Farther Along

Text: Psalms 73

 

I.         When you were young, you might have grumbled about why you had to clean your room, why were there so many chores, or why you could not stay out late with your friends.

            A.        The adults in this room look back and realize that there were good reasons and now we appreciate what we didn’t appreciate back then.

            B.        “Prudence” is the ability to see the long term results

                        1.         A prudent man seeks out to understand his way first - Proverbs 14:8, 15

                        2.         He sees problems in advance and avoids them - Proverbs 22:3

                        3.         The prudent is able to deal with correction in part because he sees the long term benefit outweighs the near term discomfort - Proverbs 15:5

            C.        There is a song that encourages us to take a long term view of life: “Farther Along” (138)

                        1.         It first appeared in 1911 as “Further Along” in Select Hymns for Christian Worship, edited by Barney Elliot Warren. It has six verses that are roughly like the version we sing. [http://drhamrick.blogspot.com/2013/12/farther-along.html] The song in this version doesn’t state who was the author and gives no music, only that it was arranged by the editor (B.E.W).

                        2.         The song is attributed to a Holiness preacher named W. B. Stevens. “Attributed” because people are uncertain about its origins.

                                    a.         I found one source that was very specific, but gave no source: “Written in November 1900, by W.B. Stevens of Queen City, Missouri, 'Farther Along' was composed for Mrs. Benedict, a singing evangelist. Before it was printed, Stevens himself had sung it in Fort Scott, Kansas.” [http://www.countrymusictreasures.com/storybehindthesong/farther_along.html]

                                    b.         In Harmonic Chimes, 1916, W. B. Stevens and B.E. Warren are given credit for the lyrics.

                        3.         "We'll Understand it All By and By" No. 28 in Eureka Sacred Carols, 1921, lists words and melody as being done by W. E. Lyndsay and arranged and harmonized by G. C. Adams. This has the words we use in our current version. The tune is a bit different, but not overly so. The thought is that Mr. Lyndsay heard the original song and made some significant improvements, shortening the verses.

                        4.         Baxter and Stamps picked up the song to use in their book, Starlit Crown in 1937 and in Favorite Radio Songs, also in 1937. It was attributed to the Burnette Sisters, a Dalla radio singing group, who appears to have been singing Lyndsay’s version with some changes to the tune.

                        5.         In Gospel Quartets, 1938, Stamps-Baxter attributed the song to W. B. Stevens and arranged by Jessie Randolph Baxter, Jr. An article in the Moulton Iowa Weekly Tribune, May 5, 1938, p. 2, states that W. B. Stevens contacted Stamps-Baxter after hearing his song on the radio, which explains the change in attribution.

II.        “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder

            Why it should be thus all the day long,

            While there are others living about us,

            Never molested tho’ in the wrong.”

            A.        It is easy to slip into thinking our life is harder than everyone else because we are well acquainted with our life and no so knowledgeable about the lives of others.

            B.        Trials will come. Righteousness does not prevent them - James 1:2-4

                        1.         The encouragement to count trials as joy comes because it is too easy to see it as a discouragement.

                        2.         Standing for Christ can make us a target - Matthew 5:10-12

                        3.         The author isn’t the first to notice a seeming disparity between the righteous and the wicked

                                    a.         Job saw the wicked living in prosperity - Job 21:7-15

                                                (1)       But Job also saw it wasn’t true in the long run - Job 21:16-18

                                    b.         Jeremiah asked the same question - Jeremiah 12:1-2

                                    c.         Habakkuk wanted to know why God didn’t do something about the wicked - Habakkuk 1:2-4

                                                (1)       God told Habakkuk He was doing something - Habakkuk 1:5

                                                (2)       Habakkuk’s response was to be appalled - Habakkuk 1:12-13

                                                (3)       But after God explained it to him, Habakkuk realized no one had room to complain - Habakkuk 2:20

            C.        Our problem is that we take a short-sighted view of life. We want fixes NOW! But God takes a long view.

III.       “When death has come and taken our loved ones,

            It leaves our home so lonely and drear,

            Then do we wonder why others prosper,

            Living so wicked year after year.”

            A.        Death is a hard teacher, but it is a less well learned - Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

            B.        So why must we learn these lessons and not others? - Job 21:7-9

                        1.         We should not fret over the wicked - Psalms 37:1-13

                        2.         Asaph, too, came close to falling into this same trap - Psalms 73:1-20

            C.        If we look to the future and see what happens to the wicked, we wouldn’t envy them.

            D.        Have you thought about the events in Acts?

                        1.         James, the brother of John, was imprisoned and killed - Acts 12:1-2

                        2.         Peter is then imprisoned, but he is rescued by God - Acts 12:3-10

                        3.         Why was James left to die, but Peter rescued?

                                    a.         I don’t know the answer

                                    b.         Peter, when he wanted to know why John would live long was told it wasn’t his business to know - John 21:20-23

            E.        Questions about death are natural, but in the end, right now, we don’t know enough. We have to trust our Lord does what is best.

IV.      “Faithful till death said our loving Master,

            A few more days to labor and wait;

            Toils of the road will then seem as nothing,

            As we sweep thro’ the beautiful gate.”

            A.        Despite the hardships, we need to hang on - Revelation 2:10

            B.        The struggles in this life are short. They do not last - II Corinthians 4:17-18

                        1.         The Persians told of a monarch who commissioned that a sentence be inscribed that would always be in view. That statement had to true and appropriate in all times and all situations. The statement his wise men came up with was, “And this, too, shall pass away.”

            C.        Compared to where we are going, the best this world can offer is nothing - Philippians 3:7-14

            D.        Not only faithful until our death, but also faithful to the point of death, if need be - Hebrews 12:1-6

V.        “When we see Jesus coming in glory,

            When He comes from His home in the sky;

            Then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion,

            We’ll understand it all by and by.”

            A.        When Jesus comes, life will appear in its proper perspective.

            B.        Paul placed his faith in Jesus - II Timothy 1:12

                        1.         Paul learned to take a long term view of life

            C.        We hang to righteousness, placing our confidence in Christ - I John 2:24-25,28

            D.        The when Christ is revealed, we too will be revealed with him - Colossians 3:4

VI.      “Farther along we’ll know all about it,

            Farther along we’ll understand why;

            Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,

            We’ll understand it all by and by.”

            A.        Perplexed, but not despairing - II Corinthians 4:8-18

            B.        When we look down the road and we see the end, then we’ll understand life.

            C.        But as we journey, we ought to enjoy the trip - Ecclesiastes 11:8-10