On This Day In Christian History by Pastor Robert Morgan is a unique daily devotional book. Each day of the year features a Christian from a different age and a different part of the world, from the Roman Empire to the Reformation, St. Valentine to St. Francis, Martin Luther to Billy Graham. These true stories are fascinating. I’ve read some of them to the elderly and used others as sermon illustrations. At the end of each devotional is a Scripture verse that fits the theme of the day’s story.
In reading On This Day In Christian History, I was struck by several reoccurring themes:
- The zeal and perseverance of God’s servants over the years has been amazing! They’ve served Christ with great cost. Often they’ve lost family members to disease and war. They’ve preached the gospel faithfully, in some cases with hardly any visible “results.”
- Down through the ages God has used His ministers despite their sins, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and deficient theology. This gives me hope – He can even use me!
- Christians have been persecuted for their faith for the last two thousand years. Even in the twenty-first century, this is true for believers in many countries. I believe that what we endure in the United States today as we stand up for the faith and speak out against unbiblical moral trends is minor in comparison.
- Since the time of Jesus Christ, we Christians have been among our own worst enemies, whether it’s fighting between Catholics and Protestants, in-fighting among Protestants, or people in congregations today who criticize their pastor and fellow church members.
- Although there have been “hermits” in the history of the Christianity, it’s clear to me that the most effective servants of God were, or eventually became, team players. The Church, the Body of Christ, has played a vital role in their lives and ministries. Many believers today think that they can live their lives with little or no involvement in a local church. For some contemporary believers, the Christian faith is boiled down to “all you need to do is ask Jesus into your heart.”
- There have been so many types of Christians throughout the centuries: Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants of various stripes, and other faith communities we’ve hardly even heard of. Though we should desire to worship in a church that teaches sound biblical doctrine as we understand it, we should respect all those who profess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9), regardless of differences on secondary issues. We may be spending eternity with many of them!
- Despite all the opposition Christians have faced over the centuries and all the terrible things we have done to others, Christ’s Church has survived — not only survived, but thrived. As Jesus declared, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
To give you a little flavor of the book, let me close with some words by Heinrich Bullinger who succeeded Zwingli as pastor of Grossmunster in Zurich in 1531. Check out the ten rules for living he gave his son Henry when he set off for college in Strasburg.
Rules of living:
- Fear God at all times, and remember that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
- Humble yourself before God, and pray to him alone through Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.
- Believe firmly that God has done all for our salvation through His Son.
- Pray above all things for a strong faith active in love.
- Pray that God may protect your good name and keep you from sin, sickness, and bad company.
- Pray for your fatherland, for your dear parents … for the spread of the Word of God.
- Be reticent, be always more willing to hear than to speak, and do not meddle with things you do not understand.
- Study diligently. … Read daily three chapters of the Bible.
- Keep your body clean and unspotted, be neat in your dress and avoid above all intemperance in eating and drinking.
- Let your conversation be decent, cheerful, moderate.
Not too surprisingly, young Henry followed his father Heinrich into the gospel ministry.