Our hymn for Sunday morning this week is the classic, “The Old Rugged Cross” This powerful song was written by George Bennard and first performed by him with guitar accompaniment in 1913. “The Old Rugged Cross” has been a part of communion services, revivals and altar calls for over a hundred years.What a blessing to sing along the simple yet profound lyrics!
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary
In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To pardon and sanctify me
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint Isaiah 40:31
When God renews our strength He first gives us wings. Wings like eagles can soar far above our weakness and rest on the breathe of the wind. Even eagles do come to rest, and when we find our feet back on the ground God often fires off the starting gun for our race.
As a teen I ran on our track team. Thanks to a patient coach he allowed even slower runners like me to stay on the team if we came for the practices and finished our races. Though I never knew what it was to win a race, I learned a lot about running through the finish line.
I remember that on the first days of practice some of us would stumble near the end of the second mile, but we each found a way to make it to the end. That is when the temptation was overwhelming to throw ourselves down on the ground in exhaustion. But that seemingly well deserved rest was never allowed by our coach. He would be right there pressing us on saying. “Don’t stop yet guys! Walk it off! Walk it off!”
Tonight if you have run your heart out and feel that you have crossed some finish line, remember Isaiah’s message. You will not only ride with eagle’s wings and run without growing weary, but you will also walk and not faint. If weariness calls tonight to simply cast yourself down to the ground and say that you are through, hear the voice of Jesus my friend, “Don’t stop yet! Walk it off! Walk it off! There is still so much more more to come!”
He calls us in that moment to come up by His side to look out through heaven’s window and to see His horizon that stretches far beyond our own finish line!
New Name written Down! You would never know that the sweet soft hymn , “In the Garden” was written by the very same C Austin Miles who also penned this toe tapping hymn. Break out your banjo and spoons or just pull up a chair and sing along! be blessed
She delicately yet ceaselessly looks for the next flower. Something in her tiny mind whispers, “winter is coming”. She rests each night calmly waiting for sunrise knowing that she has done her best and the rest remains in her creator’s hands.
Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
One of the most successful evangelists in Bible times was a man who needed to learn more about the most powerful weapon he could have used on the enemies of God. The man’s name was Jonah and the weapon was mercy. Our brother Jonah was indeed one conflicted guy! Forget for a moment the entire episode of Jonah, the storm, the fish and the being vomited up on the beach (Yuck!), let’s examine Jonah’s evangelism.
Jonah came to the first day of his evangelistic crusade kicking and screaming. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He didn’t want to go not because he was afraid of being attacked or because he thought he would be a failure. No, on the contrary, Jonah’s greatest fear was that the city would repent and that God would forgive them! Try with me to imagine the thoughts going through Jonah’s mind as he preached. Maybe they sounded a bit like this:
“Okay God so I know I have to obey and preach your message. Here goes: ‘Repent! God is sending destruction on this city!’ ” Then Jonah closed his eyes and prayed that no one would come to the altar! Wow, that might sound like the strangest thing but it was exactly what the Bible tells us. In fact when God chose to forgive the city because everyone was touched by Jonah’s message, he became angry. Let’s listen in on his conversation with the almighty as he is hastily exiting the city. You find this in Jonah 4:2
And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
Before we laugh too hard at this surly prophet, maybe we need to look in the mirror to see if we are really a lot like him.Like Jonah, we may be missing the entire point of God’s mercy. Today in New York and New Jersey the news is filled with the stories of the most recent acts of terror on American soil. Some of us are so angry and frustrated that any act of destruction by us on parts of the Middle East would suit us just fine. But instead of bitterness, we who are Christians have the greatest opportunity to pull from God’s arsenal his most powerful weapon of all – the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. That weapon of mercy is the most powerful because it was also the most costly. Mercy cost God His only Son! As Jesus hung on the cross and became the object of shame and ridicule he could have asked the Father for justice. But Jesus knew that there was nothing more potent that he had available to use on his enemies than grace.
Our brother Jonah’s dream was not to see Nineveh saved. Oh no! Jonah was hoping for God to do to Nineveh something like what had happened with Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus instead looked past the jeering crowds. Jesus saw beyond his few frightened disciples huddling behind locked doors. Jesus looked all the way to heaven and saw a joy that no earthly power could take away and then He released on the world God’s mightiest weapon:
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments Luke 23:34