During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.

Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds they fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts they tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that Hi is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial?

Take heart. Put yourself in God’s hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a “song in the night”.

NIV Psalm 91:1-4 He who dwells in the secret place of the Mast High shalt abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

The Cost of Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor and a theologian.

His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship became a modern classic. Acute and subtle, warm and perceptive, yet also profoundly moving, the documents collectively tell a very human story of loss, of courage, and of hope.

Due to theological influences in Germany he was a liberal theologian.

He taught systematic theology for some time in the University of Berlin. Deeply interested in ecumenism, he was appointed by the World Alliance for Promoting lnternational Friendship through the Churches.

While earlier in his life he was really just an academic theologian interested primarily in the intellectual side of Christianity, some time later he underwent a personal conversion, and became a dedicated man of faith, fully resolved to carry out the teaching of Christ as is revealed in the Gospels.

While he is well known for his theological writings his greatest legacy is his bold stand against the Nazi dictatorship. He was a vocal opponent of Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was one of a small handful of German Pastors who recognised the evil of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party and was prepared to stand against it. He was a key founding member of the Confessing Church. He was to pay a very high price for his stand against Adolf Hitler. He was executed by the Nazis in 1945 for his part in the “officers’ plot” to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Bonhoeffer’s story is particularly relevant to us today, in that he stands as a witness to all Christians to have the courage to stand against wickedness and evil.

Love for One’s Enemy

ln the days of the American Revolutionary War there lived at Ephrata, Pennsylvania, a Baptist pastor by the name of Peter Miller who enjoyed the friendship of General Washington. There also lived in that town one Michael Wittman, an evil-minded man who did all in his power to abuse and oppose this pastor. One day Michael Wittman was involved in treason and was arrested and sentenced to death. The old preacher started out on foot and walked the whole seventy miles to Philadelphia to plead for this man’s life. He was admitted into Washington’s presence and at once begged for the life of the traitor. Washington said, “No, Peter, I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”

The preacher exclaimed, “My friend, he is the bitterest enemy I have. Washington cried, “What? You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon.”

And he did. And Peter Miller took Michael Wittman from the very shadow of death back to his own home in Ephrata – no longer as an enemy, but as a friend.

By Stephen Olford

Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. (Rom 12:14)

Being Old Does Not Mean Being Useless

Being old does not mean being useless. It is a remarkable fact that in the great Renaissance period when art reached its most glorious triumphs, many of the greatest artists produced their masterpieces comparatively late in life. Leonardo Da Vinci was close to fifty when he completed the Last Supper, which is one of the greatest pictures in the realms of art. Giovanni Bellini continued working to a ripe old age without showing decline.
Both Titian and Michael Angelo produced their greatest masterpieces when they were old men.

There is a well-known engraving of the sixteenth century which represents an old man sitting in a child’s wheel chair with the inscription over it “Ancora lmparo” (l still learn). This phrase was constantly on the lips of Michael Angelo as in old age he hewed marble and refused to rest.
John Wesley was still preaching 14 sermons a week when he was eighty five. Sarah was ninety years of age when God opened her womb to give birth to lsaac, the child of promise.
Moses was eighty years of age when God called him to lead His chosen people out of Egypt.
These are of course extraordinary examples, but they certainly prove that being old does not mean being useless.

The glory of young men is their strength and the honour of old men is their grey hair. (Prov. 20:29)

Love Triumphs Over All Obstacles

A young man and woman were engaged to be married and were looking forward to their wedding day. However, the wedding was postponed because the young man was called up for military service. He continued to write letters to his sweetheart from the field of battle. Letters regularly came and went, in which they expressed their love for each other.

Then one day-the young woman received a letter in a handwriting with which she was not familiar. ln it the young woman read these words, “There has been another battle. I have lost both arms. I asked my comrade to write for me, and tell you that I release you from our engagement to be married, for now I will not be able b work and support you.”

That letter was never answered. The young woman left on the next train and travelled to the military hospital where the man to whom she was engaged lay. When she found him she approached his bed and flung herself down by the side of the bed. With passionate words she said, “l will never give you up. These hands of mine will work for you. We will live our life of love together.”

1 Cor. 13:4-10 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge it will be done away.

Out of the Mouths of Infants

A man was going down a street when he saw in a store window a very beautiful picture of Christ’s crucifixion. As he gazed spellbound at the vividly pictured story, he suddenly became conscious that at his side stood a young boy.

The boy, too, was gazing at the picture, and his tense expression indicated to the man that the crucifixion of Jesus had really gripped his eager young soul. Touching the boy on the shoulder, the man said, “Sonny, what does it mean?”

“Doncha know?” he answered, his face full of the marvel of the man’s ignorance. “That there man is Jesus, an’ them others is Roman soldiers, an’ the woman what’s cryin’ is His mother, an” he added, “they killed ‘im!” The man did not want from in front of that impressive piece of artwork but he had other things he had to do, so he turned and walked away. ln a few moments he heard footsteps on the street behind him, and there came rushing up the boy. “Say, mister,” he exclaimed breathlessly, “l forgot to tell you, but He rose again!”

How refreshing is the faith of the young and how it stands in contrast to the cynicism of many a higher critic of the Bible who deny the resurrection of our Lord.

1Cor 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Not Ashamed to Own the Lord or to Defend His Name

Every Christian should be ready to stand up courageously and unashamedly for the Lord. How sinful it is for a person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ and has experienced Christ’s saving power to be ashamed of Christ before an unbelieving world!
On one occasion, Frederick the Great, King of Prussia in the 18th century, invited some notable people , including his top ranking generals, to his royal table. One of them, by the name of Hans von Zieten, declined the invitation because he wanted to partake of communion at his church.
Some time later at another banquet, Frederick and his guests mocked the general for his religious scruples and made jokes about the Lord’s Supper.
In great peril for hi life, the officer stood to his feet and said respectfully to the monarch, “My lord, there is a greater King than you, a King to whom I have sworn allegiance even unto death. I am a Christian man and I cannot sit quietly as the Lord’s name is dishonoured and His character belittled.”
The guests trembled in silence, knowing that von Zieten might be killed for speaking out against Frederick the Great in this way. But to their surprise, Frederick grasped the hand of this courageous man, asked his forgiveness and requested that he remain. He promised he would never again allow such a travesty to be made of sacred things.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,,,, ( Romans 1:16a)

The Deadly Allurement of the World

Sadhu Sundar Singh tells the following story:

At the foot of the Kaylass Mountains, there is a district which is full of sweet scented flowers. Once I had to walk through an area which contained a garden of these flowers several miles long. The beauty and fragrance of the flowers gave me great pleasure.

 Just then a man came out of the jungle and said in great haste, “You must not stand here; this is a place of great danger; many have died here.” I was taken by surprise and asked him. “Is this place poisonous, or are there poisonous creatures to be found here?”

 The answer he gave me was full of meaning. “I don’t know anything about that”, he said, “but if you take in the scent of these flowers for a little while, sleep will overpower you. And once asleep, there is no waking you. Some have been known to sleep this way for ten to twelve days, and this ends in death. Since I live in the forest nearby, I endeavour to let people know about the danger of these flowers.”

When I heard this, I thought as follows:

 This flower cannot hurt of itself, but when its aroma is inhaled, there is no longer any desire for food or anything else.

 God wishes us to use the world and its blessings around us for our good, but if we allow these things to draw us aside and to allure and stupefy us, we will suffer great spiritual loss. Not only so, we will be robbed of the desire for spiritual sustenance. The lust of money and other things will result in death.

Mark 4:18,19   And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, and the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.


The Tavern Keeper Who Believed in Prayer

The story is told of a small town in which there were no liquor stores. Eventually, however, a nightclub was built right on Main St.

 Members of one of the churches in the area were so disturbed that they conducted several all night prayer meetings, and asked the Lord to burn down that den of iniquity. Lightning struck the tavern a short time later, and it was completely destroyed by fire.

The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed for his tavern to be destroyed, sued them for damages. His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss.

 The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges.

 After much deliberation, the judge declared, “ It’s the opinion of the court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in the power of prayer, while the church members do not.”

 We smile at the story, but it is surely a great tragedy that much of our praying is devoid of genuine faith and trust in God.

Mark 11: 22-24   And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted to him. Therefore I say to you, all things which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted to you.”

Living in Great Peril