Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snapshot - Albrecht Durer

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Albrecht Durer

As the 16th century unfolded, it was Martin Luther who took the first steps which in turn set off the Reformation. Soon after he challenged the Church, translations of the Bible from Latin into other languages got into the hands of the common people for the first time. It helped them see the beauty of Christ and the freedom He intended for us. This Reformation brought new hope and confidence to mankind, and worlds of the mind began to open up and give birth to the Renaissance.

As people began to crawl out from under guilt-ridden consciences put there by power-hungry clergymen, an interest in Humanism, science, art, and medicine emerged; and for this new-found freedom in truth, many men would give their life. It is true that reading the Bible first-hand opened the hearts, talents, and courage of many a singular man.

During this time of awakening, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) became famous as a German painter, printmaker, and theorist. His introduction into Northern art of classical motifs, influenced by Italian artists as well as German humanists, have given him conventional regard as the greatest Northern Europe artist of his time. The high regard given him is reinforced by his theoretical treatise which involve principles of mathematics, perspective, and ideal proportions.

He had been a Roman Catholic but became affected by the Protestant writings of Martin Luther. So much did he admire Luther, he wrote in his diary,1520, of wanting to immortalize him in a drawing: "And God help me that I may go to Dr. Martin Luther; thus I intend to make a portrait of him with great care and engrave him on a copper plate to create a lasting memorial of the Christian man who helped me overcome so many difficulties."

The fear of Yahweh leads to life, then contentment; he rests and will not be touched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23

Lead me, Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies. Make your way straight before my face.
Psalms 5:8

Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you;not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
John 14:27

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15

But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might.
Isaiah 40:29

So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness
. Isaiah 41:10

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10

About one of his paintings: As an example of Durer's unique style in combination of art with his interest in medicine and its psychological concomitants with his Christianity, we turn to one of his most famous works, The Four Apostles, a painting of John, Peter, Paul, and Mark. These four embody the four temperaments as analyzed by Hippocrates: choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic.

In regard to another one of his other paintings, following is a legend, perhaps based upon truth, that has descended from the life of Durer:

He was born third of 18 children, all of whom lived in a small house in a small village near Nuremberg. The father, a goldsmith, worked 17-18 hours a day and, in addition, did any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

Throughout the hard years, it became obvious that two of his children, Albert and Albrecht, had a natural talent for art. Even though the two boys knew full well they had no money for study at a great Academy, they harbored a dream within.

That dream shared by both of them brought about many long discussions at night until finally they worked out a pact. Upon their honor, they would, when the time was ripe, give one toss of a coin whereby the loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother to attend the four-year Academy. Then, when that brother completed his studies, he would come home and support the other brother in going to school, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church, and it showed that Albrecht had won. So off he went to Nuremberg while Albert headed toward the dangerous mines. Over the next four years, Albrecht became a sensation in a very short time because his etchings, woodcuts, and paintings were far better than those of most of his professors. By the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works. He would be able to support his brother with sale of his art.

After completing his studies, Albrecht was anxious to see his family; and especially anxious was he to see and thank Albert for his sacrifice. Upon his return to the village, he found waiting for him a festive dinner to celebrate his homecoming and success. The meal, music, and sheer joy brought tears of momentary untold happiness to Albrecht. Longing to finally thank Albert, who made it all possible, and thus return the favor, he at last rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned to the far end of the table where Albert sat, sadness written all over his face. He hesitated to speak, tears streaming down his pale face while he became aware that all eyes were upon him. Finally, he rose and explained, "It is not possible now for me to study art. My hands are no longer the hands of an artist. They cannot even hold onto a brush.....the bones in every finger have been smashed at least once. And, too, I am sorry to say that lately I have been suffering from arthritis in my right hand, so much so that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast."

So startled and saddened by the confession was Albrecht that he was never able to get over the irony of his brother's fate. Later in his career, In a fit of difficulty, he paid homage to Albert in a painting. He painstakingly drew from memory the abused hands of his brother with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. When finished, he called it, simply, "Hands." Today that tribute of love is known as "Praying Hands," and is by some accounts the most well-known and widely loved work of his career.

My soul is weary with sorrow : strengthen me according to your word. Psalms 119:28
by K.L.Kraemer

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Subject - The Power of Prayer


"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." James 4:3

"....The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

----Prayer Is The Key by Elizabeth Dandy

--------------Is the life blood
---------Of the Soul and Spirit,
-----Jesus Himself needed prayer
To uphold and sustain Him in His work,
----God is longing for your presence,
----------Communicate with Him,
----------And praise Him in

------------Gives great power,
-------Saints and sinners need it,
-----Prayer is like returning home,
-Prayer is the key to the heart of God,
-----And Jesus Himself is the door
------------To enter the kingdom.
----------------Persevere in


"The little estimate we put on prayer is evidence from the little time we give to it." E.M. Bounds

"No learning can make up for th e failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." E.M. Bounds

"We do not pray at all until we are at our wits' end." Oswald Chambers

"Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then my dear brother; pray, pray, pray." Edward Payson

"If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has."

"God's cause is committed to men; God commits Himself to men. Praying men are the vice-regents of God; they do His work and carry out His plans." E.M. Bounds

"Prayer is the real work, Evangelism is just the mopping up."

“Prayer is where the action is." John Wesley

"Prayer strikes the winning blow; service is simply picking up the pieces." S.D. Gordon

"Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." Corrie ten Boom

Prayer should not be regarded "as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty." E.M. Bounds

“Closet communion needs time for the revelation of God’s presence. It is vain to say, ‘I have too much work to do to find time.’ You must find time or forfeit blessing. God knows how to save for you the time you sacredly keep for communion with Him." A. T. Pierson

“Therefore, whether the desire for prayer is on you or not, get to your closet at the set time; shut yourself in with God; wait upon Him; seek His face; realize Him; pray.” R. F. Horton

"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Robert Murray McCheyne

"If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer." Martin Luther

"He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day." John Bunyan

"The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day." E.M. Bounds

"When prayer has become secondary, or incidental, it has lost its power. Those who are conspicuously men of prayer are those who use prayer as they use food, or air, or light, or money." M.E. Andross

"Every morning lean thine arms awhile Upon the window-sill of heaven And gaze upon thy Lord, Then, with vision in thy heart, Turn stron g to meet thy day." ~ Thomas Blake

"Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee" Reginald Heber

"Ten minutes spent in the presence of Christ every day, aye, two minutes, will make the whole day different." Henry Drummond

"Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!" Andrew Murray

"The word of God is the food by which prayer is nourished and made strong." E. M. Bounds

"If the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural." Andrew Murray

"Shut the world out, withdraw from all worldly thoughts and occupations, and shut yourself in alone with God, to pray to Him in secret. Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence of your heavenly Father." Andrew Murray

"If we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him." R.A. Torrey

"Beware in your prayers, above every thing else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.'" Andrew Murray

"You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed." A.J. Gordon

"Many Christians backslide...They are unable to stand against the temptations of the world, or of their old nature. They strive to do their best to fight against sin, and to serve God, but they have no strength. They have never really grasped the secret: The Lord Jesus will every day from heaven continue His work in me. But on one condition—the soul must give Him time each day to impart His love and his grace. Time alone with the Lord Jesus each day is the indispensable condition of growth and power." Andrew Murray

"God does nothing except in response to believing prayer." John Wesley

"One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate with prayer."

"The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray." S.D. Gordon

"The most important thing a born again Christian can do is to pray." Chuck Smith

"Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still." E.M. Bounds

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” Charles Spurgeon

"Prayer does not change the purpose of God. But prayer does change the action of God." Chuck Smith

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more prayer there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces of against evil …” E.M. Bounds

"Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying." Paul E. Billheimer

"0h brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper - and sleep too - than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber." Andrew A. Bonar

"The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'" J. Hudson Taylor

"Seven days without prayer makes one weak." Allen E. Vartlett

"Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." William Cowper

"You may as soon find a living man that does not breath, as a living Christian that does not pray." Matthew Henry

"Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer." John Bunyon

"He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life." William Law

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." Martin Luther.

"There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God." Brother Lawrence

When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming."

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick

“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray

“One day George Mueller began praying for five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller’s funeral the last one was saved.”

"Prayer does not influence God. Prayer surely does influence God. It does not influence His purpose. It does influence His action." S.D. Gordon

Prayer "is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings." Chrysostom

On persevering prayer: "I look at a stone cutter hammering away at a rock a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow it splits in two. I know it was not the one blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

"The battle of prayer is against two things in the earthlies: wandering thoughts, and lack of intimacy with God's character as revealed in His word. Neither can be cured at once, but they can be cured by discipline." Oswald Chambers

"Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library and read a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling to his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold." Our Daily Bread, July 19, 1989. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), missionary to China, was founder of the China Inland Mission which, at his death, included 205 mission stations with over 800 missionaries, and 125,000 Chinese Christians.

"I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came at some time; no matter at how distant a day, somehow, in some shape, probably the least I would have devised, it came." Adoniram Judson

"Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid." E.M. Bounds

"We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties." Oswald Chambers

"Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian." Andrew Murray

"Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them." John Calvin

"Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits by which God's saints have been held." E. M. Bounds

"A life growing in its purity and devotion will be a more prayerful life." E. M. Bounds

"Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer." E. M. Bounds

"As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray." Martin Luther

"Prayer is my chief20work, and it is by means of it that I carry on the rest." Thomas Hooker

"We can do nothing without prayer. All things can be done by importunate prayer. That is the teaching of Jesus Christ". E. M. Bounds

"Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit." S.D. Gordon

"The secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer." The Kneeling Christian

"...True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length." C. H. Spurgeon

"If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ." C. H. Spurgeon

"Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers." Sidlow Baxter

“The great people of the earth today are the people who pray! I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor those who explain prayer; but I mean those who actually take the time to pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. That something else is important, very important and pressing, but still, less important and pressing than prayer. There are people who put prayer first, and group the other items in life's schedule20around and after prayer. These are the people today who are doing the most for God in winning souls, in solving problems, in awakening churches, in supplying both men and money for mission posts, in keeping fresh and strong their lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field, where the thickest fighting is going on, and in keeping the old earth sweet a little while longer.” S.D. Gordon

"The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer." Leonard Ravenhill

“Up in a little town in Maine, things were pretty dead some years ago. The churches were not accomplishing anything. There were a few Godly men in the churches, and they said: 'Here we are, only uneducated laymen; but something must be done in this town. Let us form a praying band. We will all center our prayers on one man. Who shall it be?' They picked out one of the hardest men in town, a hopeless drunkard, and centered all their prayers upon him. In a week, he was converted. They centered their prayers upon the next hardest man in town, and soon he was converted. Then they took up another and another, until within a year, two or three hundred were brought to God, and the fire spread out into all the surrounding country. Definite prayer for those in the prison house of sin is the need of the hour.” Dr. R.A. Torrey

“Time spent alone with God is not wasted. It changes us; it changes our surroundings; and every Christian who would live th e life that counts, and who would have power for service must take time to pray.” M.E. Andross

Make time to pray. “The great freight and passenger trains are never too busy to stop for fuel. No matter how congested the yards may be, no matter how crowded the schedules are, no matter how many things demand the attention of the trainmen, those trains always stop for fuel.” M.E. Andross

“There is no other activity in life so important as that of prayer. Every other activity depends upon prayer for its best efficiency.” M.E. Andross

“…the man on his knees has a leverage underneath the mountain which can cast it into the sea, if necessary, and can force all earth and heaven to recognize the power there is in 'His name.'” M.E. Andross

"If the Christian does not allow prayer to drive sin out of his life, sin will drive prayer out of his life. Like light and darkness, the two cannot dwell together." M.E. Andross

"We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth." Andrew Murray

"...[the] power of prayer can never be overrated. They who c annot serve God by preaching need not regret. If a man can but pray he can do anything. He who knows how to overcome with God in prayer has Heaven and earth at his disposal." Charles H. Spurgeon

"Prayer is a=2 0spiritual law which cooperates with the mind of God. It has more in it than merely petition. It clothes itself in reality and power, with the force of God Himself. It is an attitude of spirit and mind. Language is secondary in true prayer." Gossner.

“What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer" E.M. Bounds

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers.

"It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer" George Müller

“Those persons who know the deep peace o f God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding,are always men and women of much prayer.” R. A. Torrey

“Prayer can never be in excess.” C. H. Spurgeon

“The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.” Frank Laubach

"Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God's messengers be intercession;20in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us." Andrew Murray

“Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence.” A.W. Tozer

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” A.W. Tozer

"We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results." R. A. Torrey

"Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet." E. M. Bounds

"Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part." Andrew Murray

"Prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence." W. S. Bowd

"Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails." Watchman Nee

"Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer." George Whitefield

"I ought to pray before seeing any one…Christ arose before day and went into a solitary place. David says: ‘Early will I seek thee’…I feel it is far better to begin with God-to see His f ace first, to get my soul near Him before it is near another." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

"There is no power like that of prevailing prayer, of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God." Samuel Chadwick

"The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! Do it! You want to be taught to pray. My answer is pray and never faint, and then you shall never fail…" John Laidlaw

"A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men." Leonard Ravenhill

"Prayer is the secret of power." Evan Roberts

"Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit’s power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power." Hudson Taylor

"Where there is no vision of eternity, there is no prayer for the perishing." David Smithers

"Prayer is buried, and lost and Heaven weeps. If all prayed the wicked would flee from our midst or to the r efuge." Evan Roberts

"Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." Andrew Murray

"Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon. Our Daily Bread, April 24.

"All great soul-winners have been men of much and mighty prayer, and all great revivals have been preceded and carried out by persevering, prevailing knee-work in the closet." Samuel Logan Brengle

"Out of a very intimate acquaintance with D. L. Moody, I wish to testify that he was a far greater prayer than he was preacher. Time and time again, he was confronted by obstacles=2 0that seemed insurmountable, but he always knew the way to overcome all difficulties. He knew the way to bring to pass anything that needed to be brought to pass. He knew and believed in the deepest depths of his soul that nothing was too hard for the Lord, and that prayer could do anything that God could do." R. A. Torrey

"Prayer - secret, fervent, believing prayer - lies at the root of all personal godliness." William Carey

The Word of God represents all the possibilities of God as at the disposal of true prayer." A. T. Pierson

"The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life, Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him." Sadhu Sundar Singh

"Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent - no nation - no organization - no city - no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out." Richard Halverson

It is recorded in history that Mary, Queen of Scots, declared trembling and in tears: "I am more afraid of John Knox's prayers than of an army of ten thousand."

"It is in the field of prayer that life's critical battles are lost or won. We must conquer all our circumstances there. We must first of all bring them there. We must survey them there. We must master them there. In prayer we bring our spiritual enemies into the Presence of God and we fight them there. Have you tried that? Or have you been satisfied to meet and fight your foes in the open spaces of the world?" J. H. Jowett

"May God ever bless, keep, guide, and continue to prosper you in your uplifting work for humanity, be it great or small, is my daily prayer. And may those whom He has redeemed learn to walk with Him not only daily or hourly, but momently through the things he has created." George Washington Carver

Monday, August 24, 2009

Commentary - Matthew 7:1

Judge not that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:1

The word "judge" in this verse translates from the Greek word 'krino,' also found in:

--John 12:48
44And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.

--Acts 17:31
29Being then God’s offspring,we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

--2 Timothy 4:1
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Usage of the word 'judge' in these cases indicate that the type of judgment warned against is that of presuming to determine if someone is or is not worthy to receive the gift of salvation. Not even Christ did this during His mission on earth as we can see by His words in John 12:47:

"I came not to judge the world but to save the world."

Especially not are we able in success to judge matters of the heart prematurely as shown in 1Corinthians 4:5-6:

"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to life the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God."

But nowhere does Jesus tell us not to use discerning judgment about the actions of others in day-to-day living.

We read in John 7:24:

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

These words of Jesus indicate that we can use our powers of moral discernment based on the standards of God. We are not to be self-righteous or superior. We are not to judge in the sense of being a faultfinder who delights in pointing out mistakes and shortcomings in others, who actively seeks out failings to magnify them and then pour cold water on dreams, aspirations, and self-esteem. That kind of judge disparages others in order to exalt himself.

In avoiding an ugly self-righteousness, we must first remember that we are all sinners. As sinners, we realize that we are saved not by ourselves but by grace. We can only practice the observational powers given us in regard to actions as measured against the Word of God, as in recognizing a tree by its fruit. Paul wrote in Phillipians 1:9-11:

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

Next time you hear a quote directed at you from Matthew 7:1, recognize the purpose is not to understand the commands of Jesus but to discourage His followers from the knowledge about and confidence in making moral judgments based on the Word of God. As salt of the earth, Christians should try to share as an example not only by actions but also with words. We need morality and standards. We don't need Christians wearing blinders.

When we exercise judgment based on the Word of God, there will be outcry from those who wish to continue in immoral behavior without hearing flack about it. In an effort to shut you down, they will pick out the lone verse of Matthew 7:1. In response, do not be tricked and do not back down. Arm yourself with the courage that comes from a wider spectrum of spiritual knowledge.

by K.L.Kraemer

Sunday, August 23, 2009

History - St. Constantine and the Cross

Saint Constantine (272AD-337AD) was Roman emperor from 306 until his death in 337. His victory at the Milvian Bridge ranks by scholars as one of the most decisive moments in world history.

Following the collapse of the Tetrarchy around 309, Constantine strengthened his claim in Britain, Gaul, the Germanic provinces, and Spain. Believing himself to be the rightful emperor of the Western Roman Empire, he prepared his army for an invasion of Italy in 312. Maxentius, who occupied Rome, tried to advance his own claim to the title and was able to draw upon the resources of Italy, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and the African provinces.

After defeating Maxentian armies at Turin and Verona, Constantine moved on and conquered northern Italy. Compassionate to the citizens, he found willing supporters among them--many of whom joined his ever-increasing army.

Continuing in battle toward Rome, Constantine expected that Maxentius would stay within the city walls and force him to lay siege since that was the strategy he (Maxentius) used against the forces of Severus (307) and Galerius

Yet this time Maxentius instead advanced his army to the Tiber River near the Milvian Bridge outside of Rome. On the night before the battle at Milvian, Constantine had a vision which instructed him to fight under the protection of the Christian God. In this vision a cross appeared in the sky and he heard in Latin, "In this sign, you will conquer."

Lactantius (240AD-320AD), an early Christian author, wrote of Constantine's vision:

Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter X, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top (P), being the cipher of CHRISTOS. Having this sign, his troops stood to arms.

Eusebius of Caesarea (263AD-339AD), the Father of Church History and Bishop of Caesarea Palaestina, wrote of Constantine's vision:

Being convinced...that he needed some more powerful aid than his military forces could afford him, on account of the wicked and magical enchantments which were so diligently practiced by the tyrant, he sought Divine assistance, deeming the possession of arms and a numerous soldiery of secondary importance, but believing the co-operating power of Deity invincible and not to be shaken. He considered, therefore, on what God he might rely for protection and assistance ....[W]hile he was...praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven...

He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. ... And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.

At dawn of day he arose, and communicated the marvel to his friends: and then, calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones. And this representation I myself have had an opportunity of seeing.

Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre: and these letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the cross-bar of the spear was suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones; and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. This banner was of a square form, and the upright staff, whose lower section was of great length, bore a golden half-length portrait of the pious emperor and his children on its upper part, beneath the trophy of the cross, and immediately above the embroidered banner.

The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies.

The Battle
After crossing over the Milvian Bridge, Maxentius ordered it destroyed so that it could not be used by Constantine. He then had a pontoon bridge built for his men. When Constantine's forces arrived on the battlefield with his troops, they attacked and successfully pushed Maxentius' men toward the river.

Maxentius started to retreat toward Rome. As his army withdrew, it clogged and collapsed the pontoon bridge. Those trapped on the river's bank were either captured or slaughtered by Constantine's men. As the battle came to a close. Maxentius' body was found in the river where he had drowned in an attempt to swim across.

With his rival dead, Constantine was free to consolidate his hold over the Western Roman Empire. His reign expanded to include the entire Roman Empire after defeating Licinius during the civil war of 324.

As the first Christian Roman emperor, he stopped persecutions demanded by his predecessor, Diocletian, and issued the Edict of Milan in 313 to proclaim religious toleration throughout the empire. He restored to Christians the property stolen from them during persecutions of predecessors, and he preferred Christians in government jobs.

Constantine even took a direct interest in matters of doctrine, setting a precedent for future emperors, and called the first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church (at Nicaea).

His impact on the success of the Christian church is undeniable, and his support of Christianity is one of the most momentous decisions ever made by a European ruler.

Lead me, Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies. Make your way straight before my face.
Psalm 5:8

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Song from the Ausbund - Man, Are You Tired of Being Sad?


Man, are you tired of being sad? Start doing what is right. Sin brings eternal pain, and one needs to fight it. Be serious! Get to know yourself first. Purify your heart and be humble. Then men may call you great.

It is difficult for the one who loves to talk to get to know himself. If he would think of who he is, he would not have so much to say. Look at yourself! Leave the rest. Do not gossip. Be quiet . . . so that in the end you may not be put to shame. What you measure out will be measured to you. Christ treats all men fairly. No sin remains unpunished. Therefore fear God and keep his commands. No good deed remains without its reward. Pray for grace, early and late, and pray that we may be spared. If you want to be saved, keep away from sin! To be carnally minded is death. Leave the world! Leave your possessions! Leave your goods and your money! The one who thinks of death chooses the best and Christ earns grace for him.

God will not forsake the one who lives in the truth. God is ready to hear us if we hate sin. Oh Jesus Christ, it is your spirit that comforts us. Do not leave us! Be merciful to us and intercede for us . . . as we near the end of time.
-- Othmar Roth, Sankt Gallen in Switzerland, 1532, Ausbund 58

The *Ausbund of inspirational Christian poems, being used only by the Amish today, is the world's oldest hymnbook still in continuous use. It became the most famous worship book for Anabaptists soon after imprisoned Christians began writing it between 1535 and 1540.

Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come, endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer. Romans 12:12

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you, your troubles will not overwhelm you." Isaiah 43: 1, 2

His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagles.
Psalm 103:1-5

My people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the Lord. Jeremiah 31:14

We are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well; for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us, because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
Psalm 126:5

Tears may flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poem - My Guardian Angel

My Guardian Angel
by Robert William Service*

When looking back I dimly see
The trails my feet have trod,
Some hand divine, it seems to me,
Has pulled the strings with God;
Some angel form has lifeward leaned
When hope for me was past;
Some love sublime has intervened
To save me at the last.

For look you! I was born a fool,
Damnation was my fate;
My lot to drivel and to drool,
Egregious and frutrate.
But in the deep of my despair,
When dark my doom was writ,
Some saving hand was always there
to pull me from the Pit.

A Guardian Angel - how absurd!
I scoff at Power Divine.
And yet . . . a someone spoke the word
That willed me from the swine.
And yet, despite my scorn of prayer,
My lack of love or friend,
I know a Presence will be there,
To save me at the end.

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep {you} from evil. 11Thessalonians 3:3

When thou passest through the waters, I {will be} with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Isaiah 43:2

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of {them} whose heart {is} perfect toward him. 11Chronicles 16:9a

He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 1 Samuel 2:9

For thou hast been a shelter for me, {and} a strong tower from the enemy. Psalms 61:3

For the eyes of the Lord {are} over the righteous, and his ears {are open} unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord {is} against them that do evil. And who {is} he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 1 Peter 3:12-13

The eternal God {is thy} refuge, and underneath {are} the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy {them}. Deuteronomy 33:27

So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:19

*Robert William Service (1874-1958): poet and writer sometimes referred to as "the Bard of the Yukon."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poem - The Christian

The Christian
by William Cowper*

Honor and happiness unite
To make the Christian's name a praise;
How fair the scene, how clear the light,
That fills the remnant of His days!

A kingly character He bears,
No change His priestly office knows;
Unfading is the crown He wears,
His joys can never reach a close.

Adorn'd with glory from on high,
Salvation shines upon His face;
His robe is of the ethereal dye,
His steps are dignity and grace.

Inferior honors He disdains,
Nor stoops to take applause from earth;
The King of kings Himself maintains
The expenses of His heavenly birth.

The noblest creature seen below,
Ordain'd to fill a throne above;
God gives him all He can bestow,
His kingdom of eternal love!

My soul is ravished at the thought!
Methinks from earth I see Him rise!
Angels congratulate His lot,
And shout Him welcome to the skies.
And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1Peter 5:4

*William Cowper (1731-1800) was an English poet and hymnodist whose association with John Newton ("Amazing Grace") led to the poetry for which he is best remembered.

GOD moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm. Olney Hymns (1779)--'Light Shining out of Darkness'

There is a fountain fill'd with blood
Drawn from EMMANUEL's veins;
And sinners, plung'd beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains. Olney Hymns (1779)--'Praise for the Fountain Opened'
Oh! for a closer walk with GOD,
A calm and heav'nly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb! Olney Hymns (1779)--'Walking with God'
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Matthew 25:31
And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
1Thessalonians 4:17
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Psalm 103:20

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1Peter 1:3-5

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Artwork above by Holly Garcia,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Poem - Dear Lord, I Praise You

© by Gene Minix

Dear Lord, I praise you.
I lift my heart to you above.
I feel I cannot praise you enough
For your wonderful love.

I will praise you in the morning
And when night brings the moon.
I will praise you at mid-day
And through all the afternoon.

From the night filled with stars
Till the rising of the sun.
I give you thanks and praise
For all that you have done.

I thank you for your mercy
And I praise you for your grace.
For all that you do for me
And the smile you bring to my face.

For my family and my friends.
For food and this roof above.
For your kindness and faithfulness
And for your wonderful love.

So from the setting of the sun
Till the sun comes shining through.
And even in my rest at night, Dear Lord,
I praise you still. I give thanks to you.
Copyright 2009, by Gene Minix.All rights reserved.

--My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. Psalm 5:3

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!—
Psalm 105:1-2

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; He adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.—
Psalm 149:1-5

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
Praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:1-6

Artwork above by Holly Garcia

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sermon - Thankfulness for Mercies Received

Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a necessary Duty. (Psalm 107:30-31)
by George Whitefield*

"Then art they glad, because they are at rest, and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be. O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men! Psalm 108:30-30

Numberless marks does man bear in his soul, that he is fallen and estranged from God; but nothing gives a greater proof thereof, than that backwardness, which every one finds within himself, to the duty of praise and thanksgiving.

When God placed the first man in paradise, his soul no doubt was so filled with a sense of the riches of the divine love, that he was continually employing that breath of life, which the Almighty had not long before breathed into him, in blessing and magnifying that all-bountiful, all gracious God, in whom he lived, moved, and had his being.

And the brightest idea we can form of the angelical hierarchy above, and the spirits of just men made perfect, is, that they are continually standing round the throne of God, and cease not day and night, saying, "Worthy art thou, O Lamb that wast slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."
Rev. 5:12.

That then, which was man's perfection when time first began, and will be his employment when death is swallowed up in victory, and time shall be no more, without controversy, is part of our perfection, and ought to be our frequent exercise on earth: and I doubt not but those blessed spirits, who are sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation, often stand astonished when they encamp around us, or find our hearts so rarely enlarged, and our mouths so seldom opened, to show forth the loving-kindness of the Lord, or to speak of all his praise.

Matter for praise and adoration, can never be wanting to creatures redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and who have such continual scenes of his infinite goodness presented to their view, that were their souls duly affected with a sense of his universal love, they could not but be continually calling on heaven and earth, men and angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that "high and lofty one, who inhabiteth eternity, who maketh his sun to shine on the evil and on the good," and daily pours down his blessings on the whole race of mankind.,

But few are arrived to such a degree of charity or love, as to rejoice with those that do rejoice, and to be as thankful for other mercies, as their own. This part of Christian perfection, though begun on earth, will be consummated only in heaven; where our hearts will glow with such fervent love towards God and one another, that every fresh degree of glory communicated to our neighbor, will also communicate to us a fresh topic of thankfulness and joy.

That which has the greatest tendency to excite the generality of fallen men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God's private mercies, and particular benefits bestowed upon ourselves. For as these come nearer our own hearts, so they must be more affecting: and as they are peculiar proofs, whereby we may know, that God does in a more especial manner favor us above others, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner's fire, they must melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a consideration of the distinguishing favor God had shown to his chosen people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverance wrought by him in behalf of "those who go down to the Sea in ships, and occupy their business in great matters," that made the holy Psalmist break out so frequently as he does in this psalm, into this moving, pathetical exclamation, "that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness, and declare the wonders that He doeth for the children of men!"

His expressing himself in so fervent a manner, implies both the importance and neglect of the duty. As when Moses in another occasion cried out, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would practically consider their latter end!" Deut. 32:29.

I say, importance and neglect of the duty; for out of those man thousands that receive blessings from the Lord, how few give thanks in remembrance of his holiness? The account given us of the ungrateful lepers, is but too lively a representation of the ingratitude of mankind in general; who like them, when under any humbling providence, can cry, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Luke 17:13. But when healed of their sickness, or delivered from their distress, scarce one in ten can be found "returning to give thanks to God."

And yet as common as this sin of ingratitude is, there is nothing we ought more earnestly to pray against. For what is more absolutely condemned in holy scripture than ingratitude? Or what more peremptorily (absolutely, emphatically) required than the contrary temper? Thus says the Apostle, "Rejoice evermore; in every thing give thanks," 1 Thes. 5:16,18. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God," Phil. 4:6.

On the contrary, the Apostle mentions it as one of the highest crimes of the Gentiles, that they were not thankful. "Neither were they thankful," Rom. 1:21. As also in another place, he numbers the "unthankful," 2 Tim. 3:2 amongst those unholy, profane person, who are to have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone.

As for our sins, God puts them behind His back; but His mercies He will have acknowledged, "There is virtue gone out of me," says Jesus Christ, Luke 8:46 and the woman who was cured of her bloody issue, must confess it. And we generally find, when God sent any remarkable punishment upon a particular person, He reminded him of the favors he had received, as so many aggravations of his ingratitude. Thus when God was about to visit Eli's house, He thus expostulates with him by his prophet: "Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy fathers, when they were in Egypt, in Pharaoh's house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel, to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before me? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice, and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation, and honorest thy sons above me; so make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed, that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever; but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me, for them that honor me will I honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" 2 Sam. 2:27-30.

It was this and such like instances of God's severity against the unthankful, that inclined me to choose the words of the text, as the most proper subject I could discourse on at this time.

Four months, my good friends, we have now been upon the sea in this ship, and "have occupied our business in the great waters." At God Almighty's word, we have seen "the stormy wind arise, which hath lifted up the waves thereof. We have been carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep, and some of our souls melted away because of the trouble; but I trust we cried earnestly unto the Lord, and He delivered us out of our distress. For He made the storm to cease; so that the waves thereof were still. And now we are glad, because we are at rest, for God hath brought us to the haven where we would be. O that you would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness, and declare the wonders that He hath done for us, the unworthiest of the sons of men."

Thus Moses, thus Joshua behaved. For when they were about to take their leave of the children of Israel, they recounted to them what great things God had done for them, as the best arguments and motives they could urge to engage them to obedience. And how can I copy after better examples? What fitter, what more noble motives, to holiness and purity of living, can I lay before you, than they did?

Indeed, I cannot say, that we have seen the "pillar of a cloud by day, or a pillar of fire by night," going visibly before us to guide our course; but this I can say, that the same God who was in that pillar of a cloud, and pillar of fire, which departed not from the Israelites, and who has made the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, has, by His good providence, directed us in our right way, or else the pilot had steered us in vain.

Neither can I say, That we have seen the "sun stand still," as the children of Israel did in the days of Joshua. But surely God, during part of our voyage, has caused it to withhold some of that heat, which it usually sends forth in these warmer climates, or else it had not failed, but some of you must have perished in the sickness that has been, and does yet continue among us.

We have not seen the waters stand purposely on an heap, that we might pass through, neither have we been pursued by Pharaoh and his host, and delivered out of their hands; but we have been led through the sea as through a wilderness, and were once remarkably preserved from being run down by another ship; which had God permitted, the waters, in all probability, would immediately have overwhelmed us, and like Pharaoh and his host, we should have sunk, as stones, into the sea.

We may, indeed, atheist like, ascribe all these things to natural causes, and say, "Our own skill and foresight has brought us hither in safety." But as certainly as Jesus Christ, the angel of the covenant, in the days of his flesh, walked upon the water, and said to his sinking disciples, "Be not afraid, it is I," so surely has the same everlasting I AM, "who decketh himself with light as with a garment, who spreadeth out the heavens like a curtain, who claspeth the winds in his fist, who holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hands," and guided the wise men by a star in the east; so surely, I say, has he spoken, and at His command the winds have blown us where we are not arrived. For His providence ruleth all things; "Wind and storms obey His word:" He saith to it at one time, Go, and it goeth; at another, Come, and it cometh; and at a third time, Blow this way, and it bloweth.

It is He, my brethren; and not we ourselves, that has of late sent us such prosperous gales, and made us to ride, as it were, on the wings of the wind, into the haven where we would be.

"O that you would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness," and by your lives declare, that you are truly thankful for the wonders He had shown to us; who are less than the least of the sons of men.

I say, declare it by your lives. For to give him thanks, barely with your lips; while your hearts are far from Him, is but a mock sacrifice, nay, an abomination unto the Lord.

This was the end, the royal Psalmist says, God had in view, when he showed such wonders, from time to time, to the people of Israel, "That they might keep his statutes, and observe his laws," Psalm 105:44 and this, my good friends, is the end God would have accomplished in us, and the only return He desires us to make Him, for all the benefits He hath conferred upon us.

O then, let me beseech you, give to God your hearts, your whole hearts; and suffer yourselves to be drawn by the cords of infinite love, to honor and obey Him.

Assure yourselves you can never serve a better master; for His service is perfect freedom, His yoke, when worn a little while, is exceeding easy, His burden light, and in keeping His commandments there is great reward; love, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a crown of glory that fadeth not away, hereafter.

You may, indeed, let other lords have dominion over you, and Satan may promise to give you all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, if you will fall down and worship him; but he is a liar, and was so from the beginning; he has not so much to give you, as you may tread on with the soul of your foot; or could he give you the whole world, yea, that could not make you happy without God. It is God alone, my brethren, whose we are, in whose name I now speak, and who has of late showed us such mercies in the deep, that can give solid lasting happiness to your souls; and He for this reason only desires your hearts, because without Him you must be miserable.

Suffer me not then to go away without my errand; as it is the last time I shall speak to you, let me not speak in vain; but let a sense of the divine goodness lead you to repentance.

Even Saul, that abandoned wretch, when David showed him his skirt, which he had cut off, when he might have also taken his life, was so melted down with his kindness, that he lifted up his voice and wept. And we must have hearts harder than Saul's, nay, harder than the nether millstone, if a sense of God's late loving kindnesses, notwithstanding He might so often have destroyed us, does not even compel us to lay down our arms against Him, and become His faithful servants and soldiers unto our lives end.

If they have not this effect upon us, we shall, of all men, be most miserable; for God is just, as well as merciful; and the more blessings we have received here, the greater damnation, if we do not improve them, shall we incur hereafter.

But God forbid that any of those should ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, amongst whom, I have, for these four months, been preaching the gospel of Christ; but yet thus must it be, if you do not improve the divine mercies: and instead of your being my crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, I must appear as a swift witness against you.

But, brethren, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though I thus speak.

Blessed be God, some marks of a partial reformation at least, have been visible amongst all you that are soldiers. And my weak, though sincere endeavors, to build you up in the knowledge and fear of God, have not been altogether in vain in the Lord.

Swearing, I hope is, in a great measure, abated with you; and God, I trust, has blessed His late visitations, by making them the means of awakening your consciences, to a more solicitous inquiry about the things which belong to your everlasting peace.

Fulfill you then my joy, by continuing thus minded, and labor to go on to perfection. For I shall have no greater pleasure than to see, or hear, that you walk in the truth.

Consider, my good friends, you are now, as it were, entering on a new world, where you will be surrounded with multitudes of heathens; and if you take not heed to "have your conversation honest amongst them," and to "walk worthy of the holy vocation wherewith you are called," you will act the hellish part of Herod's soldiers over again; and cause Christ's religion, as they did his person, to be had in derision of those that are round about you.

Consider further, what peculiar privileges you have enjoyed, above many others that are entering on the same land. They have had, as it were, a famine of the Word, but you have rather been in danger of being surfeited with your spiritual manna. And, therefore, as more instructions have been given you, so from you, men will most justly expect the greater improvement in goodness.

Indeed, I cannot say, I have discharged my duty towards you as I ought. No, I am sensible of many faults in my ministerial office, and for which I have not failed, nor, I hope, ever shall fail, to humble myself in secret before God. However, this I can say, that except a few days that have been spent necessarily on other persons, whom God immediately called me to write and minister unto, and the two last weeks wherein I have been confined by sickness; all the while I have been aboard, I have been either actually engaged in, or preparing myself for instructing you. And though you are now to be committed to the care of another (whose labors I heartily beseech God to bless amongst you) yet I trust I shall, at all seasons, if need be, willingly spend, and be spent, for the good of your souls, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I should be loved.

As for your military affairs, I have nothing to do with them. Fear God, and you must honor the King. Nor am I well acquainted with the nature of that land which you are now come over to protect; only this I may venture to affirm in the general, that you must necessarily expect upon your arrival at a new colony, to meet with many difficulties. But your very profession teaches you to endure hardship; "be not, therefore, faint-hearted, but quit yourselves like men, and be strong," Num.14. Be not like those cowardly persons, who were affrighted at the report of the false spies, that came and said, that there were people tall as the Anakims to be grappled with, but be ye like unto Caleb and Joshua, all heart; and say, we will act valiantly, for we shall be more than conquerors over all difficulties through Jesus Christ that loved us. Above all things, my brethren, take heed, and beware of murmuring, like the perverse Israelites, against those that are set over you; and "learn, whatsoever state you shall be in, therewith to be content," Phil. 4:11.

As I have spoken to you, I hope your wives also will suffer the word of exhortation,

Your behavior on shipboard especially the first part of the voyage, I choose to throw a cloak over; for to use them mildest terms, it was not such as became the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, of late, blessed be God, you have taken more heed to your ways, and some of you have walked all the while, as became "women professing godliness." Let those accept my hearty thanks, and permit me to entreat you all in general, as you are all now married, to remember the solemn vow you made at your entrance into the marriage state, and see that you be subject to your own husbands, in every lawful thing: Beg of God to keep the door of your lips, that you offend not with your tongues; and walk in love, that your prayers be not hindered. You that have children, let it be your chief concern to breed them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And live all of you so holy and unblameable, that you may not so much as be suspected to be unchaste; and as some of you have imitated Mary Magdalen in her sin, strive to imitate her also in her repentance.

As for you, sailors, what shall I say? How shall I address myself to you? How shall I do that which I so much long to do; touch your hearts? Gratitude obliges me to wish thus well to you. For you have often taught me many instructive lessons, and reminded me to put up many prayers to God for you, that you might receive your spiritual sight.

When I have seen you preparing for a storm, and reefing [could also be reesing] your sails to guard against it; how have I wished that you and I were as careful to avoid that storm of God's wrath, which will certainly, without repentance, quickly overtake us? When I have observed you catch at ever fair gale, how I secretly cried, O that we were as careful to know the things that belong to our peace, before they are forever hid from our eyes! And when I have taken notice, how steadily you eyed your compass in order to steer aright, how have I wished, that we as steadily eyed the word of God, which alone can preserve us from "making shipwreck of faith, and a good conscience!" In short, there is scarce anything you do, which has not been a lesson of instruction to me; and, therefore, it would me ungrateful in me, did I not take this opportunity of exhorting you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be as wise in the things which concern you soul, as I have observed you to be in the affairs belonging to your ship.

I am sensible, that the sea is reckoned but an ill school to learn Christ in: and to see a devout sailor, is esteemed an uncommon a thing, as to see a Saul amongst the prophets. But whence this wondering? Whence this looking upon a godly sailor, as a man to be wondered at, as a speckled bird in the creation? I am sure, for the little time I have come in and out amongst you, and as far as I can judge from the little experience I have had of things, I scarce know any way of life, that is capable of greater improvements than yours.

The continual danger you are in of being overwhelmed by the great waters; the many opportunities you have of beholding God's wonders in the deep; the happy retirement you enjoy from worldly temptations; and the daily occasions that are offered you, to endure hardships, are such noble means of promoting the spiritual life, that were your hearts bent towards God, you would account it your happiest, that His providence has called you, to "go down to the sea in ships, and to occupy your business in the great waters."

The royal Psalmist knew this, and, therefore, in the words of the text, calls more especially on men of your employ, to "praise the Lord for His goodness, and declare the wonders He doeth for the children of men."

And O that you would be wise in time, and hearken to His voice today, "whilst it is called to-day!" For ye yourselves know how little is to be done on a sick bed. God has, in an especial manner, of late, invited you to repentance: two of your crew he has taken off by death, and most of you he has mercifully visited with a grievous sickness. The terrors of the Lord have been upon you, and when burnt with a scorching fever, some of you have cried out, "What shall we do to be saved?" Remember then the resolutions you made, when you thought God was about to take away your souls; and see that according to your promises, you show forth your thankfulness, not only with your lips, but in your lives. For though God may bear long, He will not forbear always; and if these signal mercies and judgments do not lead you to repentance, assure yourselves there will at last come a fiery tempest, from the presence of the Lord, which will sweep away you, and all other adversaries of God.

I am positive, neither you nor the soldiers have wanted, nor will want any manner of encouragement to piety and holiness of living, from those two persons who have here the government over you; for they have been such helps to me in my ministry, and have so readily concurred in every thing for your good, that they may justly demand a public acknowledgment of thanks both from you and me.

Permit me, my honored friends, in the name of both classes of your people, to return you hearty thanks for the ears and tenderness you have expressed for the welfare of their better parts.

As for the private favors you have shown to my person, I hope so deep a sense of them is imprinted on my heart, that I shall plead them before God in prayer, as long as I live.

But I have still stronger obligations to intercede in your behalf. For God, ever adored be His free grace in Christ Jesus! Has set his seal to my ministry in your hearts. Some distant pangs of the new birth I have observed to come upon you; and God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, by ceasing to pray, that the good work begun in your souls, may be carried on till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The time of our departure from each other is not at hand, and you are going out into a world of temptations. But though absent in body, let us be present with each other in spirit; and God, I trust, will enable you to be singularly good, to be ready to be accounted fools for Christ's sake; and then we shall meet never to part again in the kingdom of our Father which is in heaven.

To you, my companions and familiar friends, who came over with me to sojourn in a strange land, do I in the next place address myself. For you I especially fear, as well as for myself, because as we take sweet counsel together oftener than others, and as you are let into a more intimate friendship with me in private life, the eyes of all men will be upon you to note even the minutest miscarriage; and, therefore, it highly concerns you to "walk circumspectly towards those that are without," I hope, that nothing but a single eye to God's glory and the salvation of your own souls, brought you from your native country. Remember then the end of your coming hither, and you can never do amiss. Be patterns of industry, as well as of piety, to those who shall be around you; and above all things let us have such fervent charity amongst ourselves, that it may be said of us, as of the primitive Christians, "See how the Christians love one another."

And now I have been speaking to others particularly, I have one general request to make to all, and that with reference to myself.

You have heard, my dear friends, how I have been exhorting every one of you to show forth your thankfulness for the divine goodness, not only with your lips, but in your lives. But "physician heal thyself," may justly be retorted on me. For (without any false pretenses to humility) I find my own heart so little inclined to this duty of thanksgiving for the benefits I have received, that I had need fear sharing Hezekiah's fate, who because he was lifted up by, and not thankful enough for, the great things God had done for him, was given up a prey to the pride of his own heart.

I need, therefore, and beg your most importunate petitions at the throne of grace, that no such evil may befall me; that the more God exalts me, the more I may debase myself; and that after I have preached to others, I myself may not be cast away.

And now, brethren, into God's hands I commend your spirits, who, I trust, through his infinite mercies in Christ Jesus, will preserve you blameless, till his second coming to judge the world.

Excuse my detaining you for long; perhaps it is the last time I shall speak to you: my heart is full, and out of the abundance of it, I could continue my discourse until midnight. But I must away to your new world; may God give you new hearts, and enable you to put in practice what you have heard from time to time, to by your duty, and I need not wish you anything better. For then God will so bless you, that "you will build you cities to dwell in; then will you sow your lands and plant vineyards, which will yield you fruits of increase," Psalm 107:37. "Then your oxen shall be strong to labor, there shall be no leading into captivity, and no complaining in your streets; then shall your sons grow up as the young plants, and your daughters be as the polished corners of the temple: then shall your garners be full and plenteous with all manner of store, and your sheep bring forth thousands, and ten thousands in your streets," Psalm 144 In short, then shall the Lord be your God; and as surely as He has now brought us to this haven, where we would be, so surely, after we have past through the storms and tempests of this troublesome world, will He bring us to the haven of eternal rest, where we shall have nothing to do, but to praise Him for ever for his goodness, and declare, in never-ceasing songs of praise, the wonders He has done for us, and all the other sons of men.

"To which blessed rest, God of his infinite mercy bring us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord! To whom with the Father and Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, might, majesty, and dominion, now, henceforth, and forevermore. Amen, Amen."

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
salm 9:1

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. Psalm 31:19

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
1Chronicles 29:11-13

*George Whitefield (1714-1770): Evangelist who preached in America during the Great Awakening.

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