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Sunday, September 29, 2012 pm            Songs Index

 

SERMONS IN SONG
HOLD TO GOD’S UNCHANGING HAND, #346

Tonight we will examine another song that we sing from time to time.  The song we want to discuss tonight is a classic.  It was written and published in 1905 by Jennie Wilson who was born in 1857 and died at the age of 56 in 1913.  What is remarkable about this is that at the age of 4, she contracted a spinal condition that resulted in her being a wheel chair for the rest of her life.  She never attended school and was educated at home.  She spent her time writing and authored over 2000 texts and some 650 songs.   This song is her best known.

It was put to music by Franklin L. Eiland, (1860-1909) another prolific songwriter and composer.  His life is interesting in that he founded a singing school called, Southern Development Normal in Waco, Texas.  What is remarkable about that is that he trained several composer and song writers who were members of the church including, “Knowles Shaw ("Bringing In the Sheaves"), J.R. Rosecrans ("There Is a Habitation"), H.N. Lincoln (a later teacher of L.O. Sanderson), Robert Lowry ("Shall We Gather At the River?"), W.J. Kirkpatrick ("Hallelujah Praise Jehovah"), Charles H. Gabriel ("God Is Calling the Prodigal", James McGranahan ("I Will Sing of My Redeemer"), E.R. Latta ("Live For Jesus"), and James D. Vaughan ("I Feel Like Traveling On")” and other songs sung in churches of Christ to this day.  One of his better known students toward the end of his life was Tillit S. Teddlie (Heaven Holds All To Me & “Worthy Art Thou”, “Into our Hands”, & “True Worship”).  Throughout his life, he struggled with health issues and died at the age of 49.  Unable to teach personally, he taught Teddlie by correspondence and helped him with his first hymn.

We find in the two persons examples of the influence one can have through living a godly life regardless of our circumstances.  Consider the ill condition of these authors as we examine this song and face numerous trials and troubles in this life.

 I.                    Vs. 1 – WE live in a changing world

a.        Time is filled with swift transition – our life is a vapor.  James 4:14 tells us so much.
 Job. 14:1-2, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.”
1 Pet. 1:24 quotes from Isaiah saying, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
1 John 2:17, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

b.       Naught of earth unmoved shall stand
Much of mankind lives his life as if this world is eternal.  But, if he has done any research whatsoever, not matter his worldview, he knows that in time this world will come to an end. 
As Christians this is one of the questions of life that we understand through God’s word.  We are told  in 2 Pet. 3:5-7, “For this they willfully forget:  that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.  But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Vs. 10 proceeds to warn us, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heart; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

c.        Build your hope on things eternal
One of the descriptions of heaven is that it is eternal.  We sing many songs such as, “Where the roses never fade”, “”Where the gates swing outward never”, “Where the soul never dies”, etc., which remind us of this.
1 Thess. 4:17 speaks of us being caught up in the air, “And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Psalm 23:6 concludes, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Rom. 2:7 speaks of eternal life awaiting those “who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.
1 Cor. 15:54 says that our corruptible must put on incorruption, and our mortal must put on immortality.

d.       Hold to God’s unchanging hand – the premise of this song is to continually put your trust in God, because He will NEVER change!  He is the constant that was there when the world began and remains.  And when this world in its various forms lets us down – AND IT WILL – we can turn to Him.
 Jas. 1:17, ”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Mal. 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I do not change;”
Psalm 102:24-28 gives a good description of God in relation to this world. It speaks of the works of His hands perishing, wearing out like an old garment, “But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.

 

  II.                  VS. 2 – Don’t trust in the things of the world

a.        Trust in Him who will not leave you, whatsoever years may bring
Vs. 2 begins by inviting us to trust in God because He will NOT leave us.  We are told in His word that we can trust in Him. 
Prov. 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” 
Heb. 13:5-6 challenges to live without covetousness because He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.  So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord I my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?
And because He doesn’t change, we know that no matter how much we change or things change, He is there.  For many, as they mature they understand God’s love even better and as bodies start wearing out and our friends change – we trust Him even more.    David said, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” (Psa. 37:25)

b.       IF by earthly friends forsaken, still more closely to Him cling!
Mankind will let you down – the Bible gives us examples of disappointments – Demas forsook Paul, John Mark left Paul and Barnabas as they were on their 1st missionary journey, Jesus was forsaken by ALL His disciples, and betrayed by Judas and cursed by Peter,  David was betrayed by his own family and some of his friends, and he wrote about it in the psalms.  Over and over we find in this life disappointment from our friends. 
Jesus point blank warned us that we would be betrayed by friends and family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39).
We know how true this is!
BUT, the more those of this world disappoint you, the more determined we must be to continue to trust in Him.  Tragedy and adversity is a great tester.  For some it devastates them, but for others it makes them stronger.  When you are disappointed by friends and let down by loved ones and perhaps even brethren, “Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

 

 III.                VS. 3 – Where is your treasure?

a.        Covet not this world’s vain riches – covetousness is described as a form of idolatry.  It means to desire that which belongs to another with malice.  Eph. 5:5 says, “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” 

Yet how many put their trust in the uncertain treasures of this earth?  How often have we addressed this?  .  Those who covet fall into a snare – 1 Tim. 6:17 finds Paul warning, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Earlier in this same chapter he spoke of contentment and warned, “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:9-10)

b.       That so rapidly decay – WHY? Because the riches of this work are temporary!  They wither and decay. 
James 1:9-11, “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.”
Matt. 6:19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.

c.        Seek to gain your heavenly treasure, they will never pass away – Matt. 6:20-21, “…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12:32-34
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

d.       Friends you CANNOT trust in this world’s riches and “hold to God’s unchanging hand” at the same time!

 

  IV.                VS. 4 – Our hope in Heaven if we are true to God

a.        When your journey is completed –This life is temporary.  Heb. 9:27 tells us it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
Job 14:1-2, 5, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.”  Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.”

b.       If to God you have been true – faithfulness is a must!  I appreciate this song because it reminds us that we DO have to be true to God.  We cannot flippantly dismiss our need to obey Him and expect to “hold to God’s unchanging hand!” 
Rev. 2:10, “Be faithful until death…” When we stand before Him in judgment, we want Him to say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant”
Rev. 14:13, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’”
In the end we read that books will be opened and we will be judged by the things written in the books. (Rev. 20:12)

c.        Fair and bright the home in glory, your enraptured soul shall view
The word “enraptured” means overwhelmed.   WE are taught that we will be caught up in the air to always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-18). 
But even more than this, picture standing before God and trying to describe how beautiful heaven must be.  I suspect that no matter what picture we paint of it in our minds, and perhaps on canvas or words, when we get there, we will find how inadequate our visions of such are.  Truly, “Won’t it be wonderful there?”

 

 V.                  Chorus – Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand

a.        Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand – in every verse and chorus we are reminded that God does not change!  It is that constant that gives us hope beyond this life.

b.       Build your hope on things eternal – I like how this song reminds us to BUILD on things eternal.  As I see this phrase, I am reminded of one of my favorite verses, Colossians 3:1-3, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

 

This is a song we may not think of often today.  It doesn’t have the catchy tune and all the parts that we find in more contemporary hymns, but it has a message that is just as relevant as when it was written.  And just as edifying as when the events it speaks of unfolded. 

What a wonderful blessing we have in this life that we can “hold to God’s unchanging hand.”  Will you?