You Don’t Know What You’ve Got…

My Great Redeemer's Praise
My Great Redeemer’s Praise

O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Listen as you read.  This version is from Together for the Gospel.

I just love hearing many voices lifted together in praise.  I love being one of those voices.  I suppose those are probably things you enjoy as well since you have arrived here and are reading this.

But what if you could not sing at all?  If this was your experience for a season, especially if you were able to sing before, then you would be glad to be able to lift your voice in praise again.  I can say this with confidence because it was my experience.

Pleurisy

This hymn was written by Charles Wesley to commemorate the one year anniversary of his healing from pleurisy.  Pleurisy is inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity.  It causes chest pain that worsens during breathing, and generally O For a BREATHhurts more with deeper breathes like those required to sing.  It is a painful condition that can be treated with anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and rest.

I am not sure beyond rest what other care might have been available to Wesley, but I availed myself of all three of these and then some.  I actually developed an infection which required surgery to remove the infectious material in my chest cavity.  Three days after that initial procedure undetected internal bleeding nearly cost me my life.  A second emergency procedure was conducted to rectify that issue.

Needless to say, as I lay in ICU I was so thankful to be alive that I struggled to take in enough breath to quietly sing praise to God.  I had to praise Him for I felt my survival was a triumph of HIs grace.  If I had known the story of this hymn I would glad have sung it, but I do indeed vividly remember singing Amazing Grace to God who had again “saved a wretch like me”.

I Would Praise Him with Them All

Wesley had become ill while studying in London with his brother John under Moravian scholar Peter Boehler.  Boehler was quoted to have said,

“Had I a thousand tongues I would praise Him with them all”.

Though we know this hymn by the words that so aptly capture that thought, they actually served as the seventh stanza of the original eighteen stanzas.  Most hymnals have shortened the hymn to between 6-8 stanzas, which is not uncommon for many hymns.  As you would imagine there are some good stanzas which did not make the cut.

This one comes before the one that calls the deaf to hear His voice.

He speaks, – and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.

This is a great call to the world to worship.

Look unto him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

This is a great concise declaration of the Gospel.

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

You can’t really “praise Him with them all” if you don’t even know they exist.

…Until It’s Gone

Of course we do not miss those stanzas if we never knew they were a part of this great hymn.  But this is like the inverse of the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”  More like, “You don’t realize what you are missing until it arrives.”  Not quite the same, other than relating to an awareness of something possessed or dispossessed.

Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley

For me, it was not really being able to sing or even take a deep breath, in those days leading up to the diagnosis and first procedure,and certainly between the two.  I did not realize how precious using one tongue to praise my Redeemer.  Loosing the ability to do so, even for a few days, helped me to realize what a gift being able to praise truly is.  I am certain that realization is a part of what inspired Wesley to pen these words.

So my question to help you tune today is, “Are you using everything at your disposal to give praise to God?”  Whether musical ability or some other talent or skill, are you making the most of them to declare His glory?  Wesley gives us words to commit to using a thousand tongues if we had them, but maybe we need to make certain we are maximizing each of the ones we currently possess.  If so, then go ahead and ask for more.  If not, then it is definitely time to do some tuning.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for giving me the tongue I have, and every other ability to render the praise that is due your Name.  Had I a thousand tongues, they would not be enough to magnify Your excellencies.  Even still, help me to make the most of every ability I possess, and graciously add to them according to Your will, that I may use them each to exalt You.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Perpetual Praise

Infinity
Infinity

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version features Ayako Ishikawa on violin.

Eternity-10,000 years=Eternity

I suppose there is probably some mathematical flaw in that formula so please forgive me, but that helps me to come to terms with the phrase “we’ve no less days”.  How do you wrap you mind around that?  Eternity is the hope that Jesus and His grace have made available to us, and it is just as real today, as it will be ten thousand years from now.  In other words, it is infinitely true for infinity.

But what difference is that making for you today?  Maybe the first question to answer is whether you believe it should make a difference?  Think about it.

eternity studyIf you are living like you do not believe having eternity waiting for you makes a difference, maybe it is because you have never really determined if you believe it.  I am confident that there are many believers, meaning those who have decided to place their confidence in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone, who have not come to terms with everything that confidence avails and implies.  Fortunately, whether we have apprehended the magnitude of our inheritance does not effect our ability to fully possess it one day.  [If you are looking for something that may help try this from Francis Chan.]

For me, the tragedy is that many of us spend next to no time thinking about some of these inspiring truths, let alone what difference they should make in our daily living.  Part of that hinges on our understanding of “when we first (began)”.  I think it is safe to say the writer here, not John Newton as this was a verse added later, was referring to the praise we begin to offer in glory.  I feel equally as confident saying I believe you could also interpret that our praise begins the moment we begin to follow Jesus.

Enjoyment

I read something recently with regard to praising that resonated with me.  C.S. Lewis gave a great explanation in his Reflections on the Psalms.  He makes a connection between praise and enjoyment that escapes many of us on an intellectual level, even if not an experiential one.  He says this.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation…the delight is incomplete until it is expressed.

It is this enjoyment that I believe fuels our praise not only in eternity, but here and now as well.  We begin to praise God the moment we realize what He has done for us, and we keep doing that forever, at least we should.  If we don’t, and sadly we don’t, then we need to examine what are the things that we enjoy more in that moment than our eternal inheritance.

Getting Ready

Worship Choir
Worship Choir

Over the years I have teased people that everyone in church should want to be involved in worship ministry because it is the one ministry that prepares you more for what you are going to spend eternity doing, praising.  I believe there is actually some truth to that, but it really revolves more around the fact that praising ushers in the enjoyment of God that heightens our awareness of His presence with us.  It is not about the singing or music making, but about realizing I can do everything in a way that brings God glory.

My point is simply this.  Don’t wait until you are “bright shining as the sun” to begin your perpetual praise.   Work on it every day, at least until it is really it not work at all.  What can you do today to cultivate a life that enjoys God continually?

Joyful Thinking!

Jesus, thank You for eternity.  It is almost impossible for me to grasp the enormity of it.  Even still, help me to work at developing a heart of perpetual praise by showing me how to grow in this today and every day, even as I wait for the rest of forever to begin. In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Below is content generally available only to Subscribers, but with this blog to everyone for two reasons.  First, this is one of my favorite stanzas of any hymn.  Second, I want everyone to get a taste of the podcast content that follows this same format each week.

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Enjoy the podcast! And transcript below.

Podcast 2.7 Transcript

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s think about this.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

2 Peter 3:8 ESV

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

How? Because He is eternal.  It is very difficult for us to comprehend eternity, but 10,000 years will barely scratch the surface of all God has in store for us.  And He definitely has something in store. Ask Him to heighten your anticipation of heaven.

  Bright shining as the sun,

Matthew 13:43a ESV

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Wow!  Righteous because of what Jesus has done.  Shining because of the transformation that will have occurred to this mortal flesh.  Home in His eternal Kingdom because we are His children. Hallelujah! Give Him praise.

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Psalm 16:11 ESV

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

And here is another motivation for our praise, we know the path of life.  It will usher us into His presence. There we will enjoy eternal pleasures.  Thank You Jesus!

  Than when we’d first begun.

Revelation 5:13 ESV

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Oh how I long to join that song!  After the elders and angels lead out, we will begin our eternal praise.  Certainly we begin the moment we are redeemed, but how I look forward to singing with this choir!  What do you think of that?

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has come to your mind, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then I will read our text once more.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

  Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

  Than when we’d first begun.

Take the mindfulness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.

We’ve Only Just Begun

Bright shining as the sun
Bright shining as the sun

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version features Ayako Ishikawa on violin.

I still remember singing this for the first time.  As the notes began to ring out from the piano and I stood there about to be baptized, I belted out this new song I had learned in the three weeks since I had first surrendered to grace.  It was very encouraging to have only begun to wrap my mind around the fact that I now had peace with God which would last for eternity, peace which I declared with confidence as I modulated for those last two lines.

I had only just begun to sing God’s praise, but I had quickly found that there was no feeling like it.  I have spent the last twenty-two years enjoying and reliving that experience again and again, and helping others to do the same.  Even with that little perspective it is overwhelming to think of how much praising still lies before me.  Thank You Jesus!

Sing God's PraiseOver the years I have often said that it is unfortunate how little time we spend thinking about the place where we will spend so long.  I like imagining what it will be like to sing God’s praise in His very presence, before the throne.  I like thinking about how different that will be, partly because of how different I/we will be.

The words say, “Bright shining as the sun”.  Every other line acknowledges we, you and I, all the saints who will enjoy Heaven because they have found their rest in God’s amazing grace.  This line reveals a bit about our appearance, and in so doing it eludes to other things.

You and I will shine brightly, as the sun.  On my best days on this side of glory, I am nothing nearly as bright as that.  My very appearance will have been radically transformed.  Whether it happened to prepare me to be in God’s presence or is the by-product of being there makes no difference to me.  I will not be the same.

If this is true, and I absolutely believe it is (2 Corinthians 3:18), then there are implications at every level of our existence.  If I thought I could sing now, imagine what we will sound like then.  Voice strong and free, a tongue only, ever used to praise God, and a lung capacity that is unfathomable.  Not to mention every other part of me lending itself to amplifying His praise.

SingingSo how does that coming reality effect my current one?  How can I tune my life to that perfect pitch? Well, realizing that I have been made and am being remade for thousands of years of giving God praise should encourage me to begin practicing now.  I should use my voice these days in a way that is consistent with how I will use it those days, and that is not limited to singing praise, although I believe it absolutely should include it.  Take some time to ask God to help you tune your voice…and the rest of you, to sing His praise.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You fro calling out of darkness and into Your glorious light so I can praise You.  I know that I have even now only just begun, and I pray you will help me to grow in my ability to do so in these days, even as I long for those yet to come.  Help me to always use my voice in a way that brings You glory, whether I am singing to not.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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I Am Not What I Will Be

Newton memory
Image from the movie “Amazing Grace”

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen before you read this one.  This version features Wintley Phipps.

I hope you listened to that informative and inspiring rendition of Amazing Grace.  If not, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes and do that.  I will even try to tighten up my verbiage a bit for this one.

I really want to pick up where we left off from the last Tuesday Tuning from 2.5.19 about calling and draw an interesting distinction between the unchanging nature of the calling of God and the implications of change it has on evening else.  What I mean is simply this.  Though even earth and sun made fade away, God’s call on us will not.  In the face of the constancy of the call, we are confronted with our need to be transformed in order to truly answer.  Our illustrative subject for today is our author, John Newton.

John Newton

He was an interesting character who, like Wilberforce, came to faith later in life.  Unlike Wilberforce, Newton was a sordid individual who was considered extremely profane, which is remarkable especially because he was a sailor.  After leaving the Royal Navy, he John Newtoncontinued sailing and eventually became a captain on a slave ship.

But that was not the most significant change in his life.  He never forgot calling our for mercy in the midst of a perilous situation at sea, and eventually surrendered to the call of Christ, first becoming a Christian and then after some time an Anglican priest and abolitionist.  The slave trader became an advocate for freedom, in more ways than one.  That transformation helps to add weight to not only the quote above but also this one.

The More Things Change…

I have often said the Christian life is a life of change.  Newton nailed it with his litany of what he is not.  The same could be said of the standing and experience of all who have responded to the call of Grace, and yielded themselves to His transforming power.

Most of us are not naturally very fond of change, unless we are in charge of it, and the changes Christ requires of us are no exception to the general rule.  The interesting dichotomy I see here is that it is the Unchanging God who issues an irrevocable call which initiates and demands transformation.  Everything in creation will change, but not Him, or His call on us.

The More They Stay the Same

So we take great confidence from this.  God who called us to be His in this age, will ours throughout them all.  He does not change, and neither does His grace.

Think about it.  If God could turn this slave trader into the man who would write these words sung by millions in praise of God’s grace each year, what does He have in store for you.  Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the truth that although many things around you may change-profession, finances, future-God’s grace for you will not.  Let the peace that flows from this truth transform the way you think, what you say, and how you act.  Then you will be able to say with Newton that although you are not yet what you want to be, you are not either what you used to be, all by His grace.

Joyful Thinking!

Jesus, thank You for You unchanging call, and the way it is changing me.  Cause me to long for it now so that realization will be even sweeter.  Help me love You with all my mind as I wait! In Jesus name.  Amen.

Are these thoughts helping you to develop greater spiritual awareness?  Sign-up in the form to the right above to get updates of new tools to help you be Resonant.

Below is content available only to Subscribers.  Want to learn more about accessing all the additional material in the Subscriber Content Library, click here.  Or check out some samples at our Free Member Content Library.  We have lots of tools and lots of options designed to help you be Resonant!  Check them out today!!

Subscribers, enjoy this podcast! Everyone else, the transcript below.

Podcast 2.6 Transcript

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s think about this.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

 Will be forever mine.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow

2 Peter 3:10 ESV

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

The earth and the works that are done…everything about this temporal existence will evaporate like a mist, melting away in the heat of that Day.  Are you ready for it? Ask Him to help you be ready.

The sun forbear to shine;

Acts 2:20 ESV

The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

It will be a great and magnificent day for all trusting in God’s grace, and a dreadful and terrible day for everyone who is not.  Determine to put all your trust in His grace to carry you through to the end.

But God, who called me here below,

1 Peter 2:9 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

And herein lies our confidence.  We did not approach Him. He approached to us.  He called us from darkness to light. May we always be quick to acknowledge the grace of His call as we offer our praise for his excellencies.

 Will be forever mine.

Song of Solomon 2:16a ESV

My beloved is mine, and I am his;

This inner peace is such a stark yet tender contrast from the external chaos unfolding in the cosmos at the end of days.  The intimate confidence is especially striking when set against the public turmoil. Thank Him for that confidence.

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has come to your mind, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then I will read our text once more.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

 Will be forever mine.

Take the mindfulness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.