Friday, June 27, 2014

A Beloved Hymn in Times of Trouble

The hymn, “Be Still, My Soul” is a widely recognized and much loved hymn of comfort and assurance. It is sung in churches all over the world, and it brings a message of the sovereignty and care of Almighty God. It became a popular hymn in England during the dark days of World War II, as the future of the country, and that of the entire continent was in the balance. The lyrics to the song still bring comfort today, and I would like to invite you consider the truths they convey.

Be still my soul; the Lord is on thy side.” This line is a re-assurance that “if the Lord be on our side, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31). In context, this verse of scripture is speaking of those whom God has redeemed from the kingdom of darkness, and brought into His family. If God is on their side, there is no one who will be able to successfully come against them, because He is a victorious King!

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide.” In our broken world, we will no doubt encounter times of grief, loss, difficulty, stumbling, confusion, and brokenness. When life becomes difficult, resist the temptation to feel as if there is no hope. There is always hope in Jesus Christ, because He gives new life, even in places where there is only death or destruction. Wait upon Him, and in His perfect timing, He will show Himself as a great provider.

In every change, He faithful will remain.” We can take comfort in the fact that even when we are not faithful to God, in spite of our best intentions, He is faithful to us. “God demonstrated His love for us in that while yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus was faithful to His disciples to the very end. He served Peter, who denied Him; Judas, who betrayed Him; and the rest of the disciples, who ran away from Him in fear when the soldiers came to take Him away to be tried. The love of God never fails.

Be still my soul; Thy best, thy heavenly Friend, through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” It is oddly comforting to know that even when the way is thorny and troublesome, Jesus leads His dear children along. The final destination of that journey is a place of joy, a place of, comfort, a place of rest. It is the very presence of God.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Toy Boat....

A little boy and his father spent one day working on a special project together. They decided to build a toy boat that they could float in the stream that ran through their property. All day they worked to fashion a hull and masts, complete with sails and rigging. They painted it, gave it a name, and for good measure they attached a string that they could hold in order to keep it from slipping downstream. Finally, it was ready, and father and son walked down to the stream to have some fun.

All was well in those playful waters until the son accidentally let the string slip from his hand. Despite their best efforts, they were not able to snatch it from the stream before the swift current took it away. They boy cried, and the father comforted his sorrow. Some weeks went by and father and son happened into town. As they past by a general store, the boy cried out in amazement. There in the window display was his boat. Somehow, the store owner had discovered this beautiful toy boat and, not finding an owner, claimed it as his own to sell in his shop.

The little boy and his father walked in to the store excitedly and asked to have the boat back, but the new owner remained firm on his claim of ownership. "If you want to have the boat, you will have to pay the price," he said. The son looked up to ask his father, only to see him already retrieving his wallet to pay for the vessel. Boy and boat were soon reunited and the joyful duo left the store.

In Ephesians 1:7, the Bible tells us that we have "redemption (in Christ Jesus), through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace…". When the Bible uses the word redemption, it carries a meaning similar to the little parable above. Though we were lost in our sins, and under the dominion of the kingdom of darkness, God chose to redeem us. That means that He purchased us back from the dominion of sin, to be children in the kingdom of His light and holiness. When God looked at the price tag of our redemption, it was no less than the cost of His very life. And yet, "God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

In Christ, you and I have the opportunity and the power to walk away from all of those things in the kingdom of darkness that would enslave and destroy us, to walk in the strength and power that He gives us to be overcomers. In Christ, we have the unique privilege to be adopted into God's family: "…but to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…" (John 1:12). In Christ, we are REDEEMED!