It is Well with my Soul

A hymn of recovery and redemption that declares the peace that we are to embrace as Christians is the hymn “It is Well”. The story of this hymn is very heart touching and amazing when you think about where it comes from and how someone could reach this point in their lives amidst so much tragedy.

Horatio G. Spafford of Chicago had lost everything in the fire of 1871 and two years later, in a desire to give his family rest from the problems and headaches they had been facing, planned a trip for himself, his wife, and their four daughters to Europe to get away.

Spafford was forced to stay behind for a couple days when the trip was to start but planned to be a day or two behind them. The ship that carried his wife and four children met a tragic end, going under and sinking, many were lost, including his four daughters. His wife arrived in England and wired a message to Spafford informing him of the situation with two words, “Saved alone.”

Spafford boarded a ship and sailed to join his wife, and as the ship came near the point that his family had been lost, he penned these words:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

“My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

“For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

“But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the grave, is our goal; Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.”

Today we should have the same view, no matter what comes our way, we should be able to say that it is well with our soul. Spafford’s view of life is one we should all, as Christians, adopt and one that we should never lose sight of, his view was on the return of Christ and the promise we receive from His Word and the redemption given through His blood on Calvary.

Let your focus be on Heavenly things today, it is where you will find the peace to say, “It is well with my soul.”

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 KJV)”

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Who do You Want ME to Be? Becoming a Prisoner for God…

Who do You want ME to be?  A question we should all ask God everyday…

“ 1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

— Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)

Paul wrote these words from prison, so if anyone knew what being a prisoner was all about, Paul would definitely be the guy.  “As a prisoner for the Lord…” began Paul…what did he mean?  What does it mean to be a prisoner for the Lord?  What is Paul getting at when he begins this paragraph?

Lets look at it for a minute…Paul, a man who knew what it was to persecute the church, who had put people in prison for claiming the name of Christ; was now, himself, suffering the same fate as many he had put away…imprisoned for the carrying the name of Christ.  But as he accepted this, he wrote to the church at Ephesus, “then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” What is that call?

Paul had written before that the call on a Christian’s life was one of mimicking the life of Christ (Romans 8:28-30).

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

— Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)

By looking back to Psalm 139 where we see David claim to be fearfully and wonderfully made, and also note, ”You knit me together in my mother’s womb…”; we realize that God knew each one of us before the world knew us, therefore we are all part of the group of the known, we are ALL predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and therefore called.  What is the likeness of Christ?

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”

— Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

Jesus took the role of a servant…the same role we are called to, service.

Paul was explaining that we should all live a life worthy of the call, a life that would cause others to take notice of a difference…a life that is similar to that of Christ Jesus himself.  Paul then goes on to tell four ways that life can be achieved:  Humility, Gentleness, Patience and Bearing one another’s burdens.

Paul states that we should be humble, not proud…the life of a servant is one of humility.  To serve others, they must come first in our life…not second to us.  If we consider ourselves to be better than another, we will never serve them, because we don’t feel they are worthy of that…but Christ humbled himself to wash the apostles feet…shouldn’t we practice that same humility when it comes to others?  Shouldn’t we lower ourselves to the level where we can be most effective in touching someone’s life?  Humility is putting yourself last.

Along with this humility we are to have is Gentleness.  What Paul is stating is that we much approach each other with a gentle spirit…do not look for a fight, look to stop the war; don’t go into a conversation expecting confrontation…go in expecting reconciliation, expecting peace.  Be kind, practicing the golden rule – do unto others. Serve others, give without expecting in return, be kind, be gentle, be Jesus to the world.

Third, we are to be patient…which is one of the hardest things for a person to do, especially when they feel they have been wronged.  People have trouble with patience, because being patient means looking past faults…looking past disagreements…looking for the good in another, so that we don’t react in a way that is detrimental to our relationship with them…in a way that can ruin even the best of friendships.

And Last…bearing one another’s burdens.  When we band together as a group of Christians, no one can pull us down…no one can take the joy that comes in seeing someone we love come through a tough time in their life, only to enjoy the fruits of their sufferings.  Paul told the Ephesian Church that they needed to bear with each other, because no one can do it alone.

Paul then states that all four of these must be unified within the Christian so that the full work of the church can be completed.  You must find a way to take these four principles and apply them as a unified group to your life…it’s the only way a prisoner for the Lord can survive.

Not only do we need to unify these principles, but we also need to unify as a body of Christ…we are all called to the same purpose…we are all called to be Christ to the world.  Too many times these days the Church is only out for what they can do for themselves…the members are loyal, but their view of the church is the four walls they enter every Sunday morning…for us as Christians to change the world…we have to unify peacefully and work toward the same cause.

What are you doing today?  Are you loyal to the call on your life?  Are you willing to unify with the church as a whole in bringing the name of Christ to the world?  Or are you content sitting back and missing the blessings that will come your way when you choose to live in the way Paul did…in unity with his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Paul explains it in further detail over the next few verses…

4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

— Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)

Seven “one’s” to show us that it is all about becoming ONE in unity.  Become one with the Church today, become unified for the cause of Christ…become one prisoner who is devoted to joining with other prisoners to serve the ONE who thought we were worthy enough to die for us…ask God who He wants you to be.

Do Everything

The issue that many Christians have, especially when they are first starting out is disappointment at some point along the way.

This disappointment usually stems from the downside of the spiritual high that a new Christian experiences, but is rooted in a couple of different factors along the way.

First, many new Christians find themselves disappointed because of friends they may have who are not Christians.  These friends tend to play the part of making someone feel as if they have made a mistake, trying to explain that there is no fun in being a Christian.  The truth is, many of them are jealous of the fact that their friend has found something to take the place of the ‘old’ way of life.

The second factor is when the new wears off.  I don’t want it to sound like being a Christian is not fun; in fact it is more than that.  The hardest part for a new Christian is when the excitement wears off; this is where we as Christians are called to stand together.  The hard part for many new Christians is feeling accepted in the church or feeling like they belong in an already established group.

We are to work together if we want to see Jesus lifted high in this world.  To show the world what Christ was truly like when he walked the earth, we are to be as he was to the world.  We are called to love…called to serve…called to praise…all for the glory of God.

I think the best example that I can give are the lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman’s song called “Do Everything”.

The lyrics of the chorus give a clear picture to how I believe we are supposed to view life as a Christian:

“Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you, ‘Cause He made you to do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face, and tell the story of grace with every move that you make and every little thing you do.”

Doing everything to the glory of God will not only bring a smile to God’s face, but will also put a permanent smile on your face as well!  So do everything so that you can tell the story of grace to a world that so desperately needs to hear it.

Where I Belong

As Christians we all struggle with the question of where we belong or where we fit in.  One of the major points that we all must realize is that we all fit into the Family of God, each of us in our own, unique ways.  In 1 Corinthians 12:12 it states, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

Here in lies our situation.  We as Christians are called to find our place in this world, so that we can effectively share Christ with the world.  To find our place we must realize a couple of different things.  First, we must realize that we are part of the Body of Christ.  We, though we are different than others, are still a part of the same body.

Later in the chapter we see, in verses 14-17, “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?”  A few verses later, it is summed up in this way, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (vv. 21-22)”

In looking at this we must realize that we cannot look at the other members of the Body of Christ and say that we do not need to work together.  This is one place that I see that the split in denominations within the church has caused concern as the days seem to draw to a close.  We have too many who are fighting against others, rather than banding together to bring others to Christ.

I would encourage you today to fight this, because we are all a part of the Body of Christ and we need to work together to accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom.

Secondly, we have to come to a realization that this world is not our home…we are merely travelers in a foreign land who are working until the day that we can experience our heavenly citizenship.  I think this second point is summed up best in lyrics from a song from Building 429…

“All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong.  Take this world and give me Jesus , this is not where I belong.”

I would encourage you today to give up the world, give up the pride that keeps our congregations from banding together for the same cause and the same GOD, and give in to Jesus.  Allow Jesus to live in your heart today, allow yourself to turn it all over to God and let Him guide your paths.  This world is not your home if you are a servant of the King…you have been called to a much higher purpose, and today is the day that we must all embrace our calling and serve the Lord.