Driving home from church last Sunday, God put a song in my heart. HE KEEPS ME SINGING. Often He gives me a song, but this was different because the Lord had put the same song there on the first day of this new year. And I was driving down that very same road. This time though as I drove down Redbud Road singing the chorus, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I know. Fills my every longing; keeps me singing as I go,” the Lord said to me, “Do I fill Your every longing?” Now, that got my attention. I have some longings as everyone does, but I often look to other people to do for me what God alone can. He alone can fill my every longing.
Arriving home I looked up the history of this song because I knew there was something more the Lord wanted to share.
Luther B. Bridges (1484 -1948) began preaching at the age of seventeen and was ordained as a Methodist Minister. He then served as an evangelist in the American South and in mission work in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Russia. He pastored in Georgia and North Carolina before retiring in 1945 in Gainesville, Georgia. As a teen, he met Sarah Vetch, and they reportedly fell in love at first sight. They were both younger than twenty years old when they married. They had three boys. In 1910 Bridges accepted an invitation to minister at a conference in Kentucky, so he left his family in the care of his father-in-law and made the trip to Kentucky. There he had two wonderful weeks of ministry. He closed the last service with great joy and was excited to be called to the telephone. He couldn’t wait to tell his wife about all the blessings. But it wasn’t her voice on that long distance line. Instead, he listened in silence to the news that a fire had burned down the house of his father-in-law and his wife and all three of his sons had died in the blaze. He was bereaved for his wife and children and asked himself, “How could this happen while I was doing God’s will?” But that distraught father leaned heavily on His Savior and expressed his faith in God and during a tearful moment, he penned the words of this hymn.
When you sing the words of this “upbeat” song, you would probably never sense the pain and sorrow. But knowing the story behind it, you can see his sorrow with phrases he uses such as … Fear not … peace be still …discord … heart with pain … broken strings … His sheltering wing … and then, in verse 4, waters deep … trials … the path seems rough and steep.
Maybe you are like me, and you would use some of these words to express something you are going through. If so, notice the author always answers with … Jesus, Jesus, Jesus …sweetest Name I know. Fills my every longing … keeps me singing as I go.
And look at the hope of the final verse – Soon He’s coming back to welcome me … I shall reign with Him on high. That truth should enable us to live each day with expectation in our hearts and it should … keeps me singing as I go! Allow Him to fill your longings today!!! He is able and willing and only He can!!!
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” ~ Matthew 4:4
At times in our walk with God, there are certain words or phrases that become “proceeding words.” Basically, that means if we are to move forward there is a Word from the mouth of God that we need so we can proceed. It brings to mind a traffic light at a busy intersection. You cannot continue until the light turns green. Last year I found that I was led by several proceeding Words. A few of these were “be still,” “be quiet,” and “wait.”
It seems odd to call these three Words “proceeding” after all they seem to reflect something that would be more like a red light than a green. However, through obedience and to be honest some disobedience to these phrases, I discovered there is no end to what God can do when I follow His directions. As I would still and quiet myself and release my rights to speak on a subject or to move in any direction at all based on circumstances surrounding me, I would find myself being carried through that River of Life I wrote about yesterday. In the times of disobedience, I would feel more like I was stuck in the mud on the banks of a river than flowing in the River. Valuable lessons. Sometimes the only way to proceed is to actually stop proceeding (in the natural).
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. ~ Psalms 46:10
Psalm 46:10 is a familiar scripture and an obvious one on being still. But when I study all of Psalm 46 my heart stirs. It was written in the context of war – a song of victory with its emphasis on the Presence of the Lord with His people and the difference it makes when we trust Him completely during difficult times.
In times of crisis, some tend to pull away and some get busy. But He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That is not talking about being passive. It takes work to be still in the middle of trying times. Even harder work to remain quiet. But hardest of all is probably to wait on the Lord. It is easier to get up and take action or to say something to try to change something of our circumstances.
I recently read a revealing story concerning this:
A company of American soldiers in Vietnam was pinned down and surrounded by the enemy. During this fierce battle, it appeared that the company commander was taking a nap! All ended well as help finally arrived, and the company was rescued from certain defeat and death. However, the commander was brought before his superiors to determine if he was guilty of neglect of duty and be court marshaled. The commander explained that he was not sleeping at all, but getting still and focusing on three questions:
– What is going on around us?
– What is not going on around us?
– What can we do about question 1 and question 2?
Instead of barking orders and reacting to what was going on around them, that commander got still so he could get the wisdom to keep his company alive until help arrived. Indeed, he was a very wise man and his ‘being still’ and ‘being quiet’ and ‘waiting’ saved the lives of his soldiers.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” ~ John 7:37-38
At the end of Sunday’s service one of our pastors started singing the song, “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” and I have had it on my mind off and on since. It brings to mind “Rivers of Living Water.” It brings to mind also the power that a river has. It is a power that can carry you under or carry you through.
Many of us have been in such rivers this last year. In the river I was in, I felt I was being dragged under by some of the currents. In my natural mind, I wondered if I could make my way out alive…only to find out I couldn’t – but, I was carried out. I found that it was actually in that dragging under stage that my spiritual senses were awakened and developed. The Holy Ghost developed me to know God better there. I felt, saw, heard, smelled, and tasted more of things of the Spirit in those times this last year than all the previous years combined. It has been sometimes wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hard work, and sometimes a whole lot of fun. One thing was for sure though – I was awakened, and I know it.
But then recently I went through a few days where I seemed to feel asleep again rather than awake. Honestly, it was disturbing and no matter how much I told myself our Christian life it to be walked by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) I could not help but feel disappointed in my heart. I wondered what was wrong with me.
Things started to turn back during my prayer time this afternoon when the words of that song started flowing again through my mind. So simple. “I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got love like an ocean; I’ve got joy like a fountain”…and it became the prayer to my Father. As I prayed those words, I began to feel something big start to flow on the inside.
As believers, we have these “rivers of living water” flowing within us which means we are bigger and more powerful on the inside (in Christ) than on the outside (in the natural). In the natural, very little can stop the power of a river that is overflowing its banks. It can take out everything in its path. And that is the way the Kingdom of God is as well. Bigger on the inside than the outside. Overflowing. We must never lose the truth of this.
Sister Ruth Ward Heflin once said, “You don’t have to feel “full of glory” all the time. You can be an empty riverbed. Just let the river of God flow through you. The waters of God’s river are refreshing, cleansing and empowering. Just don’t stop with the refreshing stage, and don’t be satisfied with the cleansing stage. Move on into the empowerment of the river.”
In reading this statement, I am always stopped by one word. “LET!” The word “let” is a great word. It means – to allow or to permit; to grant occupancy or use of; to cause to; to make.
I think the Lord is saying it is time for us to LET HIM move us into the empowerment of His Divine River. In God’s River, nothing can hold you back. Nothing! There is POWER there! You think you are going under at times but I am so confident tonight that you will find, as I did, that you are being carried by our God and developed by the Holy Ghost to know Him even more than you do.
Thank you, Jesus!!!! “I’ve got peace, love, and joy like a River in my soul!”