Last week, we looked at Ira David Sankey who was with Dwight Moody for thirty years in the world of evangelism. He was different because he was a worship leader for Moody and they worked together for a long time. This week, we are looking at an individual named Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1876). Finney was part of the Sunday School Revivals from 1820 through 1850. What was interesting about his story is that he was a lawyer before he became an evangelist. On August 10, 1821, he went away to pray and he was convinced to leave his law practice to preach the gospel across America. He started off at a Presbyterian church in 1824 and then served at the Congregational Church twelve years later. He once held a revival that lasted for five months at Third Presbyterian Church in New York. While this was something amazing, some people were not very happy with what he was doing. There were some disputes between Finney and the pastor, but he continued to do what he was called to do. When he went to a Methodist church, he had what is commonly referred to as “the altar call.” He thought of this when people were going up to participate in communion. One of the things that he was very controversial was that he was really big in remodeling church sanctuaries. Anytime he would go to a new church, he would inform the trustees that the pulpit area need to be remodeled. One reason is because the sanctuary would become very crowded when he would appear and he wanted the people to have room and space for them to come in and receive the Holy Spirit. Throughout his time up in Rochester, NY, the revival up there spread to 1500 towns and villages up through the New England area and more than 100,000 people gave their lives to the Lord.
I want to challenge you to think about what it means to step out in faith. I remember watching an episode of the TV series “The Chosen” and there was a scene where Matthew and Philip are having a dialogue about what it means to be on the outside of the circle. This stuck out to me because so often we want to be included and inside the circle, but sometimes it is good for us to be on the outside of the circle. Here’s what I’m saying: you can step out in faith without stepping into the circle. In other words, we cannot be conformed to the patterns of this world, but instead we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). I want to challenge you to step out in faith but don’t step in the circle. When we start doing this, we will begin to see what God is trying to reveal to us and what we need to do to stay in tuned or in lined with Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray for Your continuous strength and wisdom as we continue to do the things that You have called us to. As we grow Your Kingdom, let us not be ashamed of it. Instead, let us embrace it and let Your word shine before others so that the darkness will flee and Your light will shine through. In Jesus name I pray, amen.