Listening to God’s Invitation

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Twenty-seven-hundred years ago near the Temple in Jerusalem, God asked a young man a question, “Who shall I send, and who shall go for us?” To which Isaiah, soon to be prophet, responded, “Here I am I! Send me.” 

Twenty-seven-hundred years ago near the Temple in Jerusalem, God asked a young man a question, “Who shall I send, and who shall go for us?” To which Isaiah, soon to be prophet, responded, “Here I am I! Send me.” 

Twenty-seven-hundred some odd years later God asked another man, who was golfing in 1937 on the 18th hole at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, the same question. William Franklin Graham Jr. responded to that call, “Here I am, send me!” The rest is history.

Religion has always been man’s attempt to reach up to God; it has failed miserably. In the call, Billy Graham heard God speak to the young evangelist’s heart saying I want to have a relationship with you; go and tell the world how much I love them!

In 1949, Graham organized and scheduled a series of revival meetings, which he called “Crusades,” in Los Angeles, California where he erected circus tents in a parking lot. The event attracted national media coverage. It was clear that God was in charge of the event that drew thousands to the eight weeklong events – five weeks longer than planned. Part of God’s plan was to utilize heavy coverage from the wire services and national magazines to propel the fledgling evangelist into the national spotlight.

I stumbled upon this quote that sums up Billy Graham’s conviction about who was behind all his success. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” 

In his quest to preach God’s love to a lost world, Billy Graham faced many critics. Much of the criticism came as legalism directed at him from churches, Christian universities and other Christian organizations. Despite the criticism, he remained true to God’s calling on his life by listening to and faithfully communicating what God was really saying through the gospel.

Brian Brodersen, the senior pastor of the world-wide Calvary Chapel organization wrote, “He was pejoratively referred to by some Christians as ‘ecumenical’ and compromising because he associated with Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Liberal Protestants, and Jews and would invite them to participate in his crusades, even to the point of having them occupy the stage with him. I remember hearing him say in response to these accusations that if anyone compromised, it was not him but those who disagreed with his theology and yet participated in the crusades. He said with absolute conviction: ‘I have never compromised the Gospel.’ I would have to agree that he never did compromise the Gospel but preached it faithfully to the end.” 

Dr. Graham stayed on course through his entire life even while navigating through two decades of riotous racism of the 1950s and 1960s. In a 1953 outreach in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Graham ripped down the ropes that event organizers had installed in order to segregate the audience into black and white sections. Billy wrote in his memoirs that he told two ushers to leave the partitions down «or you can go on and have the revival without me.» He said in a scathing warning to the assembled white audience, «we have been proud and thought we were better than any other race, any other people. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to stumble into hell because of our pride.» 

On Wednesday, February 21st 2018 Billy Graham stepped gracefully into eternity. We can only imagine that he heard the same words the apostle Paul wrote to his friend and colleague, Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 

 God is our Judge and we will all answer to Him one day; not to the leaders of our individual churches. 

Billy Graham said, “I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven” 

Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? The blood of Jesus Christ is the most powerful thing in this universe. Have you received God’s free gift of salvation?

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