Elder's Prayer - September 30, 2018
Please find below the notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
One of the men that God used to strengthen me in my Christian life, week after week on Sundays, sometimes even during the week, one who influenced my theology to some extent, does not even know of me. I have never met him because he was born in 1674 and passed away in 1748, the year that John Newton, the writer of the Amazing Grace was converted.
This man was a Pastor and a hymn writer. I would, in fact, consider him to be a preeminent English Hymn writer. His name, Isaac Watts.
When Isaac was born, his father Isaac Watts Sr, was in prison for the second time for not accepting King Charles’ move to become the head of the Anglican Church and to force everyone into the Anglican Church. John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim Progress, had been imprisoned for same reasons. Only Christ is the head of the Church, these men of the word reasoned from the Scripture.
During his time out from the prison and lull in persecution, Watts Sr. began teaching his son Watts Jr. Latin when he was only four years old. While still a young man, Watts would go on to master a few more languages: Greek, Hebrew, and French.
Watts Sr. kept insisting to his children that they should only heed to the doctrines built upon the Holy Scriptures.
Isaac Watts Jr. was not the first in his family to become an elite poet. His grandfather often wrote poetry and passed on that appreciation for a good poetry and writing skills to his son Watts Sr who in turn passed it to his son Watts Jr, in both poetry and Biblical worship of God.
Watts Jr. had been writing poems that rhymed since his very young years and he wrote his official first hymn during his teen years.
One of the hymns that he wrote during his teen years, based on Revelation 5:6-12, was sung at his church in South Hampton, England in 1690. By the grace of God, his hymns are being sung all over the world since then.
Isaac was not just a poem writer. He also wrote many books. He was a tutor and a preacher, someone who mined the Scriptures to teach his congregation week after week like our Bret does.
One of his Hymn books, “Hymns and Spiritual Songs” was published in 1707 and immediately received well in the New World in the New England area.
But not until 1742, when Jonathan Edwards used his hymns in congregation worship, it started to become widely used in Churchs in America.
His biography writers tell us that Watts had written over 700+ hymns. Let me quote some of his famous hymns that we sing at Summit Woods:
Alas, and did my Savior bleed
How sweet and aw(e)-ful is the place
Jesus shall reign
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
O God, our help in ages past
When I survey the wondrous cross
…just to name a few…literally…
We are still singing these hymns, not because of their poetic beauty, but because they are doctrinally steeped hymns.
They are Scripturally sound and so they transcend the centuries and continue to enrich the church today.
Isaac Watts could not have written such theologically rich hymns if he wasn’t grounded in the Scriptures.
For the last few weeks, we have been thinking through how the Spirit of the Lord has apportioned to each of us gifts according to His will and how they are to be used for the common good.
Whether, you use your gifts on stage or off stage, with or without fanfare, an officially recognized position or a service that fits no category, from a service of significance and prominence to insignificant and unrecognized, all of the services or exercises of gifts performed by the saints, build up the body of Christ as a result.
In the end, it contributes to the soul work.
If each of us is well grounded in the Scriptural doctrines, God will cause our service to be used for the common good.
If we are not, we may get the affirmations from people but not from God.
Let’s make sure our service unto the Lord and for His people is borne out of Scripture, imitating our Savior. Let’s pray.
Yaweh God and our Father,
Thank you for exalting your name and your word above all things. (Psalm 138:2)
Our soul clings to the dust; (please) give us life according to your word (Psalm 119:25)
We praise you that your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105)
Please guard our ways pure according to your Holy Word (Psalm 119:9)
We praise you that even when all else fails, your word will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8)
Please help us to hear your word and obey it without fail. (Luke 11:28)
Thank you for blessing each of us with gifts that we may serve and be used of you, to bring forth growth to the body of Christ.
Thank you for this blessed privilege to play a tiny part in your eternal purposes for the body of Christ.
Please help us to be deeply rooted and built up in Christ, established in the faith as we meditate through the Scriptures, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7) that our service may bear fruit that you approve of.
We pray this in Jesus name, Amen.