This is the song I’ve been focusing on this Easter. I think even the hardest heart would have a hard time walking away from the reality of what Christ went through for us and at least not think about saying Yes to Him. I watched Jesus of Nazareth last night but I didn’t watch the crucifixion. Instead, I closed my eyes and imagined in my mine’s eye the pain that must have went through Jesus’ body with every blow of that cruel hammer. Yet every day, people go about life as if He doesn’t exist. That must pain Him even more.
I pray that, for those of us who know Him, we never fail to show our love for Him and let Him know how grateful we are for His sacrifice. As we do, we can sing wholeheartedly, “Glorious morning! Jesus has risen!!!”
Such an important topic but one that I don’t hear many sermons on. In Jesus’ final moments on the cross, He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they do.” He told His disciples, “If you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.” As He taught His disciples to pray, He included the line, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiveness is not optional.
I think all of us would admit that we have had much to be forgiven for in our lives. Yet, when others wrong us, we are quick to retaliate and want to see them pay. This is not the example Jesus gave us. He told us to turn the other cheek, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who despitefully use us. This is what sets us apart from the world.
Christianity is not for wimps. It is a strong person who can walk away from someone who has slandered them or done them wrong in some way and yet, instead of retaliating, stop and pray for that same person. It’s not easy but it is pleasing to our Father.
If there is someone in your life that you have not been able to forgive, ask God daily to help you. Pray for that person. This in itself can help to soften your heart. Forgiveness does not mean letting your guard down and acting as if nothing has happened but it does mean refusing to hate the person or to return evil for evil. Without God, this is impossible but I believe God will give you the strength you need if you cry out to Him on a daily basis. After all, that was His example.
I am one of those who was saddened to hear about Pat Barker leaving The Mark Trammell Quartet in a few weeks but I am old enough to realize that, to everything, there is a season. Although I do not like change, I do know that change is rarely as bad as I think it will be. God has a plan. I wish Pat the best and hope to see him singing again one day. Please keep The Mark Trammell Quartet in your prayers as they try to find a replacement for Brother Pat.
Life has been hectic lately. The ministry I work for is in the throes of convention season which means I have been on the road since March 1. I now have a couple weeks at home before we hit the road again. Although exhausting, it’s a blessing to be able to serve the Lord full time.
Recently, I have also started a couple other ventures to earn some extra income. Humanly, I am really eager to get some business but I know God’s timing is perfect. If I’m following Him, He will give me the business I need.
I have learned a lot about faith and patience these last few years but a student of God never graduates. I am constantly learning how to hear God’s voice, to be patient with others, to walk in love and humility. The apostle Paul summed it up best when he said, “Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). I pray that each day finds me becoming more and more like Jesus. May I never stop learning but continually seek His face, listening for His voice so that I become the daughter He desires me to be.
“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have worked the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, parties, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:3-6).
I like 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul is talking to the church in Corinth, going down the list of people who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Then he says, “And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (vs. 11).
No one was born saved. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But God …. Thankfully, He is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. He continues to show us grace and mercy and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As God continues to clean you up, to convict you of sin that is keeping you from the ultimate communion with Him, don’t be like pigs who return to the mire. Allow Him to continue to wash you whiter than snow so that you can spend eternity with Him. Although sin may be pleasurable for a season, it is not worth missing the life God has in store for those who serve Him.
“For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).
Many think that Christians don’t or should not suffer but I beg to differ. After all, our dear Savior suffered who knew no sin. How much more should we suffer who are full of sin apart from Him.
We are bought with a price. When we come to Christ, we acknowledge that we are no longer our own but we desire Him to live in us and take over every part of our lives. As we do that, we become more willing to suffer and be tested however He wills because we know that the trying of our faith produces patience (James 1:3).
I am so grateful for a God who loved me so much He sent His only Son to suffer a cruel death so that I can have fellowship with Him. As I go through each day, I am striving to keep the Cross in my mind’s eye. Jesus did not die to give me a life of selfishness and ease. He desires my wholehearted service and obedience. How can I give Him any less?
I finally have a complaint about Brian Free and Assurance. This CD sounds like the last two (nothing new or out of the ordinary). They continue to be progressive with a “4 Him” feel, but their lyrics are still strong so, for that reason, they will continue to be one of my favorite quartets.
The title track, Nothing But Love, begins the CD and summarizes what this CD is about: God’s love.
The last several recordings feature songs about “valleys.” It’s Quite a Valley reminds us that it may be a valley but it’s nothing He won’t bring you through. Don’t lose hope.
Jeremy Lile sings, If the Lord Says Do It. God won’t call you to do something He won’t help you do.
I Will Be Praying is an uptempo, progressive song about intercession.
Guard Your Heart is a reminder that you are God’s. Your life is not your own.
Next, they sing, There is Power. God has the power to perform that much-needed miracle “just when you need it most.”
Brian Free sings, Calvary’s Cry. “Come and be saved is Calvary’s cry.” God is not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.
You Can Be a Bridge is a song of hope for those of us who wonder if God can use us. Yes, He can! The possibilities are endless!
A Christian cannot listen to I Want to Be That Man without saying a hearty AMEN! There are so many who have gone before us. Let’s follow them as they follow(ed) Christ, and let’s be men and women who live a life that leads others to the God that we love.
The CD ends with Revival. “If only we would see the church upon our knees and our fervent prayer would be, ‘Revival! Let it begin with me!’” Let it be so.
This morning, I listened to Karen Peck and New River sing, “If everybody’s going through something, I’d rather go through something with Him.” That is so true. God never promised a life with no thorns but, if I look at Him while walking through the briers, the pain is lessened. It may still be there but it is minor in light of the love of my Savior.
Today, I am focusing on thanking God for His many blessings. All I have needed, His hand hath provided. Great is His faithfulness unto me. With that ever before me, how can I keep from singing? Thank You, Lord, that, because of You, I’ll never walk alone but You will continually hold my hand and use me for Your glory.
It wasn’t that long ago that I did not like “Hymns” recordings. Maybe I’m getting old but I think there are better “Hymns” projects being recorded these days. Years ago, every recording seemed to feature the same hymns, just different vocals. Today there seems to be more variety and creativity to remind us there are more than just 8 or 10 hymns to inspire and minister to you. Ann Downing has chosen 11 such hymns which she sings very traditionally, yet in her own way. One thing I particular like about this CD is that each song sounds different: different instruments, arrangements, etc. Jeff Duffield did the orchestrations on this recording, and he did a great job.
As soon as she begins singing I Stand Amazed in the Presence, my heart wells up with praise as I truly think of how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me! This feeling continues to the last note of All That Thrills My Soul.
And Can It Be? deserves a special mention. Very nice musical arrangement and sung in a way that brings the words to life. “My chains fell off. My heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” I’m so glad I did!
There is a Fountain is sung with piano only.
Sue Duffield joined Ann in a beautiful arrangement of Lead Me to Calvary.
Other songs included are: God Leads Us Along, How Firm a Foundation, Footsteps of Jesus, He Giveth More Grace, Blessed Assurance, and He Hideth My Soul.
“There is a way that leads to life; the few that find it never die.”
As I was thinking about the difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow, the words to this old song came to my mind. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us, “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.”
It is easy to be sorry when faced with the consequences of our sin but very few seem to have a Godly sorrow that leads to repentance, a groan from our inmost being which causes our heart to break as we think about what our sin has done to our loving Savior, a resolve to make whatever changes are necessary to never commit that sin again. Sin may be pleasurable for a season but the end result is death.
I am not immune to temptation but I pray often that God will stay close to me and help me to be faithful. I long to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Lord, make me willing to instantly discard everything in my life that does not completely honor You. Give me that Godly sorrow that produces a pure heart which will allow me to see You.