VIDEO The Story of Samuel Morris

May 31, 2013

Over 130 years ago, in a small Liberian village in West Africa, Samuel Morris was born Prince Kaboo, the eldest son of a Kru tribal chieftain. While still a child, a neighboring clan defeated his people and demanded that Kaboo’s father pay a hefty ransom for his son’s return.

The Miraculous Escape

The conquering chief subjected Kaboo to terrible treatment and cruel labor.

During one of many intense whippings, Kaboo said he saw a bright light and heard a voice from Heaven telling him to flee. Kaboo recalled that the rope binding him fell to the ground, after which he gathered his strength and ran into the jungle.

Traveling at night and hiding in the hollow of trees by day, Kaboo navigated blindly through a jungle dominated by jungle law. Eventually he arrived at Monrovia, the one city of the thousands in Liberia that was civilized and under the rule of law. At a coffee plantation that provided work and shelter, a young boy invited him to church where Miss Knolls, a missionary and graduate of Taylor University (then known as Fort Wayne College), spoke on the conversion of the Apostle Paul. Kaboo immediately recognized the story as being similar to his escape. Shortly afterward, he accepted Christ as Savior and was baptized under the name of Samuel Morris in honor of the missionary’s benefactor.

Faith to Move a Mountain

Morris spent the next two years painting houses in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. He became a zealous member of the Christian community and displayed a fervent desire to learn about the Holy Spirit. Missionaries encouraged him to travel to America and seek the instruction of Stephen Merritt, former secretary to Bishop William Taylor. With no money or means of transportation, Morris began his journey on foot.

From Liberia to New York

Sleeping on the beach at the Robertsport harbor, Morris waited several days before finding passage on a ship in exchange for work. The journey would prove a difficult one as Morris was often beaten and assigned to the most dangerous tasks. However, by the time the ship docked in New York in September of 1891, the captain and most of the crew had accepted Christ because of Morris’ witness.

Morris Arrives in America

As a pastor and sponsor of a rescue mission, Merrit warmly received Morris. He contacted Thaddeus Reade, then president of Taylor University, and requested to enroll Morris at the school. Due to Taylor’s financial debt, Reade personally started a fund for Morris. The fruit of his effort would later be known as the “Faith Fund”.

The “Angel in Ebony” at Taylor University

In December of 1891, Morris arrived on Taylor’s campus (then in Fort Wayne, Ind.). When asked by Reade which room he wanted, Morris replied, “If there is a room that nobody wants, give that to me.” Morris’ faith had such a profound impact on the Fort Wayne community that he was frequently invited to speak at local churches. At night, he could regularly be heard in his room praying, which he simply called “talking to my Father.”

Morris often asked others to read Scripture to him. When one student refused, saying he did not believe in the Bible anymore, Morris replied, “My dear brother, your Father speaks to you, and you do not believe him? Your brother speaks, and you do not believe him? The sun shines and you do not believe it? God is your father, Christ your brother, the Holy Ghost your Sun.”

Morris’ Mission to the World

President Reade once said, “Samuel Morris was a divinely sent messenger of God to Taylor University. He thought he was coming over here to prepare himself for his mission to his people, but his coming was to prepare Taylor University for her mission to the whole world. All who met him were impressed with his sublime, yet simple faith in God.”

Morris’ Death

On May 12, 1893, Samuel Morris died after contracting a severe cold. His death inspired his fellow students to serve as missionaries to Africa on his behalf, fulfilling his dream of one day returning to minister to his own people. Hundreds of spectators lined the streets of Fort Wayne as Samuel Morris’ body was carried to Berry Street Methodist Church. Lindley Baldwin, author of Samuel Morris, writes “the burial ceremony in Lindenwood cemetery, his last earthly resting place, was attended by a multitude such had never before accompanied there.” Morris’ untimely passing prevented him from participating at the laying of the cornerstone at Taylor’s new Upland campus, where he was scheduled to speak and sing.

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Reflecting God’s Love

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. Exodus 34:29

I had the privilege of serving as my mom’s caregiver during her treatments at a live-in cancer care center. Even on her hardest days, she read Scripture and prayed for others before getting out of bed.

She spent time with Jesus daily, expressing her faith through her dependence on God, her kind deeds, and her desire to encourage and pray for others. Never realizing how much her smiling face glowed with the Lord’s loving grace, she shared God’s love with the people around her until the day He called her home to heaven.

As we spend time with God and surrender our lives to Him more and more each day, we can reflect His love.

After Moses spent forty days and forty nights communing with God (Ex. 34:28), he descended Mount Sinai. He had no idea his intimate connection with the Lord actually changed his appearance (v. 29). But the Israelites could tell Moses had spoken with the Lord (vv. 30–32). He continued meeting with God and influencing the lives of those around him (vv. 33–35).

We might not be able to see how our experiences with God change us over time, and our transformation will definitely not be as physically apparent as Moses’s beaming face. But as we spend time with God and surrender our lives to Him more and more each day, we can reflect His love. God can draw others closer to Him as the evidence of His presence shows in and through us.

Our intimate moments spent with God can change us and direct others to His love.

By Xochitl Dixon 

INSIGHT:In the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he compares two sources of “afterglow.” Moses met with God and reflected the fading glory of the law (3:7–11). Now, however, through faith in Christ we can meet with the same God and reflect His transforming Spirit. The difference is life-changing. As good as the law is, it condemns those who break it. As bad as we are, through the mercy and forgiveness of Christ we can have everlasting life.

The offer is to draw near to Jesus, who forgives our sin and transforms us by His Spirit as we draw close and spend time with Him. May others see the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of Jesus’s Spirit glowing through us.Mart DeHaan

No Trial Is Beyond God’s Ability to Help

Jude 1:24-25

Though Scripture is filled with promises from the Lord, we often struggle to accept them as true in our own life. But the Father wants us to believe that He’s willing and able to do whatever He has said.

God has assured us that we don’t have to give in to the lure of sin, as He sets a limit on temptation and provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus experienced this truth when the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness for an encounter with Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). Our Savior successfully resisted the devil’s enticements by recalling who the Father is and what He promised. God limited the temptation to three challenges, and the way out was through Scripture’s powerful truth.

The Lord has also pledged to keep us from stumbling. We live in a world that is full of landmines, which are either hidden from sight or disguised as something good. We do not seek them out, but once triggered, they lead to ungodliness. For example, Peter had a conversation with a servant girl and ended up denying that he knew Jesus Christ (Matt. 26:69-74). Like the apostle, we sometimes have trouble recognizing a situation’s potential danger, but our heavenly Father understands what is involved—and He knows just how we should respond.

When you face temptation or encounter an unexpected difficulty, the approach needs to be the same. Turn your attention to the Lord, and keep it there until your mind is filled with the knowledge of Him. Allow the Scriptures to guide your prayers, and stand firm until the promised help comes.

The Finished Work

“They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” (Psalm 22:31)

This is the last verse of Psalm 22, the marvelous prophecy that describes so graphically the sufferings of Christ on the cross, a thousand years before the fulfillment. The preceding verse promises that this great event will, literally, “be told about the Lord in every generation.” Fathers would tell it to their children, teachers to their students, generation after generation declaring His righteousness. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

This prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled for almost 2,000 years as each generation of Christians tells the next generation the old, old story of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11), both of which are graphically foretold here in the 22nd Psalm.

But this final verse especially stresses the fact that the work has been completed. Its last word, “this,” is not in the original Hebrew, so the final statement actually should read “He hath finished!” The most glorious aspect of the gospel message is that He has accomplished all that was needed to assure eternal salvation to every one who would “remember and turn unto the LORD” (Psalm 22:27).

This last great prophecy was fulfilled when He cried out as He was dying on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Just as He had, long ago, pronounced that “the heavens and the earth were finished” (Genesis 2:1), completing His great work of creation, so on the cross He had finished the still greater work of redemption. What is left for us to do? Nothing, for He has finished it all! There is nothing we can do, either to create the world or to save our souls. We can only receive, in thanksgiving, what He has done. HMM

“Thou art the glory of their strength.”

1 Samuel 4:12-18, 20-22

1 Samuel 4:12

Bad news is sure to find a messenger and a swift one, Alas, that the good news of the Gospel should so often remain untold.

1 Samuel 4:13, 14

Thus was fulfilled the prophecy that the judgments of the Lord on Eli’s sons should make many ears to tingle. Shiloh had been defiled with sin, and it therefore came to be defaced with sorrow.

1 Samuel 4:15-17

The venerable old priest, within two years of a century old, heard all the sad news with fortitude and patience till the last item was reached.

1 Samuel 4:18

His heart was broken and then his neck. He fell in a swoon of grief. No sword of the Philistines could have killed him more certainly than this terrible news that God’s ark was captured. Nothing so much affects good men as calamity to the Church, or dishonour brought upon the name of the Lord.

The sad tidings that the ark was taken, and that her husband was slain, caused the wife of Phinehas to be seized with deadly pangs.

1 Samuel 4:20-22

She seems to have been a pious woman, though her husband was a wicked man: her piety led her to forget her own miseries in the greater miseries of the Church of God, and to make her child’s name the memorial of the departed glory of Israel. Her death was another stroke at Eli’s house, but it was sent in love to her, for she was spared the sight of Israel’s sorrows.

Proverbs 23:13-18

The sad story of the destruction of Eli’s family is a special warning to all parents not to suffer sin to go unpunished in their households. Want of discipline is want of love. Let us see what Solomon says upon it—Proverbs 23:13-18.

Proverbs 23:13, 14

Mr. Bridges in his “Notes on Proverbs,” says, “Eli tried gentler means, and the sad issue is written for our instruction. Is it not cruel love that turns away from painful duty? To suffer sin upon a child is tantamount to hating him in our heart. Is it not better that the flesh should smart than that the soul should die? What if thy child should reproach thee throughout eternity, for the neglect of that timely correction which might have saved his soul from hell.”

Proverbs 23:15, 16

It is a father’s highest happiness to have a son who is not only good himself, but the bold champion of goodness, speaking out bravely for right and truth and God.

Proverbs 23:18

This life’s trouble will soon be over, and then shall the godly begin their best life. Their hope shall not be ashamed. May the Lord teach us as a family to serve him faithfully, that both here and hereafter we may be blessed.

 

Pray That the Word of the Lord May Have Free Course!

2 Thessalonians 3:1

Have you ever wondered how you should pray for missionaries or for people who are preaching the Word on the front lines where it is more difficult? Well, today I’m going to give you the answer. And please—while you’re praying for people on the front lines, be sure to remember to pray for me too!

The apostle Paul did what I call “front-line ministry work.” As noted earlier (see August 3), Paul’s ministry took him places where the Church was nonexistent. He dealt with hostile governments; he faced opposition from false religions; he pushed the evil forces of the demonic realm out of the way; he brought converts from the bleakness of paganism and turned them into living, breathing members of the Body of Christ. This task is never for the light-hearted, but only for the extremely committed.

As Paul makes his final remarks to the Thessalonians in Second Thessalonians 3, he says, “Finally, brethren, pray for us….” The word “finally” comes from the Greek words to loipon, which mean for the rest of the matter or to the last issue at hand. Paul has saved some very vital information for the end of his letter; therefore, he uses the words to loipon to let us know that although his letter is concluding, he still has something of high importance to say to the Thessalonian church.

Then Paul makes his request: “Finally, brethren, pray for us….” The Greek word translated “pray” is from the word proseuchomai. As it is used in this verse, this word means to pray continually or to pray without stopping. Paul is sincerely asking for committed prayer partners who will pray nonstop for his team, his ministry, and for himself. When he says, “Pray for us,” the word “for” is the Greek word peri, which means around or about. Paul is specifically requesting prayer for those things that are around or about them—hence, the things that concern them and their ministry.

Next, Paul gets more specific about how to pray. He says, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course….” The Greek could be better translated, “Pray for us, that the Lord’s word may have free course….” The Greek actually means the word that originates from the Lord.

This tells us that Paul was very conscious of the fact that he was not preaching his own manmade message or a message that belonged to him (see Galatians 1:11, 12). He was carrying a divinely revealed message that originated with and belonged to the Lord. In all his years of ministry, Paul was always mindful that the message he carried was given to him by the Lord.

Furthermore, Paul knew that his responsibility was to preach that message. Therefore, he asked the Thessalonians to join him in praying that the Lord’s message might have “free course.” These words “free course” come from the Greek word trecho, which means to run.

Before we go any further, let’s stop and look deeper into the meaning of the word trecho. This word often referred to runners who ran a foot race in a huge stadium before adoring crowds of fans. In order for the runner to run successfully and finish triumphantly, every ounce of his strength and his complete attention was required.

There is no doubt that Paul had this picture in his mind as he wrote this verse, for he was in a race to preach the Gospel to as many souls as possible before he came to the end of his life. He was in a spiritual race, a real competition. Racing urgently and with all his might against the enemy who wants to eternally destroy and damn souls, Paul put forth his best efforts to save as many souls as possible.

However, there is another powerful image in the word trecho that applies to this verse. This word was also used to describe the swift-running messengers who dashed between enemy lines to carry vital messages of instruction to those who waited on the other side of the battle. These especially brave and courageous messengers were essential if battles were to be won.

You can clearly see why Paul would have chosen to use this illustration, for he was indeed a God-sent messenger running back and forth through enemy territory, delivering the message of the Cross, as well as instructions to the churches that looked to him for apostolic leadership. Paul was God’s special, swift-running messenger!

There is no doubt in my mind that Paul used the Greek word trecho to convey both of these ideas to his readers. Paul saw himself as one who was running in a race, competing for the souls of men. He also saw himself as God’s messenger, whose principal goal was to run back and forth through enemy territory, delivering vital information to the people who awaited it. Paul’s intention was that both of these ideas would convey the challenge that lay before him—as well as the reason he needed people to regularly pray for him.

One more important fact must be pointed out. The tense Paul uses when he requests prayer that the word of the Lord may have “free course” indicates a constant and continuous pace. Thus, it is possible to translate this phrase, “Pray that we will be able to keep up the pace that is required for us to get this message out!”

You see, Paul and his associates were already running very hard. If they were going to keep up with God’s pace—if the Gospel message was going to keep spreading at such a miraculous rate of speed—they would need supernatural assistance and empowerment from above!

Finally, Paul makes one last prayer request. He asks for prayer that the word of the Lord may “… be glorified, even as it is with you.” The word “glorified” is the Greek word doxadzo, which paints the picture of the triumphant arrival of God’s glory, ushering in a new and glorious day in the lives and the territories where the word of the Lord is heard and received.

Dr. John Catlin, Professor of Classical Greek and Chairman of the Classics Department at a leading university, once wrote this to me:

At first glance, the language of the New Testament appears to be disarmingly simple, but a deeper look gives us an appreciation of the difficulties facing translators of that work. It is clear that whereas no translation can exactly reproduce the original meaning nevertheless, through an understanding of the original language, or at least the broad range of meaning that many of the words in that language have, it is more readily possible to penetrate and comprehend the meaning of that original language. It’s all too easy for those who are fluent in only one language to assume that there are exact equivalents between languages.

One of the greatest challenges of Bible translators is to translate into English the many ideas and images that are in Greek words. Perhaps no example makes this clearer than Paul’s prayer request in this verse, which in English is a mere twenty-four words in length. But those twenty-four words are packed with power and meaning!

 

These powerful words used by Paul in Second Thessalonians 3:1 convey the following ideas:

“Finally, brothers, pray for us and for those things that concern us. Pray that the word of the Lord will spread quickly and without resistance. Pray that we will be able to keep up the pace that is required for us to get this message out!

“To fulfill this task, we have to be like runners whose eyes are fixed on the goal before us! We must be like brave, bold, daring, and courageous messengers, whose job is to carry vital information across enemy lines. We have to move promptly and swiftly to get the message of the Gospel to the other side where people are desperately waiting.

“Since the Lord has dispatched us to carry this message, and since this task requires us to run speedily through dangerous territory, we request prayer that we will be able to make it through every skirmish, clash, confrontation, and struggle that we might come across as we run to the other side to deliver the word of the Lord. I request that your prayers be unbroken, uninterrupted, and never-ending. As you pray, remember to specifically stipulate that the word of the Lord would usher in a triumphant and glorious new day in the lives of those who hear it, as it has done among you.”

So now you have an idea of how to pray for missionaries, preachers, or people who are ministering the Word and planting churches in new, unreached regions—the difficult front lines where the Word has never or rarely been preached. Here is a wrap-up of Paul’s prayer request for you to use as you pray for people you know who are working in difficult parts of the world:

  • Pray for the missionaries and preachers themselves.
  • Pray for the things that concern them, i.e., their families, their finances, their health, etc.
  • Pray for the Lord’s message to spread without hindrance from hostile forces.
  • Pray for the missionaries and preachers to win the race for souls.
  • Pray for them to be protected as they dash through enemy territory.
  • Pray constantly, around the clock, for those who are laboring on the front lines!

Now that you know how the apostle Paul wanted people to pray for him, you can use this as a guide to pray for missionaries and preachers in other parts of the world. Why don’t you take a few minutes to start praying for them today?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You today to bless missionaries who are living and working in other parts of the world. Bless their families, their health, their finances, and everything that concerns them. Help them preach with little or no resistance. Empower them to run fiercely as they race to reach souls from being eternally lost. Protect them as they live, work, and dash back and forth through dangerous territory. I pray that the entrance of God’s Word in their communities will break the powers of darkness and usher in a new triumphant day! Help me to remember to pray for them every day!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I love missionaries and support them with my prayers and finances. I appreciate them for leaving their homes, their families, and their natural surroundings, and for uprooting their wives and children and moving to the other side of the world to take the Good News to those who do not have it. I will be faithful to remember them, to honor them, to pray for them, and to support them with my substance. The role I play to support them in prayer and with my finances is essential for their success, so I will fulfill my role faithfully!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How often do you think of missionaries and preachers who live on foreign soil and who are giving their lives to reach people in other parts of the world?
  2. Do you financially support any missionaries? If not, is there a reason you’ve never made this a priority in your life? Don’t you think you have a responsibility to make sure the same message that changed your life reaches people who have never heard it before?
  3. How long has it been since you took the time to sit down and write a missionary to thank him for uprooting his family and moving them to the other side of the world? Even though that missionary family may be a long way from you, a note from you might be the very word of encouragement they need right now. Would you please consider taking a few minutes of your time to show them love and encouragement today?

Paul saw himself as God’s messenger, whose principal goal was to run back and forth through enemy territory, delivering vital information to the people who awaited it.

 

Unless We Daily Experience God’s Grace, We Will Despair!

Paul admonished Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” knowing that without a profound awareness of His grace he, like the rest of us, would despair of the Christian life. (2 Timothy 2:1)

 

Recently, upon completing a lovely meal with friends, my host unleashed a hostile barrage of superlatives on the waitress in challenging the billing. After he had vented his spleen, the waitress graciously went over the bill, pointing out the fact that it was indeed correct.

 

Inwardly I could identify with my host, recollecting times I had decimated others, only to be proven wrong. The host, however is a relatively new believer, and is therefore more easily excused than I.

 

Without a profound awareness of His grace, both he and I would despair of the Christian life!

 

Just this morning I awoke in a sweat, as the air conditioning in my hotel room wasn’t working correctly. So I called down to the desk,

 

No! Dont send the technician up to my room. The problem is in the central cooling unit!

 

Soon, however, a technician gently knocked on the door, smiled, went over to the wall and adjusted the thermostat. And quietly departed.

 

I tell you, without a profound awareness of His grace, I would despair of the Christian life!

 

Certainly His grace gives us no license to sin nor an excuse for our vile behavior:

 

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1, 2a)

 

But we do need to find hope in the fact that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” or we will, in our wretchedness despair of the Christian life. (Romans 8:1a)

 

In our walk with Christ, our goal is to learn how to live in His presence on a moment-by-moment basis. But until we have mastered the art, let’s keep in mind the fact that we have One who pleads our cause before the Father:

 

I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)

 

And that is the grace of God!

 

 

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