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ASPECTS

a monthly devotional journal
by David Lampel
Issue No. 71
October 1996

I LIFT UP MY VOICE!


It is quite possibly our most tender picture of God's grace. Jesus Christ, at His lowest point, feeling rejected by those He came to save, beginning to feel His inevitable separation from the Father--at a moment when His loneliness had become almost too much to bear, He thought of ... us.

Knowing what was before Him, knowing that before Him lay the exquisite agony of the cross, our Lord Jesus raised our needs up to the Father.

How much easier things would be for us today if He had, instead, prayed "My prayer is that you take them out of the world right now." But He didn't. Acknowledging that, through Him, we would not be of the world, we would nonetheless remain in it.


So here we are. Citizens of the eternal kingdom, fellow heirs with Christ, yet living out our temporal existence in alien, even hostile, territory. And of course we know just how alien and hostile it can be. Even though most of us will never suffer the physical pain of persecution, we are only too well aware that the ways of this world are not the ways of Christ.

We see it in the media, with television commercials that do anything but point us toward holiness, movies that play to our baser instincts, magazine ads that grab our attention by their use of immodest displays of flesh.

We see it in the marketplace, where half-truths and outright deception are used to separate us from the contents of our wallet; where shoddy merchandise is advertised as `New and Improved!'; where we must, for our own protection, constantly assume that the person on the opposite side of the counter is trying to take advantage of us.

We hear and see it in politics, where one candidate will lie about the other, lie about him or herself, and lie to us about their intentions for tomorrow.

And, regrettably, when we run to what we believe to be safe territory, for sanctuary from the world, we discover that the world has seeped even into that sanctuary, so that in the church we see backbiting, duplicity, infantile political machinations, power grabs, and those for whom the church is little more than a social club.

The more we work in the world the harder it becomes to rise above it; the more we listen to the silky warblings of the world's voice, the harder it is to hear the voice of our heavenly Father.

Jesus was right: the world hates us for who we are and what we represent. In the Christian, the world is reminded of its own hopelessness and despair, its own condition of depravity. It sees itself for what it is--bounced back off the shining, reflective surface of redemption: a world lost and feeding desperately on itself.

So where do we turn? Where do we seek solace and rejuvenation? We may find it in God's word, but there we might also be reminded of our own inadequacies. The instruction of wisdom--even by the finger of God-- may inflict as much discomfort as righteousness.

We may find it in fellowship with those of like mind, but that dear brother or sister carries baggage that may become an obstacle for our search.

Where do we find the one reliable source to lift us above the heavy pressures of living as an alien in hostile territory? Where can we go to find relief, while we wait for the day when we'll no longer be pilgrims in a foreign land?

It is in praise of Him that we will find our relief. As we turn away from ourselves, and toward the God of heaven, we will find Him as our hearts fill with His praise.


So, come, let us praise Him ...


Selah

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me,
bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits.

             Psalm 103:1-2


 

I PRAISE YOUR MERCY

How can we consider and glorify any attribute of God without beginning with His mercy, for it is His mercy that permits us to have a relationship with Him in the first place.

When our child stumbles and falls we reach down to help her to her feet. We brush off the dirt, and bandage the skinned knee. In this we are demonstrating the compassionate mercy of a loving parent.

When we stumble and fall, it is our merciful God who picks us up, brushes off the dirt, and bandages our wounds. He not only demonstrates mercy, but it is a quick, immediate mercy with which He comforts us _ the mercy of a loving Father.


Beneath His watchful eye
His saints securely dwell;
That Hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard His children well.

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your heavenly Father's throne,
And sweet refreshment find.

             Phillip Doddridge


Selah


I need Thee every hour, Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Saviour,
I come to Thee.

             Annie S. Hawks

 

Lord, God, I praise Your mercy!

 

I PRAISE YOUR JUSTICE


Selah


It is when we finally come to terms with the Lord's justice that we can be at ease over unpleasant events in our life. We may accept His love or mercy, even His righteousness, and still rebel against His hand in our life. We may believe that everything comes from Him and still complain about His decisions.

But when we finally apprehend the truth that God can do nothing that is not just, then and only then can we fully come to terms with His Lordship in our life. He not only is God, but He is an absolutely fair God. In this He has earned our trust.

Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above
What God's almighty pow'r hath made,
His gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning glow or evening shade
His watchful eye ne'er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might,
Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

             Johann J. Schutz


 

Lord, God, I praise Your justice!

 

I PRAISE YOUR POWER

Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;

Join me in glad adoration!
             Joachim Neander


Selah



Eternal Power, whose high abode
Becomes the grandeur of a God:
Infinite lengths beyond the bounds
Where stars revolve their little rounds ...

Lord, what shall earth and ashes do?
We would adore our Maker too;
From sin and dust to Thee we cry,
The Great, the Holy, and the High.

             Isaac Watts

 

Lord, God, I praise Your power!

 

I PRAISE YOUR GENEROSITY

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost! Amen.

             Thomas Ken

The human response to the Lord's abundant generosity is gratitude, and gratitude is played out in a tangible way in our service to God and His people.

Never let the anti-legalist--the grace fanatic for whom any "works" are seen as the believer buying his or her way into God's heart--never let this one remove for you the exquisite joy of serving Him from a grateful heart. We do live under grace, and there is nothing we can do that will impress God, or improve upon the grace He already bestows based on His love alone.

But nowhere does it say we cannot--based on the pure intentions of a grateful heart--give back gladly to our loving, generous Father in the form of service and praise, in recognition of what He has already done for us.

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say
I am strong,
Let the poor say
I am rich
Because of what the Lord
has done for us.

             Henry Smith


Selah


 

Lord, God, I praise Your generosity!

 

I PRAISE YOUR WISDOM


Selah


O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky;
We praise Thee for the radiance
That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps,
Shines on from age to age.

             William W. How


How bereft of hope we would be without God's wisdom--that inseparable companion to His truth. It is our safe, dependable anchor when the rough waves of living thrash all about us. Because of His eternal wisdom we can always know that when we come to Him we will receive His absolute, unflinching truth.

 

Lord, God, I praise Your wisdom!

 

I PRAISE YOUR PATIENCE

There is surely no more precious attribute of God for the earthbound saint than His patience. The Old Testament saint referred to it as God's longsuffering--and, indeed (based on knowledge of a most personal nature), how sorely long He must suffer with some of us.

If we had nothing else for which to praise Him, we must, by common decency alone, praise God for His longsuffering patience. Grace? Yes, it is grace--it is God's personal form of daily, ongoing grace with which He loves and cares for us.


When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost
In wonder, love and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows bowed,
Revived my soul with grace.

             Joseph Addison


Selah


 

Lord, God, I praise Your patience!

 

I PRAISE YOUR HOLINESS

Holy God, we praise Thy name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee;
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in heav'n above adore Thee.
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee,
And adoring bend the knee,
While we sing our praise to Thee.

              Te Deum, 4th Century


Selah


 

Lord, God, I praise Your holiness!

 

I PRAISE YOUR AVAILABILITY

The Christian who speaks of a personal God, or a personal Savior, is referring to a God who is available. Herein lies the profound mystery and indefinable joy of Christianity--that a God of such utter and pristine holiness would deign to make Himself available to ones such as us.

Allured into the desert,
With God alone, apart,
There spirit meeteth spirit,
There speaketh heart to heart.
Far, far on that untrodden shore,
God's secret place I find;
Alone I pass the golden door,
The dearest left behind.

There God and I--none other;
Oh far from men to be!
Nay, midst the crowd and tumult,
Still, Lord, alone with Thee.
Still folded close upon Thy breast,
In field, and mart, and street,
Untroubled in that perfect rest,
That isolation sweet.

Stilled by that wondrous Presence,
That tenderest embrace,
The years of longing over,
Do we behold Thy face;

We seek no more than Thou hast given,
We ask no vision fair,
Thy precious blood has opened heaven,
And we have found Thee there.

             Gerhard Tersteegen


Selah


 

Lord, God, I praise Your availability!

 

I PRAISE YOUR MAJESTY


Selah


Majesty, worship His Majesty.
Unto Jesus be all glory,
honor, and praise.
Majesty, kingdom authority
Flows from His throne unto His own;
His anthem raise.

So exalt, lift up on high
the name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus,
the King.

Majesty, worship His Majesty;
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all kings.

             Jack W. Hayford

 

Lord, God, I praise Your majesty!

 

I PRAISE YOUR COMPASSION


Selah



Begin with Genesis 1:1 and read through the entirety of God's word--all the way through to Revelation 22:21. Read all about His `fierce wrath' and `vengeance'; read about how He sends fire from heaven to consume the wicked, how He floods the earth to swallow up its corrupt population; read all about how He demands blood sacrifice for the payment of sins...

Read every word, and when you have closed the cover, you will still be left with the unmistakable picture in your mind of a forgiving, compassionate God who goes to astounding lengths to love His people.

"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

"Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided _
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

             Thomas O. Chisholm

 

Lord, God, I praise Your compassion!

 

I PRAISE YOUR JOY

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother _
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

             Henry van Dyke


The world (and many Christians) seem to know only the picture of a stern, angry God. But read how the prophet Zephaniah describes Him:

The word translated "rejoice" in this verse is a joy that expresses itself in the gestures of the body. It means, literally, to spin around. In other words, God dances over us with singing! His love for us is so full that, at times, it must be expressed physically.

Our God isn't a stodgy curmudgeon at all! He loves us and cares about us _ and sometimes leaps about with joy over us. We're usually the stodgy curmudgeons. We're the ones too inhibited, too proud, to demonstrate our adoration of the Lord. But He is never inhibited; God is never too proud to dance joyfully for us.

 

Lord, God, I praise Your joy!

 

I PRAISE YOUR COMPLETENESS


Selah


Because I worship a complete God, I need not worry about His ability to keep His promises, answer my prayers, or deal with my foes. Because He is perfectly complete, He is perfectly capable of doing anything He has said He will.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God _ this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 11:33-12:13


O worship the king, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing, His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. Amen.

             Robert Grant

 

Lord, God, I praise Your completeness!

YOUR NOTES:

I Praise Your ...


NOTES, COPYRIGHT & SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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Issue No. 71
October 1996

NOTES

[1.] All A.W. Tozer quotations in this issue are taken from his book The Knowledge of the Holy: The attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (HarperCollins, 1992). (return to footnote 1)

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

All original material in Aspects is Copyright © 1996 David S. Lampel. This data file is the sole property of David S. Lampel. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (C) 1996 David S. Lampel."). This data file may not be used without the permission of David S. Lampel for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content. Brief quotations not to exceed more than 500 words may be used, with the appropriate copyright notice, to enhance or supplement personal or church devotions, newsletters, journals, or spoken messages.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture is from the New International Version. NIV quotations are from the Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission. NASB quotations are from the New American Standard Bible © 1960, 1962,1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation.

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