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Thursday, December 29, 2022
"I Will Sing Of My Redeemer"
Note: Today's message is a bit longer due to additional interesting details we came across for our illustration.
Message summary: Hide John 3:16 deep in your heart. I find it helpful to personalize it. "For God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son, that as I believe in Him, I will not perish but have eternal life". Indeed, God's wondrous love is given to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn His love but we can receive it. Won't you receive Him today!
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"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
By the end of 1876, Philip P. Bliss needed a break. He had just written the music to "It is Well With my Soul" and just finished a whirlwind tour of evangelistic meetings.
While he and his wife Lucy were spending the Christmas holidays with his family in Pennsylvania, a a telegram arrived requesting they come to Chicago to sing at DL Moody's Tabernacle on the last Sunday of the year.
On December 29th, leaving their two sons, ages 1 & 4, with Lucy's mother in Rome, PA they boarded the Pacific Express. The snow was blinding, and the eleven-coach train was running about three hours late. About 8:00 PM as the train creaked over a chasm near Astabula, Ohio, the trestle bridge collapsed. The engine reached solid ground on the other side of the bridge, but the 11 cars plunged 75 feet into the wet ravine. Even before the wooden cars slammed into the bottom, they were aflame, set afire by kerosene heaters. Of the 159 passengers in those cars, 92 were killed and most of the rest suffered serious injuries.
Philip survived the crash and crawled out through a window but Lucy was still inside, pinned under the twisted metal of the iron seats. The other survivors urged Philip not to crawl back into the flaming wreckage. "If I cannot save her, I will perish with her," he shouted, plunging into the fiery car. Both Philip and Lucy died. He was thirty-eight years old.
Now this may seem to be an unusual way to start an encouraging message but this is the real world and God's love is steadfast.
Ironically, the night before his death, P.P. Bliss had sung "I'm going home tomorrow" while he spent "the happiest Christmas he had ever known" with family. Philip and Lucy set off on their doomed journey, without knowing what was just ahead but knowing the One who would meet them at the end of their earthly journey.
D.L Moody was among those who mourned the loss of Bliss. "In my estimate, he was the most highly honored of God, of any man of his time, as a writer and singer of Gospel Songs, and with all his gifts he was the most humble man I ever knew. I loved him as a brother, and shall cherish his memory...."
Philip's trunk finally arrived in Chicago safely. In it were found the words to the last hymns he had written, which included "I Will Sing of My Redeemer". James McGranahan set this to music and it was among the first recordings made by Thomas Edison. It remains another favorite from the remarkable songwriter:
"I will sing of my redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free."
With so much new music being written in our time and with these newer songs being the focus in most churches these days on this next to the last Daily Encouragement message of 2022, let's purposefully focus on this classic hymn that has been an old favorite of mine from my earliest days in the faith, as it helps me consider the wondrous love of God for the human race.
Just the numeric reference is all that's needed for most long-time Christians to identify one of the most beloved verses in the entire Bible. 3:16
John 3:16 begins with the glorious phrase, "For God so loved the world". Amen, He sure does and He specifically loves you and me this day and every day. You may have experienced a loving earthly family as we thankfully have, but scores of people have not, including the two Bliss sons who grew up without a mother and father. Undoubtedly some of those people have had a very difficult time in life and still do.
There are also those of you reading our message who've had an abusive childhood or a relationship that carries deep scars. The sacred trust between an earthly spouse, parent, authority figure, or sibling was violated.
Though we often try to hide scars they're actually an indicator of healing where once there was a wound. When Ester was quite young she was very sensitive about her "zipper" that was opened and closed repeatedly over her chest cavity where she underwent numerous heart operations. And she now has three unsightly scars where her pacemakers have been inserted.
We can see only the outer scars of others, but I wonder what kind of emotional scarring God sees when He looks beneath the surface. Medical doctors are limited to treating our physical wounds, but only the Great Physician can apply salve to the inner wounds where healing and forgiveness must be applied; where love must replace hate, where trust must replace fear. God is in the process of preparing our hearts for eternity where pain, sin, and sorrow will no longer exist. As you fully receive God's love and provision for your life healing will come, if not fully in this life, it will come in the eternal life God has made possible for "whoever believes in Him."
Those whose focus is continually drawn to their ugly scars especially take note. You are now learning to trust your heavenly Father who is altogether trustworthy. His wondrous love never ceases. I know many of you have long ago memorized the daily verse. It's perhaps the single most memorized verse in the entire Bible. But don't let its familiarity diminish its wonder power.
Hide it deep in your heart. I find it helpful to personalize it. "For God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son, that as I believe in Him, I will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Indeed, God's wondrous love is given to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn His love but we can receive it. Won't you receive Him today! And then sing:
Sing, O sing of my Redeemer!
With His blood He purchased me;
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, any material treasure we receive pales in comparison to the unending gift of Your pure love given to us in the person of Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son. We are so grateful that He willingly laid down His life that we might inherit eternal life if we only believe. Not only do we receive a future eternal inheritance but we have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the daily struggles of this life along with any baggage that weighs us down from our past. Thank You for Your redeeming grace that was provided to us through the birth of Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"I Will Sing Of My Redeemer" Video Fernando Ortega
"I Will Sing Of My Redeemer/You Set Me Free" Video Travis Cottrell
Ashtabula Bridge Accident Video by "the history guy" (This is a channel I enjoy.)
For many years early in our marriage we lived in a remote portion of northern Pennsylvania and often passed an historical marker for Phillip P. Bliss in northern Clearfield County along Rt 255 designating his birthplace. We gathered info from the internet and also from Robert J. Morgan's Hymn Stories book, "Then Sings My Soul." In studying his history today we learned that his wife was from Rome, PA and his statue is erected there, also a P.P. Bliss Gospel Song Writing museum
A Scripture reference Quiz
Today's message prompts a quiz regarding other references of well-known Scripture verses that many of you may be able to identify simply by the numeric reference even without the book title:
Just as 3:16 brings to mind John 3:16 what well-known verses do the following numeric references go with?
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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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