Rescue & Joy

Joy comes from God

That’s what we’re all supposed to be feeling, right?  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so the song goes.  From the schmaltzy melodies filling up the playlist on your favorite streaming source to the abundance of sweet and savory treats suddenly appearing at all the events of the season, isn’t joy being manufactured in abundance?  I hope you’re experiencing some measure of delight in these things.  Truth be told, I hope this will be my experience, at least to some degree.

Greater truth be told, I long for something more.  Perhaps, you do too.  Joy is not dependent upon songs, sweets, circumstances or our mood, in as much as joy derives from the actions of a mighty and loving God.  Our God has come and is coming in ways that turn our world upside-down.  The lowly are lifted; the hungry eat their fill, while the proud and powerful receive their comeuppance.  The poor and the poor in spirit receive God’s favor.  That’s a message that either comforts or challenges or leads to sobering self-examination or some combination of all three and more. 
We can be certain of this, God’s on a rescue mission. From ancient times prophets declared that our Creator is One who goes to great lengths to ransom the captives, redeem the enslaved, and restore the broken.  Mary, the God-bearer, bore the reality of this mission in flesh and blood.  Her child has come to our rescue.  He is the ultimate reason for our joy.
Learn more about that joy from this week’s sermon by Pastor Greg.
Today, we had our children’s Christmas program at Rapid City First UMC. Please be sure to check out some photos from the morning posted on Facebook.
Next week, we will move on to Rescue & Obedience for this blog and our sermon focus will be on Obedience. Please join us at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 11 a.m.
Christmas Eve, we will be offering worship four times in the evening. We hope you will join us! Please refer to our home page or the Facebook event for those times and types of services provided to best engage with a variety of spiritual walks, needs and schedules.

Jesus Christ Died for Us

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Roman 5:8

Recommended reading: Romans 5

Harriet Buell heard a Christian speaker at the 1876 annual camp meeting held at Thousand Park in upper New York State. The speaker that morning was discussing our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Harriet left the service as if walking on air as she walked to her cottage. The complete set of words had come to her and she entitled the poem, “The Child of the King.” John Summer was a young pastor in Pennsylvania traveling throughout the Susquehanna
Valley, teaching singing schools. In February 1877 while reading the Methodist revival magazine, The Northern Christian Advocate, he found Harriet’s poem and set it to music. It became popular hymn quickly and found its place in the gospel hymn books of the day.

The prayer for the week is the speaker’s work that inspired Harriet’s poem: “Christian friends, we are the children of a King! Our Heavenly Father’s King! Poor ones. take heart, you’ll have a palace someday built for you by Jesus Himself!” Amen

Invest in God’s Kingdom

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuaded me to become a Christian.” Acts 26:28

Recommended reading: Acts 26

Philip Bliss was a gifted young musician who died tragically in train disaster at the age of thirty five. Philip worked for a publishing company, writing sacred and secular songs. He was a rising star in the American gospel music scene. As time allowed, he also volunteered as soloist and song leader in evangelist meetings. One day he was assisting preacher, Rev. Brunage. During the sermon the evangelist quoted Acts 26:28. Philip was struck by those words and penned the hymn “Almost Persuaded” in 1871, a year before his death. Philip sang the hymn at evangelistic rally in
Waukegan. When he sang hymn an unusual power swept over the crowd.

Dear Jesus, every day is a gift from the Lord. We are blessed with Your Holy words in the Bible that persuade us to serve You. Your teachings are true and good. We desire to join You in Your ministry to others. Amen.

Hear the Voice of the Lord

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and heart the voice of His mouth. Acts 22:14

Recommended Reading: Acts 22

Daniel Roberts was born in Long Island. He attended college in Ohio and served as a private with the 84th Ohio Volunteers during the War Between the States. When the war ended, he was ordained as a deacon in the Presbyterian Episcopalian Church and shortly afterward was ordained as a priest. He spend the next thirty years pasturing Episcopalian churches in New England. Daniel wrote the hymn, “God of Our Fathers” in 1876 to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of America. He set it to the tune of the Russian national anthem. Twelve years later George Warren, a self-taught organist, composed the stately tune with its trumpet fanfares to commemorate the hundred anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

Dear Lord, we hear You calling us to serve You and to bring others to know Your will. You are by our side and in our hearts at all times helping us to follow the Holy Spirit. Praise God for giving us His son, Jesus. Amen.

Secure in the Lord’s Hand

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. Acts 16:31

Recommended reading: Acts 16

Priscilla Owens was a public school teacher. She was lifelong native of Baltimore, Maryland. She taught school for forty-nine years and in her spare time devoted her time to the local Methodist Church. In addition Priscilla wrote
prose and poetry. Priscilla wrote the hymn “Jesus Saves” in 1882 based on the above verse for the anniversary of the Union Square Methodist Sunday school in Baltimore. She also wrote the hymn, “Will Your Anchor Hold” based on Hebrews 6:19.

Prayer for the week is the chorus from The hymn, “Will the Anchor Hold”:
Dear Lord, We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fasted to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love. Amen

Calvary’s Grace

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Recommended reading: Romans 5

William Newell as a boy had serious problems and was torn apart by turbulence. But he did keep the rules and day by day ventilated his frustrations to Dr. Torrey, president of Moody Bible Institute. Years later William was a beloved professor at Moody Bible Institute. He thought he should put his testimony into verse. The result was the hymn, “At
Calvary” which he wrote in 1895 on the back of an envelope. He said that had if he not gone through his troubled years he might not have fully understood the importance of Calvary’s grace.

Prayer for the week:

Dear Lord, we sing praises to You. God grants forgiveness by surrounding us with His love. He
hears our pleas for help. The greatest gift we can give is ourselves to the service of God. We must
allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our service. Amen

God’s Love in Strains of Music

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Recommended reading Romans 5.

Philip Bliss was born in a Pennsylvania log cabin where his father led daily prayer and music was the primary entertainment. As a lad he was drawn to the Lord Jesus and music. When he was ten, Philip sold vegetables door to door. Approaching home, he heard music he’d never heard before. It was a piano. The next year he went to work in logging camp. He married Lucy Young and she encouraged his musical dreams. Her grandmother provided funds for classes
at a nearby music school. He began traveling place to place teaching music and singing. Within a short time he was one of America’s foremost writers of gospel music. In 1870 he joined the staff of Chicago’s First Congregational Church. One evening while mediating on the above verse he wrote the hymn, “Jesus Loves Even Me.”

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, thanks for the gift of resiliency, spirits that stretch instead of breaking; this resiliency offers fresh responses to life’s inevitable surprises. Be strong as a spiritual warrior of Jesus Christ to celebrate the Bible’s message of peace, joy and love. Amen

A Spiritual Foundation

Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed. Romans 3:25

Recommended reading: Romans 3.

William Cowper was the fourth child of a British clergyman. Three of his siblings died. His mother died when he was six while she giving birth to a fifth child. William was emotionally frail. He was sent to boarding school and was terrorized by a bully for two years. He then attended Westminster School and developed a love for literature and poetry. His father wanted him to be an attorney. While preparing for his bar exam he experienced great anxiety. Concluding himself damned, he attempted suicide. He went to an asylum run by Dr. Nathaniel Cotton, a lover of poetry and a Christian. Slowly William recovered. He found the Lord reading the above verse. He wrote the hymn “There Is a Fountain” in 1772.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Thank you for being our foundation. We know that the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to accept Your love. Help us to bring others to know Your love. Amen

Obedience to Faith Brings us His Grace

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to faith among all nations for His name. (Romans 1:5)

Recommended reading: Romans 1

Haldor Lillenus was born in Norway and as a child he immigrated to the United States. He had a musical bent and he took musical studies by correspondence. He entered the ministry of the Church of the Nazarene. He preached, wrote hymns and published songbooks. The hymn, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” is the best known of his 4,000 hymns. He had sold this hymn for $5.00 which was the cost of the little wheezy organ on which he composed the hymn in 1918. Later, he organized his own publishing house, Littenus Publishing Company. The publishing house was very successful.

Prayer for this week: Dear Lord, when we walk down the path of misfortune, we know that our faith will bring us the Your grace. Your grace brings sunlight to our mind and soul. Thank you Lord for letting each of us become cheerful in Your love. Praise the Lord. Amen

We are Saved by God’s Grace

We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved….Acts 15:11

Recommended reading: Acts 15

Fanny Crosby continued writing hymns until she died at age ninety-five. She did slow down in her eighties reducing her quota of hymns to two hundred to fifty hymns per year. She wrote the hymn “Saved by Grace” in 1891 as a personal
hymn for herself, and intended it not to be published. Some time later at a Bible Conference, D. L. Moody asked Fanny to share a word of testimony. Caught off guard, Fanny shared the hymn “Saved by Grace” and it was published, and became one of her “greats.” During the last weeks of her life, her face manifested an unusual glow.

The prayer for the week uses the words from the last hymn Fanny wrote the night she died:

In the morn of Zion’s glory, when the clouds have rolled away, and my hope has dropped its anchor in the vale of perfect day, when with all the pure and holy. I shall strike my harp anew with a power no arm can sever, love will hold me fast and true. Amen