Who Was David Brainerd?

“I am torn between the two:
I desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is better by far;”
Philippians 1:23 (NIV)

David Brainerd, an American, was one of the most influential missionaries in church history. Yet, for all of his remarkable influence on missions, he was a most unlikely missionary. David’s father died when he was 9 and his mother when he was 14. 

At 21 years of age he entered Yale to prepare for the ministry. However he was expelled in his third year because of his remark about a tutor named Whittelsey. Brainerd commented that the man “has no more grace than a chair.” By that he meant the man was not a Christian. It was a sad departure as he was academically ahead of his classmates.

By being banished from Yale Brainerd was kept from the ministry in Connecticut his home state. Instead, Brainerd was given a license to preach by “New Light” ministers whose name referred to the fact they preached the evangelical Gospel with fervour and passion. Then he was given a commission to be a missionary to the North American Indians. He continued this work for 4 years until his death at 29.

Brainerd suffered from tuberculosis his entire adult life and it appears the disease was the cause of his untimely death. He also suffered from bouts of depression as did many in his family.

So from an earthly point of view there were many reasons for Brainerd being disqualified from being a preacher. However, the two outstanding qualities that did make him a remarkable servant of the Lord was his devotion to the Saviour and his passion for the souls of people.

Brainerd spent the last few weeks of his short life in the home of his fiancé Jerusha Edwards who nursed him there. Sadly she contracted the same disease and died within months of David.

The powerful influence of David Brainerd in the years since his brief ministry is to be seen in his utter devotion to the work of bringing the Gospel to those who need a Saviour.

In his diary David speaks of worshipping the Lord as follows, “My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, the loveliness and the greatness and other perfections of God that I was even swallowed up in him…”

May my readers have such great sights of our wonderful God and Saviour that earth bound things fade away by the display of God’s majesty. To be in God’s presence is indeed “better by far” as our verse indicates.

May the Lord hasten the day when all of His people are assembled together forever.

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How Much Is Enough?

“Give us today our daily bread.”
Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

The question, “How much is enough?” was once put to a billionaire with reference to his immense wealth. His answer was shocking because he responded, “Just a little more.” In other words he thought that he needed more than he had.

Jesus was about to say in Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Our Lord is teaching us to live a day at a time. Only when tomorrow comes should we look to our heavenly Father for that day’s needs. Too often we are prone to concern ourselves with possible future problems. The needs of today are all we can actually deal with. We should learn to live in the present and not to be anxious about tomorrow.

At each mealtime we should bow our heads with thankful hearts for the provision of that meal. The kitchen may lack food for the following day’s meals but that should never stop us from giving thanks for the food we have today.

This specific request we are to offer the Lord is an illustration of all the requests we make for our earthly needs. We do not need to ask for our material needs that are days, weeks or years ahead of us. We should ask for the present day’s concerns and leave the issues of tomorrow in the Lord’s sovereign hand.

When the nation Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years the Lord gave them provision for each day. They were only to gather two day’s food the day before the Sabbath. They were being taught to have daily dependance on the Lord for His provision.

This is why Jesus taught us to pray for our needs one day at a time. We benefit greatly through having the necessities of life come to us on a daily basis. Pity the people with resources at hand for years to come. They have no need for dependance on the Lord because of their great wealth.

Is not the preferred place that of having our needs met each day as it comes? Wealth is a deceitful thing because it urges us to depend on gold rather than God. With a large bank account there is the subtle temptation to look to our money to care for us instead of the Lord.

How much does any child of God really need? Just enough for today. May all of us have contented hearts seeing that today’s concerns are adequately met in the Lord’s kindness.

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A Business Man and Jesus

“Then Levi held a great banquet
for Jesus at his house…”
Luke 5:29 (NIV)

Levi is better known in the Gospels as Matthew. His business of collecting taxes was located near Capernaum  on a road that went from Damascus to Acre near the north west shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Tax collectors were never popular people in Jesus’ time due to their common activity of charging too much tax and putting extra profit in their own pockets.

Matthew was not the only business man Jesus called to leave his work and follow Him. For example, in Mark 1:17-20Luke 5:11, He called two pair of business owners to leave their work and follow Him. It says that James, John, Simon and Andrew, “…left everything and followed him [Jesus].”

Business men can become fine preachers and ministers of the Gospel. Although all of these men appeared to have good professions and made a considerable wage, they abandoned their prosperous work to become itinerant preachers trained by Jesus.

When Jesus called Matthew the verb used in Mark 2:14 meant to go on following Jesus forever. Because the fame of Jesus had spread in the area where Matthew worked and lived (Mark 1:21-34), it is entirely possible Mathew had heard of this wonderful circuit preacher (Mark 1:212:1) as His fame spread everywhere.

In the calling of Levi or Matthew we see that he held a large reception for Jesus in his spacious home Luke 5:29. Such an open display of his loyalty to Jesus must have taken some courage on Matthew’s part.

While Matthew took a risk following this Preacher without visible means of support, Jesus also took a risk in asking a tax collector who practised that despised profession of working for Rome while being a Jew.

In Luke 5:30 we read that the guest list Matthew drew up for this feast in Jesus’ honour included a number of despised tax collectors like himself and “sinners”. Jesus apparently was very happy to accept the invitation and associate Himself with such a low class of people.

So on this occasion, as at other times, Jesus earned His reputation for being a “friend of publicans (tax collectors) and sinners (Luke 7:34).

Is someone reading this devotional and you regard yourself as a social outcast? Or do you have a relative who may be in trouble with the law? Do you feel that society rejects you and/or your family?

Look at this Jesus who called people who were notorious as corrupt business men to come to Himself. He said at Matthew’s reception that He came to call sinners to repentance.

No one is too far gone into sin but Jesus can redeem them, turn them around, and make a sinner into a saint. Urge the “sinners” to come to Jesus, He came for them.

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What’s In A Kiss?

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, 
and you perish in the way…
Blessed are all those that put their trust in Him”
Psalm 2:12

President Roosevelt of the United Stated described the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour as the “most infamous act in history”. I am sure the President thought it was. However, Christians have another act that they believe was more infamous.

The act I refer to was the way in which Judas Iscariot betrayed his Master. Judas had received the most gracious treatment at the hand of Jesus. Jesus had given him the same gifts and blessing on his ministry as the other eleven apostles received. He was given even higher privilege that the others as Jesus appointed him the treasurer for the group.

The sop at the Last Supper was always seen as the highest honour the master of the feast could give a guest. Jesus gave it to Judas in front of the other apostles. Even when Judas betrayed his Master, Jesus called him “Friend”. So Judas received more privilege than all the others.

Peter denied his beloved Lord under extreme duress and it was an impulsive act. However, Judas was cunning and calculating in his betrayal. He took 30 pieces of silver as payment for his deed.

Then, the most dreadful part of his treachery was the feigned affection for Jesus when he kissed the Master. In fact, in the Greek of the New Testament, it indicates Judas repeatedly kissed Jesus, such was the disgusting nature of his deed.

The kiss of Judas was supposed to be the normal greeting of a student for the master. It was also the greeting of a guest being welcomed into a home. It was a wonderful sign of love and affection for the one being kissed. Judas desecrates the warm and loving deed and pollutes his own soul in the process.

In Luke 7:38 we read of the sinful woman kissing the feet of Jesus repeatedly. The host of the feast had invited Jesus into his home but did not give His the customary kiss of peace. The poor sinful woman did not stop kissing Jesus’ feet. She was contrite and obviously desirous of the forgiveness that Jesus came to offer those who sensed their need.

Our verse today calls on all of us to “kiss the Son”. The author means what he says in the next verse with the words (NIV),

“Blessed are all who take refuge in him”

So in answer to the question, “What is in a kiss?” we respond that to kiss Jesus is to obtain eternal life.

The kiss has always meant a sign of love, respect, honour, subjection to a ruler and some other positive things. If you have come to Jesus in faith then you may say you have “kissed” Him. Do you have this warm and loving relationship with the Saviour? Perhaps this is just where you need to begin to put the pieces of your life back together. He will give you a “kiss” in return and embrace you in love forever. Come and come now.

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Wanting to Know Why

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things revealed belong to us…”
Deuteronomy 29:29 (NIV)

We live in an exciting age of scientific discovery. There are so many things we can learn as we read the books and magazines that describe the latest word on some scientific frontier. Our society is driven by the appetite for knowledge.

Children in school are taught to ask “Why?” from the earliest grades onward. Also we know that children will ask “Why?” without being taught to do so. They seem to be programmed to investigate and search for answers.

Such curiosity to explore and seek to satisfy the inquisitive nature in us is very good. Many famous scientists have been able to discover cures for some diseases by investigating the matter.

Louis Pasteur, a French scientist in the 1800’s had three children die of typhoid and that tragedy pushed him to look for some way to prevent the deadly illness. Many credit him with the first vaccines for several diseases.

Some well-meaning Christians think we should not ask questions about our faith as it may lead to the destruction of our beliefs. This is a sad way of living.

We are naturally inclined to ask why and we need to make inquiries about our faith and why we believe what we do. We should ask why God allows this or does that in His creation.

Searching the activity of God for meaning is not sinful. The Lord often gives answers to our inquiries. We are allowed to come to Him and seek to know why certain things happen to us.

Many stories are recorded in the Gospels of people coming to Jesus with questions. He was very willing to meet their need for information. Even some times when the questions were only tricks to trap Him, He would answer the inquiry.

Mark 12:18-27 tells the story of the Sadducees coming to Jesus with a trick question about the resurrection at the end time. It was clearly just a set up to trap the Lord. However, Jesus gave them an answer right from the part of the Old Testament they accepted. Jesus used Scripture to shed light on the matter.

Whether it is a question in the realm of science or seeking to understand our painful situation, God is willing to disclose answers for us. In the area of suffering and grief there is a lot said in the Bible about the source of suffering and how to best cope with it.

However, there are limits to what God has chosen to reveal to us about the way the world works. Our verse indicates that there are questions we can ask for which God has not provided answers. This brings us to the topic of faith. In some very difficult situations we are called on by God to leave off asking “Why?” and trust Him. Faith supports us where reason fails us.

When we have exhausted our efforts to know why certain things have happened we go to our verse for today and accept what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…” (NIV).

When we see Jesus, then and only then, we shall understand all the reasons why things happened as they did. When you have exhausted your ability to understand, will you leave it with a loving and sovereign God? God’s answers are worth waiting for.

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