I am reading through ‘How we got our Bible’ by Ralph Earle and found this paragraph inspiring:
A missionary named John Geddie settled on one of the islands of the New Hebrides in 1848. At once he set to work translating the Gospel of Mark. It was published in 1853. Ten years later the New Testament appeared, and in 1879 the entire Bible. The epitaph on his tombstone reads as follows:
WHEN HE CAME IN 1848 THERE WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN;
WHEN HE DIED IN 1872 THERE WAS NOT A HEATHEN.
From S.D. Gordon in “Quiet Talks on Prayer”:
Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.
You can read this book online at Project Gutenberg’s Quiet Talks on Prayer, by S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon
The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 22 has a second act that should get the attention of we church people. You will recall that when the prodigal returned and was greeted with compassion and celebration by his father that the elder son angrily refused to join in the celebration.
The reason was that he didn’t think his brother deserved to be forgiven and re-instated as a son in the household. Their father plead with him to join the celebration.
There is a great danger that we church people will be like the elder brother. We have never left home, we do the work of the Father, and we consider ourselves to be good children. The problem is that there is nothing of the compassion for the lost that we see in our Heavenly Father.
Our Heavenly Father loves lost people so much that he pictures himself as the Good Shepherd, he woman seeking the lost coin, and the compassionate Father to the prodigal. As his children, we must share in that compassion for the lost. Otherwise, we are like the elder brother – doing all the right things, but without the compassion for lost people that characterizes our Father. The danger is that we can be lost in the church.
The encouraging and challenging word here is that the Father pleads with elder sons to join in the celebration – to share in his concern for lost people, and in his joy when the lost are found.
In my studies, I learned that the holiness of God has three aspects:
- Purity: God is absolutely free from sin
- “Otherness”: He is beyond us in every way – there is that about Him that we can never comprehend, and the only things we can know about Him are those things He reveals to us
- Transcendence: He is glorious, bright and beautiful
I have been considering what that means in relation to the holiness available to human beings. I think that the three aspects of God’s holiness are mirrored in the lives of those who have fully yielded their lives to Him:
- Purity: God is willing and able to purify the hearts of those who surrender their all to Him
- “Otherness”: God calls us, as a holy people to be separate from the world – to be “in it but not of it”
- Transcendent: that is, we are to reflect the glory of God – to be the “light of the world”
Please note that when we speak of holiness like this we must remember that God is holy and we, by his grace, are being made holy. Holiness in men and women is only possible by God’s creating a reflection of His holiness in us.
I am reading, once again, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Today I read the words, “Our store of spiritual power apparently dissipates with time.”
I think he is right on target. Not only can I tell you I have seen it — I can tell you I have experienced it.
There is great value in faithfulness, holding steady in our spiritual walk no matter how we feel at a given point. But we must not allow the natural drift of life to lull us to sleep spiritually. As Cymbala points out, not long after Pentecost the disciples were praying once again for spiritual boldness. God answered that prayer by giving them a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit.
So, today I ask myself about my own spiritual fire — and find myself joining the disciples in praying for “fresh wind, fresh fire.”
How about you?
I am re-reading Jim Cymbala’s “Fresh Wind Fresh Fire” and just finished the chapter in which he talks about his daughter who was living far from God.
If you have a child who is away from God today I recommend that you get this book and read this chapter. The price of the book is worth it just for this story.