|Volume 18 Number 5 May 2016||
And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. (1 Samuel 12:21-25 NKJV)
Saul was just named King of Israel in this passage. Israel had begged for a king, despite the fact that this was a rejection of the leadership of God. Right before this passage, they admitted their sinfulness in this. Samuel’s response was simple: Yes, you have sinned, but from now on be faithful! In the verses under consideration Samuel made several important points.
Avoid Empty Things That
Cannot Profit or Deliver
Samuel warned them not to “turn aside.” Oh, how often we let ourselves be diverted and overwhelmed by things that cannot profit or deliver. In contrast, if we stay the course, walking in the light, we will reap those things that are profitable.
God Will Not Forsake His People
God has chosen us in Christ today. We can be fully assured that He will not forsake us. The only “forsaking” can come on our part, not His. What a marvelous blessing! We are not wasting our time, but instead we will be rewarded for staying faithful to Him. He wants us to be His; we need to express that same desire to belong to Him.
We Should Pray for Each Other
Teaching the Good and the Right Way
Samuel said that it would violate God’s will if He did not pray for them. Therefore, of course, he prayed for them. However, he backed up his prayers for them with the teaching of pure, unadulterated truth. Praying for someone without presenting the truth of God to them is wrong and hypocritical.
We Must Fear (Respect) God, Serving
Him in Truth with Our Whole Hearts
We must recognize God’s superiority. We must serve Him in truth (i.e., according to His Word). Of great emphasis is the fact that it must be service from the heart. No service is true service if it does fully come from the heart.
We Must “Consider What
Things He Has Done for” Us
If we will examine our lives honestly, we will recognize the many great blessings that we have and have had. James says that all good gifts come down from God. When we lose our hope and find despair is when we forget the wonderful blessings God has given us.
The Warning Is that If We
Do Wickedness, We Will Be
Swept Away and Destroyed
The continued blessings of God are dependent upon our choices to serve Him and to avoid that which is evil. So many of God’s promises are conditional. When we fail to follow His ways, we will ultimately be separated from God. The Israelites refused to listen to God. As the centuries went by, they moved further into idolatry, more oppressive of the poor, and less and less connected with the Word of God. Late in the history of Judah, when Josiah was king, they “found the book of The Lord.” Because they had lost it, throughout their history, Israel was destroyed by Assyria, and Babylon carried away Judah and destroyed Jerusalem. The Israelites totally forgot God and paid the price.
For us, the chosen of God today, His people, His church, the lesson is clear. We have so many wonderful blessings from God and the promise that He will be with us. We, though, also have the same warning: If we follow evil or wickedness, if we leave His Word, if we turn aside from His path, we will be “swept away” and ultimately lost.
The words, “consider what great things He has done for you,” could not mean more to anyone than to us, because we are the recipient of the greatest thing ever done for humanity, pictured on that terrible tree on Calvary. Let us never forget, and let us forever be faithful!
Is “Jesus Loves Me”
a Song for Children?
Adam B. Cozort
The song titling this article, written by Anna Warner in 1860, has been a favorite of children for generations. Because of the beauty of its tune and the ease of its words, it has often been the first song learned by a child. Unfortunately, there is a problem with the perception of this song. The song itself is wonderful, and its message to children is precious. It is with adult responses to the song where the problem lies.
I have heard song leaders get up to lead this song and make the disclaimer that they are going to “sing one for the kids,” as though for an adult to sing the song would be somehow silly or beneath one. I have seen adults who will belt out the words to their favorite songs but barely open their mouths when this song is sung, apparently embarrassed to be seen singing a “kids song” in public. Such attitudes and approaches show a terrible lack of understanding of both the song and the purpose of singing.
This beautiful song is a wonderful tool to teach children about the love of Christ, but this is not a song for children only. Though the words are simple, the concepts of this song are deep and should be loved and bring joy to the faces of all who sing them. Consider the words of this song as they are found in our songbook, Church Gospel Songs and Hymns. Note the depth of emphasis the words present for the Christian.
Verse 1: “Jesus loves me! This
I know, for the Bible tells me so”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Galatians 5:8). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
“Little ones to him belong;
they are weak but he is strong.”
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
Verse 2: “Jesus loves me! He who
died, Heaven’s gate to open wide”
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
“He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.”
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Verse 3: “Jesus, take this heart
mine, Make it pure and wholly thine”
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:5-7). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
“Thou hast bled and died for me;
I will henceforth live for Thee.”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
“Jesus Loves Me” is a beautiful song, but it should mean even more to the Christian than it should to the child. It should be sung with all of the joy of “Victory in Jesus,” all of the comfort of “‘Til the Storm Passes By” and all of the determination of “I’ll Never Forsake My Lord.” No Christian should ever be ashamed of singing this song, because it embodies the greatest sentiments that must drive all Christians: the love of Christ, the salvation available through His blood and the dedication of service to Him. Let us never consider this to be just a children’s song.