Amazing Grace Hymns

September 20

JESUS, THE VERY THOUGHT OF THEE

Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153
English Translation—Edward Caswall, 1814–1876

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1, 2)

This hymn text comes from the height of the Middle Ages, a period of history often scornfully called “The Dark Ages.” The spiritual and moral darkness of the church had reached a new blackness. The institution founded by Christ some 1,000 years prior was mainly degenerate and corrupt. The moral standards of many of its prominent leaders were characterized by disgrace and shame. Yet within this system of religious confusion, God laid it upon the heart of a dedicated monk to write a devotional poem about his Lord that has since become the text for one of the finest hymns in our hymnals. As was true then and now, God always has a remnant of true believers who maintain His eternal truths.

At an early age Bernard was known for his piety and scholarship. With his natural charms and talents, he had many opportunities open to him for a successful secular life. While still in his early 20’s, however, he chose the life of a monk at the monastery of Citeaux, France. Within three years Bernard’s forceful personality, talents, and leadership qualities were recognized, and he was asked to form other branches of this order throughout Europe. Within Bernard’s lifetime 162 other such orders were founded. One of these new monasteries was at Clairvaux, France, where Bernard was made its abbot or head. Here he remained until his death in 1153.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my breast; but sweeter far Thy face to see and in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, nor can the mem’ry find a sweeter sound than Thy blest name, O Savior of mankind.

O hope of ev’ry contrite heart, O joy of all the meek, to those who fall how kind Thou art! how good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this nor tongue nor pen can show—the love of Jesus, what it is; none but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou, as Thou our prize wilt be; Jesus, be Thou our glory now and thru eternity.

For Today: Psalm 66:2; 130:7; Jeremiah 17:7; Ephesians 3:19

Earnestly seek to be one of God’s faithful remnant—“salt” and “light”—keeping His truths alive for this generation to hear and believe.

Osbeck, K. W. 

EZC

  • Sing forth the glory of his Name: make his praise gloriousPsalm 66:2
  • Let Israel wait on the Lord: for with the Lord is mercy, and with him is great redemption. Psalm 130:7
  • Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. Jeremiah 17:7
  • And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

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Connect The Testaments

September 20: Measuring Out God’s Goodness

Habakkuk 2:6–3:19; Acts 18:1–28; Job 26:1–14

Although we don’t usually question God’s goodness, we do make assumptions about how He should act in the world. We expect God to use us in His work and to intercede on our behalf—and rightfully so, since those promises come from Him. But when we find ourselves in messy or uncertain situations, we sometimes run ahead of God. Frustrated with the waiting and the unknown, we risk making judgments about how well He is running the world.

As Habakkuk watches the destruction, violence, contention, and strife in Israel, he turns to Yahweh and makes bold demands: “Why do you cause me to see evil while you look at trouble?” (Hab 1:3). But by the end of the dialogue, he has changed his mind. He will rejoice in Yahweh “though the fig tree does not blossom, nor there be fruit on the vines; the yield of the olive fails, and the cultivated fields do not yield food, the flock is cut off from the animal pen, and there is no cattle in the stalls” (Hab 3:17–18).

Did Habakkuk merely give in to a hopeless situation? He didn’t gain any more information about God’s motives. But after his dialogue with God, his entire posture changed. The confidence in Habakkuk’s final prayer hinges on his acknowledgment of Yahweh’s power and His anger at the evil of those who disregard His ways. God has the situation under control; Habakkuk must simply wait.

We often associate waiting with inaction, but waiting is faith in action. Habakkuk chooses to rejoice and trust God in spite of his circumstances, and that decision shapes his new perspective: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Hab 3:18–19). Like Habakkuk, we are called to come before God in humility, waiting in faith on His timing and trusting in His goodness.

How are faith and trust in God motivating all your thoughts and actions?

REBECCA VAN NOORD

EZC

  • Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Ho, he that increaseth that which is not his? how long? and he that ladeth himself with thick clay? Shall they not rise up suddenly, that shall bite thee? and awake, that shall stir thee? and thou shalt be their prey? Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee, because of men’s blood, and for the wrong done in the land, in the city, and unto all that dwell therein. Ho, he that covereth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, to escape from the power of evil. Thou hast consulted shame to thine own house, by destroying many people, and hast sinned against thine own soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. Woe unto him that buildeth a town with blood, and erecteth a city by iniquity. Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts, that the people shall labor in the very fire? the people shall even weary themselves for very vanity. For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink: thou joinest thine heat, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest see their privities. Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and be made naked: the cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be for thy glory. For the cruelty of Lebanon shall cover thee: so shall the spoil of the beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the wrong done in the land, in the city, and unto all that dwell therein. What profiteth the image? for the maker therefore hath made it an image, and a teacher of les, though he that made it, trust therein, when he maketh dumb idols. Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake, and to the dumb stone, Rise up, it shall teach thee: behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath in it. But the Lord is in his holy Temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. A prayer of Habakkuk the Prophet for the ignorances. O Lord, I have heard thy voice, andwas afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the people in the midst of the years make it known: in wrath remember mercy. God cometh from Teman, and the holy One from mount Paran, Selah. His glory covereth the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise, And his brightness was as the light: he had horns coming out of his hands, and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth before his feet. He stood and measured the earth: he beheld and dissolved the nations, and  the everlasting mountains were broken, and the ancient hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. For his iniquity I saw the tents of Cushan, and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord angry against the rivers? or was thine anger against the floods? or was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses? thy chariots brought salvation. Thy bow was manifestly revealed, and the oaths of the tribes were a sure word, Selah, thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the stream of the water passed by: the deep made a noise, and lifted up his hand on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the bright shining of thy spears. Thou trodest down the land in anger, and didst thresh the heath in displeasure. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine Anointed: thou hast wounded the head of the house of the wicked, and discoveredst the foundations unto the neck, Selah. Thou didst strike through with his own staves the heads of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk in the sea with thine horses upon the heap of great waters. When I heard, my belly trembled: my lips shook at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: for when he cometh up unto the people, he shall destroy them. For the fig tree shall not flourish, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: the sheep shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no bullock in the stalls. But I will rejoice in the Lord: I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength: he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk up mine high places. To the chief singer on NeginothHabakkuk 2:6–3:19
  • After these things, Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth, And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, and his wife Priscilla (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and he came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them and wrought (for their craft was to make tents.) And he disputed in the Synagogue every Sabbath day, and exhorted the Jews, and the Grecians. Now when Silas and Timothy were come from Macedonia, Paul, forced n spirit, testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own head: I am clean: from henceforth will I go unto the Gentiles. So he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, a worshipper of God, whose house joined hard to the Synagogue. And Crispus the chief ruler of the Synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household: and many of the Corinthians hearing it, believed and were baptized. Then said the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Fear not, but speak, and hold not thy peace. For I am with thee, and no man shall lay hands on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. So he continued there a year and six months, and taught the word of God among them. Now when Gallio was deputy of Achaia, the Jews arose with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat. Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God otherwise than the Law appointeth. Ad as Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong, or an evil deed, O ye Jews, I would according to reason maintain you. But if it be a question of words and names, and of your Law, look ye to it yourselves: for I will be no judge of those things. And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then took all the Grecians Sosthenes the chief ruler of the Synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat: but Gallio cared nothing for those things. But when Paul had tarried there yet a good while, he took leave of the brethren, and sailed into Syria, (and with him Priscilla and Aquila) after that he had shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had made a vow. Then he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he entered into the Synagogue and disputed with the Jews. Who desired him to tarry a longer time with them: but he would not consent, But bade them farewell, saying, I must needs keep this feast that cometh, in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. So he sailed from Ephesus. And when he came down to Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem: and when he had saluted the Church, he went down unto Antioch. Now when he had tarried there a while, he departed, and went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia by order, strengthening all the disciples. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, came to Ephesus, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures. The same was instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spake fervently in the Spirit, and taught diligently the things of the Lord, and knew but the baptism of John only. And he began to speak boldly in the Synagogue. Whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took hm unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was minded to go into Achaia, the brethren exhorting him, wrote to the disciples to receive him: and after he was come thither, he helped them much which had believed through grace. For mightily he confuted publicly the Jews, with great vehemency, showing by the Scriptures, that Jesus was that Christ. Acts 18:1–28
  • But Job answered, and said, Whom helpest thou? him that hath no power? savest thou the arm that hath no strength? Whom counselest thou? him that hath no wisdom? thou showest right well as the thing is. To whom dost thou declare these words? or whose spirit cometh out of thee? The dead things are formed under the waters, and near unto them. The grave is naked before him, and there is no covering for destruction. He stretcheth out the North over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth the waters in his clouds, and the cloud is not broken under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. He hath set bounds about the waters, until the day and night come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble and quake at his reproof. The sea is calm by his power, and by his understanding he smiteth the pride thereof. His Spirit hath garnished the heavens, and his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are part of his ways: but how little a portion hear we of him? and who can understand his fearful powerJob 26:1–14
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My Utmost For His Highest

September 20th

The divine rule of life

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

Our Lord’s exhortation in these verses is to be generous in our behaviour to all men. In the spiritual life beware of walking according to natural affinities. Everyone has natural affinities; some people we like and others we do not like. We must never let those likes and dislikes rule in our Christian life. “If we walk in the light as God is in the light,” God will give us communion with people for whom we have no natural affinity.

The Example Our Lord gives us is not that of a good man, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”—show to the other man what God has shown to you; and God will give us ample opportunities in actual life to prove whether we are perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people. “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, …”

The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but Godlikeness: If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life, not in times of communion with God. When we come in contact with things that create a buzz, we find to our amazement that we have power to keep wonderfully poised in the centre of it all.

Chambers, O. 

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