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In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the receipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prospertiy; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
Oil was discovered on some Oklahoma property belonging to an elderly Indian. All his life he had been poverty stricken, just eking out a living. But the discovery of oil had suddenly made him a very wealthy man. The first thing he bought was a very big Cadillac. He wanted the longest car in the county, so he added four spare tires on the trunk. He would dress up in his new clothes and everyday he would take his Cadillac into the hot dusty little town nearby. He wanted to see everyone and he wanted everyone to see him. He was a friendly old soul. so when he was riding through town he would turn in all directions to wave at all the people as he rolled by. Interesting enough, he never ran into anybody nor into anything. The reason for this was that directly in front of that big beautiful auto was two horses harnessed to it and pulling it. There was nothing wrong with the car’s engine. It was because the old Indian had never learned to drive it. He had never learned how to insert the key into the ignition switch and turn it on. Under the hood was 100 plus horsepower ready and willing and raring to go, but the old Indian was content to use the two horsepower hooked to the front of the car.
The devil gets really happy (or as happy as a devil can get) when he can keep the believer chugging along in their Christian life on a two horse power faith level. At that rate, the spiritual progress is slowed down to a crawl, and this is what the devil is after in his warfare with us.
Zig Ziglar-- "See You at the Top."
The only monument in the world built in the shape of
a bug, to honor a bug is located in Fort Rucker,
Alabama. In 1915 the Mexican boll weevil invaded
Southeast Alabama and destroyed 60% of the cotton crop. In
desperation, the farmers turned to planting
peanuts. By 1917 the peanut industry had become so
profitable that the county harvested more peanuts
than any other county in the nation. In gratitude,
the people of the town erected a statue and
inscribed these words,
"In profound appreciation of the boll weevil, and what it has done as the
herald of prosperity." The instrument of their suffering had become the
means of their blessing.
THEY PAID THE PRICE
Americans, you know the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence that first 4th of July--you know they were risking everything, don’t you? Because if they won the war with the British, there would be years of hardship as a struggling nation. If they lost they would face a hangman’s noose. And yet there where it says, "We herewith pledge, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor," they did sign. But did you know that they paid the price?
When Carter Braxton of Virginia signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader. But thereafter he saw his ships swepted from the seas and to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property. He died in rags.
Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed that pledge, was a third generation rice grower and aristocrat--a large plantation owner--but after he signed his health failed. With his wife he set out for France to regain his failing health. Their ship never got to France; he was never heard from again.
Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harrassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding.
Vandals looted the properties of Ellery and Clymer and Hall and Gwinett and Walton and Heyward and Rutledge and Middleton. And Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars on his own signature to provision our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally paid back the loans wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbused by his government. And in the final battle for Yorktown, he, Nelson, urged General Washington to fire on his, Nelson’s own home, then occupied by Cornwallis. And he died bankrupt. Thomas Nelson, Jr. had pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.
The Hessians seized the home of Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. Francis Lewis had his home and everything destroyed, his wife imprisoned--she died within a few months. Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, pledging his life and his fortune, was captured and mistreated, and his health broken to the extent that he died at 51. And his estate was pillaged.
Thomas Heyward, Jr. was captured when Charleston fell. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Lewis Morris saw his land destroyed, his family scattered. Philip Livingston died within a few months of hardships of the War.
John Hancock, history remembers best, due to a quirk of fate--that great sweeping signature attesting to his vanity, towers over the others. One of the wealthiest men in New England, he stood outside Boston one terrible night of the War and said, "Burn Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it." He, too, lived up to the pledge.
Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes--from Rhode Island to Charles...
“Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became speedily deranged after some atrocious cruelty, one was slain by his own son, one became blind, the eyes of one started out of his head, one was drowned, one was strangled, one died in a miserable captivity, one fell dead in a manner that will not bear recital, one died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room, two committed suicide, a third attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work, five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths, several of them having an untold complication of diseases, and eight were killed in battles, or after being taken prisoners.
Among these was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle, he saw that all was over with him, and he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, thou has conquered, O thou Galilean.” (Boise 25)
"If adversity hath killed his thousands, prosperity hath killed his ten thousands; therefore adversity is to be preferred. The once deceives, the other instructs; the one miserably happy, the other happily miserable; and therefore many philosophers have voluntarily sought adversity and so much commend it in their precepts."
“The Cast of Your Misfortune!” 1 Peter 5: 1-10 Key verse(s): 9: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kin do sufferings.”
One of the loneliest times in anyone’s life is when suffering strikes and it puts you into a category of one. That’s the peculiar thing about suffering. Not only is there the pain and handicap to bear, but there is also the propensity for those who suffer to turn inward, away from the help of others. This is a natural tendency among sinful men since we are by nature corrupted and able to think only about ourselves. That’s why when suffering knocks on our door and we open our lives to it, we find it convenient, even comfortable to withdraw into the one thing we know that brings at least some relief, ourselves.
But, where does God want us to be when we are afflicted? Is He content to allow us to retreat into ourselves in hopes that our self-pity will eventually embolden us to face the world again? Or, does God have a different plan for those who suffer; one that involves others, others who may be suffering as well?
Somerset Maugham, the English writer, once wrote a story about a janitor at St Peter’s Church in London. One day a young vicar discovered that the janitor was illiterate and fired him. Without the ability to read or write, the future looked pretty bleak. Jobless, the man decided to invest his meager savings in a tiny tobacco shop. He was good at what he did and in but a short period of time he began to prosper. In that prosperity he decided that it would be a sound investment to purchase another tobacco store. So he did. Prosperity continued to rain down upon the man and in time he purchased a third store, then a fourth. Eventually he owned an entire chair of tobacco stores worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a few short years he had become quite prosperous and wealthy. He had, nonetheless, never learned to read or write.
One day the man’s banker said, “You’ve done well for an illiterate, but where would you be if you could read and write?” “Well,” replied the man, “I’d be janitor of St. Peter’s Church in Neville Square.” (Bits and Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 23.)
OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD
“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imag...
"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." --George Washington
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here." --Patrick Henry
"We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." --James Madison
"There is a striking parallel between the condition of the country and the church. As the Constitution means little to Americans today, so too the Bible means little to the average church member. Church members generally are as ignorant of the Bible as are Americans of the Constitution. Too many people within our borders are Americans in name but un-American in their hearts and anti-American in their conduct. The church has a corresponding ailment, Christians in name, but in reality are only once -born children of Adam. The American spirit is sadly eroded today by distrust, by corruption in high places, by moral decay. It won’t be restored merely by flag-wavings and drum-beatings and Fourth of July speeches. It may not be possible to raise a new crop of patriots in such shallow soil. It may take disaster to make us realize what we had. There is also a Christian spirit in the church that has that need. When in the nation and in the church we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land." --Vance Havner
Sir John Templeton Chairman of Templeton Funds that manages over 15,000,000,000 (15 Billion) annually in investments said: "I have watched 100,000 families over my years of investment counseling. I always saw greater prosperity and happiness among those families who tithed than among those who didn't."