Category Archives: Remarkable Circumstances

Saved By His Own Sermon

 His Stripes

The man was very ill, in fact, near death. Several times his clergyman had been to see him. He had read to him prayers for the sick, and told him what a great sinner he was. But the clergyman himself did not know God’s great love to sinners, so all he said only made the poor man more miserable.

These visits had been repeated several times, but the sick man had received no comfort; he could only moan about the weight of his sins.

One morning he sent his daughter to bring the clergyman one more time, but the minister objected. “It is no use for me to go,” he said. “Your father never seems any better.”

“Oh, please!” answered the girl. “Father said I was not to come back without you!”

“Well, I’ll take my sermon to read to him,” and he followed her to the sick man. He found the poor man in great distress about his soul’s condition.

“I’ve brought my sermon to read to you,” said the clergyman. He began by reading the scripture from which he had taken his text, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah and the fifth verse: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

The next day the clergyman went to see a friend and asked what there was in that scripture more than another.

“Wait!” cried the sick man. “Read that again! Wounded for our transgressions. Then He was wounded for mine! I have it!” he exclaimed, starting up. “Bruised for [my] iniquities. Why didn’t you tell me that before? But I have it now, thank God! With His stripes [I am] healed.”

Why the Scripture Is Special

The next day the clergyman went to see a friend and asked what there was in that scripture more than another. “Why,” said his friend, a believer in the Lord Jesus, “this verse contains the whole gospel. Now, I beg you, believe it! Can you say, He was wounded for my transgressionsthe Son of God bore my sins in His own body on the tree?”

“Now I see,” exclaimed the clergyman. “How blind I have been! I know the scriptures with my head, but never before have I believed with my heart.”

After this experience his congregation was amazed at the intensely earnest way in which he preached. He told them that he had been only a blind leader, but that God’s grace had shone in his heart. He was a new creature in Christ Jesus, and he begged them all to trust the Lord Jesus as their own Saviour.

 

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Adapted from His Riches.

A Bell in a Well

The Man Who Had Nothing

Mr. Bell always said that he “found God in a well,” but perhaps it should be said that God found him in a well. He certainly had not been seeking God! In fact, in spite of having had Christian parents, he was living only for himself to have “a good time.” So when his parents died in England, he moved to Canada and bought a farm near Oxbow, Saskatchewan.
He dug a 17-foot well on the farm. Someday he was going to put a ladder down it to get in and out of the well if necessary, but that ladder never got built.

Trapped in Near Freezing Water
One day, when he was about 55 years old, a neighbor came to his place for a load of hay and promised that he would be back in the afternoon for another load. Left alone, Mr. Bell went down to his well to get a bucket of water. He slipped and fell into the well! There he stayed, in water halfway up his chest, for five hours.

Following the dog’s urging, he looked at last in the well.
His “good time” came to an end. God had put him in a place where he was helpless. He realized now that God was the only One he could cry to. Right then and there he took the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour, trusting in the precious blood of Christ to cleanse him from all his sins.
Late in the afternoon the neighbor came back for the other load of hay. Entering the yard he could not see Mr. Bell, who was by now unable even to call for help, but the dog came running to him whining and thrusting his nose into his hand. Following the dog’s urging, he looked at last in the well.
Friendly hands soon were able to draw the poor man up―out into the icy air. It was 40 degrees below zero that day, and in his soaked clothes he was nearly frozen.
Mr. Bell’s health suffered greatly from this experience; when he was finally able to leave the hospital the doctors told him he had not long to live. In view of this, he turned his farm back to the man he had been buying it from and bought a little land in the town of Oxbow. There he had a small house built to live in the rest of his time down here, near medical help.
But the doctors were surprised. He didn’t die then, though he was never really well again. The Lord left him in his little house for 17 years, years that he spent in telling all who visited him of his experience. Children from the town often came and visited him and listened as he told them of the Lord Jesus’ love for sinners and how he was now trusting in Jesus for salvation.
After those years he was brought into the hospital in a wheelchair, all crippled up with arthritis. I was in the hospital for an operation at the time, and he was put in a bed in the room where I was with three others. He immediately started to tell his life story. He began by saying, “You can’t tell me there isn’t a God! I am reaping for what I sowed in my life!”
“God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Rejoicing in the knowledge of his sins being forgiven, he was just waiting the Lord’s time to take him home to the Father’s house. While he remained here in this world he was telling his story to all he came in contact with. Even though some laughed and made fun of him, he kept talking. He had good news to tell!

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Adapted from His Riches.

The Leary Barn Fire That Didn’t Happen

Sam Leary’s Barn

This was not Mrs. O’Leary’s barn, made notorious by the Chicago fire. Nor was there the famous cow that kicked the lantern over in this barn. In fact, there were no cows in Sam Leary’s barn. It was all cleaned out to be used for a series of gospel meetings. Many people had been attending the meetings every night, and several received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.

Some of the boys of the neighborhood began to make plans to disrupt the meetings. They arranged that two of them should fasten and guard the door, while a third went up on the roof and dropped a bucket of burning sulfur down through a hole in the middle of the barn. Other boys watched from a safe distance to share in the fun.

“The game’s all up! Come on!”

The meeting was well under way, and the two at the door had done their part in blocking the door. Now they stood waiting to hear confusion inside and a rush made for the door. Nothing happened. They dared not call to Ben on the roof for fear it might warn those inside.

What Are You Waiting For?

At last, after waiting half an hour, one of them climbed up to find Ben. There he was, with his head close to the opening in the roof, listening intently to the preacher’s voice.

When asked if he had dropped the sulfur, he answered, “No, Jack, I threw it into the watering trough, and I’m converted to God!”

Jack dropped to the ground and whispered to his friend, “The game’s all up! Come on!” And they fled across the field.

Ben, while waiting for the best time to interrupt the service, was obliged to listen to the words being spoken inside. God used what he heard to waken him to the reality of eternity. It became so real to him as he sat there on the rooftop that he trembled. Throwing away his bucket, he listened carefully to the gospel. He knew he needed a Saviour, and he received God’s Word and was saved then and there.

“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

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Adapted from His Riches.

Was It a Lie?

The wagons were rolling westward. Long lines of wagons moved slowly across the hot prairies, over the cold mountains, bearing settlers, miners, adventurers, hunters, trappers―all seeking something beyond. One wagon train had a company of Christians who hoped to take the gospel of God’s grace to those in the West.

It was a company of Christians―plus Joe. Joe was not a Christian. Joe, in his own country, was wanted for murder. It was not safe for him to stay in his own neighborhood, so meeting up with the Christians, he asked to be hired as a driver of one of their wagons.

However, being in the company of Christians did not make Joe a saint! He hated religion. When the wagons stopped rolling for the Lord’s Day (Sunday), Joe didn’t have to drive, so he would go off with his gun and spend the hours hunting. He would keep well out of the way of hearing the Word of God preached.

As the party went on their way, in the middle of July there came a Sunday so hot that Joe didn’t care to hunt. He laid himself down in the shadow of one of the wagons, carefully selecting the wagon of one of the group who would not be expected to conduct the service.

But Joe had made a mistake. The one whose turn it was to preach was so overcome by the heat that he asked to be excused, and the owner of the wagon under whose shade Joe was sheltering offered to take his place. So the little company gathered around his wagon, and the meeting began.

Joe was lying in the long grass, half asleep, and was furious at being disturbed. To lie still while hymns were sung and to see the hated Bible opened was too much for him. He would move. He stood up to go, but the heat was too great and he threw himself back down on the grass. There he lay on his back in front of the preacher, his angry eyes glaring up at him.

“He said that God loved wicked men. Wasn’t that a lie?”

“Lord, help me to preach to Joe,” prayed the speaker as he saw the opportunity before him. Forgetting everybody else, he began to tell of the love of God to all His creatures. He told his hearers that, though God gave them rain and sunshine, food and drink, even life itself, yet they didn’t love Him in return. Instead of loving Him, they hated Him and His servants and His Book. But did He send the lightning and strike them down for their enmity? No, He had given His Son to die to put away their sins. He had shown His love to them, to the worst of them, even to the murderers, and if they would only believe in His Son He would forgive them and make them His dear children.

Joe’s eyes were fixed on the speaker who, as he went on, watched the anger slowly fading out.

Lies?

Joe didn’t forget that sermon. One day, walking beside another of the men, he said, “Didn’t the preacher tell awful lies that hot Sunday?”

“Lies, Joe? I didn’t hear any.”

“He said that God loved wicked men. Wasn’t that a lie?”

“Not at all, Joe; it’s in the Book. ‘God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins.’

“But wasn’t that an awful lie, that the Great Father gave His Son?”

“No, Joe, it’s in the Book. ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’

Then Joe said, “But it must be a lie, that He was preparing the beautiful place for them.”

“No,” was the answer. “That’s true too. It’s in the Book. Jesus, the Son of God, said to sinful men whom He loved and had saved, I go to prepare a place for you.”

Then Joe said, “If all this is true, I want this way of peace; I want this new life!”

That sermon, and the talk that followed, turned Joe from being Joe-the-wicked to Joe-the-Christian. He believed that God loved him and gave His Son to die for him, and joyfully he received Christ Jesus as his Lord.

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Adapted from Living Waters.

The Unseen Helmsman

An Atheist Loses Control
As a young man, Daniel Matthews was wild and rebellious against any authority. The one thing he loved was the sea, reveling in its dangers. He was daring beyond anyone his age, and older experienced sailors would not have dared to do the things he did.
An unbeliever, he would, with forceful language and powerful argument prove, as he thought, that religion was a fallacy and God was a myth.
One night the fishing fleet was far out at sea when an unusually intense storm sprang up. Nets had to be cut adrift, and every boat headed for the harbor. Even Dan became alarmed. For the first time in his life he was really afraid.
His Christian friend, Tom Rogers, was at the wheel with him when a great wave broke over the bow and swept the little craft from stem to stern. Tom was torn from the wheel and hurled into the raging waves.
He had no time to grieve over the loss of his friend who had often urged him to trust in Christ; it was now a desperate and lonely struggle to reach the shore. For what seemed like hours of terror he clung to the wheel, driving on and on through the darkness with no sign of the harbor light. He was losing strength, and realized that he could not carry on much longer.

The Atheist’s First Prayer

 

The icy wind chilled him to the bone. The spray that broke in clouds over the vessel blinded him and cut his face.

He could hear the waves beating against the rocks like distant thunder, and his heart seemed to freeze with fear.
Dan felt sure that he was near the land, though he could see nothing in the intense darkness. Through the roar of the wind he could hear the waves beating against the rocks like distant thunder, and his heart seemed to freeze with fear.
In that terrible moment he prayed. Hopeless, helpless, and despairing, he cried to God for help. It was only a desperate cry: “O God, help me!”
Then a strange thing happened. He felt a strong Hand was on the wheel, turning it in spite of his own despairing grip, turning it―and swinging the vessel from its course. In a moment the fury of the wind lessened, the waves grew quieter, and Dan found himself within his own harbor.
What he felt at that moment he could never describe. At first he was terribly afraid. He knew ―yes, he knew―that God had taken the wheel from his hand and brought him through the inlet into the harbor, and he was afraid of the unseen Helmsman whom he had mocked and ridiculed. But it changed his whole life, and he had the courage to tell his mates what had happened and how God had come to his help. As soon as he was able, he came to ask for help and guidance, and soon he found the way to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted Him as his own Saviour.
Until that same strong and loving Hand steered his vessel of life into its final port, he was never tired of telling all who would listen the wonderful story of the unseen Helmsman.
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

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Adapted from His Riches.

Shocked By His Own Words

No Christians in Hell

We heard the other day of a young man in Switzerland, the son of a Christian mother, saying he was “sick and tired of Christians,” and of hearing them or talking to them. So one day he decided to take the train to a lake where he could be out of their reach.
He bought his ticket, and took his seat in the train. No sooner had the train started, than two men began a serious conversation about the Bible. “Oh, no!” thought the young man, “I’m not going to stay here!”
So as soon as the train stopped, he jumped out and got into another compartment with some old ladies. To his dismay he found that the topic of their conversation was the coming of the Lord Jesus. He was greatly annoyed, but they soon reached the next station and he could see the boat he planned to take waiting at the dock. He saw, going on board, a number of laughing young men and women.
The Captain looked up with a laugh and said, “To hell!”
“At last,” he thought, “I have found what I want.” But as soon as the boat left the dock he found that it was a Christian school excursion. Gloomily he wandered downstairs to the dining room, where he saw the Captain sitting, writing.
“Good morning, Captain,” he said. “Where can I go to get rid of these cursed Christians?”
The Captain looked up with a laugh and said, “To hell!”

Sudden Shock
In sudden shock the two men stared at each other, realizing the truth. There would be no Christians in hell―but―they themselves were not Christians! As the meaning of the Captain’s joking answer dawned on them, they both recognized their danger of going to that awful place. God used it to turn them both to seek Him. Now they are both Christians!
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

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Adapted from His Riches.

A Burglar in the Night

Braley Buries His Past

Joe Braley, a rough man of unenviable notoriety, was often in prison, and when not there was usually wanted by the police for one crime or another. In one of his short periods of freedom he made plans to burglarize a rural area.

While he was waiting for dark to cover his crime, he heard a distant voice that seemed to carry far through the quiet country air. Curiously, he followed the sound for half a mile until he found himself on the outskirts of a crowd listening to the earnest words of a gospel preacher.

About an hour later, as Mr. Russell, the preacher, was sitting down to his supper there came a knock at his front door. Joe Braley wanted to see Mr. Russell.

He went to the door, while Mrs. Russell slipped quietly behind her husband. There at the door stood a sturdy figure, and a rough voice asked, “Are you Mr. Russell?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Do you know me?”

“Yes, Joe, I do.”

“I want you to come for a walk with me.”

Then Mrs. Russell made her presence known by catching hold of her husband and begging him not to go out at that late hour into the dark night, but her pleas were unsuccessful.

Cutting the turf carefully, he dug a little grave and…

Together the preacher and the burglar walked in silence, Mr. Russell wondering what could be Joe’s errand. On they went until they passed out of town and up a lonely lane between two high hedges. Then Joe came to a sudden stop and said, “I was out walking this evening when I heard your voice. I had some time to kill, so I walked on till I came to a crowd and heard you speaking. I want to know if all you said is true.”

“Yes, Joe, every word of it,” was the reply.

Buried By the Road

“Then do you think there is any hope for me? Can Jesus save a sinner like me?”

“Yes, Joe; the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“Then I want you to see me bury these things and kneel with me on their grave.”

Cutting the turf carefully, he dug a little grave and deposited there his revolver and various burglary tools. Then stamping down the dirt, he relaid the turf and he and the preacher knelt in the darkness while Joe Braley confessed to God his sins and his need of a Saviour.

When they rose, Joe left Mr. Russell and was heard of in the neighborhood (and on the police “wanted” list) no more. It was evident that he had put distance between himself and his old associates as his best chance for a different life.

Since “conversion” means “a turning back,” “a spiritual and moral change attending a change of belief with conviction” (Webster), Joe Braley was truly converted. More than thirty years later Mr. Russell met him in another part of the country, and the ex-convict, ex-burglar was living an upright life and telling all he met of the wonderful grace of God.

“The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, And gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

 

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Adapted from His Riches.

Jose, the Burglar

Jose, once a burglar but now a Christian, tells the story of his conversion.

One evening I broke into a house and, hiding myself under a bed, waited for the family to go to sleep. When they were ready to go to bed, to my horror, they all gathered in the room where I was hidden and sat down! The father came over to the bed itself, and for one awful moment I thought he had seen me. But he picked up a book and sat down to read to his wife and children.
I didn’t stop to steal anything else, but went out into the night with the…

They were wonderful words he read―I had never heard the like of them before. When he had finished he put the book back on the table and then the family knelt in prayer. I hoped they wouldn’t see me under the bed! As I heard them pray, it seemed like they were talking to a friend in the room. I had never heard anyone talk to God like that before.

At last the family went to bed. When I thought everyone was asleep, I crept from my hiding place, stole over to the table and picked up the book. I didn’t stop to steal anything else, but went out into the night with the book in my hand. It was a Bible.

As I read the Bible at home, I became more and more disturbed, yet I felt that in it lay the secret of true happiness. The day finally came when I confessed my sins to God and asked Him to receive me through the Lord Jesus Christ.

My life was completely changed. I wanted to live honestly. I knew that I should return the Bible to its owner, so I did so. The father of the family seemed even more pleased to hear about the story of my salvation than to receive his Bible back!

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Adapted from Living Waters.

God’s Surprising Methods

Two Irishmen

The conversion of two Irishmen is a very remarkable story. One of these men, knowing that Charles Wesley was to preach in a barn, had gone in beforehand and crept into a sack close to the door, intending, as soon as the preaching had begun, to open the door to the mob outside–the Methodists had agreed to lock themselves in, for fear of an attack. The man in the sack, being fond of music, remained quiet while the hymn was sung. But something more than the music reached him—it was the voice of God, speaking through the words of the hymn to his conscience. He didn’t dare open the door, but waited to hear the prayer. He now felt himself to be a lost sinner, and, forgetting where he was, he began to pray aloud for mercy, to the astonishment of the congregation, who helped him out of the sack. This man was from that moment a true follower of Christ.

The other man, who was also fond of music, had gone to the meeting to hear the singing. He was determined not to hear the preaching, but to stop his ears as soon as the first hymn was over until the second hymn began. He, therefore, sat, after the hymn, with his head down, and his fingers in his ears.

He was determined not to hear the preaching, but to stop his ears as soon as the first hymn was over…
But when God will speak to a soul He can make his voice heard. As the man sat there, a fly landed on his nose. For a moment he moved his hand to drive it away, and, in so doing, nine words only reached his ear — “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” From that moment this man, who was an ungodly tavern-keeper, had no rest in his soul. He went, afterward, to seek out the Methodists: listened eagerly to the gospel, and became a converted man.

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Gospel Story 046 from The Story of John Wesley by F. Bevan

Forgiveness Illustration

“Father Forgive”

Often God uses weak things to accomplish His great purposes.

A little girl was given a New Testament as a prize at her Sunday school.

Naturally, she was delighted and at once tried to read it. She was very young, and could only read the simplest words.

One day, her father, who had no interest in the Bible, sat near the window reading the Sunday newspaper. The child was reading the story of the cross, and reached those deeply touching words of our blessed Lord: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The child haltingly spelled out “F-A-T-H-E-R, father.”

“Why father!” she cried, “here is your name; Jesus is talking to you here.”

“Nonsense,” he said, “nonsense,” and adding, “go on reading to yourself, child, and don’t make so much noise about it,” he returned to his paper.

But his attention was caught, and instinctively he listened in spite of himself. “Father, F-O-R-G-I-V-E, forgive―Father forgive him.”

“No, child, that is wrong, it is not ME―I mean it is not HIM―it is “forgive them. There now! Don’t interrupt me again.”

But the little girl, persisted in repeating the words, “Father, forgive, father forgive,” then hesitated at the word “them.”

Her father, in a tumult of annoyance and vexation, nervously folded his paper and, almost snatching the book from her hand, told her what the word was, and went out of the room.

But an arrow from God had pierced his “armor,” and the words echoed ceaselessly in his brain: “Father, forgive,” “Father. forgive.”

Finally he admitted, “Yes, it’s ME! I have sinned against God, and yet Jesus died for me. Forgive me, my God,” he prayed, “forgive my sins.”

Did God hear his cry? Of course. Has God EVER turned a deaf ear to a contrite sinner’s cry? Never! Even an angry thief, convicted and repentant, found pardon, and exchanged a malefactor’s cross for the crown of glory. “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

He is the same today.

Adapted from In The Cleft of the Rock