Thursday, September 29, 2016

A hymn for Thursday


I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this hymn: I was candidating at Bible Covenant Community Church in York. Just before the Sunday night service, I noticed a few people gathered together, discussing something. When the service started, that group made their way to the choir risers and took their places – this was an impromptu choir special! They sang Satisfied. I enjoyed it that night and ever since. You can hear it here – this is simply piano and starts right away.

All my life long I had panted
For a drink from some cool spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.

Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings;
Through His life I now am saved.

Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.

Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life, so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.

Words: Clara T. Williams
Music: Ralph E. Hudson

Of this song she said, “About 1875, I was helping in meetings in Troy, Ohio, where Professor R. E. Hudson conducted the singing, when, just before retiring one night, he asked me to write a song for a book he was preparing to publish. Before sleeping, I wrote Satisfied. In the morning, he composed the music.”

Click here for more on Clara Williams. Be sure to click on each of the tabs on the right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Encounter at the well

spring up O well

Numbers 21

Wow! This is a long chapter and a lot happens in it! It is full of difficulties, mysteries, victories, types, and poetry. What a wonderful chapter. Sadly, I am only taking a look at the encounter at the well...

16 And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.
they went to Beer – if you recall, Be’er is the Hebrew word for well. This well became so famous it became known simply as “The Well.” And it was here that the Lord said:
Gather the people together, and I will give them water – this is a wonderful promise, I will give them water. I must confess, I live in a land where water is always, readily, easily available. I have no idea what it is to be traveling through waterless places, which is exactly what they were doing. What a precious promise, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. God is our source, our supply, and this is His promise. And in verses 17-18, they found it!

17 Then Israel sang this song
This was an exciting time. I have read that this is the first time Israel sang since Exodus 15. And what is really exciting is we have the actual song! Verses 17-18:

Spring up, O well; 
sing ye unto it:
The princes digged the well, 
the nobles of the people digged it, 
by the lawgiver, with their staves. 

This is a very ancient poem/song. God promised water and here it is! And so they sing, Spring up, O well. But notice the song. God said, I will give them water, but when they got to the area, there was no water. They had to dig the well. But they didn’t just look for some muscle bound youths. No, the princes dug it, the nobles dug for this water. As they dug the people sang, Spring up, O well. And I can hear the increase in volume as the water began to spring up! God said, “I will give them water” and He did! Cool, sweet water. What refreshment! What joy!
18 . . . And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:
19 And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:
20 And from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.
I am not certain, but I am persuaded that while 18-20 are not part of the song, these verses describe in poetical terms this encounter at the well.
And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah – Mattanah means gift of Yahweh
And from Mattanah to Nahaliel – Nahaliel means torrents of God
and from Nahaliel to Bamoth – Bamoth means high place
This well, this torrent of God, was a gift from Yahweh.

I have a chorus book that was published in 1971, and it contains an anonymous song based on this passage:

Spring up, O well, within my soul
Spring up, O well, and overflow
Spring up, O well, flow out from me
Spring up, O well, and set me free

The same chorus book also contains a song written by L. Casebolt, probably based on John 7:38-39:

There’s a river of life flowing out through me
It makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free
There’s a river of life flowing out through me

Although I have them, I have never sung these songs. Somebody put them together, altered the melody, and by 1978 it appeared thus, with L. Casebolt as the author:

I’ve got a river of life flowing out from me
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets those captives free
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me

Spring up, O well, within my soul
Spring up, O well, and make me whole
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly

Why all this ado about a simple song? God said, I will give them water. Jesus spoke of  water: the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life and again, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This scripture is a beautiful picture of this. Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it. When we believed in Jesus, he placed within us a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Amen! Sing to the well, ask it to spring up and become a river flowing out of you!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Herman Eckstein

I think about this brother from time to time. He was one of the men in the first church I pastored, Brent Alliance Church in Pensacola, FL. I liked this brother. He was a quiet and shy man who loved the Lord.
Sunday nights, our songs were often chosen by the congregation. I was remembering the night he picked "Consider the Lillies." It must've been on our song list, but I can't recall the list or how it would've gotten there. You see, I didn't know the chorus! 
When Herman called out his choice, I looked at it, said I didn't know this one, then asked him, "Do you know it?" He answered, "No. It just looks like a good one." Isn't that cool?
We didn't sing it that night, I mean, no one knew it, but I promised him I would learn it so we could sing it. I did and we did! We sang it often after that. I liked it so much it made it into the chorus book we published at the next church I pastored, First Alliance Church in Macon, GA. Sadly, we never sang it at the church I pastored in York.
Anyway, I was remembering Herman the other day and thinking about the night he picked this chorus. I looked for it among my song books this morning, found it, and sang it. I really don't know if I know anybody else who knows it, so I have included the sheet music so you can work it out just like I did all those years ago. As you can see, the song spills over onto the next page. Next page? You have to turn the page!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A hymn for Thursday

Where Jesus Is, ’Tis Heaven There

I can’t remember when I learned this hymn, but I can remember sitting at the piano, playing and singing it quite often in the Fellowship Hall in the church in Macon, GA. I love it. And in an interesting note, this is one of the most popular hymns in Korea. You can listen to it here, just a guy and his guitar.

Since Christ my soul from sin set free,
This world has been a Heav’n to me;
And ’mid earth’s sorrows and its woe,
’Tis Heav’n my Jesus here to know.

O hallelujah, yes, ’tis Heav’n,
’Tis Heav’n to know my sins forgiv’n,
On land or sea, what matters where?
Where Jesus is, ’tis Heaven there.

Once Heaven seemed a far off place,
Till Jesus showed His smiling face;
Now it’s begun within my soul,
’Twill last while endless ages roll.

What matters where on earth we dwell?
On mountain top, or in the dell,
In cottage, or a mansion fair,
Where Jesus is, ’tis Heaven there.

Words: Charles J. Butler (in The Chorus of Praise, edited by James M. Black,1898)
Music: James M. Black
Black was an active member of the Pine Street Methodist Episcopal Church from 1904 until his death, serving as a song leader and Sunday school teacher. He also found time to edit a dozen Gospel song books, write almost 1,500 songs, and serve on the commission for the 1905 Methodist hymnal. Perhaps a more familiar hymn of his: When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

Here it is done beautifully in Korean

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Encounter at the well

Exodus 15 
And they came to Elim

1-19 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord
Amen! and, Praise the Lord! There are two songs we used to sing from this great song:

The Horse and Rider (from verses 1&2)
I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously:
the horse and rider are thrown into the sea. (2x)
The Lord, my God, my strength, my song
Is now become my victory! (2x)
The Lord is God and I will praise Him
My father’s God and I will exalt Him! (2x)

Who is Like Unto Thee (from verse 11)
Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Who is like unto thee?

20-21 And Miriam...took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Amen!

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
Three days without finding water. I imagine they are growing concerned.

23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.  
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?  
25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,  
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.  
This is an amazing and wonderful passage! They came to water but it was not drinkable and they murmured. Murmuring reflects a lack of faith. They are supposed to be learning but instead they are murmuring. Moses cried out to God and God answered and provided for the people. And in so doing He reveals more of Himself to Israel through His name, Yahweh Rapha - I am Yahweh that healeth thee. There is much in this passage for us today, but it doesn’t take place by a well so I must move on.

27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
Here, in the last verse of this chapter, we finally come to the well. Actually, twelve wells! And a grove of palm trees!!

Matthew Henry says of this encounter at the well:
“Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the waters of Marah, yet that shall not always be their lot. See how changeable our condition is in this world, from better to worse, from worse to better. Let us therefore learn both how to be abased and how to abound. Here were twelve wells for their supply, one for every tribe, that they might not strive for water, as their fathers had sometimes done; and, for their pleasure, there were seventy palm-trees, under the shadow of which their great men might repose themselves. Note, God can find places of refreshment for his people even in the wilderness of this world, wells in the valley of Baca, lest they should faint in their mind with perpetual fatigue: yet, whatever our delights may be in the land of our pilgrimage, we must remember that we do but encamp by them for a time, that here we have no continuing city.”

A.B. Simpson explains the significance of the encounter at Marah and says it refers to the promise and provision of divine healing. And after explaining Marah, he goes on to speak of the wells of Elim:

“Once more, the blessing that follows divine healing is finely expressed in the sequel to this ancient incident. "They came to Elim where were twelve wells of water and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters." There is something exquisite about this sentence. It seems to be a sort of crystallized poem. The very tones fall upon the ear with strange sweetness. We can almost imagine that we feel the balm of the soft tropical air, hear the rustling of the palm trees, and see the sparkling waters from Elim's wells. How refreshing the shade; how exhilarating the fountains; how delightful the rest; how heavenly the overshadowing cloud! It is like a scene from the land of Beulah. It speaks to the deepest senses of the soul of the love of the Lord and the peace of God that passeth all understanding. And this is just the experience to which divine healing introduces the soul; the spiritual blessing is even richer than the physical. How real Christ seems to us; how we come to know the Lord as never before, and how He rests us and sheds the fragrance of His love and joy through every sense of our spiritual and physical being until the heart finds utterance in the inspired song, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Reader, have you made this great discovery? It is hidden somewhere in your Bible. Perhaps the very trial that has crushed you is God's opportunity for revealing it to you. God grant that the old story may be reproduced in your life. "He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the water, the waters were made sweet."”

What a blessing this was after wandering three days without water. What abundance! This wasn’t just barely enough water, this was twelve wells of water! And not just water, but shade!

They should have been in the Promised Land, but through unbelief they were stuck in the wilderness, and God is taking them from trial to trial to prove them, and there he proved them, that is, will they look to God in their trials. Sadly, when they got to Marah they murmured, but Moses interceded for them and God healed the waters. How awesome is that? He also made for them a statute and an ordinance ... And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken ... Now he blesses them with twelve wells.

This is a picture of our spiritual life: God saves us from our Egypt and intends that we make a straight path to the Promised Land, but, like Israel, many of us don’t enter the land right away, instead we wander in the wilderness. God is with us even in the wilderness, and He uses our trials and troubles to prove us, to see whether we will trust Him in our troubles. And how often is a Marah followed by an Elim? But as we learn from this chapter, even Marah can be turned into a blessing!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A hymn for Thursday

Arise, My Soul, Arise

You can hear it here This is rather quiet, and the recording begins on the second stanza, but very nice

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

I am now reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Words: Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742.
Music: Lenox, Lewis Edson, 1782

Charles Wesley wrote that last stanza, “My God is reconciled...” and I would often change it to "I am now". I don’t believe God needed to be reconciled, we did. The sin was ours, the fault was ours, the problem was ours. We were the ones who needed to be reconciled, have the enmity removed. There was no fault or blame on God's part.

This may be the  original tune

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Encounter at the well

Exodus 2

Moses at the well

15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.  
Now when Pharaoh heard this thing – see verses 11-14
But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh – Moses was in a lot of trouble, his photo was in every post office in Egypt!
and he sat down by a well – this must have been a common thing, but from what we’ve seen so far this is a signal: there’s about to be an encounter at the well!

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.  
had seven daughters – and I thought having four was a blessing!
they water their father's flock – we’ve seen this before, unmarried women were often the shepherdesses of their family’s flock.
they came and drew water, and filled the troughs – this is hard work, and time consuming.

17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.  
And the shepherds came and drove them away – it would appear that abusive jerks have always been around.
but Moses stood up – I like this, he stood up, he’d been sitting and resting but when he saw what was happening, he stood up. He's about to intervene on their behalf.
and helped them - he defended them and drove the shepherds off; one man against several; they who were so tough against women, melted like butter before a man
and watered their flock – it seems like he not only helped them, he himself watered the flock. I don’t think Moses had some secret agenda, as in, I could get something out of this, I believe he was a good man, ready to help the oppressed whenever possible. That’s what had gotten him into trouble back in Egypt.

18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?  
They must have been frequently so abused by the shepherds because Reuel is surprised at how soon they have returned, “Y’all back already?”

19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.  
Boy do they have news today! How did they know Moses was an Egyptian? He clearly still had on his Egypt clothes. He left Egypt with only the clothes on his back.

20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.  
“Why did you leave him at the well?” He wanted to offer him thanks and hospitality.
Sometimes I wonder what Reuel did, because it looks like he just sat on the porch all day while everyone around him worked. Surely he was busy with other stuff...

21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man… 
Reuel must have offered him this opportunity, I don’t think Moses just up and decided to stay without being asked. But when it was offered, Moses accepted. After all, it’s not like he had several options!

21 ...and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.  
22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.  
We have seen this several times. They didn’t have so when their daughter found a young man at the well they offered him a job and, well, you know the rest of the story! So Moses joins the ranks of those who sat by a well and found a wife.

23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.  
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
And it came to pass in process of time – like 40 years.
The first 40 years of his life Moses was raised to be a somebody. He was also a man aware of a call from God to help the oppressed people of God, but when his first attempt in Egypt failed, he had to flee. He spent the next 40 years being a nobody, being emptied of all his Egyptian self-importance. I wrote about this a few years ago, I called it The Backside of the Desert. You can read it here.
This encounter at the well is not just another woman goes to well for water and finds a husband story. No, this is the fall of Moses, How to go from the house of Pharaoh to the backside of the desert. This is the beginning of the refining of Moses. He will spend the next 40 years in the middle of nowhere, being a nobody. But God is in this, even though Moses doesn’t know it. Truth is, this thing is bigger than Moses.
Since I'm not looking for a wife, I can avoid wells, but how would this apply to me? I believe that is addressed in The Backside of the Desert.