The Path Which Honors

Abel was a simple shepherd, tending his flocks in the fields.  He made offerings to God regularly from the first and best of his animals.  God honored Abel’s offerings.  Cain became angry and killed him.

We really don’t know much more than that about Abel.  He his never mentioned again in the Old Testament, and his name reappears only a handful of times in the New Testament.  Even so, his example and his fate were well known to Jesus, and the righteousness of his offerings still teaches us lessons today.  Honoring God with the first and best of your gifts is the only way to truly honor God.

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow is a “doxology,” which means an expression of praise to God.  The words most often sung in English speaking churches were written by Thomas Ken, a Bishop in the Church of England.  Ken had a gift for writing verse and a passion for honoring God.  The Doxology that we sing today was actually used as the closing verse for two other hymns that Ken wrote.

Most hymns until Ken’s time had been sung directly from scriptures, usually the Psalms.  When he shared his new hymns with students at Winchester College, Ken instructed them to use them only in their rooms.  The succinct statement of praise in the Doxology could not be held in those rooms, though.  Today it is sung in thousands of churches by millions of Christians whenever they come together, usually at the time that offerings are joyfully given, just the way that Abel did.

Rejoice in the greatness of God as you read the words:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise Him, all creatures here below;
praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

God is great!  Remember this as you walk the path to the foot of the cross.

Follow the Path!

[Use with Honoring God in His Way, day 13 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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A Rescue Mission

The most compelling stories are based on the most common themes.  Love.  Paradise.  Adventure.  Peril.  Rescue and the triumph of good over evil.  We are drawn to these stories because at some level they relate to our own experiences.  We feel a connection because, in a way, they tell our own story.  They reflect our own emotions, our own hopes, our own fears.

The Bible tells the story of the world from its creation through its recreation.  Humanity fell from paradise to peril, and God immediately set into motion a plan for rescue and redemption.  It would not happen all at once.  The struggle would continue for generations and end with the crushing defeat of the serpent.

The theme of rescue is still compelling.  Fanny Crosby, the most prolific writer of Christian hymns, wrote Rescue the Perishing.  She related that the composer William Doane had suggested the theme to her.  A few days later the theme was still on her mind when she spoke to a group of men and a young man answered the call to salvation.  Crosby returned home that night unable to rest until she had prepared the words of the hymn.  More than thirty years later she was speaking at a YMCA and told the story of the young man who had been rescued.  At the end of the meeting one of the people in the congregation said he had been that young man, he had found peace that day years before, and he knew they would meet again in heaven.

Remember how God has rescued you as you read these words:

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

The journey to the foot of the cross is a story of rescue.  Christ is our rescuer.  Jesus is merciful.  Jesus will save.

Follow the Path!

[Use with Peace in Promise, day 12 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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