How God Brought
Our lesson today
is on the new-birth experience. Jesus said, "Unless one is
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Salvation
is a free gift, but it is given on condition that we are born again.
Yet even the
conversion experience that we call the new birth is a gift from
God. Long before we were born, God was already trying to figure
out ways to win our affection and bring us to salvation. "He
chose us. . . before the foundation of the world, that we should
be holy and without blame before Him in love." He "predestined
us to" be His "adopted" children (Ephesians 1:4,
already had plans for you 6000 years ago, before the world was even
created. When Jesus died upon the cross, He already knew of your
sins and rebellion from Him, and it was for those sins that He died.
Thus God demonstrated His "love toward us, in that while we
were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).
Our God is a
very personal God. He cares for us individually. Jesus said to consider
the little sparrows that flit about the yard, for "not one
of them is forgotten before God. . . , and you are of more value
than many sparrows." God takes so much notice of you that even
"the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Luke 12:6,
7). "Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small
for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark
for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children,
no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape
the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which
He takes no immediate interest. . . . The relations between God
and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not
another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another
soul for whom He gave His beloved Son." Happiness Digest, pp.
today are about how God carefully and miraculously arranged events
so as to bring two of His lost children to conversion. In both cases
He used someone else. In our first story, He used a mother's love
to win a son, and in the second, He used a son's love to win a father.
Just as God planned for the salvation of these two persons, so He
has planned for your salvation. Yet God will never force, He only
tries to win. Eventually, we have to surrender to that love or be
From her southern
home, Ella heard about the need of nurses for the sick and dying
in the army. It was during the evil days of civil war, and Ella
longed to do the work of Christ in helping the sick and sharing
with them the gospel.
It was the Sanitary
Commission that collected gift supplies of blankets and clothing
from the churches to be used in the army hospitals. In one of the
Sanitary Commission boxes, Ella found a beautiful patchwork quilt
that she could tell was laced with love. The stitching was exquisite,
and care had been taken to make it as light as possible so as not
to lie heavy on the soldiers' wounds. Upon touch, she found it soft
and smooth. It was made of square blocks of calico and white cotton
intermingled. Every other block was white and every other colored.
But the most
unusual feature of the quilt was that upon every white square was
a carefully embroidered text of Scripture or verse from a well-known
hymn. On the central block, in large bold letters so as to catch
the careless eye, was embroidered the words, "Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners," and below it the prayer
of the repentant, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The
head border, which would be nearest to the sick man's eyes and most
often read, were texts of promise, love, and comfort. Among them
Ella read, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish." "Come
unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest." "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the
waters!" "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered
me from all my fears."
moistened as she read the note attached within, "I have made
this Scripture quilt for one of the hospital beds, for I thought
that while it would be a comfort to the poor body, it might speak
a word of good cheer to the precious soul; the words are so beautiful
and blessed, and full of balm and healing. May it be a blessing
to the dear boys in the army, among whom I have a son."
said Ella, "that all our beds had such a quilt!"
surely speak through these embroidered words of love to the sick
and wounded," added another. "They will read the verses
on this quilt when they will read nothing else. Who knows what good
will come from this quilt?"
the note and placed it in her Bible. She decided she would notice
what happened to the quilt and those who used it.
It was not long
before a man with pneumonia was brought into the sick bay and the
new quilt was put on his bed. He was too sick to notice anything
at first, but as he grew better Ella saw him intently studying the
texts. "Handy to have 'em here!" he said, pointing to
them as she stood beside his bed.
know how to value them," she said.
he answered heartily.
After that she
saw many studying the quilt in fact, almost all who lay beneath
it. One poor soldier, who had tossed and turned with pain and fever
for several days, caught sight of the words, "And I will give
you rest." He beckoned to Ella and, pointing to the verse,
asked, "Where can I find that rest? I need rest for body and
soul. I am half mad. You can see that I am sick, but I'm even sicker
where no one can see. Tell me how to get rest!"
never heard of the way? Have you never heard of Jesus?" she
"Tell it to me again," he said. So she told him the story
of the cross.
for my sins?" he asked.
she assured him. "He saw you in your sins and pitied you. He
loved you and died to save you from sin and to give you rest and
peace. He died to make you happy!"
never been happy. Never." he said. "I've been too wicked.
Tell me, did He really die for me? I never felt it before. It just
never seemed very real to me before."
you will come to feel it," she said. "Have you seen the
lines on the quilt that say, 'None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can
do helpless sinners good'?"
continued Ella. "I know it is true. None but Jesus can bring
you help. I've tried everything else, and there is no other way.
Here is another verse on the blanket from a hymn that says, 'I'll
go to Jesus, though my sins, have like a mountain risen.' "
can't go. I don't feel like I can do anything. I am a very wretched
man. That's all I am, a wretched man," he responded.
leave yourself with God," Ella said. "Repeat this verse,
'Here, Lord, I give myself away, tis all that I can do.' That's
all you have to do just give yourself to Jesus."
verse here on the quilt?" he asked.
it to him, after which he said, "I'll keep it before me. Oh,
for a little rest!" Not long afterward he found rest, rest
of soul and peace of mind. He had found Jesus. Soon he left the
hospital, a happier man than before he came.
Irish lad lay under the quilt. One day when nearly well he was looking
at it. "Is that reading?" he asked, pointing to a text
answered Ella. "Would you like to know what it says?"
read it to me," he said.
Ella read, "And
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be
no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be
any more pain."
one," he said, pointing to another square.
them that love Me, and they that seek Me early shall find Me,"
Ella read. "It was the Lord who said that," she added.
was the Lord. It's so good to a lonely person to hear you read,"
the young Irishman said.
As the months
went by, dozens of boys and young men lay beneath the blanket, each
one being observed by Ella. What blessing, cheer, and hope the blanket,
stitched with love by some Christian mother, brought to nearly all!
It was as if God was directing just who should lie beneath it.
One young man
under the blanket lay for over a week in a near-unconscious state.
Why they gave him that bed they did not know. But soon he began
to come to his senses. Ella watched to see if he would notice the
Scripture texts and hymn verses upon the quilt he did not. But then
she witnessed the strangest thing. He eyed the comforter carefully,
and then she thought she saw him kiss it.
his mind is wandering," she thought. "Or maybe he found
a special verse of Scripture," she mused. She carefully marked
with her eye the area of the blanket that he had kissed in order
to find out what Scripture it might have been that so touched him.
But when she walked by close enough to see, to her surprise there
was no text on that square at all! The spot that he had kissed was
one of the bright colored, calico blocks with the pattern of a little
crimson leaf sewed into the middle of it.
He kept looking
at that leaf with tears in his eyes. Ella was sure his mind must
be wandering. Then she saw him kiss it again, so she came closer
to the side of his bed. He looked up at her with a smile shining
through some tears and asked, "Do you know where this quilt
woman sent it to us through the Sanitary Commission," she said.
know her name or where it came from, do you?" he asked.
why do you ask?" Ella wanted to know.
the material in this crimson-colored leaf looks just like my mother's
gown and it reminds me of her," he said.
So that is why
he kissed the leaf, Ella thought. "There was a note that came
with the blanket which I saved in my Bible," she told him.
you be willing to let me see it some time when it is convenient?"
she said. "I'll get it right now." As she handed it to
him, she saw him open it and look at the handwriting. His lips trembled
and grew white when he saw the writing.
read it to me, quite slowly," he asked. "It's my mother's
Ella read and
re-read the note to him. "Are you going to keep that note?"
the boy wondered.
said Ella. "I value it and the comforter very much. It has
brought salvation to many soldiers."
He put his hands
over his eyes, not wishing any to see him cry. Ella thought he wanted
to be alone, so she left him for a time. The next day, as she came
to his bed, she was wondering if he had seen any of his mother's
texts. He had, and pointed one out to her. It said, "Father,
I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy
to be called thy son." He whispered, "That is me. I am
no more worthy."
Ella put her
finger on the next white block and read to him, "When he was
yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and
ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." As she looked up,
she saw tears upon his cheeks, and his lips were trembling once
again. Again he covered his eyes and she left him.
A few days later,
when he had grown much stronger, he held up to her the text she
had shown him, saying, "I was a great way off, but He has met
me and had compassion on me."
feel the Saviour's love?" she asked.
he responded, "and I am filled with a peace I've never known
before. I believe God does love me. He led me here, just at this
time, and gave me this blanket that my own mother has made! What
I write to your mother and tell her that her son who was dead is
alive again that the one who was spiritually lost has been found?"
you please?" he responded. "I'm sure that she was thinking
of me with each stitch she sewed in this lovely blanket. She didn't
know I would ever see it, but she knew that some mother's son would
feel its comfort and read its texts. Please let her know that I've
given my heart to Christ."
And so it was
that God used a mother's love to reach her wayward son. And now
let me share with you a short story of how God used a son's love
to reach a wayward father.
later confessed that he was "a self-righteous follower of the
world and its frivolities." His religion was psychology and
logic. He did not pray or believe in prayer, nor did he go to church
or any religious function. He claimed that religion was a hoax and
its followers were hypocrites. He did, however, believe in basic
morality, hard work, and in doing the best one could.
a son, he became anxious about his welfare and future career. He
knew that as little Jason grew up he would face temptations of drugs,
sex, and homosexuality, and that he would be exposed to all kinds
of evil influences in today's permissive society. His mind was exercised
as to what would eventually become of him.
for his son led him to take great care in the choice of a babysitter.
The one he chose was a young Christian woman whom he felt would
be honest and faithful. It was from her that Jason first began to
learn about Jesus and the Bible.
Soon he was
asking his father questions they were the strangest questions. Harold
couldn't figure out where they were coming from or why he was asking
them. They were questions about his "Heavenly Father,"
and "that happy land, far, far away." Harold was puzzled,
and yet the questions were asked in such a sweet and earnest manner
that he couldn't bring himself to shatter his son's simple belief.
After all, he himself had been raised in a Christian home and taught
these same things when he was a boy. Though he was no longer a Christian,
he was sure it was the Christian principles he had learned as a
boy that made him the industrious and prosperous man he was.
Yet, how could
he answer his son's questions? He began to distrust himself and
to sense a degree of inability to raise his son with the same values
he enjoyed. His son didn't pray when he went to bed as he had been
taught to pray. His son didn't have the same simple trust in a God
to protect him while he was going to sleep that he had had when
he laid his head upon the pillow as a lad. Why, he didn't even have
a Bible in the house! Harold was greatly perplexed as to whether
he should teach his son about Jesus, as he had been taught but how
could he teach him something he didn't believe anymore?
One day tragedy
struck. One of his little son's playmates died. Before the year
was over, another friend was laid in the grave, and then an uncle
died. It was a year of bewilderment for the little lad and more
than he could take. At first he cried, and then he began to rebel
against the sorrow. He began to grow bitter. He wanted to know why
"God had done it?" "Why, Daddy? Why?" he wanted
to know. What was a poor father to say to a question like that?
He didn't want his son bitter or hard. Somehow he had to explain
the best he could.
how God didn't bring the suffering but that an angel named Lucifer
had rebelled. Then Adam and Eve had chosen to disobey God. "It
was sin which led to the suffering and misery we see in the world
today," he told his son. The whole time Harold was trying to
explain these things he had learned as a boy he felt like a hypocrite,
for he claimed he didn't believe such things any more. Yet he felt
he had to do it his son needed an answer.
Then one evening
little Jason was lying in bed. Harold was sitting with his wife
by the fire. She had been telling him that Jason had not been a
good boy that day and had to be reproved for his behavior. All was
quiet, when suddenly Jason broke out in loud crying and sobbing.
Dad and Mom hurried up the stairs to his bedroom to see what was
want it there, Daddy! I don't want it there!" cried the child.
it my child? What don't you want?"
I don't want the angels to write down in God's book all the bad
things I have done today. I don't want it there! I wish it could
be wiped out!" He was in great distress for a little boy. What
could Harold do? He did not believe in all those Christian things
anymore at least he was trying not to believe. But here was his
boy in great distress with a guilty conscience at such a tender
age. He had to be taught the way.
you do not have to cry," his father suddenly said in a most
tender manner. "You can have it all wiped out in a minute if
get down on your knees, and ask God for Christ's sake to wipe it
out and He will do it." He did not have to speak twice. Little
Jason jumped out of bed, saying, "Daddy, help me do it!"
Now came the
real trial for Harold, who was trying hard to maintain his unbelief.
It was one thing to say things he didn't believe but to pray! How
could he pray? And yet the boy's anxiety was so great and his pleading
so earnest that Harold was nearly overcome with emotion. And so,
ever so reluctantly, though he dared not show it, he bowed down
on his knees before God for the first time in many years. There,
doing the best he could remember to do, he humbly asked God to wipe
away his son's sins and give him a clean heart and a clean record
on the books of heaven. Then he said amen.
are you sure it is all wiped out?" asked little Jason.
It seemed that
every question Jason asked cut a wound into his poor father's heart.
It brought his mind back to his mother's prayers and how he had
once believed. And now he had a son. What would happen should his
son die? Would he be ready for heaven? What would happen when he
himself died? Would he be with his son? All the while he thought,
Jason sat expectantly waiting for an answer. "Daddy, are you
sure it is all wiped out?"
The Bible says that if from your heart you ask God for Christ's
sake to do it, and if you are really sorry for what you have done,
it will be all covered up."
A smile of pleasure
passed over little Jason's face as he quietly asked, "And what
is it covered up with? A black marker?"
Harold had to
smile, but again his feelings were stirred. It was as if the Holy
Spirit was determined to bring him back to his childhood faith.
The Bible says "a little child shall lead them." And so
it was that God was using a child to lead his father to a saving
belief in the Lord.
Harold finally answered. "It is not covered up with a black
marker, but with the precious blood of Christ. 'The blood of Christ
cleanseth us from all sin.' " He hoped he had quoted the verse
in the heart of that poor old dad as he explained this beautiful
Bible truth to his son. The tears began to flow and he could not
check them. He felt like a poor, lost sinner.
he said to his wife, "Mary, we must find the Lord. Jason must
know the Lord, but we must find Him ourselves in order to teach
him the way."
not sleep that night. At last he got up and knelt beside his sleeping
son's bed and poured out his heart to the Lord, "Lord, I believe,
help thou mine unbelief!" Mary, too, could not sleep. And thus
she joined him there beside the bed of their dear son who asked
such curious questions. And God heard their prayers. In fact, he
had heard their prayers long before they were prayed, for it was
He who had touched Jason's heart in order to reach his parents.
the Lord loves you. Even if you have not yet given your heart to
the Lord, He is even now seeking to bring you to the point of conversion.
And if you have at some time surrendered, He is still seeking to
teach you more and to lead you step by step into a closer relationship
with Him. May the Lord bless you as you study this lesson on the
new birth experience that you may not only learn about it, but that
you may experience it.
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at Steps to Life