Posted by: rcottrill | May 20, 2019

In Heavenly Love Abiding

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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: Anna Laetitia Waring (b. Apr. 19, 1823; d. May 10, 1910)
Music: Seasons, by Felix Mendelssohn (b. Feb. 3, 1809; d. Nov. 4, 1847)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: You’ll notice in the Cyber Hymnal that at least nine different tunes have been used with this hymn. I’m most familiar with Mendelssohn’s tune Seasons. (In using this tune, the last line of each stanza is repeated.)

In 1957, the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army came over from England on a North American tour. I had the privilege of hearing them live, when they came to Ontario. They’re consistently ranked as one of the world’s great concert bands. You can hear them play Mendelssohn’s tune here, on a historic vinyl LP, made in connection with the tour.

The word abide is associated with the word abode, referring to a dwelling or home–a place that should awaken warmly positive thoughts. However, many in our world have far from an ideal home life. When some think of home, strife, deceit, violence and fear come to mind. Home is not somewhere they love to go, but, sadly, a prison they long to escape.

Home should be a place where each family member is accepted and valued as an individual. A place of peace and harmony, where all receive support and comfort. A place of mutual affection, where the truth is spoken in love. A place of nurture and learning, of happiness and joy. A place where others beyond the immediate family are welcomed, but also a place of security and protection from those who would harm us.

In particular, a Christian home is one that recognizes the presence of God, and where hearts are tuned to trust in Him, and obey His Word. Charles Spurgeon said, “When home is ruled according to God’s Word, angels might be asked to stay with us, and they would not find themselves out of their element.” Using the words with which this article began, who would not delight to abide in such an abode?

When we turn to the Scriptures, we find the Lord Jesus using the word abide a little differently, to speak of a spiritual reality. In teaching He gave in the upper room, before He went to the cross, Christ uses the word nine times in six verses (Jn. 15:4-10). Years later, John would have more to say about this kind of abiding in his first epistle.

The Lord said believers are to “abide in My love [in fellowship with Me]” (Jn. 15:9). And since it is spoken of as something we’re to do, it lays a responsibility on us. To understand what’s involved, it’s helpful to consider what’s sometimes called the Christian’s position and condition.

Our position has to do with our legal standing before God. I am a citizen of Canada; that’s my legal position. For the Christian, God views us as being in Christ, having His perfect righteousness credited to our heavenly account (II Cor. 5:21). That’s our position, and as such we are unfailingly surrounded by the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).

Our condition (our daily conduct) should be in harmony with that, but it isn’t always. Just as I can break Canada’s laws and disgrace my position as a citizen, so our condition as Christians is sometimes not what it should be. That’s why God provides for our forgiveness and cleansing when we confess and forsake our sin (I Jn. 1:9). It’s in this sense that we need to consciously abide in the love of Christ.

In daily experience we’re to settle down and be at home in His love, maintaining fellowship with Him. We do this by living consistently, day by day, in obedience to the Word of God. The Lord says plainly, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jn. 15:10). “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I Jn. 2:6).

In 1850 Welsh-born hymn writer Anna Waring produced a hymn inspired by the 23rd Psalm. In it she expresses the joy of abiding in the love of the Lord, nurtured, protected, and at home in His loving care.

CH-1) In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear.
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?

CH-2) Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back.
My shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim.
He knows the way He’s taking, and I will walk with Him.

CH-3) Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen.
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free.
My Saviour has my treasure, and He will walk with me.

1) What are some of the blessings of abiding in the love of Christ?

2) What causes us to forsake that place of fellowship? (And what is the remedy?)
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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