On Monday I had the opportunity to visit the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. While there I noticed the following engraved on a plaque in one of the display rooms. It reminded me of the words of Paul to a much younger Timothy.
Paul’s words went like this:
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
It seems that obedience to the Lord, even in the smallest of matters, can profoundly impact the world for years to come. You don’t agree?
Then consider the following chain of obedience that led to the salvation of Billy Graham.
On July 1, 1885, Edward Kimble felt constrained to share his faith with a young shoe salesman he knew. That day Dwight L. Moody prayed and received Jesus Christ as Savior.
Several years later a pastor and well-known author by the name of Frederick B. Meyer heard Moody preach. He was so deeply stirred by Moody’s preaching that he himself embarked on a far-reaching evangelistic ministry.
At one of Meyer’s speaking engagements, a college student named Wilbur Chapman accepted Christ. He later employed a baseball player to help him prepare to conduct an evangelistic crusade.
In 1924 a group of businessmen invited that ballplayer, Billy Sunday, to hold an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, which resulted in many people coming to Christ. Out of that revival meeting a group of men formed a men’s prayer group to pray for the world.
They prayed for Charlotte to have another great revival. God sent another evangelist named Mordecai Hamm to the city in 1934.
On one of the last nights under the big tent, a lanky 16-year old walked up the aisle to receive Christ. That young man’s name was Billy Graham.
From generation to generation… may we be faithful as well!
From Kimble to Moody to Meyer to Chapman to Sunday to Hamm to Graham and to hundreds of thousands more. Praise the Lord for the faithfulness and obedience of one, Edward Kimble.
The following are a few nuggets of truth that the Lord spoke to me about while reading Proverbs 28. I hope they prove to be a blessing to you.
One man, one person can change the world:
By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by (who) a man of (what) understanding and knowledge, so it endures. (28:2)
Note: God, in His sovereignty, often uses changes in the leadership of a country to bring about His divine chastening, judgment and punishment. Remember the history of the northern kingdom of Israel? When the land is plunged into apostasy, sin and transgression, often new heads of state emerge who, by law, decree and dictate, drive that society towards destruction— morally, economically, militarily, spiritually, or all combined. But the Word says that by the wisdom of a man of understanding and knowledge… presumably understanding and knowledge of the Lord, the land will endure and stability will be ensured. Remember Joseph to Pharaoh; Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar; Isaiah to Hezekiah. Remember what happened to the northern kingdom of Israel when the voices of Elijah and Elisha could be heard no longer? And remember that it doesn’t say, men, or committee or council or government, but, man. Singular. One man. You. Me. Just one man.
Why? Why will the land of evil and transgression endure because of the understanding and knowledge of one man? Part of the answer is found in verse 5:
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who (what) seek the LORD understand (what) all things. (28:5)
And by the way, when the Scriptures say, “all“— it means, “all.” This is known as the wisdom and knowledge of God.
But sometimes the evil princes of the land refuse to hear from those who possess the understanding and knowledge of the Lord. They become angry, arrogant and belligerent to the words of wisdom from those who place the Lord as their King. “Who are you to speak to me about sin or transgression in my life,” they utter to the Godly with great disdain. “Look what I have created with my own hands. Look at the riches I have under my control. Look at the power I have over life and death… even over you. Who are you to even speak to me, let alone bring a rebuke.”
The Lord has something to say to them in this chapter.
The Godly will always be at odds with the unrighteous:
Those who (what) forsake the law praise (who) the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them (the wicked, those who forsake the law). (28:4)
Even when the unrighteous try to do right, it is of no avail. Why? Because their heart is bent on rebellion and disobedience:
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law (rebellion and disobedience), even his prayer (righteous act) is an abomination. (28:9)
Sin loves company. But the one who leads the upright astray will suffer the consequences of his own sin and rebellion:
He who leads the upright astray (how) in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good. (28:10)
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever (what) causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:4-7)
See also Romans 1:21-32
You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money:
The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding (which allows him to) sees through him. (28:11)
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)
Once you understand your sin, you must confess and repent of it. If not, your heart will become cold, hard and calloused and you will fail to fear (or revere) the Lord:
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who (1) confesses and (2) forsakes them will find compassion (or mercy, forgiveness). How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (28:13-14)
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
When rough times come to all, it is the man who trusts in the Lord and not in his riches that will be delivered:
He who walks blamelessly (what) will be delivered, but he who is crooked will fall all at once. He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. To show partiality is not good, (why) because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. A man with an evil eye (what) hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him. (28:18-22)
Finally, the arrogant and unrighteous continually strive to stir up strife so they can use their own human wisdom to solve the problem. Buy those who have the understanding, wisdom and knowledge of God, and trust in them!— will prosper and be delivered:
An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. (28:25-26)
The following is from RC Sproul, Jr. It is a wonderful reminder that sometimes God, in His sovereignty, has plans for us that we didn’t ask for nor desire. But they are His plans, nonetheless. Also, as a bit of background, RC’s wife has been suffering with a debilitating illness for quite some time.
Doing Great Things
We first learned that my little girl Shannon would always be a little girl, when we discovered about her first birthday that she was profoundly disabled. My father, a deeply compassionate man, asked how I was handling the news. I told him that I had been preparing for this moment all my life. If anyone should be able to rest in the sovereignty of God it is me. The sovereignty of God is the cornerstone of Reformed theology, which theology I have been schooled in from my youth by one of its greatest living proponents.
The sovereignty of God, rightly understood, was the very core of my father’s best known work, The Holiness of God. The doctrine came front and center in his next book, Chosen by God. I was a young man when those books were first published. Like many others I ate them up, drank them in, and like too many young men, spat out their wisdom with precious little grace and care. I reveled in God’s sovereignty, and delighted in nothing more than to argue for, to defend, to proclaim that sovereignty.
That all changed, however, when I read still another book by my father, this one born of a family hardship. Surprised by Suffering begins with the still-born birth of my niece, Alissa. From there the book explores not just the truth that God ordains our suffering but why. The point that has stuck with me over the years was this – suffering isn’t something that happens, nor it is just something God permits. It is instead a vocation, a calling. God does not merely say, “I’m going to make you go through this.” Instead He says, “It is My desire for you that you should go through this. Follow Me.”
All of us, when we are brought into the kingdom, in joyful gratitude for the grace of God, want to do great things for the kingdom. Having been rescued by His glorious grace, we want in turn to rescue others, to serve the body, to proclaim the Good News. God has called us to do just that. He calls out heroes who take the message to strange and foreign lands. He calls out pastors who feed the sheep. He calls out teachers, like my father, who explain to the broader body the fullness of the gospel. Some, however, He calls to suffer.
My wife, for this part of His story, is called to suffer. Her role right now is to do this great thing for the kingdom – to be Jesus to us, so that we might be Jesus to her. She is Jesus to us because as we serve her, we remember His promise, that serving the least of these is serving Him (Matthew 25). We, in turn, are Jesus to her, precisely because the church is His body. When we pray for her, she rests in Jesus’ arms. When we bring a meal, she tastes Jesus feeding her. When we dry her eyes, she feels Jesus wiping away her tears.
Hers is not an easy calling. It is, however, a great one. Being Jesus means walking the via dolorosa.
How blessed I am to walk that road with her, and with Him.
It is a dangerous thing to seek the approval of man rather than obedience to Christ. And it is the hallmark of the Laodicean times in which we live.
Consider the words of Oswald Chambers:
Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful— to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say— “I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching me and saying, Well done.”
It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people’s feet. Suppose God wants to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased”— are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket— to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity.
For me, the answer is a resounding, Yes! Come join with me, will you?
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It is from the late David Wilkerson.
God attaches a condition to His presence in our lives and it is found in 2 Chronicles 15. In the previous chapter, King Asa had led the armies of Judah to a great victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army. Yet Asa testified that it was God’s presence that had scattered the enemy.
“Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. . . .So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa” (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
As Asa and his armies led the triumphant procession back to Jerusalem, a prophet named Azariah met them at the city gate with this message from God: “Hear ye me, Asa . . . the Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them” (15:2-4).
Here is the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of God in your life. The Lord reminded Asa, point-blank, with no holds barred: “Asa, don’t ever forget how you got this victory. You sought Me with all your heart when you were in trouble and I sent My presence to you. It was My presence that put your enemies to chase!”
Now Azariah was telling Asa, “Do you remember what the kingdom was like before you came to power? Everything was out of kilter, with no law, no guidance, no righteous teaching. Everyone was a law unto himself, doing his own thing!”
This is not a complicated theology. Anyone can have the abiding presence of the Lord if he or she will simply seek Him for it.
“The Lord will be found of you” (15:2). The Hebrew word for found here is matsa, meaning “His presence coming forth to enable, to bless.” In short, this verse tells us, “Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and He will come to you with His presence. Indeed, His presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life!”