August 21: How does God speak to us?

We talk a lot about how to pray to God. But how does God speak to us? Elijah figured this out:

[11] And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
[12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
[13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

1 Kings 19:11-13

The voice of the Lord came not in wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a still small voice. Do we quiet our hearts to hear His voice?

[15] For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

Isaiah 30:15
Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

What happens when we quiet our hearts to hear His voice? Daniel Whittle shares another fascinating account:

Walking across Palace Square in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with an American ship-master, (says a correspondent of the Watchman) he invited me to accompany him to his hotel. While there he showed me a very large gold medal he had received from the British government for saving a ship’s company at sea. The circumstances were these: One night at sea, when it was the captain’s “mid-watch,”–the watch from twelve, midnight, till four o’clock in the morning–just before turning in, he gave the officer of the watch the ship’s course; the direction in which she was to be steered. While undressing, it was impressed on his mind that he ought to change the course a point; but he could see no reason for the change, as the ship was on the right course for the port of her destination. He turned in and tried to fall asleep, as it was only four hours to his watch; but the impression that he ought to change the ship’s course kept him awake. In vain he tried to throw off that impression; and yielding to it, he went on deck and gave the order for the change. On returning to his berth, he was asleep as soon as his head was on the pillow. The next day he sighted a ship in distress, and made sail for her. The ship was in a sinking condition, and he rescued the whole ship’s company. Shortly after, a gale of wind arose and carried the sinking ship to complete destruction. Had not the American captain changed the course of his ship that evening, he would not have come in sight of the ship in distress, and all of the company would have perished.

QueryWhat made that Captain arise in the middle of the night and, contrary to all science, reason and his own will, change the course of his vessel, but a Supreme Being, whose power he could not resist, and what made him exactly reach that sinking ship just in time.

August 20: The Pilgrim’s Prayer for Rain

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Daniel Whittle shares this account of our Pilgrim Forefathers:

It is well known that many of the good men who were driven from England to America by persecution in the seventeenth century, had to endure great privations. In the Spring of 1623 they planted more corn than ever before; but by the time they had done planting, their food was spent. They daily prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread;” and in some way or other the prayer was always answered. With a single boat and a net they caught some fish, and when these failed, they dug in the sand for shell-fish. In the month of June their hopes of a harvest were nearly blasted by a drought which withered up their corn and made the grass look like hay. All expected to perish with hunger.

In their distress the pilgrims set apart a day of humiliation and prayer, and continued their worship for eight or nine hours. God heard their prayers, and answered them in a way which excited universal admiration. Although the morning of that day was clear, and the weather very hot and dry during the whole forenoon, yet before night it began to rain, and gentle showers continued to fall for many days, so that the ground became thoroughly soaked, and the drooping corn revived. 

August 19: Thanksgiving – Expected, Free, and Abundant

We’re on our last day of looking at Thanksgiving in the “Hour of Prayer.”

As we wrap up – I want you to catch 3 key words that are somewhat contradictory when it comes to our attitude on prayer:

  1. Expected
  2. Free
  3. Abundant

Expected:

[12] And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
[13] And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
[14] And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
[15] And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
[16] And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
[17] And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
[18] There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
[19] And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Luke 17:12-19

Notice Jesus in Luke 17:17 – “Where are the nine?” Jesus was expecting them to “return to give glory to God” – yet they were missing. Jesus expects us to give glory to God thru our thanksgiving!

Free:

How can something ‘expected’ be ‘free?’

[29] And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.

Leviticus 22:29

God does not force us to give thanks. He wants us to offer thanks. This is a bit of an oxymoron but this fits nicely with the picture of loyalty we saw yesterday – God is loyal to disloyal people because of His love. God also wants us to love Him not because of a command but as a free response of our heart. Yet if the heart response is missing, Jesus comments on it publicly!

Abundant:

[7] Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:7

Paul tells us that we should be thankful, and in this verse, that we should be abounding in thanksgiving. Yet it is again a voluntary action that makes our Father smile!

So take some time today and give thanks abundantly and freely!

August 18 – Thanksgiving – for deliverance!

We’re looking at the eighth way we can pray for an hour each day, Thanksgiving!

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.

1 Chronicles 16:35

Salvation is cause for Thanksgiving! Thank God for saving you from the power of sin and death and hell!

Salvation from heathen attacks is also a great occasion for Thanksgiving. Often times we cry with the Psalmist:

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

Psalm 35:1

We ask God for deliverance and yet forget to praise him for His aid. Has God delivered you from a slanderous attack by a coworker, an unfair accusation from a neighbor, a jealous supposed friend? A motorist blaming you for the car wreck? A former employee filing a frivolous claim? A bureaucrat relentlessly harassing your company? A neighbor complaining to the city about your actions? An ex-parishioner gossiping about your pastor.

Right now I’m thinking back to multiple situations where God has miraculously delivered me – and I’m giving thanks to Him for His salvation.

I had a friend ask me what to do about a situation where he was short changed by several hundred dollars. I suggested letting God handle it. God blessed him when he gave it to the Lord.

I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

Psalm 35:18

August 17: Thanksgiving for His Loyalty

We’re on our third day of focus on Thanksgiving. We’ve looked at giving thanks for people and for events, but today let’s focus on how we can give thanks for the Lord’s loyalty to us!

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 118:1

We can give thanks to the LORD because He is good. How is He good? Let’s look at Psalm 118 and see!

5 different times we see the phrase, “his mercy endureth forever.” Mercy is the Hebrew word “hesed” – a theologically loaded term. R.C. Sproul says it means “God loves His people genuinely, immutably, loyally.”

If you’ve read the Bible for any period of time – that is a seemingly crazy idea – why should God be loyal to people who 1) are disloyal to Him, 2) have done nothing deserving of loyalty, and 3) actively invite the deserved wrath of God upon their lives (Romans 1:18, John 3:36)!

That’s answered by the concept of love. Unmerited. Undeserved. Often unrequited. That’s why we read it in the KJV as “mercy” – God’s merciful favor to us. How is this shown in the chapter?

I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

Psalm 118:5

His loyalty means that when we call He answers us!

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Psalm 118:6

His loyalty means that He will defend us!

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 118:8

His loyalty is better than any others!

I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

Psalm 118:21

The loyalty of the Lord brings salvation!

And if you remember the classic Sunday School song, you can rejoice with the Psalmist for all the blessings of the Lord’s loyalty!

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

August 16: Thanksgiving – for Events!

We’re continuing looking at the 8th segment of prayer – Thanksgiving!

As we continue looking in the Bible – we see an admonition from the Psalmist:

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Psalm 105:1

For the rest of the Psalm, the Psalmist does make know His deeds:

  • choosing Israel (Psalm 105:6)
  • covenanting with Abraham (Psalm 105:9)
  • giving them the land (Psalm 105:11)
  • freeing Joseph (Psalm 105:20)
  • sending Moses (Psalm 105:26)
  • sending plagues (Psalm 105:27-36)
  • spoiling Egypt (Psalm 105:37)
  • providing Manna and quail (Psalm 105:40)
  • and sending joy and gladness (Psalm 105:43)

What has God done for you that you can thank Him for today?

August 15: Thanksgiving – for people!

We’ll go back to the Hour of Prayer and enter the 8th segment on our clock, Thanksgiving!

It’s not just a day on the calendar, it’s a way of life! The Bible calls us to Thanksgiving:

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name

2 Samuel 22:50

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

1 Chronicles 16:8

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

1 Chronicles 16:34

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.

1 Chronicles 16:35

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

Psalm 18:49

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 30:4

We’ll quote more versese tomorrow – but how can we give thanks?

In 1675, Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” No man is an island – we are the result of the people we come into contact with. As has been said, the only two things that are eternal is God’s Word and peoples’ souls – and we come into contact with both every day.

Let’s start by giving thanks for the people blessings He sends us:

  • Our spouse
  • Our spouse’s parents
  • Our parents
  • Our grandparents
  • Our siblings
  • Our children
  • Our grandchildren
  • Our pastor and his wife
  • Our Sunday School teacher
  • Our children’s teachers
  • Our deacons/elders
  • Our Bible study brethren
  • Friends who have steered us the right direction
  • Friends who have prayed for us
  • Friends who have encourage us
  • Our neighbors
  • Our co-workers
  • Our church office staff
  • Our teachers in the past
  • Mentors and coaches
  • Our boss at work

(P.S. I have a tendency to quick get fast food for lunch – one year I set a goal to not eat lunch alone, but to have lunch with someone – using my time to bless others!)

August 14: He controls the winds and the waters

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Daniel Whittle recounts how in “Memorials of Methodism in Virginia,” Dr. W.W. Bennet relates the following incidents in the life of John Easter, one of the pioneer ministers who labored there nearly one hundred years ago: He is represented as being the most powerful exhortatory preacher of his day. His faith was transcendent, his appeals irresistible, his prayers like talking with God face to face. Perhaps no man has ever been more signally honored of God as an instrument in the conversion of souls. On one of his circuits eighteen hundred members were added to the church in a single year.

Many thrilling scenes under his preaching yet linger among the people in those counties where he principally labored. A most extraordinary display of his faith was witnessed in Brunswick. At Merritt’s meeting- house a quarterly meeting was in progress, and so vast was the concourse of people from many miles around, that the services were conducted in a beautiful grove near the church. In the midst of the exercises, a heavy cloud arose, and swept rapidly towards the place of worship. From the skirts of the grove the rain could be seen coming on across the fields. The people were in consternation; no house could hold one-third of the multitude, and they were about to scatter in all directions. Easter rose in the midst of the confusion–“Brethren,” cried he at the top of his voice, “be still while I call upon God to stay the clouds, till His word can be preached to perishing sinners.” Arrested by his voice and manner, they stood between hope and fear. He kneeled down and offered a fervent prayer that God would then stay the rain, that the preaching of His word might go on, and afterwards send refreshing showers. While he was praying, the angry cloud, as it swiftly rolled up to them, was seen to part asunder in the midst, pass on either side of them, and close again beyond, leaving a space several hundred yards in circumference perfectly dry. The next morning a copious rain fell again, and the fields that had been left dry were well watered.”

August 13: Why He Failed

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Daniel Whittle shares about a prominent business man who failed in the Spring of 1877. He had been for years a prominent and consistent member of a Christian church. He had even supported a church once almost entirely. Nothing was known against his character, but he failed; he failed in business. No one knew the reason why, but there it was, failure.

At last, in moments of bitter repentance before God, he unbosomed himself to his pastor, and said, “Long ago I promised to give the Lord one-tenth of all the profits I gained from my business, and while I did so, I was immensely prosperous and successful; never did any one have any such splendid success,–but I forgot my promise, stopped giving, thought that I did not need to spend so much, and I began to invest my means in real estate. When I stopped giving I stopped getting. Now all is gone. I lost my all because I did not keep my promise to the Lord.”

This incident is a practical one, telling how utter is the impossibility of true success, without the aid of the Lord, and how absolutely necessary it is to our own peace and comfort of mind to religiously observe one’s promises made to God. The Bible only too truly tells of the end of those who forget Him.

But Jeshurun waxed fat… then he forsook God which made him…
And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them….And he said, I will hide my face from them

Deuteronomy 32:15, 19, 20

…ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.

2 Chronicles 24:20

…There shall be desolation 10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength…

Isaiah 17:9-10

August 12: The Wonderful $25

Daniel W. Whittle
Daniel W. Whittle

Daniel Whittle shares the following incident, marvelous, as at the time of its occurrence neither party had ever been known to each other:

In New Haven, Conn., lives a little invalid widow, almost helpless, with no one upon whom to rely for support, and only indebted to friendly acquaintances for a temporary home. With no money, no acquaintances, she had nowhere else to turn to but to the Father of all good. She had prayed often, and often had answers, but this time, though needing money, still she received none. The answer was long delayed; she was almost discouraged. “Was God at last to fail and forget her? No, it could not be. Let God be true even if I perish, I shall still cling to Him. I can not give Him up.”

Just at that time a business man in New York, who had been absent on a long journey for the Summer and had just returned, happened to pick up a note among many hundred lying on his desk, and noticed that the writer asked for some trifling favor, saying she was poor, had no means.

Her circumstances were unknown: he knew nothing but her name. He was eager to minister to the little ones of the Lord, and felt deeply impressed in prayer that morning, in asking a blessing on his day’s labors, that he might be able to help the need of some of “his children” who might then be in want. In his business hours the thought came over him with the depth of emotion, “WHAT CAN I DO? LORD, THY SERVANT IS READY.” Just at that moment he picked up this note of the little invalid, who asked the trivial favor, saying it would be such a comfort. (No money whatever was asked for in this note.)

Suddenly the thought came to him, “Perhaps this is my very opportunity. This may be the Lord’s little one in need.” But there was nothing in the letter to indicate she was a Christian. She solicited no money or pecuniary help.

Immediately there came to his mind, amid floods of tears, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it unto me.” Instantly he understood it as a message from the Lord, and the intimation of the Holy Spirit. He immediately sat down and wrote a check for $25, and enclosed it to her, saying, “I know not your need; you have not asked me for help, but I send you something which may be useful. I trust you are a Christian. I shall be happy to learn if it has done good, and made you happy. Give me no thanks. The Lord’s blessing is enough for me.”

The letter was sent and forgotten, but a strange presentiment came over the mind of the writer. “I am afraid I did not direct that letter right.” He sent a second postal card, asking if a letter had been received at her home; if not, to go to her post office and inquire.

Now notice the wonderful singularity of incident. Here is a man sending money, never asked for, to an unknown person, about whom he knew nothing; then misdirecting his letter, and then remembering and sending another message to go and find where the first had gone to. But notice the marvelous result. The little invalid received the postal card, but not the letter. She sent to the post office, and sure enough there was the first letter with its misdirection. She was just in time to save it from being sent to another woman of the same name living in another part of the same city.

She opened her letter, and with tears of thankfulness perused this wonderful reply, a marvelous witness to the power of an overruling Spirit, who had directed everything.

“My heart is full, that God should so answer my simple prayer. I first asked him for $10, then $15, and then for $25. I asked him for $25 several times, and was astonished at my boldness, but the amount was so fixed in my mind, I could not ask for anything else, and then I humbly trusted it to Him, and from that time I thought, I will not name any sum; let it be as He knows my need. And how He has honored my simple faith and trust in these dark days. Your letter contained exactly the $25 I prayed for. I have not had $1.50 to spend this Summer. I have suffered for everything. But through it all I have felt such perfect faith in the Lord, that his hand was leading me, even when I could not see a step before me; and that He should move your heart to help me seems so wonderful, so good. I am so glad I can thank you now, but ah, so much “over there” where words will express so much more in the beautiful atmosphere of heaven. Your letter and kind gift was mailed the very same day that I was praying in great distress and trial. I knew not but that I should be without even a home. My verse was Psalms 50: 15. O, how I had to pray that day. So day by day I was comforted, and now to-day the answer has come.”

Here, then, is a portion of the story of a sweet life who trusted God, not as a God of the past, nor far off, but ever living, ever present, ever faithful, and believed Him able, willing, and that He would help her in her daily life. She tried her Lord, to prove if his promises were indeed true, and she clung to them to the very last. No one knew her need. No one knew what she was praying for. The stranger did not know anything of her. She had asked money of no one but the Lord. Hesitant ever, she dared not name any amount of the Lord, but that ever present Spirit of God guided her heart, made her fix the amount, and then touched the heart of the stranger and fixed the amount also in his mind, and then, by his own guidance saved the letter from being lost, and behold! when opened the prayer of the one and the gift of the other was the same.

What a comfort, what a privilege, then, it is for the true-hearted Christian thus to feel, “There is one who careth for us.”