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COMMENTS ON JOHN WESLEY AND ILEANA HYMERS
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
I want to talk on two subjects tonight.
1. First, I will say a few words about reading. Devotional reading is all-important if you want to be a vital, powerful, godly man or woman.
First you must read the Bible every day. Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is he that readeth.” That is true not only of Revelation, but of reading all the Bible. You cannot grow in Christ unless you read the Bible every day. The great Chinese evangelist John Sung had a motto, “No Bible, no breakfast.” It was his habit to read the Bible, and have a time of prayer afterwards, before he ate breakfast. Whether you read the Bible in the morning, or at your lunch break, or read part of it then, and the rest before you go to bed makes no real difference. But follow the devotional chart you are given and read the Old Testament section (in the morning or at noon) and the New Testament portion before you go to bed. I recommend that you pray a short prayer and end with the Lord’s Prayer in the morning, and that you go through the sheet we use at the Lord’s Supper, including the Lord’s Prayer, before you go to bed at night. Keep that sheet in your Bible at all times for that purpose. Ask Dr. Cagan to get you another one if you misplace it. He has some now. Lift your hand if you need one.
When you read the Bible, pray the words of the Psalmist,
“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).
Underline that verse in your Bible, and repeat it before you read the Bible each day. Open to Psalm 119:18 and underline it now for that purpose.
But the reading of other Christian literature is highly important for Christian growth as well. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy,
“Give attendance [attention] to reading” (I Timothy 4:13).
He was not just talking about the Bible, either. He told Timothy to spend a great deal of time reading Christian literature. He told Timothy to bring him books and parchments, with material to read on them, when he came to visit Paul in prison. He said,
“Bring with thee…the books, but especially the parchments”
(II Timothy 4:13).
Our bookstore is loaded with Christian literature. You should be reading every day from one of those books. I fear that some of you are not doing that, but you should be reading a little from one of those books every day. It will enrich your spiritual life and make you a better Christian. Have you read, for instance, all of the books I have written? That would be a good place to start. Buy my books one at a time, and try to read one a month at least, until you have read them all. Do the same with all of Tozer’s books, and all of Wurmbrand’s books, and then all the biographies in our bookstore; then read all the books we have by Iain H. Murray, and go on from there
to read everything you can get by C. H. Spurgeon. Be reading a Christian book a few minutes every day, along with your Bible. Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Always be reading a Christian book, every day for a few minutes, perhaps at a different time from your Bible reading. I have read or re-read at least six different Christian books in the last four or five weeks, along with all the other books I read and consult in preparing the sermons. You should always read my sermons on the Internet as well. Everyone here should re-read my sermons when you get home Sunday night. Make it a habit to read the sermons that were preached that day on the Internet before you go to bed each Sunday night. Don’t read them before they are preached, but do read them Sunday night when you get home. Several of the best kids in our church do that, and I hope you will start doing it. This will help you whether you are converted or not.
John Wesley, the great evangelist, told his people,
“Read and pray daily. It is for your life.”
“Read a little, pray and meditate much.”
“I never spend less than three hours [reading] – frequently ten or twelve – in the day alone.”
“Spend…hours…in reading the most useful books, and that regularly and constantly.”
Rev. Iain H. Murray, in his book, Wesley and Men Who Followed (Banner of Truth, 2003, p. 90) says that Wesley’s preachers “were not only to be readers themselves but they were to do their utmost to lead their [people] into the same habit. Wesley said, ‘It cannot be that the people [will] grow in grace, unless [they are constantly] reading. A reading people will always be a knowing [spiritually wise] people.’”
That is why I strongly encourage you to buy a Christian book at least every three weeks and read it through in the following three weeks, some every day. Start tomorrow by buying one of the books in our bookstore. Do it! And read it! And then get another one three weeks from now and read it also in three weeks! Do it! Get the habit of reading Christian literature every day! Read a book in three weeks, and then get another one!
2. Second, I want to say a few words about my wonderful wife Ileana tonight, on the occasion of her birthday.
She is a very industrious God-loving woman. She rises early and works late. She attends college at night. She home-schools several children. She keeps our house sparkling clean at all times. She reads and studies every day. She is always caring for people, and doing extra to help our church, phoning on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Phoning again on Saturday morning and evening – phoning lost young people, to get them into church on Sunday, arranging rides for them, preparing with Mrs. Cook several banquet meals a year. She also goes to evangelism every Sunday afternoon and brings back names and phone numbers for us to evangelize the next week. I am constantly amazed at the hours of hard work she puts in, week after week, year after year, decade after decade in the work of God for this church.
I am essentially a secluded scholar. I spend my days and nights in my small study at home, reading, praying, studying and writing. I must come up with the equivalent of three term papers every week, and then preach them on Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night. This keeps me very busy every day, except Monday, in my study, and at the church.
But Ileana is not a reclusive writer. She is working, going from one project to the other, from morning to night, seven days a week. It is sometimes difficult to get her to stop for a break! She is very much like the godly woman described in Proverbs, chapter 31. I can truthfully say of Ileana, in the words of that chapter,
“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:29).
And one other thing: Ileana loves the work of evangelism. She literally lives to see young people come into our church and be saved. She has done the “work of an evangelist” ever since I first knew her. She started out translating the sermons into Spanish every week, and then she spent about twelve hours every Saturday doing telephone evangelism and arranging rides. Thirty years later she is still doing that much work or more every week in our church – all centered in evangelism – but stretched over three days now. She never, ever complains about doing all that evangelism. I have never once heard her complain about it! Not once that I can remember!
I encourage every girl and every woman in our church to follow her example, and be
“Stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).
I encourage every young man in our church to follow her example in evangelism. Be an evangelist. Be like Ileana!
“Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).
This week we need to strongly emphasize evangelism. We need every person here tonight to go out with zeal tomorrow afternoon and bring in more names to phone. We need our young people in college to bring in names and phone numbers from personal evangelism on your own when you come Wednesday and Thursday night. And we need every one of you here on Thursday night next week. Ileana will be here, Wednesday and Thursday, doing telephone evangelism. I know it is her prayer that you be here as well. Your renewed zeal in evangelism would be the best gift you could give Ileana for her birthday. Do it! Let us stand and sing that great song on evangelism by Dr. Oswald Smith.
Give us a watchword for the hour, A thrilling word, a word of power,
A battle cry, a flaming breath That calls to conquest or to death.
A word to rouse the church from rest, To heed the Master’s strong request.
The call is given, Ye hosts, arise, Our watchword is, evangelize!
The glad evangel now proclaim, Through all the earth, in Jesus’ name;
This word is ringing through the skies: Evangelize! Evangelize!
To dying men, a fallen race, Make known the gift of Gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies, Evangelize! Evangelize!
(“Evangelize! Evangelize!” by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986;
altered by Dr. Hymers; to the tune of “And Can It Be?”
by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).
(END OF SERMON)
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