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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Statue of Phillips Brooks in Boston MA
Statue of Phillips Brooks
Copley Square in Boston Massachusetts
Any of our visits to Boston include a walk by this statue!

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"The Patience Of God"

"For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples" (Nehemiah 9:30).

Phillips Brooks was pastor of Trinity Church on Copley Square in Boston during the 1800's. This church is now under the shadow of the John Hancock Tower, the tallest building in New England, which provides a stunning visual contrast. 

There is a large statue beside the church building that shows Phillips Brooks preaching. The Lord is standing behind him with His hand on Brooks' shoulder.  Now that's inspiring!  He served the Lord Jesus during his lifetime and is best known today as the author of the well-known Christmas carol, "O little town of Bethlehem."  But I especially like the first inscription on the statue, "Preacher of the Word of God."

Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, he suffered moments of frustration and irritability, as we all do. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt the same way many times?  I sure have!

God's patience is both a blessing and a mystery.  Today I want to consider the mystery aspect. As I observe the increasingly frayed moral and spiritual condition here in America and throughout the world I marvel at God's patience and wonder just how long before He sends judgment upon the earth. Of course we live with the consequences of our sins and often that is judgment enough!

Our daily verse describes the patience of God in regard to His dealings with the nation of Israel.  Many years were really many centuries.  God had spoken again and again through His prophets all through this time.  Nehemiah served the Lord around 450 BC.  It seems we have a sweeping panorama of the previous thousand years since the great Exodus.  God had been patient and had warned His people repeatedly.  They paid no attention and faced various judgments, ending with the Babylonian captivity which ended about 100 years before this verse was recorded.

Consider the timeless truth in this verse as it relates to your life, the church, or your nation.  My, has God been patient!  Surely He has been gracious in sending many, many prophets, who like Phillips Brooks were "preachers of the Word of God" to admonish and warn.  I'm particularly intrigued with the phrase "yet they paid no attention."

How much attention is our modern culture paying to the warnings of God?  What about much of the church?  What about you and me today?  May we have the response of young Samuel, who exclaimed, "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, help us to be people who do not merely listen to the Word or read it hastily. Help us to do what it says so that we will be blessed in all that we do.  We receive Your favor and sense inner peace when we are obedient to You.  Help us to look intently into Your Holy Word and apply its teaching so that we enjoy freedom from sin, unceasing joy, and the promise of eternity spent with You.  With sincerity of heart we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

PS: Some of the greatest missionaries of history devotedly spread the seed of God’s Word and yet had to wait long periods before seeing the fruit of their efforts. William Carey, for example, labored seven years before the first Hindu convert was brought to Christ in Burma, and Adoniram Judson toiled seven years before his faithful preaching was rewarded. In western Africa, it was fourteen years before one convert was received into the Christian church. In New Zealand, it took nine years; and in Tahiti, it was sixteen years before the first harvest of souls began.

Brooksyne's note:   Each time I think about Phillips Brooks I'm reminded of Hellen Keller.  In her autobiography she writes about Bishop Brooks and what a great spiritual influence he was as she attended his church while a student at Perkins School for the Blind in Boston.  Two of our long time Daily Encouragement subscribers, Charlie and Rose, attended this school and reside in the Boston area.  They took a train from Boston one Sunday to visit us while we lived in Taunton, MA.  What a blessing they were to us on that very special day.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Kindness"  (Audio)

"The Lord Is Gracious And Compassionate"  (Audio)  I had never heard this song before but I like the lyrics (not necessarily the instrumentation!)  The lead vocalist takes me way back to my BC days and vaguely reminds me of Janis Joplin, whom few of you have even heard of!

"What A Friend We Have In Jesus"  (Audio)

The chapter on the Patience Of God in AW Pink's classic book, "The Attributes of God"

Goldfinch ((photo by Doris High)
Photo by Doris High

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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