“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalms 37:4
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” Luke 18:1
I guess each of us has had this experience. We have prayed for something to happen, for the Lord to do something for us, something we wanted very badly. After we prayed, we figured out exactly how God was going to do it for us. Then, God didn’t do it that way so we said, “Well, I guess the prayer is not going to be answered.”
Did you ever pray and then figure out for God exactly how He was going to do it or get your prayer answered? Then the time came when the way you had it figured out was all past, and you said, “Well, that does it. That does it. I’m not going to get it.” Anybody here like me? I’ve done that. Anybody else? Well, the rest of you are the liars here in this service tonight. I just feel we all have done that.
God has promised us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” (and you’ll undo your collar while you preach,) “ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
God has given us promises all through the Bible. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not with; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” There it is—”Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The Bible is full of God’s promises to us. If we will call, he will answer. If we delight in him, He will give us the desires of our heart. Again and again and again we are reminded. So, we say, “Lord,” I’ve done it time and time again. “Lord, here’s the way I want it.” And lo and behold, it didn’t come the way I thought.
I just remembered something. Sandy, remember that time that I needed some money? Brother Terry, you remember that time, I know. It was a big sum of money for the broadcast. I prayed one day for the money and an old fellow came in. I never will forget it. I had prayed for the Lord to give me the money. I had to have it by about 4:30, or we were going to drop some stations.
(You see, we don’t go in the red on our broadcasts. If we don’t have the money, we just drop the stations. I’ve told Brother Terry the first day we get one penny in the red, we’ll drop a station and we’ll stay in the black.)
So I was praying for some money, and it was after 4:00 in the afternoon and the office closes at 4:30. I said, “Now, Lord, if we don’t get the money by 4:30, we’re going to drop some stations.” Isn’t that terrible? I asked the Lord for the money and then said, “if we don’t.” Anybody else ever pray for something and doubt you’d get it besides me? All right. We have a lot of liars still here, I see. Anyway, I said, “Now Lord, I’ll pray for it, but if I don’t get it by 4:30, we will drop some stations.”
Shortly after 4:00, Mrs. Plopper buzzed me and said, “There’s an old man in the hall. He wants to see you.” I said, “Look, I’m too busy. I’m too busy praying for the money.” She said, “But this man wants to see you. He has driven all the way from Joliet to see you.” Well, I though, “Goodnight! I am too busy praying for the money. That old man is bothering me here.” Whether she persuaded me or what happened—probably it was me that decided to do it, because I am the more spiritual of the two. Buy anyway, whatever it was, I let him in.
To be quite frank with you, I fussed all the time he was in there. I said, “Now Lord, here we are. We need the money, and You’ve got this old man bothering me in here. I need the money. I have to talk to this fellow, and I haven’t got time to talk to you. I’ve got to figure out some way to get the money.”
So the fellow said, “My wife died. I live near Joliet. For three months, I have just been absolutely about to go crazy. Somebody in Joliet told me there was a preacher over in Hammond that could help me. And I came here to ask you if you could help me.”
I told him about Christ and we knelt and prayed. The man was baptized the next Sunday morning. I don’t guess I’ve ever been so unhappy about a man getting saved in all my life. I needed some money for the broadcast. God forgive me. The old man left and it was 4:25, nearly 4:30. I said, “That does it. That does it! I’m glad he got saved, but there it goes. That does it!” And so the old man went out and got in his car. Do you know what he did? He turned around and came back in the church and said, “By the way, I want to leave something with you.” It was, to the penny, what I had been praying for. To the penny! I told the Lord how to do it, but He did it in His own way.
Remember that day, Meredith, when the snow came? Forty-five inches of snow and minus 27; and we couldn’t get out, and our Sunday School attendance dropped that morning to five hundred and something. Anyway, we only had a $700 offering. The next Sunday, eleven more inches came and we were down. On two Sundays, almost to the penny, we were $5,000 below our budget. I prayed about it and prayed about it and told God exactly how to do it. Now God didn’t mind me. I told Him exactly how to do it, but He didn’t do it.
So I prayed on the airplane going down to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I said, “Lord, goodnight! You just goofed up again. What in the world?” I wanted the money. Five thousand dollars! Look, we don’t get it back. When folks are gone, they come back; but sometimes they don’t bring their money back with them. “So, Lord, $5,000, we’ve got to have it!”
I got to Winston-Salem. I didn’t call you, Brother Terry, when I got there, because I wanted to study and work awhile. I got there early. I set up a desk in the airport. I got my briefcase and emptied it on one of the chairs. I got another chair and put it back-to-back and put the briefcase up across the back. Well, it’s none of your business how I did it, but I set up an office there. I worked a couple of hours.
I called home and dictated some letters to Mrs. Plopper. She said, “Meredith wants to talk to you.” I said, “All right.” Meredith said, “Brother Hyles,” how many of you remember Mr. Smith who used to live down here on Michigan Street? Many of you do. She said, “Mr. Smith has died and the attorney called and said he left us $5,000.” Well, I’ll tell you what. There was some shouting going on in a telephone booth in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’ll tell you for sure. I said, “Lord, you didn’t do it like I had in mind; but you did it.”
Now, look. God is obligated to answer our prayers. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” But he is not obligated to do it like we tell Him to do it. He can give us what we want, but don’t tell God how to do it. So I think I’ve learned to say, “Lord, now give me $5,000. If you want to, send it by an old man, or if you want to, send it by Mr. Smith dying and willing it to us.”
I’ve got to the place where I say, “Lord, just give it to me.” That’s all. Don’t tell God how to do it.
Now, the first thing I want to say is if there’s something you want, ask for it. Ask. Just ask for it. By the way, in the Bible when the Lord talks about praying, it is always in the linear tense. Ask, seek, knock. Now in the Greek it says, “Keep on seeking.” Seek and seek and seek and seek. Knock and knock and knock. Is there something you want? Keep on asking. Is there something you want? Keep on seeking. Is there something you want? Keep on knocking. That’s God’s plan.
I don’t have time to go through the stories. We’ve been through them over and over again. I’ll simply remind you of them. The time when Jacob wrestled with God all night. The angel said, “I’ve got to go back to heaven.” And Jacob said, “No, you’re not. No, you’re not.” Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed, and the angel blessed him because Jacob prevailed with God.
You recall the story in Luke 18:1. It starts off with this verse, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Then it talks about this unjust judge and this widow that hounded him and hounded him. He said, “No, don’t bother me.” She said, “But you’ve got to.” He said, “No, leave me alone.” She said, “I’m not going to do it.” He said, “Get out of my way.” She said, “I’m not going to do it.” He said, “Get out of my hair.” She said, “I’m going to stay right where I am until you give me what I ask.” And the old wicked judge said, “If you’ll leave me alone, I’ll give it to you.” The parable teaching is, we are supposed to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, keep on begging God.
The same thing is taught in Luke 11. A man had a friend who came to him at midnight. The man went to another friend and said, “Lend me three loaves. A friend of mine on a journey has come to me and I have nothing to set before him.” And the fellow said, “No, I’m not going to let you borrow any bread. It’s too late. My family is asleep.”
You’ve heard me say this again and again. In those days, they all slept on the same bed—mother, father, son, daughter, grandma, granddad. One big bed across half the room and all of them were awakened. The fellow said, “I can’t do it, we’re all asleep.” And he said, “I’m not going to quit crying. I’m just going to keep hollering, begging. Len me three loaves. Lend me three loaves. Lend me three loaves. Lend me three loaves. I’m going to keep on.”
That’s what God wants you to do. Is there something you want? Is there something that you think would please God if you had it? Keep on knocking. Keep on seeking. Keep on asking. Keep on praying. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. The Lord will answer. He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. Have you got rivers that seem to be uncrossable? Have you got so many tunnels you cannot tunnel through? God specializes in things that seem impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. So, keep on and keep on. But, you say, “Brother Hyles, I did. I prayed and God didn’t answer. I prayed and God didn’t give it to me.” Don’t despair.
I am thinking now of a great preacher. One of the greatest writers this country has ever known. He went to God one day. He drove out in the country. It was a rainy day, so he says. He went to God and asked God to give him a worldwide ministry, to let him reach thousands of preachers and millions of people for Christ. He begged God to give him a worldwide ministry. He kept on praying. He kept on praying. Do you know what happened? The fellow contracted tuberculosis.
There was a day when TB was rough. I can recall every time I coughed I thought I had TB. Mother just knew I was going to die with TB. We had an aunt, fourteen generations away, that had a mild case of TB one time. My mother just knew that I was going to get it. I can recall writing out my will when I was a boy saying I would give a quarter to so-and-so and so forth. But there was a day when TB was rough.
I call recall when a person had TB. They didn’t have sanitariums where I lived. They would build a little shack out behind the house. They would put a fellow that had TB out in the shack. Does anybody remember those days? Well, good. It is not the fact that the days were a long way back; it is the fact that we were a long way out in the country, isn’t it! But I can recall people living out in little shacks somewhere. I’m probably catching it now.
This preacher contracted tuberculosis. He became embittered about it. He said, “Dear Lord, I prayed and prayed and prayed for years for you to give me a worldwide ministry.” The doctor said he couldn’t live very long. For three and one-half years he was laid up. He had surgery after surgery. He had one lung removed. He had many ribs removed. He wilted away almost to nothing. One day while he was in despair, he got out his pen and began to write. And he wrote.
Someone came to his room and said, “That’s beautiful. That’s good writing. You ought to write some more.” He wrote some more, and then he had a book written from his bed. Somebody said, “You ought to get that published.” He said, “Well, I never thought I could write.” “Well, you could. You can.” He had the book published. It went around the world. He had other books published, and they went around the world. One book sold over 200,000 copies.
The fellow became renowned as a great Christian writer and people around the world were blessed by the fellow. You see, he didn’t tell God how to make him a blessing to the world, did he? He just said, “Lord, make me a blessing to the whole world.” The Lord answered his prayer.
You know, it is a strange thing. When I was in Texas at Miller Road Baptist Church, I just knew I would be there for a lifetime. I just knew. I said, “Dear God, I want you to build here.” Well, I didn’t say it at first. We started off with 44 in Sunday School the first Sunday. A year later we had 617 on our first anniversary. The second anniversary, we had 1,180. The third anniversary, we had 2,212 in Sunday School. The fourth anniversary, we had 3,363. So I got the idea. We’re going to build one of the biggest Sunday schools in the world. We just are.
We got up to where we were averaging around 2,000 and big days up to 3,000. I said, “Dear Lord, I pray that you will help us to have a church that will influence the whole world!” Well, I didn’t know what I was praying. The Lord came to me one night and said, “I want you to go to Hammond, Indiana.” He said, “I want you to go to Hammond, Indiana.” And I said, “Where’s that?” Why I’d rather go to Baghdad than Hammond, Indiana. Hammond, Indiana?
I went to Chicago one time in 1957. As I left that place, I told Mrs. Hyles, “That’s the last place in the world I would ever go!” Here I am. Last place in the world I will ever go, I guess. But I made a mistake. I didn’t tell the Lord that I want that big church to be the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland. I just said, “I want a church that will influence the whole world!” So, lo and behold, the Lord called me up here.
I said, “Well, You goofed again. I’ll declare, You have pulled a boo boo.” I didn’t think we would have a church here. I just wanted to stay alive when I first came here. That’s all. Just be able to keep breathing and stay alive. Little did we know in those days what God had in mind.
When I was a kid preacher in East Texas, I prayed for God to help me influence preachers. The time came when I felt God wanted me to head a school. There was no doubt in my mind. Well, one day, I preached at a convention in Denver, Colorado. Four fellows said, “We would like to fly to Hammond to talk to you about being president of our school.” They flew here and said, “We’d like for you to be president of the Baptist Bible College in Denver, Colorado.” I accepted the job. Do you recall those days? Many folks don’t remember.
I would spend one week a month out there and three weeks a month here. I would go out there and spend five days and run the college, come back here for the rest of the month and take care of the church, and go out there to spend five days and run the college. The day came when I felt like I should not stay. I said, “Lord, I though you wanted me to have a school that would influence the whole world. Here we are. You goofed again.”
A pulpit committee wrote me from Springfield, Missouri. The Baptist Bible College is there; a big school with 1,500 students and about 700 or 800 preachers. I thought, “Well, this is it. I’ll go to Springfield, Missouri. I will pastor the church there and these preachers will come, and I’ll influence these preachers.”
I had not yet walked on the platform in that church when I went down to visit the church several years ago, but what I said was, “I know this is not it. I know this is not it.” I couldn’t understand it.
Dr. John Rice and Dr. Bill Rice came to me and said, “Brother Hyles, we want you to come to Murfreesboro and start a seminary.” I said, “Well, that may be it.” They said, “You have got the ear of preachers in America, especially young preachers. You ought to have a seminary.” I said, “The Lord did tell me I would have a school that was going to influence the whole world.” But I prayed about it and the Lord said, “You can’t go.” I said, “Lord, I’ll declare, I’m worried about you. It just seems like you are not going to do what you say.”
Little did I know that what He had in mind was one week a year. Don’t tell Bob Jones III this, especially Bob Jr., and don’t tell Lee Roberson or Bedvchamp Vick this or I’ll kill you and tell God it was an accidental death. I will. Don’t you do it. I have no doubt in my mind that the greatest school influencing preachers in the world is this little five-day school we have here every year. Now, I just didn’t tell God how to answer my prayer.
Philip, the deacon, was preaching a great revival in Samaria. Suddenly God led him to go down to the desert in Gaza, and I’m sure Philip was like most deacons, if he was like me, he said, “Lord, goodnight! Here I am at the top of my ministry. I am preaching the greatest revivals in all Samaria, and hundreds are being saved. Now you want me to go down to the desert on the road to Gaza?” And the Lord said, “Yes.” Philip said, “Okay, have it Your way.” That’s always a good idea, by the way, to say, “Have it Your way.”
So he went down to the desert. Here was a fellow riding in his chariot, an Ethiopian eunuch, head of all the treasure of Queen Candace, Queen of Ethiopia. Philip said, “What are you reading?” The fellow said, “Isaiah 53.” “Understandest thou what thou readest?” He said, “How can I, except some man should guide me.” He got up in his chariot and preached Jesus to him. That Ethiopian eunuch got converted and went back to Africa, and no doubt in my mind, started something that was bigger than anything Philip could have ever started in Samaria. Don’t tell God how to do it. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. Just keep on praying and He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.
What is the lady’s name that wrote, “Brighten the Corner?” Ogden? I think it is Ogden. One day she got on her knees and she said, “Dear Lord, give me a world-wide ministry.” And it wasn’t long before she though the Lord opened up an opportunity to sing around the world. She signed a contract to go around the world singing and having influence on the entire world with song.
Just shortly before she was to leave, her father became seriously ill. She was the only person who could care for her father. Would you believe it? The contract was cancelled. She couldn’t go. She had to stay home with her father. She became embittered. The Lord had told her she could bless the whole world with song. But now the contract was cancelled.
One day, she sat in her home discouraged and defeated, just in one little room with her father. She got to thinking, “Well, I can’t go around the world. All I can do is brighten the corner where I am.” She picked up her pen and she wrote that song, Brighten the Corner Where You Are. “Brighten the corner, where you are, Brighten the corner where you are, Someone far from harbor, you may guide across the bar, if you’ll brighten the corner where you are.”
That song went around the world. She did bless the world in song. She asked God to give her a worldwide ministry, but she didn’t tell God how to do it. God did give her a worldwide ministry.
When I was a kid preacher, I started preaching when I was 19. I got my license when I was 19. I asked God to fill me with the Holy Spirit. I knew there was something I needed that I didn’t have. You see, I believe every word in the Bible. That is one of the good things. Do you know that? The more I see of these preachers that come around here, the happier I am that I’m free. Man, I am just so glad that I am not tied down to anybody but Jesus. The more I see of these fellows who say, “Well, I’ve got to call Dr. So-and-So and get his approval.” Well, blessed be God, I don’t have to call Dr. Anybody to get his approval. In fact, if I called and got his approval, I’d probably do just the opposite just because I’m stubborn and mean. But, there’s nothing, nothing to me better than being free. There’s nothing freer than a Baptist preacher who is not tied down to anybody but God.
But anyway, I said, “Now, Lord, I want the power of God.” Well, one day a fellow came by my office and said, “Look, what you need is to talk in tongues.” I said, “Okay. If that’s what I need, that’s what I’ll do.” So I got a book on talking in tongues. By the way, be careful. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are in town and they’re going around knocking on doors. They are a cult. They are false teachers; they are false prophets.
II John says you’re not to let them in your house nor bid them God speed, “for if you bid them God speed, you are a partaker of their evil deeds.” Anybody that does not preach that Jesus is the Christ is anti-Christ, you see. So the thing to do is very courteously and kindly—as the Quaker said, “I would not hurt thee. I would not harm thee. I would not lift up my hand against thee, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot.” So, very courteously and kindly tell them that you are a born again Christian.
One of them came to my house one time. No, it was a Seventh Day Adventist who came to my house one time. By the way, two people came the same night. One fellow came selling cemetery lots. He said, “I’d like to sell a cemetery lot to you.” I said, “I’m sorry, I won’t need one.” He said, “What?” I said, “I won’t need one.” He said, “Why?” I said, “I’m not going to die.” “Boy, that’s something,” he said, “You’re not going to die?” I said, “No, I won’t need one. I’m planning on getting raptured.” He said, “You must be Hyles.” And I said, “Yes, I’m Hyles.”
But the same night, there came a little person by, a witness by my house. They said almost the same thing. I said, “Who are you with?” They said, “Non-denominational Bible Course, Twentieth Century from Nashville, Tennessee.” I said, “No, you are not. You’re a Seventh Day Adventist, and you’re ashamed of it and you’re trying to deceive yourself. You haven’t got your name on the bottle and I don’t take any kind of medicine unless the name is on the bottle. I’m sorry.”
That person said, the same night, almost in the same words, “You must be Brother Hyles from Miller Road Baptist Church.” I was in Garland at the time. But, don’t let them in your house.
You talk about a fellow who can get so far off the subject and still get back on it. I still know where I was. Where was I? But I said, “Okay, if we are supposed to talk in tongues, I will talk in tongues.” I read the book and got on my knees at the altar and said, “Look, I haven’t got anything to lose, I’m free as a bird.’ So I tried to jabber and it wouldn’t come out.
I checked my Bible and found it unscriptural anyway. Completely unscriptural. And don’t come by talking that you have got something I have, unless you’ve got more fish on your string than I’ve got on mine. I tried. I begged for the power of God. I’ve told you how I used to walk beneath the pine thickets of Texas night after night. I would cry, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” I would say, “Dear Lord, fill me. Fill me. Give me the power of God.” I didn’t know what it would take.
I didn’t know that my Dad would die a drunkard’s death. I didn’t know that my father would be buried in an alcoholic’s grave, and that I would go to his grave after he died and throw my face on the grave and stay there and pray. I didn’t know that God would fill me with the Holy Spirit on the grave of my Dad. You see, I didn’t know what it would take. I didn’t know what it would take.
By the way, remember the sermon I preached on “My Dad Died For You?” You’d be surprised what that one sermon has done to preachers across the country. So many people told me that they got that tape, and so many folks have even heard one or two tapes, but I didn’t know. I just said, “Lord, fill me.” But the Lord answered. I have learned not to tell God how to do it.
John Milton was blind and wanted so much to do something great, and in his blindness he wrote, “Paradise Lost.” John Bunyan was in the Bedford jail and wondered how he could bless the world being in the Bedford jail, except on milk bottle stoppers he wrote the great Pilgrim’s Progress, second only to the Bible, as far as sales are concerned, in the history of the world. It looks like when John Bunyan went to jail that was it. No, it’s not it either.
“Got any rivers that seem to be uncrossable? Got any mountains you cannot funnel through? God specializes in things that seem impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. Just keep on praying. He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.”
Martin Luther was in prison. Well, what can he do? He can translate the entire New Testament into the German language. That is what he did. Robert Lewis Stevenson had tuberculosis and one arm in a sling. What can he do with TB and one arm in a sling? He wrote The New Children’s Garden of Verses. You see, God can do it if you won’t try to tell Him how to do it.
I heard Vance Havner tell an interesting story one time. Maybe I told it to you or maybe you heard him tell it. He was going from somewhere in the West to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, back during the war, to preach. He was late and couldn’t make it. Not a way in this world could he make it. He got on his knees and said, “Lord, get me there to preach. Get me there to preach on time to Pittsburgh tonight!”
He went up and talked to the conductor. The conductor said, “No. We will be several hours late. There is no way in the world you can make it on time because we will be several hours late.” Lo and behold, would you know who got on the train? Secretary of War Patterson. How many of you remember Secretary of War Patterson? He got on the train. He went to whoever was in charge—the engineer or conductor, Pullman, somebody—and he said, “Get me to Washington, D.C.!” Washington D.C. is on the other side of Pittsburgh. He said, “Get me there. Pull out the stops!” They said, “Okay, we’ll only stop in Pittsburgh.”
They pulled out the throttle, and took off for Pittsburgh as fast as they could. Vance Havner said he laughed all the way. One of the men came back and said, “What are you laughing about?” He said he just sat up there and laughed and laughed and laughed. He said, “What are you laughing about, passenger?” “The Secretary of War thinks that you fellows are getting him on time for his engagement, and it’s just the Holy Spirit getting a Baptist preacher on time to preach tonight.” He laughed all the way.
God has His ways. God has His ways. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. Just keep on praying; He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until the light breaks through.
Now, first ask. Then don’t despair. If the time passes, and you say oh, oh, my, my, my, I just knew that was it. Just keep on praying! Just keep on praying! Tonight I could tell you story after story. I am thinking about Dutch Schultz. I love to think about old Dutch. Dutch Schultz. Who here remembers Dutch Schultz? Remember him? Meanest man I ever met in my life. Mrs. Schultz, I hope you are not here tonight. But if you are, your husband was the meanest man I ever met in my life. He was, back yonder.
I went over here on Columbia. I better not tell you the address; I may get in trouble. But, I am in trouble anyhow so I’ll tell you—5015 Columbia, in the trailer courts over there. I drove my little Renault car in the trailer court. I parked out in front of the trailer and knocked on the door. Old Dutch came to the door. I had never met him before. I said, “Mr. Schultz, my name is Jack Hyles.” He said, “Yeah. You’re that Reverend, aren’t you?” I said, “I’m a preacher at First Baptist Church.” He said, “Come on in, I want to show you something, Reverend.” So I went in.
He opened the icebox. Now, no joke, I am not exaggerating. I am not lying. He opened the refrigerator, pardon me. I’m dating myself again. He pulled out a bottle of beer. He said, “Reverend, look here. You’re not so hot. You’re a fake. Everybody knows it.” He said, “Jesus is a fake. The Bible isn’t the gospel and I’ll show you.” And Dutch Schultz said, “I’ll toast your Jesus with a can of beer.” He took that can of beer and said, “I toast your Jesus.” You never give me anything when I need it. Just when I need something the most.
He drank the whole can in my presence. If I had been God, I would have killed him. In fact, I asked God to do it then. And then he said, “What do you think about that?” I said, I didn’t like it. He said, “Okay, maybe you won’t like this either.” He went back into the refrigerator and got another can of beer, opened it, looked to heaven and said, “Jesus, I toast you!” If I had been God, I would have killed him! But God loved him and God didn’t. And he drank the beer. Then he looked at me and said, “Now get out!” I felt led to leave, so I got out. Before I got out, I told him, “God will see to it that you are paid for. You better get converted.”
I went back again and he kicked me out. Again, he kicked me out. I got burdened for Dutch because Dutch looked so much like my dad. I got real burdened about him, and I went back again and again and again. Finally, he got sick. He went to St. Catherine’s Hospital. I went by to see him one day. Dutch was in the hospital and said, “Get out.” He cursed. He swore. He came home. He went to St. Margaret’s Hospital. I went to see him. He cursed. He swore. He said Jesus was a fake. But he was getting to where he liked me a little bit. And he said, “I would like you if you wouldn’t talk about Jesus.”
One day in the hospital at St. Margaret’s, I looked at him and said, “Now, look, Dutch. You are a sick man. You believe that there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, no eternity; Christ is not the Son of God. And I believe there is a heaven.” I said, “Dutch, let’s suppose that you are right and I am wrong, that when you die, you go to the grave, your body turns to dust and that’s it. Suppose that’s right. Now what have I lost? You and I both would just turn to dust.” And he said, “You have lost nothing.”
I said, “Dutch, suppose I’m right and you’re wrong.” He said, “I’d be in a fix, wouldn’t I?” I said, “Yes.” Then he shook himself and said, “Get out, get out, get out.” So I got out. Within a few days he called the church office and said, “Send the preacher by.” Jim Lyons went by his house and talked to him. Dutch Schultz was saved. Now that man toasted Jesus, but I claimed him for God.
I see Mrs. Merran back here shaking her head and I just happened to think about her husband. I have not thought about it in a long time. They said nobody could reach Mr. Merran. He had cancer. Walt Rokalski went by to see him. He had just a few days to live and he insulted him. We prayed. Mrs. Merran would not let loose of God, and I went by one night and he was saved. What a time we had! What a time we had!
Back to Dutch Schultz. Dutch got well. He walked down the aisle in this building, professed his faith in Christ, walked up these stairs, and got ready for baptism. So, Mr. Gifford, by the way, he’s the one who told me this—and he’s in heaven now. Mr. Gifford was working in the baptistry. Dutch got baptized, but after he got baptized he put his shorts on. Now forgive me, but that is what we do up there. He put his shorts and undershirt on and went over and sat down, looking at the baptistry just like this. He started mumbling.
Mr. Gifford came over and said, “Shh. Listen. Do you know what he is saying?” And I said, “No.” And Mr. Gifford said, “Old Dutch Schultz, who just got baptized, was sitting there in his underwear, looking down at the water, saying, ‘You ole baptistry. You think you’re big, don’t you? You’re not so big. I’ve drunk enough liquor to fill you twice.'” And then his voice started quivering, and Dutch said, “Oh baptistry, I ain’t never gotten as much fun out of all that liquor as I did getting in you just a while ago.”
Got any rivers that seem to be uncrossable? Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through? God specializes in things that seem impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. Why the sermon tonight? Because you have some loved ones that ought to be here next Sunday morning and Sunday night. Why the sermon tonight? You have some loved ones you ought to get here every service that you can during this five-week period of evangelistic crusade. We will spend ourselves to get them saved! We will preach Heaven. We will preach Hell. We will preach born again. We will preach the unpardonable sin. Get them here! Just keep on praying until light breaks through. Just keep on praying. He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.
I was thinking tonight about Mr. Adams, Jeanne’s uncle. Mrs. Adams, faithful member of our church here for many years. We prayed that God would save Mr. Adams. Oh, how we prayed. He came and he came. We couldn’t reach him. We couldn’t reach him. And I prayed and prayed and prayed for that man! Then one Sunday—what a great hour we had when he got saved.
There is Paul O’Brien, one of our deacons now. If there’s any man in this town I gave up hope on, I gave up hope on Paul O’Brien. When I left your house that Saturday, I almost hoped you would not go to Heaven, because I didn’t want to have to put up with you. Not quite. But he got saved.
There is Dick Wilson back there, one of our deacons. Who would have ever thought it? Peggy prayed and kept praying and kept praying and kept praying! And as sure as I am standing here right now, God has some great miracles in store for us in 1970 of some tough cases, if we will just keep on praying.
You know one thing I miss? Now hold it. Don’t misunderstand me. I want to see a lot of folks saved. There is one thing that we used to have in the country that you don’t get in the city in big churches, and that is you just single shoot a guy. In our little country church in East Texas, we didn’t have any lost people to pray for, so we would just get a guy that was lost, and we would just keep on. The poor guy would come to church. It’s like this preacher in Texas. I’ve forgotten his name now—Bill Harrod. Oh, he was a mean rascal. He used slang and almost cussed in his sermons, you know. He was mean. He had a revival one time and was praying for one particular fellow, and Bill Harrod baptized his wife. The guy came down to the church to whip Bill Harrod and somebody came and said, “A fellow’s out here to whip you. You baptized his wife.” And Bill Harrod went outside and whipped the fellow. He got on top of him and just beat him to a pulp. Don’t mess with me and Bill Harrod, boy! But anyway, they had a tent revival during the summertime. The guy drove the next night to the tent and sat in his truck. Bill Harrod preached on this subject, “Why men that beat their wives and starve their kids and get drunk and come to revivals and sit in trucks are going to hell when they die.” Sort of a subtle kind of fellow. The next night—would you believe it—the fellow came back. He got out of his truck and sat on the fender. Bill Harrod preached on, “Why men (this was the subject of his sermon, no joke) that beat their wives, starve their kids, get drunk, and come to revivals one night and sit in their truck and the next night on the fender are going to hell if they don’t get born again.”
The next night, he came in and sat down on the back row of the tent. Bill Harrod got up and said, “I am preaching tonight on, ‘Why men that beat their wives and starve their kids and get drunk and came two nights ago and sat in the truck and the next night on the fender and tonight are on the back row are going to hell if they don’t get born again.'”
The next night he was sitting down here. As we used to say where I came from, smack-dab on the front row. Bill Harrod got up and said, “I am preaching tonight on ‘Why men who beat their wives and starve their kids and drink their liquor and sat in the truck three nights ago and the next night on the fender and the next night on the back row and tonight right there are going to Hell if they don’t get born again!'” The buy got born again that night! I know the guy. I preached at Bill Harrod’s church several years after that, and that fellow was a deacon in the church then.
I remember in the country churches where you would get a guy on the hook, boy. Did you ever go fishing and see one you wanted? You got him about that high and he got off the hook, and you cast out there again? The fish bit on it and you lost it? Well, we used to just get a sinner and stay after him and stay after him and stay after him.
I have told you about Mrs. Jim Ford who had prayed for her husband down in East Texas. She would pray. She was a Nazarene that couldn’t find a good Nazarene church there. She came out and joined our church, but she never did lose her Nazarene blood. She would shout and praise the Lord. She would pray for her husband, Jim. My, my, my, she would pray for Jim night after night. She would say, “Please, Jesus, save Jim!” And she would crawl while she prayed. She’d pray and crawl on her knees up and down the aisles and say, “Please save Jim! Please save Jim!” I have heard her at three o’clock in the morning pray for Jim. She just kept on and kept on. Jim would come and sit back in the back.
Now, I can recall days when sinners would come to church and just sit back in the back and grit their teeth and claw the pews. And he did. Every time he would come, I would preach to Jim. Now, I can recall preaching entire sermons to him. Why? He was the only sinner we had! May as well call the fellow’s name. One Christmas night, Jim came to church. Christmas was on Sunday. That night I was preaching. We had prayed for him. We had all night prayer meetings for him. I had preached enough—listen, I had shot enough shells into him to have won the world if they’d bee there.
Right in the middle of my sermon, Jim jumped up and said, “I can wait no longer!” And he came down the aisle and got saved in the middle of the sermon. When he did that, Mrs. Ford came unscrewed. I want you to know, she jumped three feet in the air and said, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!” She weighed about 250 pounds and I weighed 135. She came down this center aisle and everybody next to the aisle here, she picked them up and hugged them like that. Men, women, boys, girls, beasts—it didn’t make any difference. Hugged them all. Picked them up and shook them. She came up on the platform and grabbed me around the stomach—and she weighed almost twice what I did. She shook me up and down and said, “Thank you, Jesus, for saving Jim!” And Jim became a fine, great Christian.
Look, we don’t do much of that anymore. We have so many prospects, so many folks that if we don’t get this one, we can get another one. What I would like to see in these next five weeks is the old-time Holy Ghost power where the hard cases get saved. Bring them! Bring them! Just keep on praying until light breaks through. The Lord will answer; He’ll answer you. God keeps His promise; His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.
I could go on and on and on. Jim Clement is a good example. Two years he came—I guess two years—he came. Jim, are you here tonight? He’s usually here, an attorney over in Gary, and came for a couple of years and we couldn’t reach him. We tried and tried. One day Brother Hand got his Bible and decided to go through the scripture and mark every prayer promise that he could find and write Jim Clement’s name beside it. And he did.
I recall praying for Jim, and I came back here one night and said, “Jim, you ought to get saved.” He said, “I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that stuff.” So Brother Hand prayed. And, lo and behold, I stood up here and I looked down there, and there stood Jim Clement. I had lost faith. The invitation was going on and I said, “What do you want, Jim?” Well, man, what does anybody want coming down the aisle during the invitation. I couldn’t feature it that he came—I thought he came to give me a subpoena or something for court. Jim was saved. Well, just keep on asking.
You see, we come to God and say, “Dear God, I want something.” And this is the way I want it done. “I want to be a blessing for the whole world,” said Paul, “But I want to go to Mysia and Bithynia.” And the Lord said, “No. I don’t want you to go to Mysia or Bithynia. I’ve got a Philippian jailer over there. I want you to go over there and get in jail. Get put down on the bottom, in a damp place.”
“I want you to pray and sing at midnight. I want to send an earthquake. I want the jailer to get scared he is going to lose his job. I want him to cry out and say, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved!’ I want you to say, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house.’ I want you to go home with him. Let him wash your stripes. Get his family saved and get them all baptized the same night. Then I want you to go to Thessalonica. I want you to go to Athens. I want you to cover that whole area over there in Macedonia. I want you to get folks saved and bless the whole world. I want you to circle the Mediterranean Sea with the gospel!”
The Lord has His way. You just find out what you want and what you think God ought to do, and ask God for it. God will do it, but don’t tell Him how to do it.
I came here to this church in 1959, eleven years ago this August. I had never in my life had as hard a job getting a church off the ground as I did this one. I thought his church would never get going. When I went to little country churches, they would double in a matter of months. I was at one church only eight months, and it quadrupled in attendance. I came here, and a year later we had some problems. We lost a bunch of people. We were running less in Sunday School after a year than we were when I first came. After a couple of years, it was still the same way.
I can recall Saturday night, every Saturday night, I would walk in that auditorium over there, get out my Bible, turn to the 1st Psalm, get on my knees at the altar in that old building over there, and look at the 1st Psalm. I said, “Lord, there it is. ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.'”
“Now you know I don’t run with the ungodly. You know I don’t run with wicked people. You know I don’t run with the liberals. ‘Nor standeth in the way of sinners.’ You know I try to get people saved. ‘Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.’ You know I don’t criticize my brethren. ‘But his delight is in the law of the Lord.’ Now, Lord, you know I read my Bible and I enjoy it! ‘And in His law doth he meditate day and night.’ Lord, you know I think about the Bible day and night! And You said, ‘He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.'”
And I would claim it. I’d say, “There it is! What are You going to do about it?” Then I’d get up off my knees and walk around that building. I’d get up in those dark places in that old balcony over there. I’d sing all over that building. I am, at best, a lousy singer. I’d sing, “Lord, sent the old time power, the Pentecostal power. Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide. Lord, send the old time power, the Pentecostal power. Let sinners be converted and Thy name glorified.”
You know what I would do? I would have big days. I’d have “Old-Fashioned Day.” I’d have “Beat the Devil Day.” I’d have “Civil War Sunday.” Boy, we had a civil war over that one! Remember that? We put the rebel flag up on one side in the auditorium and the American flag on the other. Boy, that’s when I became a Northerner. We had everything, and nothing seemed to work.
One day a call came to the church office, and the Steffys said, “We have $6,000 that we would like to invest in the Lord’s work. What can we do?” I didn’t know where to put it. Finally I said, “Let’s try some buses. Let’s try some buses.” We bought six second-hand buses with that $6,000 and started our bus ministry. It wasn’t long until we had a thousand in Sunday School. Then, after we got to a thousand, folks started hearing about us growing. Then folks started driving in. The church started growing and growing and growing and growing. The mistake I made was I just didn’t let God do it like He wanted to do it. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. The Lord will answer. He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.
Have you got any rivers that seem to be uncrossable? Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through? God specializes in this that seems impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. Why don’t you claim that husband? Why don’t you claim that son? Why don’t you claim that daughter? Why don’t you claim that neighbor? Why don’t you claim that boss?
As the colored fellow said—Lester Roloff was praying with him, and I am sure that I told you about it. Brother Roloff was praying for $2,000 with a colored fellow. And the colored fellow said, “Dear Lord, would you give us the $2,000?”
And suddenly, while he was praying, somebody tapped Brother Roloff on the shoulder and said, “Brother Roloff, you just got a check for $2,000 in the mail.” The colored fellow’s eyes got big and he said, “Lawdy mercy! Reverend Roloff, this is one of them there supernatural miracles, ain’t it?” Yeah, it was.
Why don’t you pray for some supernatural miracles? Why don’t you pray to God—Why don’t you say, “I’m going to get him here! I’m going to get him here Sunday morning, Sunday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night—all the way through. And pray and pray and pray! Who knows, God may do it. Don’t tell God how to do it, just ask God to do it! Keep on and keep on and keep on!
How many tonight have prayed for something, and you just knew how God was going to do it? You gave up, almost. Peggy, where are you? Did you ever think about giving up on Dick? She decided she wouldn’t give up. She kept on and kept on and kept on. Your husband is no harder to win over than Dick was. Rose, did you ever think about giving up on Paul? Ever thought about giving up? Just keep on praying!
Like my aunt I told you about so often. She prayed for Uncle Roy, one of the finest men that ever lived that wasn’t saved. She prayed for him and prayed for him and prayed for him and prayed for him. He didn’t get saved. One day he decided that he would go to baptism with her out in the creek. Remember the old creek baptizing? He went to baptism with her. My Aunt Octa—she doesn’t like your name either, by the way. But my Uncle Roy did go to baptizing with her. He wouldn’t get saved, wouldn’t get saved. But he said, “I’ll go to baptizing with you.”
So one Sunday afternoon he went out to baptizing with her, and Uncle Roy was watching them get baptized. He said to my Aunt, “Do you know, I would get saved and baptized if I had my clothes here?” And she said, “Roy, I brought some clothes along just in case.” And he said, “You did?” And she said, “Yes.” She’d brought clothes along. And he got saved and baptized. Just keep on praying until light breaks through. The Lord will answer. He will answer you. God keeps His promise. His word is true. Just keep on praying until light breaks through.
Let us pray.