Posted by: rcottrill | October 7, 2016

God in Heaven Hath a Treasure

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Words: P.S. (the initials of a German author of whom nothing more is known); English translation by Emma Frances Shuttleworth Bevan (b. Sept. 25, 1827; d. Feb. 13, 1909)
Music: Gloaming, by Annie Fortescue Harrison (b. _____, 1850 or 1851; d. Feb. 12, 1944).

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Emma Bevan)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Emma Bevan was a skilled English translator who has given us many hymns from other languages including (also from German) Christ Receiveth Sinful Men. The beautiful tune the Cyber Hymnal uses was composed for the old love ballad In the Gloaming.

Many of us have had the experience–having the car run out of gas. The engine sputters and stops, and the gas gauge tells the tale. Then, we either have to make a cell phone call and wait, or walk to the nearest place we can get some gas. If it’s winter, that can be unpleasant, or even dangerous. Emptiness can be a problem.

However I heard about a family that visited a museum. For a few moments, mom and dad lost sight of their little boy, but his wail of distress soon caught their attention. He had his hand in a jar and was struggling to pull it out. Museum personal came running because the jar was an ancient artifact and valuable. They tried everything they could think of, but the crying child’s hand remained stuck fast.

With regret, they decided the jar had to be broken to free him. When that was done, it was discovered the boy’s hand had been clenched in a fist the whole time. Unknown to those trying to get his hand out, he had dropped a penny in the jar, then reached in to get it back. It was his unwillingness to drop the penny that made his hand too large to withdraw. In that case, an empty hand would have preserved an ancient treasure.

The lesson of these two incidents is that emptiness can sometimes bring difficulties, but we need to consider the blessing of emptiness, particularly in the latter case as it relates to our spiritual condition.

The New Testament has much to say about emptiness and fullness. God’s Word warns, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

On the other hand, we are encouraged with the fact that no service believers do for Christ is worthless. “Your labour is not in vain [empty] in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). However, mere words not backed up by action aren’t pleasing to God. If someone is destitute, and we say piously, “‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but [we] do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (Jas. 2:16)

As to being filled, the Bible uses a Greek word (pleroo) that can mean both filled and fulfilled. God calls for us to be “filled [and fulfilled] with the knowledge of His will” (Col. 1:9), and “filled [and fulfilled] with the fruits of righteousness” (Phil. 1:11). Bottom line, we are to be “filled [and fulfilled] with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). It’s the Holy Spirit’s work in every Christian to produce Christlike character, so that the Lord Jesus Christ may be seen through what we say and what we do.

There’s a wonderful hymn about this. The depth of devotional thought is inspiring, though we don’t even know the author. I encourage you to go to the Cyber Hymnal link and read it all.

The song speaks of Christ, now dwelling in heaven, as a “treasure” to God the Father, but whose likeness God wants to reproduce in us. But in order for the life and love of the Saviour to be revealed in us we need to be emptied of selfishness and prideful self-will.

CH-1) God in heaven hath a treasure,
Riches none may count or tell;
Hath a deep eternal pleasure,
Christ, the Son, He loveth well.
God hath here on earth a treasure,
None but He its price may know—
Deep, unfathomable pleasure,
Christ revealed in saints below.

CH-4) Earthen vessels, marred, unsightly,
But the treasure as of old,
Fresh from glory, gleaming brightly,
Heaven’s undimmed, unchanging gold.
God’s own hand the vessel filling
From the glory far above,
Longing hearts forever stilling
With those riches of His love.

CH-5) Thus, through earthen vessels only,
Shining forth in ceaseless grace,
Reaching weary hearts and lonely,
Beams the light in Jesus’ face.
Vessels worthless, broken, bearing
Through the hungry ages on,
Riches given with hand unsparing,
God’s great gift, His precious Son.

CH-6) Thus though worn, and tried, and tempted,
Glorious calling, saint, is thine;
Let the Lord but find thee emptied
Living branch in Christ the Vine!
Vessels of the world’s despising,
Vessels weak, and poor, and base;
Bearing wealth God’s heart is prizing,
Glory from Christ’s blessèd face.

Questions:
1) What does it mean, in practical terms, to be filled and fulfilled with the likeness of Christ?

2) Why does God want to implant this wonderful treasure in us?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Emma Bevan)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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