Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Mr. Peter Langbroek
I will tell you three stories.

Story 1
It happened in St. Andrew's Castle, in its chapel, one Sunday morning in 1547, in a country called Scotland. The minister, John Rough, was preaching a sermon on the calling of men to the ministry. His voice echoed through the stony room. The congregation, he announced, had power over any man who showed the gifts of God, to call him to preach. The minister stopped preaching. His head turned to a smallish man with a long face, long nose, and lively grey eyes.

"Brother," he said, "be not offended that I speak to you what I have in charge, even from all those present, which is this: In the name of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of those who presently call you by my mouth, I charge you, that you do not refuse this holy vocation."

People's heads turned towards this man. The preacher looked at the congregation: "Do you approve of this?" Their voices sounded, "Yes!" The surprised man could not speak. His face blushed. His heart raced. His lips began to quiver. They wanted an answer. No! He could not give one. The door was his exit. Everyone was quiet. Only the quick clacking of shoes on the stone floor was heard, and the loud sobbing of the man as he rushed out of the castle church.

Story 2
It happened on the deck of a galley ship on a river near France. The prisoners could finally have some fresh air. They had spent their time in the bottom of the ship, rowing the boat. They were chained, six men to an oar. The whip of the slave master stung their back if they stopped rowing even a few seconds. The air was heavy and damp. The reek of sewer was strong.

It was time for Mass on the deck of the boat. A song to Mary, Jesus' mother, was sung: "Hail, holy queen." Then the officer lifted up a little statue of the virgin Mary. The officer walked through the crowd. "Kiss the lady," he ordered. A man would not come to kiss it. The officer pushed the statue in his hands. The stubborn man, like a sneaky school boy, watched if anyone was looking. Then he threw the statue in the river. "Let our lady now save herself," he called out. "She is light enough; let her learn to swim!" The slaves laughed. The officers didn't dare force these men to kiss Mary again!

Story 3
It happened in a castle in Scotland. Mary, queen of Scots, was angry at the man in front of her. She couldn't stand the man who dared criticize her. How dare he! This man stood before her for the fourth time! His face showed no fear. His fiery eyes looked at her. She quivered. He was a blurry to her; hot tears flowed from her eyes. He told her that just as he hated seeing his sons cry when they were punished, he hated seeing her cry. Yet he still had to speak out clearly against her sin. He was a minister of the Gospel, he explained.

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You may wonder by now who these men were--the man who left the church crying, the man who threw the statue overboard, and the man the queen hated. Maybe you guessed it. They were not different characters. The man in each of these stories was John Knox.

He was a preacher in Scotland during the Reformation. There, the power of the Holy Spirit moved men and women to understand and respond to the true doctrines of God's Word, especially the doctrine of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. They recognized the idolatry in the Roman Catholic Church, especially in regard to Mary, the mother of Jesus. They protested against these false doctrines and practices.

These were dangerous, even deadly time for Protestants. Many of them were beheaded or burned at the stake for their faith. Among these Protestant one man stood out: the fearless, courageous John Knox. He even dared to speak against the queen! What was the secret of his courage? Was he some big, scowling he-man who could push his way anywhere? No! John Knox knew the danger of being a Protestant. Some would have gladly killed him. His friend, John Wishart, was strangled and burned. Knox knew the risks. He recognized the holiness of his calling.

The source of John Knox's courage was almighty God. John Knox knew God was too big to draw a picture of and too great to worship as a statue, yet so near as to live in his heart. God was his deliverer Who would "turn all to gladness."

What made him so brave? It was his deep sense of the strength and holiness of God. He learned this as he lay dying on the floor of the galley ship. There he became very ill. When the slave masters saw he was so sick, they unchained him from his oar. He flopped on the ship's floor. There he prayed, "Have mercy on me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but, Thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for Thy mercies sake!" (Psalm 6:2-4). He remembered his powerful calling to the ministry. He did not want to die until he could preach Christ Jesus.

God heard John Knox and healed him. He lived twenty-four more years to preach. He died in 1572. At his burial a man, the Earl of Morton, looked in his grave and said: "Here lies a man, who in his life never feared the face of man, who has often been threatened by sword and dagger, but yet has ended his days in peace and honour."

Children, John Knox stands out as witness for Christ who lived boldly, even dangerously for Him. Hear his King's call: "Take up your cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

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