Amazing Grace

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Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Category: Amazing Grace

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah  4:6

Although it is always thrilling at Christmas to recall the events of our Savior's birth, or at Easter to celebrate His triumph over death, we must not forget Ascension or Pentecost. If Christ had never ascended to make intercession for us or had never sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and guide us, our relationship with the heavenly Father would be most incomplete.

One of the finest of all hymns for the Pentecost season is "Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart." It was written by Anglican minister George Croly, who was known among his associates as a "fundamentalist in theology, a fierce conservative in politics, and intensely opposed to all forms of liberalism." The hymn first appeared in 1854 in Croly's own hymnal, Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship. It was originally titled "Holiness Desired."

Each stanza contributes an important truth for our spiritual benefit:

Stanza One-A desire to change the focus of one's life from things temporal to things spiritual. - Spirit of God, descend upon my heart: Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move. Stoop to my weaknss, mighty as Thou art, and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

Stanza Two-The total dedication of one's self to God. - Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King? All, all THine own-soul, heart and strength and mind. I see Thy cross-there teach my heart to cling: O let me seek Thee, and O let me find.

Stanza Three-A prayerful concern for knowing fully the Spirit's abiding presence - Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh; teach me the struggles of the soul to bear-to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh; teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Stanza Four-A most beautiful metaphor of a Spirit-filled life: "my heart an altar, and thy love the flame." - Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame: The baptism of the heav'n descended Dove-my heart an altar and Thy love the flame.

For Today: Psalm  51:10, 11;John  15:26; Romans  5:5; 8:1-4; Ephesians  4:29, 30

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I Am His And He Is Mine

Category: Amazing Grace

Your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians  3:3

Spiritual maturity is a growing appreciation of God simply for who He is. Only then can we begin to revel in our eternal union with Him. This realization gives all of life a different perspective. Life takes on a new dignity, worth, and meaning. Even nature is viewed differently-"earth around is sweeter green..." Learning to abide in Christ means that we live with a calmer, more relaxed attitude because we rely on God rather than ourselves-"things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest."
John Wesley often spoke of this kind of life as "living with a loose rein." Our union with Christ also makes us victors when we realize that "while God and I shall be, nothing in life can ever separate us from this eternal love relationship. (Romans  8:35).

The author of this text, George Wade Robinson, was a pastor of Congregational churches in England. The composer, James Mountain, was an Anglican minister who became greatly influenced by the Moody-Sankey campaigns in England in the early 1870's. Mountain later devoted his life to the work of evangelism both in Great Britain and world-wide. "I Am His and He Is Mine" first appeared in James Mountain's collection,, Hymns of Consecration and Faith, published in 1876. The truths this hymn presents so well become more meaningful each time we sing it.

Loved with everlasting live, led by grace that love to know-Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so! O this full and perfect peace, O this tansport all divine-In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

Heav'n above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green; something lives in ev'ry hue Christless eyes have never seen! Birds with gladder songs o'erflow, flow'rs with deeper beauties shine, since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest; closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast! O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign, while He whispers in my ear-I am His and He is mine.

His forever, only His-Who the Lord and me shall part? Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart! Heav'n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline, but while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.

For Today: Song of Songs  6:3; John  14:1-8; 15:9-11; Galatians  2:20

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The Wonder Of It All

Category: Amazing Grace

What is man that You are mindful of Him, the Son of Man that You care for Him? Hebrews  2:6

What many Christians need today is a rebirth of wonder and awe. We know the gospel intellectually, but it seldom reaches our emotions and will. We take the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ merely as theological concepts without letting them grip our inmost being. And the wonder that this great God knows, loves and cares for us doesn't often thrill us as it should. We even become very blase when we witness a life that has been dramatically transformed by the love of God. Our spiritual condition can be likened to those Christians at the church in Laodicea mentioned in Revelation  3:14-22: "neither cold nor hot"-just lukewarm. We need to recapture the wonder of it all.

George Beverly Shea, one of the all-time favorite gospel singers, gives this account of the writing of this hymn in his book Songs That Lift the Heart:

England figures in the story behind this hymn written in 1955. I was on my way to Scotland for meetings here aboard the S.S. United States bound for Southampton when inspiration came from conversation with another passenger. He wanted to know what went on at our meetings and after detailing the sequence of things at a typical Billy Graham Crusade meeting, I found myself at a loss for words when I tried to describe the response that usually accompanied Mr. Graham's invitation to become a Christian. "What happened then never becomes commonplace...watching people by the hundreds come forward...oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all." "I think I should," he answered. Then he wrote these words on a card and handed it back to me: THE WONDER OF IT ALL. "That sounds like a song to me." Later that night, I wrote words on that theme and roughed out a melody to go with them.

There's the wonder of sunset at evening, the wonder as sunrise I see; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is the wonder that God loves me.

There's the wonder of springtime and harvest, the sky, the stars, the sun; but the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is a wonder that's only begun.

Refrain: O,the wonder of it all The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me. O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me.

For Today: Psalm  8; 2 Corinthians  5:19; Ephesians  2:10; 3:19

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O Day Of Rest And Gladness

Category: Amazing Grace

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.... Hebrews  4:9-11

Christopher Wordsworth, a nephew of the renowned English poet, William Wordsworth, reminds us in this hymn that since God rested after His acts of creation, we who are made in Him image also need a day of rest and spiritual renewal. We need the encouragement and fellowship of other believers to keep our lives aglow for God. The way we use the Lord's Day reflects our true devotion to God. Very early in the Christian era, the first day of the week replaced the Jewish Sabbath as the day of worship because it was on Sunday that the resurrection took place. Although we do not observe it according to the many set rules such as the Jews had for their Sabbath, Sunday should always be a special day of refreshment and of giving honor and worship to our God.

Christopher Wordsworth was an Anglican bishop, a noted scholar, and a distinguished writer. He composed 127 hymn texts that were intended to teach the truths of Scripture and encourage worship. "O Day of Rest and Gladness," his only hymn widely used today, focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity. In the second stanza, the triune Godhead is compared to three important events or a "triple light" that occurred on the first day of the week: The creation of light (Genesis  1:1), the resurrection of Christ, and the advent of the Holy Spirit. In the final stanza, Wordsworth addressed each member of the Godhead by name, as the church raises its perpetual voice to "Thee, blest Three in One."

O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light, O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright: On thee, the high and lowly, thru ages joined in tune, sing "Holy, Holy, Holy," to the great God Triune.

On thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth; on thee, for our salvation, Christ rose form depths of earth; on thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heav'n; and thus on thee, most glorious, a triple light was giv'n.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest, we reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blest. To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son; the Church her voice upraises to Thee, blest Three in One.

For Today: Genesis  1:3-5; Psalm  118:24; Isaiah  58:13, 14; Revelation  14:13