1 John 5:
13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
There’s a resource in the New Birth
That we must take time to feed.
It starts slowly, and so humbly,
As a small and precious seed.
It is faith apart from logic,
Over-reaching senses five.
Will we dare to act upon it,
Let it grow and bless and thrive?
We were shown the fine example
In true Abraham of old,
Who urged Sarah, barren Sarah,
To believe what they were told;
That by faith their wizened bodies
Would beget a healthy son,
And would “father many nations”,
And thus Israel was begun.
Later Moses, shepherd Moses,
Who had fled from Pharaoh’s court;
‘Til Jehovah named him spokesman
To bring out the Hebrew horde;
And to lead them through the desert,
Finding food and drink in sand;
Clashing with large heathen armies,
‘Til they reached the Promised Land.
And Elijah, desert prophet,
By whom God would stop the showers;
For the crippling of a nation,
And for humbling wicked powers.
With a stern rebuke from heaven:
‘Your idolatry is wrong!’
And the man of God defeated
Priests of Baal, some hundreds strong.
All of these had the assurance
That the Word of God was true;
That the things which He had promised
He most certainly would do.
And they treasured and they trusted
In whatever He had said,
From the saving of the nations
To the raising of the dead.
Now, for us, faith is in Jesus,
Not a law or force or creed,
But a living, loving Saviour
Come to earth to bless and bleed;
As the ‘logos’ of the Father,
Living Word of God’s great plan (JOHN 1: 1-14)
To redeem, and reproduce
The loving heart of God in man.
And before he assumed glory
Once again at God’s right hand,
Christ assured disciples power
To preach faith throughout the land.
In His name to cast out devils,
And to speak in other tongues;
Laying hands on sick for healing,
Winning souls, both old and young.
Fellow Christians, we have access
To His wonderful resource,
And can touch the world for Jesus
Before history runs its course.
Will we dare to exercise it,
And not leave it soft and dull?
Or will faith again be hung up
On ‘the place known as the skull’?
HEBREWS 12: 2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A Proviso on Bold Faith
"There are testimonies of barren wombs opened, hopeless battles reversed, estranged loves renewed, broken bodies healed, food provided to empty tables. The victory list of Hebrews 11 will provide a good shot of adrenaline. But one must remember that the Lord by the Holy Spirit intentionally placed the eleventh chapter (faith) between the tenth (patience) and the twelfth (chastening). All of these three factors work together to accomplish the greatest sum of blessing for the most of God’s children, and to His greatest glory."
(This was written years ago. Since then I have heard so many testimonies and interviews where the speaker enthusiastically attempts to turn extracted tid-bits of scripture, often out of context, into recipes or formulae for personal success. As if every desire need not go through the filter of God's will, name and nature. 'He is a Father who would always wants to bless His kids, and give them what they want. Isn't He?' No wise and loving father ever gives the "carte blanche". As you examine your personal desire, study Him, welcome Him and await the arbitrator of peace before going forward. All else is presumption and not faith.)
What news, the Master visits,
To heal the rabbi’s daughter!
What news, he comes down our street,
Requested by her father!
What shame, my bleeding mocks me,
Through twelve years quarantined.
What shame, the doctors’ failures,
Heartbroken still, and unclean.
But I’ve heard that He’s healing all who simply trust him.
Yes, I’ve heard that He’s granting forgiveness of all sin.
Oh, I’ve heard that with such power Jehovah Rapha proves him.
What risk! I am forbidden
To venture out in public.
What risk? I know that Jesus
Will not have me remain sick.
What throng! He passes quickly.
A few strides more; he’ll be gone!
What throng! Oh man of mercy,
My touching him can’t be wrong.
What joy! I seized his garment.
My heart leaps like a free calf.
What joy! The blight has lifted,
Curse broken on my behalf.
Lord Jesus, know that I am giving all of my love to thee.
Thy great compassion knew faith’s call as virtue transferred through thee.
If only others moved by faith would come and so pursue thee.
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
MATTHEW 8: 17
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
(Picture by Ron DiCianni)
God had said through the prophet Jeremiah that the Hebrew exiles would be in Babylon for seventy years. Time and again, and through the reign of several monarchs Daniel had proved himself to be a man in whom was found "an excellent spirit" (Daniel 6:3).
King Darius the Persian recognized this and was prepared to make Daniel number two in charge. Other governors and satraps in the land, jealous as they were, conspired to alienate the King's favourite.
But where and how to entrap Daniel? His record was successful and blameless. They realized that somehow public policy and opinion would have to be turned against Daniel's religion and God. Do we not see this today? Are faithful people in office not usually brought to the difficult decisions where it would be most expedient to "hang their faith out to dry"?
Hence the plot was devised, and the King was duped into a program of thirty days' no prayer except to the image of the King. Daniel's thrice-daily practice of prayer to the God of Israel at an open window would not, did not change.
The conspirators had him! Reported to the King. Put Darius in the squeeze of remaining consistent to his law (Persian kings could not alter their own laws). Watched the prisoner thrust into the den of hungry lions.
How Darius wished that he could have undone his prior act! He had consulted with legal authorities to no avail. He spent the troubled night in fasting. Truly he wanted to believe that such a good man could not be put down. But perhaps he had no idea of the import of God's timetable for the children of Israel.
The lions would remain passive. God's angel would be present. The prisoner next morning would be released unharmed. His enemies would be thrust into the den to satisfy the animals' voracious hunger ("and the lions had the mastery of them and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den").
Daniel's victory was two-fold. His God's agenda was right on course. The foreign king was pretty much a believer, and saying the following:
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
William Carey is considered by many to be the Father of Missions. A humble cobbler in England in the late 1700's caught in the grip of grace and compelled into hazardous missionary endeavour in India.
I will leave the research to you in this instance:
"In his own words he cried, "My attention to missions was first awakened after I was at Moulton, by reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook." To many, Cook's Journal was a thrilling story of adventure, but to Carey it was a revelation of human need! He then began to read every book that had any bearing on the subject. (This, along with his language study — for at twenty-one years of age Carey had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Italian, and was turning to Dutch and French. One well called his shoemaker's cottage "Carey's College," for as he cobbled shoes along with his preaching he never sat at his bench without some kind of a book before him.)"
Suffice it to say, he met with many early setbacks but became convinced that he was to engage in vigourous Bible translation into numerous eastern dialects.
He and his wife Dorothy were astounded in the sub-continent by the carnage which they observed as seemingly harmless exercises of the Hindu, karma and reincarnation.
Babies tossed in sacrifice to the giant carnivorous turtles of the Holy River. Grossly retarded siblings dropped into a pit of burning embers with family members preventing any effort to escape the excruciating death! The next life for the poor one, they insisted, would be so very much better.
All of this tormented Mrs. Carey to the point of mental illness. The scene became one of Wiiliam diligently struggling over texts while his wife screamed paranoid accusations at the servants over terrible imagined treachery. He came to see little manifestation of love from his beloved.
But the work continued and stands as his incredible labour of love for generations of brown-skinned people who would step into the light of the Master based on those precious words.
Others would perhaps serve more signally in hands-on help: E. Stanley Jones, Mark Buntain, Mother Theresa, Dr. Paul Brand, T. L. Osborne, Morris Cerullo.
But the groundwork had been laid by that visionary with the quill pen, and at no small cost to him and his.
Gang awa frae tha Glen
Tae a fearsome place;
Where tha darkened souls
Hae na gleemps o’grace.
Where tha work must fit
A new tongue and race.
Gang awa frae tha Glen for a wheel.
“Tis for certs He has ca’d
Ye, and ye must roon;
Tae a land o’ plagues
And o’ blastin’ sun,
Where tha rule o’ richt
Hae just sceerce begun.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, Robbie, chile.
There be muckle tae ken
O’ tha people’s need;
O’ tha crops that thrive,
O’ tha life they lead;
O’ tha daily thirst;
O’ their warfare, greed.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, and be wise.
Tho’ tha ship be worsted,
Tho’ tha trail be long,
Tho’ tha beasts be awful,
Ye’ll arrive anon;
And commence tae cant
Tha sweet Gospel song.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, in His love.
And ye’ll spot tha dee
When it starts tae click.
As they bring their young,
And they bring their sick;
For o’ Jesus’ kind
They ken nae sic lik..
Gang awa frae tha Glen, tae be used.
An’ it’s nae sa muckle
That their needs ye know,
Whuch’ll fan tha flame,
Cause your strenth tae grow;
But tha confeedence
“Tis your Laird says, “Go!”
Gang awa frae tha Glen, ‘til you’re gone.
(Robert Moffat, Pioneer Missionary to South-west Africa)
Note: The story is told of the early day in the mission of Moffat when his camp was confronted by a prominent chieftain. The man demanded to know the purpose of the missionary's visit and the authority who sent him.
Through an interpreter, Moffat advised that he represented the greatest of all Chiefs and that he was bringing news and help for the best in life. The native said that he would kill Moffat and his chief. The territory was under his absolute control. He brandished a menacing spear. His retinue stood at the ready.
Calmly Moffat loosened the breast of his jacket. Striding to within inches of the man's face, he pointed to his own heart and said, "My Chief lives here. If you intend murder, do it now, for I will not be held back from my purpose."
The other's jaw dropped. His spear hand faltered. His bluff had been called. The two would soon become fast friends.
And for us the Laird’s enclave
Dinna fush the soldiers’ menace
‘Tis this moment that He gave.
And we gaither ‘neath the stars
And we tak the wine and bread
And we cleave with benediction
To each Word arr Saviour said.
This is Church
Mind not the dampness
And the laing hike to and fro’
For the Pastor of our choosin’
Meets us here, and helps us grow.
Though he lives just like an ootcast
With a price upon his head
He can still preach Heaven doon t’us
And we treasure all he said.
Sure ’tis hard times we endure
For the One King of our Kirk
Jesus, here, atop this hillside
And His glorious finished work.
And a lark flits kindly by us
And a sheep bleats out content
And we learn through sterling sufferin’
What the hunted Psalmist meant.
Hebrews 11: 38
Waves Get Nasty
Is it that rough for you, Christian?
Can’t keep your feet on the ground?
Waves pound and noise seems horrific
Dreading the spray and the sound.
Yes now your sea is all boisterous
Can’t hear the call of the Lord
What’s that He said through the darkness?
Chilling the bone with one word:
“Come” you may walk o’er these waters.
“Come” just as you see me do
“Come” they’re all noise and commotion
Trust in my word and pass through.
I will be there on the billows
Waiting to meet you. Rejoice.
Nothing can foil my agenda
If you will just heed my voice.
And you know surely you heard it
Right before waves brought the fear
Trust in my word, don’t desert it
Miracle ground is found here.
(Image by George Richardson)
Lydia at Philippi
He’s new to this district
And found us in prayer
All down by the river
Our burdens to share.
We women were needy
We women were dry
We women were hopeful
That God would come by.
And fresh from the harbour
There came this strange man
Who, serving one Jesus,
Extolled a new Plan
Where wrongs were forgiven
Where mercy held sway
Where lives were transported
From night into Day.
We clung to his message
Like bees to the bloom
And Glory, his Saviour
Had plenty of room
For more in His Household
For women like us
Who hungered for right things
Who longed just to trust.
And trust, my reaction
His stories, His Cross
His leaving the grave shrouds
His rising, Death’s loss.
I own now this Jesus
Relinquish my heart
Perhaps now my household
Could give Paul his start.
For all Greece is needy
And all Greece is lost
I will serve this Gospel
Whatever the cost.
(Acts 16: 12-15)
Note: This woman might have been “the second witness” to the Apostle Paul confirming that Europe was ready for the Gospel hope and standard. The first witness was the vision of “the Macedonian call”. And then here by the river, this industrious woman, a seller of purple, received the new life and dedicated her prayer and resources to the mission of the envoy extraordinary.
Whadya mean “fret not”?
Can’t ya see all
Pain and grief
By rogues who
Could easily help?
Even the King
And you say…fret not.
But you say more
That’s a good one
Trust family, myself?
That’s pretty shaky.
Oh, trust you Lord.
But I hardly know you
And can you be known?
You say “delight”
Easy perhaps for the shepherd
With the psalms
And fresh air and liberty.
…Oh but that shepherd
Became the hunted animal
Despised and tracked
And nearly trapped
But got through somehow.
And that was you right?
Well I’ve had some
Narrow misses too.
Should I be thanking you
Looking higher for provision
Obviously that shepherd
“Delighted” in you
Got to see really
That there was
No other Source.
“Committed” his ways
And hopes unto you.
Found that he could
“Rest” in a mighty confidence
Found only in Another.
Made the conscious quality
Decision to “cease from anger
And forsake wrath”.
Started to realize
That nothing, absolutely nothing
Could better the newfound process
Of “waiting” upon your majesty
Your timing, agenda and pathway.
But all that is really
Just for your special anointed
“The steps of a good man are ordered…”
Could that ever be me?
“You forsake not your saints
They are preserved forever.”
Could that ever be me?
“The meek shall inherit the earth.”
Could that ever be me?
This process of delightful dependence?
Surely such a God
Is all Giver and not Taker.
And I think
I am beginning to see
And I praise you
For your justice and mercy
And sing out my thanks.
(painting by Peter Etril Snyder of Waterloo)
(An entry in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)
"The angel of the Lord came upon him (Peter) and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off" (Acts 12:7).
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. . . . And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's bands were loosed" (Acts 16:25, 26).
This is God's way. In the darkest hours of the night, His tread draws near across the billows. As the day of execution is breaking, the angel comes to Peter's cell. When the scaffold for Mordecai is complete, the royal sleeplessness leads to a reaction in favor of the favored race.
Ah, soul, it may have to come to the worst with thee ere thou art delivered; but thou wilt be delivered! God may keep thee waiting, but he will ever be mindful of His covenant, and will appear to fulfill His inviolable Word. --F. B. Meyer
There's a simplicity about God in working out His plans, yet a resourcefulness equal to any difficulty, and an unswerving faithfulness to His trusting child, and an unforgetting steadiness in holding to His purpose. Through a fellow-prisoner, then a dream, He lifts Joseph from a prison to a premiership. And the length of stay in the prison prevents dizziness in the premier. It's safe to trust God's methods and to go by His clock. --S. D. Gordon
Providence hath a thousand keys to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a desperate case. Let us be faithful; and care for our own part which is to suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself, and leave it there. --George MacDonald
Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle -- it is miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility.
The clinging hand of His child makes a desperate situation a delight to Him.
A friend once wisely summarized the three basic rules of Bible interpretation as "context...context...context".
A significant example of this may be found in the frequent references made to a portion of Psalm 35. Prosperity preachers are quick to cite the following:
27Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Mention the term "prosperity of his servant" and congregational ears perk up. But in context the message is one of overcoming the opposition of wicked adversaries. Hear the first verse:
1Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
Or again the 19th:
19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
Or even the 26th:
26Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
It is clear that the psalmist is referring to the overall well-being of the petitioner and not just to "money in the bank".
But still those preachers will string this single verse in a long list of others to establish "God's will that you not be poor".
Ask the lonely, addicted movie star how he assesses his poverty. Or the father whose children have moved away and shown little or no interest in a decade. Or the wife in the loveless marriage to the globe-trotting tycoon. Or the embezzler who wants to pray, confess and come clean, but can't. Prosperity or well-being has many faces.
Christ gave up the ghost. The thick veil in the Temple at Jerusalem split from top to bottom. In real terms the Mosaic economy had finished its course. The succession of high priests was ended. The beasts for sacrifice, no longer required.
One blood-letting would now have eternal focus. One High Priest, eternal office. And believers were enabled to approach holy functions and places standing in the righteousness of their Saviour. This is the New Covenant. We are told in the Letter to the Hebrews that we may now come boldly to the throne of grace that we might receive help.
We are told in Peter's First Letter that we have been raised to "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (chapter 2:5).
But might any veils still stand in the way of our service? How might we caution ourselves? Beware of the following:
1. Persisting in known sin. (Psalm 66:18)
2. Unforgiveness. (Mark 11:24-26)
3. Prayerlessness. (Mark 14:38)
4. Condemnation unchecked from Satan. (1 John 1:8,9)
5. Idols of distraction. (1 John 2: 15-17)
6. Shyness and Fear of Man.
7. False humility.
8. Tempting praise. (Luke 17:10)
9. Lack of Bible foundation. (1 Timothy 4:16)
10. Making a "pope" out of any man. (Psalm 118:8,9)
11. Lack of rest.
12. Lack of meditation in quiet.
13. Church barricades to the five-fold. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
14. Backward looking sentimentality. (Luke 9:62)
15. Judgmental spirit.
16. Comfort seeking.
I guess it just boils down to how much you desire to conform your will and ways to God's. How much you perceive yourself as the purchased possession of Jesus, and as His ambassador with dynamic delegated power. At any moment a large door may open.
Look again to Psalm 37. If you resolve to "delight yourself in the Lord", seeking His agenda, you will discover that you receive increasingly "the desires of your heart" (the desires of your Lord's heart).
The potential of such ready volunteers is awesome. They are the ones who have been given "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
In the Lord's name they may "loose" revelation, forgiveness, healing, fresh confidence, agendas of help, ministry commissions, praises and supplications which will move Heaven. They may also "bind" dark practices, temptations, strife, spiritual attack, sickness, thick-headedness, condemnation or despair.
What a tremendous privilege we have as day-to-day priests of our God through Christ!
Admittedly we still need pastors and mentors for clear direction, interpretation, confession, prayer agreement and a mature sounding-board. But we must not abdicate from evident openings for ministry. We must be bold when the Spirit urges (but not when our fleshly ambition prods). Christ uses believers (Mark 16:15-18). Not just men and women with certificates on the wall.
When, oh when will our churches discover this? Unlocking the treasure of the priesthood of believers. And it is for the community at large. Not just in-house.
This delightful book by H. Elvet Lewis speaks of the roots and development of the Welsh Revival (1904). Here is an excerpt:
What new meaning the title “Son of Man” has come to bear- the Man who comes nearest to every man, from childhood to old age. A father had, through drink, fallen into an early and dishonored grave, leaving his widow and children in want of bread. It was one of his children, raggedly clad, that left every heart in one prayer-meeting aching and yet exultant, as in his childish prayer he used phrases that must suffer in translation:-
“Dear Jesus, I thank thee for coming here as a poor rnan, so very poor - perhaps as poor as I arn. Thou couldst have chosen the finest palace in the world to be born in, but Thou wouldst have been too high for me then. But I know how to come to a manger. I wish I had been living when Thou wert here. Everybody will want to cast their crown at Thy feet in heaven, but I should like to have laid my crown at Thy feet when they were stained with the dust of the road, bleeding and wounded.”
Besides this child’s personal sentiment of Jesus, we place this portion of a womans prayer:-
“Dear Saviour, I thank Thee that Thou wert crucified with Thine arms outstretched, to show that there is welcorne for every one to come to Thee. Oh, I thank Thee that the old devil was not allowed to tie Thy hands behind Thy back, or at Thy side, or folded on Thy breast, but outstretched wide, to tell the world to come to Thy bosom. Until these last days my prayer was very small - for myself for my friends, for Wales; but I have looked between the outstretched arms, and now Lord, save the whole world! Save everybody!”
To me, it was not the charm of quaintness that made these sayings so memorable, but the feeling they produced of being fresh from life. Those who used them seemed to say: “We have seen Jesus!”
So, on the very threshold, we forewarn all that we are in the presence of an unexplained but impressive mystery; nor will the mystery be diminished as we trace some of its manifold manifestations.” We do not know”- said Evan Roberts himself, in one of the earlier meetings of his first journey-“how this revival has originated; we have no idea how many thousands have been praying in private for it; nobody knows how many. Nothing but the Day of Judgment will reveal it. He went on, There is a new life coming into Wales now. Everything will be changed. Why? Because Wales is opening her doors to receive the Holy Ghost. And without forgetting or minimizing the mistakes, the disappointments, the passing extravagances, the new difflculties in part created or increased by the movement, we cannot but still write – “He bath shed forth This.”
Note: Do children and family members pray like this today? Are there too many distracting obligations and toys? Where might they go? Upon what might they meditate to gain such spiritual purchase? Lord bring us again to this desperation!
See the following link:
Edwards' Letter, Just in Case
In 1747, he (Johnathan Edwards) joined the movement started in Scotland called the “concert in prayer,” and in the same year published An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. In 1749, he published a memoir of David Brainerd who had lived with his family for several months and had died at Northampton in 1747. Brainerd had been constantly attended by Edwards’s daughter Jerusha, to whom he was rumored to have been engaged to be married, though there is no surviving evidence of this. In the course of elaborating his theories of conversion, Edwards used Brainerd and his ministry as a case study, making extensive notes of his conversions and confessions. (Taken from a Wikipedia article)…
My Dear David:
I write this letter to crystallize my thoughts on what it has meant to be acquainted with you. Of course our dear Jerusha ministers to your every need bedside, as best she can. She has great affection for you, and this is a rare treasure, my Son in the faith. Lord allow the day when you will have regained your vigour and faculties; that perhaps a deeper attachment might be explored.
But in these days you drift in and out, and conversation is sparse. This letter speaks my heart for disclosure at the appropriate moment. You have told us, and your Journals particularize, the adventures in the wild with your native brothers and sisters. So often without a place to set your head, as was the case with our Lord. Riding through heat or rain. Living on bannock, fiddleheads, wild berries and tubers. Talking, preaching, joking, dreaming with your faithful horse. Occasionally with Moses when a circuit has been pre-planned for his interpretation to the Indians.
I would like to meet that man; learn of his former life; hear of the urgings of conviction; learn what testimony of yours hit the mark, or just as likely some extraordinary supernatural move to the inner man.
David, I do not mean to puff you up. I know of the hazards in that. But friend, your intense hunger to go to the remote, to bear with constraints and the elements, to battle with superstition and child-like stubbornness; to give the Good Gospel Report and little else, has moved me in indescribable ways, first with shame and then with challenge.
You have struggled with melancholy and you have allowed your mission and prayers to be the balm.
I intend with your permission to extend your notes to a much wider circle. Pastors and mature Christians will be thrilled with scenes of the raw wilderness and of the unsophisticated response of your friends of the forest.
I think of James’ words about the prayer of faith for the sick, and I assure you Brother that this family pours out many on your behalf. Until you recover and we happily discuss these measures at greater length, I remain
Your faithful servant and friend in Christ, Johnathan
(Note: This letter is a piece of historical fiction surrounding the care of missionary David Brainerd at Northampton shortly before his death on October 9, 1747 from consumption and asthma in his thirtieth year. )
It turned out that Craig Randall was expected to take the first Sunday service following his visit with Crosspoint Community Church. Todd and Suzie Bushnell had long planned a holiday trip to Cape Cod and Craig would just have to flow into the next two weeks. He remained charged up from his fill-in assignment for Keith and Beth. But there was something causing an edge now as he took the pulpit for Calvary Temple. He put his notes down on the lectern and lowered his head:
"Tabbara mas cummi thabatha sin doromannna sic bianti mas coomah." Quietly and to himself that prayer in the Spirit had been offered. Craig in all honesty did not know how to pray here; neither did he know in himself what to say next.
"Good morning friends. It is good to be here with you again and to open up together some of God's truth. Turn with me please to John's Gospel chapter six."
Craig noted that many did not have Bibles with them, but he had resolved that there would be no use of the overhead screen today. He had the King James Version in front of him and began with verse 44. "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." He went on with the rest of the chapter (a very long portion it seemed for this group). He paused and looked for about ten seconds at the congregation before reading the following:
63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Another pause. Craig went into prayer aloud. "Father we confess that we have little time for you. We have carved lives for ourselves which seem altogether too important. We have robbed you of opportunities to do as you have wanted with us. We come together and acknowledge that Jesus is the Living Bread, but then we play with other diets, and take in that which poisons. There is too much of the world in us. There seems to be a great divide in our lives between Sunday and the rest of the week. What we do. How we speak. What occupies our thoughts.
As in the chapter just read, we have gone away from you. We will not pay the price of being peculiar people before this dark world. We lean on the news, commonplace thinking, and fail to lean on your Spirit. Our eyes are being continually darkened, but we do not even realize the declension.
Lord, break us. Show us that our grasp of your revelation is still pitifully small. Let us smell the aroma of your pastures yet untraveled. Let us see the smiles of the newly redeemed. Make us ashamed. Make us hungry. Tear up our agendas. Make us living epistles. We are simply your property. Come in your majesty and in your purpose to re-make and revive these vessels of clay..."
The prayer went on for another ten minutes. The people were both irritated and spell-bound. They had never heard Craig in this fashion (although a couple of the elders had had talks with him after meetings). They had never been together in prayer this long. Then it was over and silence followed for a full minute. This was something entirely different.
A woman's crying could be heard over in the mid-left of the Body. It started softly and progressed to groanings. Then a word of prophecy: "People take heed to the burdens of my son. He speaks my displeasure. He also speaks my plan, and the light which is coming to you in a very few days. Not because of anything you have done. Not because you are exceptional in this City. But rather because I will have it so, that I might receive glory in this place. The hour is late. Prepare to see my love and my outpour. Repent, that the door might open."
Necks were craning that the speaker might be identified. It was Martha, a quiet widow in her early seventies. Not known to be out-spoken. Simply attentive, willing to volunteer, reverent when appropriate and softly smiling.
Craig spoke again. "By now you have guessed that there is no sermon this morning. Apparently we have given place to the Master. He indicates that He is about ready to act. Will we repent of our dreadful mixture? The front of the sanctuary is now open. Come forward for prayer and for washing. Let this be the start of something extraordinary between you and Jesus.
Now friends, who is ready?"
A couple of university students were the first...and it didn't stop.
Taken from the following ebook:
Chatting in the grocery store about this woman's very sick young friend.
A note exchanged on a crude piece of cardboard: "God delights when we ask Him largely. Read Luke chapters 7 and 8". A brief prayer for mercy offered up together.
How many times have I examined the active, virile, tireless, compassionate, bold Jesus portrayed in these chapters. I marvel at the energy, the casually unfolding panorama of opportunities, the instant trust which the Lord commanded.
Perhaps you are facing some large dilemma, a test to stamina, constitution or steadfast faith. Consider our little cardboard note. Remember that God is omnipotent. God is love. God will make even this "work together for good".
I can waste a body
I can shatter dreams
I can raise my threat
Through a thousand schemes.
I can rob a home
I can stunt a life
I can tear the bond
Of a man and wife.
I can pull the blind
Down on hope or joy
And the neighbours'talk
I will oft' employ.
I am given more
Than my powers are due
I just feed on fear
And the schemes come true.
I am named with awe
In the Hall of Waste
I have Slewfoot's praise
Seen him face to face.
I have often heard
When their end is nigh
How they doubt their God
How they curse the sky.
But it troubles me
That a few gain power
As they choose to smile
In my meanest hour.
As they give loud thanks
For a life to date
And they lean on Christ
For tomorrow's fate.
I have been greatly moved in reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass(1845). It is a masterful adventure, commentary on deplorable social condition and argument on the true Christianity versus the false.
Frederick, born into slavery, did not know his actual date of birth; neither the identity of his father (suspected to be white). His early days were spent on a substantial Maryland farm estate where hierarchy was so significant that Owner seldom knew slave, nor Property his Possessor. As a young child Frederick witnessed the harsh working conditions, the scant diet, the whippings, the dissipation of the permitted "holidays", the humiliation of the men-servants, the constant belittling of their contributions, the base exploitation of the more attractive women, the intensifying evil and deceit of the hired taskmaster and the pervasive fear of being sold away.
By way of separation on the estate his family ties became insignificant. An early assignment to a young and inexperienced mistress proved promising with even basic lessons of reading and writing offered. Regrettably through exposure to the inhumane institution of slavery this mistress was blackened to a condition more wicked and fickle than most of her peers. With relief Frederick was sold off.
A number of farming situations followed, but because of the reading skill something had been deposited in the teenager which yearned for discovery, self-determination and freedom. In this fashion he proved "uppety" and was leased out to a poorer farmer known to be an accomplished "slave-breaker". The one-year tenure almost killed Frederick. Given next to no instruction, he was severely abused for mishaps which occurred on the job. One day a fellow slave took him to the bush and showed him a "root with magical powers". He swore that he always wore a piece on his person and had never been beaten again thanks to this token. Frederick was willing to give it a try, and surprisingly met with some early success. But then came the day of testing when the Master came on again to "get hold of him". His disappointment and shock gave rise to an unexpected response...resistance, and that right forcefully. The cowardly slave-breaker never tried it again. (Although wicked laws were on his side, his reputation could not bear the shame of having been mastered by one of the "brutish darkies". He told no one of his beating.)
A new assignment took Frederick to shipyards in Baltimore where he gained skill as a caulker, but saw next to none of the rewards after pay-day. On sabbaths he would wander the shore of Chesapeake Bay and watch the ships with bulging sail heading for exciting and mysterious destinations at will. No such liberty for this bond-servant!
Friends were made through a Sunday school class as Frederick gave reading instruction to others. Plans were examined for escape. But treachery on the part of a fellow slave resulted in discovery, arrest, inquisition and ultimately the selling off of Frederick, that "difficult Mulatto".
Approaching in the narrative his twentieth year and the time of his escape (September 3, 1838), the author refuses to give details of the help rendered him through the underground railway. Although Godly men and women were worthy of commendation he would not jeopardize the escape of many of his enslaved brethren by giving details. He finds himself in New York, bustling and full of strangeness, threatenings and the risk of being captured by bounty hunters and returned to captivity.
His sponsors conclude that the placement is inappropriate and they arrange for his transport to New Bedford, Massachusetts with new wife Anna at his side. In this sea-faring community he is shocked and strangely wounded by a new discovery. These enterprising northerners, without benefit of that dark institution, are prospering. Masters back home had always described a freezing, struggling, starving Northern economy. Just one more wicked lie added to the heap by those "men-stealers, adulterers, thieves and Gospel hypocrites".
Ship-building work does not come easily to this new arrival and he opts over the next three years to apply his hand to whatever task, no matter how lowly. He now has
initiative. He reaps rewards to be kept. His reputation has become a thing of meaning. His wife and promise of family are rocks of stability and hope.
Soon editions of the Abolitionist press will come into his hands. Soon he will be invited to give his modest but impassioned testimony at gatherings. Soon he will meet William Lloyd Garrison. Soon will arise the Great Conflict (1861-1865) and his little 76 page document will come to the White House and that tall, dark champion from Illinois.
This is a wonderful book, beautifully and dramatically written. It speaks strong, convincing words against any form of oppression or unfair advantage.
(Ministered by the group "Downhere". An old Keith Green song with mucho heart.)
Let me rediscover you
And breathe in me your life anew.
Tell me of the God I never knew
And let me rediscover you.
The time had come to step out in freedom, but my love for the Master would not allow it. I wished to remain His and I submitted the lobe of my ear to the mallet and awl. "Nail it to the lintel of the door. Please, now. I will never leave the Master's house; never leave His service. I renounce my own path. I tie my destiny into the Master's."
That had been the decision so many years back. He had watched over me through good times and bad; my family as well. But I consider things now and my understanding of Him. So much that I still do not know. He is so far beyond me. So deep. So constant. While I waiver. Do I bring Him pleasure? Do I get the work done in a manner fitting His nobility? Oh teach me more Master. Bring out what you expect to find in me. I will not settle for the standards of other bondservants here; not even for the steward's.
I am here...alone...waiting.
Let me rediscover You.
In the Spirit of Malachi
The crickets have stopped
The chill has come on
The night sky it sparkles
Will be a clear dawn
And sleep has escaped me
The people, their pain
The scores at the River
So long they have waited
For Israel’s King
In shame and oppression
Oh let freedom ring
And maybe tomorrow
His light will appear
As Heaven comes closer
Relieving all fear
Oh Lord God, Jehovah
I pray for the peace
For hearts tired of wandering
And is it your purpose
This wilderness man
Who cries in the desert
Proclaiming your Plan
To ready the people
For full and free Grace
Oh come now Messiah
Traverse time and space.
Oh, I could not touch the process
As you neared the Living Fire,
As He pained and purified you,
As He raised your standards higher.
Though I heard your cries of quandary,
And I saw your tears of shock;
It was clear you were His project.
(I refrained from soothing talk.)
There was only my prayer corner
Where I dared to let it out.
Where I got beneath your burden,
First with moaning, then with shout.
And His Spirit reassured me
This was how it had to be,
That you might receive your treasure
And a gracious victory.
It must all be of His working,
Measured out to challenged trust.
Marvelous, such metallurgy!
Making gold of baffled dust.
Dare I frustrate such a Craftsman,
As He works His glorious art?
As He gives the form and purpose?
As He re-creates the heart?
No, I could not, and I would not,
For I had my times alone.
When the arm of flesh was absent
And I had to storm His throne.
And the bounty from the battle
Seems my richest gain to date,
Which the Living Fire had purposed
In His mercy, as my fate.
Oh, I love you brother, love you,
And it hurts so much to stand
At the outskirts of your struggle
Clenching tight the helping hand.
But the Master sits beside you
As your bark braves wind and wave;
And the passage proves Him able
To the uttermost to save.
Be it far from thee, Lord
That the City holds nothing but pain;
That the welcome this time
Will be bitter
As you enter their streets once again.
Be it far from thee, Lord,
This is foolish;
All such talk of rejection and rage.
Thou art Christ and our hope
For the future.
Usher in your foretold Kingdom age! (ISAIAH 11)
Be it far from thee, Lord
To provoke them,
Though religion is made cheap display;
Though the temple is filled
With their barter,
Please, discreetly keep out of their way.
Be it far from thee, Lord,
Look for better.
Set your mind on the sceptre and throne.
Quite enough talk of mockings
And of us leaving you all alone.
But the Christ turned a deaf
Ear to pity;
Willing still to endure sin’s full load.
For the hates and the hurts
Of that city,
He was bound to the Calvary Road.
6-9The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
their calves and cubs grow up together,
and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
10On that day, Jesse's Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious. (The Message)
Look still for better yet.
However good the way has been,
However bright the paths.
No crop has failed.
Your sun still warms.
You wonder, can it last?
Look still for better yet.
Whatever dark night robs your sleep,
Whatever chills the bone.
The pains still come.
They seem your lot.
Unseen, unheard, alone.
Look still for better yet.
The faith stands true; the promise sure;
And Beulah Land is ours.
With joy for all;
Reversed, the Fall.
And thorns replaced with flowers.
Look still for better yet.
Note: I remember in the Revelation at the end of the Bible how John cites Jesus as commending without qualification only two of the Seven Churches of Asia-Philadelphia and Smyrna. The one appears to be having good success in the things of life, and the second generally having a deuce of a time. Nevertheless, both are applauded and described as overcomers. These mysteries of Providence will only be understood later. God is free to do what He wants with His kids in accomplishing the ultimate best.
Dare to imagine the possibility of Revival in your Community of Faith
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