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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Living For Jesus

    What or Who are you living for today? Our goals and desires change during our lifetime.  During our early years, we live to please our parents.  Our next phase succumbs to peer pressure.  We want to belong to the group of almost friends that seem to matter most.  When ‘the one’ appears and we choose this person as our life mate we want to please ‘the one’. There may be an important job, and we learn to please our boss. Soon our family comes along.  We center our lives on what we consider is best for them.
         It is when we live for Jesus, our lives become balanced and centered.  It is in pleasing Jesus, we finally know who and Whose we are.  We are no longer a reflection of what we see in the world around us, we learn to reflect the forgiving love Jesus has for us and live in humility.
         The lyrical melody of this hymn, Living for Jesus, caught my heart first of all. The lyrics gave me purpose to continue to learn to live for Jesus.
         With the audacity of youth, I envisioned this kind of living by what I do – not who I am in Christ Jesus. What I earn, and then I realized that I cannot earn the gift of grace. As I study more, I am astonished to learn God knew me before I was born and has a purpose for my life.  
         You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:5-6,16.
         And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28.
         When I think I know all there is to know on earth, and have my life in control, I remember the questions God posed to Job. And I know humility – and realize why there is no other way, but Living for Jesus, the One and Only Son of God. Reading all of Job 38 produces humility and worship for our Lord God.
         Can you direct the movement of the stars—binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?” Job 38:31-33.
         We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. I John 4:16-17.
         The extraordinary beauty of God’s Word is the preciousness of the wisdom- nuggets found with every reading and praying only a verse or two! God is ever faithful. Love is jam-packed with humility, wisdom, faithfulness, and truth.  This is Living for Jesus.
         With age comes the thrill of ownership loses its appeal. Acquiring a worldly ‘new anything’ on this earth cannot compare with the new mercies from God each day.  This includes reading His Word and uncovering yet another understanding of His great love with new mercies each day.  His promises of eternal life are a reality of a forever song singing in my heart.
         The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24.
         Living for Jesus came tune first. The lyrics were added by Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960). Thomas Chisolm was born in Kentucky.  He lacked formal education, yet he became a teacher at the age of 16, and at 21, he became the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper.  In 1893, Chisholm became a Christian through the founder of Asbury College/Seminary. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1903.  However, due to ill health it was a brief term. Harold Lowden (1883-1963) composed the tune in the early 1900’s for a Children’s Day Service.  In 1917, he substituted the theme Living for Jesus – and sent the tune to Thomas Chisholm, asking him to compose the lyrics. Chisolm protested he had never done this before. He didn’t know the process of working tune first. However, Lowden shared he believed God had led him to select Chisolm to write the lyrics. It wasn’t long until the finished four stanzas and a refrain were returned to Lowden.
         Chisholm’s purpose in writing songs, “I have greatly desired that each hymn might have some definite message to the hearts of people it is written.”
         Refrain: Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me. O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee, for thou, in thy atonement, didst give thyself for me; I own no other master, my heart shall be thy throne, my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
         First Verse: Living for Jesus, a life that is true; Striving to please Him in all that I do. Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free. This is the pathway of blessing for me.
         Fourth verse – Living for Jesus through earth’s little while. My dearest treasure, the light of His Smile. Seeking the lost ones, He died to redeem.  Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

         Romans 12:1-2 - And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Old Rugged Cross

The Old Rugged Cross is more than a symbol, it is a true story of the greatest love we will ever know.  It is the story of the love of Jesus! The depth of meaning is almost too deep to understand. God brought a precision of events to bring us His Love.
We sing the hymn’s chorus that touches our hearts: So, I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Til’ my trophies, I lay down. I’ll click to the old rugged cross.  And exchange it some day for a crown.
Cherish a cross? A piece of wood?  Today a cross often is a symbol, a tattoo, or story. When Jesus was crucified, it was a cruel Roman means of execution of criminals. We often communicate the intangible with a tangible symbol to make it real, whether it is religious or secular. Some communicate by writing a song, some make a sign to carry, and others build a life based on the teachings of Jesus. 
George Bennard, born in Ohio in 1873, lost his father, while he was a teenager.  The responsibility for his family rested upon his shoulders. He became a coal miner, following in his father’s footsteps.  Following his marriage, George became a traveling Methodist preacher, serving in Canada and northern states.
George Bennard’s favorite Bible verse came from John 3:16. 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.”  Did you rush through the reading of this verse?  What does it teach us?
1.    How much does God love the world?
2.    What did He give because of this great love?
3.    Why did God give his Son?
4.    How do we find eternal life?
Each time George Bennard quoted or read this one verse, he envisioned a cruel Roman instrument of death – a cross. This death instrument was stained with the blood Jesus.  Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
George Bennard began writing lyrics as he studied this one verse. The depth of meaning increased each time he read his one verse of scripture. He prayed for understanding.
         Read all scripture as if you are there, and it becomes it real in our hearts. Bennard learned as many have – Scripture does not contain words to be read quickly, but pondered and studied. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells the purpose of scripture - All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
         George Bennard re-wrote again what he had written before, he sang it for his wife in the kitchen. He sent it to his friend, Charles Gabriel. It was in 1913, this song was sung in church, and two years later The Old Rugged Cross was published.
         At this moment, could you give five reasons that comes to your mind why Jesus was called to die on the cross?  Would there be another way for God to give eternal life?  I John 4:8b tells us the very essence of God – God is love.  Because God loves, He wants the very best for His Created Children – Eternal Life. We are estranged from God without Jesus in our hearts.  Jesus came to this earth to help us understand God’s Love, to take away our sinfulness, and erase the enmity between people on the earth. (John Piper wrote 25 reasons why).
         When Jesus left this earth, He said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
         The following scriptures underline the ‘Why’ of The Old Rugged Cross and Joy of belonging to the Son of our God Almighty.
         John 3:17-18 - God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
         John 17:2-4 - For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.  I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
         1 Peter 1:18-19 - For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
         Galatians 2:20 - My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
         Romans 5:8, 10 - But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

         Ephesians 2:14-16 - For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.