Monday, April 27, 2020

Hopeful Hymns in Uncertain Times (part 4)

During these uncertain times, it is important to hear from God's word and from godly counsel. One of the resources that provides us with good Christian teaching is good Christian music. Hymns, both new and old, are a treasure for the church as we seek to sing spiritual songs that remind us of great truths. My hope is that these little devotionals will encourage Christians in days of trial. 

"Speak O Lord"
Keith and Kristyn Getty

The most influential contemporary hymn-writers became well-known in the Christian world with the 2001 release of "In Christ Alone." Keith co-wrote the song with Stuart Townsend and Kristyn performed it with them for the release. Since then, the Gettys have led God's people in singing that song countless times and hundreds of millions of Christians sing it in churches every year. Keith and Kristyn (who were initially introduced by John Lennox, by the way) have written many other songs worthy of corporate Lord's Day singing.

"By Faith," "The Lord Is My Salvation," and "The Power of the Cross" are other popular titles composed by the duo, but, to me, there's no better song to come off the Getty pen than "Speak O Lord." On their website, the Gettys sum up the theme of this song:
One of Christianity’s distinctives is that we worship a God who has spoken - who is not silent. From God the Father, speaking the world into creation, to speaking through His Living word in Christ, to speaking by His Spirit through the written word...It is our prayer that through the power of the Spirit, this hymn will prepare people to humbly listen to the Bible being taught and respond to the huge consequences it has on their lives.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
to receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
that the light of Christ might be seen today
in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
all Your purposes, for Your glory.

Is there any other verse in all of church history that better sums up the daily vision of the follower of Christ? The opening statement, highlighting God's word, should remind us of Paul's high view of Scripture that he relayed to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We should also be reminded of what God is doing in us as we study Scripture, fashioning us into the image of Christ, as explained in Romans 8.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
holy reverence, true humility.
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
in the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise,
cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of power that can never fail;
let their truth prevail over unbelief.

This stanza focuses on the proper relationship that the Christian has with his Creator. Recognizing God's good sovereignty and power in all things, the believer is pleased to come to Him to have rebellion exposed and obedience learned. The sentiment found here is reminiscent of the psalmist who wrote, "My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times," (Psalm 119:20). God's people have this longing because He works it in them (Philippians 2:12-13).

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
that will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises;
and by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, ’til your church is built
and the earth is filled with Your glory.

Now, looking forward, this song envisions the eternal perspective that is so critical to our sanctification. God is the One who speaks, plans, issues promises, provides grace, walks with us, and builds the church -- all for His own glory. We are instruments in His hand, being used to display rightful worship to a lost and dying world. This last verse, and the song in general, lead us to echo the proclamation of the king: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride," (Daniel 4:37).

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