Grace Greater Than Our Sin

skyline-drive-in-autumn

by Julia H. Johnston (1911)

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today. [Refrain]

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive? [Refrain] Continue reading

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Be Thou My Vision

 

 

4x6 04 Cascade 04translated by Mary E. Byrne
versified by Eleanor H. Hull

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;
Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,
Raise me to heaven, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun,
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

℘      ℘      ℘

Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931) was born in Ireland. She translated this 8th-Century Gaelic poem in 1905 while working as a researcher and writer for the Board of Intermediate Education in Dublin. Years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, put Ms. Byrne’s prose translation into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael. The melody is a traditional Irish tune.

Are you as thankful as I am for the work that these women did to make this beautiful hymn accessible to us? It has also been translated into other languages as well as English. The truths taught about our great God in these few lines are timeless.

The older I get, the more I realize the Christ is all. He literally fills more and more of my vision, just as the songwriter spoke of. This is not something that happens automatically, but is a consequence of daily walking with Him, getting to know Him, letting Him change me and conform me into His image. Every morning I must die to self so that I may live for Him. I’m not talking about some strange ritual or morbid habit, but just a denying of my own stubborn will. Am I always successful? No. But God is always forgiving. When I fall, He picks me up, brushes the dirt off my knees, and helps me start again.

Christ is all. He is sufficient for everything, for every need in every situation. Period.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

Credits:

Information from hymnary.org

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990. p. 90.

Photo taken at Narrows Falls, Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, 2013

 

Ruth ~ A Nobody Who Became Somebody Special

Today’s study is a continuation of last week’s look at the life of Naomi. Ruth was born in the land of Moab. She was not one of God’s chosen people by birth, but nevertheless she was chosen by God to fill a very special role in history, as we shall see.

Allow me to recap last week’s story to set the stage for today. There was a famine in the land of Israel, so Elimelech moved his family from Bethlehem (the House of Bread) to Moab (God’s Washpot). They went there to stay, not just to wait for the end of the famine. No one knows why Elimelech truly wanted to leave Bethlehem, but God had a purpose, as we soon shall see. Elimelech and Naomi had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and they married two women of Moab, Ruth and Orpah. They were married for ten years before the brothers died, yet they both died childless. Elimelech had also died, so Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. Orpah and Ruth both went with her part of the way, but then she told them to return to their families, where they could remarry and worship their gods as they were accustomed. Eventually Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and returned home, but Ruth stuck with her. In fact, the Bible says she “clung” to her. (Imagine a bond tighter than super glue.) Then Ruth said something to her mother-in-law that is now often quoted at weddings: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Let’s see exactly what Ruth was promising to her mother-in-law.

1. Where you go, I will go.

Ruth had never been to Israel. In fact, it is likely she had never before left Moab. And yet she was willing to go anywhere with Naomi, such was her loyalty to this woman to whom she was related only by marriage. Perhaps Naomi, by the grace of God, had shown more love to Ruth than she had ever known from any other person.

2. Where you lodge, I will lodge.

Ruth did not intend to use Naomi to gain entrance into Bethlehem and then find her own way from there. Instead, she would continue to love and care for her mother-in-law, putting the elder woman’s needs ahead of her own. Ruth had such a servant’s heart, and also a spirit of gratitude for all that Naomi had done for her in the ten years that she had known her.

3. Your people shall be my people.

Ruth knew she would be a stranger in Israel, a foreigner, an outcast. Very likely the people would never accept her as one of them, and yet she would accept them as her own for Naomi’s sake.

4. Your God shall be my God.

Here is the key to all of Ruth’s commitment. Naomi had introduced her to the one true and living God, and Ruth had come to follow God for herself. She had turned her back on the false gods of her people and embraced Jehovah. This is why she could never go back to her old life. Her old life was dead. She now had a new life and a new walk.

5. Where you die, I will die.

Considering the difference in age, Ruth most likely assumed that Naomi would die before her, but she affirmed that she would remain faithful to the God of Israel even after Naomi’s death. She was steadfast, committed, and there was no turning back.

6. And there will I be buried.

This perhaps also points to her new faith in Jehovah, for most of the heathen practiced cremation. By admitting that she wanted to be buried, perhaps she was also admitting her faith in the resurrection of the dead. Or perhaps she was simply emphasizing the fact that she would never forsake either Naomi or God, whether by life or by death.

With this statement of loyalty, Naomi was content, and the two of them walked on. They arrive in Bethlehem at the time of barley harvest. We can assume that they return to the home that Naomi had lived in with her husband and boys before they left Bethlehem more than a decade before. They would have been very tired from their journey, and they probably both fell asleep with very little trouble, in spite of the dust and spiders that would have taken over the house during the long absence. I can easily imagine that when Naomi awakened the next morning, she found Ruth already up and busy tidying the house, chasing the bugs out, sweeping and dusting, washing and scrubbing, turning the house back into a home.

But they needed more than just a clean place to live. They also needed food to eat. So when the house was clean, Ruth asked Naomi if she could go find a field where she could glean, as the Israelites had a law whereby to care for the poor of the land, that they could go behind the reapers in the field and pick up the gleanings that had been dropped. That was the welfare of the day. I love how the Bible says, “And she happened to come to a part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:3). Was it luck that led her there? or the Lord? Of course, we know that nothing in our lives happens by chance. God led her, not only to a place where her immediate need for food would be provided, but a much greater need would be met.

In the Old Testament times, protection of the family inheritance was very important, so a provision was made in the law of the kinsman redeemer in the case when a man died leaving no heir for his property. According to the law of the kinsman redeemer, someone of close relationship to the deceased could marry the widow, and the son born to them would become the heir to the property, as if he had been born to the deceased man. In much the same way Jesus Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer. That is why He had to be born. He could not redeem us as God; He had to become the God-Man in order to identify with us so that He could redeem us and give us an inheritance in God. This is very simplified because I’m trying to keep this article short. To learn more, study it out for yourself or ask me in a private message.

Boaz, the owner of the field that Ruth “happened” to find, was a near kinsman to her. He was not the nearest kinsman, but the nearest kinsman forfeited his right to redeem the land, so Boaz and Ruth were able to be married. This is to me one of the most beautiful love stories ever written—and it’s a true story, which makes it even better. Please read the book of Ruth for yourself. It doesn’t take long.

So Boaz and Ruth were married, and they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David—the very same David who became king of Israel! Can you imagine! God used a woman from a foreign land, an outcast, but a woman who forsook all and trusted Him completely, and elevated her to the status of great grandmother of King David, and in the direct line of Christ (Mt. 1:5). Did she know how God was going to use her? No. Do you know how God is going to use you? No. Nor do I. What I like most about the book of Ruth is that God uses little people… nobodies… people who in their high school yearbooks would be voted as “least likely to succeed.” Those are the people who, when fully surrendered to God, can be used to do great things. Because it is not them; it is God. God only asks us to be faithful. The rest is entirely up to Him.

Next week: Damaris

The Itch

Itch

Here’s a bit of humor for Wednesday morning….

The Itch

or Why Didn’t I Think of That?

My five-year-old son got a thought in his head
One day as he sat at the foot of my bed.
He wanted to wear my old stockings, said he;
I laughed when he told me and said, “Now hear me:
You don’t really want to put on pantyhose;
They’re scratchy and itchy and hot—goodness knows!”
“That’s right,” said my sister, who came in just then.
“Just listen. I’ll tell you a story ‘bout when
I wore pantyhose to a dinner one night.
They itched me so bad that I looked quite a sight.
My boyfriend caught on, so I pulled myself up
And tried to act ladylike during our sup.
The itching persisted, however, and I
Thought, ‘If I can’t scratch soon, I think I will die!’
I tore off the pantyhose right then and there.
Abashed, my poor boyfriend ran fast down the stair.
That guy doesn’t make my phone ring anymore.”
“Cheer up,” my son said, “‘Cause I’ve felt them before.
The outside of mom’s hose is silky. Don’t pout.
Next time why don’t you turn your hose inside out?”

October 30, 2002
© 2017 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Deborah & Jael: Models of Courage

WF White fuzzy flower (6)Deborah and Jael were contemporaries who lived during the time of the judges in the Old Testament period. Both of them played very important roles in the deliverance of the nation of Israel from oppression under the hand of Jabin, a nearby king.

Their account is recorded in Judges 4 and 5; and in Hebrews 11:32-34.

What this account reveals about these women

Deborah, called “a mother in Israel” (5:7), was the nation’s only female judge. She was humble, courageous, and wise, and she did what she could. Continue reading

Abigail: A Virtuous Woman

shepherd-and-sheepMy church offers various home Bible study groups, and as soon as I moved to this area, I began attending the women’s Bible study. It has been such a blessing to me, not only to get to know some of the women in my new church home, but also to dig into God’s Word and find out for myself how He wants to speak to me through the accounts recorded of the women in the Bible. Our group is meeting tonight to study the life of Abigail, and so I’ve been preparing for tonight’s discussion. This gave me the idea of sharing these gleanings with you. Our group only meet once a month, but each Tuesday I will look at a different woman from the Bible until the topic is exhausted. I hope it will be an encouragement to you, and that you will join me in going through this study together.

Continue reading