Posted by: rcottrill | April 27, 2016


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Words: Elizabeth Anne Sweet Ortlund (b. Dec. 3, 1923; d. Nov. 4, 2013)
Music: All Saints, by Henry Stephen Cutler (b. Oct. 13, 1825; d. Dec. 5, 1902)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Anne Ortlund)

Notes: Anne Sweet was the daughter of army Brigadier General Joseph B. Sweet. Her husband, Ray Ortlund was the pastor of a large church in Pasadena, California. Mrs. Ortlund wrote some two dozen hymns and tunes. This particular song is entitled Macedonia, after the vision Paul had, summoning him to preach the gospel there.

“A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10)

The tune All Saints (or All Saints, New) is also used with Bishop Heber’s great hymn, The Son of God Goes Forth to War, the hymn for which it was originally written.

One definition of a “visionary” is that it is a person with unusually keen foresight, the ability to see future possibilities and how to make them a reality. Men such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were visionaries in that sense.

When the Bible speaks of “visions” it usually means something different. The Scriptures describe those who received messages from God in the form of supernatural, dream-like revelations, such as that of Paul’s above, or those John had of future things in the last book of the Bible (cf. Rev. 9:17). But that is not our subject here.

Rather, it is the foresight spoken of above, but with a spiritual dimension. The person with spiritual vision views things from God’s perspective. Where others may see only obstacles and potential defeat, he or she has the God-given ability to see past the horizon of human limitations, and to visualize the exciting possibilities of what the Lord can do.

Two hundred years ago, a poor English shoemaker named William Carey began to consider the church’s responsibility to reach the world for Christ. When he presented his ideas to a group of pastors, one said irritably, “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine!”

But that is not what the Bible says. The Lord Jesus challenged His followers to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15). And Christ said that through the enabling of the Spirit of God, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In this work, “the love of God compels us [urges us on]” (II Cor. 5:14).

William Carey persisted. Through his preaching, and writings, and largely by his influence, a new Mission Board was formed. Later, Carey himself went to India as a missionary, and accomplished great things for God. He is rightly called the Father of Modern Missions. He is also an example of what the Lord can do through a willing servant who has spiritual vision. Pastor and author Charles Swindoll says of this God-given faculty that it is:

“Spawned by faith, sustained by hope, sparked by imagination, and strengthened by enthusiasm. It is greater than sight, deeper than a dream, broader than an idea.”

One day, Saul’s son Jonathan challenged his armour bearer to join him in attacking a Philistine garrison–just the two of them! He said: “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (I Sam. 14:6). Jonathan, like William Carey, had the spiritual vision to realize what God could accomplish, even through small numbers or weak instruments.

It’s estimated that 153,000 people die each day, across the world. Many, many of these do not know the Saviour. What can we do to reach them with the gospel which God’s Word calls, “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16)? How can the church advance the cause of world missions?

That was the passion of author and musician Anne Ortlund. Mrs. Orlund wrote a hymn that became the theme song for Billy Graham’s World Congress on Evangelism, held in Berlin, Germany, in 1966. The song says,

1) The vision of a dying world
Is vast before our eyes;
We feel the heartbeat of its need,
We hear its feeble cries:
Lord Jesus Christ, revive Thy church
In this, her crucial hour!
Lord Jesus Christ, awake Thy church
With Spirit-given pow’r.

4) The warning bell of judgment tolls,
Above us looms the cross;
Around are ever-dying souls–
How great, how great the loss!
O Lord, constrain and move Thy church
The glad news to impart!
And Lord, as Thou dost stir Thy church,
Begin within my heart.

1) Do you have spiritual vision regarding how the Lord might be able to use you in His service in the coming months?

2) What will you do to bring your vision into reality?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Anne Ortlund)


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