~~~~~ September 22 2013 ~~~~~

Our first hymn this morning is “Let us Love and Sing and Wonder” by the great hymnist John Newton.  This hymn gives us four calls to action this morning:  to love, sing, wonder, and praise.  Each stanza is started with encouragement to do one of these, which is followed by the reason we are free to do so.  We are free to “love the Lord who bought us…called us by His grace and taught us,” and to “wonder grace and justice, when through grace in Christ our trust is.”  Reflect on each of these actions that Newton gives as well as the response to why we are able to do so. 

This hymn is followed by singing a contemporary arrangement of “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven,” which continues the theme of calling us to praise God for His grace, favor, and mercy.  What’s interesting about this hymn is the idea of calling our souls to praise God.  Generally, we think of praise of something outward - singing hymns and rejoicing, which are certainly forms of praise.  However, this idea of calling our souls to praise means that we are glorifying and worshiping God at our most foundational level, and our outward forms of praise spring forth from an internal attitude of praise. 

To prepare our hearts for hearing God’s word, we will sing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.  This hymn was written by Louisa M. Stead after witnessing her husband drown, after which Louisa and her daughter moved to South Africa to become missionaries.  Throughout the hardships of loss and poverty, she never lost trust in God’s plan, and this beautiful hymn reflects this:

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!”

As we look to Ephesians and read about God’s eternal blessing designed for us given freely through his son, be reminded of the all-encompassing plan He has for us, even through hardships.  The passage tells us, “In love he predestined us for  adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”  

We will close the service by singing the newer hymn, “I Will Glory in my Redeemer,” by Steve and Vicki Cook.  This song reminds us that we have victory in Christ, and as we leave to begin our weeks, us the theme of the glory found in this victory to change how we look at the world around us.