Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part 4 (final part)

…a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  old hymnal

 

“To God be the Glory”

Several weeks ago our pastor began to sing this hymn toward the end of his sermon and the phrase “opened the Life-Gate that all may go in” caught my imagination.  I knew I had to share this hymn with you as the last in this series because it tells us how we can know we will spend eternity with God in heaven.

This hymn was written by the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby in 1872.   I am going to share the words of the first verse and chorus with you, because they are so powerful – but, I will change some of them to be easier to understand than the Old English it was written in.  I want to then focus on the phrase I referred to at the beginning: because it will encourage and enrich your life, in a way nothing else can,  IF you take it to heart and act on it.

To God be the glory, great things He has done,
God so loved the world that He gave us His son (Jesus).
Jesus gave up his life on the cross as an payment for sin – mine and yours,
…and with his death and resurrection he opened the LIFE-GATE that all can enter in.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the earth hear God’s voice.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the people rejoice.
Oh, won’t you believe in God the father and Jesus God’s son
And then you can give God glory – for the great things He has done.

Have you ever heard the word “gospel”?  Do you know what it means?  It refers to the “good news” – the Biblical account of  Jesus coming to earth – born of a virgin, living a perfect life and then being killed and buried…only to rise from the dead in order to pay for your sins once and for all.  The Bible says that if you believe the gospel you have salvation (saving faith from your sins and the consequence which is eternal death).

If you are a sci-fi fan you may watch Stargate.  For those of you who have never watched the show, let me explain that there is a “gate” that opens up and allows people to travel from one galaxy to another or one time-continuum to another.  It is a very ethereal gate through which you pass from somewhere else in time and space back to the present time on earth – or vice versa.  (For those of you who are hard-core sci-fi fans, I apologize if I have described this “gate” in a less than adequate way.)

Picture with me a gate that is not hard to open in one direction…yet impossible to open the other.  This Life-Gate is exactly like that.  Unlike the Stargate, the Life Gate is a one-way gate.  If we believe the gospel we walk through the gate to forgiveness of sin and eternal life.  The gate never opens back up the other direction, no matter what we do.  AND, it is yours to walk through by simply believing the Biblical message about Easter.

The movie “Son of God” has been in the theaters for several weeks now.  If you have had a chance to see it, or possibly “The Passion of the Christ” that Mel Gibson produced a number of years ago – you are familiar with the story/plot.  This story/plot is this gospel message I keep referring to.

If you have already believed and walked through the Life-Gate I know you are praying for others who haven’t, to do so when they read this.  If you have not believed before, for whatever reason; put your disbelief aside – believe – and walk through the Life Gate.  Come…join me and millions of others who, over the course of history, have believed the gospel.

The Bible says that when someone walks through the Life Gate the angels rejoice.  As humans, rejoicing often leads to singing.  Perhaps it is so with the angels, too.

…and so, we end this series “on a good note”!

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part 3

old hymnal

…a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich. 

“The Love of God”
is a beautiful word picture of how vast and great His love is for us!

The verse below – which is the one I want to focus on – was written by a Jewish Rabbi, Meir Ben Issac  Mehoria, around the year 1000 in a poem titled “Hadamut”.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The melody, along with the first and second verses and the chorus of this song were written by Frederick M Lehman in 1917.  He was a California businessman who, after losing everything through business reverses, found himself doing manual labor to make enough money to feed himself.  He was inspired to write a song about the love of God after a particularly moving sermon.  However, he was unable to come up with words for more than two verses, and in those days, you simply didn’t write a hymn that had less than three verses.  That sounds very odd to us now – but, that is how it was.   One evening he remembered a poem someone had given him which he had used as a bookmark.  Lehman went to the piano and began to voice the words with the melody he had just written. The words and melody fit together perfectly and soon the song was published.

This last verse has always been my favorite.   Rabbi Mehoria so graphically and beautifully painted a picture of God’s love in words.  There really isn’t anything I can write that will add to these words for they say it ALL!

Take a few minutes out of your busy day and re-read this verse slowly, visualizing each line.  I pray that these word pictures will change your day and perhaps your life as you truly understand how much God loves YOU!

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part I

old hymnal …a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  
“Sweetest Name”

I have had a certain phrase rolling over in my mind these past few days from the old hymn “Sweetest Name”.  It has been such a blessing to me and I wanted to share it with you.  However, before I could get this post written, we had communion at church – and one of the songs the pianist played was “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”.  As I inwardly sang the words she played the melody to so beautifully, I realized that this hymn also had words that encourage and enrich.  …and so begins a short series.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know; fills my every longing…keeps me singing as I go.”  This is the final phrase of the chorus of “Sweetest Name” – a hymn written by Luther Bridgers in 1910.

I want to focus on just the middle four words “fills my every longing” because I believe most of us have at least one longing – and probably more than one.

Longing is defined as a yearning desire.  And yearning is synonymous with craving, ache, burning, hunger, thirst. Each of those words create vivid word pictures…some similar – and some quite different from each other.  To yearn is often used when referring to emotions and relationships; a craving can be associated with addictions; and to ache – well, that is used to describe emotions and relationships, but it also brings up thoughts of chronic illness and pain.  To burn, connotes discomfort of some sort or an insatiable desire; while hunger and thirst both make one immediately physically or spiritually hungry or thirsty when they contemplate the word.

I believe it will take just a few seconds for you to identity at least one longing you currently have.  You probably have several.  Whether relational, spiritual, physical, emotional or a combination – this word L-O-N-G-I-N-G is such a perfect description of itself.  A longing is not easily or quickly satisfied…it is long in coming, and perhaps will not be satisfied in a way we thought it would or should.

Then how in the world can a songwriter be so bold as to write that Jesus can, and does, “fill my EVERY longing“?  Mr Bridgers was acquainted with longing.  He was a minister who lost his wife and children in a fire while he was away visiting aging parents in 1910. That same year he wrote this song.  He knew…and wanted others to know, (you and me) that his yearning desire, his constant craving, his aching heart, his burning wish, his hunger and his thirst to have his beloved family back – had been realized, filled, satiated and completed by Jesus!

Did that mean he just suddenly stopped grieving and/or never thought of his lost family again?  Oh, I can’t imagine that was the case. I DO know that it meant that he knew within the deepest parts of his being that His God and Savior understood, cared and had supplied the grace and hope that satisfied.

Remember when I wrote “A longing is not easily or quickly satisfied…it is long in coming, and perhaps will not be satisfied in a way we thought it would or should”?  As humans we reason, rationalize and try to fix things ourselves or make things happen. However, Jesus satisfies our longing(s) when we trust Him with them, knowing that our human way of looking at things is short-sighted, often irrational and imperfect at its very best.  His ways are never short-sighted, never irrational and always perfect!  Jesus satisfies our longings when we place our focus, whether consciously or sub-consciously, on Him and His ways.

I have often told others that when I write I am so blessed myself – and, this is one of those times when I am finding it nearly impossible to stay at the computer because my soul is bursting with joy and hope because of who Jesus is and what He has done, is doing and will do for myself and others during my lifetime.  I want to simultaneously jump up and down, run around, drop to my knees in adoration and utter words of gratitude and praise to my Lord and Savior – the God of Heaven and Earth!

Perhaps I digress, but think of the words to another song with me for a moment:
“Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can – The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”
A dewy sunrise covered in chocolate and miracles – now that’s sweet!

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know; fills my every longing…keeps my singing as I go.”

How much sweeter to have my longings satisfied!  Jesus, your name truly is the sweetest name I know.