THE LETTER "P"
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
D.L Moody started the great Northfield Bible Center in Northfield, Massachusetts. After he passed away in 1899, G. Campbell Morgan became the manager of the organization. In 1904 Morgan's three year old son became seriously ill and wasn't expected to live. All of the family was with him at his bedside gathered in prayer, and all of those present at the summer bible conference were gathered together in prayer in hopes of God bringing the boy to a point of recovery. One day Morgan's little son, Howard, turned to his mom and asked if she'd sing a hymn for him. He asked her to sing the one about “sweet peas and the gift of God's love.” At first she didn't understand, but after a bit she realized he wanted her to sing the hymn by Peter Bilhorn, “Sweet 'peace,' the gift of God's love.” I share this with you just as an introduction. This “sweet pea” moment got me thinking about how many blessings we have from God that start with the letter “P.” So, let's take a look at them:
Pardon (Isaiah 55:7): Every single one of us have ruined our lives in some way, shape or form. Some worse than others but we are all guilty. Despite how hard we try we all have areas where we fail morally and have given in to sin. Not one person alive has lived a life free of mistakes and regret. However, in a way too baffling for the human mind to understand, Jesus Christ became sin for us, he took on our guilt so that we could be completely and irreversibly pardoned through His sacrificial blood at the Cross (Isa. 1:18; 1 John 1:9).
Purpose (Isaiah 14:27): In a quiet or confusing time how many of us have asked ourselves, “Why am I here?” I would imagine all of us have asked this question at some point. Or, “What is life about, what is it's meaning?” Or maybe, “Does what I do really matter? Is there a purpose?” The short answer is life does have meaning, you do matter, and there is purpose. In Isaiah 14:27 we see that the Lord of Hosts is indeed a God of purpose. Also, in Psalm 139:16 we find that we fit into His purposes, in other words, He has a meaningful purpose for each one of us.
Precepts (Isaiah 40:8): Without God's Word we would be like a sheep with no shepherd wandering blindly through pastures. We would be starving with no food. We would be on a journey at sea with no map or compass. We would be full of questions and would never know the answers. God's Word is indeed a blessing.
Providence (Isaiah 46:9-10): God is never caught off guard. He watches over His world, His creation, His children, and He works all things together for the good, for the fulfilling of His purposes and His will. To those who belong to Christ there are no accidents. We are given a path to follow and God guides us (Psalm 139:16).
Provision (Isaiah 33:16): If you've ever been hungry, homeless or had to go without, it can be easy to doubt this item on the list. I have doubted it, but we shouldn't. It's not about just sitting there and waiting for someone to provide. If we are able, we must do our part as well. But God does provide for our needs. That word is important, “needs.” One thing that desperately needs to be understood is that wants and needs are different things. It is true that a want can appear as a need from our human perspective, but God knows best and His timing is perfect. Our needs will be met, He will provide.
Presence (Isaiah 41:10): Notice that says “presence” and not “presents.” We're not talking about birthdays and/or Christmas. God is with us, an ever present help in time of trouble. Even during those times where we feel He has deserted us, He's there. Even we we desert him, He's still there. His Holy Spirit abides in us and we are never alone.
Peace (Isaiah 26:3-4): The words in this passage translated “perfect peace” are literally from the Hebrew, “shalom, shalom.” What it portrays is a deep, inner peace which Isaiah later describes as a peace of a river (Isa. 48:18). Or as it's stated elsewhere in Scripture, “a peace that transcends all understanding.”
Conclusion: I suggest we try and incorporate thankfulness for these blessings on a daily basis. Doing so can help lift us when we are down and cause us to think outside of ourselves when we are going through bouts of self pity. Let's finish today with a quote from Mother Teresa, “No, I do not become discouraged. You see, God has not called me to a ministry of success. He has called me to a ministry of mercy.”
*Portions inspired and adapted from an outline in “Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook, 2003 ed.,” author unknown.