Sing, Meditate, Be Glad

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“I will sing unto Yahweh as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in Yahweh.” Psalm 104:33-34

Here is one of my favorite texts in all of the Bible. How precious are these words, and all of this psalm. Surely you can feel the exuberance of the psalmist in writing of our “very great” Creator (v. 1). Indeed, all creation loudly proclaims Yahweh’s praise (v. 24). Note in our text that we are to sing “to” the Lord, meditate “of” him, and be glad “in” him! Those little words describe experimental Christianity about as well as words possibly can. Correct? Surely, by the Holy Spirit’s blessing, you see this and feel its spiritual power!

The elect of God are not afraid to sing. They may not have great voices or have much harmony, but they still sing “to” the Redeemer (he’s our audience). We often “sing to the Lord” riding down the road, don’t we? We sing in our homes, we sing at work, as well as in church services with other believers. We humbly sing “as long as we live.” We cannot do otherwise.”Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God” (Isaac Watts). We cannot sing unless we truly know Christ! Without Christ we only sing the world’s ditties. But true children of God get excited about the songs of Zion, which bring joys, gladness, and holy rejoicing to God’s people beyond expression (1 Peter 1:8). Our meditation “of” the Savior is a daily delight, the psalmist calling it “sweet.” Holy meditation is never sour or boring, though some may think it is. For sure, John Newton was right when he wrote, “Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know.” Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is known from quickened hearts!

“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). The psalms are full of Yahweh’s praise (like Psalm 104), so we gladly sing them. We regularly sing hymns like “How Great Thou Art,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.” What a wonderful spiritual song is “Amazing Grace,” one of the most beloved of God’s children. How precious are the “spiritual songs” of the Old Testament (Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32, 1 Samuel 2, etc.). All true hymns truly praise “HIM” who is the Savior!

Come, poor sinners, come away;
In meditation sweet,
Let us go to Golgotha,
And kiss our Savior’s feet.

Him, your fellow-sufferer see;
He was in all things like to you.
Are you tempted? So was He.
Deserted? He was too.
                   Joseph Hart

Jesus, before Thy face I fall,
My Lord, My Life, my Hope, my All;
For I have nowhere else to flee,
No sanctuary, Lord, but Thee.
                       Samuel Medley

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A Scripture Meditation by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

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Afflictions Are Limited

alone-boy-child-256658 (1)A Scripture Meditation by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

“Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Nahum 1:12

The entire human family, including God’s elect, will at times suffer various afflictions; however, our great and wise God, “according to the multitude of his mercies,” assures us that they are limited (see Lamentations 3:31-33). The rod does not last forever. Just as the prophet Nahum (“comfort”) gave a message of comfort to the nation of Judah in the seventh century B. C., revealing that Jehovah would eventually remove the Assyrian rod from their land, so too we are assured that the trials and sorrows of God’s people will one day come to an end: “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Thus we have this comforting promise to us in the New Testament:”Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Note, “receiving!” 

It was C. H. Spurgeon who once said, “Our Father in heaven takes away the rod when his design in using it is fully served.” Yes, whatever that “design” is, our merciful God will some day take it away. So, let us “be of good cheer,” looking to our Lord Jesus Christ alone, who knew all about afflictions of soul and body when hanging on the tree of Calvary as our Substitute. Dying for his people, “the just for the unjust,” he was identifying himself with us in all of our afflictions, according to 1 Peter 2:23-24; 3:18. What wondrous love, mercy, and condescension this was from our precious Savior!

Whatever trials we are facing today, let us learn anew that “in the faith” we must look beyond our present circumstances to a brighter day. Satan, our enemy and adversary, will not win in the end, so we are admonished: “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:9-11).

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.”
John Newton (Gadsby’s #295)

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A Riddle

One of my most viewed posts comes from people looking for the answer to this riddle. Can you solve it without finding the answer?

GraceSyllables

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I am just two and two, I am warm, I am cold,
And the parent of numbers that cannot be told.
I am lawful, unlawful — a duty, a fault,
I am often sold dear, good for nothing when bought;
An extraordinary boon, and a matter of course,
And yielded with pleasure when taken by force.

William Cowper (1780)

Note: I’ve provided the answer in the Comments

Behind the lines

William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) had severe bouts of depression throughout his life, but the answer to the riddle is not typically thought of as depressing.

Cowper (1731-1800) was a poet and hymn writer and his most famous hymns are, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” “O For a Closer Walk with God,” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

He was good friends with John Newton (1725-1807) and included this riddle in a letter he wrote to him. Their joint hymns…

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Recommended Reading: Newton On The Christian Life

One of the best books on Christian living that I’ve read in 2015 is Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life) by Tony Reinke.

Reinke does the research to glean Newton’s pastoral letters and his book is full of practical, God-centered, Christ exalting instruction. It will give you those much needed gut punch reminders, while gently pointing you back to Christ and our need for the gospel.

Below are some of my favorite quotes and highlights from the first five chapters. I urge you to pick up a copy and enjoy the combo of Reinke and Newton.

“The Christian life is not comfortable. God makes us no promises to remove difficult circumstances, or alleviate our pains, or protect us from suffering, but he does promise sufficient grace for all our wants and needs.”
~Tony Reinke

“Grace sustains the bruised reed, binds up the broken heart, and cherishes the smoking flax into a flame. Grace restores the soul when wandering, revives it when fainting, heals it when wounded, upholds it when ready to fall, teaches it to fight, goes before it in battle, and at last makes it more than conqueror over all opposition, and then bestows a crown of everlasting life.”
~John Newton

“All scenarios we face in this life are navigated by a Scripture map which always seek to point the Christian soul to the all-sufficient Christ.”
~Tony Reinke

“In ourselves we are all darkness, confusion, and misery; but in him there is a sufficiency of wisdom, grace, and peace suited to all our wants. May we  ever behold his glory in the glass of the Gospel.”
~John Newton

“Sometimes we open the Bible and everything just seems flat and dull. At this point we engage in a fight for joy, a fight for faith to cling to what is true and what is supremely satisfying.”
~Tony Reinke

“Nothing undercuts the Christian life like Christ-amnesia — thinking we can live safely for a moment without Christ, without his atoning blood, and without renewed communion with him. ”
~John Newton

“When we fail to trust God, the difficulties of life loom larger, sting harder, and weigh heavier.”
~Tony Reinke

“The job of the sin-sick Christian is to repent and turn from sin and press into Christ for continued healing. In him we find our Infallible Physician for our sin-sick souls.”
~John Newton

Physician of my sin-sick soul,
To thee I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by thy grace.
~John Newton

May you find healing and be strengthened to fight on as you journey through life while clinging to God’s Word and his amazing grace.

 

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Of the many hymns written by John Newton (1725-1807), I think this is one of the sweetest. Listed as Hymn 57 in the Olney Hymns Collection, Newton titled it The Name of Jesus, but as with many hymns most people recognize it by the first line. It was also included at the end of his autobiography, “Out of the Depths”, but it starts with the second verse.

I like a contemporary, Nashville version, performed by Matthew Perryman Jones. He doesn’t sing the complete hymn, but I think you’ll enjoy it more than the classical versions you may find.

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds,
In a believer’s ear?
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis Manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.

Dear name! the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place;
My never–failing treas’ry filled,
With boundless stores of grace.

By thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled,
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.

’Till then I would thy love proclaim,
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of thy name,
Refresh my soul in death.

The LORD Will Provide

John Newton (1725-1807) wrote the below and it’s listed as Hymn 7 in the Olney Hymns Collection. He wrote it in 10,10,11,11 meter, and it’s a great reminder and encouragement for us to trust the Great Provider.

Jehovah Jireh – The LORD Will Provide.

Though troubles assail and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail and foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide.

The birds without barn or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn to trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting, shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ’tis written, the Lord will provide.

We may, like the ships, by tempest be tossed,
On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost.
Though Satan enrages the wind and the tide,
The promise engages, the Lord will provide.

His call we obey like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers we have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide.

When Satan appears to stop up our path,
And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
This heart–cheering promise, the Lord will provide.

He tells us we’re weak, our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek we ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions, the Lord will provide.

No strength of our own, or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known the Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower for safety we hide,
The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide.

When life sinks apace and death is in view,
This word of his grace shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting with Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide.

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