Sunday, February 8, 2015

"A word on David Brainerd"

In the summer of 1742, when all of Brainerds personal plans were brought to nothing, the suggestion was made that Brainerd become a missionary to the Indians.

On November 25, 1742 Brainerd was examined for his fitness for the work and appointed as a missionary to the Indians.

 Brainerd preached to the Indians at the Forks of the Delaware for one year. But on June 19, 1745 he made his first preaching tour to the Indians at Crossweeksung, New Jersey. This was the place where God moved in amazing power and brought awakening and blessing to the Indians. Within a year there were 130 converted in his growing assembly of believers. The whole Christian community moved from Crossweeksung to Cranberry in May 1746 to have their own land and village. Brainerd stayed with these Indians until he was too sick to minister, and in November 1746 he left Cranberry to spend four months trying to recuperate in Elizabethtown at the house of Jonathan Dickinson.

On March 20, 1747 David Brainerd made one last visit to his Indian friends and then rode to the house of Jonathan Edwards in Northampton, Massachusetts, arriving May 28, 1747. He made one trip to Boston during the summer and then returned and died of tuberculosis in Edwards' house October 9, 1747.

It was a short life: twenty-nine years, five months and nineteen days. Eight of those years as a believer, and four of those as a missionary.  What was the impact of such a short life?  John Wesley would say, "Let every preacher read carefully over the 'Life of Brainerd". It was said of the great missionary Henry Martyn that "perusing the life of David Brainerd, his soul was filled with a holy emulation of that extraordinary man; and after deep consideration and fervent prayer, he was at length fixed in a resolution to imitate his example"  The great missionary William Carey regard Edwards' Life of Brainerd as a sacred text? Robert Morrison and Robert McCheyne of Scotland and John Mills of America and Frederick Schwartz of Germany and David Livingston of England and Andrew Murray of South Africa and Jim Elliot of modern America all look upon Brainerd with a kind of awe and their lives impacted greatly as countless others were.

How did such a man with such a short life come to impact the lives of so many. The answer may be found in 1Co 1:25  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Co 1:26  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Co 1:27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Co 1:29  That no flesh should glory in his presence. 

Brainerd's life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for his glory.

Let us take a moment and hear the words and voice of David Brainerd.

On May of 1744 he wrote, "Rode several hours in the rain through the howling wilderness, although I was so disordered in body that little or nothing but blood came from me" "In the afternoon my pain increased exceedingly; and was obliged to betake myself to bed ... Was sometimes almost bereaved of the exercise of my reason by the extremity of pain." 

August of 1746 he wrote, "Having lain in cold sweat all night, I coughed much bloody matter this morning, and was under great disorder of body, and not a little melancholy."  

September he wrote, "Exercised with a violent cough and a considerable fever; had no appetite to any kind of food; and frequently brought up what I ate, as soon as it was down; and oftentimes had little rest in my bed, by reason of pains in my breast and back: was able, however, to rode over to my people, about two miles, every day, and take some care of those who were then at work upon a small house for me to reside in amongst the Indians"

In August he says, "In this weak state of body, (I) was not a little distressed for want of suitable food. Had no bread, nor could I get any. I am forced to go or send ten or fifteen miles for all the bread I eat; and sometimes 'tis moldy and sour before I eat it, if I get any considerable quantity ... But through divine goodness I had some Indian meal, of which I made little cakes and fried them. Yet felt contented with my circumstances, and sweetly resigned to God".

He would write of these difficulties, "Such fatigues and hardship as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter. Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart (through the grace of God) and my eye is more to God for comfort. In this world I expect tribulation; and it does not now, as formerly, appear strange to me; I don't in such seasons of difficulty flatter myself that it will be better hereafter; but rather think how much worse it might be; how much greater trials others of God's children have endured; and how much greater are yet perhaps reserved for me. Blessed be God that he makes (=is) the comfort to me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts be attended with terror or melancholy; but they are attended frequently with great joy."

What was this great joy? Lord's Day, April 25. "This morning I spent about two hours in secret duties and was enabled more than ordinarily to agonize for immortal souls. Though it was early in the morning and the sun scarcely shined at all, yet my body was quite wet with sweat..."

Lord's Day, December 29 "...After public worship was over, I went to my house, proposing to preach again after a short season of intermission. But they soon came in one after another; with tears in their eyes, to know, "what they should do to be saved..." It was an amazing season of power among them, and seemed as if God had "bowed the heavens and come down..." and that God was about to convert the whole world."

July 21st, "This morning about nine I withdrew to the woods for prayer. I was in such anguish that when I rose from my knees I felt extremely weak and overcome, and the sweat ran down my face and body ... I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. I continued in this frame all the evening and night." 

Could it be that For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
2Co 4:16  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,


From the home and the heart

The Hurting Heart

During the course of this week, it's been astounding to note the number of hurting people that we've encountered.  So often the impression given by the one hurting is please fix this for me, and fix it quickly.  What's often most troubling to find in these circumstances is the fact that too many are not willing to listen to the true cure for what is ailing them.

There may be medical situations, unpaid bills, loss of a loved one, or loved ones (via death or divorce) etc.  The turns in life that bring heart break are unable to be numbered.  The causes of such painful drama are many as well.   Whether we suffer from our own choices or those of someone else,  we know that living in a fallen, sinful world is going to have consequence that brings pain to our lives.  Is there a cure?  Is there hope amidst such pain?

According to the Scripture, we know that there certainly is blessed hope for the hurting.  Though none be worthy of such merit of eternal grace, it has been freely given.  Nothing was due us in the way of making our lives happy and comfortable.  Yet, through marvelous grace, we've been blessed beyond measure to enjoy the comforts of the Spirit of God to direct our paths if we but trust Him.

As good as this grace is of which so many of us are aware, there are those who simply will not receive this abundant provision.  We mentioned earlier that they simply will not listen to that which will bring about the relief sought for their situation.  These may be those who sincerely desire your compassion and words of condolence.  However, the work of Christ being revealed within their hearts just doesn't seem to occur.  There's no seeking Him while He may be found with them.

His Wisdom is necessary in any approach we may take with anyone.  His truth must be given and tempered with His love when we share His gracious gifts with the hurting.  There is a place of prayer that must be attended when we dare to share the precious oracles of His Word. 

Perhaps you've a hurting one directly in your path at the present reading.  Maybe you've talked with them until you're blue in the face and it has been seemingly to no avail.  How important it is to remember how we're counseled in the Word to take our burden to Him and leave it there.  Christ is the One who will change the heart of stone.  He's the One who will heal and restore that which is amiss.  He's also the One who knows if this person in your path will ever respond favorably to His truth.  Thus, we must not grow weary in the work of love.

In closing, once again this passage just seems to say the needful thought,

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Thankful for His Grace,


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