Home Service 3

Home Service: Sunday 17 January 2021 ~ compiled by Louise Ratcliffe ~ ‘Faith and Assurance’

As we come together in spirit this morning to worship our Lord and Saviour, let us use the words of the song below as our opening prayer:
Jesus stand among us at the meeting of our lives;
Be our sweet agreement at the meeting of our eyes.
O Jesus, we love You, so we gather here;
Join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
So to You we’re gathering out of each and every land;
Christ the love between us at the joining of our hands.
O Jesus, we love You, so we gather here;
Join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
Amen.

I received this rather beautiful glass paperweight from a friend for Christmas:

It made me contemplate once again on what faith and assurance in Jesus meant and especially what it meant in our current world climate. So, let’s begin today with the amazing song ‘Blessed assurance Jesus is mine’.
This song was written by Fanny Crosby.

The story behind ‘Blessed Assurance’. Francis Jane Crosby was born into a family of strong Puritan
ancestry in New York on March 24, 1820. As a baby, she had an eye infection which a quack doctor
treated by placing hot poultices on her red and inflamed eyelids. The infection did clear up, but
scars formed on the eyes, and the baby girl became blind for life. A few months later, Fanny’s dad became ill
and died. Mercy Crosby, widowed at 21, hired herself out as a maid while Grandmother Eunice Crosby took care of little Fanny. Grandmother took the education of her little granddaughter on herself and became the girl’s eyes, vividly describing the physical world. Grandmother’s careful teaching helped develop Fanny’s
descriptive abilities. But Grandmother also nurtured Fanny’s spirit. She read and carefully explained the Bible to her, and she always emphasized the importance of prayer. When Fanny became depressed because she couldn’t learn as other children did, Grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge. In 1834 Fanny learned of the New York Institute for the Blind and knew this was the answer to her prayer for an education. She entered the school when she was twelve and went on to teach there for twenty-three years. She became somewhat of a celebrity at the school and was called upon to write poems for almost every conceivable occasion. On March 5, 1858, Fanny married Alexander van Alstyne, a former pupil at the Institute. He was a musician who was considered one of the finest organists in the New York area. One evening, Fanny’s friend and composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp was visiting and played a tune on the piano, asking Fanny what
it sounded like. Fanny responded, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!” Phoebe and Fanny then continued to sing the melody and write the lyrics together.

Song: Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story…
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story…

Some thoughts on the verse

Two definitions of faith from the dictionary are “complete trust in someone or something” and “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. Faith for me is having the confidence that the future things God has revealed in His written Word, will unquestionably happen. It is
taking God at his word knowing that all He has promised to us in Christ is secure. I read the following “It is an unshakable confidence and indisputable expectation, that all God has said, in and through His WORD is established forever and does not take refuge in the a ‘maybe’ or a ‘perhaps’. It is a faith that is secured to the knowledge that our redemption rests on Who Christ is and what He has already done on the Cross for
us.” What does faith look like for you? How would you define it? The eye of faith sees beyond our present reality and places its feet firmly on divine revelation given by God. It believes God’s Word of truth in the pages of Scripture, which was written for our learning, instruction, encouragement, and hope. The heart of faith enables us to treat as reality those things that are unseen, even when circumstances of life appear to contradict the truth of God’s Word. The hope and faith we have in Christ is built on the truth of His Word and grounded on a sure conviction. May we cling onto this and not stumble when situations seem to go amiss and awry as they seem to be at the moment. Our hope for the future is found through our faith and trust and
assurance that our Lord is always with us. Even when we are going through the most difficult of times, he is our Cornerstone and strength.

Song: In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Prayer: from ‘Celtic Daily Prayer’ a prayer of Oswald of Northumbria
(Please add your own words and thoughts where you see the dotted line.)

God be with me in this your day,
every day
and every way,
with me and for me
in this your day,
and love and affection of heaven be towards me.
All that I am, Lord ………. I place into your hands,
All that I do Lord………. I place into your hands.
Everything I work for ………. I place into your hands,
Everything I hope for ………. I place into your hands.
The troubles that weary me………. I place into your hands,
The thoughts that disturb me………. I place into your hands.
Each that I pray for………. I place into your hands,
Each that I care for………. I place into your hands. Amen

In Jesus we have a rock-solid Hope. A friend to always talk to through prayer and someone who understands the pain and the heartache of what we are all going through. Let’s stand on that rock solid ground he gives us.

Song: My hope is built on nothing less (On Christ the solid rock)

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
When darkness veils his lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid rock I stand…
His oath, his covenant, his blood,
supports me in the ‘whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ the solid rock I stand…
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in his righteousness alone
faultless to stand before the throne
On Christ the solid rock I stand…

God is with us always watching over us and walking with us. As Pastor Pete wrote in his letter to us last week
“God is no less present with us in the intense darkness and no more present with us in the dawn. I hope you notice him in the here and now”. He is our assurance and hope always.

Psalm 121 – a great Psalm of encouragement
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Blessing: Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Song Blessing: music by John Rutter

The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
To shine upon you and be gracious, and be gracious unto you.
The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
To shine upon you and be gracious, and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you,
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you,
And give you peace…
Amen.