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When Peter begins his message to the people gathered on Pentecost, he gives them a history lesson (Acts 2:1-41). These people were Jewish and knew their history, or at least they should have. The only reason they were in Jerusalem at that time is because of a feast. But Peter reviews it with them so that they can understand how the prophets foretold of the coming Messiah and how that Man was Jesus. They knew their Scripture. In fact, some may have known where some of those passages Peter quotes came from. They  were the “insiders”. Though Peter gives them history, he also gives them the Law. He reminds them that this is the Christ “whom you crucified”. Ouch. He is shouting at them their sin and the penalty for it. Though he does bring it back to the Gospel at the end, he basically begins with a lot of Law.

Now take Paul (Acts 17:16-34). Years after the Day of Pentecost, Paul is in Athens among the Greeks. He is not in a synagogue but rather among pagan temples, shrines, and idols. Here the background is in mythology, philosophy, and dialogue. Paul, of course, is a Jew, trained by the high priests. But Paul is also a Roman citizen and knowledgeable in many languages and histories. In this instance, he approaches the men of the Areopagus t in a different manner than Peter did with the Jews.

Instead of telling them the words of the prophets or the history of the Jews, Paul addresses what they know: idol worship and Greek philosophy. He begins by saying, “I have come here and before I spoke, learned about who you are. I saw there was something you did not know. Let me tell you what it is!” The Greeks were very fond of new ideas and adding to their knowledge, perhaps to a fault. But Paul comes from a place of empathy. He continues with the truth: that God made the world. This is something that the Greeks would understand, as they also saw a god as making the world. Paul gives them world history, mankind’s origins, knowledge. In fact he goes so far as to quote one of their own poets! He is basically saying, “Look, I know you, I understand you.”

Paul then appeals to their logic and says that if we are made in the image of God, if we are actually His offspring, as you yourselves claim, then why worship stone, metal, and wood? People are none of these things! And neither is God. Though Paul loses some of the people listening when he speaks of the Resurrection, there were some whose interest was piqued and the message reached their hearts and souls.

What is the difference between these two messages? Both spoke about Christ. Both ended with Christ. Both had the goal of reaching the listener. Both came from Christians. But here is the difference: One message was to outsiders, one to insiders. Where Peter was addressing those who should have known, Paul was reaching those who could not have known. This is the difference between the world and the church. In a church building, the preacher is teaching and correcting Christians. These are people who have the gospel. Not that they, we, do not need the Gospel still – we are still saved by grace! – but we also need correction.

The Law tells us how awful we are. Yet we are not left in despair. For as we first were given the Gospel, so too are we left with the Good News of Christ’s salvation of our souls! This is why we have this joy. The Gospel allows us to serve God. It frees us from sin and death. The Holy Spirit moves us and does good works through us. Christ and the Gospel tears down the insurmountable wall of the Law.

But what about those outside of the Church? They already have the Law, whether they know it or not. They are already mired in sin and without hope. They were as we were before Christ. They have not come to the knowledge of the truth.

If this is so, then why is it that we, as Christians in God’s love, come at them with the Law? Why do we not bring them the Gospel? Is that not what Christ commanded us? (Matt. 28:19-20) Those who are not Christians need the Gospel. If the Law is the only message others hear from Christians, there is little wonder why so many run from the message of God. They have never really heard it! They only hear fear and separation. They do not hear joy, new life, forgiveness, love, peace, hope. These are the message we need to share!

We already have this hope. Though our works are like filthy rags, the Potter is shaping us into something new. This is why we have hope. This is why when someone asks us for this hope, we can speak the truth in love, and with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

There is a difference in how we should speak the message of God to those around us. Though our words should always been full of grace, we do often use the Word to teach, correct, rebuke, and train in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). But this is for believers in the Church. How does Paul address the Athenians? He learns about them, he loves them, he tries to understand them. Paul comes to them from their perspective, from a place of empathy. He wants them to know he is not attacking them.

It is not like there was nothing Paul could have criticized them about. But Paul chose to show them the love that Christ had first shown to him. I mean, were talking about Paul here. Even Paul calls himself the chief of sinners. How could we show any less mercy and grace to those who are near to us? God shows the same grace to us as to the person we hate the most. And thanks be to God for that! How terrible it would be if I were put on a scale with other’s sins. Thanks be to God for His gift of salvation and His bountiful grace!

Therefore, dear friends, let us look on others with that same love that Christ first showed to us (1Jhn. 4:19). Remember: We were dead in our sins when Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-11). He died for others, too (Jhn. 3:16). Let us not approach the lost with the Law that condemns. Let us instead approach them those in the world – our neighbors, friends, co-workers, baggers, family, clerks, etc. – with the Gospel that frees. Let us love them, empathize with them, learn about them. Then maybe, after leading a life of love, they will see our actions and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

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“If this Jesus thing is so important to Christians, why aren’t they obsessed with it?”

“You shouldn’t talk so much about the Bible and religious stuff. If I wanted to hear it, I would go to church!”

I was listening to an old podcast this morning during which the host mentioned a couple of emails he received, two of which are paraphrased above. While he often received letters from atheists telling him to stop talking so much about God, he was somewhat shocked to receive one from a man professing to be a christian. Why would a christian say something like that? The comment from the atheist was also eye-opening. If Jesus, life eternal, following His commands, and everything that goes with it means so much, why doesn’t it consume every part of Christian’s lives, or at least appear to do so?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is not longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

~Matthew 5:14-16 ~

What happens if you put a lamp under a bowl? Not only will the light be useless to everyone who needs it, the light will go out. Yet this is exactly what we Christians have done with Christianity. We go to church, hopefully, and then go out into the world with a cap over that flame as if it didn’t exist. Where has our fire gone? Where has our love and passion for the Gospel gone? The letter from the listener really convicted me. Why is this joy not always on my face, the praise for my Creator and Savior not on my lips? Why is prayer mostly relegated to mornings and evenings? Why does anger fill my heart at times? Why do I respond to accusations and discomfort with hate? Is this light inside of me shining for others to glorify God?

A lot of important subjects have been relegated to the back seats of our lives. After all, what are the things you are “never supposed to talk about”? Sex, money, politics, religion. What are the things we most need to talk about? Those very things. They are important as they have an enormous impact on our day-to-day life. For one in particular, the impact is also on the life to come. Yet we have decided that God, Jesus, and religion is just for church! You don’t need to talk about it with friends, family, on podcasts! In a way, as this podcaster mentioned, our churches have become secular and our lives atheistic.

Scripture says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” But how do people recognize us today?  Do we care for the people around us regardless of who they are? Do we show the love of Christ and His effect on our lives? Where is Christ evident in our lives?  In all honestly, I struggle to see a difference in the lives of many Christians from those of the world. We are to be in the world, of course; how else are we to minister to those who need to Gospel and God’s love? But we are not to be of the world. Somewhere along the way, we have confused our mission on this earth. We are letting our flesh win.

Think of what the early church was like. The world around them saw Christians as being starkly different. Some called them cannibals, or baby-thieves, or anti-government, or heathens who didn’t worship any gods, or as just plain confusing for the love they demonstrated. They didn’t understand who would willingly die instead of simply bowing down to Caesar or an idol. They were so different that the world didn’t really know what to do with or make of them. But they came to know one thing for sure: Christians were followers of Christ.

I know more about the political beliefs, and sometimes even the sex-lives, of my friends and family. Those around are not shy to speak their opinions. In some ways, this is good. People should be open about what they believe, what their values are, and why they believe what they do. I am not saying we should not talk about these other things. Yet we are still missing our core. There will always be one thing or another to be outraged about, another crisis to plunder, another candidate to disappoint, another opinion to state. But do the people around us Christians know about their Creator who loves them? In fact, the Creator who loves them so much that He died for them? Do they know that they can lay their burdens at the foot of the cross? Do they know that they are forgiven? Do they know that hope and peace can be found?

I don’t think they do. I think they see us for the hypocrites that we are. We hide the light of Christ while professing to be one of His followers and live our lives like the rest of the world: unloving, ungodly, uncompassionate, hateful, blaspheming, slandering, unwelcoming. We display what the world does instead of what we were called to be. How can they know that there is a Savior who loves and cares for them if we do not love and care for them? Not shove the Bible down their throats or tell them that they are wrong, but to really, truly care for them. We don’t shine like stars in the darkness of this world. This is not to say we are perfect. Not by any means! But we are being sanctified and are called to live godly lives in holiness and reverence to God. Is Christ evident in our lives? Do we preach the Word in all seasons? Do we live like redeemed children of the Lord Almighty? He will reward each person according to what he has done. Are we going to be like one escaping through the flames? Or are we going to ask for forgiveness are start living our lives as if this Jesus thing really matters?

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


Works Referenced 

Matt Walsh Show – Ep. 66

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

~ Deuteronomy 4:9 ~

Today is 9/11. To Americans, this was the start of the war on terror. To most Millennials, this marked one of the greatest, formative changes that they would experience in their lives. To the world, well, I’m not sure how much it affected them. I was in America, watching our little television in our basement with my mother and little brother, later watching my parents hug and cry and us trying to comfort them. I did not understand then what historic event had happened. Things certainly changed. Police and military awareness was heightened, relations with our neighbors became more strained, travel become more complex, and so much more. I cannot know how much things changed.

I began teaching a history course at my Church’s Wednesday night study last week. The kids I teach are between the ages of 9 and 12. We are still pretty early in time; we’re only at the Rebellion-Flood. But I realized that for most of this kids, the most formative, communal events in their lives have probably been the current and previous U.S. Administrations. They probably do not watch the news. They know almost nothing about history. Explaining to them that the oldest person at our church  (he’s 96) didn’t have a tv or cell phone or computer blew their minds. Telling them the number of wars we went through during that time was also intriguing to them. But these kids have always known war, though like myself, in a distant manner. How can I explain to them the significance of 9/11 tomorrow?

That Tuesday morning shook the world. It shook my world. But 9/11 is not the most important event that happened in history. How do I explain to this children that history is magnificent, important, impactful? How do I explain all of world history, from Creation to the present, lead to who they are today? How do I explain the Revolution, the age of discovery, the Magna Charta, Charlemagne, the Romans, Christianity, the Persians, Asia, Israel, Mesopotamia, Babel, the Flood, and Creation is the history of them, especially when no one has taught them that? How do I show how world history is the only history you can really teach to understand the present when they don’t even know what happened 17 years ago?

The verse above from Deuteronomy is God speaking to the Israelites about their history. God told the Israelites to teach their children and grandchildren about all that had happened to them: the exodus, the conquest, Abraham, and going back to creation. Why? So that this history – their history – would not fade from their minds. Scripture speaks on remembering history and valuing learning quite frequently. History and learning is important, and starting with God is the only way to do it (Prov. 1:7). Why is it so important? Because if the next generation forgets, they will forget who brought them there, which is exactly what happened in ancient Israel. History is the story that lead us to today. We were lead here by God.

God has brought us thus far. He brought us through 9/11. He brought us through two World Wars. He brought us through changing governments, falling empires, persecution, floods, and everything that happens seemingly only to us. We teach history not only to know but to remember all that God has done for us, to see how everything is connected, how everything points to God’s hand.

I doubt 9/11 will be soon forgotten in the minds of Americans. I would think the same is true for the impactful events unique to each people around the world. My prayer is that we remember to teach our children, the next generation, what happened before them. They are going to shape the future and they are going to experience things that came from something that started long before them. They need to know what happened in our lives and what happened before us. They don’t know, and they need a teacher. So I will teach my class and will, Lord willing, teach my own children one day. Let us not forget the days that are past, no matter how ugly, frightening, shameful, or wonderful they are. Let us not forget but remember and teach the next generation lest this history fade from our minds.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out all my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

~ Psalm 51:1-2 ~

Have mercy on me. The phrase “have mercy on” is repeated a couple dozen times in Scripture, from Exodus to Romans. Most often, I think it is associated with the Psalms and Gospels. In these places, the speaker is asking for mercy from God, that God might not abandon them, or destroy them, or even asking for God’s sustaining power and healing. But the first place that I could find where this phrase is mentioned says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion in whom I will have compassion.” (Ex. 33:19) How humbling it is to remember that we are at the mercy of our God.

Whether we wake or sleep, whether we eat or drink, whether we breathe or die, everything we do is at the mercy of God. But why here does David ask for mercy from God? In this particular instance, he asks for mercy after committing adultery with Bathsheba and then for committing murder after killing her husband, Uriah. But David does not stop there. He asks for forgiveness for all his transgressions. He knows that his guilt is always before the Lord (v. 3) and that it was only against the Lord that he sinned, not Bathsheba, Uriah, Nathan, or anyone else (v. 4). God is the lawmaker and the judge, so He is right when He lays down justice; we deserve it (v. 4). From the time Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden to when you sinned perhaps this moment, our guilt is laid before God only and openly. He has had every right to condemn us where we stand.

David furthers this confession when he speaks about how long he has been sinful (v. 5) and how he even sins despite the fact that the Lord has taught him the way of righteousness (v. 6). David pleads with the Lord that he might be made clean; not that he would be rejected by the Lord, but that he would be restored the joy of salvation and given a “willing spirit” to do what has been commanded of him (v. 7-13). And this is what God requires of us: not a sacrifice of things but in a sacrifice of heart (v.16). David could have done that and been done with his guilt. But this is not what God truly wants from his people, and this is a point of this psalm.

God wants a broken and contrite heart from us. He wants a humble heart that does not put ourselves first but rather puts God and His commands first in our hearts, minds, and lives. God wants for us to come before Him humbled and asking for His mercy, and we know that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (Jas. 5:16). God shows mercy on whom He will have mercy. And what does God want? He wants a broken and contrite heart that knows it needs mercy. This is our sacrifice to God. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins (Jhn. 3:16). If we did not sin, then why would He have to die? But He did die and rise again because we did sin, because  we needed saving. So when we do sin, why should we flaunt God’s sacrifice as if we did not need it? We do need it, therefore we ask God for mercy on us in our helpless state that He might forgive us (Matt. 6:12, Rom. 5:1-11).

David opens this psalm by immediately asking for mercy. And he does not ask it according to what David has done. It is not according to David’s righteousness that he asks for, or even tries to say that he deserves mercy. No, he says “according to your unfailing love”, according to God’s love, that his transgressions and sins be blotted out. Thanks be to God and His grace that we are saved! This is the final point of this psalm: that we cannot save ourselves. And how wonderful it is that our salvation does not depend on us and what we can do! How inadequate our actions would be! But God instead showers His love on us and sees us as blameless in His Son (Eph. 2:1-10, 1 Pet. 1:3-6, 2:10). He knows we fall short and that we are justified freely by His grace. Therefore we ask God for mercy and praise Him for His grace, everlasting kindness, and that He chose to have mercy on us – even us!

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

,

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

~ Psalm 119:18 ~

Oh that my ways would follow the path of life. Would we say that God’s Word is good? Of course. Would we not also be like the young man who went to Jesus and called Him “good”? God’s Word is truth, we know this in our hearts. We know that God is good, and that all good things come from Him, including His commands for our lives. We know this to be true. So then, why does the psalmist ask that his eyes might be opened to see wonderful things in the law, or Word, of God? Is it not obvious that is is good?

To the sinner, no, it is not. We are all sinners, often falling prey to temptation, seeing ourselves as above God’s commands. We think our way is good and God’s way is, well, something else. We often read though God’s Word time and again and say, “Well, this part is good to me, but I feel a little edgy on that point.” or, “There is no way that is talking about me, surely.” or perhaps even, “Haven’t I already done enough? Can’t I do this now?” Too often, we look at God’s Word with scorn because we do not want to feel guilty about it, or because we do not want to think that specific verse could apply to us. But the Word does often convict, and all of God’s commands apply to our lives. Thus, we often need to humble ourselves and pray to the Lord not only that He might forgive us but also that He might open the eyes of our hearts that we might see Him, and His will, in His Word.

Thankfully, God has forgiven us, and on His mercy and grace we can rely. Let us then turn to God’s wonderful Word of truth that leads us on straight paths to the way of everlasting.

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

~ Proverbs 12:15 ~

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

~ Psalm 119: 5-6 ~

When I consider all your commands: Do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, you shall have no other gods, keep the sabbath day holy, be kind one to another, love one another, forgive each other, pray continually, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Keep all my commands and it will go well with you. I shudder to think of how many of these I have broken already today.

How hard it is to be faithful to all that God has commanded us to do! What are we to do? How can we keep His law?

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

~ Psalm 119:9-11 ~

What happens in these verses? The Psalmist asks a question: How can someone keep their way pure? The answer is simple: By living according to what God’s Word commands. This is the theme of Psalm 119. The entire Psalm repeatedly talks about how wonderful God’s Word is, how upright are His commands. Yet as we just mentioned, it is impossible to keep God’s commands perfectly. So the Psalmist does what we should also do. Here the Psalmist makes a request: Do not let me stray from what You have commanded. This reminds me of the hymn “Come, Thou Fount“.

Oh to grace, how like a debtor daily I constrain to be

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee

How much are we like a debtor to the grace God has given to us! How often we stray from His wonderful commands! Thanks be to God for the marvelous gift of salvation that we did not have to attain it by ourselves! (Rom. 5:1-11, 8:1-17, Eph. 2:1-10) We do indeed stray fall away from God’s commands, and that partial list above will be broken on a daily, even minute by minute, basis. We cannot follow God’s commands perfectly, and  this is why we need Christ.

But in our weakness, we acknowledge our loving God who saved us and desires to lead us on this walk of life, even as He has promised to be with us. And what else does the Psalmist say? He has hidden God’s Word in his heart. God did not leave us to guess as what His will is, but gave us His Word to read, study, and keep in our hearts for every situation (2 Tim. 2:15, 3:14-16, Rom. 12:1-2, Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9-10). So what does this tell us? We also should keep God’s Word in our hearts.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

~ Psalm 119:105 ~

We do not wander in this world without direction, and we are not alone and without a guide. Instead, we diligently study the Word of truth that God has given to us and go to Him for forgiveness, strength, and direction in all things. Truly, His word is a light unto our paths in this dark work. Let us praise Him for His wonderful grace!

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Find rest, O My Soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my fortress, I will not be shaken.

~ Psalm 62:1-2 & 5-6 ~

What does it mean for our souls to find rest in God? Why would we depend on Him for salvation, for a fortress, for hope? Our soul finds rest in God because He is the only one on whom we can truly depend. This world is faulty and fleeting. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecc. 12:8) It is in God that we find true joy, contentment, hope, and peace.

But this world is not peaceful. This world is full of hate, and fear, and jealousy, and anguish, and discontent. We rely on many things in this world that let us down: family, friends, money, jobs, homes, and skills. Each of these things becomes something we turn to when times get tough. And each time, those things fail us. Why then do we turn to them when we know that our souls only find rest in God? Why do we turn to other things instead of to our Creator, our Savior, our Healer, our Father?

Psalm 77 begins with the psalmist crying out to God for help, searching in the past for evidence of Him, begging for comfort, confronting God. He asks if the Lord has abandoned him, if His love has ceased from being eternal, if He no longer has mercy to give (Psa. 77:1-9). Sometimes, it appears as though God has abandoned us. Even though we were told that in this world we would have trouble, we forget Him who overcame it (Jhn. 16:31). We feel alone, hopeless, and far from our Savior. During these times, it is easy to fall into despair. But has God truly abandoned us in our times of need?

Then I thoughts, ” To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

~ Psalm 77:10-14 ~

God has always been with us and will always be with us. Sometimes it is difficult to see God’s hand in the immediate situation. Sometimes, it is only in hindsight that we can see God working in our lives, in history. But He has promised to always be with us. He is our Savior, our Rock, our Redeemer, our Strong Tower, our ever-present help in times of need (Psa. 46). Sometimes, we simply need to wait and call on Him, and He will listen. I do not always know how God is currently working in my life, but I know He has pulled me out of mire before and has kept my feet on level ground (Psa. 18:28-36). I know I can rely on Him, and He forgives me when I doubt.

He is our escape from death, He is our salvation and righteousness  (Psa. 68:20, Gal. 3 :13-14, 1 Jhn. 2:29-3:1, 3:16-24). This is why we can have peace in suffering, joy in despair, hope in darkness, and a hand to guide us in this lost world (Rom. 5:1-11, Psa. 16:8, 119:105). Though we might not see Him, He has promised to always be with us and He is always with us (Heb. 13:5-6, Matt. 28:20, Jas. 1:2-5, Psa. 77:19). Our God is strong and loving. He cares for His people and He is able and willing to help them. Our souls rest on God because He is sovereign, He is Holy, He is Loving, He is gracious, He is kind, and He is our sure foundation (Isa. 33:5-6, Rom. 15:13). We can trust in Him (Psa. 33:21, 37:5).

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

~ Psalm 62:11-12 ~

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:

~ Psalm 8:3-6 ~

Have you ever considered how big and beautiful God’s creation is? This world, this solar system, the universe – have you every considered how majestic everything is? Have you ever fathomed eternity, or what is outside the universe, or where is ends, or how atoms and proteins and cells make up our bodies? Have you ever considered all that God has created and wondered, “Why me? Why does God, in all His power, wisdom, strength, and holiness, care for me?” We are so small, so frail, so sinful. How could our Creator and giver of life notice us?

God’s love is immeasurable and incomprehensible (Rom. 8:28-39). The fact that he would send His only begotten Son to save our sins is amazing, in ever sense of the word (Jhn. 3:16). Imagining where (or if) the universe ends, or what infinity means is mind-boggling enough (Ecc. 3:11). But what is eternity with Christ? What is eternal love? What does everlasting to everlasting mean (Psa. 103:17)? Why would my Creator God stoop down and take on human flesh to save my immortal soul from my sins?

Even from the beginning, God had a plan of salvation for us (Gen. 3:15). Despite the fact that we rebelled, God sent His Son to save us. The Lord set His glory above the heavens, yet saw it fitting to crown us with glory and honor through His Son. This is why our only response to His act of Salvation is to do good and serve Him as He has called us to do. Our response is to love the law of the Lord, to pray, to read His word (Deut. 6:4-9, Psa. 1, 19:7-13). How majestic is His Name! How we should forever praise Him! I cannot comprehend why He would die for me. I know that I could do nothing to save myself and I can do nothing to thank Him. How much sweeter it is that He gave grace without payment! Thus, I will praise Him for the marvelous thing He has done for mankind (Psa. 98:1, 118:22-29).

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

~ Psalm 19:14 ~

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

Joseph Medlicott Scriven was in 1819 born to John and Jane Scriven of Banbridge, Ireland. Joseph had a rather turbulent life even from a young age. He had wanted to serve in the military, but his poor health led to him studying at Trinity College, which he graduated from in 1842. A year later, his fiancée drowned the night before their wedding. This, along with religious convictions, prompted him to leave Ireland for Canada in 1845. Here, he met another woman to whom he became engaged, but she died in 1860.  While in Canada, he lived a life of service, though he was often overlooked. He gave freely of his time, property, and skill. Ironically, many who knew Joseph thought him “eccentric” because of the way he lived and many friends left him. Still, those he cared for appreciated his selflessness and charity.

It was in 1855 that he penned the well-loved hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” then fittingly first called “Pray Without Ceasing,” for his ill mother back in Ireland. This hymn was not among the lyrics he published. In fact, the hymn was hardly known until Charles Crozat Converse found the lyrics and put them to music in 1868.

Sadly, Scriven’s life ended in sickness and despondency. While a friend cared for him in the fall of 1886, Scriven, quite ill, went out into the night and disappeared. By the time he was found in a nearby body of water, Joseph Scriven was already dead. Despite his tragic life, Scriven dedicated everything his did and said to caring for others, even down to a poem for his sick mother that brings many people comfort to this day.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

Unlike our earthly friends, we have a Friend who bore our sins on the cross, understands suffering, and hears our prayers (Mat. 8:17, Luk. 5:20, 7:34, John 15:13-15, Isa. 53). This should not be something that we take lightly or approach in a careless manner. This is a privilege that we can approach the throne of grace and take our every need and care to Christ, our Lord, Savior, and God (Heb. 4:15-16, Jas. 5:13-14). This is a privilege offered to us without hesitation, and yet we so often think that we are enough to bear our own burdens and do not need Christ (Mat. 7:7-11, Luk. 18:1, Eph. 6:18). This is why the author points out that we forfeit peace and bear pain needlessly because we are to stubborn or prideful to cast our burdens on Christ, who cares for us immeasurably (Eph. 3:17-19, 1 Pet 5:7, Psa. 55:22). How often we forfeit peace and let ourselves fall into despair because our first thought is not to turn to our Father! In prayer, God’s peace fills us, for He is a friend who can truly bring comfort to an aching soul (Phil. 4:6-7).

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!

Do we have trials and temptations? (1 Pet. 4:12-13) Of course! But we do not lose heart, for Scripture reminds us that we should take everything – worry and joy – to the Lord (Jas. 5:13-16, 1 Pet. 5:7, Eph. 6:18, Rom. 12:12). And why should we do this? Besides the fact that it is a spiritual discipline and Christ has modeled it for us. He is our friend who is faithful and able to sympathize with us because He came in Flesh to dwell in us (Heb. 2:17-18, 4:14-16). What could we take to Him that He could not bear? He already bore our sins and knows our nature (Isa. 53:2-7, 1 Pet. 2:24, Eph. 3:12). Moreover, He cares for us. Take your troubles to Him!

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge–
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

We are told in the Gospels that we will have trouble in this world and that our sin is heavy upon us. But we should not lose heart, for God bears our burdens and has overcome the world – He is our refuge that we turn to (Mat 11:28-30, Jhn. 16:33, Psa. 18:2, 28:7, 68:19-20). Even in spite of our troubles, of abandonment, in spite of hatred and ruin, Christ is our ever-present help, so we can take everything to Him in prayer (Psa. 27:10, 41:9, 46:1-3, Pro. 18:24, 1 Pet 3:12, 1 Jhn 5:14-15). This world will not bring us peace, but God loves us and has saved us. In prayer, we find peace and comfort with God (Isa. 26:1-4, Psa. 3:1-6). This hymn is a reminder that our God loves us, cares for us, and is always there to hear our every need. This is why He is a friend, and this is another reason why we should always pray.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

 


Works Referenced

Scriven, Joseph Medlicott

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

101 Hymn Stories

While people are more frequently reminded as they get older that things wear down and waste away, Christians can forget in their daily life that what we labor and strive for is not for this world but the next. We build up castles for ourselves when the Lord has promised us the world. We make a name for ourselves when He calls us His children. We forget that this world and what is within wastes away, including ourselves. But, when we eventually come to realize it, we fall into despair. This is why we focus on what we can build, as if to reverse this wasting away process. We think that if we live for the here and now, our present and future will be better. But what does Scripture remind us of?

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

~ 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10 ~

We know that one day our mortal bodies will wear out and die. We waste away in this world corrupted by sin. Yet we do not lose heart. Instead, we have hope because our spirit is renewed within us day by day, recognizing that this is not our home, that these mortal bodies will one day be replaced by a heavenly dwelling that God fashioned for us, as He fashioned us. Christ has already given the Spirit to us as a taste of what will come in the hereafter, and what a glorious thing that is now! Though our bodies ache and groan, we can have hope and joy with the Spirit within us because we know of what is to come. As Christ died and was raised again, so too will we be raised on the last day. This is our hope. This is why we live in anticipation of that day, fixing our eyes on Jesus, for He is faithful and will return with His reward (Mat. 16:27, Heb. 10:23, 12:1-2, Rev. 22:12).

What we live for on this earth, is not for the here and now but for the hereafter. We do not strive for what is wasting away, rather, for what is eternal. For our mortal bodies will be swallowed up in life, true and eternal life with Christ. We are on this earth in weakness, but we will be raised in glory on that Day (1 Cor. 15:42-49). So while there is much despair over in this life, we can be joyful in hope are we look in faith for the life that is to come. Christ’s promises are why we have this hope eternal and are why we live with joyful anticipation. This world is not all there is, and the best is yet to come.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose