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Character Qualities

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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.
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.
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.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the ultimate keeper of the eighth commandment: “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:13). He came into this world to give, not to take. Leaving the glories of Heaven, Jesus willingly entered our world of sin and suffering. He took nothing from this world; yet, He gave everything to redeem it. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
Titus stands as a splendid example of a young convert to Christianity who learned quickly to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:10) by living a pure life in an impure world. Every temptation faced by young men in our own increasingly godless society was faced by Titus as he walked the streets of Corinth and traveled throughout the island of Crete.
There is one “impossible” task God especially wants you to join Him in doing. The time is now, and the task is eternal. God is not willing that any should perish. Are we?
If we were to visit the streets of any major city in England at the turn of the nineteenth century, we would be witness to a sad and pitiable sight. Roving bands of orphaned children begged and stole their way through life. Often they were dressed in rags, with little to wear and nothing to eat. One German-born pastor and his wife could not simply pass by while orphans died by the hundreds in the streets.
Aniwa is a small atoll, a coral island, in the modern state of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. In the 1800s when this biographical sketch takes place, the island chain was called the New Hebrides. Aniwa is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the group. The island’s total land mass only covers 3 square miles. Unlike some of the mountainous islands in the chain, Aniwa is very flat. The inhabitants who lived on this tropical island were in bondage to ignorance, superstition, and fear. As cannibals, they killed and ate their enemies. They worshipped gods carved of wood and stone. The people also practiced witchcraft and were subject to the power of their “sacred men.” Because the island was small and it lacked abundant rainfall, the inhabitants suffered from a shortage of fresh water. When tropical rains did come, the water drained quickly into the sea. No springs, lakes, or freshwater creeks were to be found on the entire island. The few places where rainwater collected became stagnant pools infested with parasites. Many of the islanders suffered from a parasitic disease known as elephantiasis or Barbados leg. The malady made the sufferer’s legs and feet swell to enormous proportions. […]
Every year on March 17, millions of people all over the world wear green and eat traditional Irish dishes, such as corned beef and cabbage. Almost everyone in Western Civilization has heard the name Saint Patrick, but very few know the remarkable story of his life and testimony. The story of Saint Patrick has become surrounded by a dense fog of legends and traditions. But behind these legends is the life of a very real man who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ireland more than fifteen hundred years ago. Patrick was born around A.D. 389 in Scotland to a Christian family. His father was a deacon at a church founded by early missionaries to the British Isles. Patrick was known in his early youth as a little boy with a tender heart and warm disposition. His mother was a pious lady who endeavored to lead her son in the paths of righteousness. The boy deeply loved his parents and eagerly listened to their Gospel teachings. But a tragedy befell the family before Patrick had personally accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. When Patrick was sixteen years old, he was playing near the sea with two of his sisters. While […]
John the Apostle enjoyed a close relationship with the Lord Jesus. At the Last Supper, he was reclining at the table next to Jesus. Later, of all of the disciples, he was the only one specifically mentioned as being present at the Crucifixion. After Christ’s resurrection, it was John who identified Him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Few people knew that William Borden was a millionaire. As the manager of much wealth, he still chose to dress nicely but simply. Meanwhile, he quietly wrote checks to Bible societies and mission works that amounted to thousands of dollars, but his gifts were always given in secret.
If Joseph asked you why God allowed him to be sold into slavery by his own brothers; to be torn from his family and home; to be falsely accused by the wife of his Egyptian master, to whom he had been loyal and devoted; and to be unjustly imprisoned and ignored, how might you answer?
Seven-year-old William Bradford stood over the grave of his mother in the little village of Austerfield in the hills of Yorkshire, England. Having previously lost his father when he was a baby, young William was now alone in the world. Few would have supposed that this orphaned boy would amount to anything.
While teaching English in faraway Japan, the twenty-three-year-old American professor sat at his desk one day, intently writing a letter to his mother. Howard Walter wanted to encourage her with the vision statement he had written for his life. His mother had influenced him greatly by the habits of dependability and service she had instilled in him as a young child. Weeks later in America, his mother eagerly opened his letter. Enclosed was his poem of three stanzas, titled “My Creed.” She rejoiced as she read the poem which stated her son’s strong convictions! The proud mother promptly sent a copy of her son’s poem to Harper’s Magazine. “My Creed” was published in the May 1909 issue. I would be true, for there are those who trust me;I would be pure, for there are those who care.I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;I would be brave, for there is much to dare. Who was the young man behind these penned affirmations? Howard Walter was born in 1883. He graduated from Princeton University, then journeyed to Tokyo to teach English at Waseda University. Fulfilling his one-year commitment there, Mr. Walter came home, attended seminary, and afterward served as […]
More than 100 years ago, northern India was a very superstitious region. Following a great revival in Wales, Welsh missionaries journeyed to the Assam area in northeast India to bring the Gospel to tribes of idol-worshipping headhunters. In one village, one of those fierce headhunters listened to a missionary, and his heart grasped the Good News of Christ. Not only did he believe, but his wife and two sons also became Christians. As the redeemed man eagerly shared his newfound faith with other villagers, they, too, became believers!  The changes among his people infuriated the village chief. Summoning all the villagers, the chief angrily addressed the first convert among the tribe: “Renounce your faith, or be killed!” Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man replied: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.” The incensed chief next ordered his archers to kill the man’s young sons. Then he harshly demanded, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife, too.” The man solemnly spoke: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.No turning back.” Furious, the chief then ordered the man’s wife be killed. Within minutes, she joined her two sons […]
Believers know that God’s Word is living and active and able to pierce men’s hearts. While the Holy Spirit uses His Word to convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment, He sometimes uses other means as well. Such was the case of Edward Perronet’s hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”  Several hundred years ago, India was an unreached land, filled with unknown dangers. Yet, missionaries bravely ventured into its depths to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In cities, priests and temple leaders of the demonic religions put up fierce opposition. In the wild, the tribes of headhunters dwelt in spiritual darkness, threatening those who would come near. Still, missionaries continued to travel to this pagan country, hoping to bring the Good News. Reverend E. P. Scott was one such brave missionary. After ministering in India for seven years in the villages, he one day encountered a tribesman from the wild. The Holy Spirit filled the missionary’s heart to go to the man’s tribe. When Reverend Scott announced his decision to visit the savage tribe, his friends begged him not to go. However, he knew he must. After several days of strenuous hiking, Reverend Scott suddenly found himself […]
The hymn writer Reginald Heber was a young boy when he came to know Jesus as his Savior. Being very bright, he learned to read before the age of five. One of his favorite books was about the famous Christian martyr, Henry Martyn. Martyn’s life and death impacted the Reverend Heber. He had great respect for those who would endure years of pain and suffering, loneliness and frustration, all in order to hold to God’s truth and to share that truth with others. Reverend Heber wrote about such martyrs who endured for the cause of Christ in his hymn “The Son of God Goes Forth”:   The Son of God goes forth to war,A kingly crown to gain;His blood-red banner streams afar:Who follows in His train?Who best can drink his cup of woe,Triumphant over pain,Who patient bears his cross below,He follows in His train.  The phrase “follows in His train” is repeated several times in the hymn. A train is the long, flowing portion of a king’s robe that trails behind him as he ascends his throne. Those who “follow in his train” are the ones committed to the king and his cause. They will courageously endure whatever necessary to […]
One Sunday afternoon, a woman walked into New York state’s Sing Sing prison. Her purpose was to lead a religious service for the imprisoned women. Sing Sing was a high-security prison that reputedly held the worst criminals. As she entered, the visitor heard the loud clunk of the heavy steel door lock securely behind her. Before her, the female inmates gathered in the hallway to attend the religious service.  Hateful tension existed between the guards and the incarcerated women. On this particular afternoon, a guard gave a harsh order which sparked the prisoners’ anger. Instantly, they reacted! Long-standing bitterness and fury flamed to the surface, and within moments a riot broke out! Hastily, the desperate guard called for reinforcements. The revolting prisoners proved difficult to subdue. Quickly the uprising escalated!  Suddenly, over the noisy cursing and shouting, a voice clearly sang out these words:  Yield not to temptation For yielding is sin,Each vict’ry will help you Some other to win;Fight manfully onward, Dark passions subdue,Look ever to Jesus—He will carry you through.  The rioters paused to hear the words. Other voices joined in. The singing grew louder and stronger. Shouting ceased as more prisoners began to sing.  Shun evil companions, […]
The missionary stared at the letter in his hand. In the 1800s, the Gospel was spreading in China, but travel was difficult and the work was hard. In some areas, the Chinese vehemently rejected foreigners and threatened their lives. The letter Hudson Taylor held in his hand reported that riots were occurring in two missions in the region. A coworker was present when the letter arrived. As he moved toward the door to leave Mr. Taylor with the letter, he heard the soft whistling of the hymn “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Surprised, the coworker turned around and asked Mr. Taylor, “How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger?” Hudson Taylor looked up. Calmly he replied: “Would you have me anxious and troubled? That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I just have to roll the burden onto the Lord.” “Rolling his burden upon the Lord” was a demonstration of Hudson Taylor’s faith. Other missionaries reported seeing him oftentimes playing on a little reed organ and softly singing this hymn. How­ever, “resting” had not always been his practice. Mr. Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865. However, after four-and-a-half […]
Music ministry is one avenue of hospitality! Harper G. Smyth is an excellent example of someone who used his musical talent to bring spiritual refreshment to others.  When he had completed his musical training in New York, Mr. Smyth became a performing member of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House. After performing for two years, he left the Opera House. He then traveled to Indianapolis, and later to Atlanta, to direct church choirs. Mr. Smyth also served as the song leader for one of D. L. Moody’s key evangelists who ministered at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The music minister’s strong voice led the crowd in singing, preparing their hearts to hear the Gospel. He enthusiastically fulfilled his task, thrilled to know he was preparing people to receive spiritual refreshment. Indeed, his music ministry was a form of Christian hospitality.  Ten years after his ministry at the World’s Fair, Mr. Smyth wrote the hymn “Make Me a Channel of Blessing.” The words clearly expressed his life’s desire and drive: Is your life a channel of blessing?Is the love of God flowing through you?Are you telling the lost of the Savior?Are you ready His service to do? Later, Mr. Smyth moved […]