Lately these words from Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing keep coming back to me:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.
This is a moment of vulnerability for both the hymn writer and the singer. We’re admitting that we’re prone to wander–to wander from what we know is right, to wander even after we have come to know the great love of our merciful Savior.
Jesus said to the church at Thyatira: Hold fast until I come. He was speaking to the ones in the church who had not allowed themselves to be corrupted by the false teacher, reminding them to keep My deeds until the end. He is calling us to stand firm, to hold to His teaching, to resist false teaching and those who would lead us astray, and to live for Him. In the same way, Peter writes in I Peter 1:13-16: Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
But how do we do that? We can’t be holy in our own strength–after all, isn’t that the crux of the gospel message? We can’t just wake up one day and decide we’re going to be holy and live righteously from then on. It’s only through God’s grace and strength in us that we’re able to live for Him. And so we must pray, as in the hymn: here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.
That’s why each of the songs we’re singing on Sunday is a prayer. In each one, we’ll ask God to give us strength, to prepare us, to guide us. We’ll start by praising Him for who He is:
My Jesus, my Savior, Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love.
My Comfort, my Shelter, tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am never cease to worship You.
–Shout to the Lord
and then pray:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
–Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy, tried and true;
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.
In our middle hymns, we’ll ask God to be the center of our lives as we walk with Him.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea;
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
–Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art:
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
–Be Thou My Vision
The choir will sing:
Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver.
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold.
Refiner’s fire; my heart’s one desire is to be holy,
Set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master,
Ready to do Your will.
–Purify My Heart
The image of the refiner’s fire is a common one in the Bible, found, for example, in I Peter, in Malachi, and in Proverbs.
So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7).
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord (Malachi 3:2-3).
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts (Proverbs 17:3).
The idea is God burning away all the impurities of our hearts and minds, leaving us as pure gold before Him. I think this image can be applied to churches as well, as we seek to resist–and ask God to remove–any part of our teachings, actions, or fellowship that is not pleasing to Him. But of course that starts with each individual member, and that’s why we’ll close with this prayer:
Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God, may I be like You.
–Change My Heart, O God
Shout to the Lord: words and music by Darlene Zschech. Copyright 1993 Darlene Zschech/Hillsong Publishing. Sanctuary: words and music by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs. Copyright 1982 Whole Armor Music and Full Armor Music. Purify My Heart: words and music by Brian Doerksen. Copyright 1990 Vineyard Songs and Mercy/Vineyard Publishing. Change My Heart, O God: words and music by Eddie Espinosa. Copyright 1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing.