As a young child, my parents had my sisters and I memorize Genesis 4:7 to teach us the important lesson of mastery over sin. They would remind us of this verse when we were tempted to fall into the sins that children often give into: sibling tiffs, selfishness in wanting our own way, and talking back to our parents, just to name a few.
Let me ask you a question: how many of you can think of a time when you were hurt by another person’s judgment of you? This is an easy question to answer. I am sure most of us can quickly come up with more than one example of times where we have experienced this kind of hurt in our lives. Let me ask you another question: how many times have you been guilty of being the one passing the judgment? Now, this is a harder question to answer. Most of us don’t want to admit to ever having being found on this side of the equation. But now is the time to be completely honest with ourselves.
Praise is not merely a component of our life, it is meant to be demonstrated with every aspect of our life all the time. Often we think praise comes in the form of singing hymns or pouring out a prayer of praise to the Lord. I don’t mean to say that it is not these things; it most certainly is! But it can be so much more! The Lord has been showing me over the last few months how every activity I do throughout my day can serve as an act of praise to Him! We have so much to be thankful for that if we were to fill the entire day with praising God for what He has done in our lives and the blessing He has bestowed upon us, we still would run out of time!
In our culture, it can be easy to assume we are no longer tempted by idols. Since we don’t encounter golden idols set up in shrines on a regular basis, this must have been a stumbling block for the ancients alone, right? I thought this myself until I was in high school when all of a sudden God opened my eyes to see all the idols I had set up in my own life. I was shocked to discover that while I wasn’t physically bowing down to a graven image, I had areas of my life that I was in a sense “worshiping.”
As Christians, I believe we are often not open enough with sharing our faith to a lost world. I know I personally need to greatly improve in this area of my faith. However, I think we need to be careful to not assume the approach to witnessing must be generalized across all Christians. It is true that some are called to lives of full-time ministry such as being pastors or missionaries. Some people would argue these occupations are the only ministries that witness and evangelize, but I would argue that are we not all called to lives of full-time ministry once we have accepted Christ into our hearts? It is my firm belief that we can be effective witnesses for Christ our Lord in whatever life He has called us into.
With the theme this month being “Resurrection,” I chose to write on a hymn most would say is an “Easter hymn.” Easter is the special day when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, as Christians, shouldn’t every day be Easter? Our lives should be lived as one continual celebration of Christ’s sacrifice and His triumph over the grave!
As I thought about what hymn to write on for this month’s newsletter on “Contentment,” my mom suggested “Blessed Assurance.” I think this hymn fits perfectly with the chosen theme. Knowing we have “blessed assurance” of our relationship in Christ, we can be content despite the trials life will contain (Hebrews 10:22). True contentment can be attained when we put our entire trust and hope in God’s goodness and love. If we are seeking fulfillment and happiness from anything but God, we will never gain true contentment in this life. The two women who composed the lyrics and music for this hymn both faced many trials in this life.
As I worked on this article, I read over the words to “Higher Ground.” I was struck by the wonderful message and application this hymn has for me, especially at this point in my life. I have recently been struggling with the concept of all the distractions we face in life that draw our attention and focus off of Jesus Christ. I think this is one of Satan’s ways of attacking us and weakening our relationship with our Lord.
Grace. What does this word mean to you? As I try to think of what “grace” means to me, I am overwhelmed with the vastness of all its aspects. It is a very broad topic, with many sides and applications; but at the root of it all is something very simple. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This hymn reminds me of the majesty and authority of God. When I sing or play this hymn, I cannot help myself from being filled with the awe of God’s holiness and the joy that He loves me although I am a sinner! I cannot wait until the day when I can sing with the angels in heaven praises to my King!