Spirit-Filled Dads 

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week I mentioned that there are numerous people who only appear in the Bible once. They come on the scene—many of them nameless to us—to play their part and then we never hear about them again. 

But we still hear from them because their lives are still teaching us. 

Remember that each of you is God’s gift to the world IF you are using God’s gift in you to glorify God in the world. We meet one of those gifts in the Book of Luke that can teach us Dads some valuable lessons. 

There are several “one-timers” listed by Luke in the Advent story. Luke was a first-rate historian, researching his subject and talking to eyewitnesses to the events. Some of these one-timers have a few details Luke shared with us: 

  • Zechariah and Elizabeth—we know their family lineage (priestly), Zechariah’s role in the temple, and the fact that Elizabeth was barren 
  • Shepherds—we know where they came from (the fields surrounding Bethlehem) and their occupation. 
  • Anna—we know her tribe (Asher), her father (Phanuel), and role (prophetess), and that she had been married and is now widowed. 

But all Luke can say of Simeon is, “There was a man called Simeon…” (Luke 2:25-35). 

Although, even that short introduction is packed with meaning. 

Simeon in Greek means harkening while Simeon in Hebrew means heard. So he was both one who heard God and one who was heard by God. This speaks to me of an intimacy of relationship. Simeon didn’t view his conversation with God as a monologue but as a dialogue. I think that far too often we view our Bible reading time as God simply speaking to us, and our prayer time as us speaking to God. But both of these activities should be a two-way dialogue.

A.W. Tozer has a great definition of a godly leader that I believe accurately portrays Simeon: “A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation.” 

I think this means that a safe, godly leader is one who sees what is happening in a Christ-less culture, who then cries out in pain to God, and then who hears the Holy Spirit telling him how to live a holy life in that Christ-less culture.

We could call this external pressure grief over unrighteousness. Simeon so stood out in his culture that Luke calls him “righteous.” This is one whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. 

He also calls Simeon “devout.” This is a compound Greek word that only Luke uses in the New Testament which means to catch good things and make them your own. Simeon took hold of the things of God, made them his own, and then observed them carefully.

Finally, Luke tells us that Simeon was “waiting for the consolation.” He was living expectantly to see God’s Word come to its fulfillment. He could do all of this because the Holy Spirit was upon him and the Holy Spirit had revealed truth to him. 

That phrase “revealed to him by the Holy Spirit” again speaks to the intimate relationship Simeon had with God. 

Simeon knew that what God promises, He fulfills. He knew the consolation God had promised through Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-2), and then Simeon saw its fulfillment in Jesus the Christ—

“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

In today’s darkening, Christ-less culture, godly men like Simeon are needed again. 

Dads, do you feel the external pressure of today’s culture? If so, I pray that you will also feel the inward strengthening of the Holy Spirit drawing you into a more intimate relationship with Himself.

God gives His Word to men that will wait expectantly and pray fervently for its fulfillment. God is looking for men—for Dads—that will not cave in to cultural pressure. 

Guys, let the Holy Spirit’s inward pressure strengthen you to stand strong. As you see the external downward spiral away from God, don’t collapse, don’t complain, but hear God’s Word and remain a righteous and devout man for your family and your community. 

In our series We Are: Pentecostal, we talked much more in-depth about how the Holy Spirit wants to help us. You can check out all of those messages by clicking here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Top Priority

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Top Priority

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     Every word that God has given us in the Bible claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him who spoke it. … See that you refuse not Him who speaks. O my hearer, let it not be said of you that you went through this life, God speaking to you in His book, and you refusing to hear! It matters very little whether you listen to me or not. But it matters a very great deal whether you listen to God or not. It is He who made you. In His hands is your breath. And if He speaks, I implore you, open your ears and be not rebellious. There is an infinite majesty about every line of Scripture, but especially about that part of Scripture in which the Lord reveals Himself and His glorious plan of saving grace in the Person of His dear Son Jesus Christ. …  

     For what He has spoken He still speaks to us, as freshly as if He spoke it for the first time. … 

     God’s Word has a claim, then, upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension. But, further, it should win your ear because of its intrinsic importance. ‘The mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ so it is no trifle. God never speaks vanity. No line of His writing treats of the frivolous themes of the day. That which may be forgotten in an hour is for mortal man and not for the eternal God. When the Lord speaks, His speech is Godlike, and its themes are worthy of one who is dwelling in infinity and eternity. … 

     He speaks to you of great things that have to do with your soul and its destiny. It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life. Your eternal existence, your happiness or your misery, hang on your treatment of that which the mouth of the Lord has spoken. … Treat not the Word of the Lord as a secondary thing that might wait your leisure and receive attention when no other work is before you. Put all else aside and hearken to your God.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

Charles Spurgeon is so on-target with these words. Believe it or not, this sermon was actually delivered to his fellow pastors. But the words are true for all of us—we must make listening to God’s Word our first priority. 

Every single word of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. And I do mean every single word. Even the order in which the words are listed is inspired. So when you read your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit—the Author of the text—to illuminate the words to you. Ask questions like:

  • What did that mean then? 
  • What does it mean now? 
  • What does it mean for me? 
  • Does something in my life need to change? 

If you make your time with God a priority, He will reveal more of Himself to you each time you open your Bible.

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Completing The Body

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

One of the miracles we talked about last week was the Holy Spirit giving gifts to people that evangelize the sinner and edify the saint. Let me be more specific: YOU are God’s gift to the world if you are using God’s gift to glorify God in the world. 

You are a one-of-a-kind creation. God is infinitely creative so He never has to duplicate any of His creative works. He saw your life and implanted in you what you need to glorify Him (Psalm 139:13-18). But we need to think about this uniqueness the right way. 

Lucifer, an archangel, became satan, the Christian’s archenemy, because of his oversized pride. Pride is what turned Lucifer into satan, and it’s a tactic he still uses today on God’s creations. His other tactic is slander: attempting to get us to think we are insignificant and have no real purpose in the world. 

Just like Jesus did, we overcome satan’s lies with the truth in God’s Word.  

In Romans 12, Paul talks about our lives being used as a living, breathing, God-honoring sacrifice. But Romans 12:1 begins with the word “therefore,” so we need to back up a few verses. The final four verses of chapter 11 are a beautiful doxology that is praising God for His wisdom and sovereignty. Paul then offers this conclusion: Therefore we need to think correctly about our place in the world, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thoughts. 

Paul uses the word “think” twice in this passage. The root word is the same in each place (phroneo in Greek), but the prefix is what sets them apart from each other. The first has the prefix hyper-. That means it’s overly-analyzed thinking, overly self-concerned thinking, or self-focused.

The second time the prefix is soph- (which means “wise”). This is sound thinking, big-picture thinking, or others-focused. The Holy Spirit wants to give us sophroneo thinking to reveal our God-implanted gifts and talents that are to be used to benefit others—in fact, to benefit the whole Body of Christ.

In Romans 12, Paul uses the phrase “one body” twice as he talks about our spiritual gifts. He uses the same “one body” praise three times in 1 Corinthians 12 as he again talks about spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20). 

All of our spiritual gifts are to be used in love and to build up others (1 Corinthians 12:31—13:3; 14:1, 12, 26, 40). 

The Holy Spirit gives gifts to individuals so that individuals can edify the whole Body of Christ. It’s not competing with one another but completing one another. 

Remember: Saints is always plural in the New Testament! I need you to bring out the saintly qualities in my life, as much as you need me to bring out the saintly qualities in your life. 

This summer I will be offering an in-depth teaching on the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. We’ll take some assessments and discuss how these gifts can best be invested in the Body of Christ. I hope you can join me for an hour of learning on Wednesdays. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our Pentecostal roots, you can find all of those messages by clicking here.

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Expecting Miracles

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Last week we saw the in-ness of the Holy Spirit guiding us, teaching us, and empowering us to overcome evil. For what purpose? Why does the Holy Spirit lead us this way? Because the Spirit desires to draw everyone into this in-ness. His work in and through our lives is always unmistakable and irrefutable. 

A good word to describe the unmistakable and irrefutable work of the Spirit is: Miracles. 

Miraculous signs characterized the earthly ministry of Jesus, and they also should to the hallmark of Spirit-baptized Christians today who are sharing the Gospel with others (Acts 10:38; 2:43; Mark 16:20). 

Some may ask, “Why don’t we see as many miracles today?” And some skeptics even point to a decrease in miracles as proof of their cessationist paradigm. But consider this: Has God’s power been diminished? Have all needs been met? Are there no more sickness or unsolvable problems of human suffering? Is everyone free of the power of the devil? 

No, of course not! 

So that would mean if there is any diminishment in miracles, the diminishment would seem to be in us! Particularly I think it is that we no longer expect miracles to happen.

Not only should we expect miracles, but we should also expect to be the vessel through which the Holy Spirit demonstrates the miracle. 

Here are 8 miracles that we should be expecting:

  1. Minds opened that were blinded to the Gospel message—2 Corinthians 4:4-6 
  2. Thoughts transformed—Romans 12:2-3; Philippians 2:5 
  3. Invincible words spoken by us to others—Acts 6:10 
  4. Love tangibly expressed through our spiritual gifts—John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 12:1, 31—13:3 
  5. Gifts of the Spirit used constructively in the church to both evangelize the sinner and edify the saint—1 Corinthians 14
  6. Compassionate actions constantly initiated to address areas of human suffering—Philemon 4-7, 17
  7. Powerful prayers prayed and answered—Acts 3:6, 4:31, 13:2-3 
  8. Miracles consistently seen as authenticating the Gospel message—Acts 10:38, 19:11-12 

(Check out all of the above scripture verses by clicking here.) 

Don’t limit the Supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in you to only natural expressions. Constantly expect miracles! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can find them all by clicking here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Prayer Preparation And Prayer Expectation

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Prayer Preparation And Prayer Expectation

In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3) 

     Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and hopeful expectation after it? … We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are like people who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running, for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. … Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but He works by means. God made man, but He used the dust of the earth as a material. The Holy Ghost is the Author of prayer, but He employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

Sadly, I think we’ve become so accustomed to instant-everything in our society that it has seriously limited our prayer life. We walk into our prayer closet without an idea of what we’re going to pray, rattle off a few requests, say “Amen,” and walk out of our prayer closet exactly the same as we walked in. 

There is certainly help for us when we are so distressed—so at our wits’ end—that we don’t even know what to pray, but this is not what David is saying in Psalm 5. David is making it a regular practice to come into God’s presence with his requests at the ready, and he is walking away from his prayer time in eager expectation of God’s soon-to-be-realized answers. 

The Amplified Bible says, “I prepare a prayer…and watch and wait for You to speak to my heart.” 

I think it is a good idea for us to:

As Spurgeon said, “Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.”

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The Holy Spirit’s Roles

These are some outstanding lists I found in my Life In The Spirit Study Bible (sometimes referred to as “The Fire Bible”). If you want to see how the Holy Spirit is at work throughout the entire Bible, this study Bible is a must-have resource.

In-ness

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We said that when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in a Christian’s life: In > On. For instance, in our learning we don’t have to go to a tutor or attend classes only at set times, but we have The Tutor IN us. Or when need wisdom for decisions we don’t have to seek out the right advisors and try to coordinate their schedule with ours, but we have The Counselor IN us. 

As we saw with Samson, many times in the Old Testament we read of the Holy Spirit coming ON someone. But throughout that First Testament we also see people longing for the Spirit to be IN them. David, especially, recognized the value of the “in-ness” of the Holy Spirit in both his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51, especially vv. 10-11) and again in his beautiful prayer in Psalm 25. 

Let me point out the in-ness that permeates this 25th Psalm and then show you its fulfillment when the Holy Spirit comes to baptize believers in the New Testament. 

(1) “IN You I trust” (v. 2). Not in human abilities or personal pedigree or earthly riches, but IN the in-ness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “He who believes IN Me—who cleaves to and trusts IN and relies on Me—as the Scripture has said, ‘From his INNERmost being shall flow continuously springs and rivers of living water.’ But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) IN Him were afterward to receive…” (John 7:38-39 AMP). 

(2) “my hope is IN You” (vv. 3, 5, 21). A natural fruit of trusting IN the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is the hope that only that relationship brings. Paul talks abut this twice in his letter to the Romans. First, even in the midst of trials, Paul says we have this hope: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out INto our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). And then Paul prays for his friends to experience this same in-ness of hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust IN Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). 

(3) “guide me IN Your truth … guide me IN what is right” (v. 5, 9). Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth Who guides us INto truth (John 14:17, 16:13). This is how Jesus lived (Matthew 4:1) and it’s how we can live too: “But I say, walk and live habitually IN the Holy Spirit—responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit—then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh…” (Galatians 5:16 AMP). 

(4) “He instructs sinners IN His ways” (v. 8, 12). The Hebrew word David uses for “teach” in vv. 4, 5, 9 is “lamad.” It means being taught in a way that equips us to teach others. Jesus “gave instructions through the Spirit” to His disciples, and then He commanded them to teach others the same way (Acts 1:2; Matthew 28:20). The Spirit of Truth that inspired the Word of God can illuminate it to our hearts as He instructs us (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

(5) “the Lord confides IN those who fear Him” (v. 14). The KJV says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.” Isaiah said, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). And Jesus said that every word He spoke was directed by the Holy Spirit IN Him (John 12:49). 

(6) “I take refuge IN You (v. 20). We can take refuge IN the One whom we trust and hope, the One who leads us INto truth and instructs us, the One who confides IN us. This in-ness helps us thwart the enemy’s attacks against us. As John wrote, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives IN you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT). 

Don’t stop at salvation, but allow the Holy Spirit to baptize you and fill you. Don’t be satisfied with merely experiencing God’s presence ON you, but let His Spirit come IN you. 

This in-ness keeps us trustful of God, victorious over the devil, hopeful of our future, righteous in a wicked world, informed of God’s ways, peaceful in trials, and fully protected from the enemy of our souls. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, you can check out all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Final, Authoritative Word

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Final, Authoritative Word

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah’s thought—neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. … 

     It is not mine to amend or adapt the gospel. What? Shall we attempt to improve upon what God has revealed? The Infinitely Wise to be corrected by creatures of a day? Is the infallible revelation of the infallible Jehovah to be shaped, moderated, and toned down to the fashions and fancies of the hour? God forgive us if we have ever altered His Word unwittingly. … 

     One Word of God is worth more than libraries of human lore. ‘It is written’ is the great gun which silences all the batteries of man’s thought.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

As Solomon neared the end of his writings in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he made this observation, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (12:12). How true that is. Have you walked through a bookstore lately?! There is no end to the opinions that people want to share with you. 

But there is one thing that all of the books in all of the bookstores and all of the libraries have in common: not one of them is given to us by “the mouth of the Lord.” 

There are certainly many, many books that are saturated in Scripture, but they are still the opinions of man. We need to make sure that everything we read, or every wise person that we listen to, or even every conversation that we have with ourselves are all proven to be true or false based on what God has spoken.

Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would remind us of everything God’s mouth had spoken to us (John 14:26), and that He would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). 

So go ahead and search out wise, godly books and wise, godly counselors. But remember that their word is not the final word—only the words that come from the mouth of the Lord are the authoritative words you should apply to your life.

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Anointed To Minister

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Last week I shared this key thought: The Holy Spirit’s empowerment ignites and then alines our light-bearing to a disaster-prone world. 

Despite what some people try to say, this empowerment from the Holy Spirit isn’t just for a select few. Jesus not only prayed for all of His followers to know this, but Peter also brought this out in his Pentecost Day sermon (John 17:20-23; Acts 2:21, 38-39). 

So why are some people not baptized in the Holy Spirit? I think there are numerable reasons, but allow me to share four broad headings: 

  1. They have impenetrable hearts to the Holy Spirit’s wooing (Acts 7:51)
  2. They are ignorant of the fact that this baptism is available to them (Acts 19:1-2) 
  3. They have impure motives regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-19) 
  4. They are too impatient (Luke 11:9-13)  

(Check out all of the above passages by clicking here.)

The bottom line: God wants to baptize you in His Spirit, Jesus wants you to be anointed with the same power He used, and the Spirit wants to bring out greater Jesus-exalting fruitfulness from your life. 

Two years ago in this series, I said that when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in a Christian’s life: In > On. 

In the Old Testament, Samson had the Spirit of God ON him, but he never allowed the Holy Spirit to come IN him and make important changes. Three times we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14), but after every one of these times we see Samson reverting to his childish, selfish, pouting ways again. 

By contrast, consider the life of Jesus. After He was baptized by John we read that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and “led by the Spirit.” That word for “full” means complete or lacking nothing. Jesus yielded to the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to lead and direct, as well as supply everything that was needed for ministry. Just a few verses later we read that “Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit.” And in His first recorded sermon, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah about the Holy Spirit anointing Him for ministry (Luke 4:1, 14, 18). 

That word for “anointed” is chiro, from which we get the word Christ. That is the same root word in us as CHRISTians. 

We see this in Peter, Stephen, Barnabas, and Paul (Acts 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9). And then Paul writes that this anointing is for all Christians—“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us [that’s the word chiro again], set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). 

The anointing that characterized the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38—“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him”—is the same anointing for ministry for all CHRISTians today! 

So…

Don’t dabble—dive in! 

Don’t settle for on—allow the Holy Spirit fully in! 

When we are yielded and baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have the anointing to shine brightly for Jesus in our generation. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

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Poetry Saturday—For Fear Of Feeble Man

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
The Spirit’s course in me restrain?
Or, undismayed, in deed and word
Be a true witness for my Lord?

Awed by a mortal’s frown, shall I
Conceal the Word of God Most High?
How then before Thee shall I dare
To stand, or how Thine anger bear?

Shall I, to soothe the unholy throng,
Soften Thy truths, and smooth my tongue,
To gain earth’s gilded toys, or flee
The Cross, endured, my God, by Thee?

What then is he whose scorn I dread,
Whose wrath or hate makes me afraid?
A man! an heir of death! a slave
To sin! a bubble on the wave!

Yea, let men rage, since Thou wilt spread
Thy shadowing wings around my head;
Since in all pain Thy tender love
Will still my sure refreshment prove.

Savior of men, Thy searching eye
Doth all my inmost thoughts descry;
Doth aught on earth my wishes raise,
Or the world’s pleasures, or its praise?

The love of Christ doth me constrain
To seek the wandering souls of men;
With cries, entreaties, tears, to save,
To snatch them from the gaping grave.

For this let men revile my name.
No cross I shun, I fear no shame,
All hail, reproach, and welcome, pain!
Only Thy terrors, Lord, restrain.

My life, my blood, I here present,
If for Thy truth they may be spent,
Fulfill Thy sovereign counsel, Lord!
Thy will be done, Thy Name adored!

Give me Thy strength, O God of power;
Then let winds blow, or thunders roar,
Thy faithful witness will I be:
’Tis fixed; I can do all through Thee! —Johann Joseph Winckler (translated by John Wesley)

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