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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Friday, September 17 2021

 

This Sunday we are singing I Need Thee Every Hour as our closing hymn. The text was written in 1872 by Annie Sherwood Hawks (with a little help on the refrain and the music by her pastor, Robert Lowry, who is known better for writing Shall We Gather at the River and How Can I Keep From Singing). Annie Hawks, a young wife and mother at the time she wrote this hymn, composed over 400 hymn texts throughout her life, but this is the only one of hers that is still sung today.

 

Retelling the story of how she wrote it, Hawks writes, "One day I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me -- 'I Need Thee Every Hour. . . .'"

 

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 Savior-- I come to thee!

 

When have you felt the need for God? We've all had times when we feel like life is good and everything is under control... maybe we don't feel we need God so much then... and other times when we fear the worst is going to happen... "God, please fix this, and I promise I'll _________" and we find ourselves bargaining with the Almighty for our desired outcome.

 

I need thee every hour; stay thou near by;

Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.

I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee!

O bless me now, my Savior-- I come to thee!

 

I believe the author of this text is talking about having a connection to God, a closeness that you never want to... or have to be without, for even one hour, once you've experienced it. How does one find this connection?

 

I need thee every hour; teach me thy will,

And thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee!

O bless me now, my Savior-- I come to thee!

 

Do you make time for prayer? Do you get quiet and listen? How do you know God's voice? Do you make time to read the Bible?

 

I need thee every hour, Most Holy One;

O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son.

I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee!

O bless me now, my Savior-- I come to thee!

 

After worshiping with us this Sunday, after singing four stanzas of this classic hymn, I hope you will think of your need for God, and how the Creator of heaven and earth has drawn near to us, so that we may draw near to him, and share that love with others.

Prayer for Today

Holy God, I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee! O bless me now, my Savior-- I come to thee! Amen.

Posted by: AT 07:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 16 2021

 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of God’s calling, what are the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints.

-Ephesians 1:18

 

My youngest son is at an age where he has begun to put words into phrases and copy those phrases from others around him. His favorite? “Oh Look!” It’s useful in so many circumstances. Things in the house, things on our walks, in his room, out the window, or on the TV. And now we use it to show him things too. His world is about discovery and anticipation, and so ours is too. By drawing our attention to things that are new to him, and us drawing his attention to things we want him to add to his experience, we see things with new eyes, new perspective.

 

Scripture tells us how important eyes are. What they look at, what we choose to see or not see, and even that our heart has eyes. Paul reminds the Ephesians that the eyes of our heart, our seat of emotion and compassion, must be set on God’s calling, God’s instruction. Enlightenment comes from God’s wisdom, and Paul is praying for their hearts to have eyes for the things of God. Paul is praying they focus on what God points them to see. God is saying, “oh, look!” And Paul doesn’t want them to miss it.

 

When we read scripture, study it together in Christian community, and ask the spirit to give us enlightened eyes of the heart, we are seeking God’s call. We are stunning ourselves to a way of seeing what’s important when God calls. When we learn and grow in God’s word, we see where God is pointing in this world, to people who need compassion, acceptance, living wages, affordable and accessible housing, justice, equitable education, affordable healthcare, and faith family. When we get serious about internalizing God’s wisdom and God’s call on our lives, we can hear in our daily lives, God saying, “oh, look!”

Prayer for Today

Lord, make the eyes of my heart open wide. Help me be enlightened by your word and bold by your spirit to love by meeting the needs of those I see. Amen.

Posted by: AT 07:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 15 2021

 

Last Sunday morning we presented our second graders with Bibles. It is something we do every year here at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church. After we presented the Bibles, I invited the kids who had received the Bibles to have a seat for the children's sermon. And while I was asking them about what a newspaper and the Bible they had just received had in common, I noticed that both of the young men who received a Bible were very focused on their Bibles and not that interested in what I was saying. They seem to be fascinated as they flipped through the pages. Normally I might be a little hurt because they weren't fascinated with what I was saying, but actually I was thrilled because they found this new Bible in their laps to be so interesting. My hope is that their Bibles would remain just as interesting in their coming years.

 

Karl Barth was probably the most influential theologian of the 20th century. He wrote four volumes of books, 500 to 700 pages each called Church Dogmatics. There is a story about a time Karl Barth was once teaching. Someone asked him how he would summarize all that was in his books. He paused and said this, “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.”

 

How did one of the deepest Christian thinkers and most effective teachers know about the love of Jesus? Because the Bible told him so! Friends, how do we encounter the risen Christ who loves us? One of the best ways is through the scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments. Through scripture we can find spiritual nourishment for our lives, as well as the strength and guidance us to do whatever it is God calls each of us to do.

Prayer for Today

Loving God, fill us with your words of grace and truth. Help us to find time to read from the scriptures you give us. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ, the Word made flesh who lived among us. Amen.

Posted by: AT 07:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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