Posted by: rcottrill | April 16, 2018

I Love Thee, Lord Jesus

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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: author unknown (see note below regarding Florie Evans)
Music: Alfred Barney Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1916; d. Nov. 9, 2001)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Al Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org (Al Smith)

Note: Annie Florence (“Florie”) Evans, whose heart-felt testimony is said to have marked the beginning of the Welsh Revival, is sometimes described in stories as a little girl. However, this does not seem to be accurate. She was born in 1886, so was in her teens at the beginning of the revival in 1904. She enlisted to go to India as a missionary in 1908, but was forced to return due to ill health. She died on December 13th, 1967.

As for Al Smith, he was an outstanding gospel song writer and publisher for decades. The present song is found in the hymnal he edited, Living Hymns. For a fuller biography of Smith see Mr. Singspiration.

Get a fellow talking about his favourite sports team and you’ll notice it. Words tumble over one another as he tells you about them, on and on. His boundless enthusiasm reveals an interest in everything that happens to them. Even how he dresses–perhaps in a shirt displaying the team logo–proclaims a close emotional tie.

Another example. I was with friends one time, when a woman’s phone rang. The moment she answered, a significant change took place. A smile lit up her face, and her voice instantly became more intimate and affectionate. Her husband was on the line, and we all could see there was a bond between them, a relationship that was unique and personal.

This also applies to what it means to be a Christian. It’s more than a label, more than a religion, more than membership in a particular church, more than performing certain rituals. Through faith in Christ, the individual has entered into a personal and life-changing relationship with the Lord. As the Bible puts it, “To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). And Paul’s testimony was, “To me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

But some have lost their way on that score. Their local church has become a kind of social club, where they meet once a week to chat about one another’s jobs, business interests, how the kids are doing, and so on. The spiritual part of things has become more of a dead formality.

That’s how it was in the latter part of the nineteenth century in many mainline churches. There was an atmosphere of dead formalism, and a rejection of the truths of Scripture and its divine inspiration. As it was in the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-19) the Lord was virtually shut out. But then God intervened in a special way.

In Wales, a pastor stood before a group of young people and asked, “What does Jesus Christ mean to you?” “He’s the hope of the world,” one responded. “But that’s not what I’m asking,” said the pastor. “What does he mean to you?” Finally a girl named Florie Evans spoke up. She’d only been a Christian for three weeks. But with deep fervour and sincerity she said, “I love the Lord Jesus with all of my heart.”

Those simple words stirred the hearts of those present, and God used Florie’s testimony to begin a great spiritual awakening called the Welsh Revival (1904-1905). More than one hundred thousand men and women put their faith in Christ–especially remarkable, as this was a tenth of the population of Wales at the time. And meanwhile an equal number of lukewarm church members were spiritually renewed.

So, was this simply emotionalism or extremism gone wild? Or was it a genuine work of God? It’s possible both were involved. But even if there were excesses, many experienced a genuine ministry of God’s Spirit. Churches were packed for years to come, and whole communities were transformed.

In many towns, there was no longer any crime to deal with. Judges were given white gloves as a symbol they had no cases to try. Police forces, with little to do, formed men’s quartets to minister in church meetings. Many taverns went bankrupt. And down in the coal mines, there was a slow-down. The animals being used to carry out the coal stopped working because the men were no longer lacing their commands with profanity, and the beasts took awhile to understand them.

In 1971 a song was published, by gospel song writer Al Smith. It describes that warm heart relationship with Christ, using the inspiring words of Florie Evans as a refrain.

1) Peace like a river is flooding my soul,
Since Christ, the Saviour, has made my life whole;
Sweet peace abiding my portion shall be–
Jesus, my Saviour, is precious to me.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart;
For dying on Calv’ry, for giving me vict’ry,
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart.

If we find ourselves merely going through the motions, with no spiritual vitality and warmth of God’s Spirit, may our prayer be, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps. 85:6).

Questions:
1) What will be the evidence in a person’s life that he/she thinks of Christianity merely as religious duties, as church traditions, or as accepting a church creed?

2) What will be the evidence in a person’s life that he/she realizes the Christian faith involves an ongoing personal and loving relationship with the Lord?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Al Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org (Al Smith)


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