A Way to Ensure You Avoid Emptiness

Abide

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I Need Thee Every Hour
By: Annie S. Hawks, 1836-1911 (1872)

Listen to this beautiful piano version as you read, or watch the video then read. Please be sure to experience the worship-cultivating podcast below.

We transition to a different perspective of our continual need of God in the latter part  of this stanza.  In the first part it was the extremes and in-betweens, every moment of life.  Now we consider that fact that without His abiding presence our lives are useless.  Let’s think about this.

Two Unusual Words

As is often the case with hymnody, we come across words that require us to think a bit because they are not commonly used today.  This stanza has two in my option.  Abide and vain.

Vain is a little simpler since it is not quite as far removed for common use.  As it is used in this occurrence it means, producing no result or useless.  The reason this usage is in play here is because of our other word and the imagery of producing which it evokes.

Abide has several meanings which factor into this discussion.  We certainly need God to bear patiently with us, and to endure without yielding, but that is only the beginning.  We also need Him to wait for us and to accept (us) without objection.  What we mostly need though is for God to remain stable or fixed in a state and to continue in a place.   In other words, we need Him to connect to us and stay connected.

The passage of Scripture that portrays this best is John 15:1-10.  For our purposes we are going to focus in on one verse in particular.  It illustrates both the benefit of abiding and the vanity of not doing so.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5 (ESV)

Fruit

Abide

As noted above the most crucial thing we need is to be connected to God.  This connection enables us to be useful, to fulfill the purpose for which He created us.  We are to bear fruit.  We, the branches, can only do that when we stay connected to Him, the Vine.

I think of this latter part of the stanza in the context of the first.  Joy and pain.  What would be expressions of this for a branch?  Rain or drought?  When there is water the plant can be healthy and grow.  When there is no water the plant will wither and eventually die. Seems pretty obvious right?

It is no less true of us, only that the consequences, particularly of not abiding, are not immediately visible.

So it begs the question, “How do we abide?”  If it is only a matter of connection then we need to discern by what means we stay connected to God and then practice them as if our lives depended on them, because they actually do.

There are the obvious answers of reading the Bible and praying, but how many other things may help us abide?  What about worshipping?  And serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus?  Even in just these few there is a tremendous diversity of expressions.  For example, praying is not only talking to God, but listening.  When was the last time you just listened to God for even five minutes?  Seem challenging?  It certainly is if you have not trained yourself to do it.

There are other ways as well.  Some of which may be more unique or unusual but help you to stay connected to God’s will and ways.  You must find the right rhythm for you which will likely be as unique as you are.  Then and only then will you be able to bear all the fruit that God has in mind for you.

Vain

Useless

Take a look at that fruitless branch.   It looks like there may be some new growth there but there is certainly no fruit.  In a vineyard, this branch may very well be one of those that would be pruned away due to its lack of fruit.  It’s not for lack of trying, it just appears it may not be connected.

So are you more like this branch or the one at the top with the beautiful cluster of grapes.  Maybe in other seasons you have produced much fruit, but lately there is little.  There is a natural ebb and flow to fruit production, but if it has been several seasons you many need to evaluate the vitality of your connection to the vine.

If you feel disconnected, cry out to Jesus.  He wants to be connected to Him and the purposes of your Father.  He will help you.

Take a step into a more vital connection today. Even if yours is healthy, maybe you could be producing more fruit.  Even you are not producing take a step in that direction.  Do something to strengthen your connection to the vine, then do something else tomorrow.  Be diligent and patient and before you know it…fruit.

Jesus, teach me how to overcome temptations by inviting Your presence all the time, but especially when I am tempted.  I believe You will provide a way of escape if I will but look to You.  In Jesus’ name.   Amen.

Watchful Thinking!

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 always available to Subscribers, and sometimes to Free Members.  Want to learn more about accessing all the additional material in the Subscriber Content Library, click here.  Or check out some other 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!!

Everyone enjoy this podcast and the transcript below! It features meditative music and moments to contemplate the Scriptures and reflections shared.

Podcast 11.3 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.

I need Thee every hour,

Hebrews 4:16 ESV

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Though I think the time of need described here is generally considered a great need, not an hour goes by when we should not approach the throne of grace.  Have you done so in the last hour? Whether you have or not, do so now with confidence.

in joy or pain;

Romans 12:12 ESV 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

We must develop the habit of bringing everything to God is prayer.  We thank Him when our hope is strong. We cry out when the troubles are overwhelming.  We are always talking to Him. Whatever is on your heart right now, lay it before the Lord.

  Come quickly and abide,

1 John 2:6 ESV

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

We know we need Jesus to come to us, and help us live in Him, attached to Him, moving along with Him.  This requires us to become like Him, otherwise there is a constant tension. Ask Jesus to show you how you can walk as He walked.  That is what you really need.  

  or life is vain.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Unless we pursue the purpose for which we were made, our lives are vain or useless.  God has things He has prepared for us to do and we need to walk in them. Ask the Spirit to show you how to develop the holy rhythm of learning how to stay in step with Jesus whatever comes your way.  

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

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

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

Image Attributions
Abide – https://pixabay.com/photos/grapes-fruit-fruits-blue-1696921/
Fruit – https://pixabay.com/photos/grapes-fruit-fruits-blue-1696921/
Uselss – https://pixabay.com/illustrations/vine-cutout-branch-nature-backdrop-788905/

Two Ways to Thwart Temptations

Since the Garden

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I Need Thee Every Hour
By: Annie S. Hawks, 1836-1911 (1872)

Listen to this beautiful piano version as you read, or watch the video then read. Please be sure to experience the worship-cultivating podcast below.

We continue our journey toward greater and deeper awareness of our need of God.  We need Him to stay nearby because His presence helps us over the power of temptation.  If you have battled temptation, you are probably very familiar with how difficult it is to overcome it on your own.  Today we examine the one thing that can disarm temptation,  the presence of God, and two ways to practice it. Let’s think about this.

Temptations are Common

Since the Garden of Eden our temptations have been a problem.  Ultimately they all come back to one thing, control.  We want what we want, when we want it, our way.  God has given us clear commands to protect us, but we think we know better how to meet our deepest needs.  How foolish!

That is what the Snake convinced Eve and Adam about, right?  They had everything, yet the one thing God said they could not have was the only thing that it seemed could satisfy them.  They had an insatiable appetite for more.  It led to their downfall.  And has been doing the same thing to every human being since then, with one great Exception.

Jesus.

The same enemy tempted Him, with similar enticements.  Greed, power, worship.  But He overcame because His focus on God’s glory was stronger than the voice offering the counterfeit.

And He overcome the same way we can, by inviting our perspective to be informed by the Word of God.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…1 Corinthians 10:13a ESV 

God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.  What?  Sometimes my ability seems VERY small.  And the temptation VERY BIG.  But that perspective is off.

Wrong Focus

The real problem arises when we focus on the temptation rather than focusing on God.  This problem turns our world upside down because we have chosen to focus on the moment rather than the larger reality.  That erroneous perspective is what creates the real issue.  We have lost our ability to see things as they truly are.  If however we use our ability to remind ourselves who God is, the temptation will suddenly be dwarfed by His magnificence.

Adam and Eve allowed themselves to focus on the temptation rather that God.  It allowed the temptation, the desire to be like God,  to become larger than it truly was, which simultaneously made God smaller to them.  That is an unfortunate series of events. But it is one that each of us falls prey to more often than we would care to admit.

Think about a recent time you were tempted.  If you fell prey to it, was it because it seemed too large to overcome at the time?  Do you remember your perspective on God in that moment?  You probably don’t because who had either forgotten to ask for His help or were not interested because of the lure of the temptation.  Ask Him right now to help you focus on Him when you are next tempted.

But They Can Be Overcome

How? The second part of the verse above answers that question.

…but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13b ESV

Way of Escape

If we will look for it, God has promised to provide a way of escape from the power of temptation.  The problem is we often fail to look for it.  When we do, we experience the faithfulness of God in the way of escape.  

What does it mean to endure a temptation?  To find yourself under the power of it, ask God for His help and take the escape He provides.  We have all found ourselves under the power of temptation.  We have all failed to ask God for His help at one time or another.  That failure led to our inability to see the escape, which means rather than enduring the temptation we succumb to it.

What is our way of escape?  God.  An awareness of God.  The presence of God.  His power.  Temptations which once seemed so daunting, suddenly become endurable.  Thanks be to God!

God will provide a way of escape, but He wants us to ask and search for it.  Prepare to endure your next temptation by determining to ask Him to help you find your escape the moment you feel it approaching.  That temptation will be rendered powerless in light of the incomparable presence.

So the two ways to thwart temptation are

  1. Focus on God, Not the Temptation
  2. Find Your Escape

Jesus, teach me how to overcome temptations by inviting Your presence all the time, but especially when I am tempted.  I believe You will provide a way of escape if I will but look to You.  In Jesus’ name.   Amen.

Watchful Thinking!

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 always available to Subscribers, and sometimes to Free Members.  Want to learn more about accessing all the additional material in the Subscriber Content Library, click here.  Or check out some other 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!!

Everyone enjoy this podcast and the transcript below! It features meditative music and moments to contemplate the Scriptures and reflections shared.

Podcast 11.2 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.

I need Thee every hour,

Psalm 86:1 ESV

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

David knew how to speak his heart to God.  How much better off we would be if we were as quick to admit our condition before our Lord.  Practice right now by asking Him to bend HIs ear toward you and tell Him how much you need Him.

   stay Thou nearby;

James 4:8 ESV

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It seems so simple.  Just draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  So what makes it seem so difficult? Our double mindedness.  We waver between wanting to please God and please ourselves. Ask God to help you cleanse your hands, and be single-minded.

Temptations lose their pow’r

1 Corinthians 10:13a ESV 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…

Powerless temptations.  That sounds appealing. It is God’s faithfulness that gives me the ability to resist the temptations, effectively removing their power, but I must turn to Him and trust Him.  Ask Jesus to help you come to Him the next time you are tempted.

   when Thou art nigh.

1 Corinthians 10:13b ESV

…but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

I have often said it is God’s presence that make the difference in every circumstance, and temptation is certainly one of them.  Our way of escape is to find our way back to Him. Ask God to make you aware of His nearness so you may endure your next temptation.

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

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

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

Image Attributions
Temptations – https://pixabay.com/photos/snake-apple-paradise-eve-bible-1322240/
Wrong Focal Point – https://pixabay.com/photos/focus-telephoto-lens-lens-loupe-407244/
Way of Escape – https://pixabay.com/photos/emergency-exit-escape-fire-4168808/

Can You Hear It?

Tender Voice

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I Need Thee Every Hour
By: Annie S. Hawks, 1836-1911 (1872)

Listen to this beautiful piano version as you read, or watch the video then read. Please be sure to experience the worship-cultivating podcast below.

We consider the latter part of this first stanza today.  As we do, we delve into our need for peace and the reality that there is no other to be found that compares to what God offers.  That said, why do we not pursue it with greater abandon?  Let’s think about this.

For Rhyme’s Sake

This is an interesting line that requires a little thinking to confirm the obvious statement at the initial look.  It seems to be saying “No tender voice can afford peace like Thine.”  It first almost looks like “No tender voice like Thine can afford peace”, implying that any voice like God’s is similarly unable to give peace, which is the opposite of what is trying to be communicated.

Hymns are sometimes guilty of moving words out of order to make the rhyme.   I think this is an example of that.  Here is what one author suggested our hymn writer is trying to say.  “No [other] tender voice furnishes peace [to me] quite as well as yours does.”  You can find the explanation of that interpretation here.

Tender Voice

With that in mind, let us consider now the different aspects that make up this second line.

Peace?

The first thought that comes to me when I think of God’s tender voice is Jesus describing Himself as the Good Shepherd.  You can read the larger context in John 10, but we will press in to one verse to grasp the imagery.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27 ESV

We have all found ourselves in the position of that lost sheep, only to realize too late that we have wandered away from the protection of the shepherd, sometimes willfully and sometimes not.  When we realize that we are in a place void of peace what we long for is to hear the voice that ushers it back to us.

We can trust we will hear that voice when we have first confessed our need of Him.  What is truly needful though is to develop an awareness of our continual need.  This helps us cultivate a desire to listen for His voice more often, which keeps us from listening to other voices and protects us from some of the trouble we otherwise end up in.

Maybe today you lack peace.  We have all been there.  Ask your gentle, tender Shepherd to speak to you.  Ask Him to help you hear His tender voice, and to move toward it with the confidence He is already moving toward you.  If you have peace today, ask Him to speak so you can better know His tender voice and be even more ready when the next threat to your peace comes.

Affords Peace

The use of the word afford here means to give.  No voice gives us peace like the tender voice of Jesus.  And how we need to hear His voice, not only when peace seems to be slipping away, but every hour.

We must be vigilant to listen for two reasons.

  1. His voice is tender
  2. Other sounds attempt to overshadow it

I think of how God revealed Himself to Elijah in the still, small voice of I Kings 19.  Though His voice spoke everything into being in Genesis 1-2, it seldom breaks forth with that kind of obvious power.  He wants us to choose to listen, so He speaks with a voice the requires we do, rather than one that demands it.

A little later in John our Good Shepherd offers this promise.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV

Troubles and fears echo in our souls.  They threaten to drown out the tender voice of God.  We must train our ears to listen for Him.

None Like Thine

I heard someone say once that we should speak into our children’s lives in the quiet moments so that when the storms come they are accustomed to our hearing our voices and trust that we will help them.  This is exactly what our Father wants to do.  But we must be listening in the quiet times so we are ready when the noise comes.

And let’s be honest it is hard to discipline ourselves to do that.  When trouble comes we are desperate to hear from God.  But if we have not already learned to listen it will be more difficult to identify His voice.  When we learn to declare regularly how much we need Him, every hour at the very least, we will be better equipped to hear His tender voice, and receive the peace it affords.

Ask Jesus to help you routinely listen for His tender voice.  Discipline yourself to be quiet so you can identify it.  Then when troubles and fears assail your soul, you will be able to cling to peace like nothing this world affords.

Jesus, help me to learn how to listen for Your voice.  I need You every hour.  Teach me to listen every hour, especially in the quiet ones, so when the noisy ones come I can still hear You tender voice.  In Jesus’ name.   Amen.

Peaceful Thinking!

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 always available to Subscribers, and sometimes to Free Members.  Want to learn more about accessing all the additional material in the Subscriber Content Library, click here.  Or check out some other 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 and Free Members enjoy this podcast! Everyone else the transcript below! It features meditative music and moments to contemplate the Scriptures and reflections shared.

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.

I need Thee every hour,

Psalm 40:17 ESV

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

This is a great place to begin, confessing our need of God, and why not?  This Scripture speaks what we know to be true, the Lord takes thought of me.  We know it to be true because He has delivered us before, so cry out every hour with the Psalmist, “Do not delay, O my God!”

   most gracious Lord;

Isaiah 30:18 ESV 

…the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

And He will not delay because of this incredible promise, that He actually waits to be gracious, and exalts Himself when He shows mercy.   He is just and faithfully blesses all who wait for Him. Tell Him you need Him, then wait for His grace to flow.

No tender voice like Thine

John 10:27 ESV

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

He is our gentle shepherd.  He speaks and we hear His voice.  But we not only hear it, we obey. Why?  Because we are convinced He knows, knows what is best for us, and has the authority to bring it to pass.  Ask Him to help you hear His voice as you wait.

   can peace afford.

John 14:27 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

And this is what we hear when we listen to His voice.  Peace. Not like the world gives, but as only He can. Peace is not the absence of conflict.  Peace is the presence of God. Tell Him you will listen for His voice in trouble and when fears come so you may receive His peace.

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

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

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

Image Attributions
Tender Voice – https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-holding-sheep-statuette-161289/
Peace? – https://pixabay.com/photos/lamb-baby-animals-sheep-animal-1081950/
None Like Thine – https://pixabay.com/photos/religion-faith-shepherd-schäfer-3450127/