Jesus, lover of my soul

Had a fresh appreciation of this hymn the other day: Jesus, lover of my soul.

With all its cares, fears, preoccupations, anxieties, peculiarities, idiosyncrasies,… I tend to see my soul as the blockage, barrier, hindrance to whatever God wants to do in me. But He doesn’t see it that way. It matters to Him concerning me (1 Peter 5:7) — spirit, soul, and body. Yes, He wants to saturate and permeate my mind, emotion, and will, but He’s not just a “Man on a mission”. He cares.

The final stanza:

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

The lyrics are here, but the tune I remember is different: listen here.

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2015

新的一年。似乎昨天才写14年的开头篇…这一年就过去了。

新的一年。新手表、新手机、新工作…更是新挑战、新机会、新盼望。从很多方面来说,这是一个很关键的新开始。一些该结束的终于结束了。一些期盼许久的即将发生。一些多年前的祷告、奉献似乎就要得着回应、成全。

刚从冬季训练回来。这次的经历乃是主增加祂的要求。曾经想都没想过的、到周三我还说不可能的,周四晨兴时还是不得不说阿门。谁知道当年初中的我作的奉献,后来大一公开确认,如今会向我出如此的高价。此刻的我还不甘愿,可是我想祂终会得到祂所要求的。因为,就如服侍姊妹说的,祂在这个时代的紧急需要使祂不得不把握住何一个交出自己的青年人。

主啊,我的得救并不精彩,甚至我都记不得,可但愿在逃脱世界捆绑这方面能有一个卓越的见证。愿我在4多年前挑选的诗歌成为我实际的经历:

My choice is made forevermore,
I want no other Savior;
I ask no purer happiness
Than His sweet love and favor;
My heart is fixed on Jesus Christ,
No more the world shall blind me;
I’ve crossed the Red Sea of His death,
And left the world behind me.

全词

主啊,谢谢你,我用不着害怕未来只充满难过:

Why do you fear the future
Will only be filled with pain?
You’re in His hands,
Trust in His plans;
He will take care of you.

(CD)

主啊,我爱你。今天比昨天、今年比去年爱你多得多。

Above this frenzied earthly land

I learned this new song about a month ago, and it’s been stuck with me since. I couldn’t find a recording anywhere, so I made one myself here.

Prod me with Your loving hands,
Stir me from my deep impasse.
I long to flee this stagnant rut;
My soul, my prison, deadened lot,
Which end is just to taste Your wrath;
So set me on the narrow path;
Thorns and thistles may line this road,
But it leads me to the mutual abode.

Lift me up with Your mighty hands
Above this frenzied earthly land;
Set me on the mount to see
What the world can offer me;
Till I see the vanity from on high
And earthly desires I bid goodbye
And set my eyes on You.

This somehow reminded me of what David says in Psalm 8:

When I see Your heavens, the works of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained… (v. 3)

And the footnote:

…In looking away from the dark earth to the moon and the stars in the heavens, David saw God’s creation and the divine order in the universe. The Lord’s aim in His redemption is to turn our view from the dark and troubled earth to the bright and ordered heavens.

I guess the sentiment from my last post hasn’t changed — I need my eyes and my whole being to be lifted up and above.

Turning my eyes upon Jesus

An experience today put me into a state best described by these lines from a hymn:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?

When I find myself in this kind of a state, I must turn. Or the brooding disappointment will become embitterment and, even worse, disillusionment. So I don’t even give myself time to think — I just call “O…Lord Jesus”. And when calling isn’t enough, I sing. The rest of the stanza with chorus:

There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

(listen here)

Just look at Him! See Him only! Everything and everyone else will disappoint. Another 2 lines from stanza 3:

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.

What He says in His Word, He will do and must do. In one place, His Word says

…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18b)

So I just believe. I don’t believe in what I see or feel; I say amen to His word and believe that He will build His church. Hallelujah!

“I will not go out free…”

This hymn, which made a very strong impression on me as a young believer, lately reminded me of my consecration before the Lord. I first heard it 4-5 years ago from a sister who was training me on the piano and who really lived the reality of this song.

I love, I love my Master,
  I will not go out free,
For He is my Redeemer;
  He paid the price for me.
I would not leave His service,
  It is so sweet and blest;
And in the weariest moments
  He gives the truest rest.

My Master shed His life-blood
  My vassal life to win,
And save me from the bondage
  Of tyrant self and sin.
He chose me for His service,
  And gave me power to choose
That blessed, perfect freedom,
  Which I shall never lose.

I would not halve my service,
His only it must be!
His only, who so loved me,
  And gave Himself for me.
Rejoicing and adoring,
  Henceforth my song shall be,
I love, I love my Master,
  I will not go out free.

The biblical background: Deuteronomy 15.

“What then will there be for us?”

Many have already blogged about this (a God-man in Christ, among others), but I can’t help but share it once more!

Many Christians know Matthew 19:26:

…Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

But probably fewer know the context of the verse: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (v. 24). The rich man “went away sorrowing” because he could not leave his “many possessions” (v. 22). I always saw this as a comparatively straightforward lesson on not loving mammon. What I never paid attention to before was what followed:

Then Peter answered and said to Him, Behold, we have left all and followed You. What then will there be for us?

Peter was perhaps feeling somewhat superior: I can do what he can’t. But he mostly wanted to take the opportunity to make sure that he was going to get what he paid for: So, Lord, what’s my reward for leaving my career in fishing to follow You? Is there an extra little something for leaving my wife? Oh, don’t forget, I’m not exactly living an easy life here. …

Isn’t this just who we are? I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced at first. I thought I knew the worth of following the Lord better than Peter did. Until I read Matthew 20 in new light.

One denarius. That’s your wage — whether you worked all day long starting 9 am or you worked 1 hour starting 5 pm. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get over how unfair this was to the early starters. But was the householder unrighteous? Did each worker not agree with him for one denarius? And is it not lawful for him to do what he wants with what’s his?

It’s only too “natural” that we should have the “No fair!” reaction. It’s wired in us: live in a commercial world, think with a commercial mind. Satan, the ruler of this world, is the top merchant, and he has only one system of value: you get what you pay for.

But with what do you pay for something that has no price? The kingdom — the coming age of restoration — is priceless! Do we think we can buy our way in? Do we think paying a little price, leaving a little behind, doing a little good work, is getting us a ticket into God’s eternal kingdom? What an absurd thought! The kingdom is a reward! The Lord gives it to whomever He desires and wills.

How do we get this reward? Not by paying a price — at least not by it alone — but by enjoying grace (see this post). If the rich young man had been able to give up his possessions, it wouldn’t have guaranteed him a spot in the kingdom; it would have freed him from the preoccupation that kept him from enjoying the God with whom all things are possible as grace. If we do pay a price, it’s rightly done — we need to freed from the entanglements and distractions that keep us from enjoying grace!

Think you’ve given up a lot to be a Christian? Here’s a song for you:

When such as we the King can choose,
To share with Him His throne,
‘Tis passing strange that we refuse
To be our Lord’s alone.
O never speak of sacrifice!
A privilege untold
Is to be His at any price,
In Calv’ry’s hosts enrolled.

(Full lyrics & melody here)

The next stanza urges us to “Arise! the holy bargain strike”. There’s a fitting use of commercial jargon! Here’s what then there will be for us:

And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the restoration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones… (Matthew 19:28)

The “still today” Lord

​Some days the Lord just doesn’t seem as near and real as we remember. Those are days when recalling sweet experiences of Him in the past only makes me nostalgic and discouraged. What’s different? Why was my touch with Him so fresh and living a month ago but so…routine this week? Why was the HWMR from 3 months ago so experiential and the latest messages so dry and doctrinal?
 
Before the Lord, I sense a two-fold answer. The first is insulation — or, as in second Corinthiansveils.  Something between that keeps me from entering directly into His presence, from seeing Him face to face.
 

Nothing between,

a hymn says;

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor,
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

(full lyrics here)

 

“Keep the way clear”: the charge is straight and simple. But what if I don’t have a problem (at least not one that the Lord is currently dealing with) in terms of “sinful pleasure” and “this world’s delusive dream”? What if it’s something as subtle and as irresolvable as…my being?

 
The Lord’s word is firm:

“Let all bitterness and anger and wrath…be removed from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Bitterness, anger — even toward God for allowing things to go as they did. Oh, how the waters at Marah are bitter! But what does Jehovah do and say?

“…and Jehovah showed him (Moses) a tree; and he cast it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. … And He said, If you will listen carefully to the voice of Jehovah your God and do what is right in His eyes and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am Jehovah who heals you.” (Exodus 15:25-26)

The tree that Moses cast into the waters made the waters sweet, but that which Jehovah healed was not the waters — it was “you”. I think the situation was bitter, but all along it was I who am bitter. And after these months of trying to sort out all the wrath within, all I can say is that I can do absolutely nothing to change my being. But…hallelujah! Lord, show me a tree! Apply the cross to me in all its death-conquering efficacy! Be to me “Jehovah who heals you”!
 
And the second: Jesus’ livingness and reality is not “worn out” by our experience. I don’t quite have the words to illustrate, so as usual I use a hymn:

The wedding feast, the peak of man’s enjoyment
Was full of pleasure till the wine ran dry.
The human life, like wine, is soon exhausted,
Till Jesus comes, divine life to supply.

When Jesus comes, new wine is made from water,
When Jesus comes, the darkness turns to light.
He touches death—it’s turned to life eternal,
Weakness to strength and blindness into sight.

Whatever He’s done to turn my darkness to light, whatever I’ve seen of His being the wine that doesn’t run dry, whatever experience He’s given me of the resurrection life,….. the only thing that matters is this:

And still today, this Jesus is so living,
Able to save from death in any form.

(Full lyrics here)

What matters is the Jesus who still today is so living. All that we’ve touched of this living One in the past will surely be an eternal memorial between us and the Lord in the coming age, but today, Jesus is! He has never been more able to save from death of any form than He is today! Praise Him!