Hymn: Jesus is Coming Again

Nothing brings a sense of contentment to me more than thinking about the imminent return of Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul encouraged his readers not to believe a rumor or false teaching that the Lord’s return had passed already and that they might never see their saved loved ones again. His words of comfort give us insight into what God has planned for those who belong to Him:

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [died]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NKJV)

 

Jesus is Coming Again

by John W. Peterson *

Marvelous message we bring,

Glorious carol we sing,

Wonderful word of the King,

Jesus is coming again!

Chorus

Coming again, Coming again,

May be morning, may be noon,

May be evening and may be soon!

Coming again, Coming again;

O what a wonderful day it will be –

Jesus is coming again!

Forest and flower exclaim,

Mountain and meadow the same,

All earth and heaven proclaim,

Jesus is coming again! [Chorus]

Standing before Him at last,

Trial and trouble all past,

Crowns at His feet we will cast,

Jesus is coming again! [Chorus]

 

* John Willard Peterson (1921 –2006) was born in Lindsborg, Kansas. He served as an Army Air Force pilot flying the China Hump from Burma during World War II. He attended Moody Bible Institute and graduated from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and shortly thereafter began his songwriting career. For over ten years he was President and Editor-in-Chief of Singspiration, a sacred music publishing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While there, he compiled and edited a popular hymnal called “Great Hymns of the Faith.” He had a major influence on evangelical Christian music in the 1950s through the 1970s. He wrote over 1,000 songs and 35 cantatas.

Some of John Peterson’s more popular song titles include “Heaven Came Down,” “So Send I You,” “Springs of Living Water,” “Jesus is Coming Again,” “Surely Goodness and Mercy,” “This is the day that the Lord hath made,” and “O Glorious Love.” His cantatas include “Down From His Glory,” “Born a King,” and “Hallelujah for the Cross.”

 

Divine Providence and Contentment

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

“The art of contentment is a right knowledge of God’s providence.”

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, points out that a correct understanding of God’s providence is needed for spiritual contentment in the face of the trials and difficulties of life as a Christian.

Here is a good theological definition of divine providence: “It is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.” https://www.gotquestions.org/divine-providence.html

Burroughs explains three ways that a proper understanding of God’s providence can influence our contentment:

Providence is universal—“The soul must be thoroughly instructed in providence to come to the art of contentment. Not only that God by his providence rules the world and governs all things in general, but that it reaches to every detail; not only to order the great affairs of kingdoms, but it reaches to every man’s family; it reaches to every person in the family; it reaches to every condition; yea, to every happening, to everything that falls out concerning you in every particular: not one hair falls from your head, not a sparrow to the ground, without the providence of God. There is nothing that befalls you but there is a hand of God in it—this is from God and is a great help in contentment.”

Providence is efficacious [effective; successful in producing its desired or intended result]—“Suppose we are discontented and vexed and troubled, and we fret and rage, yet we need not think that we will alter the course of providence by our discontent. I may say to every discontented, impatient heart: What, shall the providence of God change its course for you? Do you think that because it does not please you it must alter its course? Whether or not you are content, the providence of God will go on. It has an efficacy of power, of virtue, to carry all things before it. Can you make one hair black or white with all the stir that you are making? When you are in a ship at sea which has all its sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship? No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can. But understand the power and efficacy of providence and it will be a mighty means helping you to learn this lesson of contentment.”

Providence has infinite variety, all working together—“There is an infinite variety of the works of God in ordinary providence, and yet they all work in an orderly way. We put these two things together: for God in his providence causes a thousand thousand things to depend on upon another. There are an infinite number of wheels, as I may say, in the works of providence. God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence that falls out in your life this day or this week. Let me therefore be quiet and content, for though I am crossed in some one particular thing, God attains his end; at least his end may be furthered in a thousand things by this one thing that I am crossed in. Therefore let a man consider that this is an act of providence. How do I know what God is about to do, and how many things the Lord may have his work go on in general, in a thousand other things?”

 

Hymn: Be Thou My Vision

“Be Thou My Vision” is a traditional Christian hymn of Irish origin. The words are based on a Middle Irish poem or prayer often attributed to a sixth-century Irish Christian, however it may have been written later than that. The text reflects aspects of life in Early Christian Ireland (c. 400-800 AD). The prayer is a prayer for protection and is best seen in a verse omitted from most modern hymnals:

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;

Be Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;

Be Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,

O raise Thou me heav’nward, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

The symbolic use of a battle-shield and a sword to invoke the power and protection of God draws on Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:16–17), which refers to “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit”. Such military symbolism was common in the poetry and hymnnology of Christian monasteries of the period due to the prevalence of clan warfare across Ireland. The poem makes reference to God as the “High King of Heaven”. This depiction of the Christian God as a chieftain or High King is a traditional representation in Irish literature; medieval Irish poetry typically used heroic imagery to portray God as a clan protector.

 

Be Thou My Vision

Translated by Mary Byrne; *

Versified by Eleanor Hull **

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night;

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father and I, Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;

Thou mine inheritance, now and always;

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;

O King of glory, my treasure Thou art.

O King of glory, my victory won;

Rule and reign in me ’til Thy will be done;

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall;

Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

(Sung by the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team)

 * Mary Byrne (1880 – 1931) was born in Ireland and first translated the old Irish hymn, “Bí Thusa ‘mo Shúile,” into English as “Be Thou My Vision” in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. A linguist, Byrne received her education from the National University of Ireland. She contributed to the Old and Mid-Irish Dictionary and Dictionary of the Irish Language.

** Eleanor Hull (1860 – 1935) was born in England, of a County Down family. She was educated at Alexandra College, Dublin and was a student of Irish Studies. She was a co-founder of the Irish Texts Society for the publication of early manuscripts and president of the Irish Literary Society. The best-known English version of “Be Thou My Vision”, with some minor variations, was translated by her and published in 1912. Since 1919 it has been commonly sung to an Irish folk tune and is one of the most popular hymns in the United Kingdom.

 

The Determination to Serve

[Jesus] “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

The Determination to Serve

From My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers *

“Paul’s idea of service is the same as Our Lord’s: ‘I am among you as He that serveth’; ‘ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ We have an idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘doormat’ of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. ‘I know how to be abased,’ says Paul. This is Paul’s idea of service: ‘I will spend myself for the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or you  may give me blame, it will make no difference. So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.’

“The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed or broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow man.

“Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person’—no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.”

 

* Oswald Chambers (1874—1917) was an early-twentieth-century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest.

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Chambers moved with his family in 1876 to Stoke-on-Trent when his father, Clarence Chambers, became Home Missions evangelist for the North Staffordshire Baptist Association. At age sixteen, Oswald Chambers was baptized and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Chapel. Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses.

While studying art in Edinburgh, he felt called to ministry and he left for Dunoon College, a small theological training school near Glasgow. Chambers was soon teaching classes at the school and took over much of the administration. Thereafter he spoke at evangelistic meetings in Great Britain and spent a semester teaching at God’s Bible School, a Holiness institution in Cincinnati, Ohio, then spent a few months in Japan working with the Oriental Missionary Society. Sailing back to the United States in 1908, Chambers became better acquainted with Gertrude Hobbs, the daughter of friends, whom he had known casually. They married in 1910. Chambers considered ministry a partnership in which Biddy—who could take shorthand at 250 words per minute—would transcribe and type his sermons and lessons into written form.

In 1911 Chambers founded and was principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham Common, Greater London. In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I, Chambers suspended the operation of the school and was accepted as a YMCA chaplain. He was assigned to Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops, who later participated in the Battle of Gallipoli. Chambers raised the spiritual tone of a center intended by both the military and the YMCA to be simply an institution of social service providing wholesome alternatives to the brothels of Cairo. Soon his wooden-framed “hut” was packed with hundreds of soldiers listening attentively to messages such as “What Is the Good of Prayer?” Confronted by a soldier who said, “I can’t stand religious people,” Chambers replied, “Neither can I.”

Chambers was stricken with appendicitis on 17 October 1917, but resisted going to a hospital on the grounds that the beds would be needed by men wounded in the Third Battle of Gaza. On 29 October, a surgeon performed an emergency appendectomy; however, Chambers died 15 November 1917 from a pulmonary hemorrhage. He was buried in Cairo with full military honors.

For the remainder of her life—and at first under very straitened circumstances—Chambers’ widow transcribed and published books and articles edited from the notes she had taken in shorthand during the Bible College years and in Cairo, Egypt. Most successful of the thirty books was My Utmost for His Highest (1924). The work has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages.

 

Hymn: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

 

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

by Henry W. Baker *

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never,

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul He leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow,

With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;

Thy unction grace bestoweth;

And O what transport of delight

From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise

Within Thy house forever.

* Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) was the eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker. He was educated at Trinity College and took Holy Orders in 1844. Sir Henry’s name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, “Oh! what if we are Christ’s,” which he contributed to Murray’s Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number 33 in all. The last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were the third stanza of his exquisite rendering of the 23rd Psalm, “The King of Love, my Shepherd is”:

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His Shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

This tender sadness, brightened by a soft calm peace, epitomized his poetical life. (This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Di­a­na, Prin­cess of Wales, in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Sep­tem­ber 6, 1997.)

 

A Believer Objects – “But I’m OK!”

 

In the 1960s, a pop psychology book titled I’m OK-You’re OK by Thomas A. Harris topped the NYT best-seller list for years. It promoted healthy human relations based on transactional negotiations between individuals of various personality types. Fifty years later, this transactional concept of human relations permeates American society. Children are taught to use self-acceptance, self-love, self-worth, and other concepts to build up their half of the transaction (“I’m OK”). The result after fifty years is an American population characterized by conceit, pride, and self-importance. In spite of this mantra of self-love, few people are truly content. We would be forced to admit to ourselves (maybe reluctantly)—“I’m not OK!” In light of our sinful nature, this has never been a popular view.

In  this short piece, Jeremiah Burroughs (he lived 1599-1646) points us to another aspect of his formula for spiritual contentment that is completely opposite from the transactional model promoted by Harris—“I’m not OK! I am the problem!” King Solomon observed what life was like “under the sun,” a term for a life apart from God. Vain, empty, worthless, pointless, hopeless describes a person (and a society) who has pushed God out of his/her thoughts.

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (NKJV)

Burroughs offers this insight:

“The vanity of the creature—Whatever there is in the creature has an emptiness to it. ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,’ is the lesson that a wise man learned; the creature in itself can do us no good; it is all but as wind. There is nothing in the creature that is suitable for a gracious heart to feed upon for its good or happiness. My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of this world is not because you have not got enough of them—that is not the reason—but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable [suitable, appropriate] to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God Himself.

“You would be happy and you seek after such and such comforts in the creature. Well, have you got them? Do you find your hearts satisfied as having the happiness that is suitable to you? No, no, it is not here but you think that is because you lack such and such things. O poor deluded man! It is not because you have not got enough of it, but because it is not the thing that is proportionable to the immortal soul that God has given you. ‘Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ (Isaiah 55:2) You are mad people. You seek to satisfy your stomach with that which is not bread, you follow the wind; you will never have contentment.”

The glorified Jesus Christ said this to the Laodicean church: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Revelation 3:16-17

Hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

This beloved hymn describes the experience of God’s people in their travel through the wilderness from their escape from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12–14), being guided by a cloud by day and a fire by night (Exodus 13:17–22) to their final arrival forty years later at the border of the Promised Land of Canaan (Joshua 3). During this time, their needs were supplied by God, including their daily supply of manna (Exodus 16).

The hymn text forms an allegory for the journey of a Christian through life on earth requiring the Redeemer’s guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and the end of time (death of death and hell’s destruction).

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah *

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,

pilgrim through this barren land.

I am weak, but thou art mighty;

hold me with thy powerful hand.

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,

feed me till I want no more;

feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,

whence the healing stream doth flow;

let the fire and cloudy pillar

lead me all my journey through.

Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,

be thou still my strength and shield;

be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,

bid my anxious fears subside;

death of death and hell’s destruction,

land me safe on Canaan’s side.

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to thee;

I will ever give to thee.

* Hymn background:

William Williams Pantycelyn is generally acknowledged as the greatest Welsh hymn writer. The lyrics for the Welsh original of this hymn were first published as Hymn 10 in the hymnal Mor o Wydr (Sea of Glass) in 1762. It comprised six verses. [See below for a literal translation from the Welsh of the original six verses.]

Peter Williams (1722–1796) translated part of the hymn into the familiar three stanzas of the English version, with the title Prayer for Strength. It was published in Hymns on Various Subjects, 1771. This translation is the only Welsh hymn to have gained widespread circulation in the English-speaking world.

John Hughes wrote the present version of the tune, which he called “Rhondda”, for the Cymanfa Ganu (hymn festival) in Pontypridd in 1905, when enthusiasm of the great 1904–1905 Welsh Revival still remained. The form was developed further and published for the inauguration of the organ at Capel Rhondda, in Hopkinstown in the Welsh Rhondda Valley, in 1907. (The hymn is usually pitched in A-flat major and has the 8.7.8.7.4.7 measure which is common in Welsh hymns.)

 The hymn was featured prominently in the soundtrack to the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford and starring a young Roddy McDowall. The soundtrack, by Alfred Newman, won that year’s Academy Award for Original Music Score. It is also featured at the beginning of The African Queen (film), with Katharine Hepburn singing and playing the organ in her part as a missionary’s daughter.  The hymn was also the informal anthem of Wales in the “Green and Pleasant Land” section of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Translation of the lyrics for the hymn originally titled in Welsh

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch.

(“Lord, lead me through the wilderness”)

Lord, guide me through the wilderness,

A pilgrim weak of aspect,

There is neither strength nor life in me,

As though lying in the grave,

Almighty,

It is Thou who shalt take me to that shore.

I wandered for long years,

And saw not the break of dawn;

I despaired, without Thy strength,

Ever to leave the desert land;

Do Thou grant,

The occasion to escape.

Give Thou a pillar of fire to lead me in the night,

And a pillar of mist in the day,

Hold me when I travel places

Which are rough on the way,

Give me manna,

Thus shall I not despair.

Open the sweet springs

Which gush forth from the rock,

All across the great wilderness

May a river of healing grace follow:

Give this to me

Not for me but for Thy sake.

When I go through Jordan –

Cruel death in its force –

Thou Thyself suffered this before,

Why shall I fear further?

Victory!

Let me cry out in the torrent.

I shall trust in Thy power,

Great is the work that Thou hast always done,

Thou conquered death, Thou conquered hell,

Thou hast crushed Satan beneath Thy feet,

Hill of Calvary,

This shall never escape from my memory.

The Life Crucified

The Life Crucified

A.B. Simpson *

“There is a school of teachers who say much about Christian socialism and the application of Christ’s example to the practical details of all our social and secular questions. But these men stop short of Calvary and leave out the view that great event which is the key of all Scripture and all Christian hope and experience. And so very soon in this deeply spiritual first epistle John introduces that expression which bids men pause with a hush of holy awe and tenderness—‘the Blood.’

“John had hardly started his letter before two deep crimson shades had covered all the page: the one the dark stain of sin, the other the precious blood of Christ. ‘…the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from sin.’ (I John 1:7) This is the great fact of the cross of Calvary and the resurrection. The death of Jesus Christ, the life so divine, so human, so beautiful, laid down in sacrifice and self-surrender, was not only as an example of submission, teaching us how to die; but a ransom for the guilty and satisfaction to the righteousness of God for the sins of men.

“With all his deep insight into the spirit and life of Jesus, John, above all disciples, recognized the sacrificial meaning of His blood. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ [John 1:29, 36] seems to ring out as the undertone of his beautiful Gospel. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ’ is the background of his epistles. ‘To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood’ is the keynote of the oft-repeated redemption song of his sublime Apocalypse. [Revelation 1:5b] The blood of Jesus Christ just means His life, with all its infinite value, given as a substitute and ransom for our forfeited life.

“The death of Christ stands for a great and potential fact, and is of no value until faith enters into partnership with Him in that fact, and knows by personal appropriation ‘the fellowship of His sufferings.’ [Philippians 3:10] The death of Christ simply means for me that when He died I died, and in God’s view I am now as if I had been executed for my own sin and was now recognized as another person who has risen with Christ and is justified from his former sins because he has been executed for them. Not only so it is the secret of my sanctification, for on that cross of Calvary, I the sinful self, was put to death; and when I lay myself over with Him upon that cross and reckon myself dead, [Romans 6:3-14] Christ’s risen life pass unto me and it is no longer my struggling, my goodness, or my badness, but my Lord who lives in me. Therefore, while I abide in Him I am counted even as He, and enabled to walk even as He walked.” [Galatians 2:20]

 

* Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919), author, hymn-writer, conference speaker, was an evangelist to the urban masses of New York City and a missionary statesman. Among his enduring achievements was the founding of the Christian Missionary Alliance and what is now Nyack College.

 

A Wealthy Believer Objects

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  II Corinthians 4:10-11

Last week we saw how two wealthy believers reacted differently to the sudden loss of their wealth. The carnal man became depressed and discontented while the spiritual man remained content because he understood God’s purpose. Today, Jeremiah Burroughs addresses an objection of the carnal man who was distressed at his loss – Why did this happen to me? I could serve God better with my wealth if He had let me keep it!

The carnal man’s objection misses God’s ultimate purpose in the lives of believers. While God certainly wants us to honor Him with what He has given us (wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc.), that is not His higher purpose: to manifest Jesus Christ in the world. regardless of our wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc. The fact is that God doesn’t need those things to reveal who He is to those around us. God wants to work in and through us to make His glory known to the world and to draw souls to Himself. The spiritual man in Burrough’s illustration understands God’s purpose.

“You must know that the special honor which God has from his creatures in this world is the manifestation of the graces of his Spirit. It is true that God gets a great deal of honor when a man is in a public place, and so is able to do a great deal of good, to countenance godlessness, and discountenance sin, but the main thing is in our showing forth the virtues of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9b)

“If I can say that, through God’s mercy in my affliction, I find the graces of God’s Spirit working as strongly in me as ever they did when I had my wealth, I am where I was; indeed, I am in quite as good a condition, for I have the same good now that I had in my prosperous estate. I reckoned the good of it only in my enjoyment of God, and honoring of God, and now God has blessed the lack of it to stir up the graces of his Spirit in my soul.

“This is the work that God calls me to now, and I must consider God to be the most honored when I do the work that he calls me to; he set me to work in my prosperous estate to honor him at that time in that condition, and now he sets me to work to honor him at this time in this condition; God is most honored when I can turn from one condition to another, according as he calls me to it.”

Hymn: Complete in Thee

One of the keys to learning spiritual contentment is knowing that we have all that we need for life and godliness. (II Peter 1:3) The second thing is that we are eternally settled in our position in Christ through faith in His shed blood on the cross. We are complete in Him and thus have every reason to be content in Him!

Complete in Thee

by Aaron Robarts Wolfe *

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Refrain

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee! no more shall sin,

Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;

Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,

And I shall stand complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Complete in Thee–each want supplied,

And no good thing to me denied;

Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,

I ask no more, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Dear Saviour! when before Thy bar

All tribes and tongues assembled are,

Among Thy chosen will I be,

At Thy right hand, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

* Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821–1902) was born at Mendham, New Jersey and educated at Williams College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York. In 1851, he was licensed by the Third Presbytery of New York. For some time he had charge of a school for young ladies at Tallahassee, Florida; and in 1859 he established “The Hillside Seminary for Young Ladies” at Montclair, New Jersey.

      He gave his friends this account of an in­ci­dent which seriously shaped his later life and made “Complete in Thee” a personal hymn: When he left Flo­ri­da in the sum­mer of 1855 he put all his ef­fects—lib­ra­ry, notes, and things of that sort—on board a sail­ing-ves­sel, and with a sim­ple grip­sack re­turned North by way of Nash­ville and Chi­ca­go. Reaching New York af­ter some two weeks spent in jour­ney­ing, he sought his goods at the com­mis­sion house to which they had been con­signed. There he learned that, on the day ap­point­ed for sail­ing, the ves­sel with his goods had been struck by light­ning, the mate killed at the foot of the mast, and the ves­sel, la­den with tur­pen­tine, burned to the wa­ter’s edge. Books, papers, notes, ev­ery­thing of past trea­sure had gone up in smoke.

     Aaron Wolfe looked up­on this event as a spe­cial pro­vi­dence of God, shap­ing his life, and fix­ing his home. For it made him a teach­er of the young ra­ther than a pas­tor of a church; and soon the way was op­ened for the be­gin­ning of one of the most use­ful en­gage­ments with Dr. Ab­bott, and so his life was fa­shioned…Thus the Lord made up his pet­ty loss­es by a rich re­ward.

 

(Personal note: When I was a teenager, and not saved, a tragic house fire resulted in loss of most of our family’s possessions and shaped the lives of each member of my family. My father worked for Pan American Airways in Jamaica when our family house was burned to the ground by an arsonist and we lost almost everything. Some photos, papers, and valuables stored in a metal box to preserve them from the tropical humidity were the only possessions that survived. Now that I have been saved for more than forty years, I look back and see how much this loss shaped my early life. Worldly goods may have less of a grip on my life today because of that incident years ago even before I came to Christ. God has been faithful in everything and I know that I am complete in Him.)