One Sweetly Solemn Thought
The events of last week in Charlottesville, VA have caused many of us to be frightened for ourselves and the future of our children. They have caused us to be saddened that there is so much hatred in the world…in our country…even in our towns and communities. They have caused us to wonder just what the future holds for this country of ours. This country that claims to be Christian…that claims to serve God.
The events of the last week cause us to realize that, while God is in control, Satan is hard at work. Satan has won many hearts to his evil ways. Satan many times works quietly and with each of us individually, but last week Satan displayed his victories with his soldiers triumphantly marching and disrupting the quiet. While this has drawn many to join his side in a more public manner, it has caused those of us who have fallen complacent to be appalled at how evil his evil can be. Satan’s work not only showed the world just how evil his followers are, he also has succeeded to some extent to cause a division amongst those of us who are truly trying to fight his advances and serve God to the best of our ability.
It is important that we don’t become complacent. We need to have the courage to face our foe with all of his tricks and deceptions. We need to honestly face our own weaknesses and shortcomings and look to our true feelings on the subject of racism as well as other sins that we face in this world. When we avoid looking at our own shortcomings, prejudices, and sin we can never truly be the follower of Christ. As long as we overlook these, even though we have the appearance of righteousness (Lord’s Supper weekly, acapella singing, abstain from social gospel, etc) we are as Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28
The events of last week have left me feeling hopeless. What can I do? How long must I endure? The hymn I want us to look at tonight came to mind. What a beautiful thought — “Nearer my home today am I than I’ve ever been before.”
One Sweetly Solemn Thought by Pheobe Cary 1852
One sweetly solemn thought
Comes to me o’er and o’er.
Nearer my home today am I
Than e’er I’ve been before.
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14
Nearer my Father’s home,
Where many mansions be;
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-4
Nearer today, the great white throne,
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelations 20:11-15
Nearer the crystal sea.
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices, Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:2-11
Nearer the bound of life,
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” Acts 17:26-27
Where burdens are laid down.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Nearer to leave the heavy cross,
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:10-15
Nearer to gain the crown.
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
Father, perfect my trust,
Strengthen my pow’r of faith;
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
“And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith. So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:5-6
Nor let me stand, at last, alone
Upon the shore of death.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4