Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What A Friend We Have In Jesus
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What A Friend We Have In Jesus


What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.

  1. This is a song we enjoy singing

  2. It brings a smile to our lips as we sing it.

  3. But it was not written by a man was particularly happy

  4. Rather, it was written by a man never quite found his way.

Trans: Our story begins in 1819 with the birth of Joseph Scriven in Dublin, Ireland, to wealthy parents.

  1. His faith was influenced by the Plymouth Brethren community and it built a wall between him and his parents.

  2. Twenty years later he was engaged to be married. But the wedding would never take place – the night before his fiancĂ©e accidentally drowned.

  3. Joseph never quite recovered from that loss. With the loss of his love and the estrangement he felt with his family, Joseph chose to move to Canada – in fact he moved to a small town due north of Medina, NY, Port Hope, Ontario.

  4. In Port Hope, Joseph Scriven was known for living an eccentric life. He devoted all his extra time in being a friend and helper to others. He often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need. He would work without pay for anyone in need. He was known as the “Good Samaritan of Port Hope”.

  5. In 1887, Scriven heard that his mother was ill. He wrote the poem for her, never intending it to be published.

  6. Five years later Scriven himself was sick. A friend called on him and found a copy sitting on the table near his bed. When Scriven was asked who wrote it, he replied, “The Lord and I did it together.”

  7. The details of how the song made its way to a Sunday School Song book in Richmond, VA, is not known. But it was in Richmond that Ira D. Sankey and Phili P Bliss (author of It Is Well With My Soul) wanted to add it to a hymnal they were editing. But something was wrong – the music they had didn't catch the heart like the hymns they really loved.

  8. But at about the same time a composer by the name of Charles C. Converse submitted a hymn that they had decided to add to their hymnal – but the Scriven's words were a better match and Sankey and Bliss decided to add Scriven's words to Converse's music. Years later Sankey said that “the last hymn that went into the book became one of the first in favor.”

  9. Thus, the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” has local roots. Joseph Scriven is buried in a cemetary four miles North of Port Hope. Near Lake Ontario beside the highway running north from Port North stand a monument with the words from this hymn. In addition, an epitaph to Scriven is included. “Four Miles North in Pengelly's Cemetary lies the Philanthropist and Author of the great masterpiece written at Port Hope, 1857.”

  10. The local connection is even stronger. Charles C. Converse, the composer of the music that we sing, is said to be buried in Canandaigua, NY.1

Read: John 15:13-16


T.S. Christ calls us friends and then begins to tell us what that means. John 15:13-16 gives us five pictures of friendship.

  1. Friendship is demonstrated by CHRIST

    1. Christ defines the love of a friend as one who is willing to lay down his life. And that is what Christ does – within the next 24 hours, he will be laying down his life. His disciples do not know it, they do not understand it – but Jesus knows it.

(Ill.) Jon Courson tells the story of John Knox. Knox was an active leader in the Protestant Reformation and is considered the founder of the Presbyterian Church. You may have heard that an entire nation was revived when John Knox prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die.” But what many people don’t know is what Knox wrote concerning the answer to that prayer. The Lord responded in his heart, saying, “First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.”

“Make this relationship work, or I’m going to die,” we pray.

“Die first,” the Lord says.

Lay down your life for your wife, your neighbor, your friend. That is not only the proof of your love, but the pathway to love, because love is not some feeling you hope returns, not some kind of elusive mystical emotion. It’s the decision to die to your dreams, your desires, your needs, and your wants and instead lay down your life for your friend, your husband, your neighbor, or your kids.2

  1. The obvious corollary is this: Friendship is demonstrated by SACRIFICE.

    1. You know, Jesus did gave His life for me. You know why? Because I am His friend.

    2. You know what – Jesus gave His life for you. You know why? Because you are His friend.

    3. You realize how amazing that is – The One who was present at the creation of the world, gave His life for you. The One who holds the world together, gave His life for you. The One who loves you more than you love yourself, gave His life for you.

    4. Jesus made the sacrifice so that we could live.

  2. Friendship is demonstrated by OBEDIENCE

    1. Christ demonstrated His love for us by the sacrifice He made.

    2. But how do we demonstrate our love for Him? By obedience

(Ill.) A doctor gives us orders – and we follow them. Now sometimes that is hard. You see, when our friends want us to break those rules – eat more than we should, get dessert, forget to exercise. We know how important those rules are to our physical health. But God give us instructions for our spiritual health. The instructions that God gives are like a doctors orders. We can choose to ignore them, but when we do, we know that our lives will be in line with what God wants for us.3

    1. As God's friends we will want to be obedient to Him.

  1. Our friendship to Christ is demonstrated by our fruit.

    1. Take a look at Jesus' words in v. 16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain

    2. Whenever I see see the word “fruit” I am reminded of Galations 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Ill.) But this fruit is different than the stuff we buy in the store. The stuff we buy in the store will eventually go bad. I will turn brown, or grow mold, or dry out. It looses it potency.

    1. But the fruit of the spirit is designed to always be there. The only way it looses its potency, the only way it no longer is part of our lives is when live away from the source. Live close to Jesus, you will bear the fruit.

  1. Our friendship to Christ is demonstrated by our prayer

    1. As I began to look at today's message I struggled between focusing on our friendship with Christ and prayer. Six times in this hymn we are reminded of the power of prayer.

    2. But you know what, friendship with Christ means we pray.

    3. Look again at verse 16: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

    4. Friendship with Christ means we can pray, friendship with Christ means we do pray. Friendship with Christ means we can expect to see our prayers answered.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

Take it to the Lord in prayer:

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee;

Thou wilt find a solace there.


1Osbeck, K. W. (1982). 101 hymn stories. Includes music and index. (275). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.



Smith, J. S. and Carlson, B. (1997). Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (566). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.


bony john said...

nice ....

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow. Well Said..