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Monday, February 7, 2011

Goldfinches in snow
 A photo Brooksyne took of goldfinches feeding outside our office window.
Here's a larger version.

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"I Know Whom I Have Believed"

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

One of our favorite hymns, "I Know Whom I Have Believed" is based on today's Scripture text.  It was written by Daniel Whittle who had enlisted in the 72nd Illinois infantry during the Civil War and headed into the bloodiest conflict in America's history. He was badly wounded in the Battle of Vicksburg and then taken prisoner.  He tells of his conversion experience:

"We had many engagements, and I saw many sad sights, and in one of the battles I was knocked out, and that night my arm was amputated above the elbow. As I grew better, having a desire for something to read, I felt in my haversack, which I had been allowed to keep, and found the little Testament my mother had placed there.

"I read right through the book—Matthew, Mark, Luke, to Revelation. Every part was interesting to me; and I found to my surprise that I could understand it in a way that I never had before. When I had finished Revelation, I began at Matthew, and read it through again. And so for days I continued reading, and with continued interest; and still with no thought of becoming a Christian, I saw clearly from what I read the way of salvation through Christ.

"While in this state of mind, yet still with no purpose or plan to repent and accept the Saviour, I was awakened one midnight by the nurse, who said: 'There is a boy in the other end of the ward, one of your men, who is dying. He has been begging me for the past hour to pray for him, or to get someone to pray for him, and I can't stand it. I am a wicked man, and can't pray, and I have come to get you.'

"'Why,' said I, 'I can't pray. I never prayed in my life. I am just as wicked as you are.' 'Can't pray!' said the nurse; 'why, I thought sure from seeing you read the Testament that you were a praying man. And you are the only man in the ward that I have not heard curse. What shall I do? There is no one else for me to go to. I can't go back there alone. Won't you get up and come and see him at any rate?'

"Moved by his appeal, I arose from my cot, and went with him to the far corner of the room. A fair-haired boy of seventeen or eighteen lay there dying. There was a look of intense agony upon his face, as he fastened his eyes upon me and said:

"'Oh, pray for me! Pray for me! I am dying. I was a good boy at home in Maine. My mother and father are members of the Church, and I went to Sunday School and tried to be a good boy. But since I became a soldier I have learned to be wicked. I drank, and swore, and gambled, and went with bad men. And now I am dying, and I am not fit to die! Oh, ask God to forgive me! Pray for me. Ask Christ to save me!'

"As I stood there and heard these pleadings, God said to my soul by His Spirit, just as plainly as if He had spoken in audible tones, 'You know the way of salvation. Get right down on your knees and accept Christ, and pray for this boy.'

"I dropped upon my knees and held the boy's hand in mine, as in a few broken words I confessed my sins, and asked God for Christ's sake to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me, and that I was Christ's child; I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet, and pressed my hand as I pleaded the promises. When I arose from my knees he was dead. A look of peace was upon his face, and I can but believe that God, who used him to bring me to my Saviour, used me to get his attention fixed upon Christ and to lead him to trust in His precious blood. I hope to meet him in Heaven."

Years later Whittle penned the words to “I Know Whom I have Believed” as an expression of his testimony of faith in Jesus Christ.

This week we want to provide a phrase by phrase teaching on today's Scripture text. I had started to do so today but as I studied it quickly became evident that a phrase by phrase study would be way too long for a single message and I felt the story behind the hymn was of great interest as a backdrop for our study from II Timothy 1:12!

The Psalmist expressed, "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5).  Committing and trusting is God's will for each of us. We concluded our service yesterday by singing the hymn, "I Know Whom I Have Believed"  which is far more than just a hymn.  It is a statement of faith based upon Scripture, and it is one that is written in the first person so we can personalize it by making it our very own testimony today.  Let's confess, along with hymnwriter Daniel Webster Whittle, that while there is much we don't know there is One whom we do know; and that is the person of Christ who redeemed us for His very own.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, there is so much more that I don't know than that which I do know.  But that which matters most is that I know Jesus, Your Son, gave His all to ransom me from my sins.  I don't know if I'll meet Him in the air or when I cross over at the time of my death, but I know His Spirit will guide me. I don't know why I have been chosen among the elect to receive Christ, but I am eternally grateful for His Spirit that convinced me of my need for salvation.  All I have need of Your hand will provide, and all that I entrust to You will be safely guarded until that day that I find my resting place in Heaven, the New Jerusalem.

Brooksyne's Note:  As regular readers know I am a diligent student of Hymn Backgrounds and their authors.  I am touched by our story today and though it is not included in the account we shared I have read of Whittle's mother's devout faith and her earnest intercession for her son to be saved.  It reminds me that when we pray for our loved ones to be saved, it's not always in the most innocent or sweetest of circumstances that our prayers are answered.  Dan Whittle lost his arm and we can only imagine how dark the times were for those in battle and those at home who lost touch with their loved ones.  Surely families, depending on where they lived and the political positions they supported, turned against one another. And yet when we read a historical story such as that of Daniel Whittle's in the darkest of settings it reminds us that the light of Christ permeates the darkness. His Spirit reaches within the hearts of humankind to reveal His love and salvation to those whose hearts are wounded, weary and worn from the ravages of sin.  
Here's the biographical information about Daniel Whittle.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Video  This is set to a newer tune but maintains the same wonderful words.  It is beautifully sungby a worship team in a local church.

Here's a beautiful piano version of the same song using the tune we are familiar with.  Audio
Beginning today and all through our series of messages on 2 Timothy 1:12 we will be using this song as a background to our daily podcast.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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