of God’s plan for redeeming mankind. By the time of the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the Jews (as they were then called) were fully aware that the Messiah was coming. They just weren’t expecting him to come like he did. They definitely weren’t expecting him to be born in a stable.

They had definite ideas of what the Messiah was supposed to do. He would be a great ruler, who would rid them of the Romans, and restore Israel as it had been under David and Solomon. That was how they understood the Old Testament prophecies, but there were some things they missed. To be honest, I don’t know how they could have understood.

We have looked at Isaiah 9: 6-7 before, but let’s look at it again

6 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.
7 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.

Verse seven describes the Messiah they were expecting, but go back to verse six. It says the child will be called “Mighty God”. Wait a minute. No one gets to be called “God” but God. Anything else is blasphemy. How could this person be called “God”?

If He is God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God, and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)

The Word was God. Since the Word became flesh, that means God became flesh. God became a human being. Jesus said as much Himself.

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:54-58)

Jesus called Himself “I am”. He was calling Himself “God”, a stoning offense to be sure, unless He was telling the truth.

So part of God’s amazing plan was that He would come to live among us as a human being.

I am not even going to pretend that I understand how the Trinity works. I don’t know how God could be Father in Heaven, and Son on Earth, but I know that He was.

Ok, but why would God do that? What is the point? Well, I guess you can say “If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.” In order for mankind to be redeemed, there would need to be a blood sacrifice, because;

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)

The animals sacrificed had to be perfect. They had to be “without spot or blemish”. A human stand-in for mankind would have to be perfect too. Do you know anyone like that? No, I don’t either. There isn’t anyone.

God knew there was no way that any human being would ever be able to live a sinless life, but He could. The “Word” was with God from the beginning, was in fact, God, and then became flesh and came to live with us. Jesus was God coming to earth as a human being, to live as human beings live. He had the same physical needs, and He was subjected to the same temptations (Matt 4). The difference is that He didn’t succumb to the temptations. He remained sinless, and as such was able to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

All of that was laid out in the prophecies too, but they just didn’t get it.

We’ve already looked at portions of Isaiah 53, but let’s start at the end of Chapter 52, and read through 53.

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.

1Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 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.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52: 13-16; 53)

I have to wonder who the learned men; the rabbis, the scribes, etc, thought Isaiah was talking about? Did they understand this was about the messiah? Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they did what many of us do when we come to a passage we don’t understand.  Maybe they just skipped over it.

John the baptist understood.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

Jesus told both His disciples and His enemies, several times that He would die. He told them why He would die, and that He would be resurrected.

 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. 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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:13-17)

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again (Mark 8:23)

 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:31-32)

In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples (and us) the plan, but they still didn’t get it. When he was arrested, tried, found guilty and crucified, they were heartbroken, terrified and confused.

tLuk2334Dore_TheCrucifixion

Jesus was crucified during time of the Passover. Like the lamb without defect, he was sacrificed, and his blood covers us, saving us from the second death. Paul says,

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7)

In the last post, we read that on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would offer a blood sacrifice for himself, and then one for the people. This was the only day of the year the priest could go behind the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Ex 26:33)

This was not a little flimsy curtain. From what I could gather from different sources, it was something like 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matt 27:50-51)

The Most Holy Place was no longer hidden. How do you suppose that happened?

God sacrificed Himself for us, so that we could be reconciled to Him. A Day of Atonement would no longer be necessary.

the veil was Torn

John says,

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30)

When Jesus said “it is finished”, He meant His redemptive work was done. He gave up His own life, to atone for all of us.

That part was done, but there was much more to come.

Connie

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

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)

pDan0220Dore_Daniel

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