Let us never forget that the Bible is one Book; the work of one Infinite Spirit, speaking through Prophet and Priest, Shepherd and King, the old-world Patriarch and the Apostle who lived to see Jerusalem levelled to the ground. You may subject its words to the most searching test, but you will find they will always bear the same meaning, and move in the same direction. Let the Bible be its own dictionary, its own interpreter, its own best commentary. It is like a vast buried city, in which every turn of the spade reveals some new marvel, whilst passages branch off in every direction calling for exploration.
None, in my judgment, have learnt the secret of enjoying the Bible until they have commenced to mark it, neatly. Underlining and dating special verses, which have cast a light upon their path on special days. Drawing railway connections, across the pages, between verses, which repeat the same message, or ring with the same note. Jotting down new references, or the catchwords of helpful thoughts. All these methods find plenty of employment for the pen, and fix our treasures for us permanently. Our Bible then becomes the precious memento of bygone hours, and records the history of our inner life. F. B. Meyer. How to Read Your Bible.
Monthly Archives: December 2009
THE whole of Christian living, in my opinion, hinges on the way in which Christian people read the Bible for themselves. All sermons and addresses, all Bible readings and classes, all religious magazines and books, can never take the place of our own quiet study of God’s precious Word. We may measure our growth in grace by the growth of our love for private Bible study. And we may be sure that there is something seriously wrong, when we lose our appetite for the Bread of Life. Perhaps we have been eating too many sweets; or taken too little exercise; or breathing too briefly in the bracing air, which sweeps over the uplands of spiritual communion with God.
Teacher must have fixed and uninterrupted hours for meeting His scholars. His words must have our freshest and brightest thoughts. We must give Him our best, and the first-fruits of our days. Hence there is no time for Bible study like the early morning. For we cannot give such undivided attention to the holy thoughts that glisten like diamonds on its pages after we have opened our letters, glanced through the paper, and joined in the prattle of the break-fast-table. The manna had to be gathered before the dew was off and the sun was up; otherwise it melted. F. B. Meyer. How to Read Your Bible
Tozer had it right over 44 years ago
Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show. From Tozer’s “Man: The Dwelling Place of God”, 1966, page 24
Throughout the centuries the Welsh people have been recognized as one of the most enthusiastic groups of singers in the world. From the days of the Druids, Wales has been a land of song. To this day they still conduct an International Eisteddfodd (singing festival) at Llangollen. This hymn is a product of that fine musical heritage.
During the early part of the eighteenth century a young Welsh preacher, Howell Harris, was stirring Wales with his evangelistic preaching and congregational singing. In England the Wesleys and George Whitefield were conducting similar revivals and outdoor campaigns. One of the lives touched by Harris’s preaching was William Williams. Prior to this time Williams had been preparing for the medical profession, but upon hearing a sermon by Harris, young Williams gave his heart and life to God and decided to enter the ministry. He served two parishes in the Anglican Church for a time but never felt at ease in the established, ritualistic church. Like Harris, he decided to take all of Wales as his parish and for the next forty-three years traveled nearly 100,000 miles on horseback, preaching and singing the gospel in his native tongue. Though he suffered many hardships, he was affectionately known as the “sweet singer of Wales.” Throughout Wales he was respected as a persuasive preacher, yet it is said that the chief source of his influence was his hymns. He wrote approximately 800 of them, all in Welsh. One hymnologist has said, “What Isaac Watts has been to England, that and more has William Williams been to Wales.” Unfortunately, most of Williams’s hymns are untranslated, and this is the only hymn for which he is widely known today.
“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” first appeared in a hymnal published by Williams in Bristol, England, in 1745. It originally consisted of five six-line stanzas and was entitled “Strength to Pass Through the Wilderness.” In 1771 another hymnal was published by Peter Williams (no relation) in which he translated into English stanzas 1, 3, 5. A year later the original author, William Williams, or possibly his son John, made another English version using Peter Williams’s first stanza, then translating stanzas three and four of the original hymn and adding a new fourth verse. Most hymnals today make use of only three of these stanzas.
The imagery of the hymn is drawn wholly from the Bible. The hymn compares the forty-year journey of the Israelites to the promised land with the living of a Christian life as a “pilgrim[age] through this barren land.” Note the symbolic phrases used throughout: “bread of heaven” (manna), “crystal fountain” (I Corinthians 10:3, 4), “fire and cloudy pillar,” “verge of Jordan,” “Canaan’s Side.” The tune for this text was written in 1907 by John Hughes, a noted Welsh composer of a number of Sunday School marches, anthems and hymn tunes. This particular tune was written especially for the annual Baptist Cymnfa Ganu (singing festival) at Capel Rhondda, Pontypridd, Wales, and was printed in leaflets for that occasion. The text with this tune is still one of the most popular and widely used hymns in Wales. It is not at all uncommon even today for a large crowd at some public event such as a rugby match to burst into the spontaneous singing of this hymn. The strong symbolic text with its virile tune has had great universal appeal, evidenced by the fact that the hymn has been translated into over seventy-five different languages.
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my strength and shield;
Be Thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Bear me thro’ the swelling current,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs and praises, songs and praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.
Quoted from “101 Hymn Stories” by Kenneth Osbeck. Kregel Publishers, P.O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, 1982.
1. “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37)
2. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15)
3. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
4. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
5. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
6. “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:5)
7. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16).
8. “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9; cf. John 10:10).
9. “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15).
10. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed” (Luke 2:34f).
11. “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18)
12. “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:7-8; cf. John 12:27f).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it–admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism–all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”- D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 83-84.
Grace and Peace to you
in Him who saves -Lenny
From his earliest memory, Isaac Watts, author of Joy to the World and numerous other hymns, recalled being competitive. Albeit a bit on the cocky side, Watts’ confidence in his own talent gave the world some of its best-loved and timeless hymns.
Watts’ own mother recognized his outstanding gift when he was just a young child. To encourage him and her other eight children, Mrs. Watts devised a family writing contest. The child who composed the best poem would receive a prize of one farthing. Young Isaac, in his characteristic wit and drive to succeed, wrote the following:
I write not for a farthing, but to try
How I your farthing authors can outvie!
With that, young Isaac won that farthing prize. He also laid the groundwork for his mark on music history.
Isaac’s father, who seemed less inclined to nurture his son’s talent, nevertheless may have sparked Watts’ first big break. While still a youth, Isaac commented to his father that the hymns they were accustomed to singing in church lacked substance. The elder Watts, a staunchly religious deacon, took offense at his son’s criticism. Almost as if he himself had composed those church songs, he retorted, “If you don’t like the hymns we sing, write better ones!”
Instead of feeling defeated, Isaac took up his father’s challenge. He showed his father a hymn that he had written. Apparently Mr. Watts had no inkling that his son was so gifted. He eagerly presented his son’s composition at church the next Sunday. It was so well-received he was asked to write another for the following week. Isaac Watts wrote a new hymn every week for the next four years.
Watts’ composing of his renowned hymn Joy to the World came about as a personal epiphany of sorts. Young Isaac, who had so devotedly prepared hymns for liturgical services, went on to enter the Christian ordained ministry himself. After serving just less than two decades, however, Watts found it necessary to leave the priesthood due to health problems.
His declining health and a brief promise of love that was quickly dashed away by rejection may have caused Watts to reflect on his own humanity. This led him to undertake a project that had been stirring in his heart for several years. He had developed a deep fondness for the Psalms of David during his childhood. With time on his hands as he recuperated from illness, Watts set about to write a series of poems based on the Psalms. It was from this series of works that Joy to the World came to fruition.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
Based on Psalm 98, Watts entwined the original Old Testament poem of David with the fulfillment of prophecy in the New Testament. The result was the Christmas hymn that is still cherished today, almost three centuries later. Set to a score adapted from George Frederick Handel’s “The Messiah,” Joy to the World has taken its place permanently in the hearts of both Christian and secular society. While many of Watts’ compositions have been forgotten, this Christmas hymn remains a favorite no modern church would dare exclude during the holiday season.