The Throne Of Grace

This encouraging hymn by Samuel Medley (1738-1799) is based on Hebrews 4:16 and can be found in Gadsby’s Hymns (#382).

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Dear Lord! to us assembled here
Reveal thy smiling face,
While we, by faith, with love and fear,
Approach the throne of grace.

Thy house is called the house of prayer,
A solemn sacred place;
O let us now thy presence share,
While at the throne of grace.

With holy boldness may we come,
Though of a sinful race,
Thankful to find there yet is room
Before the throne of grace.

Our earnest, fervent cry attend,
And all our faith increase,
While we address our heavenly Friend
Upon the throne of grace.

His tender pity and his love
Our every fear will chase;
And all our help, we then shall prove,
Comes from the throne of grace.

Dear Lord, our many wants supply;
Attend to every case;
While humbled in the dust we lie,
Low at the throne of grace.

We bless thee for thy word and laws;
We bless thee for thy peace;
And we do bless thee, Lord, because
There is a throne of grace.

The Prayer of Jehoshaphat

As we approach the National Day of Prayer, below are six principles on what to do when we don’t know what to do, as found in 2 Chronicles 20. This is not a six-step prayer formula with guaranteed success. Instead, it’s six-steps for praying through tears with hope and dependence as we wait on the Sovereign.

In the passage, Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, was completely overwhelmed as a great army was approaching prepared for war. So, what do we do when we’re overwhelmed with the battles of this life and the way forward seems impossible?

1. Seek the LORD
The first thing Jehoshaphat does is seek the LORD through prayer and fasting:

Jehoshaphat was alarmed and set his face to seek the LORD. And he proclaimed a fast throughout Judah. So the people of Judah gathered to seek the LORD, and indeed, they came from all the cities of Judah to seek Him (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

2. Acknowledge His Power
Next, he acknowledges where his Hope comes from:

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the LORD, in front of the new courtyard and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You (2 Chronicles 20:5-6).

3. Acknowledge Our Weakness
He admits weakness, but not without hope:

Our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast army that comes against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You (2 Chronicles 20:12).

4. Eyes On Him!
This brings other verses to mind:

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net (Psalm 25:15).

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

5. Wait On Him
The people stood waiting (their wait was short, but the wait could be long) and then God spoke through Jahaziel:

Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel…

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you” (2 Chronicles 20:13-17).

6. Worship While Waiting
Even before victory, they believed, worshipped, and sang. The good news is we know that Christ has won the ultimate victory, but we often have to fight for the right perspective during our darkest hours:

Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:18).

….And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed (2 Chronicles 20:20-22).

Engage
Comment with a praise story of how God answered your prayer as you trusted Him through a difficult situation.

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)

The Prayer of Eliezer

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It should be a familiar story, but let’s call it Mission Impossible: The Bachelor. It’s the one where Abraham sends his trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24). Abraham doesn’t want Isaac to marry a local Canaanite so he sends his servant on a mission to his hometown some 600 miles away. From a modern perspective it’s simply outrageous. How does a beautiful young lady (Rebekah) leave her family, and everything she’s ever known, to take off on a camel caravan across the desert to marry a man she’s never met? Yet, we know that’s exactly what happens. It’s all part of God’s plan and the story of the servant reveals much more.

The Faithful Servant
So who is this servant fellow? He’s not actually named in the passage, but he’s described very well. He’s the oldest servant in Abraham’s household and he’s in charge of all that he had. In today’s language, he would be the top employee, power of attorney, executor of his estate, and trusted advisor. Many scholars believe it’s Eliezer, mentioned in Genesis 15:2 as Eliezer of Damascus, the only heir of Abraham’s house (before Isaac was born). His name means: God is help.

Now, it’s time for the mission and he accepts it by swearing to do all that Abraham asked. It’s a mission Abraham believes God will bless and even send an angel before him, but also one where Abraham acknowledges that if she doesn’t come back his oath would be fulfilled. Eliezer’s name is no accident, he would need God’s help. It’s only the lineage of the Messiah at stake, no pressure!  

The Obedient Servant
In verse 10 Eliezer makes plans like an elderly wise man would. He prepares to go with gifts and a small caravan of camels. Since he’s from Damascus, he most likely never traveled to Abraham’s hometown in Mesopotamia. He must have become a servant when Abraham first arrived in the land of Canaan, not long after God called Abraham to leave his country and his kindred. If true, he has little knowledge of the terrain of where he’s going, but I imagine he researched it and planned it out in incredible detail, keeping in mind he had to bring a young lady back safely.  

From the plans in verse 10 to the destination in verse 11, the story progresses quickly, completely skipping his journey details, to where the camels are kneeling near a well outside the City of Nahor. However, let’s pause and consider that long journey, can you imagine the obstacles faced, the adversity overcome? Can you sense his relief of finally arriving at the target city, exhausted and thirsty, expectant, knowing the time of day the daughters would come to draw water, but unsure of what would happen? He made it in faithful obedience, but we only have one verse to know he made it.

The Prayerful Servant
Then we come to verse 12 and find Eliezer’s unique prayer, where he’s not kneeling like the camels, instead, he’s standing, eyes open, watching. This is the first recorded prayer in the Bible. There are other conversations between God and man, other visions noted, but this is the first prayer. It may seem odd that the first prayer is not from a well known character, but it’s not really that strange because we know that God chooses the humble and less obvious characters throughout the Bible to accomplish His purposes.

Another thing the writer (Moses) doesn’t tell us is how frequent Eliezer prayed during the mission, or if he was a prayer warrior. I imagine he prayed many, many times on the way, but what sticks out in the absence of this knowledge is that his faithful, obedient action precedes his specific prayer for guidance.

And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Genesis 24:12-14).

And here we must ask, is this a legitimate way for us to pray? Isn’t he asking for a sign and putting God to the test? What if this isn’t God’s will?

The Bible contains many prayers where God honors specific requests. One that comes to mind is Samson’s prayer in the Book of Judges where he asked for strength one last time (16:28). Of course, God, in His wisdom, may not grant our specific requests. For instance, Paul’s request to remove the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8). Thus, God may answer prayers exactly how we pray them, may not answer them (but like Paul – His grace is sufficient), or may answer them in a way that we don’t expect, but we should not be afraid to be very specific when we pray. In fact, we’re encouraged to go boldly before the throne of grace to find Help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Like Eliezer, we should make plans, seek wisdom, and take action, all while seeking the Lord’s guidance in prayer. Then we must trust our Great God to direct our steps and trust Him with the outcome.

The Worshipful Servant
We know that Eliezer was ultimately successful in his mission. Verse 15 tells us that before he finished praying Rebekah came out with a water jar. Then she does everything that he prays to confirm – she’s the one! And what’s amazing is before he even started to pray she had to be on her way. What a faithful God! When we see God’s faithfulness through the lens of answered prayer what does it cause us to do? Worship! And that’s exactly what he did:

The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things (Genesis 24:26-28).

May we all be encouraged to be faithful, obedient, and prayerful in the service of our Master. The next time you face a seemingly impossible situation, remember how God has been faithful in the past, that He is faithful for today, and we can trust Him to be faithful in the future. Thus, we can act, pray, and cling to His promises. And when you see His faithfulness through answered prayer, worship!

 

Song of Joy

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Come clap your hands and sing a joyful song
For the Lord is King over all the earth
Let all nations bow before the throne
And all people have glory on their tongue

Song of Joy
Receive our words of praise
Song of Joy
Who called us from the grave
Song of Joy
The victory is won
Song of Joy
Death could not hold the Son

Sing for salvation with shouts of amen
Sing of great mercy again and again
For He has ascended with trumpet sound
Make a joyful noise in a psalm to Him

Seated supreme over heaven and earth
Reigning forever on His royal throne
Highly exalted let each one proclaim
Their own song of grace to describe His worth


Behind the lines

Psalm 47

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!
(Psalm 47:6-7)

 

 

Higher

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Who can tell of all your deeds
Who can declare all your praise
Who can know all that you know
Who can love like you, O Lord

Your ways are higher than our ways
Holy, full of grace
Your wrath and mercy coexist
Perfect love in justice
You came to die so we might live
Paid it all, gave yourself
We praise your name, Most High
You are Higher

You comfort us in our distress
You never break your promises
You are more than we can receive
We’ll learn from you eternally

It’s undeniable
Your thoughts are beyond us all
Incomprehensible
Your greatness cheers our soul

Behind the lines

Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORDor declare all his praise?
Psalm 106:2

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

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