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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
"Thus far has the LORD helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12).
Today is my spiritual birthday and each year on this day I like to acknowledge God's redeeming work in my life. Thirty-five years ago today I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I was raised in a home where we attended church weekly and I suppose we considered ourselves religious. In fact I remember my long string of "Sunday School perfect attendance" pins. But it wasn't until I was in High School that I recall being specifically challenged by Christ's claims upon my life and the need to personally repent of my sin.
Like many, I assumed I was a Christian based upon my church background or being "good" in comparison to those I perceived as "bad." After a clear presentation of the Gospel I knew better. After hearing the salvation message I didn't receive Christ initially, but continued to live in rebellion for awhile. During this period of time I was very aware in my heart that I was not submitting to Christ.
During this period God used a song, popular at the time, titled "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" to bring conviction to my heart. I knew I wasn't ready. Many of you "old-timers" have probably heard it and I place a link to an audio clip below.
On August 22, 1971 I was persuaded to attend a large convention in Kansas City, Missouri where that evening an evangelist by the name of Lowell Lundstrom* spoke. I was deeply convicted of my sin and need for Christ. That night I placed my faith in Christ.
Now my tribute can in one way be summed up by the simple phrase in the daily text (I will personalize it) "Thus far has the LORD helped me."
Samuel served God some 3,100 years ago as the last leader during the period of the Judges. In fact he anointed both Saul and David as kings. Samuel served his generation faithfully, overcoming dangers from without and apostasy (falling away from the faith) from within. In today's text he made a tangible memorial to God's faithfulness to himself and the people. He set up a stone and named it Ebenezer (which means "stone of help"), and stated, "Thus far has the Lord helped us." That must have been a wonderful moment and it's my testimony today.
Whether you know the date of your spiritual birthday or not (and I realize many do not), have you placed your faith in Christ and are you faithfully serving Him today? Can you join Samuel and me in proclaiming, "Thus far has the Lord helped us?" I sure hope so! And now my goal is to faithfully serve Christ my entire life and one day, when my time of transition comes, declare along with the Apostle Paul, "I have kept the faith."
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
* Evangelist Lowell Lundstrom, who preached the Gospel the night I got saved is still faithfully serving the Lord.
"I wish we'd all been ready" is a song written by Larry Norman, who was among the first in the category of "contemporary" Christian music. He's also still living and staying faithful. Audio file
I am aware that most readers have already placed their faith in Christ and accepted Him as their personal Savior. However others of you may be reading this and realize that this is a step you need to take. Here is a concise explanation of the Gospel with a challenge to receive Christ. I pray that every reader will be a faithful follower of Christ!
The hymn "He Leadeth Me", which I used at the concusion of today's message, was written by Joseph H. Gilmore and I found this interesting background information and testimony that he wrote:
As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological Institution, I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words "He Leadeth Me." Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.
It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact—that is, I don't think I did—but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God's leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.
At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston, where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester [New York] to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, "He Leadeth Me."
"He Leadeth Me" Gilmore, Joseph H. / Bradbury, William B. © Public Domain CCLI License No. 2005306 This song is playing in the background of today's podcast.
"He Leadeth Me" (audio files)
Vocal acapella (great harmony by the Drummond family!)
Instrumental by James M. Stevens
Note: Yesterday Brooksyne got a kick out of a mispelling in the caption to yesterday photo. I had initially had "tomatoes" but changed it to "tomato harvest" and I left the e on tomato. That's easy enough to do!
Farmall tractor at E-town fair
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