Dream word – PREACH
Acts 16:14, 15
“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptised, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.” - Acts 16:14-15.
Of pig sties and palaces
The grey dawn broke over the residence of the Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. Job like in her life's experiences, this illness looked as though it could be her last. Her personal chaplain George Whitfield, who had preached in all of her houses to most of her noble friends, now moved purposefully towards the window. Cracking it open, the voices below of thousands of admirers came prayerfully to the end of their petitioning hymn:
Uphold this star in thy right hand
Crown her endeavours with success;
Among the great ones may she stand,
A witness of thy righteousness,
Till many nobles join Thy train
And triumph in the lamb that's slain.
Eighteenth century England was a hard and brutal world to live in. Alcohol and poverty proved a malevolent mix for the masses of the lower classes and there was many a highwayman still roaming the heaths along roads into London. Poverty, inequality and drunkenness became a heady cocktail for violence. However, it was not only Whitfield and Wesley that feared not the mobs whilst loving the masses and preaching Christ to the forgotten and poverty stricken. No, Selina, since her conversion, had become very active and compassionate amongst the poor, visiting them and praying for them in their sickness with such a love and concern, that when they died, they left their children to her as a legacy that they might be cared for by the Countess!
However it must be remembered that not only did she care for the lowly, but also for the high and the mighty. Selina was a regular visitor to the Royal Court, even appealing at one point directly to the king concerning the lifestyle of the then Archbishop and his wife. Her witness was indeed, to both pig sties and palaces. However Selina was more than a kind benefactor. She was a woman of great vision, zeal, courage, continuance, sacrifice, understanding, and discernment.
The upper class did not mingle with the minions in education, society, health or amenities. The Evangelical preachers call to conviction, confession and repentance may have been well understood and received by the much poorer masses, but on the whole, the rich nobility rejected it. Indeed, the then Duchess of Buckingham did not believe that people with “blue blood” had to listen to such humiliating truths. Sneering at the then growing sect of the Methodists she wrote, “Their doctrines are most repulsive and strongly tinctured with impertinence and disrespect towards their superiors, in perpetually endeavoring to level all ranks, and do away with distinctions. It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl the earth.”It took a woman of courage like Selina to place the claims of Christ before such arrogant pomposity. Selina was aware of the blind danger associated with her rich estate for she remarked many times concerning herself that she “Thanked God for the letter M in 1 Cor 1:26 where it says, ‘For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.’ The M thankfully indicated not many rather than not any!”
“It is estimated that through the tireless efforts of the Countess of Huntingdon, no less than 200 chapels and mission stations were opened and it is recorded that in 1828, forty years after her death, there were some 35,000 people regularly attending these places of worship, cared for by 72 officiating ministers.” Though at the time Oxford and Cambridge were still the only places where men could train for the ministry, Trevecca house near Talgarth in Breconshire was set up by the Countess and had more than 150 preachers passing through it, dispatching them all over England and even to the Americas! Indeed, Missionaries sent to the southern state of Georgia in 1772, though there primarily to preach to the Indians and set up a college for the native Indian nations, nevertheless, became instrumental along with Whitfield, in the conversion of many African slaves then in the south. Following their emancipation from slavery, some 2000 are reported to have left for Sierra Leone in 1792. At least half of these were associated with the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion of churches and indeed, a group of Connexion churches still exist today in Sierra Leone and are in fellowship with the remaining few Chapels still left in England.
Paul had his Lydia, but Whitfield had his Countess. Maybe today, many of you Pastors are still in need of some godly and powerful patronage? Possibly we should be praying that more fish shall be caught, and found to have money in their mouths, mercy in their gills and influence at their finger tips!
The story is told of a bishop who complained about the Countess's Ministers who had created some kind of sensation in his diocese. His majesty offered a solution “Make bishops of them - make bishops of them.” The prelate replied: “That might be done, but please your Majesty, we cannot make a bishop of Lady Huntingdon.”At that point the Queen interposed, “It would be a lucky circumstance if you could, for she puts you all to shame.”
Listen: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this one has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honour than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” - Hebrews 3:1-6 NKJV.
Pray: Oh Great Apostle, may we be like You, faithful in all our appointments, whether they be to pig sties or to palaces, may You be clearly seen in us. In all our works for You then Lord, enable us through the provision of great and godly benefactors, in Your great name we ask it, amen!
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