Posted by: rcottrill | October 22, 2018

Channels Only

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Words: Mary E. Maxwell (no information)
Music: Ada Rose Gibbs (b. Oct. 5, 1863; d. Apr. 16, 1905)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The hymn, Channels Only, appeared in the early twentieth century, credited to Mary E. Maxwell, for whom we have no definite information. In the first Wordwise Hymns link above, I make a suggestion of who Maxwell might be. However, Dick Adams, on the Cyber Hymnal, offers a sound opposing argument. We just don’t know. And there’s an interesting irony in that. She is the “channel” of the hymn, but remains hidden, leaving the message to be the focus (cf. Jn. 3:30).

Of Ada Gibbs, the composer of the tune, we do have some interesting information. She was a contralto soloist with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, in Britain, a group that staged many of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas. But at some point, Gibbs seems to have had a spiritual transformation that headed her in a new direction. She left the Company, and joined the Salvation Army. When evangelist Dwight Moody came to Britain, she sang at his meetings.

T here’s an old story about an elephant crossing a rickety bridge. Once across, a flea on the elephant’s ear said, “My! We sure shook the bridge that time, didn’t we, brother elephant!” But in fact the tiny insect could not share much credit with the massive beast for that. And in human affairs it’s worth asking where credit belongs.

There have only been three men, in the history of professional baseball, who’ve hit more than 700 home runs in their careers: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. But though it was a wooden bat, in every case, that hit the ball, no one would credit the bats with this feat. It was the exceptional athletes wielding them who did it.

When Moses was a shepherd in Midian, God called him to go to Egypt and deliver his people from slavery. “What is that in your hand?” the Lord asked him (Exod. 4:2). It was his shepherd’s rod. And with it, he’d perform a number of miracles that would bring the Israelites out of bondage, finally enabling them to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exod. 14:16, 22). Yet the power did not come from the rod, but from Almighty God (Exod. 15:1-2).

Later, in Canaan, the Midianites oppressed Israel, and the Lord chose a man named Gideon to lead the Israelites against them. Gideon was fearful, and reluctant. “He said to Him, ‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man’” (Jud. 6:15-16). And he did. The presence and power of God is what made the difference.

The late evangelist, Billy Graham, preached the gospel for over six decades. With his many evangelistic meetings, and through radio and television, more than two billion people heard him preach. It’s estimated that 2.2 million of those attending his crusades responded to the gospel invitation to trust Christ as Saviour. Yet Billy did not take the credit for this. Those who were genuinely saved responded to the Word of God, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Graham was merely an instrument in the hands of God, a channel through whom He could work.

The Apostle Paul had it right. Writing to the Christians at Corinth and Thessalonica, he said:

“I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (I Cor. 2:3-5). “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit” (I Thess. 1:5).

It’s the same with any spiritual and eternal work accomplished for the Lord. When we are willing channels of His blessing, good things happen. But, “as it is written, ‘He who glories, let Him glory in the Lord….Our sufficiency is from God” (I Cor. 1:31; II Cor. 3:5). As the Lord Jesus told His disciples, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

The present a hymn deals specifically with this. It says:

CH-1) How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

CH-2) Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation
All Thy loving message sound.

CH-3) Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.

Questions:
1) How have you served as a channel of God’s blessing in the past week?

2) What do you hope and desire the Lord to do through you in the days ahead?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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