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R. David Reynolds
“Great Is thy Faithfulness” is not the result of some tragic event in Thomas Chisholm’s life but a powerful witness to his daily walk with Jesus as he experienced “morning by morning” new mercies from His Everlasting Father. Pastor Chisholm always trusted his Everlasting Father to take care of Him, sustain him, and provide for his daily needs. Just before his death in 1960 he wrote this power, personal witness:
My income has never been large at any time due to
impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me
on until now. But I must not fail to record here the
unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He
has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care
which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”
[SOURCE: Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366
Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids:
Kregel Publications, 1990), 348.]
GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE
John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:
"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.
"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. I’ve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."
God doesn’t need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.
I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We don’t even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be ’on.’"
(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Today’s Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
TALE OF TWO KINGS
Two of the greatest love stories ever told. The one, at Camelot; the other, at Calvary. Two of the noblest kings ever to live. The one, King Arthur; the other, King of the Jews. The one is adorned with a jeweled crown; the other, with a crown of thorns.
The comparisons and contrasts between Camelot and Calvary are many, but one scene from Camelot illustrates a great theological dilemma that only the cross could resolve.
Prior to His appointment with destiny on the brow of that fateful hill, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).
Understand, on an emotional level, that this is the pleading of a son to his father. If your child came to you in such agony, wouldn’t you do everything within your power to grant the request?
But this Father, this time, didn’t respond as expected. And that’s the theological rub. He denied the request of His Son, His only Son, His beloved Son. In Gethsemane, that Son was asking:
"Is there no other way?"
The Son is betrayed, arrested, deserted, denied, beaten, tried, mocked, and finally crucified. Tacitly, the Father answers:
"No, there is no other way."
But why? Why was there no other way?
We find the answer to that question in a scene from Camelot, where the adulterous relationship between Queen Guenevere and Arthur’s most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot, has divided the Round Table. When the scheming Mordred catches them in a clandestine encounter, Lancelot escapes. Guenevere is not so fortunate. She faces a trial. The jury finds her guilty and sentences her to the flame.
As the day of execution nears, people come from miles around with one question in their minds: Would the king let her die?
Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthur’s predicament:
Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let her die, your life is over;
Let her live, your life’s a fraud.
Which will it be, Arthur?
Do you kill the queen or kill the law?
Tragically but resolutely, Arthur decides: "Treason has been committed! The jury has ruled! Let justice be done!"
High from the castle window stands Arthur, as Guenevere enters the courtyard. She walks to her unlit stake, where the executioner stands with waiting torch. Arthur turns away, emotion brimming in his eyes.
A herald mounts the tower where Arthur has withdrawn: "The queen is at the stake, Your Majesty. Shall I signal the torch?"
But the king cannot answer.
Arthur’s love for Jenny spills from his broken heart: "I can’t! I can’t! I can’t let her die!"
Seeing Arthur crumble, Mordred relishes the moment: "Well, you’re human after all, aren’t you, Arthur? Human and helpless."
Tragically, Arthur realizes the truth of Mordred’s remark. Being only human, he is indeed helpless. But where this story ends, the greatest story ever told just begins.
Another Execution Scene.
Another time. Another place. Another king.
The setting: A world lies estranged from the God who loves it. Like Genevere, an unfaithful humanity stands guilty and in bondage, awaiting judgment’s torch.
Could God turn His head from the righteous demands of the law and simply excuse the world’s sin? If not, then could He turn His head from the world He loved? Would the king burn Guenevere?
Like the wicked Mordred, Satan must have looked on in delight:
God! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let them die, Your life is over;
Let them live, Your life’s a fraud;
Which will it be, God?
Do You kill Your world or do You kill the law?
Without even waiting for His Guenevere to look up in repentance, the King stepped down from His throne, took off His crown, laid aside His royal robes, and descended His castle’s polished steps into humanity’s pockmarked streets. Paul’s words in Philippians are thought by some scholars to be the lyrics of an ancient hymn, singing about the King of kings.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8
That scene in the movie was an epiphany of understanding. Suddenly, it all made sense. We know now why He had to die, why there was no other way.
When love and justice collide, only the cross offers a happy ending.
Source: Abridged excerpt from Ken Gire’s book Windows of the Soul. Copyright © 1996 by Ken Gire, Jr. Zondervan Publishing Houses.
Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ tells this story of a famous oil field called Yates Pool:
During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.
With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.
And Mr. Yates owned it all.
The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief.
A multimillionaire living in poverty.
Franklin Roosevelt’s closest adviser during much of his presidency was a man named Harry Hopkins. During World War II, when his influence with Roosevelt was at its peak, Hopkins held no official Cabinet position. Moreover, Hopkin’s closeness to Roosevelt caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result he was a major political liability to the President. A political foe once asked Roosevelt, “Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely realize that people distrust him and resent his influence.” Roosevelt replied, “Someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as President of the United States. And when you are, you’ll be looking at that door over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You’ll learn what a lonely job this is, and you’ll discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins, who asks for nothing except to serve you.” Winston Churchill rated Hopkins as one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world in the early 1940’s. And the sole source of Hopkins’ power was his willingness to serve.” (Discipleship Journal, Issue 39, 1987, p. 5)
You just know that some things are going to happen sooner or later.
That’s the way it was with Michael Parfit, a writer for Smithsonian magazine. For a feature article on the mighty Mississippi River, Parfit rode in a twelve-foot rubber dinghy down the Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Parfit learned of the incredible power of this giant river. The Mississippi gathers its water from 41 percent of the continental U.S., catching water from Montana to New York. Half a trillion tons of water flow down the Mississippi every year, carrying downstream sixty-three thousand tons of soil a day.
A river this big is a threat to the surrounding countryside. That’s why engineers have built levees to pinch the mighty giant and keep it from flooding the farmland and towns nearby. The levees on the lower Mississippi stand, on average, twenty-five feet high and run 2,203 miles on both sides of the main river and its tributaries.
"As the wall was built over the years," writes Parfit, " people came to live under its protection. They tore down the forest and planted cotton, and the floodplain of the Mississippi became the expanse of farmland known as the Mississippi Delta."
More than eight million people live in the Delta. But at what risk? Parfit flew in a plane over the Mississippi Delta and saw plainly the river’s tracks on the land, where it once had flooded the delta.
"The levee…cages the giant, or appears to," writes Parfit. "And no one but birds and an occasional light-plane pilot notices the long sweep of the river’s indelible script. What the river has written in the mud again and again is simple: ’Someday soon.’ "
Someday soon will come another flood. That’s what Parfit warned in February of 1993. Someday soon will come another devastating flood like the ones in 1882, 1927, and 1973.
"People in this valley get a sense everything is totally controlled," one engineer told Parfit. "That’s a false sense of security. We haven’t seen anything yet in this valley as to what this river can do. We’re not in control of anything."
"The river," wrote Parfit in February 1993, "moves brown swift, unpredictable, enormous, always murmuring ’Someday soon…’"
In February 1993 when his article was published, Parfit could not have imagined how right he would be. Only months after the publication of the article, in the summer in 1993, came one of the worst floods of the history of the Mississippi.
God’s Word warns that someday soon, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Christ will return to the earth, bringing the terrible wrath of God on all who have not prepared their lives for His coming. Nothing can stop Him. The wise person gets ready.
SOURCE: Jack Voss, Crossroads Christian Center, Collinsville, OK. God’s Secret(A Study On The Book Of Acts).
*Discover the power of encouragement. God wants you to be encouraged, and He wants you to be an encourager to others.
*It was on March 23, 1945, during one of the last major offensives of WWII. General Dwight Eisenhower was walking near the Rhine River and fell into step beside a young infantryman. The young GI seemed depressed, and Ike asked, "How are you feeling, son?" "General, I'm awful nervous. -- I don't feel so good."
*And Eisenhower replied, "Well, you and I are a good pair then, because I'm nervous too. Maybe if we just walk along together to the river we'll be good for each other."
(KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 1891 - SOURCE: Reader's Digest - TITLE: The Fine Art Of Encouragement - AUTHOR: Mark Littleton - DATE: 11/1/89)
A NATIONAL PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
Joe Wright is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS. On January 23, 1996, He was asked to be the guest chaplain for the Kansas State House in Topeka. He prayed a prayer of repentance that was written by Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer stirred controversy, and one member of the legislative body walked out. Others criticized the prayer.
The controversy didn’t end there. Later that year in the Colorado House, Republican representative Mark Paschall angered lawmakers by using Joe Wright’s prayer as the invocation. Some members there also walked out in protest.
Paul Harvey got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program. He got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done. Here’s what he prayed:
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it a choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air...
Dr. Bruce Emmert
In the 2000 summer Olympics, the USA women’s softball team won its second gold-medal. Lisa Fernandez is their pitcher. One commentator says that she is “arguably the best women’s softball pitcher the world has ever seen. She has found a source of strength and support that bridges all the highs and lows, strikeouts and home runs that life throws her way” [from CBN, 700 Club interview, Michael Rasnick, 700 Club Producer, autumn 2000]. This is what Lisa Fernandez says:
"Being with God and walking as one [with him] has definitely fulfilled me. He’s filled the voids in my life. When I feel insecure about myself and I’m not sure where I’m going, I can turn to Him and open up the Bible. I can read a passage, and all of a sudden, my world has changed and my view is clear." [Rasnick, ibid]
THEY'VE ALL BEEN WRONG
Looking back at how Christians have viewed Christ’s second coming in the past, we find many people obsessed with figuring out all the details and making predictions.
Here is a quote: "The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for him who is above all time, eternal and invisible" That statement was not made by a modern prophecy expert. That statement did not come religious TV. It was made by a Christian named Ignatius, who lived in 110 AD, just a few decades after 1 John was written.
Here is another quote: "There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power" That statement wasn’t made by a radio prophecy teacher. It was written by a Christian leader named Martin living in 375 AD.
In the year 236 AD a church leader named Hippolytus predicted that Christ was sure to return by 500 AD.
The years between 999 and 1030 AD were characterized by excessive speculation about Christ’s second coming among Christians, so much so that it led to social chaos as farmers didn’t plant crops for the next year, buildings weren’t repaired, and the details of daily life were neglected because they thought Christ would return in their lifetime.
In the 1500’s the Protestant reformer Martin Luther said, "We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer… than another hundred years."
Christopher Columbus said he was sure the world would end by 1656. The year 1666 saw an explosion in end time speculation, so much so that one pastor wrote in his journal that every time a storm hit, people would go to church to await Christ’s second coming.
In the 1800s a Christian named William Miller said, "I am fully convinced that somewhere between March 21st, 1843 and March 21st, 1844 Christ will come." When Miller’s date came and went, hundreds of people walked away from the Christian faith. If their pastor was wrong about that, what else was he wrong about?
In our own generation, many modern day prophecy experts guessed that 1981 would mark the rapture of the church and the beginning of the terrible seven year tribulation period that would culminate in the battle of Armageddon. Now as we near the year 2000, dozens of prophecy experts on Christian TV, radio, and in books are making new predictions related to the year 2000.
Christian historian Richard Kyle cautions us, "Through two thousand years of Western history millions of…sincere, devout, and knowledgeable people have seen the end as [about to happen in their own lifetimes]…But they have all been wrong."
SOURCE: Timothy Peck. Citations: Richard Kyle, "The Last Days Are Here Again," pages 27, 55, 87. Abanes, "End Time Visions," pages 337-338.