Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

5 in nature (14)

lyrics by Henry J. van Dyke, 1907
tune by Ludwig van Beethoven
arr. by Edward Hodges, 1824

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day! Continue reading

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Summer and Winter

snow-on-green

“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: Thou hast made summer and winter.”
Psalm 74:17

The sun was bright, the days and nights were hot
All summer long, but my cold soul was not.
Without were sunshine, singing birds and rain;
Within, a frosty chill, a blight, a bane.
The summer breezes tossed my hair, but winter filled my soul.

Then came the autumn leaves of change apace.
The winds, now hot, now cold, opposed my face.
The air was growing cool against my skin,
But I began a warmth to feel within.
The days of autumn change were here, yet springtime filled my soul.

Now winter is upon us, cool and crisp.
The north winds blow their freezing winter wisp.
Without is white and gray and much of blue;
Within a rainbow casts its graceful hue.
Old Winter, blow your stinging breath! God’s summer floods my soul.

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December 1, 2004 ~ This morning my devotions came from Psalm 74:17, “Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.” The juxtaposition of these two seasons in the same verse, combined with Spurgeon’s appurtenant comments, set my mind to thinking about the myriad of changes that have taken place in my heart over the past six months. This past summer was perhaps the darkest period of my life to date. I faced such depression as I would never like to imagine. I wanted to drink, to put an end to my life, to run away from church, husband and children. I refused to run to God—I held Him responsible. But God never deserted me. He softened my heart in a most unexpected way, through a class that I did not want to take. Who would have known that the book of Isaiah would hold so much truth that I needed to hear? I know it’s silly to say such a thing about any part of God’s Word, but that was the way I felt a few months ago. God has transformed my thinking and my heart. He has given me new life. I already had eternal life, but God restored my soul. The miracle that brought about my salvation continues to occur in my soul, washing me clean from new sins, purging the dross, making me more a reflection of Christ. I don’t know what others see, but I feel young and vibrant and alive again spiritually. I am in love with Christ my Redeemer.

© 2017 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved

Photo taken in Chesapeake, Virginia, 2011

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

 

female-cardinal-singingby Joachim Neander, pub. 1680
transl. by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Psalm 42:11  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

This hymn sang to me as I participated in the congregational singing in church last Sunday. If I could write with half the eloquence of Joachim Neander, I would be blessed beyond measure. He has such a way with words.

But enough about the instrument. The focus of this hymn is on the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.

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Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Psalm 93:1  The LORD reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.

Ruth 2:12  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Psalm 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

This stanza is chock-full of truth. God reigns in the affairs of men, no doubt about it. We don’t always understand the purpose of suffering, but it is just as necessary to us as the times of ease, if not more so. Drought causes the tree’s roots to go deeper in search of water, which results in a stronger tree that is capable of resisting the winds of the storms. And in those storms, God offers protection so that we will not be overwhelmed. And the Father grants us our desires, particularly when we delight in Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Genesis 39:23  The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

God alone is the source of my strength and the author of my victories. I can do nothing at all without Him. His goodness and mercy surround me every day, giving me blessings I don’t deserve and withholding from me the punishment that should be mine. “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” God can do anything—anything but fail. And He has befriended me with His love. He loved me before I even knew Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Mark 4:35-41  And the same day, when evening was come, He saith unto them, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What else can I say? God is good all the time. He sends the storms to make us trust Him, to show us His power over them. Not just squalls on the sea, but spiritual storms as well. He is never surprised by what is happening, never alarmed, never out of control. What a comfort it is to know that God is watching over me, even in the storm.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The world does seem to be growing darker by the day with a spiritual darkness and oppression from the enemy of our souls. Right seems wrong and wrong seems right. People plummet to lower moral depths with each passing day, and they dare anyone to tell them they are in the wrong. This is not new. Luke 17:26 says, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” But God is neither blind nor deaf. He sees and hears the depravity of man. Why does He do nothing? My friend, He is not doing nothing. He is waiting for the perfect moment to make all things right. And He will, in His time. In the meantime, He is calling for all men everywhere to come to Him in repentance of their sins. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And He has not left us to stumble in the darkness. He has given us His light through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Psalm 106:48  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise ye the LORD.

We often use the word amen to conclude our prayers, but what does it mean? Consider this definition from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary: “As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. In English, after the oriental manner, it is used at the beginning, but more generally at the end of declarations and prayers, in the sense of, be it firm, be it established.” So in the context of this hymn, we are enjoined to confirm or verify the teachings of God’s Word. We are to trust God, placing our confidence in Him and Him alone. Our faith in Him should be firm, for He never changes. He is the solid rock upon which our faith is founded. Gladly forever [for aye] we adore Him.

Have you learned to trust Him? Do you rest beneath the shelter of God’s wings? Have you tasted the water of life? If so, then please join me in praising Him today. And if not, why not? Come to Jesus today and experience His great love for you.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let him that heareth say, “Come.” And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

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Lyrics from Timelesstruths.org

Photo taken in Milton, Florida, 2017.

 

All Creatures of Our God and King

 

 

High Contrast 06

 

by St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1225)
translated by William H. Draper (pub. 1919)

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

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This song of praise was already on my list of favorites, but then I found some stanzas that I’d never seen or heard before, and now I like it all the more. The first three stanzas refer to the elements of nature, while stanzas four and five speak directly to man. The Bible does tell us that nature praises God.

Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory.

Psalm 50:6 And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is judge Himself. Selah.

And perhaps the most often quoted of all the passages is Psalm 19.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them has He set a tabernacle for the sun.

It is fitting that so much of the hymn would be given to the praise that nature offers to God, for it is mentioned much in the Scriptures as well. Even Jesus Christ Himself said that if we who know Him were to hold our tongue, then the rocks would immediately cry out in praise to God.

Luke 19:37-40 And when He came near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, “Master, rebuke Your disciples.” And He answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

God will be praised. He will be magnified. Why? Because He alone is worthy.

But this stanza, which I had never seen before, was particularly meaningful to me. Look again at the words….

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

Wow! Isn’t that beautiful? First forgive others, then come and worship the Lord. The precedent for this is in Matthew 5:23-24….

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you; Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

And as for those who long pain and sorrow bear, do not turn inward, do not focus on your troubles, but instead turn your eyes upon Jesus, casting all your care [worries] upon Him, because He cares [loves] for you.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.

If that isn’t reason enough to praise God, I don’t know what is.

Tell me, what do you have for which to give thanks to God?

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Sources:

Timelesstruths.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 10-11.

Photo taken in Chesapeake, Virginia, 2011.

 

Our Incomprehensible God ~ Psalm 36

 

breathtaking-nc-mountains

Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;
Thy judgments are a great deep:
O LORD, Thou preservest man and beast.
How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house;
and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.
For with Thee is the fountain of life:
in Thy light shall we see light.
O continue Thy lovingkindness unto them that know Thee;
and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:5-10

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