Published August 16, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"A Wonderful Change"

For many of us, it's been a long time since we personally accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. Some days it's not so easy to remember that when we did that we became a "new creation" in Christ (2nd Cor. 5:17). The world has a way of beating us down with its incessant drumbeat of negativism toward Christians, Christianity and Christian morals. Nevertheless, that's exactly what we are — "new creations."

As you know, I love the old hymns. And one that celebrates this "wonderful change" is "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart." The song is a celebration — but it was born of adversity. The writer, Rufus H. McDaniel, a pastor in Ohio, wrote the hymn about a year after one of his three sons died. Nevertheless, it's not a song of pain or of loss, but rather McDaniel chose to honor his son's memory with an expression of faith, hope and joy. Let's look at some of its lines, starting with the first verse...

"What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart..."

It's all about that "wonderful change" – the kind of change that only Christ can bring to a life. And it's a change that "has been wrought" in our lives. I love that old word, "wrought." It dates back to the mid-13th century and, although it's seldom used today, it implies that considerable work and effort has gone into making this change. Indeed, Christ paid the ultimate price for our salvation at Calvary so that He could fashion and form us into what He wants us to be. (See Romans 8:1-8.) Some sense of this is preserved in one term that's still in use – "wrought iron," iron which has been through the fire, skillfully beaten and laboriously formed into a finished product.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul reminds us, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them..."

Another line: "I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart..."

Jesus, of course, is the Light. He called Himself that in John 8:12: "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Dr. Michael Evans, in his book called "The Light," includes this illustration in the book's introduction. "Scientists in a laboratory attempted an experiment to measure the power of attitude in rats. They wanted to see how attitude affected the will to live.

"One rat was placed in a large tub of water with sides so high it could not get out. The tub was placed in a dark room. They timed how long the rat would keep swimming before it gave up. The rat struggled to survive for a little over three minutes; then it gave up.

"The researchers then placed another rat in the same tub. This time, however, a bright ray of light was allowed to shine into the room. The second rat swam more than 36 hours, 700 times longer than the rat with no light.

"Why was that? The rat with no light had no hope. He saw only darkness. There was no reason to keep swimming."

The Light — Jesus — brings us hope.  And this kind of "hope" is addressed in the hymn's third stanza:

"I'm possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure,
Since Jesus came into my heart."

Our "hope" is "steadfast and sure" because Christ Himself secured it. Hebrews 6:19-20 tells us, "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, ... sure and steadfast..."

Rufus McDaniel relied on that certainty, that hope, when his son died. And that makes this next verse so significant – not just to him, but to us all:

"There's a light in the valley of death now for me,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And the gates of the city beyond I can see,
Since Jesus came into my heart!"

There you have a direct reference to one of the most beloved of the Psalms — Psalm 23, verse 4: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me...." And verse 6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

The change that comes into our lives when Christ comes into our hearts is profound. It radiates through our personalities, our conduct, our very lives. And because it's so profound, others will notice: "There's something different about you." "Something's changed...." "Why do you seem so much happier?"

And that opens the door for you to spread the Gospel to others!

"Lord, thank you for the change you've brought into our lives as believers. Thank you for the hope and the joy only You can provide. Help us to grow in Your grace everyday, finding new and wonderful aspects of this change. Help us to live in such a way that others can see You in us. And let them want such a change in their lives, too. And then grant us the courage, the ability and the opportunity to share this life-changing news effectively with others."

- Paul

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