Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14 (NKJV)


When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

by Isaac Watts *

When I survey the wondrous cross

on which the Prince of glory died,

my richest gain I count but loss,

and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast

save in the death of Christ, my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,

sorrow and love flow mingled down.

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were a present far too small.

Love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all.


* Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, UK. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. It was his residence in Abney Park that was most favorable for his poor health, and for the prosecution of his literary labors. He did not retire from ministerial duties, but preached as often as his delicate health would permit.

The number of Watts’ publications is very large. His collected works, first published in 1720, embrace sermons, treatises, poems and hymns. His Horae Lyricae was published in December, 1705. His Hymns appeared in July, 1707. The first hymn he is said to have composed for religious worship, is “Behold the Glories of the Lamb,” written at the age of twenty. It is as a writer of psalms and hymns that he is everywhere known. Some of his hymns were written to be sung after his sermons, giving expression to the meaning of the text upon which he had preached. Montgomery calls Watts “the greatest name among hymn-writers,” and the honor can hardly be disputed. His published hymns number more than eight hundred.



The Dew of God’s Blessing

“A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”  Psalm 133

Jeremiah Burroughs likens the blessings of God to the refreshing dew that covers lush vegetation in the morning. This refreshing mist is given to us freely by God as a blessing from His hand. How can we not be content with whatever He has graciously given us, whether much or little?

The contented Christian lives upon the dew of God’s blessing. The simile of a grasshopper describes the contented man, and says he has this motto, ‘I am content with what I have, and hope for better.’ The grasshopper leaps and skips up and down and lives on the dew. A grasshopper does not live on the grass as other things do; you do not know what it feeds on. Other things though as little as grasshoppers , feed upon seeds or little flies and such things, but as for the grasshopper, you do now know what it feeds upon. In the same way, a Christian can get food that the world does not know of; he is fed in a secret way by the dew of the blessings of God.”

What we have from God is a token of His love for us. “If a king were to send a piece of meat from his own table, it would be a great deal more pleasant to a courtier than if twenty dishes as an ordinary allowance; if the king sends even a little thing and says, ‘Go and carry it to that man as a token of my love,’ Oh, how delightful that would be to him!”

What we have from God is sanctified to us for good. “Other men have what they enjoy in the way of common providence, but the saints have it in a special way. There is a secret dew that goes along with it: the dew of God’s love. A gracious heart has what he has free of cost; he is not called to pay for it. Grace shows a man that what he has, he has free of cost, from God as from a Father, and therefore it must needs be very sweet. A godly man may very well be content, though he has only a little, for what he does have he has by right of Jesus Christ, by the purchase of Jesus Christ.”

Every bit of bread you eat, if you are a godly man or woman, Jesus Christ has bought it for you. You have it at the hands of men for money, but Christ has bought it at the hand of His Father. Certainly it is a great deal better and sweeter now, though it is but a little.” Indeed, even with few possessions or comforts,  “…godliness with contentment is great gain.” II Timothy 6:6


Hymn: God Is Still On The Throne


Our learning about spiritual contentment was strained during the past year. The forces of a Covid-19 pandemic and racial/political turmoil in our country strained emotions almost to the breaking point. It was easy to complain about isolated living conditions, financial problems, loss of employment, and seismic changes in our society. How easy it was to settle into a rut of self-pity, discontent and general dissatisfaction with life!

That was until the psalm of Asaph came to mind. The psalmist despaired of a different sort of social upheaval: the wicked and powerful prospered while the godly suffered. How could God allow this? Weren’t the godly supposed to be blessed? Then he met with God in the temple and it all came into focus! The prosperity of the powerful and oppressive was only temporary. When the wicked reach the end of their lives, they will face the terror of God’s everlasting judgment and the godly will prosper in God’s Kingdom.

“A Psalm of Asaph:

Truly God is good to Israel,

even to such as are of a clean heart.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone;

my steps had well nigh slipped.

For I was envious at the foolish,

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

–  –  –

When I thought to know this,

it was too painful for me;

Until I went into the sanctuary of God;

then understood I their end.

Surely thou didst set them in slippery places:

thou castedst them down into destruction.

How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment!

they are utterly consumed with terrors.”

Psalm 73:1-3, 16-18


God is Still on the Throne

by Kittie L. Suffield *

Have you started for glory and heaven,

Have you left this old world far behind;

In your heart is the Comforter dwelling,

Can you say, :Praise the Lord, He is mine;”

Have the ones that once walked on the highway,

Gone back, and you seem all alone?

Keep your eyes on the prize, for the home in the skies.

God is still on the throne.


God is still on the throne,

And He will remember His own;

Though trials may press us and burdens distress us,

He never will leave us alone;

God is still on the throne,

He never forsaketh His own;

His promise is true, He will not forget you,

God is still on the throne.

Burdened soul, is your heart growing weary

With the toil and the heat of the day;

Does it seem that your path is more thorny

As you journey along on life’s way?

Go away and in secret before Him

Tell your grief to the Savior alone;

He will lighten your care, for He still answers prayer;

God is still on the throne. [Chorus]

You may live in a tent or a cottage,

Unnoticed by those who pass by;

But a mansion for you He is building

In that beautiful city on high;

It will outshine the wealth and the splendor

Of the richest on earth we have known;

He’s the architect true, and He’s building for you;

God is still on the throne. [Chorus]

He is coming again, is the promise

To disciples when He went away;

In like manner as He has gone from you,

You will see Him returning some day;

Does His tarrying cause you to wonder,

Does it seem He’s forgotten His own?

His promise is true, He is coming for you;

God is still on the throne. [Chorus]


* Kittie L. Suffield (1884-1972) was born in New York City, NY. Kittie Jennett, while a teenager, aspired to be a concert artist as a coloratura soprano or a pianist, for she was a talented musician and singer. Meanwhile, one winter day, this New York City native was traveling by train in Canada when the train was stalled by a blizzard. All the passengers were freezing. The conductor trudged through the storm when he came upon a house. He pounded on the door and Fred Suffield answered. Fred allowed the passengers to stay with him. Kittie later wrote him a thank you note. Fred responded, she responded, and so the correspondence continued. This led to romance, marriage, and the end of a hoped for career and fame as a singer and pianist…but only for a brief time. Sometime later, they attended a church in Ottawa led by a Wesleyan pastor, A.J. Shea. While attending this church, Fred and Kittie felt compelled by the spirit to become traveling evangelists. One summer, they hosted A.J.’s son, George Beverly, for a month in Westport, Ontario where they were holding evangelistic meetings. During his stay, one night George tried to sing, but his voice cracked. Kittie, the pianist, lowered the key and he sang beautifully from then on. She is known as the encourager and initiator of George Beverly Shea’s famous career as a singer, most notably for Billy Graham’s organization. She died in Los Angeles, CA in 1972.


God’s Will is My Will

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:20-23

“A gracious heart is contented by the melting of his will and desires into God’s will and desires; by this means he gets contentment.” – Jonathan Burroughs

“This too is a mystery to a carnal heart. It is not by having his own desires satisfied, but by melting his will and desires into God’s will. So that, in one sense, he comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God’s will. This is a small degree higher than submitting to the will of God.

“You all say that you should submit to God’s will; a gracious Christian has got beyond this. He can make God’s will and his will the same. It is said of believers that they are joined to the Lord, and are one spirit (John 17:20-23); that means, that whatever God’s will is, I do not only see good reason to submit to it,  but whatever God’s will is my will. When the soul can make over, as it were, its will to God, it must needs be content. Others would fain get the thing they desire, but a gracious heart will say, ‘O what God would have, I would have too; I will not only yield to it, but I would have it too.’”


“Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Colossians 1:25-27




Hymn: Springs of Living Water

“Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’” John 4:13-14


Springs of Living Water

by John W. Peterson *

I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.

Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now am I,
My soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply!


I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.


How sweet the living water from the hills of God,
It makes me glad and happy all the way;
Now glory, grace and blessing mark the path I’ve trod,
I’m shouting “Hallelujah” ev’ry day.


O sinner, won’t you come today to Calvary?
A fountain there is flowing deep and wide;
The Savior now invites you to the water free,
Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.



* 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 the popular hymnal, “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.”


Metamorphosing the Affliction

“It is not so much the removing of the affliction that is upon us as the changing of the affliction, the metamorphosing of the affliction, so that it is quite turned and changed into something else.” – Jonathan Burroughs

In this example of the mystery of contentment, Burroughs focuses on a financial affliction—poverty, loss of employment, hunger, eviction, economic ruin. He encourages the believer to approach such an affliction with a gracious, spirit-filled attitude and seek a positive good through the affliction. The carnal believer looks for a quick and easy way out of the problem; the gracious believer asks God for divine help to grow spiritually through the trial.

 “I mean in regard to the use of it, though for the thing itself the affliction remains. The way of contentment to a carnal heart is only the removing of the affliction. ‘O that it may be gone!’ ‘No,’ says the gracious heart, ‘God has taught me a way to be content though the affliction itself still continues.’ There is a power of grace to turn this affliction into good; it takes away the sting and poison of it.

“Take the case of poverty when a man’s possessions are lost: Well, is there no way to be content until your possessions are made up again? Till your poverty is removed? Yes, certainly! Christianity would teach contentment, though poverty continues. It will teach you how to turn your poverty to spiritual riches.

“There is a saying… ‘Even poverty itself is riches to holy men.’ Godly men make their poverty turn to riches; they get more riches out of poverty than they do out of their revenues. Out of all their trading in this world they never had such incomes as they have had out of their poverty. This, a carnal heart will think, is strange: that a man shall make poverty the most gainful trade that ever he had in the world. I am persuaded that many Christians have found it so, that they have got more good by their poverty, than ever they got by all their riches.

“Therefore, think it not strange what I am speaking of. You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.”

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Psalm 119:71

Charles Spurgeon, in his magnificent commentary on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, elaborates on another aspect of affliction described by Burroughs as it applies to King David’s unique affliction in Psalm 119:71: “Even though the affliction came from bad men, it was overruled for good ends: though it was bad as it came from them, it was good for David. It benefited him in many ways, and he knew it. Whatever he may have thought while under the trial, he perceived himself to be the better for it when it was over. It was not good to the proud to be prosperous, for their hearts grew sensual and insensible; but affliction was good for the Psalmist. Our worst is better for us than the sinner’s best. It is bad for sinners to rejoice, and good for saints to sorrow. A thousand benefits have come to us through our pains and griefs, and among the rest is this — that we have thus been schooled in the law.”


Hymn: Hiding in Thee

“Bow down thine ear to me;

deliver me speedily:

be thou my strong rock,

for an house of defense to save me.”

Psalm 31:2

Hiding in Thee

Composed by Ira D. Sankey *

Lyrics by William Orcutt Cushing **

Oh, safe to the Rock that is higher than I,

My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly,

So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.


Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow’s lone hour,

In times when temptation casts o’er me its power;

In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.


How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,

I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe,,

How often, when trials like sea-billows roll,

Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul.



* Ira David Sankey was born in Edinburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1840. About 1856 he removed with his parents to Newcastle, Pennsylvania, where he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Four years afterwards he became the Superintendent of a large Sunday School in which he commenced his career of singing sacred songs and solos. Mr. Moody met with him and heard him sing at the International Convention of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), at Indianapolis, and through Mr. Moody’s persuasion he joined him in his work at Chicago. After some two or three years’ work in Chicago, they sailed for England on June 7, 1872, and held their first meeting at York a short time afterwards, only eight persons being present. Today he is considered one of the most popular composers of evangelistic hymns.

** William Orcutt Cushing’s hymn was the outgrowth of many tears, of which he wrote “many heart conflicts, and yearnings of which the world can know nothing – it is the history of many battles.” In 1876, Ira D. Sankey asked of Cushing, “send me something new to help me in my gospel work.”  Cushing wrote back, “as I waited on God, I began to think of the safety of being in Christ Jesus”. The words began to make themselves known, and soon the poem was on its way to Mr. Sankey.  The hymn became, “Hiding in Thee.” The scriptural basis for these lyrics is Psalm 31:2 “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.”


The Mystery – Subtraction not Addition

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” I John 2:15-17 (KJV)

Some of Jeremiah Burrough’s “mysteries” about contentment may sound archaic or even contradictory, but his practical aphorisms deserve careful thought. This observation about Christian contentment is one we should consider:

“A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction.” – Jeremiah Burroughs

The non-Christian, “…knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires; but the Christian has another way to contentment. That is, he can bring his desires [KJV – lusts] down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment. The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have. Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment, when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances.”

When I read this, I am forced to examine my desires against my circumstances. The cause and solution to my discontent is contained therein:

  • Is my discontent caused by my circumstances (pain, stress, loneliness, poverty, conflict, turmoil) that are too much to bear? Am I discontent because I lack something that I do not presently have? If my situation or possessions were to change, would I feel more content?

  • Or, are my desires (comfort, ease, family and friends, riches, peace and tranquility) so opposed to the actual circumstances that God has brought into my life that my desires are causing me to be discontent?

I must answer this question myself: What is the desire of my heart? Is my heart discontent because that desire is not satisfied? Could it be that my desire in life is misplaced? It’s time to do some spiritual math. That process begins with subtraction. Subtract from my desire to live a life of ease free from want or conflict. This is very difficult. However, it is possible when my desires are diminished to more closely match my circumstances and the desires of my Heavenly Father. When my heart’s desire lines up with the will of God in Jesus Christ, a new desire will overshadow and subtract from discontent with my circumstances.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV)

“If a man or woman has their [earthly] desires cut short, and have no large desires, that man or woman is rich. So this is the art of contentment; not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract from our desires.” – Jeremiah Burroughs