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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Know Who Holds My Hand

I first heard this song many years ago. Not long ago our daughter, Anna, shared with me a memory of hearing my Dad singing this song often. His days were cut short with heart trouble. He lived his life with enthusiasm and all-out love, no matter what he did. The thought of him singing the lyrics fills my heart with joy – I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, I don’t borrow from its sunshine,  For its skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said…Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.
         The moment we share is the moment of death in God’s time. Each time I visit my husband in the nursing home my heart is transported to God’s Waiting Room, as one of my friends there named it. It is not a depressing thought, but one of ultimate hope and joy of the future with Him.
         Two phrases from John 16:31-32 catch my heart! Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. Being alone, estranged from loved ones, no matter what the reason, leaves us weeping. But our hope will ever be in Jesus through this life and beyond. Jesus knew this truth and shared it with his disciples. The disciples did not yet understand the purpose of God.  His followers would soon scatter.  Jesus knew He would soon be crucified as a blood sacrifice for all sinners. The trials and sorrows on earth would come to them, and yet, through the resurrection of Jesus on the third day they would know. They would know Jesus overcame the world, for God was with Him. The pain Jesus endured as our blood sacrifice was physical and emotional beyond our belief and understanding.
         What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone.  God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:9-10.
         Who wrote this hymn of faith and trust?  Ira Stanphill, born February 14, 1914, in New Mexico. By the age of ten, Ira played the piano, organ and accordion.  Later he added xylophone, guitar and clarinet.  By the age of twelve, Ira accepted the Lord Jesus as his Savior. Ira began writing gospel songs at the age of seventeen and began preaching at the age of twenty-two. Some of the songs he wrote were Mansion Over the Hilltop, Room at the Cross, We’ll Talk It Over, Happiness in the Lord, Inside Those Pearly Gates, and God can Do Anything, but Fail, and Unworthy and more.
         During a time of sorrow and stress, 1950, Ira Stanphill wrote “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”.  This was during a time of mourning for his first wife, Zelma. Ira died in 1993, just before his 80th birthday.              
         Waiting for the Lord seems to take forever. We are tied to a schedule we can manipulate on earth. Waiting for anything seems preposterous to us. We have become accustomed to ‘instant’ everything.  Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit.  It is given to us when we choose to follow Jesus.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells the way to wait most clearly…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.
         Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14.   
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.
Psalm 62:5.
         Just as we wait on fruit to ripen, it takes time for our faith and trust in God to ripen. Waiting is a two-way street - So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.  Isaiah 30:18. Great is His Faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:23a)
         When we understand we live our lives in the Name of Jesus. In wonder and humility, we begin to understand His purpose for us on this earth. The Adventure of Life in Jesus is not through ‘where’ we have been, ‘what’ we have seen, or what we have ‘done’.  Our life’s Adventure begins following Jesus and ends in eternity with Christ Jesus! I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.
         Philippians 3:20 - But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
         2 Peter 3:14 - And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.
         Romans 15:3-4 - For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
         Psalm 25:4-6 - Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.
         I John 4:9-10 - God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know

Jesus IS! The most glorious thing about Jesus is He Lives. He is ever present!  The most powerful and sweetest Name in all the universe is Jesus, our Lord. Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow for all fear is gone.
   Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:29. This believing is a part of faith and learning to trust Him, every day, in every way.
            The phrase, “In Jesus’ Name”, often amazes me. In His name we receive daily blessings, sweet joy, and from His Word we delight in the Lord as we receive nuggets of wisdom and riches.
    Matthew 28:18 tells us how Jesus received God’s Power. Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. All authority – above all earthly principalities – is the power of Jesus. More about this Sweet Jesus is found in John 1:2-4 and John 17:17-19.  He existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. - “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world, so they would be filled with my joy…Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.”
     What is in a name?  Isaiah 9:6 is the prophecy of the birth of Jesus - For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  
Ephesians 1:21 - Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.
     Jesus is also known in the Scriptures as: The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Messiah, Lamb of God, Holy One, Faithful and True Witness, First Born, Holy One, Hope, Image of Invisible God, Light of the World, Master, Eternal One, and Eternal Father.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
      I Peter 2:4-5 - You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but He was chosen by God for great honor.
 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 
     What can this Messiah do in our lives?  He strengthens, brings hope and joy, forgives, comforts, provides peace in our hearts, and loves us unconditionally. He makes life sweeter, prepares a home for us, and promises eternal life with Him. He teaches us to love, for We love each other because He loved us first. I John 4:19.   
     How many hymns have been written giving praise to Jesus? Yet the world tries unsuccessfully to vilify the name and destroy the power of Jesus by denying Him or allowing His name to be spoken for fear of offending the very people Jesus created. A few of the hymns written that glorify God follow:
         All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name – Blessed Be the Name – Come, O Come, Emmanuel, His Name is Jesus, His Name is Higher, I, How I Love Jesus – Jesus, Name Above all Names – Be thou My Vision – Thy Word is a Lamp unto My Feet—Fairest Lord Jesus – Hallelujah! What a Savior! – Man of Sorrows – Jesus Messiah – God With Us – My Hope is Built on Nothing Less – This is Amazing Grace – Worthy Is The Lamb – Jesus, Only Jesus, and many more.
         Every hymn has a story, and Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know began in Chicago with prayer.  Lela Long’s illness became unbearable. Peter W Philpott, the Pastor of the Moody Church, was called to pray for Lela. Philpott prayed for healing and led her to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. He returned to find her, but she left during the night. 
         Six years later, Peter Philpott had a ministry of preaching in a large church in Los Angeles. At the end of a service a young woman came forward to thank Peter Philpott for leading her to Jesus. It was Lela Long. She used her musical gift to serve the Lord and handed Philpott a copy of the song she had written.  It contained her testimony of her growing relationship Jesus after He healed her illness.       
ChorusJesus is the Sweetest name I know, And He’s just the same as His lovely name.  And that’s the reason why I love Him so. Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.
Verse - There is no name in earth or Heav’n above,
That we should give such honor and such love
As the blessed Name, let us all acclaim,
That wondrous, glorious Name of Jesus.
         Verse - And someday I shall see Him face to face
         To thank and praise Him for His wondrous grace,
         Which He gave to me, when He made me free,
         The blessed Son of God called Jesus.
   We may not be able to write a song as a testimony of our faith in Jesus, but living a faithful life, walking close beside our Lord Jesus is a melody everyone can see and hear.
         Ephesians 1:21 - Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.
         Hebrews 13:8-9 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.

         John 21:25 - Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.