Amazing Grace

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A Charge To Keep I Have

Category: Amazing Grace

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians  4:1

All of us as Christians have been given a general charge-a God to glorify. We have also been given a particular charge or calling that is unique. Our response to these charges is what gives life purpose and meaning. Fulfillment and contentment in life are not measured alone by our accomplishments. We must have the satisfaction that we are not measured alone by our accomplishments. We must have the satisfaction that we are in the place and doing the task that God as destined for us-whether it be great or small.

Charles Wesley is said to have been inspired to write the text for this hymn while reading Matthew Henry's commentary on the book of Leviticus. In his thoughts on Leviticus  8:35, Henry wrote, "We shall everyone of us have a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, on generation to serve." This hymn text first appeared in Wesley's Short Hymns on Select Passages of Holy Scriptures, published in 1762. It was printed under the title "Keep the Charge o f the Lord, That Ye Die Not."

This hymn text reflects the strength and zeal of the early Methodists. John Wesley once remarked upon hearing of his followers' persecution: "Our people die well." On another occasion a physician said to Charles Wesley, "Most people die for fear of dying; but I never met with such people as yours. They are none of them afraid to death, but calm and patient and resigned to the last."

Being a Christian who worthily represents the Lord has never been a will never be a life of ease. It requires our very best, the total commitment of our lives.

A charge ot keep I have-a God to glorify, who gave His Son my soul to save and fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill-O may it all my pow'rs engage to do my Master's will!

Arm with me jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O Thy servant, Lord, prepare a strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray, and on Thy self rely; and let me ne'er my trust betray, but press to realms on high.

For Today: Leviticus  8:35; Joshua  24:15; Galatians  1:15-24; 1 Peter  4:10, 11

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A Mighty Fortress

Category: Amazing Grace

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm  46:1, 2

October 21, 1517, is perhaps the most important day in Protestant history. This was the day when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and a professor of theology, posted on the doors of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany, his 95 thesis (complaints) against the teachings and practices of the medieval Roman Church. With this event, the 16th century Protestant Reformation was formally born.

The Protestant Reformation movement was built on three main tenets:

The re-establishment of the Scriptures.

Clarifying the means of salvation.

The restoration of congregational singing.

"A Mighty Fortress" was written and composed by Martin Luther. The date of the hymn cannot be fixed with any exact certainty. It is generally believed however, to have been written for the Diet of Spires in 1529 when the term "protestant" was first used. The hymn became the great rallying cry of the Reformation.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe-His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing, were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He-Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same-and He must win the battle.

And tho this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thru us. The prince of darkness rim-we tremble not for Him; His rage we can endure; for lo! his doom is sure-One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow'rs-no thanks to them-abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours thru Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God's truth abideth still-His kingdom is forever.

For Today: Deuteronomy  33:27; 2 Samuel  22:2; Psalm  46; Isaiah  26:4

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Count Your Blessings

Category: Amazing Grace

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. Ephesians  1:3

For the Christian, gratitude should be a life attitude.

"Count Your Blessings" was written by one of the prolific gospel song writers of the past century, a Methodist lay preacher named Johnson Oatman. In addition to his preaching and the writing of more than 5,000 hymn texts, Oatman was also a successful business man, engaged in a shipping business and in his later years as an administrator for a large insurance company in New Jersey.

It is good for each of us periodically to take time to rediscover the simple but profound truths expressed by Mr. Oatman in the four stanzas of this hymn. In the first two verses he develops the thought that counting our blessings serves as an antidote for life's discouragements and in turn makes for victorious Christian living. The third stanza of this hymn teaches us that counting our blessings can be a means of placing material possessions in proper perspective when compared to the eternal inheritance awaiting believers. Then as we review our individual blessings, we certainly would have to agree with Mr. Oatman's fourth verse: The provision of God's help and comfort to the end of our earthly pilgrimage is one of our choicest blessings.

Each of us could spare ourselves much despair and inner tension if we would only learn to apply the practical teaching of this hymn to our daily living.

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings-name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings-ev'ry doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold, think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; count your many blessings-money cannot buy your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged. God is over all; count you many blessings-angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

Chorus: Count your blessings-name them one by one; count your blessings-see what God hath done.

For Today: Psalm  28:7; 68:19; 69:30, 31; James  1:17

 

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The Son Of God Goes Forth To War

Category: Amazing Grace

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians  16:13

This text was written in 1812 by Reginald Heber, an important 19th century Anglican church hymn writer. Heber wrote it especially for use on St. Stephen's Day, which occurs the first day after Christmas. On this day the liturgical churches honor the memory of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The hymn's first stanza portrays Christ as the leader of a great army going forth to win His kingly crown. The challenge is given: "Who follows in His train?" The response: Those who demonstrate that they can bear the cross patiently here below.

The second stanza reminds us of Stephen's martrydom The scriptural account tells us that Stephen saw Jesus "standing at God's right hand," with Stephen praying for his murderers, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts  7:54-60).

The third stanza refers to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to "the chosen few." The verse then reminds us of the twelve apostles and their martyrdom for the sake of the gospel. The final stanza is a picture in heaven of the noble martyrs throughout the ages before God's throne-men, boys, matrons, maids-dressed in robes of white.

The Son of God goes forth to war, a kingly crown to gain: His blood-red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train? Who best can drink His cup of woe, (Christ's suffering on the cross) triumphant over pain? Who patient bear His cross below, he follows in His train.

The martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave, who saw His Master in the sky and called on Him to save-Like Him, with pardon on his tongue in midst of mortal pain, he prayed for them that did the wrong: Who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few on whom the Spirit came, twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, and mocked the cross and flame-They met the tyrant's brandished steel, the lion's gory mane. They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid, around the Savior's throne rejoice, in robes of light arrayed-They climbed the steep ascent of heav'n thru peril, toil and pain: O GOD, TO US MAY GRACE BE GIVEN TO FOLLOW IN THEIR TRAIN!

For Today: Ephesians  6:10-20; 1 Timothy  6:12; 2 Timothy  2:3,4