Beth has written an encouraging post for us to read and reflect on:

A song that has come to be very precious to me over the last couple of months is the updated version of Helen Howarth Lemmel’s hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I love singing songs written in response to the reality of life. The words often impact and resonate with my soul.

One day, in 1918, when Helen was aged 55, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled Focused. It contained a statement that had a profound impact on her: 'So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.' The facts surrounding the specific details of why Helen wrote this song are not clear, although it is generally believed she wrote it following many heartaches, including adult blindness and the abandonment of her husband, who walked out on her when she lost her sight.

The updated version by Sovereign Grace music goes like this. Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace Turn your eyes to the hillside Where justice and mercy embraced There the Son of God gave His life for us And our measureless debt was erased Jesus, to You we lift our eyes Jesus, our glory and our prize We adore You, behold You, our Saviour ever true Oh Jesus, we turn our eyes to You Turn your eyes to the morning And see Christ the Lion awake What a glorious dawn, fear of death is gone For we carry His life in our veins Turn your eyes to the heavens Our King will return for His own Every knee will bow, every tongue will shout ‘All glory to Jesus alone!’

Why should we fix our eyes on Jesus every day?

Verse 1: Focus on Jesus’s face and see that He is full of Light, grace and glory. In Him we see things perfectly for 'The light of Christ is the brightness of God shining on the retina of the human soul' (John Piper). We are broken sinful people living in a broken cursed world. Jesus showed us the grace of God by entering our broken world and redeeming, restoring and saving. His grace changes everything. As we move through these verses see His glory shine and His grace abound.

Verse 2: Focus on Jesus’s death and see His saving grace there. The righteous, sinless Son of God gave up everything for you and for me. Why? Our sin leaves us in debt that we can’t repay. The debt is our very life. Jesus did not owe that debt, yet He freely offered His life and was killed to pay it. Jesus uniquely combines God’s justice – our judgment and condemnation for our sin, death, and mercy – and His love in taking our penalty through His death on the cross. Our debt is gone!

Verse 3: Focus on Jesus’s resurrection and see how God brings hope from tragedy, by conquering death. Jesus is alive and has defeated death and evil. His new life displays God’s satisfaction and approval with Jesus payment on our behalf. Jesus has overcome death and darkness. Let this thrill your heart and fill you with confidence and hope as you focus on God’s love and power in bringing true life for ever.

Verse 4: Focus on Jesus’s return and see His glory and know hope. Yes, Jesus is coming again, and we will see Him face to face in all His glory. This is great news full of hope! We can lift our eyes to Jesus in our deepest pain and suffering and know the pain will not last forever. One day everything will be renewed and changed as the broken world is fully redeemed. Decay will give way to abundant life and we will finally see Jesus in His full glory.

Life is full of circumstances and distresses that can take our focus. This song reminds us to stop, turn and focus on Jesus, the one who knows what it is to suffer in a broken world, the one who has defeated death and the one who is coming back. As we focus on Him the things of this earth grow dim as He gives us true perspective on life. In the light of Jesus’s glory and grace the things of this earth lose their intensity as His glory shines out.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12: 1).

Jonny recently encouraged us to sing, why not listen (and join in) to the new version of this song and praise our God:

A poem by Edward Shillito (1872-1948), a Free Church Minister during World War I:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;

Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;

We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,

We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;

In all the universe we have no place.

Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?

Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, Thou rawest near,

Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;

We know to-day what would are, have no fear,

Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;

They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;

But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,

And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

In 1519 Luther caused an immense sensation by roundly declaring that the supremacy of the pope was unknown in the Scriptures, that it had grown up only in the previous 400 years, and that Councils had erred in giving their support to it. The die was not cast. Martin Luther saw the full implications of his position. He freed himself for ever from the authority of the popes, Fathers and Councils and from then on took the Word of God as the only rule of faith. He stood before the world as a free Christian man. Martin Luther seemed now to have the strength of a hundred men, and poured forth a constant stream of sermons and pamphlets through the printing press.

In 1520 came the pope's decree excommunicating Luther and ordering his works to be burnt. The Reformer gave an appropriate reply. Having arranged a bonfire outside Wittenberg, he went and publicly flung the decree into the fire. No gesture could have given a more emphatic message of defiance.

In 1521 the emperor, Charles V, called the imposing Diet of Worms (a council), to which princes, dukes and other grandees were invited. His principal aim was to put Luther down. The Reformer's friends urged him not to go. His reply has never been forgotten: 'Though there were as many devils in Worms as tiles on its roof, I would go.' The council, presided over by the emperor in person, was hostile. Luther was roughly questioned about his books and ordered to retract. He declared that he would retract nothing unless it were proved to be contrary to Scripture. His noble declaration: 'Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God. Amen' has thrilled Christians through the centuries.

Luther was condemned and placed under the ban of the Empire. To save his life, s troop of horsemen were secretly sent to arrest him on the way home. He was carried off to a castle and his enemies thought he had perished. In his confinement of nearly a year, he translated the New Testament from the original Greek into German - a work of supreme importance for the Reformation.