Prayer Primer: "It is Well with My Soul"
Today at 1pm, we celebrated the life and home going of a longtime Calvary friend and member, John Hoy. Some of my greatest memories of John are of him playing the Organ at every worship service, always being with his best friend and wife, Freda, and his constant testifying that God had been so good to him in saving his soul. So, it came to no surprise when Freda shared that “It is Well with My Soul” was his favorite hymn. Is it well with your soul today? Let’s use this well-loved hymn and Psalm 146 as a springboard for prayer. I. Praising Him for shepherding us with peace and toward peace (Psalm 146:1-7): “When peace like a river, attendeth (i.e. shepherds) my way, When sorrow like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” Are you able to say today, with all of life’s hardships, that peace guides and comforts you like a shepherd ? Psalm 146 gives us insight to how “peace” shepherds us – “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, Oh my soul!...put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed it he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever… (Psalm 146:1-6)” For the Christian, peace is possible, even promised, as long as we choose to put our trust in the Lord and not in ourselves, our circumstances, or other people. Have you found yourself putting your trust and hope in your own thoughts, productivity, plan? Have you placed your trust in the government, in your spouse, in your friends, in social media? If you have, confess [agree with God], receive forgiveness, reaffirm His trustworthiness and your trust in Him...and let peace like a river shepherd you! II. Praising Him that His shepherding is personal to my need (Psalm 146:7-10). “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And has 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! Notice all the explicit and implied references to the individual. Yes, God loves the WHOLE world and Jesus dies for the sins of the WHOLE world. However, His salvific work is a personal work between the Holy Spirit and the individual. The song speaks of Satan’s buffet and the coming of trials, these are specifically designed situations to cause the Christian to fail and keep them enslaved. In the same way, Jesus’ salvation -- both unto new life and from slavery of ongoing sin -- is very personal. The song writer says Jesus shed His blood for “my soul”, it is “my sin” that was nailed to the cross with Jesus, and it is “my soul” that praises Christ of His liberating work. Notice too, how in Psalm 146, another songwriter, emphasized God’s detailed work: to the oppressed, he executes justice; to the prisoner, he is the liberator; to the blind and depressed, he is a healer; to the sojourner, he is a guide; to the widow and fatherless, he is a husband and a dad. He specifically ministers to the need of the individual. What a loving, caring Savior! Would you praise Him for how He has “shown up” in your life at just the right time? When you needed saving, He was the Savior! When you needed justice, He was the judge. Praise Him! III. Praise Him for our future as we await the future (Psalm 146:1b). “And Lord, hast the day when faith will 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” “I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being (vs. 1b)” We praise Him now for who He has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures and how we have tasted and seen the truth of The Writings borne out in our lives. We have all trusted in our God during times of difficulty and found Him to be a Rock, a Shield, a Shepherd. This is true now and it will remain true in our dying journey and our transition into the presence of Jesus. Can we offer up the prayers of faith? We don’t know how we will die! We don’t know when! We don’t know perfectly what the presence of Jesus will be like...but we do know Jesus. “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3