Jesus

Living Hope - Apr 2019

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

- 1 Peter 1:3


The other day I was helping my dad load some things in his car when he asked me to go inside and grab a few specific boxes. After walking through the front door, I froze, literally not being able to recall a word he’d just said! Something about some boxes, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember which ones or where they were… even though he had just told me 20 seconds ago!

Have you ever had Gospel amnesia? Not that you couldn’t explain the Gospel if asked, but maybe you’ve lost sight of what Jesus has done for you in the moments you needed most to remember it? Or maybe life’s routines have settled you in to a rhythm of security and provision that the wonder of the Gospel has faded? Or perhaps the cares and temptations of this world have given you a clouded view of your need for God’s transforming grace?

One of Israel’s besetting sins was the plague of forgetfulness. Moses was constantly on them saying, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God” (Deut 8:11). When would they forget the Lord? Would it be in life’s most broken moments? Much more concerning was the temptation to forget God when life went well! So Moses warned that enjoying the gifts of their God while forgetting their God would ultimately be deadly for them. Instead, they must take care to remember what He had done for them. How he met their greatest need in their most hopeless moment, freeing them and feeding them.

As Christians, Jesus isn’t just the one we turn to when we have no other place to go, but He is the One we turn to every moment of every day. Because otherwise we will, no doubt, turn to ourselves or somewhere else for assurance and satisfaction. Will we have seasons of doubt and wandering? It’s likely. But that’s why we need to be constantly reminded of the Gospel. Constantly telling and retelling the wonders of God’s glorious grace in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Because we are so prone to forgetfulness.

Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 12.05.18 PM.png

Our hope is a living hope because we have a living Savior! Our hope is a living hope because we were dead but have been made alive in Christ! Our hope is a living hope, because Christ is the very sustenance by which we live. As we need a constant reminder of the Gospel, one of the most vivid pictures we have is the sacrament of Communion. At the Table we feast on Christ for spiritual nourishment (John 6:54).

I rejoice also that God has provided songs for the church throughout the generations that tell and retell the central story of the Gospel: the depth of our need and that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose for sinners like you and me. As we sing “Living Hope” throughout Easter, remember. Remember that there was nothing you could do to save yourself, but God sovereignly and graciously called you by name and breathed new life into your dead soul. What great mercy and what boundless grace! Praise be to the One who set us free! This is a story that can’t be over-told. For there indeed is no other name by which we can be saved than Jesus Christ, our living Hope (Acts 4:12).

Living Hope

Written by Phil Wickham & Brian Johnson

Lyrics:

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living Hope

Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I'm Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living Hope

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There's salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living Hope

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus, Yours is the victory!

© 2017 Phil Wickham Music, Simply Global Songs,
Sing My Songs, Bethel Music Publishing / CCLI #193208


My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness - Nov 2018

I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

- Psalm 69:30


What are you thankful for? We toss this question around each November as we gather with family and friends… and turkey! But it’s also a key question to consider when talking about singing from the heart.

We often express thanks for family, for friends, for jobs, homes, health, and of course, food. The Bible certainly tells us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18), so thanking God for physical blessing is appropriate and right. In fact, Paul constantly commands thankfulness to permeate all areas of our lives (Eph 5:20; Col 2:17, 3:15-17, 4:2, etc).  

Still, as Christians, what are we to be most thankful for? You probably know the answer, but in the busyness of our lives and ironically, the joys or the sorrows of our lives, we often forget it. The greater testimony of Scripture is a posture of thanksgiving first and foremost for spiritual blessing- that God has already given us! (Eph 1:3) Over and above success in this life, Jesus teaches His disciples to rejoice that their names are written in Heaven! (Luke 10:20) When Paul thanks God in 1 Cor 15:57, he refers to a “victory” in Christ that is ultimate- that dwarfs all earthly blessing or earthly pain.

So what are the benefits of being thankful? Thankfulness is the key to remembering God’s character, His goodness, and faithfulness- remembering His mighty acts and ultimately redemptive work through Jesus. Forgetfulness was one of the biggest plagues of God’s people in the OT. But thankfulness helps us remember the Gospel when we’re so easily tempted to forget it. Whether physical blessing is plentiful or seemingly absent, thankfulness for our abundant spiritual blessing helps us magnify God in all circumstances.  

In October, Pastor Rountree preached on joy in the Lord, saying,  “every gift given to you connects you to the Giver…the most significant thing about the gift is that it should bring you back to rejoice in the Giver!... Our God is so engaged with us and committed to us in giving us things, if we just rejoice in the things and don’t see that the things are there to connect us to Him, we’re gonna miss the joy… What it really does is engage us to Christ forever, both body and soul.” Simply put, thankfulness is the path to joy.

This Getty hymn focuses our hearts and minds on the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness

Written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Lyrics:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With power upon my heart

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace
Whose every thought is love
For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King
So I will give my life, my all
To love and follow him

© 2003 Thankyou Music / CCLI #193208


Come Thou Fount - Sep 2018

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

- 1 Corinthians 13:12


This is one of the tried and true hymns of the church, sung by generation after generation. These beautifully poetic lyrics express a heart-felt dependence on the Lord for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He will do (Phil 1:6). Though this world seeks to pull us away from God, the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has drawn us close, decisively securing our place as God’s children, redeemed by His blood (John 10:28).

Do you feel apathetic towards worshipping with God’s people? Ask for God to “tune your heart to sing His grace.” Do you doubt God’s goodness towards you? Look back and remember what Christ has done. Do you feel your heart wandering? Throw yourself on the mercy and grace of our good God. Believe the promise, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

A few years ago, I came across this lesser known 4th verse and immediately fell in love with it! Taking us on a journey as many of our hymns do, this final verse turns our affections towards the future, our heavenly hope in Christ. No longer will we suffer the stain of sin. No longer will we be prone to wander. No longer will we ache with pain. For will see the Lord face to face, with renewed hearts, worshipping in His presence (1 Cor 13:12). Oh, what joy! Indeed, come Thou Fount of every blessing.

What’s that word mean?

Ebenezer – “stone of help” from 1 Sam 7:12, a declaration and remembrance of God’s divine help

Interposed – to place in between, Jesus’ blood shields us from the righteous wrath of God

Fetter – A chain of restraint, expressing the desire for God’s grace to keep us ever so near to Him

Come Thou Fount

Written in 1758 by Robert Robinson
(4th Verse added by Bradford J. Brown)

Lyrics:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Full arrayed in the blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

© Public Domain