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2020-05-31 My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

In a beautiful paraphrase of Psalm 23, today’s hymn gives us a reassuring-and challenging-image of God. He's celebrated as our shepherd, the One who provides for all our needs. And those words wash us with the "quiet waters" of peace because they assure us that God will never leave us in want.

But the image of God as shepherd also confronts us with this challenging question: If God is our shepherd, are we sheep who follow and trust? Or do we wander our own way?

The gentle shepherd promises to lead us to pasture-to fill our every need. Yet how often have we looked for food somewhere else? Some neglect their faith and family to work long hours, not trusting God to provide in another way. Others hold onto unhealthy relationships, fearful of being left alone.

In hundreds of such ways, Christians wander from the Shepherd. And at the root of our wanderings lies a lack of trust in God-a fear that he won't come through. Not content with the quiet pasture God's provided for today, we start worrying about tomorrow and devising our own plans to fill our needs.

When you struggle with those doubts, sing the words of our hymn often and let them rest in your soul. You don't need to worry about tomorrow's needs. Your Shepherd has provided enough for today. And he'll do the same for tomorrow and every day beyond.

https://songsandhymns.org/hymns/detail/the-lords-my-shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs 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.

Psalm 23 (NKJV)

My Shepherd will supply my need;

Jehovah is His Name;

In pastures fresh He makes me feed

Beside the living stream.

He brings my wand’ring spirit back

When I forsake His ways,

And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,

In paths of truth and grace.

 

When I walk thru the shades of death,

Thy presence is my stay;

A word of Thy supporting breath

Drives all my fears away.

Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,

Doth still my table spread;

My cup with blessings overflows;

Thine oil anoints my head.

 

The sure provisions of my God

Attend me all my days;

O may Thy house be mine abode,

And all my work be praise!

There would I find a settled rest

(While others go and come),

No more a stranger or a guest,

But like a child at home.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-30 Jesus, Name Above All Names with O, How I Love Jesus

In 1931, Nadia Hearn was born to Bill and Elsie O’Hara, in Palmerston North, New Zealand. As a young child, she attended a Methodist Sunday school where she began to learn the things of the Bible. During her personal Bible study, she became interested in the different Biblical names given to Jesus and their meanings. She even made a list of those names.

One day in the early 1970s, as she made her way to the family washhouse to do the laundry, she carried with her the paper on which she had written the names given to Jesus. She placed the paper on the window sill in order that she might see it as she worked.

She told me, “While I was doing the family washing, the Lord gave me the first line of a song. I began singing, ‘Jesus, name above all names.’ I continued and sang the whole song just as you hear it today. I just opened my mouth and all of the words came out, the melody and everything. I just sang it.”

The song was soon being sung by her local congregation at New Life Church in Palmerton North and in time it became a worldwide favorite. Naida said, "The Spirit impressed on me that it was to be sung as a love song. It's all about Him. You should sing it softly, slowly and reverently. This is what He wanted."

https://www.staugustine.com/article/20150723/LIFESTYLE/307239983

In the piano arrangement I am playing today, this simple chorus has been paired with a much more familiar hymn, O, How I Love Jesus.  

If you were to guess, what would you think this song is about?

If you were to only focus on the chorus, you might assume this hymn is about our love for Jesus. If you were to focus on the last 5 words of the chorus, you might assume it is about Jesus’ love for us. That’s close… but not quite right.

The verses of this hymn were written by a British minister named Frederick Whitfield in 1855. And he probably never heard the chorus that was later attached to it. The chorus is a 19th-century American folk song that was sung in many camp meetings at that time.

So, what did Frederick intend this song to be about? It’s about Jesus’ name!

“There is a name I love to hear” – the name “Jesus”.  That name tells me who He was and what He was sent here to do: to save people form their sins.  The name “Jesus” gives me daily hope and help. The name “Jesus” reminds me that He bears my sorrow and pain.

Adapated from: https://thescottspot.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/o-how-i-love-jesus-written-in-1855

My prayer for you today is that you learn more every day about the One Who is the Name above all names. 

Scripture: Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 NIV

Jesus, Name Above All Names
Beautiful Saviour, Glorious Lord
Emmanuel, God Is With Us
Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.

There is a name I love to hear, 
I love to sing its worth; 
it sounds like music in my ear, 
the sweetest name on earth. 


O how I love Jesus, 
O how I love Jesus, 
O how I love Jesus, 
because he first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior's love, 
who died to set me free; 
it tells me of his precious blood, 
the sinner's perfect plea. 

 

It tells me what my Father has

In store for ev’ry day

And though I tread a gloomy path

Yields sunshine all the way.

 

It tells of one whose loving heart 
can feel my deepest woe; 
who in each sorrow bears a part 
that none can bear below. 

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-27 Higher Ground

This hymn-prayer, loosely based on Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3, was written by Johnson Oatman, author of “Count Your Blessing” and “No, Not One!”  Oatman wrote thousands of other hymns, most of which have fallen into the ocean of oblivion.

That’s too bad, for Oatman was one of the special gospel songwriters whose hymns focused primarily on Christian growth and personal victory.  Behind his hymns was this thought: It isn’t enough to know Christ; we need to know Him better and more deeply.  This is reflected in “Higher Ground” and in many of Oatman’s other songs.

Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, Book 2, 2004

Read this hymn, and – today – step onto spiritual ground a little higher than the ground you stood on yesterday.

 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

 I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-29 What Wondrous Love Is This

This hymn has always been associated with the Appalachian area.  Like most spirituals, it has been passed down through the generations and exists in several different versions.  The melody, based on a six-note scale, sounds minor to modern ears and has a haunting effect.  The text adds to the effect.  This is the question of the ages, and after all the glorious celebration of the Easter season, the question remains.  What made Him do it?  What made Him do it for me?

Every so often you’ll read about a disaster where someone makes a heroic but fatal effort to save others.  A man jumps into icy water to save someone.  He puts the lifeline in the person’s hand, but drowns.  We marvel at the selflessness of such a person.  What made him do it?  Christ “bore the dreadful curse” for our soul, and we can ponder that for the rest of our lives.  We can also resolve to devote our lives to Him, to please Him, and praise Him through all eternity.

William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen, Great Songs of Faith, 1995

Remember that Jesus loves you! That, because of that love, He died on the cross for your sins. What wondrous love!

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Galatians 3:13 (NLT)

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul! 
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss 
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, 
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul! 

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing, 
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing; 
to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM, 
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing, 
while millions join the theme, I will sing! 

 

And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on, 
and when from death I'm free, I'll sing on; 
and when from death I'm free, I'll sing and joyful be, 
and through eternity I'll sing on, I'll sing on, 
and through eternity I'll sing on! 

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-26 I Will Arise and Go to Jesus

Born in London in 1712, Joseph Hart resisted Christianity while young. To him, the faith made no sense. He even wrote a pamphlet called “The Unreasonableness of Religion.” He criticized the messages of Gospel ministers, including evangelist John Wesley. However, his life changed in 1757 after feeling conviction during a service in the Moravian Chapel, in London.

Driven by his new faith, he began writing hymns. One of the first was “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” From his own experience, he understood how many people resist salvation. But he knew that “Jesus ready stands to save” the weak, wounded, sick, and sore. All they had to do was respond.

Today, Jesus calls you to come to Him just as you are. No matter what you have done, or what problems you face, He will welcome you, take away your burdens, forgive your sins, and save your soul.

https://inspiration.org/daily-devotional/come-ye-sinners/

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

You may know it by one – or both – of the 2 tunes that have been put with Hart’s lyrics…

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore.
Jesus ready, stands to save you; full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms.
In the arms of my dear Saviour, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome; God’s free bounty glorify.
True belief and true repentance; every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, lost and ruined by the fall.
If you tarry ’til you’re better, you will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden; on the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him; sinner will this not suffice?

Lo! The incarnate God ascended; pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him, venture wholly; let no other trust intrude.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-28 No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

Charles Weigle was an Itinerant evangelist.  One day after preaching at a gospel crusade, he came home to find a note from his wife. She did not care for the life she led because of being an evangelist's wife and she was leaving him.

The next few years were a time of despair for Weigle. He even wondered if anyone really cared for him. After a time, his faith was again restored and he became active for the Lord again. During this time he wanted to put to paper a song that would share the feelings he had experienced while during his despondent days. From his heart came the words and the tune for the hymn, "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus."

https://www.collegeoftheopenbible.com/hymn-history-no-one-ever-cared-for-me-like-jesus.html

I will forever associate this beautiful hymn with my uncle, Wilmer Holifield.  Uncle Wilmer was the kind of person who owned any room he walked into. He had a loud, infectious laugh, he gave the biggest, tightest bear hugs, and he was always quick to tell a story with a funny ending (and ANY story could have a funny ending if Uncle Wilmer was telling it!).  He loved my Aunt Janell with a passion - almost as much as he loved her good cooking!  He delighted in being with family and hosting family reunions. I will always cherish my memories of Thanksgiving reunions in Taylorsville, where he and Aunt Janell lived and raised their family.

One thing he was passionate about more than anything else, though, was his love for Jesus. Although a businessman by trade (he owned a hardware store in Taylorsville, along with several other businesses), Uncle Wilmer was always in demand to lead music at revivals all throughout Smith County, Jones County, and surrounding areas. He was known far and wide for his beautiful, rich tenor voice, and he used it to glorify God every chance he got. 

Uncle Wilmer died in 2003 following complications from a stroke. At his funeral, they played a recording of him singing this song. I will never forget the lasting impression of hearing the love and joy in his voice as he gave his witness one last time. How wonderful to know that when you are called home, whether it is a day from now, a week, or years from now, you will be going to the One who loves you most!

18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;
I would tell you how He changed my life completely,
He did something that no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There's no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,
O how much He cared for me.

All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me,
All my heart was full of misery and woe;
Jesus placed His strong and loving arms about me,
And He led me in the way I ought to go.

Ev'ry day He comes to me with new assurance,
More and more I understand His words of love;
But I'll never know just why He came to save me,
Till some day I see His blessed face above.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

2020-05-25 Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones

Today we recognize and honor the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. We are eternally grateful for their gift of freedom to all of us living today.

Several years ago, our choir at First United Methodist Church Long Beach sang one of the most moving tributes to our fallen soldiers I have ever heard: “Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones”. This anthem was written in 2006 by Senator Orin Hatch (with Philip Naish and Lowell Alexander) in memory of his brother, who was killed in World War II. He says, “Anyone who has walked the hallowed ground at Arlington or any other military cemetery will understand this tribute to those who have sacrificed everything for freedom and country."

The lyrics are too beautiful not to share this Memorial Day. I do not have a piano arrangement of this beautiful anthem, so I have improvised from a choir version I found online.  I hope as you read the words and listen to the music that you reflect on the memory of our fallen heroes and remember their sacrifice.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

John 15:13 (NKJV)

Blades of grass and pure white stones
Shelter those who've come and gone.
Just below the emerald sod are those who've reached the arms of God.


Buried here with dignity,
Endless rows for all to see.
Freedom's seed in sorrow sown
‘Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.


Blades of grass and pure white stones
Cover those who've left their homes,
To rest in fields, here side by side,
Lest we forget their sacrifice.


Buried here with dignity,
Endless rows for all to see.
Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown
'Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

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