The Light of the World is Jesus – Carolyn Wood’s Devotional for August 14, 2021

“The Light of the World is Jesus” -1875

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Philip Paul Bliss was an American composer, conductor, writer of hymns and a bass-baritone Gospel singer. He wrote many well-known hymns, including Almost Persuaded; Hallelujah, What a Saviour!; Let the Lower Lights Be Burning; Wonderful Words of Life and the tune for Horatio Spafford’s It is Well with My Soul.

Bliss was born in Ashtabula, Ohio and left home as a young boy to make a living by working on farms and in lumber camps, all while trying to continue his schooling. He was converted at a revival meeting at age twelve. Bliss became an itinerant music teacher, making house calls on horseback during the winter, and during the summer attending the Normal Academy of Music in Genesco, New York. His first song was published in 1864, and in 1868 Dwight L. Moody advised him to become a singing evangelist. For the last two years of his life Bliss traveled with Major D. W. Whittle and led the music at revival meetings in the Midwest and Southern United States.

On the last Thursday of 1876, Philip Bliss prayed with his boys, Paul, two, and George,four, and explained that he and Lucy were leaving by train for Chicago to sing at D. L. Moody’s Tabernacle at year’s end. “I would far rather stay than go if it were God’s will,” he told them, “but I must be about the Master’s work.” The boys were left in the care of relatives.

Another passenger on the Chicago-bound train, Mr. J. E. Burchell, later told the story: “There were eleven cars on the train that left Buffalo at two o’clock Friday afternoon . . . in a blinding snowstorm. We neared the bridge (over the Ashtabula River in Ohio) at about 7:45. . . . We ran on the structure at a rate of about ten miles an hour, and the whole train was on the bridge when it gave way. The bridge is about 200 feet long, and only the first engine had passed over when the crash came. . . . The first thing I heard was a cracking in the front part of the car, and then the same cracking in the rear. Then. . . a sickening oscillation and a sudden sinking, and I was thrown stunned from my seat. . . . The iron work bent and twisted like snakes, and everything took horrid shapes. I heard a lady scream in anguish. . . then I heard the cry of fire. . . . The cracking of the flames, the whistling wind, the screaming of the hurt, made a pandemonium of that little valley, and the water of the freezing creek was red with blood or black with flying cinders. . . . The fire stole swiftly along the wreck, and in a few moments the cars were all in flames. The sight was sickening. The whole wreck was then on fire, and from out the frozen valley came great bursts of flame….”

According to Mr. Burchell, Philip initially survived the wreck but crawled back through a window to save his wife. Both perished together.

Among PhIlip’s last hymns was “The Light of the World is Jesus” with its fitting final lines:
No need of the sunlight in Heaven we’re told,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
The Lamb is the Light in the city of gold,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling. He knows how weak we are, how easily we would stumble if he were not holding on to us. But we are told in Jude 1:14 that Jesus can hold us guiltless before the Presence of My Glory. We are told that while we study and stay close to Jesus we are growing in grace, but complete freedom from sin will not be possible till we leave this fallen world. Nonetheless, because we truly trust in Jesus as our Saviour he keeps us from stumbling in the ultimate sense. He tells us that he will not let us lose our salvation.

We are further told that he is able to present us faultless—blameless, perfect. unblemished—before the Presence of His Glory because He has clothed us with garments of salvation and arrayed us in a robe of righteousness. Jesus wants us to wear this royal robe with confidence. We are absolutely secure because it is Christ’s righteousness that saves us—not ours.

Exceeding Joy is for each of us and for Christ. He delights in us now, but this Joy will be astronomically magnified when we join Him in Glory. The Joy we will experience in heaven is so far beyond anything we have known on earth that it is indescribable. Nothing can rob us of this glorious inheritance, which is imperishable and will not fade away. Rejoice!

Sing along:

Grace, Peace and Joy to you as you listen and acknowledge the greatness of our God this day!