This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them. Luke 15:2 The thrilling news of the Gospel is that Jesus welcomes the nobodies of life and transforms them into somebodies. The pages of church history are filled with examples of people whose lives have been dramatically changed from vile sinners to Spiritual saints. Divine love is never forced on anyone. God created man with a free will; free even to reject Christ's provision for salvation. Our heavenly Father does not want to send to hell people who reject His Son - it is a place that was originally intended for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) It cost God the cross and death of Jesus before He could forgive our sin and still remain a holy God. Although costly to God, salvation is a free gift to all who will receive it. Christ Receiveth Sinful Men was originally written in 1718 by a Lutheran minister, Erdmann Neumeister, pastor of a church in Hamburg, Germany, for 41 years. He became widely known as an eloquent, forceful preacher as well as the author of approximately 650 hymns. More than a century later, an English lady hymnist, Emma Frances Bevan, translated this and a number of other German texts into the English language. Still today, this hymn reminds us clearly that Christ welcomes any repentant sinner who responds to His gracious invitation for forgiveness and a new life. Thank God again for His free gift of salvation that is extended to everyone. There are many today who believe that they must somehow make themselves better before they can be accepted by God. Determine to share this truth with such a one.
After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 This text by Charles Wesley is another of the more than 6500 hymns written by the "Sweet Bard of Methodism". Wesley wrote on hundreds of Scriptural passages as well as on every conceivable phase of Christian experience and doctrine. This text was developed by Wesley to encourage his followers to have a more spontaneous joy in their lives as they became aware that Christ reigns victorious in heaven. It was based on the apostle Paul's instruction to the Christians at Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4) It is important to remember that this instruction was written while Paul was a prisoner of Emperor Nero in Rome. The teachings of the entire Philippian letter is that it is possible to be a victor in life - regardless of the circumstances - when our faith is in an ascended, reigning Lord. There are twelve references to rejoicing in this one short book. Rejoice - the Lord Is King! first appeared in John Wesley's Moral and Sacred Poems in 1744 and two years later in Charles Wesley's collection, Hymns For Our Lord's Resurrection. Rejoice in the Lord always is easy to quote, but difficult to practice. Yet we must remember that this attitude of joy is not an option for the Christian but a Scriptural command, the result of an intimate relationship with our reigning Lord.
His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns . . . He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. Revelation 19:12,13 The One Who bore the crown of thorns while on the cross is now crowned with 'many crowns' as the reigning monarch of heaven. Each crown in this hymn text exalts Christ for some specific aspect of His person or ministry: stanza one for His eternal Kingship; stanza two for His love demonstrated in redemptive suffering; stanza three for His victorious resurrection and ascension; stanza four as a member of the Triune Godhead, ever worthy of worship and praise. This worshipful text is the combined effort of two distinguished Anglican clergymen, each of whom desired to write a hymn of exaltation to our suffering, but now victorious Lord. Matthew Bridges' version first appeared in 1851 with six stanzas. Twenty-three years later, Godfrey Thring wrote six additional stanzas, which appeared in his collection, Hymns and Sacred Lyrics. The hymn's present form includes stanzas one, two and four by Bridges and the third verse by Thring. The tune Disdemata (the Greek word for crowns) was composed especially for this text by George Elvey, a noted organist at St. George's Chapel in Windsor,England, where British royalty often attend. Let your soul rejoice in the truth that you are related to the One "Who died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die". Worship and praise Him even now.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father in heaven. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 Mrs. Civilla Martin, author of this gospel hymn text, tells of a visit in 1904 to a bedridden Christian friend. Mrs. Martin asked the woman if she ever got discouraged because of her physical condition. Her friend responded quickly: "Mrs. Martin, how can I be discouraged when my heavenly Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me?" Within just a few minutes Mrs. Martin completed the writing of her new text, which has since been a source of much encouragement to many of God's people. It is interesting that our Lord chose the most common of birds, sparrows of little value, to teach a profound truth: in God's eyes, no one is insignificant! He is vitally concerned with even the details of our lives. Notice also that the Bible uses another bird to teach this inspiring truth: Those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles. . . Isaiah 40:31. With an awareness of God's concern for our lives and the promise of His enabling power to live victoriously, why should we be afraid? REFRAIN: I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Rest and rejoice in the assurance of God's love. Seek to bring a word of cheerful encouragement to some sick or invalid individual. Remind him or her of God's concern and the truth of this song.