The City Blog

Family Song: Before the Throne of God Above

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Ben Parks here, worship leader at Harbor City Church. In January, we sent out a survey to get feedback about our Family Songs. The responses are very helpful—so thank you for taking the time to respond! We were overjoyed to learn that families and individuals have been benefiting from this. The goal of these songs is to (1) equip parents to use the songs we sing to disciple their kids, and (2) help us all meditate more deeply on the words we sing. So, to see that this is actually happening is pretty rad! Let's keep it up!

For the month of February(ish), we will sing Before the Throne of God Above. I chose this hymn because of its rich theology and emphasis on the immovable assurance we have in Christ as our intercessor. This hymn was written in the 1860’s by Charitie Lees Bancroft, the daughter of an Irish minister. This hymn, originally titled “The Advocate,” is perhaps her best-known hymn, and is still sung by many around the world today.

We hope that this song helps you go deeper in your fellowship with the Lord. Below I have included the lyrics, relevant passages of Scripture, a few YouTube links of the hymn, and a short devotional geared for kids (but hopefully helpful for adults too!). We look forward to singing this song with you this month!

In Christ,

Ben Parks
Assistant Worship Leader

Harbor City Church  |  
Before the Throne of God Above
By Charitie Lees Bancroft, 1860s

Sovereign Grace feat. Kristyn Getty
Piano Instrumental
Shane & Shane

Related Scripture: Lyrics:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there, the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself, I cannot die;
My soul is purchased by his blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Savior and my God.

Kids’ Devotional:
When we've been selfish or mean to someone, the best thing to do is to come to that person and say “I'm sorry,” and, “Please forgive me.” Then the person we hurt can say, “I accept your apology, and I forgive you!”

It's the same with God. When we've been selfish or mean to Him, the best thing to do is to say to Him, “I'm sorry,” and, “Please forgive me.” But since we can't see or hear God, how can we know He accepts our apology and forgives us? How can we know He still loves us?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the High Priest had a very important job. He was the “bridge” between God and the people of Israel. In order to say, “I'm sorry” and “Please forgive me” to God, people had to make sacrifices. The High Priest would bring these “I'm sorry” and “Please forgive me” sacrifices into God's holy presence, and then tell the people, “God accepts your apology and He forgives you!” But every sacrifice had to be perfect, and every time they were selfish or mean, people had to make another sacrifice. Even the High Priest had to make sacrifices—because sometimes he was selfish and mean, too!

But when God's own Son Jesus came to earth, he was never selfish or mean—He was perfect in every way. Yet He willingly died on the cross as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. After he rose from the dead, Jesus ascended into heaven into God's holy presence, where he is always reminding God of the perfect sacrifice He made on our behalf (Rom. 8:34).

Because of this, Hebrews 4:14 can declare that Jesus is our Great High Priest—He is the best “bridge” we could ever hope for! Because Jesus was perfect, we know His sacrifice is “a strong, a perfect plea,” and “my sinful soul is counted free.”  Because Jesus is God's own Son, we know that God always listens to Him as he “ever lives and pleads for me,” and that “while in heaven He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.” Because Jesus conquered sin and death, we know that “my soul is purchased by His blood” and, “One with Himself I cannot die” (spiritually).

God doesn't ever want us to doubt that He accepts our apologies and forgives us and loves us. Because of Jesus, we can have confidence that our names are “graven on His hands” and “written on His heart”—fancy ways of saying that God loves us, no matter what we've done, or how we feel, or what circumstances we face. As Hebrews 4 says, we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Whenever you sing Before the Throne of God Above, let it fill you with this joyful confidence: that you have full assurance of God's acceptance and love because of your Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.
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New Kids Bulletins

Greetings Harbor Families!

We are starting to feel at home in our new space, and we hope you are too.  Of course, we still have things to work on, but we are excited for the extra space. 

We wanted to touch base with you all about our new weekly church bulletins that are being created for our kids.  This is a step up from our last bulletin and it also tracks with our weekly curriculum that is being taught upstairs.  The bulletin includes space for your children to follow along with the music and sermon, with room to take notes.  In addition to these pages, each week pages will be added that correlate to the lessons being taught in Children’s Church.

Our hope is that you will see these bulletins as a tool to foster good conversations about what they are learning, not just something to discard.     

Here are some ways to use this bulletin:

  1.  If your child chooses to stay in the service encourage them to take notes as they listen to the songs and sermon.  After service they can reference it when you ask them “What did you learn from the sermon?” “What did you write down today?" "Did you like one song in particular?" After they share, you can share what you learned!
  1. If your child goes upstairs during the sermon feel free to keep the bulletin with you so you can use the back pages to start conversations about what they learned in class upstairs.  (Each class hears the same bible story each week!) “Tell me what you learned in your class.” “Did you learn something new about Jesus?”  

Clearly these are just the start to great conversations with our children. We believe that the best way to disciple our children is to talk with them over and over about Jesus and the Gospel. 

We hope the lessons we teach upstairs from The Gospel Project, the worship and sermons in our regular services, and even these Kids Bulletins will help give you questions that you can discuss as an entire family.  No matter how and when (in the car home from church, at lunch, etc.) you have the conversations are up to you, but we hope you see them as an opportunity to start great conversations with your kids about Jesus and the Gospel! 

Happy New Year!

Christina Baumgartner

Director of Harbor City Kids