Thursday, August 25, 2016

A hymn for Thursday

Bring Your Vessels Not a Few
Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. 2 Kings 4:3,5

You can listen to the song here It’s a tad bit different than we used to sing it, since we only enjoyed piano accompaniment, but I like this version too.

Are you longing for the fullness
Of the blessing of the Lord
In your heart and life today?
Claim the promise of your Father;
Come according to His Word,
In the bless├Ęd, old time way.

He will fill your heart today to overflowing.
As the Lord commandeth you,
Bring your vessels, not a few.
He will fill your heart today to overflowing
With the Holy Ghost and power.

Bring your empty earthen vessels,
Clean through Jesus’ precious blood.
Come, ye needy, one and all;
And in humble consecration
Wait before the throne of God
Till the Holy Ghost shall fall.

Like the cruse of oil unfailing
Is His grace forevermore,
And His love unchanging still;
And according to His promise,
With the Holy Ghost and power
He will every vessel fill.

Mrs. C.H. Morris, 1912

Mrs. C.H. Morris, or Lelia Morris (1862-1929), was born in Pennsville, Ohio. In 1881, she married Charles H. Morris. She and her husband were active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and in camp meetings. She began song writing in the 1890s, writing hymns as she did her housework, authoring more than 1,000 Gospel songs. When her eyes began to fail in 1913, her son built a 28-foot blackboard with oversized staff lines, so she could continue composing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Encounter at the well

Abraham at Beersheba

Genesis 20:1-18 relates a sorry affair in Abraham's life: he tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister; Abimelech takes Sarah to be his wife; but before anything happens, God warns Abimelech in a dream. Abimelech's response to all this? Genesis 20:14-15: And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.
Abimelech appears to be a righteous, God-fearing man. This is the backdrop for:-

Genesis 21

22  And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
23  Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
24  And Abraham said, I will swear.
God is with thee in all that thou doest – Amen! What a testimony. And this wasn’t Abraham telling folks how wonderful he was, other people saw this, knew this, said this of him.

swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me – he slightly chides Abraham for his earlier behavior, then asks to be treated with the same kindness he has shown to Abraham. kindness is one of the richest Old Testament words; chesed, it means mercy, kindness, loving-kindness. This is the ultimate righteousness, and in fact the LXX (Septuagint) translates this passage, “according to the righteousness...” Amen.

25  And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.
26  And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today.
And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water - Now Abraham brings up a touchy subject - a well is a big deal for folks living in such a dry area. It would seem he was going to overlook this transgression, but now that their relationship has grown deeper he brings it up. Abimelech denies any knowledge of it.

27  And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
They make a covenant to cement their relationship. In the previous chapter, Abimelech supplies the gifts, even though he was sinned against, and here Abraham supplies the sheep and oxen for sacrifice even though he was the one sinned against. This is uncomfortable. When someone wrongs me I want them to take the necessary action to make things right. Abraham dug the well and it was taken away from him by violence, he was wronged, but he supplies the sheep and oxen for the sacrifice. This reconciliation costs him. This is chesed, this is righteousness.

28  And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29  And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
30  And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
I can just hear Abimelech, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? Which is really amazing because he wasn’t speaking English! He’s saying, “What’s this? Is this a trick?”
“No. This gift is a witness that I have dug this well.” Again, Abraham did all the work, he dug the well; Abimelech’s servants took it by violence; so Abraham was clearly wronged, yet he provides the seven lambs as a witness. When someone has wronged me, I want them to take me to supper as a peace offering, not me take them to supper! But Abraham was righteous to his own hurt. He was a man of faith, a righteous man, and a man of chesed – mercy, kindness, goodness.

31  Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
32  Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
Beersheba – The Well of the Oath (LXX). They both “swore” that this was Abraham’s well.

33  And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
planted a grove – KJV says grove; other versions say tamarisk tree; LXX says field; Vulgate has grove; no one seems really sure what this means, but most folks agree this refers to a Tamarisk tree
this is a tamarisk tree; no, that's not Abraham standing next to it
Why did he plant a Tamarisk tree? Practically, it provided shade, coolness and beauty.

called on the name of Yahweh, the everlasting God – this indicates there is something more, something deeper going on here.

Abraham has known God by His name Yahweh for some time – he has built altars to Him, he has called on His name, and he has sworn by that name. He knows Him as God (Elohim), as Yahweh, as the “most high God” (El Elyon), as “the Almighty God” (El Shaddai),  and here he called on Him as the “everlasting God” (El Olam). Abraham knows God, and he calls on his name, that is, he worships Him. But he worships Him in a particular way, as “the everlasting God.” What does this mean?

“El Olam is the Eternal God without a beginning or end. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  (Psalm 90:2)
“We understand from this name of God that He is the sovereign, eternal ruler of the entire universe who is beyond time or space.
This name of God, El Olam, teaches us that God is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6). His plans and purposes are timeless, and He will not fail to follow through with them “Did you not hear long ago How I made it, From ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass...” (Isaiah 37:26).
“He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”  (Isaiah 42:4)
Thus, we read in Genesis 21:33 that after Abraham entered into a peace treaty with Abimelech and Phicol at Beersheba, he called upon El Olam as a display of his faith that the Everlasting God would deliver on His covenant promise to give his descendants the Land.
Everything we see in the natural is temporal and subject to change, but like Abraham, we should not be moved by what we see since El Olam is the Eternal God who created the universe.  He will not fail to accomplish His plans and promises.” (The Messianic Prophecy Bible Project)

34  And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.

This is a neat encounter - it has its roots in conflict and is really about how two powerful, righteous men settled their differences. This encounter at Beersheba causes me to examine myself:

+ Am I a righteous man? that is, do I walk in chesed (mercy, kindness, loving-kindness)?

+ do I know God as El Olam?

that he might be the father of all them that believe . . . who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Well, that was a strange dream

I was driving a delivery truck, but I was driving it while laying on the roof of the cab! As I got into town I began to look for an opportunity to get back inside the cab so I would have better control of the truck. At last, such an opportunity presented itself: the traffic ahead was stopped, so I came to a stop behind some horses at what appeared to be a railroad crossing. I jumped off the roof. There was some altercation on the ground that I don't remember in much detail - the front wheel of my truck had slid off the road into a hole and some man pushed it back on to the road.
When it was time to get into the cab, suddenly the driver was an older man named Jack. In order to get into the cab, I had to climb through the driver’s window. At this point it was as if I was his spirit. Every time he stopped and got out, I got out. When he got back in I would have to climb in through the window, but it was difficult. He had some traffic related difficulty and got out and dealt with it. He got back in the truck. This time, when I tried to climb back in the driver's window, I had a really hard time getting in.
As we were driving down the road, he started talking about people who were getting on him about driving (he was retired but driving again). I was about to ask him if he enjoyed what he was doing when his driving became erratic. He was driving on the shoulder, really more off the shoulder. I started yelling, “Jack, get back on the road!” He couldn't hear me. We were now off the road, in fact, it was if we were flying. Jack was having such a grand time! I was yelling, “Jack, this isn't a plane. Jack!!” But he couldn't hear me. Then ahead of us the scenery changed - everything in front of us was now a nondescript wall. I sat back into the seat and said softly, “Get ready, Jack.” Then we hit the wall and Jack died. On the other side of the wall there was nothing, no scenery, just empty. We heard a deep and comforting Voice above us, “Come to me.” And I watched Jack rise up.

This was a very vivid dream!

It is like my dreams are stitched together. I’m sure this dream had flowed out of another one that I don’t remember, and after this it became another dream that was related to the altercation on the ground.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A hymn for Thursday

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb, the hosts of Heaven sing,
As before the throne they make His praises ring;
Worthy is the Lamb the book to open wide,
Worthy is the Lamb who once was crucified.

Oh, this bleeding Lamb, oh, this bleeding Lamb,
Oh, this dying Lamb, He was found worthy;
Oh, this bleeding Lamb, oh, this bleeding Lamb,
Oh, this dying Lamb, He was found worthy.

Worthy is the Lamb, who shed His precious blood
To restore a world to happiness and God;
When no eye could pity and no arm could save,
Jesus for our ransom, Himself freely gave.

Worthy is the Lamb, the bleeding sacrifice
Who for Adam’s race paid such a fearful price;
Worthy is the Lamb, the Paschal Lamb of God,
For the world received Redemption thro’ His blood.

Worthy is the Lamb, let men and angels sing,
Worthy is the Lamb, let hallelujahs ring;
And when life is past, upon the golden shore,
Worthy is the Lamb, we’ll shout forevermore.

Words: Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1898.
Music: George C. Hugg
Chorus arranged from a spiritual

you can read my post about Johnson Oatman, Jr. here

At age 12, George Hugg became choirmaster at his church. At 14, he published his first song, which became very popular. He was a prolific composer, with over 2,000 works, including 18 books of revival and Sunday school music and 90 song services for special occasions (Christmas, Easter, etc.).

as you can see, I notated this one also for Mary so she could play the autoharp for us!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The vines in my yard

These are the vines in my yard. This is the story of my battle.

Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia, known as Virginia creeper, Victoria creeper, five-leaved ivy, or five-finger, is a species of flowering plant in the grape family, Vitaceae. It is native to eastern and central North America, from southeastern Canada and the eastern United States west to Manitoba and Utah, and south to eastern Mexico and Guatemala.
This stuff is everywhere and very aggressive. Pull it out today and it pops up tomorrow. I have pulled it out of my bushes and now it is growing into the yard. I used to think it was cute. I no longer think that.

English Ivy
Hedera helix - common ivy, English ivy, European ivy, or just ivy; native to most of Europe and western Asia. A rampant, clinging evergreen vine. It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced. And I agree, it is invasive. This stuff is everywhere. I am still trying to decide if it is useful in some areas as ground cover.

Wild Yam
Dioscorea villosa is a species of a twining tuberous vine that is native to eastern North America. It is growing in one end of my Forsythia. I have been so successful in removing it from my Forsythia that it moved to the area next to it, and vigorously into the yard. People have asked me if it is edible and others have said it was medicinal. I don’t really care, I want it gone.

I don’t know what this is. It grows in one place in my yard, in a single Camellia. I don’t know its name and I tolerate it only because it has such beautiful and fragrant flowers.

Cypress Vine
Ipomoea quamoclit also known as cypress vine, cypressvine morning glory, cardinal creeper, cardinal vine, star glory or hummingbird vine. This grows naturally in all the cultivated areas in my backyard and has a tendency to choke out good plants, but I like it. I try to control its strangling effects while at the same encouraging its climbing. As you can see it doesn't need a lot of help.

I have also found kudzu and poison ivy once each, but thankfully they are gone.

The Virginia Creeper, Ivy, and Wild Yam are aggressive and persistent, so I am involved in quite a battle. They also grow quite fast. I forgot to mention, I don’t use chemical poisons, so I have to stay on top of this!

Encounter at the Well

Hagar is at a well again. She seems to have spent a lot of time at wells!

Genesis 21

1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.  
2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.  
3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.  
4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5  And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
6  And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, all that hear will laugh with me.
7  And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
Amen! This is a significant moment in Genesis and in salvation history - it is with good reason Sarah rejoices and exults in the Lord!

8  And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the day that Isaac was weaned.
9  And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
10  Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
What does it mean, Ishmael was mocking? I don’t really know, but Sarah took exception to it. Ishmael is probably 17 years old and Isaac 3.
Cast out this bondwoman and her son- “Both Sarah and Abraham have been accused of cruelty in this transaction, because every word reads harsh to us. Cast out signifies not only to thrust out, drive away, and expel, but also to divorce; (see Lev 21:7); and it is in this latter sense the word should be understood here. The child of Abraham by Hagar might be considered as having a right at least to a part of the inheritance; and as it was sufficiently known to Sarah that God had designed that the succession should be established in the line of Isaac, she wished Abraham to divorce Hagar, or to perform some sort of legal act by which Ishmael might be excluded from all claim on the inheritance.” (Adam Clarke)
See Galatians 4:21-31 for how the Apostle Paul applies this to us

11  And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.
12  And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
13  And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight Clearly he cherished Ishamael.
And God said - turns out Sarah was right! Then He gives Abraham two promises: “in Isaac shall thy seed by called” and “I will make Ishmael a nation.”

14  And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
“By ‘bread’ we are to understand the food or provisions which were necessary for her and Ishmael, till they should come to the place of their destination; which, no doubt, Abraham particularly pointed out. The ‘bottle’ contained water sufficient to last them till they should come to the next well; which, it is likely, Abraham particularly specified also. We may therefore safely presume that she and her son were sufficiently provided for their journey. Travelers in those countries take only provisions sufficient to carry them to the next village or encampment; and water to supply them till they shall meet with the next well.” (Adam Clarke)

15  And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
16  And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
Alas, Hagar appears to have gotten lost and is now so desperate she has given up. Ishmael is 17, why is he more worn out than his mama? Teenagers! The people in that country would’ve understood immediately – they are literally thirsting to death
She lift up her voice, and wept – The Septuagint has it, “And she departed and sat down opposite him at a distance, as it were a bow-shot, for she said, Surely I cannot see the death of my child: and she sat opposite him, and the child cried aloud and wept.” This matches the next verse much better. However we read it, there is such sadness in this story. I like to think this includes crying out for help.

17  And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
the angel of God – the same person as in her last encounter, the Son
What aileth thee, Hagar? Ha, isn’t it obvious? But the angel of God sees beyond what is to what God will do – God hath heard the voice of the lad. God saw his need and had the supply. When you can look past your circumstance, beyond your need, and see God’s supply, that is faith.

In their trouble they cried out to God. My problem is too often I get into a fix and cry, but I don't cry out to the Lord. Or, when I do pray, it is not in faith, I'm just saying the words. I need to pray until I find the promise; then I need to believe the promise, that is, focus on what God is going to do and not what I see.

18  Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
19  And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
Again the promise, I will make him a great nation. Why is God taking care of Ishmael? For Abraham’s sake, because He has made promises to him concerning the lad. God made a covenant with Abraham and promised to make Ishmael a great nation. God is answering their cry because of His covenant with Abraham.  This is an picture of praying in the name of Jesus. My confidence toward the high, holy, righteous God is based on who Jesus is, what he has done, and God's covenant with him.

she saw a well of water – Praise the Lord! God opened her eyes to see the well. I need to remember the pattern here: trouble, cry out to the Lord, believe the promise, obey, then I will see the well. Reminds me of the ten lepers, as they went, they were cleansed. When they left Jesus they still had leprosy. When Hagar went to Ishmael she still had no water. But when she believed enough to obey, she saw the well. Amen.

20  And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21  And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Hagar had great trials. Trials I can’t even imagine. And in her trials she cried out to God and he provided for her. This is meant to encourage us: When you are in trouble, when you despair, cry out to the Lord and he will save you!

Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A hymn for Thursday

I Will Praise Him

When I saw the cleansing fountain
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing,
When He said, “Wilt thou be clean?”

I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.

Though the way seems straight and narrow,
All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
At my feet in ashes lay.

Then God’s fire upon the altar
Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise Him
Glory, glory to His Name!

Blessed be the Name of Jesus!
I’m so glad He took me in;
He’s forgiven my transgressions,
He has cleansed my heart from sin.

Glory, glory to the Father!
Glory, glory to the Son!
Glory, glory to the Spirit!
Glory to the Three in One!

I would often change the last line of the refrain,
For His blood can wash away each stain
For His blood has washed away each stain

Margaret J. Harris, 1898

Margaret Harris was a member of the Iowa Holiness Association. She and her husband, songwriter John Harris, were active in holiness revivals and camp meetings. Margaret played the organ to accompany the duets she sang with her husband. In addition, Margaret was known as an effective preacher with strong messages.

I also enjoyed singing another of her songs, He Took My Sins Away