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)

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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

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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

Songs For Sunday: Good Good Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

This is such a great song!

Good Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways

The song was written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown, who are both members of the Atlanta based worship band Housefires. The band recorded their version of the song on their 2014 album Housefires II .  The song has been recorded by several artists, but Chris Tomlin’s recording is the one that most people recognize. It’s the first track on his 2016 album Never Lose Sight.

I am including three different videos in this post, and I hope you will take the time to watch all of them. The first one was uploaded to YouTube by Worship Together

Co-writers Pat Barrett and Tony Brown perform the song, and then they talk about how the song came about. The video is a little over twelve minutes long, but it’s worth your time to watch it.

In my post about God the Father, I said that people sometimes have trouble relating to God as Father because their father was “absent, emotionally distant, critical, or abusive.” Song Co-writer Tony Brown says in this video that he never had a dad, and that the only one he has ever called “Father” is God.

At the end of the video, Pat goes over the chord progressions for anyone wanting to play the song. From what I have seen, that is standard procedure for New Song Cafe. That’s kind of cool, in my opinion

 

The 2nd video was uploaded to Youtube by ChrisTomlinVevo. In it, Chris and Pat Barrett talk about the song, and Pat says more about his thoughts behind the song. I love that he addresses how Jesus talked about God, and how that causes us to change how we see God.

Finally, here is the “official video” also uploaded to YouTube by ChrisTomlinVevo

See you in church!

Connie

God, The Father

This is one of my favorite pictures. It’s my dad and I when I was about six months old. We were visiting my Mom’s grandparents in Colorado. The picture was taken at the Big Thompson River. My parents got divorced when I was four, and Dad moved halfway across the country two years later. That was 1970. We talk every Sunday evening, but I haven’t seen him in eight years. I hope to change that this summer.

Fishing with Dad

This Sunday is Father’s Day. It is a day that we have set aside to pay tribute to our fathers, grandfathers, and father figures. So, what better time to talk about God, the Father?

According to Bible Gateway, the word “father” is used 1103 times in the Bible. As you might imagine, many of those uses are “this person was the father of that person, and he was the father of the next person, etc”. I wondered though, how many times scripture refers to God as “Father”. Yes, I actually counted them, so my numbers might be a little off, but here is what I got.

Of the 753 times the word “father” is used in the Old Testament, it is used a reference to God only fifteen times. In the New Testament, 230 of the 350 uses of the word “father” refer to God.

That’s quite a difference.

God is YHWH (I AM), Elohim (Creator, Lord God), El Shaddai (The Almighty), and El Elyon (God Most High), but He is also Abba (Father). Let that sink in if you can.

For some of us, thinking of God as our Father doesn’t help us much. Some of us had fathers who were absent, emotionally distant, critical, or abusive. So the idea of having God for a father either doesn’t mean anything, because was have no experience, or it leaves us with a sickening sense of fear and dread.

So how do we get past that?

First ask God to open our hearts to what he wants us to know. Then get into His word. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Find believers who can share their experience with God the Father. I’ve also discovered that learning from people who have good earthly fathers, or are good earthly fathers can help me fill out that picture of God, the Father too.

For me, reading scripture out loud can help the words sink in better. Try it.

Let’s start here:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts
(Psalm 103: 1-18)

Wait, there’s more.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:9-11)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Rom 8:15)

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.(Proverbs 3: 11-12)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Heb 13:5)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (1 Cor 1:3-4)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9)

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts: 14:17)

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling (Psalm 68:5)

In this parable, often called “The Prodigal Son”, Jesus depicts God as a father who lets his son make his own choices and reap the consequences for those choices. Yet He waits for him to repent and come back; not so that He can say “I told you so,” or berate him for his mistakes, but to forgive him and joyfully welcome him Home.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:11-32)

We could go on for days, but here is a final scripture.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14: 8-10)

I don’t know about you, but reading the first sentence of Jesus’ answer to Philip gives me goosebumps. I wonder how Philip felt? At the time, he probably didn’t really understand. He, and the other disciples, had been with Jesus for three years. They had seen Him heal the sick, raise the dead, bless children, and reach out to hurting people with love and compassion. They had been watching God the whole time!

God is a tender, compassionate Father, who loves us beyond measure, blesses us with good things, and disciplines us when we need it. He loves giving us gifts, and spending time with us. He wants us to talk to Him and He wants to comfort us as only He can. He is kind, patient, faithful, and He is Love.

Connie

Songs For Sunday: Tell Me The Old Old Story – I Love To Tell the Story

I am always amazed when I research old hymns. I always find something interesting. I started looking for Tell Me the Old Old Story, which is similar to I Love To Tell The Story.

Researching this morning, I discovered that both hymns are based on one lengthy poem, written in 1866 by an English woman named A. Katherine Hankey (1834-1911). The poem called “The Old Old Story” is written in two parts; the first dated in January of 1866, and the second in November of the same year. You can read the whole poem here. It is said that she wrote the poem while convalescing after a serious illness.

A. Katherine Hankey, or Kate as she was called, was the daughter of a banker, and a member of the Clapham sect, which was both anti slavery and pro missionary. She taught Sunday school for girls as a teenager and later worked as a nurse in South Africa, while helping her invalid brother.

Tell Me the Old Old Story was taken from the first part of the poem. The music was written by William Doane, (1832-1915), who according to Cyber Hymnal.Org, heard the poem recited in 1867 by a Major General Russel at a men’s fellowship in Montreal. He wrote the music on a “hot afternoon while on the stage-coach between the Glen Falls House and the Crawford House in the White Mountains.”

Noting the years of Doane’s life, curiousity got the better of me. I wondered if he might have written music for any of Fanny Crosby’s lyrics. He did. Both “Near the Cross”, and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” were collaborations between Doane and Crosby. All told, Doane composed over 2000 songs.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Refrain

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

Refrain

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

Refrain

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

Refrain

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Gandalf1948, of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s recording of Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

William G. Fischer (1835-1912) took from the second part of the poem and wrote “I Love To Tell The Story” Fischer was an interesting character in that he began singing with the church choir as a child, where he learned to read music. He learned piano and organ as well . While learning book binding during the day, he practiced music in the evening. He directed choirs, taught singing and music theory. He finally opened a piano business which became extremely prosperous.

I Love To Tell The Story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

Refrain

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Here is another Tennessee Ernie Ford recording uploaded by Gandalf1948. This time, Ernie is singing I Love To Tell The Story

See you in church!

Connie

Family Devotions

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Although we aren’t always successful, my husband and I try to do a daily family devotion time with my daughter. The way it is supposed to work is that one of us reads the scripture for the day, and we have a discussion about what was read. We mention any new prayer needs, and the same person who reads, prays. Like I said, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

However, there seems to always be something that gets in the way. Usually, it’s our own tendency for distraction. Ed works nights, so on those days, we try to do it shortly before he goes to bed for the day. On his days off, we shoot for after breakfast, but sometimes we get side tracked. Usually, I remember that we didn’t do it when we aren’t in a position to go do it right then. By the time we are, it’s slipped our minds again. Yeah, I know. We’re pitiful. We do keep trying though.

I probably don’t need to tell you that my teenager is less than enthusiastic about the whole process.

If we miss a day or two, we spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what we read last (we work out of four books at once) and whose turn it is to read. Ed writes it down on his calendar, but sometimes it isn’t right, and we have conversations like “No, it couldn’t be Ezekiel 23* because I read last and I read Psalm 19, and so whoever is reading needs to be reading Numbers!”

After we get it straightened out, we decide how much will be read. Chapter and verse divisions were made by the translators, and are not, in any way, consistent. One chapter may have 30 verses and take up a half a page, and another chapter have 30 verses, and take up three pages. We use chapter divisions most often, but sometimes divide them up over several readings. The idea is not to read a lot, but to grasp what we do read and be able to discuss it.

Sometimes, we are able to draw parallels from life today. Sometimes, we are reminded of another part of scripture. Sometimes, we have to honestly say that we do not understand what a passage means, or why it says what it does. Sometimes, we don’t make connections until hours or days later. When we do have those delayed connections and insights, we always try to share them with each other.

Yesterday we read from Deuteronomy 3

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” 23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deut 3:21-29)

Look at verses 23-27, especially verse 26.

That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…”

I know I’ve read this before, but it jumped off the page yesterday, and stuck with me.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but scripture encourages us to keep asking until we get a definitive answer. I can’t think of another time when God says, “stop asking”.

Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn in the flesh, and God told him no.

8 three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:8-9)

Evidently, Paul stopped asking after the third time and changed his attitude toward his problem.

I wonder how many times Moses asked? What lead God to tell him to stop?

As a parent, who has been wheedled by a whining child, I can certainly relate to God’s response.

How many times have I said, “No, and don’t ask me again!”

Often God has used my relationship with my children to help me understand something about His relationship with me. The experience is usually quite humbling.

Yesterday afternoon, Ed and I were talking about something we need to start praying about. Ed said that he had already started praying about it, but more won’t hurt. I said, “No, I really don’t see God telling us to stop asking like he did Moses!”

Ed said, “You know, I kind of feel sorry for Moses.”

I do too.

*If you plan to read Ezekiel 23 aloud with teenagers, you might want to read it first, so that you will be prepared for whatever reaction they have. My then sixteen-year-old daughter looked up from the reading with the most dead pan expression on her face, and said something like “Really…wow…Alrighty then.” We then discussed how God doesn’t sugar coat anything, and calls things as they are, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Remind Me Who I Am

Yesterday, I wrote about our forgetfulness.

Remind Me Who I Am, by Jason Gray and Jason Ingram, addresses our  need to be constantly reminded of who God is and who we are in Him.  Jason Gray recorded the song and released it on his album A Way to See in the Dark in 2011.

Remind Me Who I Am

When I lose my way
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don’t wanna be
Remind me who I am

In the loneliest places
When I cant remember what grace is

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You

When my heart is like a stone
And I’m running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I cant receive Your love
Afraid I’ll never be enough
Remind me who I am

If I’m Your beloved
can You help me believe it

Tell me, once again
Who I am to you, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to you, that I belong to You
To You

I’m the one You love, I’m the one You love
That will be enough, I’m the one You love

Tell me, once again
Who I am to you, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to you, that I belong to You

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You
To You…

See you in church!

Connie