Hymns and God’s Word

By Jim Churchwell
Pastor
New Life Community Fellowship

For several weeks some old hymns have been on my mind and in my heart. I don’t know why, but that’s the way my mind works sometimes.

The first is “This Is My Father’s World.” One of the joys of being semi-retired is that I get to sit in my backyard and watch the seasons come and go. I also enjoy the birds that come to the feeder Another pleasure is riding my bicycle. When you see the world at the speed of a bicycle it looks different.

The entire natural world is our gift from our Heavenly Father. As Maltbie Babcock wrote, “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ear, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world! I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas. His hand the wonders wrought.”

These words come from a pastor who loved God’s creation and God’s word. He was a talented man who enjoyed walks in the country side and sharing God’s love with all who came across his path. This hymn gives us more than just a picture of the natural world. There is the truth of God’s love and His plan for creation through His Son, Jesus Christ. You can read the rest for yourself.

The next hymn that came to me was not written to be published, but was a word of encouragement written by Joseph Scriven to his mother who was ill. The poem he wrote was “What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

Though his own life was touched with tragedy, Joseph Scriven found ways of sharing with the less fortunate in his community. In fact, he made it his business to seek out those in need and lend a helping hand.

One of the joys of living in Patrick County all these years is to know the love of the people and their willingness to help others in need. While it isn’t always known to the world, many people are assisted regularly by their families, neighbors and friends. Many of the area churches and non-profit groups assist those in need all the time.

Often it has been my joy to join with several pastors and members of various churches in the area to offer aid to the widows and needy when the need exceeded my own ability. Every day I thank God for His love and care as it is expressed through the body of Christ.

Beloved, God is working all the time. He desires a real and personal love relationship with each person. He is our source and our provider. I believe if we would take to heart and practice what Scriven expressed, many of our needs and troubles would be met by the power of God.

Listen to this definition of the word “peace.” The Old Testament word is “Shalom.” David said, in the Psalm that most everyone knows, “The LORD is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” David knew the job of the shepherd. He went from being the caretaker of his father’s sheep to shepherd of the children of Israel. When we know God and believe that He loves us and cares for us, we can say, “The Lord is my shepherd. He is sufficient for all that I have need of. He is my Peace. He is my Shalom!”

Friends, talk to God. He gave you two ears and one mouth. He wants you to share with Him, but He also wants to talk with you. Listen. Wait on the Lord. Trust in Him. Remember, He doesn’t wear a watch, but His timing is perfect. Pray and read your Bible each day. If you don’t have a church where you can be used of the Lord, ask Him to lead you to a group of people who love God and His word.

Fanny Crosby wrote many of the old gospel hymns that are sung when people have the opportunity to request their favorite. “Blessed Assurance” is one that came about because of the music that Phoebe Knapp shared. Many songs/hymns are written as poems and the music added later.

As the story goes, Fanny’s friend, Phoebe Knapp shared some musical notes with her and said, “Fanny, what do you hear?” Out of her mouth came these words, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”

From the KJV John 6:47, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth in me hath everlasting life.” Verily means “in truth, certainly, confidently.” It means assurance.

First John, chapter 5, verse 13: “These things I have written onto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

The Gospel of John, chapter 20, verse 31, “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

My point is that you can have that assurance in your heart and your life that you have the promise of the Father through Jesus Christ. Recall the words of Jesus in John 3:16. We believe and we can receive the promise of the Father.

Paul wrote in Romans 10:17 “that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Somewhere along the way, we heard the word and believed. Many of you have heard the stories told by the members of Gideons International—stories of the power of God’s word to transform lives and redeem lost souls. Our heavenly Father came to seek and to save. All who are reading this and know Jesus as their own personal Savior and Lord know the power of God’s word to change hearts and lives.

One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” My friends, through the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit He will open our hearts to hear Him and know Him, whom to Know is Eternal Life.

My prayer is that you realize that you live in God’s world, and that He is closer than any friend or brother, and that you can have the assurance of eternal life now. It isn’t about what is going to happen someday, but it is the life in Christ that we can live right here and now!

For years I have read Psalms and Proverbs monthly. Those words provide a foundation for the Holy Spirit to use and help me grow in faith and resist the enemy. My friend told me one day that he had a prescription that he took for his spiritual health. Daily he read God’s word! An old minister is quoted as having said, “God’s word will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from God’s word.”

Beloved, what I am trying to say is that it is important to read God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding. Believe and receive all that God has for you. Thank you for taking the time to read this word. It is my prayer that God will use this to encourage you and grow your faith.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

(Special thanks to Kenneth W.. Osbeck, “101 Hymn Stories.”)

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