Praise Him! Praise Him!

The Christian Connection

November Devotion

“Praise Him, Praise Him”

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” (Psalm 146:2)

Chances are, if you were asked to name a Thanksgiving hymn, this would not be on the list. However, when Fanny Crosby wrote this song, her original title was, “Praise, Give Thanks.”

Fanny Crosby, the most gifted and prolific of all our hymn writers, wrote between 8,00 and 9,000 hymns, all penned in total darkness. At the age of eight, the family physician was called to her home for an inflammation of her eye. The Dr. was out, so a stranger came and applied hot poultices to her eyes, resulting in total blindness for this young girl. The stranger left town, never to be heard from again. Instead of seeing this bizarre incident as a curse, Fanny considered it a blessing from God, and believed she would never have written hymns if she had been sighted.

Fanny Crosby taught at the New York school for the blind for eleven years, after attending there for seven. She was the first woman to appear before the U.S. Senate, accompanied by other blind people who petitioned for proper training and education for people with no sight. At the age of sixty, she began work as a home missionary, working in the Bowery District of New York City, a most depressing place. It was here she wrote, “Rescue the Perishing.” She was a champion for women’s rights, equality, and justice long before it became popular.

This Thanksgiving, keep the words of this great hymn in your heart. Here are just a few phrases from this inspiring hymn:

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer! Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!”

“Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children. In His arms He carries them all day long.”

“Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness; Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!”

Praise Him this Thanksgiving. Be thankful for His bountiful provision, saving grace, and everlasting love. Fanny Crosby took a horrible handicap and turned it into a blessing for generations of believers. And today, because of her faith, we can continually sing His praise…ever in joyful song.


Fairest Lord Jesus

The Christian Connection

October Devotion

Fairest Lord Jesus

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

When you look at the hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus” , you will notice in the left hand top corner, this phrase: “Anonymous German Hymn”. Unlike most of our hymns, no one knows for sure who wrote this one. What we do know is that it came from Roman Catholic Jesuits in Germany, originally had six verses, and was found in a manuscript dating back to 1662. The first three stanzas are the work of an anonymous translator; the last verse was produced by Joseph A. Seiss, and published in a Lutheran schoolbook in 1873.

The beauty of this hymn is that, unlike many others, it makes no attempt to teach a moral lesson or expound on Christian principles. There is only one message contained in these four verses:

 Jesus is fairer, purer, and shines brighter than the meadows, woodlands, sunshine, moonlight, starry host, and angels in heaven. He is the ruler of nature, Son of God and Son of Man, makes the woeful heart to sing, and is worthy of glory, honor, praise and adoration from all His creation!

 This hymn is refreshingly NOT ABOUT sin, salvation, disappointment, trust, faith, regret or forgiveness. This great, mighty hymn is ALL ABOUT JESUS. IMAGINE THAT! Jesus, both God and Man, becomes the subject, verb, adverb, and adjective in this hymn.

What a refreshing song to carry in our hearts today! What joy comes from thinking ONLY about Jesus! When other thoughts crowd our hearts and minds, when trouble comes, sorrow grows, fear creeps near, and love seems far away, remember this

Jesus is fair and pure; He can make your woeful heart sing, and His love will restore your joy.

When We All Get To Heaven



When We ALL Get To Heaven

By Myra F. Smith


Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right.” (Romans 8:33)


Eliza Hewitt was one of the premium songwriters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This famous hymn came to her while reading these words from John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”


On our return trip home this week from Little Rock, Arkansas, my mind was full. On our last day there, we toured both the Arkansas History Museum and Central High School. Inside the history museum, I read about the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes and their “ trail of tears”, after the Indian Removal Act forced them off their land. By March of 1839, all survivors had landed west of the Mississippi. It was estimated that over 4,000 of the Cherokee nation alone, died.


At Central High School, we watched videos and listened to recordings from the nine black children who attempted to enter an all white school in 1957. So many riots ensued that President Eisenhower was forced to call out the National Guard and the 101st Airborne, to manage the mayhem. I was standing in front of a picture showing black children being taunted, when I heard the voice of a black woman next to me whisper, “Oh my Lord, my dear, dear Lord.”


Pay attention to the CAPITALIZED words from Eliza Hewitt’s hymn:


“In the mansions bright and glorious, He’ll prepare for US a place.”

“While WE walk the pilgrim pathway;”

“Let US then be true and faithful, trusting, serving, every day.”

“Onward to the prize before US!

Soon His beauty WE’LL behold;

Soon the pearly gates will open; WE shall tread the streets of gold.”


“When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we ALL see Jesus, WE’LL sing and shout the victory.”




As I write this, I pray that ALL of God’s children will be welcomed at His Heavenly table.  And if am blessed enough to obtain a seat, and discover only people who look and act like me sitting there, my worst fear has been realized. I was not in heaven. Somewhere, along life’s journey, I took a wrong turn, and lost my soul.


Just As I Am






BIBLE VERSE: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)


The first sentence I read about this hymn writer said, “She was an embittered woman, Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England.” According to her nephew, Rev. Handley C.G. Moule: “But ill health still beset her…it often caused her the peculiar pain of a seeming uselessness in her life while the circle around her was full of unresting, service-ableness for God.”


In 1845, she experienced the darkest of times. Her father, Rev. H.V. Elliott, had conceived the plan of St. Mary’s Hall, at Brighton—a school at nominal cost, to educate the daughters of clergymen. A huge bazaar was held one night. Friends and family came to help and enjoy the day, while she lay in bed, unable to attend. She raised her voice to God and asked, “Why me?” “What good is my life if I can’t do anything?” When her family brought in a Swiss pastor to help her, she screamed at him.


Speaking of strong personalities, let’s take a look at Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a Christian killer. But God changed him, and sent him out to preach the gospel. But, Saul, now Paul, was not without pain. In 2 Cor. 12:7, Paul writes: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh…”


Charlotte’s conversion was not as dramatic as Paul’s, but no less amazing. When she gave up control and gave her life to Christ, she was led to pen these words: “Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind. Yea, all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!” In spite of the “thorn in her flesh”, she wrote 150 hymns and, the most famous, “Just As I Am” is played and sung at millions of conversion experiences.


What purpose did God have for Saul and for Charlotte? They came to God, just as they were, with fears and doubts within and without, and He gave them voices that reached into eternity.


And what about those pesky thorns? They became beautiful roses.

“Does Jesus Care?”

The Christian Connection
May Newsletter
“Does Jesus Care?”
By Myra F. Smith

This devotion is written with a prayerful heart for Sally Taylor and Mae Joyce Downs.

“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Franklin Ellsworth Graeff (1860-1919) was known to his Philadelphia parishioners as the “Sunshine Minister” because of his radiant personality and unique way with children. But, as Charles Spurgeon once said in his book, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits”, written to assist ministers with the discouragement and depression that often comes with ministry: “the joyous are not always happy.”

While some of Frank Graeff’s personal history cannot be verified, it is rumored that he lost a beautiful daughter and wife in a horrible house fire; documented accounts of his life show that he lost two-thirds of his family by age 40, both parents and four sisters. And so, in his great despondency and grief, this Methodist pastor asked a pointed question, “Does Jesus Care?” His answer became the words to one of our greatest hymns.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song; as the burdens press and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye to the dearest on earth to me, and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks, is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh yes, He cares; I know He cares. His heart is touched with my grief.

Why does Jesus, the Son of God, care about our grief? He cares because He came to earth as a man. He lost dear friends and wept; He became angry and lashed out at injustice; He despaired in the Garden; He needed time away from the demanding crowds; he received continued rejection from priests and commoners alike, and died for OUR SINS with his flesh nailed to two pieces of wood. That’s why He cares.

Truly, if Jesus had walked on earth, the perfect Son of God, in a saintly bubble, I’m not sure I could believe. But This Jesus I know. This Jesus I can relate to: the Jesus who walked, taught, healed and lived among us with dirty feet, calloused, healing hands, and a heart that hurts for you and me.

Does Jesus care? More than our minds can comprehend or our hearts contain. Amen and Amen.

The Christian Connection

November Devotion

The Grateful Leper By Myra Smith

Bible Verse:

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” (Luke 17:17)

The story begins like this: Jesus was entering Jerusalem. He has been teaching and instructing both the crowd and his disciples about the kingdom of God, faith, and sin. As he enters town, ten lepers loudly call out to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus hears them and tells them to go show themselves to the priests. When they do, they are healed! We don’t know what happened to nine of the men. I would assume they felt of their new skin, free of loathsome sores, and went on their merry way. Only one man returned to Jesus, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan, considered inferior by the Jews.

We are entering the season of Thanksgiving. For most of us, it means eating a lot and spending time with family. But for this man who had been ill, isolated, shunned, demeaned, and loathed his entire life, Thanksgiving Day was the day he met Jesus and was healed. How often do we thank Jesus for our many blessings? When we are sick, lonely, hurt, and needy, we call out to Jesus to save and heal us. But, as soon as our lives are better, we forget to thank God.

This Thanksgiving, and every day, remember to thank the One who loves, listens, helps, heals, and forgives.


There were ten who were healed, but only one returned to say “thank you” to Jesus. And what did Jesus say to the grateful man? “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Happy Thanksgiving. May we all be made well by our gratefulness.

Abide With Me

The Christian Connection
April Newsletter
Abide With Me
By Myra F. Smith

“Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” (From the hymn, “Abide With Me”)

Henry Francis Lyte and his wife Ann were pastors of a little fishing town in Devonshire England for over twenty years. Three years before his death in 1847, Henry was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He preached his last sermon on September 4, 1847, at the age of 54.

He took a walk that same September afternoon and came back to his room to rest. One hour later, he walked out with a copy of “Abide With Me”. He traveled to Italy soon after to escape the damp and cold, but died only days later. A fellow pastor was with him on his trip and reported that Henry’s last words were, “Peace! Joy!”

“When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, O abide with me.” How perfectly Henry phrased his deepest emotions! There is no effective medication or medical assistance to prevent his death. Helpers are gone and life’s comforts have vanished.

“ Change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me.” His death is coming quickly. But, wait! Henry knows the comfort and love of a God who never changes.

Henry’s hymn was first sung at his own memorial service and went on to be a favorite of King George V and Mahatma Ghandi. Sung at the weddings of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, it has been included in the soundtrack of no less than ten movies and television shows.

But the true legacy of this beautiful song is the peace and joy it has given to millions through the years. God printed the words to this song on Henry’s mind within a single hour, but the message lives on forever.

Now, that’s Joy.