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.

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.

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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.

What’s Behind the Veil?

Bridal Veil
Bridal Veil

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

When I read the word veil the first thing that comes to mind for me is a bridal veil.  This is not what the hymn is referencing, but it does introduce a whole different set of images.  Veils are meant to cover something up or keep something hidden, even if not entirely, and that is exactly what we are going to think about here.

In the simplest, most direct sense, the veil referenced here is an allusion to the fact that we can not clearly see the amazing reality of heaven, and all that will be ours in that blessed reality.  The truth described here is the hope we have in eternal life, even when this life ends.  Using the phrase  “within the veil” conjures up a few other rich images though that are in some ways connected.

Veil Between Earth and Heaven
Veil Between Earth and Heaven

Heaven

Jesus has made Heaven available to us through His sacrifice.  Even though it is our inheritance, we do not yet possess it.  When was the last time you spent a few minutes and simply thought about eternity.  Images like this sunset mountain scene stir up within me a longing for more than this life affords.  There is a sense of expectancy and hope within the misty mysteries of forever.

Think for a moment about the two pictures the hymn writer has so skillfully juxtaposed.  Heart and flesh failing, joy and peace unveiling.  When my heart fails me, then I shall know that joy that I only tasted of in this life.  When my flesh ceases its strivings, then shall I finally find peace.  How often we pray for broken hearts to be mended and fatigued flesh to find new strength, and rightfully so, but fail to thank God for the reminders these faltering blessings usher in to our existence on this side of the veil.

Maybe better than faltering, the word incomplete might suffice.  Heart and flesh are blessings, but they are incomplete in that they point us to a better, greater blessing.  Which brings us to another veil.

Veil of temple
Veil of Temple

Temple Veil

The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed us to a better, greater blessing as well.  As a part of the system the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place, by the blood of goats and calves, to atone for the sins of the people once a year.  The veil of the temple kept the Most Holy Place beyond view.

When Jesus died that veil was torn in two from top to bottom.  As opposed to endless sacrifices, Jesus died once for all and entered the Most Holy Place, by His own blood, to make atonement.  [Hebrews 9:12] That veil would not longer block entrance to the Most Holy Place.  It was a representation of what Jesus actually accomplished, but we are waiting to behold.

Connected

The veil of the Temple, Heaven, and bridal veils are all connected.  Here’s how.

We can not see into Heaven, any more than the priests could see into the Most Holy Place.  The groom can not clearly see his bride while her veil is down.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and she is getting ready to meet her Bridegroom.  That will take place in Heaven, and the access to Heaven was granted by Jesus sacrifice.  Think about how all this rich symbolism ands context and texture to these wonderful truths through things we know and see, pointing to things we believe which are veiled.

There are definitely some really cool things to think about.  Take a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to wrap you mind around the incredible treasure that is waiting for you, within the veil.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for giving me access to pass through the veil when my time comes.  Give me courage to face that day with the hope that what I have longed for will be realized.  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.

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Shield + Portion = Strength

Chi Rho (Christ) Shield
Chi Rho (Christ) Shield

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

Think about it.  As long as life endures, in other words, throughout my earthly existence.  I would agree that the Lord is far more than just Shield and Portion for far longer than the dash that is this life, but we will take that up at another time, Lord willing.  For these thoughts, let’s center in on what the Lord keeps away from me, and what He brings to me, all for His glory and my good.

Shield

Psalm 28:7 says it this way.

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

He keeps things away from me.  Another way of saying it, He keeps me from getting things that would harm me.  He is my Shield.

The Chi Rho shield above, reminds us that Christ is that Shield, those two letters representing the first two letters from the Greek spelling of Christ.  [If you are intrigued and need more on that, you may indulge your curiosity here.] Jesus is the One who protects me.  He keeps many things that would harm me from ever getting close enough to do damage, even though I flirt with them at times.

Portion

Psalm73:26 says it like this.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

He provides me with things that will help me.  Another way of saying it, He is everything I need.  He is my portion.

This one seems either a little less straightforward than the other, or maybe just a little more complex.  Saying God is my Shield has a singular focus.  Saying He is my Portion has more protracted implications.  There are several primary nuances of such a claim, and here is the short list.

  • share of a meal
  • part of a sacrifice
  • soldier’s share of plunder
  • someone’s inheritance
Share in a meal
Share in a meal

The first, and most obvious one seems to be connected with this idea of one’s share in a meal.  Think family style like the photo above. I do not have to jostle and fight for my share.  God is my share.  I can be at rest and enjoy all that He has provided for me.

Sacrifice
Sacrifice

The next is a little less obvious as it pertains to the part of a sacrifice that would belong to the worshipper.  The priest would get a certain portion, as would the Lord to whom the offering was made, but the worshipper would receive a portion of most offerings as well.  Again, God is my portion.

The last two are even a little more obscure, but just as meaningful.   After a battle every

Inheritance
Inheritance

soldier gets to take some of the plunder as their reward for winning, or their prize for still being alive.  When the battle of this life is over, God will certainly be our plunder, the proceeds of having lived victoriously.  This last one really resonates with me because of the lasting implication.  I might eat my meal, enjoy my sacrifice or plunder and then it’s gone, but inheritance seems at least a bit more permanent.  Not only that, but it is generally something entrusted to someone based on relationship.  I like the connotation of that.

Strength

One of the things that struck me about these two passages was one of the words they have in common, Strength.  The interesting thing to me is that a Shield protects strength and a Portion fuels it.  Both are related to strength, only in different ways.  I need strength to live this life, and that strength is God, and comes from God.

How’s strong is your spirit?  Are you allowing God to protect you, or are you trying to do it all yourself?  Are you seeking God to provide for you, or are you attempt to stir up your own provisions?  Honestly ask yourself these questions and let the Holy Spirit reveal the answers to you.  It will be worth the time and effort.

Jesus, thank You for being my Shield and Portion.  As one songwriter said, “All of You is more than enough for all of me.”  Help me to live that statement out, even as I come to understand it better everyday.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Subscribers, enjoy this podcast!