Weekly Devotional, Jun 19 2018

Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Part 2

Whenever I sing this hymn I’m reminded from the first verse and chorus, ‘Thy compassions they fail not….morning by morning new mercies I see…Great is thy faithfulness’
that these sentiments come from the saddest book in the Bible, Lamentations. Here is the fuller context (Lam 3:19-23):
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
These words were originally spoken in a time of great suffering, after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586BC. Yet the author is declaring that it is precisely in such times that God’s great faithfulness and mercy is what gives us hope and comfort. God’s faithfulness is not changed by our suffering. And that’s an amazing truth; it gives us strength to trust, endure, and wait upon him.
The other Scriptural thought behind the line:
‘There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.’
Is of course from James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
God’s immutability(unchangeability) is a cornerstone doctrine we must all remember. When we are surrounded by swirling, changing, and painful circumstances, it is God’s unchanging nature that tells us he is still faithful, still working out something better and more beautiful in the midst of what seems unexplainable. Because he does not change, he is the consummate good tree, only good can yield from him(Matt7:18). Not only is his faithfulness great, great is fact that it never changes.
It’s in light of his goodness, that I sometimes understand the line: ‘All I have needed thy hand hath provided’ –that even my hardship is something the Lord provides because it is in his sovereign eyes, what I need. He knows precisely when we need to be chastened as well as encouraged; when we need to be refined as well as comforted. And sometimes his correction is a far better comfort, for it is precisely the provision which ‘I have needed’.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
This line stems from Gen 8:22 as God’s faithful promise to Noah that the “curse” will never again befall mankind. Think of how it foreshadows Christ; the curse would fall upon him instead(Gal 3:13). This is how great God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love would ultimately manifest.
So it leads well into the final verse:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
It is God’s pardon for sin that opens the door to an enduring kind of peace, one which the world does not know(John 14:27). But it doesn’t stop there. He gives us his very presence by way of the Holy Spirit(John14:16) who guides, helps, strengthens and encourages to the point of a deep and unexplainable joy.
And the last two lines always lift my soul. We can confidently say this: No matter how hard the today, there is always, always a brighter tomorrow –meaning he has promised for us a future that is secure and glorious. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” -2Cor 4:17. For he is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” Eph 3:20.
The last line teaches me to do one of the most powerful things I can do as a Christian: count my blessings. And when I do, I come to realize the truth: blessings all mine, and I have ten thousand beside –not only an uncountable quantity of blessings, but words that fail to capture their quality also. My cup indeed overflows(Ps23:5).
May we sing this hymn over and over. And may it illuminate to us God’s unchanging faithfulness.
Sung here in English and Spanish:

Weekly Devotional, June 5 2018

This has turned into a monthly devotional, rather than weekly….my apologies, running a bit behind these days.
Here’s the conclusion of the reflection on this hymn.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Part 2

I want us to take note of the rich biblical imagery in this hymn.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Beginning with the idea of a ‘fount’ a source of water, the modern equivalent being a ‘spring’: it is the symbol for life. God is repeatedly described as a ‘fount’. In Jer 2:13, God says “…they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters”. Jesus also spoke of never thirsting after drinking of the water he offers. He was speaking of life eternal from himself –the fount.

The idea of God being the source of not only eternal life, but blessing and mercy, continues: ‘Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.’

Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of God’s unchanging love.

The ‘flaming tongues above’ is a reference to the tongues that fell like flames on the day of Pentecost(Acts 2)–when the disciples started to proclaim God’s praises in various languages –a picture of all nations gathered to praise God. In this case, the praise is directed towards the ‘mount’ referring to Calvary –our praise indeed ought to be ‘fixed upon it’ for it is where we behold ‘God’s unchanging love’ shown in Christ.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

‘Ebenezer’ literally means, “rock of help”. ‘Eben’ meaning rock, and ‘ezer’ meaning help. It comes from 1Sam 7 when the Israelites defeated the Philistines and Samuel set up a stone –a memorial to say: ‘thus far the Lord has helped us’. The author is recognizing God’s divine presence, help, and faithfulness to bring us to where we are today. The ‘hope’ he refers to is an allusion to 1Pet1, the ‘living hope’, and the ‘hope of glory’ of our eternal home –to which we would safely arrive. Hope in the Bible is never an indefinite longing, but the certainty of a sure promise.

‘Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God’ of course refers to the lost sheep parable and the way the Shepherd leaves the ninety nine to seek the lost. Like the good shepherd he is, he rescues us from the ultimate danger –how? By interposing(the placing between one thing and another) and mediating between God and man –through his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

A ‘fetter’ is a chain, used usually to enslave. In Christ, we have been freed from the slavery of sin, but are now glad servants of God, not against our wills, but compelled by his love and goodness. Hence ‘like thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.’

We also have a petition ‘Here’s my heart Lord, O take and seal it. This is a reference to the seal of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts(2Cor1:22, Eph 1:13). A seal is a mark of authenticity and ownership, assuring us of our salvation and eternal inheritance. This is a seal no one can break. It is his assurance over us that no matter how far we wander, we cannot wander beyond his preserving grace. We are sealed until we reach his courts above.

Keep singing this hymn and let it strike the chords of truth and hope we have -only through Christ.


Good Friday Service
Please join us for our Good Friday Service to reflect upon the suffering and sacrifice of our Lord.

Arrive by 6:45pm for quiet prayer/preparation. 7pm service begins promptly.

Please note:
1. There will be a children’s program downstairs.
2. Being mindful of those who are fasting, we will not be offering any refreshments.

Easter Sunrise Worship on Mt. Royal
Every Easter morning a small group of us go to Mt. Royal before the sunrise. We watch the sunrise and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord by having a simple, but joyous time of worship. Usually we run into other believers from various churches and believing organizations around Montreal, and it can often turn into a time of corporate worship!

For those who want to join, please contact Kamin who can give you more information and even try to arrange a ride.

Easter Service and Potluck Celebration
You are most welcome to join us on Easter morning to celebrate our risen Saviour at our Easter Service! Service begins at 10:30am.

To continue our celebration we will be having a potluck lunch following the service. If you are a guest please come as you are, but you are more than welcome to contribute to the potluck. For those who are members, please look to your small group leaders or the google document to sign up for what you plan on bringing.

For any questions regarding the Easter potluck, please contact Esther Nam.