Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Peter's Perspective 4 Casting Cares

Readings: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35, Acts 1:6-14 John 17:1-11, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, MD, on May 28 2017

This morning, as we conclude our brief series from Peter's first letter, I would like to reflect on First Peter 5:7 which tells us “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” That text speaks of ‘Caring’, ‘Carrying’ and ‘Casting’.

CARING

Everybody cares about something. Cares can be self-focused or self-motivated. Cares can be about anything… from the threat of terrorism to what’s cooking for dinner. We all care.

However the word used for ‘care’ in this passage is one that relates to ‘cares’ in the sense of anxieties, burdens, worries and troubles. It had a particular application to the community that Peter writes for because they were under the threat of persecution. They were already suffering. Our passage begins with the words “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you” (1 Peter 4:12).

A particular thing that worried them was that it felt like God had abandoned them. If Jesus had died for their sins, and God had raised Him from the dead and He had sent His Holy Spirit to be their counselor and comforter… how come life was so hard? Weren’t they supposed to be courageous and victorious and overcoming and spreading the gospel to all the world? How come they were just struggling to survive?

Isn’t this just the dilemma that we face as a traditional denomination in a changing religious situation seeking to build towards a better future? As a church in which people come and go, and sometimes get bent out of shape and often times suffer from a lack of confidence and an abundance of unanswerable questions?

Isn’t this the anxiety that can take over our personal viewpoints? “Lord, I believed… but how come things haven’t turned out as I believed they would? How come all those promises have yet to be fulfilled? Why all this striving? What’s going to become of us?”

It is the easiest thing in the world to allow our anxiety to shape our attitude. When things don’t go according to our plan, when we don’t think we get treated fairly, when it seems that we can’t do right for doing wrong, or just for no reason everything starts going pear shaped, it is no big jump to conclude that God has left the building.

The Message Bible puts it like this; “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job.” When we do reach such a position we have moved from a position of ‘Caring’ to a position of ‘Carrying’.

CARRYING
If we see somebody walking along, shoulders down, head bowed, bent down under their troubles we often use an expression like, “Look at that poor person, carrying the weight of the world upon their shoulders”.

I’ve sometimes watched those “World’s Strongest Man’ competitions on the television, and seen those guys with the huge necks and shoulders doing crazy stuff, lifting and pulling things that would give Samson a run for his money. I’ve noticed something. (And it’s not the fact that half of them seem to be Norwegians or Swedes.) “My name is Borg Shmegglehlhson and today I am going to pick up a building”

It’s this. Boy… they look relieved when they lay their burdens down. “Daat was very very heavy. Pheww!!” I have nothing but admiration for them. Part of my admiration is that I’m not built like that. There’s more muscle in their arms than there is in all of me put together. The other part is the fact that they are so in control. They know their limitations. They know when to pick up and when to let it go.

When it comes to our problems and anxieties we are not as disciplined. There are times we have to carry burdens in order to work through them. We have issues that we need to work out, not lay down. We’d like to put aside some of the challenging things about ourselves. That habit we don’t like to talk about. That temptation we keep saying “Not going to do that again” knowing full well we will do it again because we have not dealt with the underlying issues.

We need to be aware of our human-ness! Peter writes to his readers “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith…”(1 Peter 5:8-9).

During the Second World War countries such as France were overcome by the Nazi war machine. It looked like all was lost. But in France, and many other European nations, there were those who refused to give up the fight and became part of “Resistance Movements”.

When the enemy seems all around… and even if it looks like the battle is lost… Peter tells us, “Christian… Come and join the Resistance!” He pictures the devil, the adversary, the enemy of faith and Christ-like living, as a hungry lion after its prey. Such is the nature of genuine evil. It takes control. It eats up. It consumes. It destroys.

Never under-estimate the power of evil. If we can learn anything from history it is that we are just as capable to sink to the lowest levels of barbarianism and darkness as any generation that has ever gone before us. That modern humanity is just as base and gross and able to choose the wrong over the right as were our ancestors. There are some things we have to deal with. There are some things we have to carry!

When Peter speaks of ‘laying aside our burdens’ he is not suggesting that Christian people should play a game of “Let’s pretend everything is going to be fine”. He’s not advocating for ‘Optimists Anonymous’. He’s not preaching “Don’t worry, Be Happy, Everything’s gonna be allright”

Everything wasn’t all right. People were being persecuted. Christians were carrying these overwhelming concerns about their church, about their families, about their future, about their very survival. ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’? They had a lot to carry!

And they felt about as capable of carrying it all as you and I would feel if we had ended up entered into the ‘strongest person in the world’ competition. What were they to do with these cares that they carried? Let’s return to the text with which we started. 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” The third strand in this text is;

CASTING
The Greek word we translate as ‘Casting’ is related to the word ‘humility.’ In some translations it comes out as “Loading” or “Throwing.” Peter is suggesting that a way through the dilemma his readers were facing was to humble themselves before God in such a way as they recognized God’s strength and purpose for their lives.

To humble themselves, not in some passive act of self-denial… or as though they were throwing in the towel… but to embrace active dependence on God as the way to travel through whatever life may hold for them around the next corner.

Their motivation for so doing is that God is far more anxious about our lives than we are. To say that “God cares for us” is to affirm that God has a personal interest in what we are going through, an active concern, a burden to see that we make it! The word we use for the love of God is the Greek word ‘agapế… a word that expresses the self-giving of God affirmed in John 3:16… “God so loved the world that He gave…

Matthew Henry, a bible commentator of a previous generation, puts it like this; “Peter’s advice is to cast all care of themselves, upon God. "Throw your cares, which are so cutting and distracting, which wound your souls and pierce your hearts, upon the wise and gracious providence of God; trust in Him with a firm composed mind, for He careth for you. He is willing to release you of your care, and take the care of you upon Himself.

Every time we gather together for worship, God calls us to come with all our burdens and lay them down. To here cry out, “God, without You I can not make it through” and to know God’s reply, “I’m here. I’m with you. Christ died that you may live. He was raised that you may walk in His light. His Spirit is given that you may be enabled to carry through Him what you can never carry on your own. I am here!” 

Next week we will gather around a table laid with bread and wine. We do well to remind ourselves that those very elements are symbols of God’s anxiety, care, desire, and heartfelt longing that our lives should not be out of relationship with Him.

Next week is also Pentecost Sunday. For the disciples Pentecost was the day that they were equipped to care. Before Pentecost, although the disciples believed, they had no idea how to live out those beliefs in the real world. They prayed. They studied. But it was all behind closed doors. They knew God cared for them. They had witnessed the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. They had heard Him invite them to go into all the world with the message of His love. But how? It wasn't in them. They felt not up to the task.

And then.... the Spirit came. They were empowered. They had words to speak. They felt God's love rest upon them as wind and flame. They didn't want to stay indoors in a holy huddle. They went outside and it is Peter who preaches the first ever Christian sermon inviting people to repent and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so begins the churches ministry of caring. As they cast all their cares onto God... so they found what they needed to reach out to others.

It was Peter who preached the first sermon. It was Peter who became a leader of the first church. It was upon Peter's confession of Jesus Christ as Son of God that the church was built. Over a number of weeks we have taken a look at what he had to say about being a disciple. Peter's first letter has taken us through a variety of themes.

He speaks of our faith as being “Precious Gold” that needs to be treated as something that has unbelievable value.

He talks of how we are saved by the “Precious Blood” that Jesus shed upon the Cross for our salvation and how we should never take God's love for granted but be inspired to serve others by it's depth.

He speaks of “Christ's Example” of persistent love in the face of opposition and suffering. Don't give up. Remember the Lord is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

It all comes around to this one awesome verse. “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Life can be hard. Discipleship is not an easy task. We can be almost defeated by the things that life throws at us. But, in the midst of it all, our calling is never to give up, never throw in the towel, never abandon the very things that are actually the only thing that can get us though.

We are to recall the love that God has for each and every single one of us.
We are called to wait upon God in prayer and expectancy.
We are invited to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to care.
So take these words to heart.
Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7)

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Peter's Perspective 3. Christ's Example

Reading: Psalm 23, Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10, 1 Peter 2:18-25
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, MD, May 7 2017

You didn’t get what you deserved. You were treated unfairly. You were trying to do the right thing, thought you were doing the right thing but were treated like it was the wrong thing. You refused to participate in some bad stuff that everybody else was involved in, and now those people don’t want anything to do with you anymore.

It happens all the time. You were doing well at your job – but when it came to promotion time you were passed over - because that somebody else, whose work was nowhere near up to your standard - just happened to be on better terms with the boss. There was that incident in the class when you were at school. It was nothing to do with you – but you got the blame for it.

You were driving along on a strange highway– cars zooming past you at break neck speed. In the midst of all this traffic you fail to notice the speed limit had gone down to 55. Yet you were the one who got stopped and given a ticket. And the fact that it was a genuine mistake impresses the officer not one little bit.

Our bible reading for today - 1 Peter, 2, 18-25, speaks about situations where an injustice has taken place. The passage was written, as verse 18 makes clear, to people, who through no fault of their own, were constantly at the mercy of other peoples judgments and disapproval. Whilst some translations describe them as ‘Servants’ most commentators agree with the translation of the New Revised Standard Bible that Peter was addressing ‘slaves’.

A slave has no rights. There is no tribunal or court to which they can appeal. They are completely at the mercy of their owners. Compared to the injustices experienced by a slave, ours seem rather insignificant

There were many slaves among those who made up the early church. Their embracing Christianity did not bring them freedom from their oppressors. But it did give them a new focus on their troubles and in Christ they had an example to follow. Jesus, of His own free will, took off the mantle of the King and became the servant.

That Jesus was opposed to slavery should be beyond question. He was of a people whose redemption story focused on their becoming free from the slavery of Egypt. Through His words and actions He condemned any form of oppression, be it religious, social, political or economic.

His actions in the temple throwing out the money-changers, His conversation with the woman of many husbands down by the Well in Samaria, His outspoken and sometimes extremely vocal opposition of the Teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the Sadducees show that He was not prepared to let things that were wrong go unopposed.

Yet at other times His witness is not through opposition, but through silence, through the example of His acceptance of injustice, His refusal to speak at times when words no longer counted for anything and His belief that there were occasions when suffering could accomplish far greater things than anything else… climaxing in His crucifixion and death for our sins upon the Cross.

When we face situations of injustice, when we feel we can’t do right for doing wrong, when everything seems to be conspiring against us to bring us down, we should take note of the advice Peter offers and the example of Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Bad things Happen

Not one of us is immune from life’s troubles. Life brings difficult things our way for no other reason than that’s the way life is. Peter reminds the slaves to whom he is writing of the plain fact that some of them had Masters that treated them fairly and others had those that were unjust. They had no choice over the matter.

At other times they messed up and got in trouble that was their own doing. Obviously that was nothing to rejoice over or be proud of. They shouldn’t expect to be treated any less harshly than any other slave who got in trouble. Even if they endured what ever punishment their owner dealt to them, taking it with a dose of patience wasn’t going to take away the fact that, if they hadn’t messed up, they wouldn’t get in trouble.

Verse 20 “For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently?” We live in a time when that is a very unpopular message. In today’s world when people mess up they don’t even endure the consequences patiently, they try and wriggle out of them. They make excuses, blame somebody else or go into denial. But even when people are prepared to take the consequences of their bad decisions, Peter is telling us that there is nothing particularly praiseworthy in that.

Instead he focuses on undeserved suffering . The verse continues “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God” It is not the suffering that is commendable or good, but the way that the person handles it. Bad things happen. The choice we have in the bad times is whether we allow those times to define our lives.

2. Bad Times are not the whole Picture.

Peter is telling these servants and slaves... bad times will come along, sometimes because you mess up, sometimes because other people mess up... and some times because that’s the nature of life… but do not allow any evil thing or unfair treatment to determine the nature of reality for you.

Why? Because our example is Jesus Christ. Verse 21 and following “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten... who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for a harshly treated slave to store up resentment, to harbor for the rest of their lives thoughts of getting even or of how things would turn out if they were the master, and their master was the slave. In God’s Kingdom, for the disciple of Jesus, that wasn’t how it was meant to be. As He died for their forgiveness, so they were to forgive others, as He refused to repay insult with insult, so they were to follow His example.

What applied to slaves back in Peter’s time, applies to us in our day. Maybe our treatment hasn’t been like that metered out by an unjust master to a slave, but from time to time situations of injustice do arise. They can be small things or large things. When one feels they haven’t had their rights taken into account... it is easy to let that thought and that feeling be something that grows and spreads and saps life of vitality.

People can carry around hurts and resentments and feelings of blame and plots of revenge for the whole of their lives. They go to their graves never getting that pain out of their system... and what good has it done them? When we carry around with us attitudes of un-forgiveness or revenge… who are we really hurting?

Often those who have wronged us haven’t even realized it. By holding on to grudges and bad feelings we simply add to our own pain. We become double losers. In contrast it is the way of the Kingdom to break that destructive circle by reminding us that we are people who were once Christ’s enemies, but that didn’t stop Him dieing on the cross for our sins.

In some translations the section of the Lord’s Prayer - where we use the word “Debts” - is translated as ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’. The implication is that by carrying un-forgiveness towards others we exclude ourselves from God’s grace for our own lives.

But how do deal with the resentment that comes with unfairness?

3. Let it Go

Verse 23 tells us how Jesus dealt with it. “(He) committed Himself to Him who judges righteously”. In other words He gave the situation over into His Father’s hands. Peter encourages us to follow Christ’s example and to do the same with our hurts, our frustrations, our grievances and our resentments.

By His wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” (24-2 5)

Peter uses there the rich images of the Psalms. Who is our shepherd? ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ declares the 23rd Psalm. Where can we find the strength to forgive? According to Genesis 49... in the strength of “The Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel”. Where do we find rest for our souls and healing for our hurts? “By His wounds you have been healed.

The disciple of Christ is not promised an easy road through all of life’s troubles. There will be injustices along the way. Some of them you might just have to live with. Like those slaves who Peter addressed, the gospel message does not bring instant solutions our way.

What God promises is that He will shepherd us through our problems. God is not going to give up on us. Even the way we handle the things that trouble us will be a witness to His love.

It is important therefore for us to strengthen our discipleship through prayer, and knowing God’s Word and cultivating worshipful hearts that are ready to meet God in the midst of our daily lives It is important to gather around a table laid with bread and wine, and remember Jesus as He invited us to do. We need the Holy Spirit’s strengthening and renewal. If we try in our own strength, we will fail. We need to encourage one another in our Christian walk.

We have an example to follow. That of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To use a term I’ve heard in the theater. “That’s a hard act to follow.” Yet that is our calling. To be followers and imitators of Jesus. To forgive as we have been forgiven. To love as we have been loved. To set our sights high... and remember... we’re not the Shepherd... we’re the sheep.

And sheep can be just about the dumbest creatures on the planet! Sheep don’t survive without the Shepherd. How do we make it through the bad times? Psalm 23 says it all. A Psalm that we will say together as our Confession of Faith.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; For you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.”

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Peter's Perspective 2. Precious Blood

Readings: Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19,Luke 24:13-35, Acts 2:14a,36-41, Peter 1:17-23
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, MD, April 30 2017

I spent some of my earliest years outside of the church. I’d been taken to church as a youngster, then, mainly because most of my family didn’t go to church, I’d wandered away from church life and only started getting back into it in my later teenage years. So there was some huge gaps in my understanding of what Christianity was about and there was a lot of teaching I’d missed out on.

Maybe some of you have had, or are having similar experiences. We don’t all come to faith at the same time in the same way – and that’s O.K. Never feel that you have to apologize for where you are in your Christian journey. Just make sure that you are on a journey with God, not walking away from God. There’s a difference... but that’s really not what this sermon is about – or is it? We shall see.

I was starting to get back into church – having only a vague understanding of some fairly important Christian doctrines and concepts - and I recall going to some kind of evangelistic rally and a singer being there who with great passion belted out a chorus that was something along the lines of: -

There is power, power, wonder working power,
In the blood, in the blood,
There is power, power, wonder working power,
In the precious blood of the Lamb”

Whilst some of those around me were greeting this with cries of “Amen, brother” and “Hallelujah” – I’m sitting there squirming in my seat and wondering what on earth I have got myself into. Was this one of those cults I’d read about… some kind of “Vampires for Jesus” rally? I’d seen some of those movies where the dead dudes came back to life after sucking the blood out of their victims.

And the blood of the lamb? As a family we often used to have roast leg of lamb for Sunday Lunch. But Mum used to make sure it was cooked to perfection. None of your red raw meat for our family. Indeed any hint that this meat used to be some kind of living entity, a little fluffy lamb frolicking about in the fields, any indication of blood… well that was just too gross to contemplate.

If you go along to MacDonald’s and get a Burger, if there’s anything red on your burger you hope and pray that it’s ketchup... you don’t get to the drive thru window and say “I’ll have a Big Mac with blood on the side – please”. When it comes to blood I’m kind of squeamish.

I remember in school we had a kid in our class who had a funny turn when ever he caught sight of blood – be it his own or somebody else’s – first sight of blood – and boom – Mike (that’s not his real name) was out of it. He’d go white as a sheet and collapse on the floor. “There’s power, power, wonder working power.. in the blood, in the blood” Good job Mike wasn’t there. It would have been Big Mike's Bad day!

In fact – now this a bit of a gross story – but in the context of what I’m talking about – it has a place. One time I was preaching at a church – during my college days – and I wasn’t feeling 100% that morning. I sat down just before getting up to preach, went to wipe my nose, and oh no... I was starting to have a major nose bleed.

So I’m sitting there.. handkerchief is becoming redder and redder… and I’m thinking “Uh-oh… what if Mike’s here? Or somebody with a similar problem to Mike. “Houston .. we have a problem here, congregational members down, Preachers hemorrhaging from the nasal passages”. Thankfully the nose bleed stopped as suddenly as it started… so any major crisis was averted.

In church, it seems we can sing about the blood, read about the blood, even meet around a table and drink wine that represents the blood of the new covenant – but if any real blood shows up – that’s bad. We pray about it, talk about it, preach about it – but the last thing we want is to actually see any of the red stuff that flows through our veins.

Blood is precious. In terms of our bodies it’s what keeps us alive. Just as rivers run through the land to keep it fertile, so through our veins the blood and plasma keep flowing and nurturing our bodies, carrying the good stuff and taking away the bad stuff. Often when we go to the doctor he will take a sample of our blood to diagnose our general health. When a vein or an artery gets severed or clogged up, or the heart doesn’t pump in the way it is meant to, it threatens our life.

When we look to the beliefs of the ancient Hebrews we see that they placed a great importance on the blood. They had a saying:- “The life is in the blood”. The books of the law of Moses contain a great many rules and regulations regarding not only how the people were to act when coming into contact with blood, but also it is in those books the we have the whole system of sacrifices and offerings that were seen as a way of putting things right between God and God’s people.

The priests of ancient Israel received a very different training than today’s theological students in our seminaries. If you are a hunter, I believe, if you bag a deer or creature, that is for edible consumption, you take it along to somebody to cut up and butcher in a correct way for you. Well, back in old Israel, you could have just dropped it off at the priest’s house.

A large portion of the priest’s day was spent in dealing with the sacrifices that people had brought along… which could be anything from a pigeon to an ox. Each part of the animal had to be dealt with in a particular way and had a particular significance. They couldn’t just throw it on the bonfire and that was that. The blood had a particular significance as it was smeared over the altar. Some parts were to be consumed, some were to be disposed.

These offerings were a hard to ignore, visible reminder to the people that sin was a nasty business. That not living in God’s way caused pain. Every time the people went to sacrifice they had a gory reminder that the way of sin led to death. For them, in their way of worship, they didn’t just talk or sing about the blood... the blood was real.

Not just any animal’s blood.. but the pick of the flock.. the one that could have won best in show… the one that was worth the most… the unblemished one... 'the crème de la crème' of the bunch. Anything less would not atone for their sins. Later in history, the people twisted that message… and sacrifices became simply an excuse for them to do as they please, and then the sacrifices no longer had value.

All of this … somewhat lengthy introduction… is by way of bringing you to a couple of verses from our scripture reading:-. 1 Peter 1:18-19 “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

The first chapter of 1 Peter is very much a call to Christian people to seek holiness. To have a faith that was worth more than gold, a belief in God that really meant something deep and had an intensity to it that informed the decisions they made and the actions they did upon earth, especially how they faced the troubled times they were going through. A faith that was a solid foundation, a rock upon upon which they built their lives.

This was the faith that Jesus Christ had shed His blood that they may receive. This was the faith that He was raised from the grave to prove its validity and whose living presence in the Holy Spirit could empower those who committed their lives to seeking God’s way.

In a remarkable way Jesus combined, in His person, both early Israel’s concept of the sacrificial lamb and that of the later prophets emphasis on seeking love, justice and mercy. The bottom line of the text is this. Jesus Christ died for us. We do not have to sacrifice animals to glimpse the effects of sin. Look to the Cross and Jesus hanging there? See that shed blood? That’s the result of sin. He is doing that for us, taking the pain of sin on our behalf.

He’s embracing all that pain for us in order that we may be embraced by the love of God and seek to live in a way that honors the claim God makes upon our lives, a claim as already emphasized, that God makes through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

If God has gone to such lengths to win us for His love, how else should we respond than seeking to live lives that are holy and acceptable in God’s sight? The death and resurrection of Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts provide both the encouragement and power to do so.

Following the sermon this morning we'll sing a hymn that declares “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” The hymn was composed by Edward Mote. When he was growing up, Edward ’s parents were very hostile towards religion, and suggested that what he needed in life was to have a solid career to build his fortunes upon. As a boy he was apprenticed to become a cabinet-maker.

The Cabinet-Maker who mentored him, turned out to be a devout Christian. Not only did Edward Mote became a skilled cabinetmaker, with a successful business, but also a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ and attended Tottenham Court Road Chapel. There he heard sermons by a well known preacher of the day, a good friend of John and Charles Wesley, called John Hyatt. Now before John Hyatt had been a preacher, he had been … guess what? An apprentice cabinet maker.

Regardless of the claims of his business on his time, Mote always found time to worship God. He was especially interested in Christian music, and one day, on the way to work, had a verse that was forming in his mind. Before the day was finished, he had completed four verses of a hymn that began with the words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
Not long after, Mote visited a friend whose wife was ill. It was a Sunday, and the friend mentioned that he and his wife liked to observe Sunday by singing a hymn, reading a scripture, and having prayer together. Mote had a copy of his hymn in his pocket, so they sang it.
The friend’s wife was so taken with the hymn that she requested a copy for herself. Encouraged by her interest, Mote had copies printed—and soon others were also singing it, it became published and since that day has been translated into many languages and made it's way into hymnals all over the world.
The final twist in the tale, is that at age 55, Edward decided that Cabinet-Making was no longer His calling and he became a Baptist minister in Sussex, England. He served his congregation for more than 20 years.

In his 77th year, he became seriously ill. In his final moments in this life he declared: “Yes, I am nearing port. The truths I have preached I am now living upon, and they will do to die upon. Ah! The precious blood, which takes away all our sins. It is this, which makes peace with God.” In his final words he talks of the “Precious Blood” of Jesus Christ.

There is “power, power, wonder working power” in the precious blood of Jesus. Power to see that we get on the road and stay on the road with God. Power to forgive and be forgiven. Power to bring peace. Power to live. Power to love.

My prayer today is that we may know ourselves set free by Christ’s death upon the cross, through His precious blood, in such a real way that we are empowered by the love of God to live for God’s glory and stand upon the solid rock of God's promises. AMEN.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.