While cleaning out some long-undisturbed cupboards in the church basement, members of my congregation unearthed a pile of disused hymnbooks and gave them to anyone who wanted one. I claimed The Book of Praise, printed in 1918. Though it is mended and has yellowed pages, I have enjoyed the poetry of the hymns, penned by great Christian writers such as Sir Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, and John Wesley. The English is often archaic, but the expressions of praise and worship are timeless, and my heart has been blessed by reading the verses. Let me share some verses by John Newton (1725-1807):
- Great Shepherd of Thy people, hear;
Thy presence now display.
As Thou has giv'n a place for prayer,
So give us hearts to pray.
Within these walls let holy peace,
And love, and concord dwell;
Here give the troubled conscience ease,
The wounded spirit heal.
May we in faith receive Thy Word,
In faith present our prayers,
And in the presence of our Lord,
Unbosom all our cares.
What words of comfort and assurance during these troubled times!
King Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah faced imminent invasion by three enemy armies. In their fear and confusion, they turned to the Lord for salvation. Their prayers echoed what John Newton penned so many years later, but God's response was sure and mighty to save.
2 Chronicles 20:17 – You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you. (ESV)
In the most amazing military victory in the Bible, the choir led the army into battle, praising God and saying, "Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever." Then God raised an insurrection among the enemy armies, and they completely destroyed each other.
Our world is experiencing unprecedented uncertainty and confusing times. Take comfort in the faith and praises in the Scriptures, the hymns of previous generations, and contemporary worship songs. The same God who rescued Judah and Jerusalem is mighty to save His people today. Be among those who go out and praise!
Prayer: Today, dear Lord, we give thanks to You, for Your steadfast love endures forever. Thank You for the faith expressed in the praise of Bible heroes and previous generations of Christian poets and writers, and for the encouragement that still rings out for us today. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Come Let Us To The Lord Our God" (Lyrics)