We cannot act in the unborn future, nor in the dead past, but only in the living present. For today outflows life and death, character and destiny, from its hands. We must learn to live each day by the faith of Christ, challenging and discerning every opportunity for its eternal purpose and meaning. Most miracles in the Bible took place in a brief moment in time, changing the natural course of events, and thus forever altering the destiny of those who were there in that moment. Our lives have the potential to change in the blink of an eye, for good, or for bad. But the past cannot be changed, and the future will yet be determined. Often we will say, "Perhaps some other time", only to find that there is no other time. However, NOW must be the place where we take our stand; today may be all we have. So, therefore, let us bring great glory to our Lord and King while it is still yet today! †††
If a close friend is one who encourages us to do our best, then is Jesus not our best friend? Should we not look at the Lord's Supper as one of His primary requests for us to be our best? The Eucharist does not look back into our past with a critical eye, but Christ looks to our future with hope and Divine calling. The Master draws us from what we have been into what we might be. He bids us come, not because He sees as somehow better than we once were, but because He wants us to be. To stay distant from Him because our heart has grown cold, is to refuse to go to the fire so we can be warmed; and the fire is always there, its flames fanned by those who came before us to receive its warmth.
There is a quality about all we do, when we do it to please the Father, that redeems the lowliest and most mundane task from insignificance, it puts hope in the most monotonous of duties, and it dignifies the smallest of efforts. If we think of life as our opportunity in which to form the habit of doing all things to please God and bring Him glory, then nothing is trivial. Whether we give or receive a cold cup of water on a hot summer day, visit a sick neighbor, smile at a passerby, or pray for a complete stranger, whatever we do, we can cultivate a habit of pleasing God. This habit is well worth establishing, for it will surely outlive our very life in this world, and keep pace with eternity in heaven to come.
The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.
Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."
The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the Year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!
The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality.
In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet! The function of the prophet, as Austin-Sparks once said, "has almost always been that of recovery."
The prophet is God's detective seeking for a lost treasure. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him.
He has no price tags.
He is totally "otherworldly."
He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile.
He marches to another drummer!
He breathes the rarefied air of inspiration.
He is a "seer" who comes to lead the blind.
He lives in the heights of God and comes into the valley with a "thus saith the Lord."
He shares some of the foreknowledge of God and so is aware of impending judgment.
He lives in "splendid isolation."
He is forthright and outright, but he claims no birthright.
His message is "repent, be reconciled to God or else...!"
His prophecies are parried.
His truth brings torment, but his voice is never void.
He is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow.
He is excommunicated while alive and exalted when dead!
He is dishonored with epithets when breathing and honored with epitaphs when dead.
He is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but few "make the grade" in his class.
He is friendless while living and famous when dead.
He is against the establishment in ministry; then he is established as a saint by posterity.
He eats daily the bread of affliction while he ministers, but he feeds the Bread of Life to those who listen.
He walks before men for days but has walked before God for years.
He is a scourge to the nation before he is scourged by the nation.
He announces, pronounces, and denounces!
He has a heart like a volcano and his words are as fire.
He talks to men about God.
He carries the lamp of truth amongst heretics while he is lampooned by men.
He faces God before he faces men, but he is self-effacing.
He hides with God in the secret place, but he has nothing to hide in the marketplace.
He is naturally sensitive but supernaturally spiritual.
He has passion, purpose and pugnacity.
He is ordained of God but disdained by men.
Our national need at this hour is not that the dollar recover its strength, or that we save face over the Watergate affair, or that we find the answer to the ecology problem. We need a God-sent prophet!
I am bombarded with talk or letters about the coming shortages in our national life: bread, fuel, energy. I read between the lines from people not practiced in scaring folk. They feel that the "seven years of plenty" are over for us. The "seven years of famine" are ahead. But the greatest famine of all in this nation at this given moment is a FAMINE OF THE HEARING OF THE WORDS OF GOD (Amos 8:11).
Millions have been spent on evangelism in the last twenty-five years. Hundreds of gospel messages streak through the air over the nation every day. Crusades have been held; healing meetings have made a vital contribution. "Come-outers" have "come out" and settled, too, without a nation-shaking revival.
Organizers we have. Skilled preachers abound. Multi-million dollar Christian organizations straddle the nation. BUT where, oh where, is the prophet? Where are the incandescent men fresh from the holy place? Where is the Moses to plead in fasting before the holiness of the Lord for our moldy morality, our political perfidy, and sour and sick spirituality?
GOD'S MEN ARE IN HIDING UNTIL THE DAY OF THEIR SHOWING FORTH. They will come. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history.
There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet. The man with a terrible earnestness. The man totally otherworldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable.
Let him be as plain as John the Baptist.
Let him for a season be a voice crying in the wilderness of modern theology and stagnant "churchianity."
Let him be as selfless as Paul the apostle.
Let him, too, say and live, "This ONE thing I do."
Let him reject ecclesiastical favors.
Let him be self-abasing, nonself-seeking, nonself-projecting, nonself-righteous,nonself-glorying, nonself-promoting.
Let him say nothing that will draw men to himself but only that which will move men to God.
Let him come daily from the throne room of a holy God, the place where he has received the order of the day.
Let him, under God, unstop the ears of the millions who are deaf through the clatter of shekels milked from this hour of material mesmerism.
Let him cry with a voice this century has not heard because he has seen a vision no man in this century has seen.
God send us this Moses to lead us from the wilderness of crass materialism, where the rattlesnakes of lust bite us and where enlightened men, totally blind spiritually, lead us to an ever-nearing Armageddon.
God have mercy! Send us PROPHETS!
Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)
About the author: Leonard Ravenhill was a well-known British evangelist who brought many people to Christ through his straightforward preaching of the Word. In 1959, he and his family moved to the United States, where Ravenhill continued to travel, ministering in tent revivals and evangelistic meetings. He placed great emphasis on the subjects of prayer and revival, and though he wrote many books, he is probably best known for Why Revival Tarries. ("Picture of a Prophet" was taken from Ravenhill.org and used by permission of the author's son, David Ravenhill. Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill.)
Priest and Vicar of The Uprising ~ Ancient:Modern:Anglican Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Uprising is an Incarnational and Sacramental Anglican mission community seeking the spiritual renewal of our city through the grace, love, truth, and power of Christ.