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A Christmas Story

One of my favorite Christmas stories is about Ira Sankey, the man who led
the music for many of D.L. Moody’s evangelistic meetings. In 1876 Sankey
was traveling by steamboat up the Delaware River on Christmas Eve. On the
deck were gathered a number of passengers, looking out at the calm night.
Someone recognized Sankey and began to tell others, “Mr. Sankey is aboard!”
and immediately there were requests for him to sing. Before he began, he
stood for a moment leaning against one of the funnels of the boat, as if in
prayer, deciding what to sing. He wanted to sing a Christmas song, but the
words that came to him were,

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need thy tender care.
In thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use thy folds prepare.

As he sang, there was a deep stillness. The words telling the story of
God’s love for wandering men, and the beautiful melody floated out across
the deck, across the water, into the night. Every heart was stirred. At the
end of the song, there was an almost audible response. One man stepped out
and asked Sankey,

“Did you ever serve in the Union Army?”
“Yes,” he said, “In the spring of 1860.”
“Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright moonlit night
in 1862?”
“Yes, I do,” answered Sankey, with surprise.
“Were you…?”
The man replied, “I was too, but I was serving in the Confederate Army.
When I saw you standing at your post, I said to myself, ‘That fellow will
never get away from here alive.’ I raised my musket and took aim. I was in
the shadow, completely hidden, while you walked in full moonlight. At that
instant, you began to sing—just as you did a moment ago. The song was
‘Savior, like a shepherd lead us…’The music reached my heart. I took my
finger off the trigger. I said, ‘I’ll wait until the end of the song. I
can’t miss him, and I can shoot him afterwards. As you sang, you reached
the place where it says, ‘We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, Be the
guardian of our way…’

I could hear every word perfectly, and how the memories came to my heart! I
began to think of my childhood and my mother. She loved God. She had sung
that song to me many times. But she died all too soon, otherwise I think my
life might have been different. At the end of the song, I could not raise
my musket again. It was impossible for me to take aim, though you still
stood in the bright moonlight, a perfect target. Then I thought of the
Lord. I looked at you and thought, ‘The Lord who was able to save that man
from certain death must surely be great and mighty.’

My arm dropped to my side and I cannot tell you all the things I thought at
that time. My heart was smitten, but I didn’t know what to do. Just now,
when you were about to sing and stood quietly as if praying, I recognized
you. I’ve wandered far and wide, since that other occasion. I have never
found that Shepherd. Please help me now find a cure for my sick soul.”

Deeply moved, Sankey threw his arms about the man who had been his enemy,
who, indeed, could have ended his life. That Christmas Eve night, a former
soldier found the great and tender Shepherd as his Savior.



Revelation 12

In Revelation 12 we have John’s true and metaphor-rich retelling of the
Christmas story as he recounts the long history of the battle for the souls
of men and women and the final defeat of Satan – the accuser of the
brothers.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle with a ruthless enemy who has declared
war against God, His Child, and His people but who is overcome by the blood
of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, yet for now, knowing his time is
running out, unleashes his fury in a final and futile attempt to thwart
God’s redemptive plan.



Revelation 11

Revelation 11 describes the mighty ministry of the two witnesses whose acts
are similar to Moses and Elijah. The chapter concludes with the blowing of
the seventh trumpet and Jesus claiming the nations as His rightful
inheritance. (“Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the
nations?”)

God gives authority to His two witnesses who wear the attire of a prophet,
are able to perform mighty acts, and are impervious to injury until their
ministry in Jerusalem is completed when they are then killed by the beast,
and their bodies become a spectacle to the world, before God raises them up
and brings them home, and as the seventh trumpet blast is sounded, Jesus
assumes the throne and rules over the kingdoms of the world forever.

And He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!



43089

Come join us for worship this Sunday.

Pastor Paul will start our *Christmas* series with his message “Worth The
Wait.”

His text will be Luke 2:22-38.

Service times are 9 and 11 am.



Revelation 10

Revelation 10 is part of the interlude before the seventh trumpet is
sounded when a mighty angel with a little scroll announces that there will
be in more delay regarding the fulfillment of the mystery of God. In this
chapter John becomes an active participant as he is commanded to consume
the little scroll. What happens to John when he eats the scroll should be
own appropriate response to the judgment of God – it is bittersweet.

We long for the day when God’s name will be vindicated, when evil will be
routed, and truth rewarded for it will taste sweet in our mouths but it
will also turn sour in our stomachs for God’s holy and certain judgment
will spell the inevitable doom and destruction of many.



Revelation 9

In Revelation 9 two more trumpet judgments occur with devastating
consequences. When chapter 8 ended three woes were announced. Trumpets 5,6
and 7 constitute those woes. This chapter records the whole of the fifth
trumpet and part of the sixth. Looking ahead, there is also a significant
interlude between trumpets 6 and 7.

In the first woe a vast and fierce army of locusts are released from the
bottomless pit, ruled over by Apollyon, and commanded to afflict, for five
months, those who do not bear the seal of God; with the second woe, four
“angels” are released who, in turn, dispatch a massive cavalry carrying
plagues of mass destruction–yet even in the face of such affliction the
survivors refused to repent or turn away from their idols.



Revelation

In Revelation 8 the seventh and last seal on the scroll is broken, as the
trumpet judgments are set to begin, but not before they are preceded by 30
minutes of silence in heaven. The only thing that pauses the continual
worship in heaven is the ominous, fearful reality of the judgment of God.
The phrase, “those who dwell on the earth,”(v. 13) is a recurring phrase in
Revelation referring to those whose names are not found in the Book of Life.

The persistent prayers of the saints throughout the ages, “Oh Lord, how
long …,” (6:10) is answered as the trumpet judgments of God commence
resulting in environmental judgments against the earth and sea, judgments
against animals and fish, the heavens are plunged into partial darkness and
a woe is pronounced upon those who dwell on the earth.

The Lord is in His Holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.



Revelation 7

Revelation 7 is an intriguing interlude between the opening of the sixth
and seventh seals.

Final preparations for the commencement of the wrath of God are undertaken
consisting of two significant events: first, the sealing on earth of the
144,000 from within the tribes of Israel and secondly, the appearance in
heaven of a vast multitude made up of those who have been redeemed by the
blood of the Lamb.



Revelation 5

Revelation 5 is the second half of John’s vision of heaven. The epicenter
of heaven, of course, is the throne of God. What happens before God’s
throne in this chapter is the most stirring scene in the entire Bible.

A universal search conducted to find the one person qualified to take the
scroll from the right hand of God proves futile, until it is declared that
Jesus, the Lamb of God alone is able, by virtue of His redeeming death, to
open the scroll, and upon opening it, universal praise erupts to the
enthroned Father and His Son.



43082

Come join us for worship this Sunday.

Pastor Paul will continue in our *The Unstoppable Church* series with his
message “Saving Faith.”

His text will be Acts 8:4-25.

Service times are 9 and 11 am.