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TEST OF TIME:
You can research and find tons of information online regarding this hymn. Like, that its author is Russell K. Carter and he wrote the song in 1887. But for me the beautiful thing about the message of this hymn is not its creation but why it has stuck around in the church for over a century. Songs, just like books, that stand the test of time usually mean they are great. Carter was a Methodist minister, but this song in particular wasn't included in the Methodist hymnal until 1956. It was included then only because it was one of the most popular hymns the Methodist church was singing in the 20th century. It's obviously not just a Methodist thing because growing up in a southern Baptist church myself, I remember singing this hymn a lot. I didn't appreciate it then, but I do now.
THEOLOGY AND SINGING:
I was studying Wayne Grudem's systematic theology book (and still am...that thing is huge!) when I read one chapter about the authority of the Bible. At the end of each chapter Grudem has a hymn that correlates to what the chapter is about, and if you listen to his podcast you know they sing a hymn after each one of his teachings. This hymn, in particular, really stood out to me in a powerful way after I had just read about how the Bible was our absolute authority and we can trust that it is God's very words.
John Piper, as well as Grudem, has really helped me understand this idea of trusting God's promises. It helps build faith, and it destroys sin. Piper has a whole series of teachings from 1988 called Battling Unbelief (which has really been helpful to my wife and to me) that talks about this Biblical teaching that we are to trust God's promises which are built on past grace (the cross), but are also fundamentally future oriented. It's what eventually led to his book FUTURE GRACE.
STANDING ON THE PROMISES' main message is that we have God's word. We have the Bible. We can rest secure in what God has written for us in the Bible when trouble comes (verse 2), and we can overcome our sin by His Word (verse 3), and we can rest in Christ because we know He cannot fail (verse 4).
This has been so encouraging to my family and to me. I get so unsteady sometimes when I think about Selena and the distance that is between us. I have to rest on God's promises to secure my heart. Not that he promised in the Bible that we would adopt Selena, but there's a greater promise to hold on to. It's Psalm 84:11.
"No good thing does He withhold from those who fear him."
This is the most common place I go to when I battle being impatient. He knows what's best for me. He knows what's best for Selena and the Echeverrias. He is completely wise and sovereign over every minute detail. I must stand on that.
I hope this hymn is encouraging to you in that way too. When I was teaching at Vista Academy of The Woodlands I met ,through a friend, Alan Lisenbe. Alan is the lead singer of a band called AFTER THE WELL. Alan is a new, good friend who loves the Lord very passionately. He was so eager to come on board and be a part of this project, and he sounds great on the hymn. His passion and energy really made the song for me. Mike Thompson from Ivory Tower Studios produced the vocals and that team, Alan and Mike, nailed it. The bridge, to me, is kind of like an anthem I can hear being sung in our hearts,
"Standing, I'm Standing, Standing on the promises of God,
Standing, I'm Standing, Standing on the promises of God!"
Let's stand on God's word. Trust Him for what's He's said. He has spoken.
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Grace and Peace.