The week between Palm Sunday is a unique time for us to pause and reflect. Almost half of the book of John focuses our attention on what Jesus did and said that week, from the supper in his honor on the eve of Palm Sunday to the Resurrection breakfast on the beach. Jesus is worthy of all our praise and worship. Can we look back at our life as an alabaster jar from which the perfumed oil is poured? Look into your jar today and you will see that there is still more to be given to Him!
Yes Master, There’s Still More!
The gospel account of Matthew and John differ slightly in the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany. Matthew tells us that a woman with an alabaster box anointed his head as kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament. In her choice of anointing this costly gift gave Jesus the highest honor and glory.
And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table Matthew 26:6-7
But the story in the book of John tells us that she anointed Jesus feet.and wiped them with her hair.
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil John 12:3
This anointing was more personal in that she saw his need to have his feet washed and her choice to lavish the perfumed oil on his feet was her act of grateful worship and an expression of pure love.
While thinking over the story of Mary’s act of giving I imagined how she might have begun with anointing Jesus’ head then seeing she still had much remaining in her jar, knelt and lavished all that remained on his feet. The momentary shock of the crowd gave way to harsh and pointed criticism. Her act of worship seemed such a waste of resources for such to them. Why there were certainly more weighty problems among the poor which could have been aided by the value of what she had in that jar.
The picture of Mary simply waiting on her Master’s response captured my imagination and heart. Many of you may feel as Mary did, that you have given your best to glorify Him only to be shunned or criticized. Yet rather than becoming bitter or defensive you look and see that you still have more to give. He will be the one to both receive your lavish gift of worship and to defend you in His own way. I present this simple song tonight in hopes that He will continue to be glorified through our lives and that many will be encouraged to give Him more!
This hymn’s lyrics were originally written as a poem by a teenager named William Featherstone. His short life reminds me a bit of the apostle John, whom scholars believe to have been about 14 when he began to follow Jesus. Featherstone seems to have been quite shy but these lyrics so moved him that he sent them off to his aunt who (lucky for us) had them published. After Featherstone’s death the poem came to the attention of Adoniram Judson Gordon who set the words to the music we sing today in 1876. What a testimony Featherstone has left for us. We know little of his life but much of his heart. What will others remember of our lives after we have stepped into eternity?
Take my life and let it be – Consecrated Lord to Thee… Francis Havergal 1873
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe
As a worship leader myself I recognize my own tendency to push people. Sometimes I begin with a fast peppy song just to try and get people focused on church. I press people to clap, raise their hands or to say Amen, yet rarely have I paused to hush myself in the awesome presence of a Holy God. Rarely have I waited quietly till God sent the wind and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Francis Havergal had it exactly right when she began her now famous hymn with the words, “Take my life” Our worship is not just about having Jesus in our life, but it is about finding our life in Him. Until we offer our life, our worship will remain pretty superficial most of the time. When we ask God not only to take our life, but to ” let it be consecrated Lord to thee”, then He will truly begin to operate as both Lord and Savior of our life.
For those of you who haven’t read our about page, let me begin by saying that my wife and I serve as assistant pastors in a local Brazilian church. As Americans we find many things uniquely refreshing about some of the older customs from Brazil in our worship services. Though our Brazilian brothers and sisters are less than timely about when they enter the service, they retain the wonderful custom of pausing to kneel and dedicate themselves to the Lord upon their arrival. That kind of a sense of reverence and awe is also the very life and breath of our worship. From the times of Abraham to the Apostle John, the manifestation of the Holiness of God left them on their faces listening to what God had to say.
God wants us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. He does love to hear the voice of His children, but do we love to hear Him speak? Do we just rush to church, sing our three songs and go home checking our calendars for what new event we have to remember to include in our busy schedule? God is unchanging. God will not hurry to try and catch up with us as we run in circles. If we truthfully long to worship, we will discover that God is still truly seeking for us to fully yield in reverence and awe to Him!
Written in 1873 by Francis Havergal this hymn is more than mere words. The message of her surrender to God’s will resonated through more than the melody. Four years after writing this hymn Francis Havergal donated all her considerable jewelry to a mission organization. Here are her own words, “The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight. ‘Take my silver and my gold’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the Church Missionary”
There is no greater peace than can be found in such surrender and no worship more pure than when we truly yield to God our life that He may chose for us the path ahead!
Last night we went to the premiere in Scranton of the Hillsongs movie, “Hope Rising”. Though it was supposed to be a women’s group night out I tagged along with my wife because I love many of the worship songs from Hillsongs United. It was great film, but really hard to describe. It was like being at a christian concert but it was more a concert. The presentations of Oceans as well as Mighty to Save were awesome! It was a bit of a promotional video for Hillsongs church but it rose far above that. The film shared some very intimate moments and details from the lives of the singing group Hillsong United as well as from pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston. I think they have in some ways defined a new type of christian film. It was powerful and practical and overall a real blessing to my wife and I. Here is the trailer to give you a sneak preview for yourself. Be blessed
I am continuing this short series on this Lord’s day with this favorite hymn whose author remains unknown. Through good times and bad, through youth and into old age, Jesus remains that friend who we can go to in prayer!