Posted by: rcottrill | May 26, 2017

Though Troubles Assail Us

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: John Newton (b. July 24, 1725; d. Dec. 21, 1807)
Music: St. Denio, by John Roberts (b. Dec. 22, 1822; d. May 6, 1877).

Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The slaver and blasphemer who was wonderfully saved, later becoming a pastor and a hymn writer, John Newton’s story is better known than that of most hymn writers, partly because of the great blessing of his best known song, Amazing Grace. But he wrote many others. The Cyber Hymnal currently lists 288 of them.

For some years now the American government has been struggling to find a health care program that meets the needs of its citizens. The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) has helped many, but others have found it far too costly. Suggested changes or improvements have become a proverbial political football.

It’s been interesting to listen to the debate and hear American politicians comment on Canada’s health program. Some wistfully dream of adopting something like the Canadian system in the States. Others are harshly critical and dismissive of what we’re doing. At times, neither faction seems to be particularly well informed.

Tommy Douglas began a provincial hospital insurance program in Saskatchewan seventy years ago. Over the decades to follow, that’s been extended and expanded until now Canadians enjoy almost universal and comprehensive national health care, dubbed Medicare. No, it’s not perfect, and sometimes wait-times for treatment are a problem. But it’s great to have the coverage when it’s needed.

In an infinitely richer and more profound way, it’s wonderful to experience the loving care of God. In the material realm, many times the Bible speaks of how the Lord provides for His creatures in the wild (e.g. Ps. 104:10-11; Matt. 6:26). He also provided an abundance of food in Eden for our first parents (Gen. 2:16), and food to sustain the Israelites forty years in the wilderness (Deut. 2:7).

Jesus spoke of how God sends the sunshine and rain, as they’re needed. And one day Christ gave a supernatural example of His ample provision, feeding thousands of people with “five loaves and two fish” (Matt. 14:15-21). Later, there came a time when He provided for our eternal salvation, through His death on the cross (I Cor. 15:3)–once more, a richly abundant provision, just what’s needed (Eph. 1:7).

There was a foreshadowing of Calvary two millennia before, in the life of Abraham. After God promised that his descendants would become a great nation, the Lord told him to offer up his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice–Isaac, the one through whom the great nation was to come (Gen. 17:19). It was the supreme test of the depth of Abraham’s faith (Gen. 22:1-2), and he trusted that God knew what He was doing–even believing that, if necessary, the Lord would afterward raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-17).

But when Abraham raised the knife to slay his beloved son, God stayed his hand (Gen. 22:11-12). It was then that Abraham saw “a ram caught in a thicket by its horns,” and he “offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (vs. 13). That ram provides an early illustration of the principle of substitutionary death, pointing forward to the death of Christ, “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), sacrificed in place of guilty sinners.

Abraham named the place (in Hebrew) Jehovah-Jireh, meaning “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” Many centuries later, hymn writer John Newton (1725-1807) wrote a beautiful hymn around that revealing title. One stanza draws the parallel to Abraham’s faith in leaving Chaldea, at God’s command, to go to a land he had never seen (Heb. 11:8):

CH-4) His call we obey, like Abrah’m of old:
We know not the way, but faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers, we have a sure Guide,
And trust in all dangers, ‘The Lord will provide.’

Indeed, the Lord will provide, as we trust in Him, provide just what’s needed, and when it’s needed. Other stanzas of the hymn say:

CH-1) Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail us and foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The promise assures us, ‘The Lord will provide.’

CH-7) No strength of our own and no goodness we claim;
Yet, since we have known of the Saviour’s great name,
In this our strong Tower for safety we hide:
The Lord is our power, ‘The Lord will provide.’

Late in life, when Newton’s memory began to fail, he told a friend, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” Just what’s needed!

1) Can you think of some way the Lord provided, in a special way, for you or someone you know, during the past month?

2) Other than eternal salvation, what are two or three of the greatest provisions the Lord has given believers?

Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal


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