Tuesday 27 February 2024

The arm of flesh will fail you

"Stand Up Stand Up For Jesus" by 250 Voice Mass Choir

I do not remember the tune

While in church on Sunday, I was in a conversation where I saw familiar words of hymns I had sung from the Songs of Praise hymn book that was used in my Methodist-founded secondary school. It was first published in 1925, with updated editions thereafter.

However, it was quite discomfiting for one to know the words of a hymn only for the organist to play a rather unfamiliar tune. The nostalgic moment of recognition and being taken back in time to life probably only slightly more innocent than now, is lost in trying to find your place and rhythm again.

Hear me sing with aplomb

Then with the Offertory hymn, I, with full-throated voice, swayed in syncopation and rhythmic candour, I knew the words and the organist played the tune. I half wanted to look back and grin at my earlier interlocutor to suggest we have had an answered prayer or just the propinquity of desire and coincidence. What an experience to have.

Then out of the recesses of memory came the highlighted lines of the third verse of a hymn I can hardly say I have sung in over 40 years. Stand up, Stand up for Jesus which in those days had the organ powered by foot bellows and played by a Muslim classmate. Only a few had art or skill with classical instruments and when I did offer to learn, a teacher thwarted the activity rather than encouraged it. Yet, I took from that short lesson the ability to play the tune to the Do-Re-Mi song and never really improved on it.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own.

Put on the gospel armour,
each piece put on with prayer;
where duty calls or danger,
be never wanting there.

Hymnary.org - Stand up, stand up for Jesus - George Duffield (1858)

Stand in his strength alone

This probably presents one of the biggest challenges of Christian living where we have learned, been schooled, and have been taught to exert and exercise for achievement derived from endeavour and sweat. The human-centred desire to excel and not attribute success to anyone else without the bruises we have suffered.

The work of faith that involves fully trusting in God for purpose, direction, instruction, inspiration, and affirmation leaves you open to the accusation of being a religious fanatic. Many do not believe in prayer or prayer that works. In terms, many do not even know God’s will about what they pray about to have any kind of assurance beyond the moment they are in.

Unlearning the way of the world and society to stand in His strength alone is a daily quest for letting the divine override the natural world and ways to launch into the orbit of the spirit where one can call things that are not as though they were. God is a spirit and they that worship him should worship him in spirit and in truth. [Bible Gateway: Ephesians 6:10, Proverbs 3:5, Romans 4:17, John 4:24]

The arm of flesh will fail you

The many promises that have been made to us that never got fulfilled by those who in your time of need or great adversity presented a succouring voice that with time was not followed by any action.

In thinking of such, one might be tempted to feel hard done by, hurt, or embittered. Then you realise that for all the abilities people seem to think they have to get things done, meet a demand, offer some support or anything else, they are seriously limited in ability, reach, means, resources, or facility.

We more typically live from day to day as mere mortals unaware of the divine resources that are at our disposal. The abundance of heavenly resources we can call upon but only if we knew anything about God that was first introduced in the Old Testament of the Bible and then the Father God that Jesus Christ revealed and demonstrated in His preaching of the gospel, doing good and healing those who were oppressed.

For the problems that we encounter in life, God has promised us everything to do with life and godliness, yet we depend on what we can do out of strength, maybe in our cunning, or on others who have a frame of reference uninformed by the Word of God and limited to the natural realm.

There is no blessing in trusting the arm of flesh, it even suggests those who do have turned from the Lord. [Bible Gateway: Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 20:7, 2 Peter 1:3, John 14:12, Acts 10:38]

Ye dare not trust your own

Indeed, what constitutes our upbringing, our education, and our experiences is generally to equip us for a seemingly godless world, where your wits and hard work should yield success. Then, many strive so hard and get nothing or whatever they get is not enduring.

Heck! The booms and busts that have become like milestones in my own life could easily lead one to totally give up, as it can be quite exhausting. It is an engine of hope and expectation created by God within me that keeps me knowing that the night shall pass, the storms shall pass, the pain shall pass, the lack shall pass and His will will be done.

Through time, I have believed in myself, had supreme confidence, and felt I was at the peak of my powers to even project the unassailable before everything came crashing down like a pack of cards.

Trust is in short supply, there is much to learn and understand about trusting God and almost the people you choose to trust with intimate challenges who can give you the desired support and encouragement to traverse the evil day, the wilderness, the doldrums, and the unfortunate circumstances we often encounter. [Bible Gateway: 1 Timothy 4:8, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 112:7, Jeremiah 29:11]

Never a hopeless situation

I am constantly reevaluating what I believe and my faith to be sure that I am never in a situation where I have nothing that can be brought to bear on any situation. [Bible Gateway: 2 Corinthians 13:5]

In the times of the greatest anxiety, I pray, I speak in tongues, and I endeavour not to dwell on the issues that might exacerbate worry and distress. [Bible Gateway: Romans 8:26]

Nowadays, I purposefully decide to sleep and rest even as I am still learning to let God have it all. As He never slumbers nor sleeps, there is no reason for both of us to keep awake through the night. [Bible Gateway: Psalm 121:4]

I listen to sermons about how great God is and who God says I am. One area where I need to devote more voice is speaking to the problem about God, rather than speaking to God about the problem. [Bible Gateway: Mark 11:23]

There is great capacity and possibility in a person who knows God for who God is in His love for us and his care for us, we are only going to find out from His word and those anointed to preach the word. [Bible Gateway: Matthew 19:26]

In that alone, I am not ashamed to know the Christ who came for me that I might have eternal life that starts from this life I am already living on earth. It is why through all adversity, as long as I live, there is hope, change, and a testimony of the goodness and mercy that follows me. [Bible Gateway: Romans 1:16, 1 John 5:13, Psalm 23:6]

PS: Click on and meditate on the links to the verses on this blog and I know that whatever you might be going through, you will find an answer that will give you strength, comfort, resolution, and joy.

Shalom! Shalom!

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