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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Love To Tell The Story

I am remembering my fun-loving Dad, after almost forty years after his death. I remember his story-telling gift. Practice makes Perfect. He told the same stories over and over. He told stories of growing up in Western Oklahoma with his three brothers.  He also loved to tell Bible stories.  He had a way of making the Bible stories real and '‘now.” My brothers and I spent many Saturday evenings listening to Dad practice his Bible School lesson he would tell on Sunday. Soon Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph became our friends and we rejoiced and suffered with them.
                  Who doesn’t like a good story? Jesus told stories to teach, called parables.  The Lost Coin, The Ninety and Nine, and the Seeds that fell upon different kinds of soil, and more. Add to these stories the miracles of healing, stilling the stormy sea, and turning water into wine at the wedding feast and we know Jesus. John 3:16-17 – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. God’s promise of a happy ending to our lives is welcome and is spelled H-O-P-E never-ending.
         We all have stories to tell of our life experiences. The sad stories hurt to tell, and the stories with happy endings are the most satisfying for us all.
         Arabelle Katherine Hankey, who lived from 1834-1911, wrote the story of Jesus in one hundred four-line stanzas (verses). This endeavor was in two parts – The first 50 stanzas comprised The Story Wanted, and the second part was entitled The Story Told.  The complete poem was printed in 1867. From this lengthy poem, came two hymns – Tell Me the Old, Old Story and I Love to Tell the Story. The lengthy poem – published in 1875, can be found here:
William G. Fischer (1835-1912) composed music from several chosen stanzas of The Story Told, entitled I Love to Tell the Story. While William H. Doane (1832-1915) chose stanzas from The Story Wanted to create the song Tell Me The Old, Old Story.
         Katherine had a time of severe illness and the doctor advised her to rest.  Nothing could keep her from writing of Jesus.  Even as Enoch walked with God, Kathryn walked with Jesus in her heart for a year as she wrote about His life on earth.
         Robert Morgan shares how Katherine, as a young girl, taught a small group of girls in a Bible Study.  They bonded for a lifetime of serving Jesus in many ways.   
         Katherine had a passion for missions after her brother became ill in Africa.  She traveled there to bring her brother home and saw the need for the love of Jesus in hearts across the world.
         In our lifetime there are different seasons God gives us.  The secret to Joy in each season is telling the story of Jesus’ Great Love and sharing our story in Christ Jesus with others. This is what Katherine Hankey found! Little did she know how many would be moved and won for Jesus by her year of ‘walking with Jesus’ in her writing!  Time is never wasted when Jesus is a part of our thoughts, actions, prayers, and the songs we sing.
         No matter what our physical or emotional condition, stories of Jesus’ love can be told by writing words of life and light, singing songs of His Grace, praying in Jesus’ Name, and Acts of Kindness and Love. 
            God gifts each of us in different ways to glorify God by telling the story of living for Jesus. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. I Corinthians 12:4-5.
         What do believers in Jesus do?  But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.  Acts 8:4. We are known throughout our lives by our actions and the words we speak. Do we live the Love of Jesus? What do you ‘preach’ with your life? What story are you telling others?
         Psalm 66:8-9 - Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
         Psalm 66:18-20 - If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.   But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
         Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 - But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

         Colossians 3:23-24 - Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Does Jesus Care?

One day, I felt as if no one cared about me. So alone, and I began singing this hymn, “Does Jesus Care?”  The more I sang, the more I knew the Presence of Jesus was near me. 
                  Does the Creator of the World, the Giver of every breath I take, the One who loves all of us, and the One who died on cross because He loves all of us, does this Jesus care?  This Jesus who was raised from the dead to life again, does He care for me?
            The resounding answer is in the chorus of this song!  O yes, He cares, I know He cares!  His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares. 
         Psalm 56:8-11 -You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.  My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!  I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
         One Lord’s Day during worship, our leader asked families and small groups of friends to come together in audible prayer. I sat in this large room with closed eyes and heard the rustle of angel wings as the whispering prayers were raised to Lord Jesus.  Peace filled my heart. The anguish of the world melted away.
         Recently, three hundred women met together.  I again felt the mighty Presence of God as seven ladies told their stories.  Through hurts and anger, Jesus heard each one and gave them peace and strength to face life with ‘knowing’ and encouragement from God Himself. There were more stories unspoken among the three hundred women present.  Each one was encouraged to stay the course, and be faithful to this marvelous Lord Jesus who CARES.
         Who wrote the hymn, “Does Jesus Care?  What is his story and why did he write such a precious hymn of faith?  Frank E. Graeff went through different trials of despondency, doubt and physical pain in his life time.  He found the words in I Peter 5:6-7, which gave him deep comfort.  He was known as a sunshine minister, with a cheerful disposition and magnetic personality.  Yet under this outside appearance, the words, He careth for you, echoed in His heart soothing him.
         One young man I know, recently revealed his faith to me with these words, “I praise God, if not God, Whom, then, could I put my faith in?” Frank E Graeff learned that he could not ‘do’ life on his own.
         I Peter 5:6-7 - So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
         Part of Frank Graeff’s history (1860-1919), is written in this verse from the lyrics he wrote in 1901; Does Jesus care, When I’ve said goodbye, To the dearest on earth to me. And my sad heart aches, until it nearly breaks. Is it aught to Him, Does He see?
         Frank Graeff’s lovely daughter, dressed in the ruffles and layers of lace of the day, backed up to the wood-burning stove for heat. In a moment, she was too close, and her clothing caught fire.  Though they tried to save her, the fire consumed her.
         Frank Graeff was overcome by grief. We understand having a son or daughter die before the parents and it is a unbearable grief.
         He asked the question in the verse of the song.  He could almost hear the Lord answering with a voice like thunder… O yes, He cares, I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.
         Does Jesus know our grief?  Yes!  When Jesus prayed, and asked his disciples to watch and pray with him. They fell asleep.  When He was arrested, Peter denied knowing our Lord, not once but three times. As Jesus hung on the cross, bearing the sins of all mankind, He felt forsaken.  Matthew 27:46 - “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  In John 19:30 - When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
         Jesus was faithful to the end. Yes, He knows what it means to care for us, and when we come to the end of our lives, can we say with faith – It is finished? This is our time of following Jesus and holding his cross faithfully through any disappointment, sorrow, or hurts the world has for us?  We will sing, O, Yes, He CARES!
         Philippians 4:6-7 - Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
         I Corinthians 2:9-10 - That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.
         Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
         Psalm 13:5-6 - But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.