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Monday, February 24, 2020

Boathouse Row in Philadelphia (Ester)
Yesterday afternoon we passed by "Boathouse Row", an historic site in Philadelphia on the east bank of the Schuylkill River. Ester snapped this photo from the Schuylkill Expressway.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Christ Will Hold Me Fast"

Message summary: Today's message is written for those struggling to hold on.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Your right hand will hold me fast" (Psalm 139:10). "To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (Jude 1:24,25).

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life's fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

Ashley and her husband Justin are young friends of ours. We met Ashley about ten years ago when she served with Brooksyne on the worship team in a small church we were pastoring at the time. Ashley loves to sing for the Lord and plays cello as well. I participated in their wedding ceremony and we have stayed in contact as their family has grown. On November 26 Ashley gave birth to identical twins, Emerson and Wyatt, and on New Year's Eve began a trial she and Justin would have never picked or scheduled.

Emerson came down with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and was flown to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (affectionately known as CHOP). Both twins dealt with this very serious viral infection, but Wyatt recovered over a week's time in the Hershey Children's Hospital. Emerson struggled longer but finally recovered from the infection and now deals with damage due to the intubation that left narrowing of his airway. He has a long road ahead of him and it is a heavy for load for Justin and Ashley to deal with.

Last week we read an updated Facebook post by Ashley and through the night Saturday I had a burden that we should go visit. So yesterday we headed to CHOP. We wanted to encourage both Ashley and Justin but he was over at the hospital with Emerson so we visited with Ashley and their older son Carson and young Wyatt at the Ronald McDonald House. Ashley was in good spirits but we could see how understandably weary she was. Our goal was to assure her that Christ would hold her fast through this hard trial, and prayed to that end before leaving her.

Spoken BenedictionsA benediction is a short prayer for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually spoken at the end of a worship service. The word comes from the latin “bene”, well and “dicere”, to speak. Through the years I have used a variety of Biblical benedictions when I conclude a worship service. In fact I have them adhered to the back flyleaf on my pulpit Bible. (I also have invocations to use at the beginning of a worship service on the front flyleaf.)

The first part of Jude’s benediction expresses what God will do for us using the glorious phrase, "He is able".

1)  He is able to keep us from stumbling.
2)  He is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

He is able and faithful to hold us fast through this life, to “keep us from stumbling” and prepare us for the life to come, “To present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”.

In the epistles there are several rich expressions of what God is able to do for us:
  • He is able to establish us according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25).
  • He is able to make all grace abound to us, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, we may have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:8).
  • Since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to our aid when we are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
  • He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
The second part of the benediction is a powerful declaration of praise to God.

"To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever."

Today we pray this benediction for each reader that you will experience rich assurance and great joy as you recognize your position in Christ. Hold fast to the truth that He is able to save us who draw near to God through Him, and He is making intercession for us. Be assured that Christ will hold you fast!

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, what great joy and peace comes when we realize that You will always hold us fast. Give us the rich assurance of sufficient strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Only You are able to keep us from falling and to receive us before Your glorious presence without fault and with great joy. You are the only wise God our Savior in whom we can truly ascribe glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord in all generations both now and forevermore. In Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  We could relate somewhat to Justin's and Ashley's ordeal as Ester also had RSV when she was 9 months old, only three months after her first two heart operations that required a three month stay in Geisinger Hospital three hours from home. Her RSV was very critical since was already on home oxygen. Stephen and I were about the same age as Justin and Ashley so we feel empathy for their hard situation remembering the strain of such a trial. We were blessed as Ashley told us how the church folks are coming together and helping to care for the boys while Justin is at work and the many other ways God is providing for their needs, including the housing and other provisions at Ronald McDonald House. God is able to relieve us of a burden or He may choose to reveal His faithfulness in ways we never thought possible.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Will Hold Me Fast"  Video  Keith and Krystyn Getty. This version has a long intro but we use it because we feel the words will bless you.

Christ Will Hold Me Fast

"He Will Hold Me Fast" Video  As part of the Sing! conference last year, Selah led this stirring rendition of “He Will Hold Me Fast” at the historic Grand Ole Opry House.

Christ Will Hold Me Fast

"He Will Hold Me Fast" Blog article with background to song

The song was first introduced in Philadelphia in the early 1900's

During a cam­paign in To­ron­to, Can­a­da, a young con­vert with whom I was deal­ing ex­pressed the fear that he would not be able to "hold out."

A day or two lat­er in a let­ter to Miss Ada Hab­ers­hon, of Lon­don, I men­tioned the need for a song which would give def­in­ite as­sur­ance of suc­cess in the Chris­tian life.

The weeks passed and a cou­ple of months lat­er dur­ing a great cam­paign in Phil­a­del­phia, U.S.A., I re­ceived a batch of sev­en new songs writ­ten by Miss Hab­er­shon.

As Dr. Tor­rey preached his ser­mon one af­ter­noon (in­stead of lis­ten­ing!) I oc­cu­pied the time in set­ting the sev­en lyr­ics to mu­sic. One of these was "He will hold me fast".

The same ev­en­ing it was in­tro­duced by Chas. M. Al­ex­an­der to an au­die­nce of 4,000 pe­ople. Its suc­cess was im­med­i­ate, and it has con­tin­ued to be a great fav­our­ite. It has been trans­lat­ed in­to ma­ny lan­guag­es.

Robert Harkness

Ashley 2/23/20
We enjoyed our visit yesterday with Ashley along with her oldest son, Carson, and one of her twin sons, Wyatt at the Ronald McDonald House. Justin was at CHOP caring for their other twin, Emerson.

Brooksyne with Ashley 9/11/10
This photo is from ten years ago shortly after we met Ashley. She worked at the National Christmas Center at that time.

Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House 2/23/20
We visited Ashley at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia which was the very first Ronald McDonald House opened in the world.

Finally today:

Philadelphia skyline (Ester)
Heading home from the hospital yesterday Ester took this photo of the Philly skyline. Being in the city a few hours reminds me of why I like living in the country! However we recall the perspective from Otis, a Boeing engineer, who lives in the heart of the city of Philadelphia who told us he is uncomfortable when he's in the country. That's good because we don't want the country to get crowded!

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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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