Posted by: rcottrill | August 18, 2017

I Want to See My Saviour First of All

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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 Willard Peterson (b. Nov. 1, 1921; d. Sept. 20, 2006)
Music: John Willard Peterson

Wordwise Hymns (John Peterson)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Peterson)

Note: John Peterson was the preeminent gospel song writer of the mid-twentieth century. His many songs, such as It Took a Miracle, Surely Goodness and Mercy, Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul, and It’s Not An Easy Road, and his many choir cantatas, have been used by evangelical churches all over the world.

Setting the right priorities in life seems to be a concern for many. That’s clear from the flood of books and web articles dealing with the subject. Priorities come into play in life’s big decisions, but also in our daily tasks. The man who’s embarrassed to find he’s painted himself into a corner failed to plan wisely which part of the floor to paint first.

There are some ways to establish priorities that are not advisable. One is to respond to everything that comes up the moment it comes up. But bouncing from one thing to another in this way can lead to a disordered and stressful existence. And it means we’re being victimized by what someone has called the tyranny of the urgent, and in the process we may be missing what is most important.

Another technique is to pick the easiest or most enjoyable task to do first and leave the more difficult or unpleasant until later. Admittedly there can be some benefit to this. It gets us moving. Writers use this technique when they suffer from writer’s block. An article is urgently needed, but they can’t think of what to write, or how to start. Experienced authors tell them to write anything–a letter to a friend, a grocery list, anything. Get the creative juices flowing. Then go back to the article.

But the danger of leaving difficult or less enjoyable tasks until later is that “later” may never come. Like tomorrow, it’s always being pushed off into the future. In the extreme, an opportunity may be lost forever, or the strength to do what we need to do may trickle away, having been expended on lesser things.

As to the spiritual priorities of the believer, Ecclesiastes reminds us that setting those should start early in life. This will begin as the task of parents (Prov. 22:6), training the child to:

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecc. 12:1).

The Lord Jesus said we are to:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the things of life that tend to worry us so much] shall be added to you….Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matt. 6:32-33).

And Paul expressed his priority this way:

“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14)–a way of saying that he wanted to finish well.

And let’s project our thoughts into the future. What will be our priority when we get to heaven? We often speak of the beauty of heaven, and the fact that we will have new resurrection bodies that won’t get sick or wear out. But what’s heaven’s priority? Surely it is being with the Lord, knowing Him, and honouring Him. When John received his revelations about the future, he was summoned to heaven, and he tells us what he saw first:

“Behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:1-2).

Fanny Crosby wrote a song in 1891 about her priority on reaching heaven. One stanza says,

Through the gates to the city
In a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages
I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Saviour first of all.

About half a century later John Peterson expressed that in his own way.

1) In heaven there are many things I’m longing so to see,
Its beauties surely will my soul enthrall;
But when I’m ushered to the realms of blest eternity,
I want to see my Saviour first of all!

I want to see my Saviour first of all,
Before on any others I would call;
And then for countless days
On His dear face I’ll gaze,
I want to see my Saviour first of all.

Both of these saints of God–who have meant so much to the church with their music ministry–are now experiencing that fellowship with the Lord they to which they looked forward so ardently.

1) What are your priorities for today?

2) What are your priorities for your life as a whole?

Wordwise Hymns (John Peterson)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Peterson)


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