There are times when in one's reading you come across spiritual gems and you wish you had noted these words down before they slid away into oblivion. It was that famous Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheye who said, "A dark hour makes Jesus bright." He ministered in Dundee, and died at the age of only 29 but exercised and most powerful and influential ministry.
What was it that made me return to look at the life of Robert Murray McCheyne? When I came home from speaking and teaching in Kenya a year ago this week, there was an invitation to attend a Conference for Pastors and Leaders. I have been a member of this Conference group for over 30 years and 230 of us met at the beginning of January in Crieff.
One invited contributor was to speak on the life and ministry of Andrew Bonar. That immediately drew my attention for various reasons. Andrew Bonar was a close friend and colleague of Robert Murray McCheyne and andrew Bonar preached and taught at Collace which is just outside Perth in central Scotland.
When I was a divinity student at Edinburgh University I used to be invited to conduct worship services and preach at Collace and so the connection was obvious and attractive. At that time, away back in the mid-1960's, it was an honor to be invited to lead others in prayer and preach the Word of God where Andrew Bonar and Robert Murray McCheyne used to minister.
And, now, here was a man, who knew the lives of these two men intimately, and who was going to be opening us up to various aspects of their lives. I must say I was not disappointed. It was inspirational.
It will soon be January again and that very special New Year Conference is again being held in Crieff. to have been involved in this very near its outset is a privilege. These Pastors and leaders are almost all so much younger than I am but a few of us who have been there from the start continue to attend.
There are occasions when an invitation comes along and it just sounds different. Do not let these important moments pass you by. We can miss much if we neglect these opportunities.
But let me encourage you to read the life and works of Robert Murray McCheyne and then go on and read the informative and moving diary of Andrew Bonar. I do not think you will be disappointed. These men of God do not disappoint. They have something vital to share and say to us who so need to be inspired in these present global circumstances.
It is good in the light of that to remember that really there are only two days on my calendar; today and the day of judgment. What a salutary thought!
You may pay for the book in which the Gospel is contained and for the Church or chapel in which it is preached, and even for the minister who preaches it to you, but, the Gospel itself is as free as the light that shines, as the rain and dew which fall from above; as the air which you inhale and as every other blessing of God.
If the service of God is worth anything, it is worth everything. We will find our best reward in the Lord's work if we do it with determined diligence. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord, and we know it. And The Psalmist certainly knew that too. Bathe yourself in the riches of the Psalms.
The evangelist who preaches for eternity is never great on numbers. He is not apt to count hundreds of converts where there is no restitution, no confession, and no glad cry which proclaims, 'The lost is found, the dead is made alive again!'
It has been said by those who know what they are talking about and they would say it without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching, and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.
If only Leaders' summits and conferences understand this reality. These Prime Ministers and Presidents and Foreign Secretaries and Chancellors could benefit so much.