Word for 2015: Nearer

Phoenix Park Pope's cross

Nearer. 

Nearer is all I long for.

A little closer to your heart.

Nearer to my LORD.

And two songs came to mind, and brought tears to my eyes. They express what wells in my heart as I reflect on this past year and look forward to the year to come…

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

And another song that came to mind today…

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Sometimes a song can say- even without words- what we feel, the passion and heart-felt joy or sorrow of a single moment-even a life-long prayer.

The deep desire for intimacy with a mysterious, loving, unfathomable, intimate God that created us all and desires to draw near to us!

He does the impossible.

And I need to hear that today.  Because some days I feel so broken and spent I need to know- to remember- to resonate in the truth that I don’t bear this burden alone.  And when I choose to I am rejecting the beautiful gift of God’s loving, sustaining presence.

The work of this day is simply inviting him in- moment by moment.  Oh, it is so simple friends, but how easily I forget!

I stumble and find myself in a pit I dug myself in- and even now- when I know how he longs to enfold me in my brokenness, I  struggle to turn to him in those moments when the ugliness of sin is showing- when my cracks are gaping wide.

And I hear his gentle, love-filled voice beckoning- come to me…

all you who are weary…

and I will give you rest.

By the grace of God, may we all rest in Him today.

One step toward Him- affirming once again- You are Lord, I need you.

One day- one moment at a time.

Come Lord Jesus.

Draw me nearer.

We Were Once Like You

We Were Once Like You  BY: John Newton

Shall men pretend to pleasure
Who never knew the LORD?
Can all the worldling’s treasure
True peace of mind afford?
They shall obtain this jewel
In what their hearts desire,
When they by adding fuel
Can quench the flame of fire.

Flaming Fires of...Firey...ness?

Till you can bid the ocean,
When furious tempests roar,
Forget its wonted motion,
And rage, and swell, no more:
In vain your expectation
To find content in sin;
Or freedom from vexation,
While passions reign within.

Facing reality

Come, turn your thoughts to JESUS,
If you would good possess;
’Tis he alone that frees us
From guilt, and from distress:
When he, by faith, is present,
The sinner’s troubles cease;
His ways are truly pleasant,
And all his paths are peace.

Cross & Clouds

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until his love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:
But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

May the Mind of Christ, My Savior

We sang this hymn at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) this week, and I was so touched by the words I had trouble singing.

The words of this hymn could easily be a daily prayer- so beautiful and based in Scripture.

1 Corinthians 2:11-16

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16for,

   “Who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?”

   But we have the mind of Christ.

Romans 15:1-6

1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

IMG_5459

May the Mind of Christ, My Savior

words by: Kate B. Wilkinson     music by: Arthur C. Barham-Gould

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

A favorite hymn of mine that I am taking time to meditate on as we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross during Holy Week.  I pray that it blesses you as well.

CHRIST CRUCIFIED

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Be near me when I’m dying, O show Thy cross to me;
And for my succor flying, Come, Lord, and set me free.
These eyes, new faith receiving, From Thee shall never move;
For he who dies believing Dies safely through Thy love.

Cross

Here is a YouTube video that has a choir singing the first three verses- in case you are not familiar with this Hymn.

He Is Able

Stepping Stones over the River Mole, Box Hill, Dorking
He is Able

He is able more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able more than able
To handle anything that comes my way
He is able more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able more than able
To make me what He wants me to be

This song has been running through my head today.  Just thinking again about Ephesians 3 and how often I limit God by not believing in the power available to me through Christ.

I pray that today, no matter where you are, what you have done, or how worthy you feel- that you would surrender to God.

To a love that heals, protects, and never fails- that will transform you and allow you to accomplish amazing things- through Jesus Christ- all for the glory of God.

Into the Garden

This was my Grandmother’s favorite hymn.  It is so fitting, since she was a private and more quiet person.  She wasn’t outspoken about her faith- but had a quiet wisdom and peace about her.

My Grandfather was always very vocal about his faith, and was just a very outgoing guy- he made friends everywhere.  They were such a perfect match for each other in so many ways.

Her quiet strength was the perfect balance for his outgoing boldness.

So, I am posting this in honor of her memory- and all the times when she sang this with the sweet knowledge of decades of meeting with her Savior- in the garden.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

Refrain:

And He walks with me, and He talks with me

And He tells me I am His own

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known

Into the Green at Hidcote Manor Garden

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

The Long Peonie Border at Penshurst Place

I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Summer Garden Scene at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire

God of Grace and God of Glory

Big Meadow, Skyline Drive (3)

 

We sang this hymn in church today.  And today was one of those days when this hymn became a prayer- my heart crying out to God for healing of our country- for a renewal of passion within us- to truly be disciples of Jesus.

For the church to rise up against those who scorn Christ and assail His ways- because they’re out there- even now- let us be vigilant to remember what Christ taught us.

Are we hungry for Him?  Do we see our need?  Oh, how I long for us to return to God with passion.

This portion esp. spoke to me- Bend our pride to Thy control. Shame our wanton selfish gladness, Rich in things and poor in soul- we are so rich in things in this country- but we too are pour in soul- for complacency and apathy are often the bedfellows of a comfortable existence.

I pray that this hymn touches you today like it has me- and that we start today, even now, to stir a hunger within ourselves to know God- to be obedient- to study His Word, to pray for salvation for those around us- to reach out and serve faithfully.

Rock Gap Rd, West Virginia

Revive us oh God

 

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.

I’d Rather Have Jesus

I love singing this song.  It has been a favorite since I was young- it is a good reminder to me of what is truly important in this life.  When my priorities get out of whack or I am just in a complaining, glass half empty kind of mood- I find it helpful to sing some of my favorite songs- and this one frequently comes to mind.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;

I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Because He Lives

I love to sing.  I usually sing more during the day than talk- esp. now that I am home with my kids.  I have always loved hymns- and this has been one of my favorites for years.  The second verse is much more precious now that I have children.

I can remember several times in my life when this hymn brought great comfort- and singing it has also lifted me greatly during times of deep sadness and grief.  I think the words stir up emotions because of all the memories associated with them.  All the times when God has been faithful.  When He has comforted me in times of trouble.  I pray that the words bring hope and comfort to you too.

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

Words: Bill & Gloria Gaither