Immanuel! God with us! Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!
Jesus has come, He has risen, and He will come again.
Immanuel! God with us! Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!
Jesus has come, He has risen, and He will come again.
Trust and Obey
Words: John H. Sammis, in Hymns Old and New (Chicago, Illinois: Fleming H. Revell, 1887).
Music: Daniel B. Towner
[In 1886] Mr. [Dwight] Moody was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts, and I had the pleasure of singing for him there.
One night a young man rose in a testimony and said, I am not quite sure…but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey. I just jotted that sentence down, and sent it with the little story to the Rev. J. H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.
– Daniel Towner
This beloved hymn has been running through my head for weeks now. We sing it often at our Ladies Book Study, and we “happened” to sing it in this past Sunday’s church service.
If you don’t know the tune, you can listen to it at this site: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/582
Read through the words of this hymn again. They offer much of the peace of God’s Truth. “To be happy in Jesus,” translates, to me, the peace that He offers when we give it all to Him and rest in Him. Truth trumps feelings, in my book. But sometimes God gives us both: when we abide in His Truth, He blesses us with the feelings, the satisfaction, of His peace.
In the last verse a picture is painted of sweet fellowship in Heaven. This is common among hymns of great faith: the last verses capture the certain hope we have of walking with Jesus in Heaven.
But I think that Jesus wants us to have Heaven on Earth with Him.
Luke 17.20, 21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” See also Matthew 12.28, Colossians 4.11, and Romans 14.17, among many others.
“What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.”
This is something we can have right here on Earth, and it’s what Jesus always wanted for us. When we set our minds on things above (Colossians 3.2); when we take on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16); when we put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61.3); when we abide in Him (1 John 4.13, 1 John 2.27); when we lay it all on His altar (verse 4 of our hymn); then we can walk through any facet of our life here with the complete joy and peace of Jesus Himself.
I want the peace of Jesus. I imagine Jesus when He was walking here, day by day, in perfect peace with His Father. He offers us this peace: John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
So, whether we have sunshine and lemonade and roses, or whether we have cancer and fires and deteriorating relationships: “What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.” We can walk in the light of His Word, and He will shed glory on our way.
In conversation about prayers, we sometimes hear, “God answered my prayer…” or, “God didn’t answer my prayer…” depending on what the outcome was.
God delights in prayer, God answers prayer – always. He answers in the blessing of communing with your heart. He answers in the blessing of drawing you closer to Him (James 4.8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…). He answers with the blessing of peace in your soul, comfort from knowing it all rests in His loving, intelligent, merciful design.
And when you pray…
In Jesus’ prayer, He does not mention asking for a list of what we’d like to see happen. Jesus’ prayer is about giving God glory, acknowledging Him as our holy King, asking for our needs (as He sees them) to be met, and asking forgiveness and protection. He ends with, again, acknowledging God’s sovereignty, power and glory.
As you pray, set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3.2).
Are we allowed to ask for stuff? Absolutely! If a friend is sick, we can ask for God to heal, and give the friend and doctors wisdom. But the bottom-line prayer is, “Thy will be done.” We can also pray that the friend receive God’s comfort and peace, and that the friend rests in the joy of knowing s/he is in the loving palm of God’s Hand.
We can always pray for salvation.
If someone is in danger of losing a job, we can pray God to intervene in the situation to either keep the job or that God will lead to another solution that none of us can think to imagine.
Maybe we are part of the solution.
I often pray, in supplication for others, for God to send good friends for support and comfort. Often God calls me to be that friend. Sometimes it’s not me.
As we pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5.17), we talk to God throughout our day. I may be looking for an item, and ask God to show me where it is. Yes, we can pray for big things and small. Life and death; keys and schedules.
What do we think prayer is?
Do not fall into the sin of believing that “God answered my prayer” is the same as “I got what I wanted.”
In speaking of our answered prayers, we can say things like:
“God answered my prayer. My cancer returned.”
“God answered my prayer. My friend died.”
“God answered my prayer. He said No to a new car for now.”
“God answered my prayer. A blizzard came in, and we couldn’t visit our family.”
All of these are answers to prayer. God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. Thank Him.
James 4.3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
We are not called on, anywhere in God’s Word, to pray for our selfish wants. Yes, someone may want a new house or to win the lottery or to get a promotion. I think God wants to settle matters of the heart / soul / spirit first. He may answer with a No if your wish does not give Him glory, or if it would ultimately be to your detriment. When we pray and wish for things, we can only see a short-range, fuzzy picture of how things might turn out if it comes true (some of us have very active imaginations!). God sees the bigger, more perfect picture: He knows the future, He knows our hearts, He knows what is best for each of us, He knows what will bring us blessing, and He knows what will bring Him glory.
Consider prayer in James 5.14 – 16: Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The Greek word used for “save” in verse 15 has the meaning “to save, i.e. Deliver or protect.” This does not necessarily mean the sick person is given bodily health. I believe God is interested in the spirit and soul more than the body. The prayer of faith shall save the sick. We pray in faith for salvation, salvation of our eternal souls. That soul shall God raise up, either to continue blessing those of this world (in sickness or in health); or raise up to eternity to be with Him. And, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him!!! Oh, glorious Lord!
God’s Word contains perfect prayers. Here are a few that we can pray for ourselves and others:
Hebrews 12.20, 21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1.16 – 19 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
Ephesians 3.16 – 19 I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth 19 of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
And this great prayer from Revelation 7.12 Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
May God bless you richly in your prayers.
Philippians 4.4-7 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Note the progression of events:
~ sigh ~ Don’t we all want peace in our hearts and minds? Family, friends, the world may rage around us, but we can have peace in our hearts and minds. We can display that peace to all around us.
Have you noticed that peace calls to peace? Peace – as in “Jesus is our Peace” – is tangible and evident in our lives. When we encounter someone else who has that same Peace, we notice; it draws us. Others are drawn to us who have that Peace. We have kindred Spirits.
We can all achieve that peace in our hearts and minds through thanksgiving.
Talk to God. Bring Him your thoughts, your supplications, your fears and worries and dreams. And in all of it, give Him thanks. Give bountifully. We can thank God in all things and for all things because we know that He loves us infinitely and unconditionally. We know that He really is taking good care of us. Our perspective isn’t the same as His, so we don’t see it all. But He does. And He is wrapping His loving arms around us with everlasting tenderness.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4.2
In God’s Word, He instructs / adjures / commands / encourages us to pray. The good news is, This is for EVERYONE! Everyone can pray, regardless of limitations, circumstances, or economic status.
How to pray? Pray for what?
First, prayer is simply talking with God. In prayer, we can praise and worship Him, speak words of adoration, and talk with Him about how grateful we are for Him, His presence, His gifts, and His ways. The Psalms are great for finding words of expression. God’s Word always carries power, and praying God’s Word back to Him carries power.
Be sure to make time for confession and repentance as you pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to search you
Prayer includes supplication, which is bringing needs to our Father’s throne. The needs can be for ourselves or loved ones, friends, family, neighbors, community, state, country, and world.
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.
Tools for prayer / supplication:
Remember, too, that prayer is talking WITH God. Be sure to watch and listen carefully, because He answers. He speaks to us in so many ways.
I was having one of those days, a day full of this and that and several of the “other things.” Nothing horrendous or devastating, but you know how it is, when things just keep coming and coming, and then suddenly it’s too much.
So I took a walk.
At first I was too involved with my own issues to notice anything around me. But as I talked with God, He opened my eyes to the stunning beauty around me. The sky was a brilliant blue. The fall leaves displayed their glorious colors in the trees all around; and the fallen ones offered a friendly crunch beneath my feet.
I turned a corner and had to smile. I knew that on this corner was a house whose owner had decided, instead of a big lawn, to plant corn. I’d watched it grow all summer. Now the harvest was over, the brown cornstalks stood straight and bare. And intertwined were morning glories!
Leave it to God to bless me with beauty.
I began really looking around me. I think trees in the fall are a lot like people. Some jump the gun six or eight weeks ahead of time, changing colors to be the first to show off.
Others go half-and-half, not sure where they stand, whether in summer or fall.
Some bide their time, lurking; then, like a firecracker in the span of a day, go all-in.
Some are hold-outs, clinging to all the green they’ve got for as long as they can.
Some are so brilliant they’re almost electrically charged.
Others are more muted in their colors.
And some are content to drop ’em and go to bed early.
Besides the morning glories, there were other late-bloomers.
By the end of my walk, I realized I still had the burdens, but God had blessed me with His joy. Like Psalm 81.6a I removed his shoulder from the burden. Burdens are still there, but God removed my shoulder for a while. He’s going to show me how to deal with each one, in His time.
Ps 111.10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.
Here’s the premise (and the promise):
Fear the Lord. If you do, you get wisdom. The more you obey His commandments, the more understanding you get.
Romans 13.1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
God Himself has instituted and ordained our governing powers; they are our authorities. Furthermore, God holds the hearts of our authorities: Proverbs 21.1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Romans 13.2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Clearly, we are to obey our governing authorities: Their authority comes from God, and we are to obey God. Damnation is a severe consequence of resistance.
Is it ever right to resist authority? In Acts 5, the apostles were commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name. They responded in verse 29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Why should we submit to our governing authorities if we don’t like what they do? Don’t we live in a democracy? Don’t we have the right to protest? After all, our governing authorities gave us that right.
Romans 13.3-5 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Before you protest, before you rant and rave:
What if you’re right? What if you are acting in peace (bringing others to God in love)? Edifying others? Glorifying God? The apostles, and Jesus Himself, certainly stirred things up, but they were obedient, always giving glory to God and honoring Him and His Ways. 2 Corinthians 4.2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
God divides. His truth divides, His Word divides: Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Allow God to decide the divisions. That is not our job; it is His. We are to speak the truth in love, and let God work in the hearts of others.
We are to remain steadfast and loyal to God alone. If He prompts to enter into political activities, then enter in. However God directs you, work in obedience to Him. But remember: God instituted our governing authorities; He guides our authorities with their hearts in His hands; and He loves us abundantly, overwhelmingly, and perfectly.
Knowing that, knowing God, is peace.
Okay, time for something completely frivolous and unimportant:
I rode my bike to the Post Office this afternoon to mail a birthday card to my big brother. On the way back home, I passed this little shop called Crazy About Cupcakes. Turns out, they sell a lot more than cupcakes.
I had heard of bubble refreshers, but had never tried one, or even seen a picture of one. I asked a lot of questions. I learned that you order for three preferences:
I ordered unsweetened tea for my base drink (I can’t tolerate very sweet drinks any more). Passionfruit was my drink flavoring; and mango was my choice for the bubbles.
The bubbles are constructed of gelatin balls filled with flavoring. They hang out at the bottom of the cup. The straw has a large enough opening to lift one bubble at a time, if you suck on it.
So you can drink the drink, or you can draw up a bubble.
When you get a bubble, a gentle pressure with your tongue is enough to burst it. The bubbles were quite tasty, with deep flavor.
Because I was on a bike ride, I ended up drinking the drink all up, and had lots of bubbles (and a little ice) left at the bottom of my cup. It wasn’t convenient to use the straw to get at all those bubbles, so off with the top, and I got a spoon to finish the job.
The whole thing was altogether refreshing. While I endorse the drink, I should add that this is not a frugal treat. If you are looking for a bargain, stick to water or homemade smoothies. But if you’re out and about and you have an opportunity to try one of these, I recommend it.
Have you had a bubble refresher?
Peace may not be what you think it is. It is not the index and middle finger raised, with or without a smile. It is not everyone accepting each other as they are; it is not tolerance. It is not remaining silent just to “keep the peace.” It is not forcing onto others what we think is right (even if we are right).
eiréné: one, peace, quietness, rest (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace
Peace is when we are one with God; when God has joined all the parts together to make us whole. In the beginning there was peace because, in the beginning, there was God. God was whole, He was the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In His peace, He created man, and man had peace with God – man was whole.
Peace means standing right before God. It means that God can look upon you and accept you into His heavenly home. Peace is a clean line of communication between you and God. Peace is when God looks upon you as holy.
Man broke himself when he sinned. We all are born in sin and are broken (Psalm 51.5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.).
Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He is the only means of standing righteous before God. Jesus is the only clean line of communication with our Heavenly Father. Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
Isaiah 53.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
When we have peace with God, we may or may not have “peace” with our fellow man. We can act as Peacemakers (and that is our God-given task); how others receive us, and our words, is between them and God.
God’s grace is the means of peace with Him. Read the words of the hymn, Grace Greater Than Our Sin. Realize the sin inside you. Repent of it, receive salvation through Jesus Christ. Have peace with God. Then, whatever may be going on in the world around you, you will experience deep, satisfying, unalterable, unexplainable peace.
Grace Greater Than Our Sin (Julia Harriet Johnston)
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?