Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Ancient Hills and Ancient Words
This past weekend my wife Lynn and I took the opportunity to go to Northwest Pennsylvania to visit with my parents. They are getting older now and my own age has taught me to take the opportunities when they come. Their home is nestled among the trees on the side of one of the thousands of hills that make up the Allegany Mountains. Those hills are ancient; my faith tells me they have been there since the beginning of the world. Down in the bottom of the valley a few hundred yards from their front porch runs the Allegany River as it meanders past their home and eventually on to join the Ohio River down in Pittsburg some 120 miles to the south. The river also ancient has seemingly flowed forever. Those hills, that river, have been a staple in my life. Our family has been going to the very spot my parents’ home now rests on since before I was born. For much of my young life, if we were going on vacation, or a long weekend, that is where we went. While we visited this past weekend, I spent some of our time with my wife sitting on the front porch sharing with her old childhood memories I have of that particular hillside, and the many fun things I enjoyed doing there as a boy. Though that mountainside has been there all my life, a place I have enjoyed, even as a child I knew it had been there long before me. I can remember looking at the mountains and wondering about all of those who had seen them before I did. I used to daydream about the settlers who had made their way across them for the first time and what their lives must have been like.
My parents asked us to join them this past Sunday morning for church. We rode with them up and over the mountain on the other side of the river, and then up and over a few more eventually arriving in a narrow valley a dozen or so miles away. As we came down the hillside there was a little old church with cars parked on the grass alongside the building. It was nearly a surreal scene. The building and the hills could have been described as ancient. But for the modern cars and the contemporarily dressed people, the church building would have been perfectly at home in a Norman Rockwell painting. It was a picture of modern antiquity. We went inside and were greeted warmly by strangers as if we were well known family. We sang old songs, listened to a great sermon, (incidentally by my father, pastor Ken 1.0) and then after some more visiting went back to my parents’ home for a Sunday afternoon staple…roast beef dinner. In many ways, it was like going back in time; the river and mountains from my childhood, the old church building, hearing my dad preaching, the traditional Sunday afternoon roast beef, all of it established long ago. Some things are simply timeless.
I think I always knew those mountains and that river to be ancient, and the church we worshiped in that morning could have been (though incorrectly) described as being “As old as the hills”, but do you know what is ancient far beyond that building, those hills, and that River? The Words that brought them forth. While we were singing with those wonderful saints, one of the chosen songs was a modern hymn written by Lynn DeShazo in 2001 that was made widely known when Michael W. Smith recorded it. Long before that song was written, or recorded, millennia before that little church was constructed, in fact, an eternity before those hills rose upward and the river flowed downward…were the ancient words…The word of the ever-living God. The Apostle John tells us that In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4 NKJV)
The lyrics of the song have been running through my mind ever since we sang them that morning, now nearly a week ago. The timeless truths of those words have also been a part of my thoughts and I would like to share them with you today as my thoughts on this particular Thursday.
Verse one – Holy words long preserved, for our walk in this world. They resound with God’s own heart; oh, let the ancient words impart.
Our bibles are in fact, the written record of the word of God. How do we know it to be His word and not just the words of so many different men who penned them? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. God’s word, preserved for us, that we might know how to live and let our lives look like that of our Creator by illustrating through our words and actions the very heart of God.
Verse two – Words of life, words of hope. Give us strength, help us cope; in this world, where-e’er, we roam, Ancient words will guide us home.
In Philippians 2:12-16, Paul called the scriptures words of life that strengthen us and help us cope in this world. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Additionally the ancient words found in Psalm 119:105 promise to guide us home, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Verse three – Holy words of our faith, Handed down to this age, Came to us through sacrifice; Oh, heed the faithful words of Christ!
Ephesians 5:1-2 tell us to use our lives to imitate Christ who came as the ultimate and necessary sacrifice for our sin that we might be able to live forever joined with Him. Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Jesus said in John 14:21 that He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Verse four – Martyrs’ blood stains each page; They have died for this faith. Hear them cry through the years; Heed these words and hold them dear.
Jesus said there would be those who for the sake of the Ancient word He is and spoke forth would lose their lives. However, He also said that because of their sacrifice for Him, they would be blessed beyond measure. Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Finally, the chorus – Ancient words, ever true, changing me and changing you. We have come with open hearts; oh, let the ancient words impart.
In our society today, there is little regard for the Ancient Words. They are seen by most at best; words of antiquity, when in truth they are the words of life that hold the highest relevance. They are looked at as words to suppress and discourage, instead of bringing the hope that is the Light of the world. They are in fact, Holy words upon which we can grow our faith and that will change us as nothing else can do.
So now, with an open heart, open your Bible and allow the Ancient words to impart the wisdom and changes God wants to see in your life…and Go be Awesome!