Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His Divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a Cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying–and that was His coat. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Such was His human life–He rises from the dead. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the Centerpiece of the human race and the Leader of the column of progress. I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.
Prodigal: Well, they are finally, popping up after we planted them last year.
Me: Darn pretty too!
This is from the book A Spiritual Clinic by J. Oswald Sanders
The expression “work out” carries the idea of working out to an ultimate goal, to a finish, as in a scientific or mathematical problem. The question of the believer’s standing before God is never in view in the passage, nor is there room for the idea that our sanctification is something completed in a high moment of surrender to Christ. It is true that full surrender to Christ is necessary to full sanctification, but the crisis of surrender is only the initiation of the process. We have a life job on our hands. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after” (Phil. 3:12), Paul protested. Sanctification is not automatic, the result of mere fluxion of time. The free agency of man in cooperating with God is involved. God sends sun and rain, provides soil and seed, but there would no crop if the farmer did not plow and fertilize, sow and reap.
The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not. Job 27:19 (KJV)
The devil has so many tactics. What is true with Godly people is that they surrender all to the Lord. With that surrender the devil cannot come into to tempt. All is from God, all is for God and all we give to God.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Psalms 37:7 (KJV)
Prodigal: I’m just reading about this battle that took place awhile ago.
Me: I have another story from the past.
This is from Keith Miller in Edge of Adventure
The Bible can change not only a life, but an entire lifestyle. Most of us have heard the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, but few of us have heard how the Bible played a very vital part in that historical event. The Bounty was a British ship which set sail from England in 1787, bound for the South Seas. The idea was that those on board would spend some time among the islands, transplanting fruit-bearing and food-bearing trees, and doing other things to make some of the islands more habitable. After ten months of voyage, the Bounty arrived safely at its destination, and for six months the officers and the crew gave themselves to the duties placed upon them by their government.
When the special task was completed, however, and the order came to embark again, the sailors rebelled. They had formed strong attachments for the native girls, and the climate and the ease of the South sea island life was much to their liking. The result was mutiny on the Bounty, and the sailors placed Captain Bligh and a few loyal men adrift in an open boat. Captain Bligh, in an almost miraculous fashion, survived the ordeal, was rescued, and eventually arrived home in London to tell his story. An expedition was launched to punish the mutineers, and in due time fourteen of them were captured and paid the penalty under British law.
But nine of the men had gone to another distant island. There they formed a colony. Perhaps there has never been a more degraded and debauched social life than that of that colony. They learned to distill whiskey from a native plant, and the whiskey, as usual, along with other habits, led to their ruin. Disease and murder took the lives of all the native men and all but one of the white men named Alexander Smith. He found himself the only man on an island, surrounded by a crowd of women and half-breed children. Alexander Smith found a Bible among the possessions of a dead sailor. The Book was new to him. He had never read it before. He sat down and read it through. He believed it and he began to appropriate it. He wanted others to share in the benefits of this book, so he taught classes to the women and the children, as he read to them and taught them the Scriptures.
It was twenty years before a ship ever found that island, and when it did, a miniature Utopia was discovered. The people were living in decency, prosperity, harmony, and peace. There was nothing of crime, disease, immorality, insanity, or illiteracy. How was it accomplished? By the reading, the believing, and the appropriating of the truth of God!
1 John 3:11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1968. Kasai Province, Zaire, Africa. As one of the missionaries who had been allowed to return to his former station in what was once the Belgian Congo, I’d been “itinerating” for several weeks–that is, visiting among the tribal missions in a radius of about a hundred miles of my station in Moma. One evening, after preaching and showing Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 classic film, King of Kings, I found that I was only about thirty miles from our house on Lake Munkamba.
Almost on impulse I decided to spend the night there. It was late, after eleven, and I was very tired. But I was also tired of sleeping in my house-truck. Besides, I wanted to see the house again.
This was no ordinary house. I don’t mean architecturally, though that too, given the local standards. It was extraordinary because it was ours–the only home in Africa that was our very own. We had built it years before as a hideaway for little family vacations, and now, with Virginia and our two sons far away in America, I longed even more to go there. The house represented home and love and a security that often seemed elusive in those days of internal African strife. I needed to be reminded of these qualities once more.
As I drove toward the lake, I wondered in what condition I’d find our hideaway this time. During the tribal fighting of the early 1960’s, it had been looted frequently. Doors and windows and most of the furnishings–as well as the much-coveted tin roof-had been carried away. Our roof now covered the local chief’s hut, but he had explained his taking it. “When I saw those looters taking everything from you house, ” he had said, “I knew you would want me instead of them to have that tin roof!” Logic against which I could offer no rebuke.
At last I arrived. The house was still there. I fumbled my way in the darkness through the bare living room to a cot in one of the bedrooms and fell upon it. Exhausted, I was soon asleep.
I awakened early the next morning, looked about a little, and said my prayers. I thanked God for another day of life and asked Him to watch over me. Outside, through the morning mist, I saw a lone native fisherman on the shore nearby. There seemed to be on one else about. All was quiet. African quiet.
Time to get going, I told myself, and took my five-gallon jerry can to the spring and filled it with drinking water. Back at the house, I picked up my hat, and was about to leave when I caught sight of the fisherman again. It made me wish I had time to join him for a quick catch. Well, someday, I thought. I’d just better check to see if that outboard motor I left last summer is still here. With so much looting, there was no telling what might have become of a prize like an outboard motor.
I put down the jerry can and went to a small storeroom in the back of the house. It was windowless and gloomy inside, but I could see that the motor was still there. That’s a relief, I thought, reaching down and patting it as if to say, “Good boy! Stay there, because you and I have some fishing to catch up on as soon as I can get a day off!”
At just the moment I became aware of something else in a corner of the room. It was black and coiled into a circle, a though very carefully placed there. I don’t remember having a rope like that, I said to myself. I went over to have a closer look. I went too close.
Oh! Oh, dear Lord!
I felt a spray of liquid; it was as though a red-hot nail had been driven through my right eye!
Instantly I knew that what I had taken for a coiled rope was a spitting cobra, one of the most poisonous snakes in the world!
I screamed out loud and started running, running away, but I no sooner go to the door than I stumbled over the jerry can of water. Quickly I threw myself down on all fours and frantically splashed cold water into my face, trying to put out the fire that was spreading through my head.
A figure loomed over me. “Muambi! What is the matter?” It was the fisherman from the lake.
He looked at me, looked at the room, and ran away. He knows what has happened, I told myself. He knows there’s nothing he can do. He’s probably gone to tell the chief that I am here dying. Every native African knows that the spitting cobra first blinds and paralyzes its victim with a deadly venom before attacking again.
The pain was excruciating. Where was the snake now? I went on splashing water on my face even though I knew my flailing might cause it to strike again.
Was I beginning to feel a numbing sensation creeping over me? It seemed that way, but I wasn’t sure.
Minutes went by, maybe five, maybe ten. Three people entered the room. Strangers. A man and two women, white.
The man rushed to me. “What’s happened?” he asked, and I stuttered out the word, “Cobra.”
He ran outside and came back with a large stick. “There it is! he yelled, as he lifted the stick and again and again brought it down on the snake’s head, killing the creature–a seven-foot long female carrying seven eggs!
One of the women came to me, check my pulse, and tried to look into my blinded eye. “I’m a nurse,” she said. Then she looked up at the other two people helplessly. “I don’t know what to do, but I feel I must do something!” Then, as almost an afterthought, she opened her handbag and started searching for something. “A sample of an eye medication came to me in the mail the other day. I don’t know anything about it,” she said, addressing me, “but it’s all we have. Shall I try it on you?”
I understood what she was really saying: The poor man is going to die anyway–or go bling; why not take the gamble?
I nodded and she put a few drops of the unknown prescription in my eye.
“It’s just possible that the water you threw on your face helped,” the nurse said. Now we waited to give the medication time to do its work, if it was going to.
A half hour passed. Just as the pain seemed to be easing, we heard footsteps. Another white man appeared, a stranger to the others. I was mystified. Where were all these people coming from? In those days in that part of Africa, no unidentified white man traveled alone.
Who was he? A French doctor, he said, on his way to a diamond mine fifty miles away. He’d heard of the beautiful Lake Munkamba and he’d detoured several miles off his route, parked his car a half mile away, and walked down to the shore of the lake.
The nurse explained to him what had happened to me. “Do you know how to treat venom in the eye?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered. He told us of an effective new antibiotic. In fact, he had used it successfully on a man at the diamond mine just the month before. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any with him.
“Do you know anything about this? the nurse asked, handing him the medication she had put in my eye.
He looked at it carefully. “That’s it! That’s it! That’s the very one I was telling you about!”
The French doctor stayed for a while. Then, after giving instructions for applying the drops every thirty minutes and telling me to stay in bed for the next twenty-four hours, he left us, as quickly and mysteriously as he had arrived. None of us had even learned his name!
Now, however, I learned who my other saviors were: a Scottish missionary and his wife who were vacationing nearby and a nurse visiting them from English mission. The kindly Scotsman took me to his house and put me to bed.
The next morning my eyesight was fully restored, my energy had returned, and my eye was not even red! Today I see as well from one eye as from the other.
So they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress;
he went his word to heal them
and bring them alive out of this pit of death.
Let them thank the Lord for his enduring love and for the marvellous things he has done.
The eye is attracted by beautiful objects, by gold and silver and all such things. There is great pleasure, too, in feeling something agreeable to the touch, and material things have various qualities to please each of the other senses. Again, it is gratifying to be held in esteem by other men and to have the power of giving them orders and gaining the mastery over them. This is also the reason why revenge is sweet. But our ambition to obtain all these things must not lead us astray from you, O Lord, nor must we depart from what your law allows. The life we live on earth has it own attractions a well, because it has a certain beauty of its own harmony with all the rest of this world’s beauty. Friendship among men, too, is a delightful bond, uniting many souls in one. All these things and their like can be occasions of sin because, good though they are, they are of the lowest order of good, and if we are too much tempted by them we abandon those higher and better things, your truth, your law, and you yourself, O Lord our God. For these earthly things, too, can give joy, though not such joy as my God, who made them all, can give, because honest men will rejoice in the Lord; upright hearts will not boast in vain.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. Lamentations 3:32