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Florence was a center of art and culture. Here lived Michelangelo and other famous artists of the Renaissance. The powerful Medici family ruled this opulent city, and their palace was stunningly adorned with all that money could buy. Silks, jewels, paintings, art, theater, and literature made this one of the preeminent cities in all of Europe. Into this city Savonarola had arrived in the plain black robe of a Dominican friar.
Have you ever felt that you were the only one standing for truth? Has it ever seemed that the pull of error was stronger than the pull of truth? There was a time in early Christian history when the doctrine of the eternal divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ was under tremendous attack throughout the world. In that day of error and compromise, one man, a faithful pastor from Alexandria, stood boldly against heresy to defend the cause of truth. His name was Athanasius.
Our dating system in Western Civilization is undeniably linked to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. As much as modern scholars may try to deny or belittle the fact, B.C. stands for “before Christ” and certainly does not merely mean “before the common era.” A.D. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase “anno Domini,” which is translated “in the year of our Lord.”
Even as a young boy, Kepler loved gazing at the heavens. In later life, he recalled distinctly the day that his mother took him to a high hilltop to observe a great comet in 1577. When he was nine years old, he also observed a lunar eclipse. Despite physical weakness and impaired vision, young Kepler showed signs of great intellectual power. He studied Latin as well as philosophy and theology. As a young man, he was a strong advocate for the Copernican system of interpreting the heavenly bodies. He saw no contradiction between a heliocentric universe and the Bible. He almost became a Lutheran pastor but became convinced that he could serve God faithfully as a mathematician and astronomer.
Robert Edward Lee suffered many disappointments in life. Near the end of his life, Lee wrote a letter to a close friend and former staff officer, Colonel Charles Marshall. The letter reveals how Lee’s hope was anchored in his understanding of the eternal nature of God. Lee wrote: “The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”
Rare are the men of history that are able to rise above their own time and generation and see their own battle in the context of the grand scheme of eternity. The Lion of the North was such a man. Although he himself was a king, his ultimate allegiance was to the King of kings and Lord of lords, and he dedicated himself to advancing the everlasting Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever been discouraged by the fleeting stability of earthly governments and kingdoms? Kings come and go. Empires rise and fall. Nations rise from obscurity to power, enjoy prosperity for a time, but then sink into the mists of history. Of the vaunted glory of ancient civilizations, such as the Aztec and Inca in the Americas or the Egyptian and Sumerian in the Fertile Crescent, only a few scattered remnants remain of their existence.
Adam is the father of us all. No matter our language and nationality, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. We inherit from Adam the curse of sin, the sting of death, and the certainty of the grave. But from Adam we also inherit the image of God, the hope of eternal life, and the promise of redemption.
George Washington Carver is most famous for discovering many remarkable uses of the sweet potato and the peanut. But Carver’s influence was far beyond these two commodities. His greatest legacy was his life of loving service to his fellow man.
The Brewsters took a bold step when they left the established church to unite with a small, persecuted body of believers known as Separatists. William Brewster knew that he was risking his status, his livelihood, and perhaps his own life by uniting with these despised Christians, but he saw the justice of their cause and he loved the truth more than his own life.
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a man of God who consistently and faithfully loved his neighbor. His name is of Greek origin and means “crowned one.” When Stephen first became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is uncertain. He was probably a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew from Jerusalem who came to trust and follow the Lord Jesus during His public ministry.
The hills of Scotland have afforded a lovely playground for many generations of young Scottish lads and lasses. In the midst of the heather growing on the wind-swept hills, the lowing of the Highland cattle, the bluebells dotting the land, and the craggy ruins of ancient castles inciting curiosity, all provide an enticement to exploration that is irresistible for a little boy.
The French nobleman opened again the book he held in his hands. The nobleman was a prisoner of war, taken captive by the Spanish while defending Saint Quentin (France) in 1557. His brother had sent the book for him to read in his captivity. In the eyes of many, it was a forbidden book—a French Bible. Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was about to read that forbidden book! How might that book change his life?
Many of us recognize the inspiring title of this famous book of selected Scripture meditations: My Utmost for His Highest. However, fewer people are familiar with the life of the man who made these words his testimony. Although Oswald Chambers lived to be only forty-three years old, his life after his conversion at age fifteen was characterized by a desire to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might.
For all his failures, David still obeyed the greatest commandment in the Law: he loved the LORD his God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might.
The young lawyer peered through the early morning darkness. His gaze was directed toward Fort McHenry, which guarded the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. Throughout the previous night, September 13, 1814, he had strained his eyes to try to see the fort. The “bombs bursting in air” had periodically illuminated the darkness, giving a brief but reassuring evidence that “our flag was still there.” From the deck of the British warship where he was temporarily detained, the lawyer, Francis Scott Key, could only watch in helpless anxiety as the “perilous fight” was waged. All night the bombardment by the British navy had continued against the handful of American defenders who garrisoned the fort standing “between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.”
The young missionary eagerly awaited the arrival of his bride. For months Henry Martyn had been expecting his beloved Lydia to make the journey from England to take up residence with him at Danapur, on the banks of the Ganges River in northeast India. Week after week passed as he waited for his bride.
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A captivating “read-aloud” nature story introduces the character quality of Persuasiveness, followed by a story from the pages of Scripture! Character Sketches is designed to be a tool that fathers can use to teach their children basic concepts of Scripture that are also illustrated in the world of nature.
Contentment does not come naturally to the selfish heart of man. Neither did it come naturally to the Apostle Paul. In a letter to the Philippians, he testified that it was through hardships and adversity that he had “learned to be content” (Philippians 4:11). We too must learn contentment through the daily experiences of our lives.
Rare in this world is genuine contentment. Very easily we can compare ourselves with others and then grumble and murmur about our difficult lot in life. Covetousness arises very naturally to the heart of man, and it is very easy to envy the blessings that others enjoy. While it may seem that our trials and difficulties are insurmountable, we can always find another man in circumstances that are worse than our own. Today’s biographical sketch looks at the inspiring example of a pastor who not only became blind and lame, but even lost his voice. Still, he remained content with the providence of God.
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