I believe in my soul that there are more at this day being lost for want of decision than for any other thing. —D.L. Moody (1837-1899), American Evangelist.
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day (2 Tim. 1:12).
PRAYER FOCUS: Knowing Who to Believe
Daniel was a military officer, a combat veteran. In the middle of a pitched battle, one of his junior officers was shot and killed. Without hesitation, Daniel sprang forward to assume command. He rallied his men, and then led the assault himself. Enemy fire was immediate and accurate. A rifle bullet shattered Daniel’s right arm. Daniel was taken prisoner. His arm had to be amputated.
All this left Daniel quite depressed. He was being held far away from his home in an unsanitary military prison. His right arm was gone. Life as he knew it was over. At some point while recovering from his injury, Daniel came across a New Testament that his mother had stuffed in one of his uniform pockets. He had never been devout man, but he began to read God’s Word. It would help him pass the time, he reasoned. In the aftermath of unspeakable violence and suffering Daniel quite simply didn’t know what, or who, to believe.
One night a hospital guard woke him with the news that a dying prisoner wanted someone to pray with him. Daniel declined. The guard persisted, “But I thought you were a Christian. I have seen you reading the Bible every day.” Shamed and chastened, he consented and went to the side of his dying comrade. Daniel later wrote:
“I dropped on my knees and held the [soldier’s] hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.”
Through an act of gentle charity, Daniel took the decisive step of faith. He declared that he believed that Jesus Christ was indeed who the Bible said He was. And in that decision, not one but two souls were saved.
The war was the U.S. Civil War. The year was 1863. Daniel was perhaps better known Major D.W. Whittle of the Illinois Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle of Vicksburg, captured, repatriated, and went on to serve until the war’s end.
After the war, D.W. Whittle returned home to his bride Abbie and they raised a family. He became the Treasurer of the Elgin Watch Company of Chicago, a position of high responsibility and status. He became friends with fellow Chicagoan Dwight L. Moody, and got involved with Moody’s ministry of evangelism. Before long, Whittle left his lucrative position with Elgin to join Moody in full-time ministry.
Major Daniel Webster Whittle is perhaps best remembered for his composition of hymns. In all, he composed over 200, many of them under the pseudonym “El Nathan”. The refrain of his most enduring hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed”, echoes this week’s Lectionary Scripture from 2 Timothy:
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.
The point of all this is quite simple: Salvation is not something you hope for. It is not something you try for. It is not something that you can work for. Salvation is something you ask Jesus Christ for. And then you believe in the One who actually did the awesome work at the Cross.
It’s Monday Morning. Throughout this day, you will have a choice between what you believe and what you don’t. Remember to trust the One you know is Faithful and True.
“My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours” (1 John 5:13-15, The Message).