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Preparing for Sunday: Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

   This Sunday I'll begin preaching through the beatitudes. These are attitudes which characterize those who are in the kingdom of God. First up this week, Be Poor in Spirit from Matthew 5:3. As we are fasting and praying over the next few weeks for revival, it is fitting that we consider what it means to be poor in spirit - an inner posture of humility and brokenness before a Holy God

   One of the hymns will we sing this Sunday is Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me written in England during the American Revolution by Augustus Toplady. In Exodus 33:21-23, God hid Moses in a cleft - a split or indention - in a rock in order to protect and hide Moses from God's holiness and glory as He passed by. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the "Rock" incarnate (Psalm 18:2) whose side was split open on the cross for us (John 19:34); thus the line "let the water and the blood from Thy wounded side which flowed". It is in Christ alone, the  split open rock of ages - almighty God in His crucified flesh - in which we hide and find shelter from the wrath of God.
  Perhaps for simplicity and clarity, in our Baptist hymnal,  the original second and third stanzas of the hymn - which traditionally contains four stanzas -  are combined into a single second stanza. In that second stanza the lyrics reflect what it means to be poor in spirit: Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy laws demands.  These (i.e labors of my hands) could not atone. Thou must save and Thou alone. In my hand no price I bring, simply to the cross I cling. In these words which we will sing to God and one another this Sunday we are reminded that only those who by grace are poor in spirit will humbly trust in Jesus alone for salvation.
   Another  newer hymn we will be singing is The Power of the Cross which also reflects our desperate dependence on Jesus and prepares us to remember and celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection through the Lord's Supper this Sunday. Consider familiarizing yourself with it before Sunday:
  In Christ,
   Pastor Steve