Devotional Thought for Today – 02/20/2021

Image result for Rock Cleft

Exodus 33

I doubt there are very few folks in the “civilized” world who have never heard the hymn Rock of Ages Cleft for Me. Many biblical references apply to this Hymn, but none greater than that found in our main text for today Exodus 33:21-23.

¹As the young minister traveled through the rugged country near England’s Cheddar Gorge, the clouds burst and torrential sheets of rain pummeled the earth. The weary traveler was able to find shelter standing under a rocky overhang. There, protected from the buffeting wind and rain, Augustus Toplady conceived one of the most popular hymns ever written, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”

In Chapter 33 Moses has had to once again intercede on behalf of the Jewish people. While conversing with God (think on that for a moment) he asks to see God. God grants his request with conditions that Moses cannot look upon God’s face, His full Glory, or Moses would die. The solution is God will put Moses in a protected spot (Cleft of the Rock) and ensure his safety. 

This is applicable today in two ways, First EVERY believer is hidden in the Cleft of the Rock, that is Christ.  He alone bore and hides all our sins and keeps us safe from the righteous wrath of God. Second, EVERY time a believer goes to God in prayer God, just like he did for Augustus Toplady provides shelter from the storm.  It may not be a physical shelter or even the type we expect but it is always shelter that God designs (He is sovereign) for our best interest and His Glory. 

Today instead of prayer, I offer another great Hymn, this one from Fanny Crosby for Contemplation and Worship:


¹ Source

Britten’s Ceremony of Carols

BreakPoint Daily

Britten’s Ceremony of Carols


In the recent Tom Hanks movie Greyhound, the captain of a destroyer helps to lead a convoy across the U-boat-infested North Atlantic during WWII. To say that the trip from the U.S. to Britain in 1942 was dangerous is not only is an understatement of epic proportions, it offers context for the extraordinary composition of Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols.”

Britten was arguably the most important British composer of the 20th century. In 1942, after three years in North America, he found himself in the middle of the Atlantic aboard a Swedish cargo vessel, trying to return to his native England. Instead of panicking amidst the harrowing circumstances of the dangerous crossing, he wrote two choral works: the “Hymn to St. Cecilia” and the “Ceremony of Carols.”





Today in Church History

Carolina Sandell Berg: Songs out of Tragedy

Carolina Sandell Berg: Songs out of Tragedy

Psalm 46 declares, “God is my refuge, an ever present help in time of trouble.” There was once a young Swedish woman who, like the Psalmist, learned early in life to trust in the Lord’s strength each day to help her overcome her troubles and trials. Her name was Carolina Sandell Berg, and she was born on this day, October 3, l832. She grew up to become Sweden’s most celebrated author of Gospel hymns, and wrote so many that she is often called “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.”*

Like many Christians, Carolina learned that when pain and tragedy strike, God may use that experience to deepen our faith. When she was 26, Carolina–or Lina (pronounced Lie-nah) as she liked to be called–experienced a tragedy which profoundly affected the course of her life. She was with her father, a Lutheran pastor, crossing a Swedish lake. Suddenly the ship lurched, and before her eyes, her father was thrown overboard and drowned. Lina had written hymns before, but now she poured out her broken heart in an endless stream of beautiful songs. Her hymns mightily influenced the revival that swept across Scandanavia after l850.

The words of Lina Berg’s hymns were all the more popular because of the simple, beautiful melodies written for them, especially those of Oscar Ahnfelt who played his guitar and sang her hymns throughout Scandanavia. Lina Berg once said that Ahnfeld sang her songs “into the hearts of the people.”

Even Jenny Lind, the world-famous concert vocalist, visited factories and sang Lina’s beautiful hymns. In Matthew l2:34, Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Lina Sandell Berg’s voice spoke more than 650 hymns from a heart filled abundantly with love for her Saviour. In one of them, “Day by Day,” she had this to say:

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best–
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in eve’ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

* Fanny Crosby was a blind American hymnwriter who wrote the equivalent of seventeen books of hymns.

Today in Church History

“Sweet Hour of Prayer” William Walford

William Walford was blind, but this did not make him worthless. On the contrary, as he sat by the fire in his English home in the mid-nineteenth century, his hands kept busy, whittling out useful objects, such as shoehorns. His mind was active, too.

Called on to preach from time to time in a rural English church, Willam Walford composed sermons in his head to deliver on Sundays. He memorized a huge amount of the Bible which he quoted verbatim in his sermons. Some of his folk thought he had memorized the entire Scripture, cover to cover. William also composed lines of verse. And he prayed.

Thomas Salmon, a New York native, spent some time in Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, where he became acquainted with William. He tells this tale of what happened one day, while he was visiting the blind pastor:

“…He repeated two or three pieces which he had composed, and having no friend at home to commit them to paper, he had laid them up in the storehouse within. “How will this do?” asked he, as he repeated the following lines, with a complacent smile touched with some light lines of fear lest he subject himself to criticism. I rapidly copied the lines with my pencil, as he uttered them, and sent them for insertion in the Observer, if you should think them worthy of preservation.”

The Observer did consider them worth preserving, and they were published on this day, September 13, 1845, becoming a beloved hymn.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Beyond the fact that he was blind and the few details recorded by Thomas Salmon, we know little of William Walford. But his hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer has touched hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides of the Atlantic, expressing the genuine joy he found in prayer.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”


Today In Church History

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt:
Songs from a Bed of Pain

Dan Graves, MSL

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt: Songs from a Bed of Pain

Can there be a purpose in a crippling ailment? Eliza Hewitt may have wondered that.

Eliza was born on this day, June 28, 1851 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Educated in the local school system, she graduated as valedictorian of the Girl’s Normal School that she attended. She became a teacher in the public schools of her city.

But then came misery. Her career screeched to a halt when she was forced to bed with a painful spinal problem. (One of her descendants has contacted us and said her debilitating condition was caused by an reckless student striking her with a piece of slate.) Lying in bed, she could have been bitter. Instead, she studied English literature and began to sing and write:

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus; sing his mercy and his grace.
In the mansions bright and blessed he’ll prepare for us a place.

Some of her lines came into the hands of Professor John R. Sweney. He wrote her asking for more, and set a few of her songs to music, including one of the better known: “Will there be any Stars in My Crown?” He and William J. Kirkpatrick published her first hymns.

We remember Eliza Hewitt today because of those hymns. Had she never been bed-ridden, she might not have written them. Among the best known are, “Give Me Thy Heart, Says the Father Above,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” “Sunshine in My Soul,” “Will there be any Stars in My Crown?” and “More About Jesus Would I Know.”

Later Eliza’s well-being improved, although she suffered re-occurrences for the rest of her life. Despite her health problems, she was deeply interested in Sunday school work, and superintended a Sunday school for the Northern Home for Friendless Children. This was followed by similar work in the Calvin Presbyterian Church. At one point, she had a class of 200!

Eliza died in 1920.


Ms. Hewitt could have chosen to let her ailments, her personal misery dictate and define her life instead she rose up and praised God writing songs for the Kingdom of God and His Glory. Here is one of her works performed by a traditional choir.  – Mike

New Apostolic Church Choir & Orchestra – Port Elizabeth Area

1 “Give Me thy heart,” says the Father above,
No gift so precious to Him as our love;
Softly He whispers, wherever thou art,
“Gratefully trust Me, and give Me thy heart.”

“Give Me thy heart, give Me thy heart,”
Hear the soft whisper, wherever thou art:
From this dark world He would draw thee apart;
Speaking so tenderly, “Give Me thy heart.”

2 “Give Me thy heart,” says the Savior of men,
Calling in mercy again and again;
“Turn now from sin, and from evil depart,
Have I not died for thee? Give Me thy heart.” (Chorus)

3 “Give Me thy heart,” says the Spirit divine,
“All that thou hast, to My keeping resign;
Grace more abounding is Mine to impart,
Make full surrender and give Me thy heart.” (Chorus)

Today in Church History

Introducing Samuel Medley

Dan Graves, MSL

Introducing Samuel Medley

[The bible makes it clear that God often chooses the downtrodden and lowly,  those that the “world” looks at with disdain to do His work (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Are you like Samuel ready to answer His call today? – Mike]

Our early years do not always presage what we will become. In his youth and early adult life, Samuel Medley would have seemed an unlikely candidate to write these words:

“O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth which in my Savior shine!
I’d sing His glorious righteousness,
and magnify the wondrous grace
Which made salvation mine…”

He was born on this day, June 23, 1738 in Chestnut, England. A Grandfather gave him his earliest education, and when he was fourteen, he was apprenticed to an oil-man in the city of London. Three years of that was enough for young Medley. In 1755, he escaped from his agreement by enlisting in the Royal Navy.

Late in 1759, he was discharged from the Navy, too, after being severely wounded in a battled off Port Lagos in August, 1759. It was while he was recovering from his injuries that he read a sermon by Isaac Watts, a pastor and hymn writer, that led to his conversion to Christianity.

For a few years, he operated a school. Then Pastor Dr. Andrew Gifford urged him to enter the Baptist ministry. By 1772, Medley was preaching in Liverpool. He took a real interest in the souls of seamen and adapted his preaching to them. Evidently his methods were lively, for his meeting-house soon could not hold all the people who crowded in to hear him. It had to be enlarged. Even that solved the problem only temporarily, and a new building had to be constructed.

Medley wrote many other hymns besides the one above. These appeared in various magazines in his own day and in a collection of poems gathered by his daughter after his death. Among the best-known were “Awake, My Soul, to Joyful Lays,” and “I Know that My Redeemer Lives:”

I Know that My Redeemer Lives / Yo sé que vive mi Señor -ELENYI ft Masa of One Voice Childrens Choir

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives! 
He lives, He lives, who once was dead; 
He lives, my ever living Head. 

He lives to bless me with His love, 
He lives to plead for me above. 
He lives my hungry soul to feed, 
He lives to help in time of need. 

He lives triumphant from the grave, 
He lives eternally to save, 
He lives all glorious in the sky, 
He lives exalted there on high….

Today in Church History


Dan Graves, MSL

Did Robert Robinson Wander as He Feared?

Who was Robert Robinson?

Robert Robinson was just a small boy when his dad died. In 18th century England, there was little in the way of a social welfare system and this meant that he had to go to work while still very young. Without a father to guide and steady him, Robert fell in with bad companions.

Change of Fortune

One day his gang of rowdies harassed a drunken gypsy. Pouring liquor into her, they demanded she tell their fortunes for free. Pointing her finger at Robert she told him he would live to see his children and grandchildren. This struck a tender spot in his heart. “If I’m going to live to see my children and grandchildren,” he thought, “I’ll have to change my way of living. I can’t keep on like I’m going now.”

Biblical Warning

Robert Robinson decided to go hear the Methodist preacher George Whitefield. To cover his “weak” urge, he suggested that the boys go with him and heckle the gathering. Whitefield preached on the text: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7). Robert left in dread, under a deep sense of sin that lasted for three years.

Peace with God

Finally, at the age of twenty, Robert made peace with God and immediately set out to become a Methodist preacher himself. Two years later, in 1757, he wrote a hymn which expressed his joy in his new faith:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

This was printed the next year. At first people thought that Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon, a strong Methodist had written this. Eventually it was learned that Robert was the writer.

In the last stanza, Robert had written:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Take my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.

Divine Drifter

Prone to wander Robert was. He left the Methodists and became a Baptist. Later on, having become a close friend of Joseph Priestly, he was accused of becoming a Unitarian. Priestly and other Unitarians denied the full divinity of Christ. However, in a sermon he preached after he supposedly became a Unitarian, Robinson clearly declared that Jesus was God, and added, “Christ in Himself is a person infinitely lovely as both God and man.”

Robert Robinson died on this day, June 9, 1790. Had he left the God he loved? A widely-told, but unverifiable, story says that one day as he was riding in a stagecoach a lady asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming. He responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Read more about Robinson’s famous hymn on GodTube

It’s a fine thing to see young people singing such great hymns, enjoy: