Today’s Scrip-Bit 16 May 2021 Matthew 8:26a.

Matthew 8:26a.     ​And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

Let’s go, let’s go friends! Time to gather around our electronic devices to sing, praise, worship and glorify our great God on this His Sabbath Day! Yes, most of our sanctuaries are closed, but the Lord in His manifold wisdom made it possible to come to Him in prayer, with thanksgiving despite that unfortunate circumstance. What a mighty God He is – the One who makes a way where there seems to be no way! 

So, without further ado, let’s get on with our heavenly Father’s business this bright, summer-like Sunday morning. And, as always, we’ll open the proceedings with a song of praise. Today’s’ anthem is rather appropriately titled: ‘LOVE LIFTED ME!’ Wow! Isn’t that the gospel truth my brethren, there’s nothing that lifts us up like LOVE, especially the LOVE of Jesus! 

And I know we are dying to burst open our vocal pipes, (smile) but before we do that, just a li’l background on the author of the hymn, James Rowe (1865-1933). He was an English immigrant to the U.S. in 1889, where he worked as a railroad worker for ten years in New York, then became an inspector for the Hudson River Humane Society. The hymn was written and published in 1912 and soon became popular amongst the United Methodist congregation. 

Awright, time to finally sing (smile). So let’s raise our eyes and hearts to heaven as we declare in sincerity and truth, the awesome fact that Jesus’ LOVE lifted us when we were sinking in the mire of sin. In sweet harmony, in an up-tempo riddim, because it’s a song of joy, let’s offer up our sacrifices of praise. 

‘I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, now safe am I. (Refrain: LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me! When nothing else could hep. LOVE lifted me. LOVE lifted me. LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me. When nothing else could help. LOVE lifted me.) All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling, In his blessed presence live, ever his praises sing. LOVE so mighty and so true merits my soul’s best songs; Faithful LOVING service, too, to Him belongs. [Refrain] 

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves; He will lift you by His LOVE out of the angry waves; He’s the master of the sea, billows His will obey He your Saviour wants to be, be saved today. [Refrain: LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me! When nothing else could help, LOVE lifted me. LOVE lifted me! LOVE lifted me! Oh yes, When nothing else could help, LOVE lifted me!’ 

And isn’t that the awesome truth my faithful brethren! It’s the LOVE of God for us that sent Christ to earth, and the LOVE of Christ for the Father that made Him obediently face the cross and all the cruelty and ‘sufferation’ involved so that He could atone for, be the propitiation for our sins! It was all LOVE my brethren; LOVE the driving force behind forgiveness of sins! 

And no doubt most of us know that Rowe’s hymn is based on the two stories of Jesus and His disciples out on the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, that we find in the gospel of Matthew. The first one is after Jesus feeds the five thousand, then sends them away in the boat while He goes up the mountain to pray. (Matt. 14:15-21) Then, in the fourth watch, 3-6 a.m. during a terrible storm, He comes to them walking on the water. When they see Him, they cry out in fear, saying it’s a spirit. But Jesus immediately quietens them by saying, ‘Be of good cheer (take courage); it is I; be not afraid.’ (Matt. 14:27) 

That’s when the impulsive Mr. Peter tells Jesus: ‘Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come.’ (Matt. 14:28-29) And we know that Peter bravely got out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. But halfway there, he began to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus and instead concentrated on the strong wind. That obviously scared the living daylights out of him, and he cried out to Jesus for help. And what did Jesus tell him after saving him? ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ (Matt. 14:31). 

And not surprisingly, those words are very applicable to a whole lot of us, especially in these pandemic and strife-filled times! Too many of us are doubting our faith and thus are sinking into the mire of things like depression, anxiety, fear and poor mental health. And would you believe the same thing happened in the other story on which Rowe based his song. This time Jesus was with them as they crossed the sea and a huge storm unexpectedly burst upon them. The disciples were scared to death, but Jesus slept quietly in the back of the boat as though nothing was happening. 

And when they woke Him up, saying ‘Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ (Matt. 8:25-26) Once more the matter of faith rose its ugly head! And to make matters worse, after Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples were thoroughly amazed, by the fact that the sea and the wind obeyed Him. 

But didn’t they see Him do all kinds of miracles? Yes! And don’t we also see Him work all sorts of wonders in our own lives? Yes! But still we doubt. And sadly, that doubt just prevents Him from doing more amazing things in our lives. It’s all about faith my fellow believers. That means putting our belief in Jesus Christ into action, not just thinking or talking it. As one person says: ‘Belief is of the mind, but faith is of the heart and spirit!’ 

Now here is this interesting commentary on our hymn. Not sure where I got it from, (smile) but it does make sense. ‘Rowe’s hymn masterfully incorporates both stories, using sinking or being swamped into the sea as an illustration for “sinking deep in sin…sinking to rise no more.” Jesus, “Master of the sea,” hears our pleas for help, reaches out to us in LOVE, and lifts us up into the well being of grace.’ 

And is that ever so true friends. Jesus certainly can lift us from death, despair and every other negative circumstance to salvation and eternal life. Please, for all our sakes, let’s not stop Him from doing so nuh, because it’s all to our benefit. Much LOVE!

…to live and work for Jesus…one’s faith must be strong…                                  

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