Summary: Details the historic record of how a town was saved by God's grace and some church bells, the second lesson tells of the bio of Clebe McClary.
During the 1800s, the French General George Muller Massena who took orders from Napoleon, arrived at a quaint and militarily important Austrian town. His 18,000 soldiers were gearing up for their invasion, as the stunned Austrian citizens were lifeless and terrified. Knowing they were about to beaten, killed, sold into slavery, or worse, they laid down plans for the counter attack.
What did they do? Since it was Easter Sunday and their upcoming deaths were imminent regardless of their defensive positionings, they went to church. Figuring their only defense was direct intervention from their Maker, they rang the church bells, put on their Sunday’s best, and worshipped the Lord.
When services ended, the Austrian prayer warriors opened the church doors to find out that the entire French battalion had vacated. It turns out that the French General Massena incorrectly confused the ringing of the church bells for Easter service with what he thought was the announcement of the arrival of the entire Austrian army. The city was saved, and Christ was glorified.
Isn’t it amazing what battles are won when we give glory first to the Lord by seeking His will and His mighty hand. A similar story of God coming to the rescue takes place in the Bible in First Kings chapters 18 and 19. In these passages, the people of God led by their holy leader King Hezekiah are anguishing in fear over the imminent, civilization-shattering deathblow at the hands of the evil ruler named Sennacherib. While Sennacherib has his forces mounted, assembled, and in line for a massive victory, King Hezekiah, like the people in Austria, go to the Lord to pray. Hezekiah asks the Lord to rescue his people from the onslaught, in order for all the kingdoms of the earth to know the Lord.
After praying, 1 Kings 19:32-35 states, “So this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria:
‘He will not enter this city, nor will he shoot an arrow here. He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors, nor will he build siege works against it. He will go back the way he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the LORD. I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’” That very night the LORD’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses.”
Unbelievable! God saved the men and women of God with direct intervention by ending the lives of a whole army, all done through just “one messenger.” You read that right, just one angel against 185,000 men, and the men didn’t have a chance! Our God is really that powerful!
Friends, we have battles, we all have battles. Let us seek out the one who can win them, rather than going at them alone. Amen.
“Just after midnight on March 3, 1968, Lt. Clebe McClary's life changed forever. On Hill 146, deep in hostile territory, Clebe and his men were caught in enemy fire. In the initial attack, he lost his left arm, yet continued to fight, worrying more about the safety of his men than his own injuries. McClary saw a grenade hurtling towards him in time to throw up his right hand to protect his face. His left eye was torn out, both ear drums burst and his right hand was mutilated. Another grenade shredded his legs and knocked him to the ground. Death hovered over his broken body.
His remaining men held on and forced the enemy troops to pull back. With only moments to spare before the enemy's final deadly assault, a chopper arrived and carried Clebe and the others to safety. Clebe McClary's fight with the pain and disabilities that followed is truly amazing. He spent two and a half years in the hospital, undergoing 34 major surgeries and enduring countless grueling hours of physical therapy.
Since that time, McClary has used his story of courage, faith and determination to touch the lives of people all over the world. Told he would never walk again, he has run marathons and set treadmill test records that members of the Dallas Cowboys have been unable to beat!”
Clebe McClary is an inspiration to all of us who have ever struggled with life and death, and 1st Baptist Church of Lake St. Louis is honored to have such a mighty veteran in to speak in celebration for our nation’s birthday.
On July 11th, just one week after hometown fireworks displayed have come and gone, our celebration of our nation continues as this famous author and guest speaker comes to share his faith and explain that only through his relationship with Jesus did he and his family sustain themselves during their moments of terror. I heard Clebe speak some years ago at an out of town conference, and I can tell you that I still remember the tearful story of he laid dying and barren on a hospital gurney while listening to the voice of his own wife talk with the medics in order to determine if indeed that half mangled remains of the man lying in his bed were indeed her own husband, for his physical body was unrecognizable.