Amazing Grace

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Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Category: Amazing Grace

For I am the Lord, your God , who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah  41:13

Out of a broken heart after his wife and newly born son had both died, Thomas Dorsey cited to his Lord to lead him "through the storm, through the night." In doing so, he created lines that have since ministered to others in an unusual way. This tender song, written by a black gospel musician in 1932, has since been a favorite with Christians everywhere.

Thomas A. Dorsey grew up in Georgia as a "preacher's kid." As he began to be successful as a composer of jazz and blues songs, however, he drifted away from God. After it seemed to him that he was miraculously spared in brushes with death, Dorsey came back to the Lord. As his life dramatically changed he began to write gospel songs and to sing in church services. It was during a revival meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, that he received a telegram telling the tragic news of his wife and infant son. Stunned and grief-stricken, Dorsey cried, "God you aren't worth a dime to me right now!"

A few weeks later, however, as Dorsey fingered the keyboard of a piano, he created the lines of "Precious Lord" to fit a tune that was familiar to him. The following Sunday the choir of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in South Chicago, Illinois, sang the new song with Dorsey playing the accompaniment. "It tore up the church!"

God continued to lead Thomas Dorsey by the hand until he had written more then 250 gospel songs. He once stated: "My business is to try to bring people to Christ instead of leaving them where they are. I write for all of God's people. All people are my people. What I share with people is love. I try to lift their spirits and let them now that God still loves them. He's still saving, and He can still give that power."

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand-I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; to' the storm, thro' the night, lead me on to the light-Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grow drear, Precious Lord, linger near-when my life is almost gone. Hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall-Take my and, precious Lord, lead me home.

For Today: Psalm  6:7-9; 27:11; 48:14; John  10:3, 4; 1 John  1:7

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O God, Our Help In Ages Past

Category: Amazing Grace

Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are Godl Psalm  90:1,2

It has been wisely said that no thinking person ever regarded the beginning of a new year with indifference. Each of us faces many concerns and questions as we stand on the threshold of the unknown future.

The mystery of time is the subject of this hymn text, a paraphrase of Psalm  90. The hymn is considered by many to be one of the finest ever written and perhaps the best known of the 600 hymns by Isaac Watts, often called the "father of English hymnody."

At an early age Isaac displayed unusual talent in writing poetic verse. As a young man he became increasingly concerned with the congregational singing in the English speaking churches. Only ponderous metrical psalms were used until this time. To use any words other than the actual words of Scripture would have been considered an insult to God.

Challenged by his father to "write something better for us to sing," young Watts began to create new versions of the psalms with inspiring and expressive style. Eventually, at the early age of 25, he published an important hymnal titled The Psalms of David in the Language of the New Testament. In addition to "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," several of Watts' other paraphrases based on psalm settings are hymn texts still widely sung today. They include such favorites as "Joy to the World," Psalm  98; and "Jesus Shall Reign," Psalm  72.

After more than 250 years, Isaac Watts' hymn is still a timely reminder of God's faithfulness throughout the past and His sure promises for our future.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne still may we dwell secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.

Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.

For Today: Psalm  33:20, 48:14; 90; Isaiah  26:4

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O Happy Day

Category: Amazing Grace

I delight greatly in the Lord. My soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness. Isaiah  61:10 It is always encouraging to share in a testimonial service by recalling with other believers the time we responded to God's loving invitation for personal salvation. To remember what we were, how we were going, and where we could be today had not God encountered us is truly an important spiritual activity. But we must also be quick to note that the "happy day" of our new birth was never intended to be the final goal for our lives. Rather, it was the starting point for developing a Christ-like life and an endless fellowship with our Lord. Along with Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, Philip Doddridge is generally ranked as one of England's finest 18th century hymn writers. "O Happy Day", a text which expresses so aptly the sense of joy in a personal relationship with God, is Doddridge's best-known hymn today. The hymn first appeared without the refrain in the 1775 collection of Doddridge's writings, published posthumously, as were all of his 400 hymn texts. The music did not appear for nearly 100 years after the text. It was likely adapted from one of the popular secular tunes of that time. Share with someone your conversion experience - the events that prompted the decision when you first fully realized that you were truly God's child.

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I'd Rather Have Jesus

Category: Amazing Grace

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians  1:21 The inspiring and challenging words of this hymn, written by Mrs. Rhea Miller, so influenced 23-year-old George Beverly Shea that they determined the direction of his entire life. As he began to compose a melody for these moving lines, he decided to devote his singing talent to God's glory alone. Growing up with devoted Christian parents, Bev was encourgaed to use his fine singing voice often in the services of the Wesleyan Methodist churches of which his father was a minister. Financial needs of the family made it necessary for him to leave college and work in an insurance office. However, he continued singing in churches and for Christian radio programs. Unexpectedly, he was offered an audition for a secular singing position in New York City and passed the test. The opportunity for a substantial salary and wide recognition made Bev's decision very difficult. One Sunday as Bev went to the piano to prepare a song for the morning service, he found there a poem, "I'd Rather Have Jesus". His mother, who collected beautiful quotations and literary selections, had begun to leave some of them around the house for her son to read, hoping to guide him spiritually. Bev was deeply moved by the challenging message of this text. Immediately he began to compose music for the lines and used the song that same day in his father's church service. Bev Shea comments, "Over the years, I've not sung any song more than "I'd Rather Have Jesus" but I never tire of Mrs. Miller's heartfelt words." As a young man of 23, Bev allowed the message of this text to guide him wisely to a wonderfully productive and worthwhile life of service to Christ as he shared his musical "theme song" with audiences around the world. What would be your honest response to this question, "What are you living for and what would you be willing to die for?