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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.]
GRATITUDE = SHORT PRAYERS
Few years ago, we had Carl Mitchell of Harding University come to Albania and do series of lectures on family life and issues. Other then the lectures he gave, we asked him to preach for us on Sunday. I vividly remember that as he was talking about gratitude or thankfulness, he shared an experience from his ministry as an elder.
He related one occasion when he and his fellow elders had asked that all the worship service be centered on gratitude. By that he meant that songs chosen, the partaking of the bread, the giving, the sermon and prayers be centered on gratitude. On prayers he said that we had specifically asked that no requests be made, only thankfulness for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do. Then his comment was: "That Sunday, the prayers were unusually short!"
"I AM HIS!"
President Theodore Roosevelt, was a charismatic figure who made quite an impression on people. One journalist, William Allen White, wrote of his first meeting with Roosevelt in 1897:
"He sounded in my heart the first trumpet call of the new time that was to be... I had never known such a man as he, and never shall again. He overcame me. And in the hour or two we spent that day at lunch, he poured into my heart such vision, such ideals, such hopes, such a new attitude toward life and patriotism and the meaning of things, as I had never dreamed men had... After that, I was his man."
If a mere man can have such an impact on a person, how much more our Lord Jesus Christ? Spend time with Him and let Him pour into your heart a new vision, a new hope, and a new attitude towards life. Then afterwards, you will say with thankfulness, "I am His!"
Source: Mark Galli, managing editor, Christianity Today; Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Pageant, ninth edition, D.C. Heath, 1991, p. 676. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great, Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father. The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls aro...
TRUE THANKFULNESS: JOHN WESLEY
John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic.
One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley's heart. While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn't even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God.
Wesley, being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man's misfortunes. "And what else do you thank God for?" he said with a touch of sarcasm.
The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, "I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!"
Deeply moved, Wesley recognized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.
Many years later, in 1791, John Wesley lay on his deathbed at the age of 88. Those who gathered around him realized how well he had learned the lesson of praising God in every circumstance. Despite Wesley's extreme weakness, he began singing the hymn, "I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath."
Thou Wast a Bond-Man
John Newton, the former slave-ship captain, was so grateful for God’s gracious dealings with him that when the vicarage at Olney was refurbished he had two sentences from Isaiah 43:4 and Deuteronomy 15:15 painted over the fireplace of his study: ’Since thou wast precious in my sight thou hast been honourable: but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee.’
We must not live in the past but dare not forget God providential provision in life’s experiences and allow our sense of thankfulness to fade. One of the saddest moments in the Gospels is pictured in the words of Jesus when he said, ’Where are the nine?’ (Luke 17:17). He was asking as to what had happened to the nine men who had known such wonderful release from the misery of leprosy and had forgotten to come back and say, ’Thank you, Lord.’
LUCADO ON THANKFULNESS
Max Lucado tells about living as an American in Brazil. One day, as he was walking along the street on his way to the University to teach a class, he felt a tug on his pants leg. Turning around, he saw a little boy about 5 or 6 years old with dark beady eyes and a dirty little face. The little boy looked up at the big American and said, "Bread, Sir." He was a little beggar boy and Lucado said, "There are always little beggar boys in the streets of Brazil. Usually I turn away from them because there are so many and you can't feed them all. But there was something so compelling about this little boy that I couldn't turn away.
So, taking his hand, I said, `Come with me' and I took him into a coffee shop." Max told the owner, "I'll have a cup of coffee and give the boy a piece of pastry...whatever he wants." Since the coffee counter was at the other end of the store, Max walked on and got a cup of coffee, forgetting about the little boy because beggar boys usually get the bread and then run back out into the street and disappear. But this one didn't. After he got his pastry, he went over to the big American and just stood there until Lucado felt his staring eyes. Lucado said, "I turned and looked at him. Standing up, his eyes just about hit my belt buckle. Then slowly his eyes came up until they met mine. The little boy, holding his pastry in one hand, looked up and said, 'Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.'"
Lucado said, "I was so touched by the boy's thanks that I would have bought him the store. I sat there for another 30 minutes, late for my class, just thinking about a little beggar boy who came back and said, `Thank you.'"
This young lad had an attitude of thankfulness and it was expressed. If we have this attitude, it will show. We will be expressive, we will be praising God; we will have joy in our hearts. Having an attitude of thankfulness is ultra important in the life of a follower of Jesus.
THANKFULNESS OR FORGETFULNESS
"History knows no disasters," said the Literary Digest (Sept. 1923), "which parallels the earthquake and fire that visited Japan this month and laid waste the capital city and the chief seaport."
The New York Tribune called this earthquake “undoubtedly the greatest disaster in recorded time.” The New York Times described the havoc as covering about 45,000 square miles which contained five big cities and a population of 7,000,000. Other dispatches reported that virtually every building in Yokohama was destroyed. Perhaps three-fourths of Tokyo was burned and the entire city with its 5,000,000 inhabitants was shattered by the earthquake.
A joint survey made by Herbert Hoover and the Red Cross estimated the dead at almost 300,000 with 2,500,000 people homeless. Disease and despair rode throughout the island empire.
Then help came! Help from America for helpless Japan! Food, clothing, medical supplies, and volunteer workers came by the shipload. The American Red Cross collected ten million dollars from people of the United States for the suffering and homeless Nipponese.
Those who lived through the awful earth tremors, the gigantic waves, and the tongues of fire must perish, it seemed, from starvation or disease. But they didn’t. Why? Because America remembered—remembered their need, their suffering, their hunger.
The Nipponese were grateful. They even put their appreciation in writing. Walter Kiernan, correspondent for the International News Service, recalls their words: “Japan will never forget!”
But Japan did forget! American ships of mercy were forgotten, and the Rising Sun sent planes of dest...
A Power Higher Than I
After trying everything else, Shelly was present for her first Alcoholics
Anonymous meeting. Skeptical and listening half- heartedly at first, the
words of Martha caught her attention. Martha told the group, "I just knew
that I could handle alcohol and my other problems on my own, but I couldn’t.
Seven years ago I came to my first A.A. meeting and since that time I have
grown as a person beyond anything I could have ever imagined."
Martha exuded confidence and depth. She spoke of a power "higher than I,"
the God of Jesus Christ, and the way in which God now lived at the center of
her life. Her words oozed with sincere encouragement and concern. Most of
all, Martha exhibited a thankfulness which words could not express. Shelly,
who came to the meeting doubtful that anything she would hear would change
the way she felt or thought, made her way to Martha when the meeting was
over. "I want what you have," Shelly told Martha, "I want what you have."
Shelly wanted the compassion and depth and hope which Martha knew, but she
may not have realized fully how Martha came to know those things. Martha
learned compassion from a time of deep personal suffering. She acquired
spiritual depth from hours of praying when there was nowhere else to turn.
She discovered hope by taking one step at a time because "one day at a time"
was too much to be expected.
Shelly said, "I want what you have. Where do I get it?" And Martha told her,
"It comes from being right where you are and doing just what you are doing."
Martha went on to tell Shelly the oddest story about learning compassion
when we are hurting, and learning love when we are excluded, and learning
hope when we are helpless. In short Martha said that it is out of Egypt that
we are called.
And Then Came The Angel, William B. Kincaid, III, CSS Publishing Company,
Inc, 1998. Adapted.
WHAT THE CAPTAIN MEANS
The storm came suddenly upon the boat loaded with sailors. In a matter of moments hulls were broken, decks were awash, and sailors were floundering. But as quickly came the storm, so came the captain, maneuvering his large vessel between the waves and rescuing one sailor after another. Before they knew it, they were deposited safely on an island, listening to the instructions of the captain who said, "There are still more at sea. You stay here until I return. Build a tall fire using the trees of the island to keep yourselves warm and to send a beacon for those who need safety."
Of course, the sailors were happy and quick to oblige, and they set about the task of building a large fire. Then they waited and they waited and they waited. The longer they waited the more their gratitude passed. And thankfulness to be there turned into restlessness to be there, and appreciation for the captain mutated into aggravation with each other.
No one could remember exactly when the argument started, but it had something to do with the captain's instructions. Did he say use trees only for the fire or trees mostly for the fire? As they began to discuss it, they couldn't agree. Some said, "Surely he meant trees only. He said build a fire made out of trees." Others said, "A little brush and some grass and leaves won't hurt. He'll understand that. Trees mostly won't hurt."
Conversation led to opinion; opinion led to discussion; discussion led to dispute; and dispute led to debate. Soon debate led to division, and there were two fires on the island. There was the trees-only fire and the trees-mostly fire.
Peace returned to the island for a short time, until dispute broke out in the trees only camp. One day in conversation someone said, "I'm sure he wants us to use cypress trees only on the fire, because, after all, he gestured to some cypress trees as he spoke." Another one said, "But he was standing closer to an elm tree." Still another said, "The predominant tree on the island is oak. Surely these are to be oak trees in our fire." Conversation led to opinion; opinion led to discussion; discussion led to dispute; and dispute led to division. Soon the trees-only camp splintered into three other camps--elm only, cypress only, and oak only.
Things didn't go much better on the southern end of the island, where the trees-mostly camp was. They didn't have trouble with the contents of the fire, but they had conversation and conflict over the height of the fire. "The captain has left instructions to build a tall fire. How tall is tall?" Your definition of tall and his definition of tall might not be the same, and so in short order, new fires were started, each of differing heights.
In time, the island was freckled with small fires rather than one large fire. The captain, who had been watching this from the ocean, shook his head and sighed.
--Max Lucado, Love in Spite of Differences, from Preaching Today, tape #227