By Don Case
I am sure you get great joy out of being with friends and singing hymns that are significant to you. We sing of love, trust, hope, comfort and peace. We gather to sing with people of different ages, races, and musical skill, with joy in our hearts. We sing with our souls to inspire each other and to praise God.
Most of us spend a portion of each day listening to music on our IPODs, TVs, radios and CD players. We are mechanically sung to, but in our congregation we join our voices to edify and encourage each other. It makes no difference how well we sing, only that we do raise our voices to heaven. We may be amateurs but our voice lifts us up and it delights us to sing about our triumph victory. From childhood, hymns contribute to our spiritual foundation. We appreciate the words and music and are edified by the messages. We often discover passion that is expressed in A cappella music and we sometimes get choked up by classic old hymns that leave us overwhelmed with joy and love.
Some of our beloved old hymns were written as early as the 16th century. One of our oldest hymns is, "A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD." "ROCK OF AGES," was first printed in 1776 and has had the most copies printed in American history. Some of the other older songs that have inspired for the past few centuries include: "ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS' NAME, A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS MAKES IT RIGHT, PRECIOUS LORD TAKE MY HAND and FAIREST LORD JESUS." We hope that these inspirational numbers will still dwell in the hearts of future generations.
HAPPINESS In The Lord
Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind. Great Is Thy Faithfulnes, How Great Thou Art, I Know I Need Thee Every Hour.
This Is My Story, This Is My Song. Since Jesus Came Into My Heart He Walks With Me And He Talks With Me As I Praise My Savior All The Day Long. What A Friend We Have In Jesus. I Will Sing The Wonderous Story As I Take Time To Be Holy. I Know God Will Abide With Me, Because He Forgets Not His Own.
We Gather Together To Hear The Wonderful Words Of Life. Let Me Live For Jesus By Showing His Love In My Life, As I Seek How Can I Stop One Heart From Breaking?
There Is A Great Day Coming, Oh Happy Day. After The Hour Of My Departure, Precious Lord, Take My Hand. We Shall Stand Before The Throne Prepared To Meet Thy God.
It is important for Christians to remember that prayer is a central component of who we are as servants of God. To fully appreciate its power and place in our lives, we must also be careful so as to not only look at prayer through a New Testament lens. That is, we can't only think of communicating to God in terms of what we learn in the New Testament but must take advantage of what is said about prayer in the longer, more detailed Old Testament. In the first chapter of Nehemiah, we read a passionate prayer of the great man himself as he spoke to God. In reading this prayer, we learn a number of essentials for effective prayer today.
First, prayer isn't intended to be a, "One-time and done" event. Note that in Nehemiah 1:4 that Nehemiah says that he mourned, wept, fasted, and prayed for many days. Nehemiah certainly had something to be sad about and the same is true today. With that being the case, we should not expect to simply pray to God once and then never appeal to Him again. Great men of prayer seek God often!
Second, prayer should include ardent praise of our wonderful Creator. In verse five of the same chapter, Nehemiah describes God as both "great and awesome."
And, this great man of God considers God as THE One who is faithful to consistently keep His merciful promises. When we go to God in prayer, we ought to never forget that we are speaking to THE God of all creation. He is spectacular and it's important that we take the time to acknowledge that fact.
Third, there's no reason to pray to God unless one is ready to be fully transparent with Him. Nehemiah acknowledged both his sins and those of the people by confessing their sinfulness (Nehemiah 1:6-7). When we pray, we should be like Nehemiah and learn from his humility as we speak to the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.
Finally, our prayers should acknowledge our knowledge of God, His will, and His commandments. Note the Nehemiah spoke of God's "commandments" and called Israel His "servants," clearly expressing his understanding of God's plans for His people. When we pray, we should not do so to "tell God" about His own plans -- indeed, He is a very self-aware God who knows what He's about. Yet, when we see great men in the Bible speaking to Him and acknowledging His plans, it tells us that we should do the same.
Let us use this passage to help us pray more fervently to our wonderful God, knowing what a privilege it is to do so!
By Don Case
Looking back on our lives has both advantages and disadvantages. Good can come from remembering the times when we experienced victory, joy and success. Sometimes looking back can stimulate us on to greater achievements, so it can be beneficial. There can be a problem if we get stuck in the past and quit moving forward.
When we look back on past failures and times that were truly miserable, it becomes harder and harder to move forward. Looking back at unsuccessful times or despair can remind us what God has taught us during those times. Such memories can help us avoid making the same mistakes again. Our past is just that, it is past. Leave yesterday behind, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past" (Isaiah 43:18).
God promised to never leave us, to not forsake us, and to always be with us. He tells us to be strong and be of good courage, not to be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord our God is with us wherever we go. Knowing that God is always with us gives us hope, strength and encouragement. Indeed, we sing, "And He walks with me, and He talks with me."
Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. If we are happy we should show our gladness. Most of us are as happy as we decide to be. We should keep ourselves from taking life and ourselves too seriously.
Sometimes, when life just gets unbearably hard, it can help if we vision God's hand in our lives and remember He may have a plan in these situations.
Likewise, worrying about the future can be a fruitless activity. We cannot make good happen or keep bad from happening by worrying. Worrying about tomorrow can rob us of the joys of today. Planning for the future, however, does improve outcome. We can plan to have God as our partner in facing the challenges of life remembering that together is better. If we remain faithful, God has promised us eternal life with him. This is our true future and the thing we can completely count on.
HEAVEN WILL SURELY BE WORTH IT ALL
Often I'm hindered on my way, burdened so heavy I almost fall; Then I hear Jesus sweetly say; "Heaven will surely be worth it all."
Many the trials, tolls and tears, Many a heartache may here appall; But the dear Lord so truly says; "Heaven will surely be worth it all."
Toiling and pain I will endure, Till I shall hear the death angel call; Jesus has promised and I'm sure Heaven will surely be worth it all.
Heaven will surely be worth it all. Worth all the sorrows that here befall; After this life with all its strife, Heaven will surely be worth it all.