Last Sunday morning, November 5, 2017 I attended worship as I have done for many, many years. Our congregation is by no means a large one, as some measure large, but we are dedicated to the Word of God and daily strive to live the righteous life taught within the pages of the Bible. The morning had been uneventful and after I finished teaching my Sunday school class I rehearsed the songs I was to lead the congregation in during the worship hour. The morning lesson was “Kinds of Sin” – our disobedience toward God, selfish desires, lawlessness and such. But we have a Savior, God’s Son, who gave his life to redeem us from our sins, which have separated us from God. The wages of sin is death, a debt we ourselves are not willing to pay, but Jesus took our place, paid our debt for our sins through His death, as the sin offering to God for our transgressions. Through Christ we can be reconciled into God’s favor to receive grace and mercy and forgiveness for our sins – to be a child of God. The song following the lesson was, “Out of My Bondage” (W.T. Sleeper 1887) a song portraying the willingness of one to leave the world of sin and to seek Jesus for a better life, now and forever. Our closing song was titled “Redeemed” by Fanny J. Crosby (1882). I picked this song to celebrate, that in spite of myself falling short of God’s expectations on a daily basis and the evils of the world that draw me away from His love and mercy and forgiveness, I know through confession, repentance and belief in what Jesus has done for me, I am saved and on my way to be with God forever. “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am. Refrain: Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am. 2) Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus, No language my rapture can tell; I know that the light of His presence, With me doth continually dwell. 3) I think of my blessed Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long: I sing, for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song. 4) I know I shall see in His beauty, The King in whose law I delight; Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps, And giveth me songs in the night. 5) I know there’s a crown that is waiting, In yonder bright mansion for me; And soon, with the spirits made perfect, At home with the Lord I shall be.” Little did we know, as we were singing that song, twelve miles away evil of the highest level was ending the earthly lives of 26 God-fearing people, hurtling them into eternity without any warning. From the unborn to the age of 77; boys, girls, men, women, teens, and babies all departed this world in a matter of minutes. It is still hard to fathom the depth of pain family and friends are experiencing. Even I have been touched by the loss of friends in this tragedy and this coming week will be solemn with funerals and going home celebrations. Pray for them.
[James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:3-9} “No Jesus – No Joy; Know Jesus – Know Joy” The “Fruit of the Spirit” is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control (Galatians 5: 23-26). The communities of Sutherland Springs and surrounding area, despite this senseless act, have all remained in the Spirit. The evil one hasn’t even been able to steal their joy. Christians will continue to love and trust God no matter what happens in this life because they know God loves them. Whether we depart this world of natural causes or in conflict with evil, God will be there waiting for us. “...You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-17).