Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Watts on Wednesday: Hymn 37 -- Proclaim Unparalleled Love and Arm With Heavenly Zeal

In Ephesians 5:15-20, Paul exhorts the saints in Ephesus to be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Therein he gives them commands on ways in which one does waste the time, then gives positive examples of ways in which ought to use their hours in these evil, finite days. One of the major ways that Paul commands us to “redeem the time,” and work out our having been filled with the Spirit takes up the entirety of verse 19. Here he lists an expression of being filled with the Spirit as “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,...”

Many of us, unfortunately, only engage in this activity of worshipping God on Sunday morning or Saturday evening. “The time,” Paul refers too is ALL the time--everyday. Therefore we ought to be engaged in the activity of worship on a daily basis, not just in the other forms of worship the Bible refers to (reading the Word, taking care of widows and orphans, preaching the gospel to the lost, prayer, etc.), but also as commanded here in Ephesians--singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

With that in mind I am going to try something new here. Every Wednesday I am going to post one of my favorite hymns from Isaac Watts. I have been including “The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts” in my daily readings/worship time for awhile now and have found doing so to truly lift my heart in love for God. Here is one I read today that put a “perma-smile” on my face. Watts’s hymns are only numbered not titled, and this particular hymn comes in two parts. If I were to give the first part of this hymn a title it would be a rephrasing of the first line of the third verse--“Proclaim Unparalleled Love.” The second part of the the hymn I would make a separate hymn out of and would give it the title “Arm With Heavenly Zeal” which is taken from the second line of the second verse. The scripture references below each title are the same Watts has listed as his inspiration for the words of the hymn.

Read the lyrics slowly and be conscious of the presence of God as you do so, making them a song of praise to Him, even if your mind isn’t capable of generating a melody to go with the verses. Saying them out-loud is also a helpful way to really make the force of the lyrics come to life. I pray that you are as blessed by this practice as I have been, and that they cause you to see the diverse excellencies of God more clearly and so worship Him more appropriately and make “the best use of the time.”

Proclaim Unparalleled Love (Part I)
Phil. 2:8,9; Mark 15:20, 24, 29; Col 2:15

The mighty frame of glorious grace,
That bright monument of praise
That e’er the God of love design’d,
Employs and fills my lab’ring mind.

Begin, my soul, the heav’nly song,
A burden for an angel’s tongue:
When Gabriel sounds these awful things,
He tunes and summons all his strings.

Proclaim inimitable love:
Jesus, the Lord of worlds above,
Puts off the beams of bright array,
And veils the God in mortal clay!

What black reproach defil’d his name,
When with our sins he took our shame!
He whom adoring angels bless’d
Is made the impious rebel’s jest.

He that distributes crowns and thrones
Hangs on a tree, and bleeds, and groans!
The Prince of Life resigns his breath,
the King of Glory bows to death!

But see the wonders of his power,
He triumphs in his dying hour;
And while by Satan’s rage he fell,
He dash’d the rising hopes of hell.

Thus were the hosts of death subdued,
And sin was drown’d in Jesus blood;
Thus he arose, and reigns above,
And conquers sinners by his love.

Who shall fulfil this boundless song?
The theme surmounts an angel’s tongue:
How low, how vain are mortal airs,
When Gabriel’s nobler harp despairs!

Arm With Heavenly Zeal (Part II)
Matt 5:16

Do I believe what Jesus saith,
And think his gospel true?
Lord, make me bold to own my faith,
And practise virtue too.

Suppress my shame, subdue my fear,
Arm me with heav’nly zeal,
That I may make thy power appear,
And works of praise fulfil.

If men shall see my virtue shine,
And spread my name abroad,
Thine is the power, the praise is thine,
My Saviour and my God!

Thus when the saints in glory meet,
Their lips proclaim thy grace;
They cast their honours at thy feet,
And own their borrow’d rays.

Are we the soldiers of the cross?
The followers of the Lamb?
And shall we fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?

Now must we fight if we would reign
Increase our courage Lord!
We’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they’re slain;
They see the triumph from afar,
And shall with Jesus reign.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thy armies shine
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do You Truly Love Jesus?

In his short, yet quite potent book “The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ” Thomas Vincent asks the eternally vital question “How may we know whether we have true love to Jesus Christ?” As an answer to this question Vincent suggests four ways in which we prove the truth of our love to Jesus:

1) By your desires after Christ’s presence
2) By your prizing and frequenting those ways wherein Christ is found, and seeking Him therein
3) By your love of Christ’s image
4) By your obedience to Christ’s commandments

Much could be said about all four of these proofs of our love for Christ (as Vincent himself does), but one particular section stood out to me as being deserving of particular and immediate attention--3) By your love of Christ’s image. In this section the wise-hearted Puritan states that the medium wherein we primarily view the image of God is His Word. It seems apparent, then, that the other three proofs hang on this proof, as we neither learn about the promise and nature of Christ’s promise but by this Word, nor can we obey His commands unless we know them, which comes by reading His Word. And certainly the major way “wherein Christ is found, and seeking Him therein” that is to be prized and frequented is God’s Word.

Yet what is so large in God’s Word that it truly magnetizes our affections, pulling us with an irresistible and massive gravity? Is it not Christ, from beginning to end? Vincent says it in his own, well articulated and thorough Words:

“Do you love the image of Christ on His Word? As Caesar’s coin bore Caesar’s image and superscription, so the Word of the Scriptures, which is the Word of Christ, bears Christ’s image and superscription.

Do you love the Scriptures because of Christ’s image which is upon them?

Do you love the Word of doctrine in the Scriptures because of the image of Christ’s truth and wisdom upon it?

Do you love the Word of precepts in the Scriptures because of the image of Christ’s holiness upon it?

Do you love the Word of threatenings in the Scriptures because of the image of Christ’s righteousness upon it?

Do you love the Word of promises in the Scriptures because of the image of Christ’s goodness, grace, and love upon it?

You have Christ’s Words in your Bibles, and sometimes sounding in your ears, but does the Word of Christ dwell in your hearts? You receive Christ’s word in the light of it; do you receive His Word in the love of it?”

The image and presence of Christ is made manifest to our souls when we are born again (John 14:21), and from then on our souls see Him “face to face” as Moses did (Deut. 34:10) in some measure. At the same time it is by the Word of God that we come to see many of the infinite facets and the diverse excellencies of the one our souls have come to rest in. We know that we really love Jesus because the same Spirit that causes us to love His (Jesus’s) presence within us is the same Spirit that breathed out the Scriptures. The Spirit that first moved men to write is, in fact, Jesus Himself (Romans 8:9) and so we MUST love His Word as much as His presence.

The Word should cause us to love Jesus in us more, and Jesus in us should cause us to love His Word more till we are caught up in this endless cycle of love for our savior Jesus.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hymns of Hosannah

Here are a few hymns from Isaac Watts singing hosannah (please help, save) to Jesus our King:

Hymn 89

Hosannah to our conquering King!
The prince of darkness flies;
His troops run headlong down to hell,
Like lightening from the skies.

There bound in chains, the lions roar,
And fright the rescued sheep;
But heavy bars confine their power
And malice to the deep.

Hosannah to our conquering King!
All hail, incarnate love!
Ten thousand songs and glories wait
To crown they head above.

Thy victories and thy deathless fame
Through the wide world shall run,
And everlasting ages sing
The triumphs thou hast won.

Hymn 42

Hosannah to king David’s Son,
Who reigns on a superior throne;
We bless the Prince of heav’nly birth,
Who brings salvation down to earth.

Let ev’ry nation, ev’ry age,
In this delightful work engage;
Old men and babes in Sion sing
The growing glories of her King

Hymn 43

Hosannah to the Prince of grace;
Sion, behold thy King;
Proclaim the Son of David’s race,
and teach the babes to sing.

Hosannah to th’ incarnate Word,
Who from the Father came;
Ascribe salvation to the Lord,
With blessings on his name.

Hymn 44

Hosannah to the Son
of David and of God,
Who brought the news of pardon down
And bought it with his blood.

To Christ th’ anointed King
Of David’s ancient blood!
Behold, he comes to bring
Forgiving grace from God:

        Let old and young
        attend his way,
        And at his feet
        Their honours lay.

Glory to God on high,
Salvation to the Lamb
Let earth, and sea, and sky,
His wondrous love proclaim:

        Upon his head
        Shall honours rest,
        And ev’ry age
        Pronounce him bless’d.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jesus Cast A Look On Me

Here are the lyrics to a beautiful hymn written by John Berridge I was listening to today from an excellent arrangement by Red Mountain Church on their album “Depth of Mercy”:

Jesus Cast a Look on Me

1. Jesus cast a look on me,
Give me sweet simplicity
Make me poor and keep me low,
Seeking only Thee to know

2. All that feeds my busy pride,
Cast it evermore aside
Bid my will to Thine submit,
Lay me humbly at Thy feet

3. Make me like a little child,
Of my strength and wisdom spoiled
Seeing only in Thy light,
Walking only in Thy might

4. Leaning on Thy loving breast,
Where a weary soul can rest
Feeling well the peace of God,
Flowing from His precious blood

5. In this posture let me live,
And hosannas daily give
In this temper let me die,
And hosannas ever cry!

Monday, April 11, 2011

As The Sun is Full of Light

I love the Holy Spirit. I believe the Holy Spirit is the most overlooked and misunderstood person of the Trinity. Some ignore him altogether whereas others portray him in the most horrible and fanatical way. Most, who are Christians, seem to have him relegated to this passive, inactive presence that supposedly exists within them from the moment they profess Jesus to be Lord, but then are completely unaware and oblivious to his presence from then on. How it is possible to have the Spirit of God--the Spirit of Christ--living IN you and not be aware of him is completely beyond me. I dare say it is impossible.

Though much more can be said about the beautiful, glorious Holy Spirit whom Jesus said would be better for us to have than for himself to stay; I have been reading this prayer/poem from “Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions” that says it all very well:

O Holy Spirit,
As the sun is full of light,
the ocean full of water
Heaven full of glory,
        So may my heart be full of thee.
Vain are all divine purposes of love
and the redemption wrought by Jesus
except thou work within,
        regenerating by thy power,
        giving me eyes to see Jesus,
        showing me the realities of the unseen world.
Give me thyself without measure,
as an unimpaired fountain,
as inexhaustible riches.
I bewail my coldness, poverty, emptiness,
        imperfect vision, languid service,
        prayerless praying, praiseless praise.
Suffer me not to grieve or resist thee.
Come as power,
to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me thine;
Come as teacher,
leading me into all truth, filling me with all understanding;
Come as love,
that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy,
to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as light,
illuminating the Scripture, moulding me in its laws;
Come as sanctifier,
body, soul and spirit wholly thine;
Come as helper,
with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier,
bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos.
Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me,
and make me redolent of thy fragrance.