A New Trick for an Old Dog

During my recent and extended hospitalization (February to October 2019), I received an email from a friend and elder in our church.  He was aware that I was stuck in bed unable to attend any kind of public worship – not even the VA Chapel service.  He suggested and recommended a link to some contemporary Christian music which he thought I would appreciate.

I confess that my preference in music is instrumental and Baroque. In my opinion, much contemporary “Christian” music, seems too repetitive, overly emotional and unedifying. So, I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and just ignored the link.

One day, however, as I was poking through my music app, I remembered the link and clicked on it. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the music!  More the that, it was edifying.  The album is entitled Only a Holy God was recorded by a church group from Sydney Australia named CityAlight. This positive experience prompted further searches for a similar style of edifying music. I next discovered that I could reflect God’s glory and grace as I played it in the hospital room. This old dog had learned a new trick!  I became aware of contemporary Christian music which was God centered and helpful to my Christian life.

A whole new world of music was opening up in front of me as I searched for similar artists.  One of these searches introduced me to Matt Boswell and Matt Papa who wrote this song:

Praise the Lord!

His mercy is more

Stronger than darkness, new every morn

Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

What love could remember no wrongs we have done

Omniscient, all-knowing, He counts not their sum

Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore

Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord! His mercy is more…

What patience would wait as we constantly roam

What Father, so tender, is calling us home

He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor

Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord! His mercy is more…

What riches of kindness He lavished on us

His blood was the payment, His life was the cost

We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford

Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord!

His mercy is more

Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Stronger than darkness, new every morn

What a wonderful hymn! I appreciate the vivid word pictures of the love of Christ for us. It brings to my mind, these words from Psalm 103. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11–12, ESV)

I like to ponder that phrase “… as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” 

How far is the east from the west? It occurred to me that if you started traveling east, you would circumnavigate the globe and remain traveling east for as long as you would travel – no matter how long you traveled.  You cannot find west by going east. In order to go west, you would have to turn around and go in the opposite direction.

This brings another word picture to mind. The biblical term repentance literally means “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.” Repentance involves confessing our sins to God and relying on him for the desire and energy to change.  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8–9, ESV)

These verses contrast 2 ways of dealing with our sin.  The first is denial which is self-deceit.  This approach ignores certain destruction and judgment.  The second is confession and forgiveness.  God promises to forgive us when we acknowledge our guilt before and seek forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection.  Even then, believers in Jesus struggle against sin until he comes again or takes us home to be with him.

Consider this old Puritan prayer emphasizing God’s way of ongoing forgiveness.

O LORD, No day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in thy sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; Praise has been often praiseless sound; My best services are filthy rags. Blessed Jesus, let me find a cover in thy appeasing wounds. Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits soar above them; Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell, thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne. All things in me call for my rejection, All things in thee plead my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to thy throne of boundless grace…

[Edited by Arthur Bennett. The Valley of Vision (Kindle Locations 1930-1947). The Banner of Truth Trust.]

Thanks, Dave, for reminding me that my sins are many, but his mercy is more!  This is like teaching this old dog a new trick!

By the way, here’s a link to songs mentioned above:

smile.amazon.com/Only-Holy-God-CityAlight/dp/B01N9EQUHY/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1L26HGGADEIY5&keywords https://smile.amazon.com/His-Mercy-More-Hymns-Boswell/dp/B07WC5GS4R/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=His+mercy+is+more&qid=1578867507&s=dmusic&sr=1-1


			

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