Richard O. Watkins was the first protestant minister to be licensed and ordained in the state of Texas. He was my great-great-grandfather. In 1841, he was pastor of a Presbyterian congregation in East Texas, and held a camp meeting near Nacogdoches, Texas, where many skeptical army officers and professional men lived. They had stubbornly resisted religion all their lives.
One was Captain Caddell. In Watkins’ unpublished autobiography, he said that the Captain was a true Texan, important in all the battles of the revolution, and witnessed the capture of Santa Anna. On a particular night of the camp meeting, my grandfather asked Caddell about his relationship with God. The Captain answered that he did not see or feel the need of anything more than he had. Woefully, the preacher accepted the answer but shared the message of salvation anyway, and asked him to think about it for the night.
Early next morning the Captain came to his pastor and said: “Sir, it is a truth, when I was a boy and up until I was a man I felt the very things you spoke of, resisted and took pleasure in sin; and I feel this morning that I am a wretched sinner justly doomed; is there hope for me?” My grandfather inquired, “Do you really want to be saved?”
“OH, YES, I would give all the world for pardon.” And in that moment a rugged soldier found God.
Beloved, will you know and share the good news that there is hope for everyone? The gospel of the 1800’s is as relevant now as it was then. And the unconditional love of God is unchanged. GLORY!
GospeLines Prayer:God of Redemption, speak to the hearts of each person who will read these words. It is never too late, as long as there is life in our bodies. You are the everlasting Voice of Pardon and Hope. Redeem us from the power of Satan and save us unto eternal life. Amen and amen.
Look at the back of a one dollar bill. There you will see an eye above an unfinished pyramid with the Latin inscribed over it, “Annuit Coeptis,” or, “He favors our undertaking.”
Our work as a nation, as individuals, is incomplete. As long as you are willing to grow, you may be assured that the eye of God is watching over your effort. Our Heavenly Father favors an unfinished project, a person who is always at task, always open to learning, always eager to yield to the Higher Wisdom.
While there is breath in our lungs we are privileged to reach higher, work harder, and progress toward the prize which is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. God’s word is clear... ”I can do all things through Christ.”
GospeLines Prayer:Omnipotent, All-Knowing God, if I become slothful in Bible-study, draw me again to the fountain of wisdom; if I grow complacent in my devotion, separate me from everything that has replaced You in my life; and if I become smug about our relationship, stretch forth Your nail-scarred hands for my fingers to touch again. Make spiritual ignorance detestable, stagnant Christianity abominable, and satisfaction impossible. Amen and amen.
My life is way past the half-way mark and I guess it’s about time I own up to something I’ve been fighting for a long, long while.
Not many days go by that I don’t recall some of the little morsels of wisdom handed down from my parents when I was a kid and trying to make sense out of my little world. Sometimes they bless me and sometimes those sayings set my mind spinning again, just like when I heard them for the first time. I was thinking about one of those tidbits of truth today.
Back then, parents liked reminding us to “Finish what you start.”
In my school, nobody liked a quitter. If you didn’t finish the game you wouldn’t be picked to play on one of the teams during recess. A reputation as a quitter marked you as someone with no intestinal fortitude. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” So I spent my life finishing things that weren’t worth doing because I had made a bad choice to begin in the first place. But let me tell you what I have learned recently.
There are some things which you are going to work on until Jesus calls you home but you are not ever going to be finished with them in this lifetime. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your effort, it just means that God didn’t appoint you to finish the task. That’s one of the great agonies of life: we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.
I’m reading about the construction of the magnificent Milan Cathedral in Bill Shore’s book, The Cathedral Within. It took more than 500 years to build, from 1386 to 1887, and is the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Workers came from everywhere, spent their fortunes to build it, and then many stayed to help with the construction knowing that they would never enjoy seeing its completion.
There was a man after God’s heart, who desired to build a temple for Jehovah. But it was not David’s house to finish; that job belonged to his son, Solomon. “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.’ “ I Kings 8:17-18
Beloved, hear the word of the Lord today. Through the years you have been faithful. Your lifetime has been spent building upon a dream given you by Jehovah. You cannot see an end in sight but there is progress! The voice cries out to you in the night, “Do not give up. Your labor is not in vain. It is WELL that you are trying, that this dream is in your heart. It is good that you wish to see it become reality. It’s WELL that it is in your heart to do it.”
About a month before he died, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where his family had attended for three generations. On that morning, from the pulpit where he preached his first sermon and where he would preach his last, he delivered a message entitled “Unfulfilled Dreams.”. He said, “So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples of justice, temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them, because life is like Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.”
Whether you complete the task or not, it is well that you have begun the service of the Lord. Your life is one of an ever-building crescendo toward heaven. As long as you continue in the direction of the Lord, it doesn’t matter who lays the last brick or who drives the last nail. It only matters that you remain faithful to His task until the end.
What does it mean to "walk through the valley"?Webster’s dictionary defines a valley as, “An elongated depression of the earth's surface usually between ranges of hills or mountains; or, an area drained by a river and its tributaries.”These definitions describe a depression that is open on both ends – something we can enter, walk through and exit on the other side.
Webster’s also calls a valley a “low point or condition” - Another “depression” that is open on both ends - something we enter, walk through and then exit.
If we take a closer look at the Hebrew words for death (tsalmaveth), fear (yate’), evil (ra’ or rah) and comfort (nacham) in the passage above, we begin to see a complete picture of the vision the Psalmist’s was painting with his words:
“Yes, though I may be walking through a deep, dark and sunless valley of distress, danger and depression, even in the shadow of death, I will not fear, dread or be astonished by any wickedness, hurt, trouble, unhappiness or misery, for You, my God, are with me; Your Love and mercy protect and defend me and Your Word guides and controls me so I will be comforted and at ease.”
The Psalmist was so confident that with God by his side, he could go through the valley and come out on the other side in joy and peace that he concluded this psalm with the words:
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 - NIV)
That vision of coming through trouble is echoed by Jesus when He says, “In this world you will have trouble.But take heart!I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)He also said He would be with us always. (Matthew 28:20).So, as sin and trouble in this world take us into those dark valleys, we can be sure that the love and grace of God will increased all the more, so that, just as sin brings death, His grace will bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21) and that we will be filled with His joy and peace. (Romans 5:1, 15:13; Galatians 5:22)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, You have assured us that You will always be with us and that You will never leave us.Through Your Son Jesus Christ, You have overcome the world and all its evil.Fill us with the knowledge of Your will Father so through faith, we may have Your joy and peace even in times of deep trouble and tribulation.Build us up in our most Holy faith through Your Spirit Father.Forgive our sins, heal our bodies and our souls and grant us peace, in the mighty name of Jesus.Amen.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
- John 14:6 (KJV)
≈ Devotional for Friday, April 24, 2009
"Don’t Make No Junk"
Well, we finally did it. Last week I had cable TV installed in our home, and I am amazed at the choices: reruns of Mash, Perry Mason and sports; news 24 hours a day, live action in the US House of Representatives, and sports; classic movies, old game shows, and did I say SPORTS?
My son found a program he enjoys called Junkyard Wars. Two teams race against the clock to complete an assignment using the material at hand, like building a race vehicle for a one-eighth mile track, and fashioning a working catapult, all made out of JUNK! Ingenuity and hard work combine to produce surprising results as the audience enjoys seeing life come from rusted and discarded stuff.
We were once on the junk heap of life, feeling discarded and abandoned without hope of finding real purpose. In that darkest hour of our humanity, we reached up and God reached down. He took what appeared to have no value and carefully assembled our parts into what we are today. Breathing into our spirits the breath of eternal life, our Lord resurrected a corpselike being, once destined for eternal damnation, and set us on a heavenly course. Praise God for seeing something in us worth saving!
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, there is no despair greater than feeling unneeded, worthless and abandoned. But you took what I could offer and made it into something different and useful. No longer do I live a wasted life, because You have shown me that being made in Your image has nothing to do with what I was before, but everything to do with what I have become in Your kingdom. To God be the glory! Amen and amen.