Saved By A Song

SAVED BY A SONG
THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION
MARCH NEWSLETTER
BY MYRA F. SMITH

“We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way; keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray;” (from the hymn, “Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us…words by Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Dorothy A. Thrupp was a Londoner who wrote only a few songs, mostly for children. She was a private, quiet soul, and not much is known about her except that she wrote this hymn at the age of 57, to comfort small children. She died only ten years later.

Now, let’s move on to another story concerning this hymn. It was on a Christmas Eve that Ira Sankey traveled by steamboat up the Delaware River. Oddly enough, he was asked to sing and sang this song. At the conclusion of the song, a stranger walked up to him and asked, “Did you ever serve in the Union Army?” “Yes, “ Mr. Sankey answered. “I served in 1860. “Do you remember if you were on picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” the stranger asked. “Yes,” answered a surprised Sankey.

The stranger proceeded to tell an amazing story. He was in the Confederate Army and saw Sankey, a Union soldier, on that very night at his post. He raised his musket to kill him and was shocked to hear his enemy singing this song. He took his finger from the trigger, vowing to kill Sankey when he stopped singing. But the words of this glorious hymn touched the stranger’s heart, reminded him of his God-fearing mother, and he told Sankey, “my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side.”

Listen to these words from the hymn: “we need Thy tender care”; “do Thou befriend us”; “be the Guardian of our way”; “Thou hast mercy to relieve us….and pow’r to free.” Is it coincidence that this song saved a man’s life? Random luck that the two enemies meet years’ later and share their amazing story? I don’t think so.

Most of us have dodged bullets in our lifetime. We were lost, but now we are found.

Thank you, precious Shepherd, for always bringing us back to You.

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Seize The Day

SEIZE THE DAY
JANUARY DEVOTION
THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION
BY MYRA F. SMITH

BIBLE VERSE: “There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1…The Inspirational Study Bible)

What can the four seasons tell us about life? What lessons can we learn from them? We understand that the cyclic change on earth from summer to fall, fall to winter, and winter to spring, causes the earth to experience death, nourishment, growth, and new life. Does any of this sound familiar?

How many times do we hear, “I’m sick and tired of winter. I want it to be warm!” Then, a few months pass and we say, “I can’t stand this heat. Will it ever rain again?” Listen again to the words of the apostle Paul after being imprisoned, shipwrecked, and threatened with death. He said: “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.” (Philippians 4:11…ISB)

Wait just a minute, Paul. Satisfied with EVERYTHING that happens? Satisfied with loss of fortune; loss of loved ones, family and friends? Satisfied to be hungry, cold, lonely, or sick? HOW?

Look again at God’s plan for the earth. See the bleak, cold days of winter rest the earth in preparation for the bloom of spring. See the heat of summer warm the trees, soon to be tossed by strong winds and become dormant. See the cold, hard earth rest before another season of rebirth.

There is a reason for our dark, dreary days. They prepare us for a second chance at growth, joy, and new possibility. And these joyful, growing seasons give us hope when cold winds blow and showers fall.

God’s gift to us is the present. Open it with joy, and be content.

A Heartfelt Gift

A Heartfelt Gift
By Myra F. Smith

The earth is covered with sin and greed
God’s children are hurting, and in need.
Each man’s burden is his own
Days are hard…nights so long.

But, wait! A rumor spreads through town.
A Savior is born in Bethlehem!
Wise men follow a wondrous star,
Shepherds leave flocks to travel afar.

Angels sing and wise men pray,
Glory to God this heavenly day!
Shepherds bow down; and then the kings
Give gold, myrrh, and special things,

The years pass; the boy grows strong
He loves, he heals; he teaches them all.
Mercy, peace, acceptance, and love
Is the message He brings from above.

Why did he come? He came to save
Our hearts from fear, our souls from sin
What can we give? How shall we praise?
Give our hearts, full of mercy and grace

Then, this Christmas, and every day after
Fill your spirits with love and laughter
Spread God’s hope to those who have none,
And you will, at last,

See the baby, God’s son.

An Attitude of Gratitude

 

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

NOVEMBER DEVOTION

“AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE”

By Myra F. Smith

 

Bible Verse: “Praise the Lord! Thank the Lord because he is good. His love continues forever. No one can tell all the mighty things the Lord has done; no one can speak all his praise.” (Psalm 106: 1-2)

 

There is a little break on the calendar that comes shortly after the last goblin runs away, and before Christmas rush begins. It’s known as “Thanksgiving”. You may have heard of it. There is no shopping, few costumes or parties, and no gifts for this event. The celebration only needs three things: family, food, and fellowship.

 

In our texting, tweeting world, Thanksgiving can be stressful. We are required to speak…not text, type or tweet. We look into another person’s eyes and share information. It’s called a “conversation”. Remember?

 

Speaking of remembering, Rayford and I drove to Lufkin yesterday. My sister, Mom, and I drove to the cemetery in Alto where my maternal grandparents, my Dad, Rayford’s parents, and numerous family members are buried. We shared memories, then left and took a short trip to Mom and Dad’s old place. The pasture gate was open so we drove a short distance down the bumpy road and soaked up memories that hung sweet, like honey, in the air.

 

This Thanksgiving, my side of the family will gather at my brother’s house. Most of us will be there, and the ones who can’t be, or who are gone, are greatly missed. We will hold hands in a circle and my brother, who is the mirror image of Dad, will say a prayer of gratitude and thanks. We will eat the most wonderful food, and make new memories while sharing old ones.

We may live in an advanced age, but I believe we have lost the most important thing. We have replaced real, warm and loving human contact with artificial communication. We may have a lot of memory in our i-pads and i-phones, but the “real” memories are created around the Thanksgiving table, and those memories are never lost.

 

Share your gratitude with someone who is not as blessed as you this season, then gather with your family, bow your head at the bountiful table, and thank your heavenly father for His everlasting love.

 

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him. Amen.

 

 

 

It Is Well With My Soul

“Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.” (From the Hymn)

Horatio Spafford lived in the early 1900’s. He was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a beautiful home, wife, four daughters, and a son. He was also a devout Christian.

At the height of Spafford’s financial success, he and his wife, Anna, lost their only son. Then, not long after, in October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed nearly all of Spafford’s real estate investments.

But, the horror continues. In 1873, Spafford planned a boat trip to Europe for his wife and daughters to provide some joy after these tragedies. He remained in Chicago to take care of last minute business. Several days later, he received this notice: All four daughters are dead, killed in a boat collision.

Spafford boarded another boat that took him to his distraught wife in England. It was while he was standing on this boat that he penned the words to the glorious hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” After the loss of a son, financial disaster, and now the loss of two daughters, he stood on a ship and said, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

The hymn was published in 1876, not long before his death in 1888. But I know that Spafford did not fear death, because he said, “…no pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”

Pick up your hymnal this week and read all the words to this song. Allow Spafford’s faith in Christ to permeate your soul. Then, remind yourself, as your “sorrows like sea billows roll, that because of Christ’s love and sacrifice for you….

It is well… yes, it is well, with your soul.

THE VOICE

THE VOICE

June Devotional

The Christian Connection

By Myra F. Smith

 

Bible Verse: “This is the voice of one who calls out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make the road straight for him.’”

 

I’m addicted to The Voice. Week after week, I sit on my couch and listen to the voices of rockers, rappers, country artists, jazz musicians and more. During Jesus’ life on earth, there were many voices speaking for him, but the greatest voice belonged to a rough, wilderness man named John the Baptist. John was a cousin of Jesus’ but the similarities end there. Unlike Jesus’ kind demeanor and forgiving nature, John the Baptist was loud, abusive, and controversial.

 

John shouted at the “so called religious” group, calling them snakes. He denounced their phony spirituality, told them to give away their possessions, and made enemies. Truthfully, he was an oddball. He lived like an outcast, ate bugs, and screamed at the spiritual leaders about sin. Oh, there’s one more thing we should remember about John. Jesus loved and admired him…this backwoods rebel was one of Jesus’ favorite people.

 

Who would you appoint to be the voice of God? Would you choose a prophet, minister, lay leader, or saint? Sounds reasonable. Believe it or not, God chose a weird loudmouth who spoke the truth even when it initiated his beheading at the hands of Herod Antipas.

 

Let’s be careful about categorizing people. It’s entirely possible that Jesus’ choice of friends and followers doesn’t match up to our list. We don’t take kindly to dirty loners who dress funny and pretend to be friends of Jesus. We don’t like those people, but the Bible tells us that Jesus does.

Oops.

LOST

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

MAY DEVOTION

LOST

 

“Jesus Savior, Pilot me; over life’s tempestuous sea;” …Chart and compass came from thee; Jesus Savior, pilot me.” (From the Hymn)

 

Malaysian Flight 307 is lost. Nearly one month has passed since 227 passengers and crew disappeared into an 86,000 square mile area of the Indian Ocean. This week, up to eight aircraft and nine ships will be deployed in the search, including a British submarine whose mission is to locate the “ping” of the black box before time runs out. Tony Tyler, CEO of the International Air Transport Association said, “We cannot let another aircraft disappear.”

Jesus spoke many times about the lost. There was the lost coin, the lost sheep, even the prodigal son who was lost from his family. In each of these stories, Jesus emphasized the significance of finding the lost item or person. Jesus says of the sheepherder, “…he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that were never lost. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost.” (Matthew 18:13-14)

It doesn’t take a genius to know that humanity is lost. We settle arguments with weapons, not words; we don’t greet, we tweet; we don’t talk, we text; our possessions possess us; Christians are fussing and discussing over non-issues instead of holding hands, praying, and working together to promote God’s kingdom on earth.

On our own power, we remain lost. Only Jesus can find and rescue us when we make a wrong turn. He will walk on water to save us from ourselves. That’s why He’s called, “The Save-ior”.