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D.L. Moody | Pt 1

"If I know my own heart today, I would rather die than live as I once did, a mere nominal Christian, and not used by God in building up His kingdom."  D.L. Moody

"Let your hearts be much set on revivals of religion. Never forget that the churches have hitherto existed and prospered by revivals; and that if they are to exist and prosper in time to come, it must be by the same cause which has from the first been their glory and defense."  Joel Hawks

"Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last only an hour or two; your life preaches all week."  Robert Murray McCheyne

"When God has specially promised the thing, we are bound to believe we shall receive it when we pray. You have no right to put in an "if", and say, ‘Lord, if it be Thy will, give me Thy Holy Spirit.' This is to insult God...(it) is tantamount to charging God with being insincere."  Charles G. Finney

Dwight Lyman Moody may well have been the greatest evangelist of all time. In a time span of forty years he held revival meetings in England, Europe and America. He personally dealt with over seven hundred and fifty thousand individuals. He preached to more than one hundred million people, and had over one million solid sincere conversions to Jesus Christ. He is remembered today through the Moody Memorial Church and the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Souls were the passion of D.L. Moody. He would give up sleep, food, comfort, and friends for the chance to preach to a lost person. He made a resolution, after he was saved, that he would never let twenty-four hours pass over his head without speaking to at least one person about his soul. He was always extremely busy and sometimes he would forget his resolution until he was in bed. He would then dress, go out and find someone and talk to them about how they could meet their Savior. One night after he jumped out of bed and dressed, he stepped out his door into a heavy rain. A man was going by with an umbrella. Moody darted out and rushed up to the man and asked, "May I share the shelter of your umbrella?" "Certainly," the man replied. Then Moody said: "Have you any shelter in the time of storm?" And then began to share Jesus with him. Moody himself tells about some of those times:

"I met a man who confessed his soul had fed on nothing for forty years. ‘ Well,' said I, ‘That is pretty hard for the soul, giving it nothing to feed on!' And that man is but a type of thousands and tens of thousands today; their poor souls are starving. This body that we inhabit for a day, and then leave, we take good care of; we feed it three times a day, and we clothe it, and take care of it, and deck it, and by and by it is going into the grave to be eaten by worms; but the inner man, that lives on and on and on forever, is lean and starved."

Moody believed there was not a viable excuse in the world to keep someone from Christ:

"I was talking to a gray-haired man in my native town not long ago who, when I spoke to him about his soul, suggested that he would become a Christian when the Lord Jesus Christ came to him. He was waiting until Christ hunted him personally. And there is a class like him in every community. Jesus is now seeking every lost person. What would you like Him to do for you than what He has done already? What would you like God to do more for us? He sent to us the prophets, and we murdered them. He sent His Son from heaven to be a sacrifice for us. He sent us the Holy Ghost, who is in the world to give us peace and happiness...what more are you waiting for?" Once, when walking down a certain street in Chicago, Moody stepped up to a man, a perfect stranger to him, and said: "Sir are you a Christian?" " You mind your own business " was the reply. Mr. Moody replied: "This is my business." The man said: "Well then, you must be Moody." In those days they used to call him "crazy Moody" because day and night he would always speak to everyone he got a chance to speak to about bring saved.
One day while traveling to Milwaukee by train, Moody took a seat next to a traveling salesman and immediately began a conversation. "Where are you going?" Moody asked. When he was told the name of the town he said:"We will soon be there; we will have to get down to business at once. Are you saved?" The man said he was not, and Moody then took out his Bible and there on the train showed him the way to salvation. Then he said:

"Now you must take Christ." The man fell on his knees and with tears flowing down his face was converted right there on the train.

Moody was persistent in prayer, always praying with a passionate fortitude until his petitions were answered:

"While I was in Edinburgh, a man was pointed out to me by a friend, who said, ‘That man is chairman of the Edinburgh Infidel Club.' I went and sat beside him and said, ‘My friend, I am glad to see you in our meeting. Are you concerned about your welfare?' ‘I do not believe in any hereafter,' he replied. ‘Well, just get down on your knees and let me pray for you', I said. He answered, ‘No I do not believe in prayer.' So I knelt beside him as he sat, and I prayed for him. He made a great deal of sport of it. A year later, I met him again. I took him by the hand and said, ‘Has not God answered my prayer yet?' ‘There is no God,' he said. ‘If you believe in one who answers prayer, try your hand on me.' I then said, ‘Well, I am still praying and a great many people are now praying for you, and God's time will come, and I believe you will be saved yet.'

Some time afterwards, I got a letter from a leading barrister in Edinburgh telling me that my infidel friend had come to Christ, and that seventeen of his club men had followed his example. I did not know how God would answer prayer, but I knew he would answer..."

President Wilson used to tell a story about D.L. Moody. When Wilson was younger he went into a barber shop and took a chair next to the one Moody was sitting in. He did not know that Moody was in the chair but after a short while as Wilson phrased it, he "knew there was a personality in the other chair," and he began to listen to the conversation. He heard Moody tell the barber about Jesus and the "Way of Life." Wilson said, ‘I have never forgotten that scene to this day." When Moody left, Wilson asked the barber who he was and he was told that it was D.L. Moody. Wilson then said: "It made an impression upon me I have not yet forgotten." To which, if Moody was there he would have said: "But were you saved?"

One day in Chicago while riding with R.A.Torrey , on a street car, they passed the city hall where the body of the late Mayor Carter Harrison was lying in state. The car could scarcely get through because of the enormous crowds waiting to get a view of the body. Moody turned and said: "Torrey, what does this mean?" When it was explained to him what was going on Moody then said: "This will never do, to let these crowds get away from us without preaching to them...go and hire Hooley's Opera House (which was just opposite the City Hall) for the whole day." Torrey did so and the meetings lasted from nine that morning until six that evening. Thousands were converted and the memberships of the churches in that area increased abundantly over the next few weeks.

Moody was born on February 5, 1837. He was the sixth child of eight of Edwin and Betsy Moody. They lived in Northfield, Massachusetts. His father was a farmer, a stone mason and an alcoholic who died at the age of forty-one when Moody was only four years old. His mother , a Godly Women, did what she could to feed her brood and keep a roof over their heads. Belonging to the Unitarian church she made sure they always attended. Moody's formal education ended in the fifth grade and spent the early part of his life working the farm. His lack of education , and his inability to read correctly, did not stop him later in life when the time came to spread the gospel. It wasn't long after the power of God fell upon him that he preached smoothly and effectively. In the early days of Moody's ministry , A.P. Fitt in his "The Shorter Life of D.L. Moody" tells of an overzealous critic who took Moody to task for his defects in speech:

"You ought not to speak in public because you make so many mistakes in grammar." Moody replied, "I know I make mistakes and I lack a great many things; but I am doing the best I can with what I have got. But look here, friend, you have grammar enough; what are you doing with it for Jesus?"

A picture of Moody during his early years of ministry is painted by a Mr. Reynolds with these words:

"The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man (Moody) standing up with a tallow candle in his hand and a few scattered around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, ‘If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for his honor and glory, it will astonish me.' After that meeting was over, Mr Moody said to me, ‘Reynolds, I have got only one talent; I have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to do something for Him: I want you to pray for me.' I have never ceased from that day to this, to pray for that devoted Christian soldier. I have watched him since then, have had counsel with him, and know him thoroughly; and, for consistent walk and conversation, I have never met a man equal to him. It astounds me to look back and see what Mr. Moody was thirteen years ago, and then what he is under God today, shaking Scotland to its very centre, and reaching now over to Ireland. The last time I heard from him, his injunction was, ‘ Pray for me every day; pray now that the Lord will keep me humble.'"

When Moody was seventeen, he moved to Boston to work in his uncle's shoe store. One of his uncle's requirements was that Moody attend his church, the Congregational Church of Mount Vernon where Dr. Edward Norris Kirk was pastor. Even though God was nowhere in his life or on his mind he accepted the terms, and became the store boy to do odds and ends. His ambition was to make one hundred thousand dollars, and to be a successful merchant. He spent all his spare moments familiarizing himself with the details of the business. It wasn't long before he was brought to the front as a salesman and not long after that he became the top salesman. He was ready at the door first thing every morning to welcome buyers, and when customers were slack he walked through the streets to seek business.

Attendance at church and Sabbath-school was obligatory, under agreement with his uncle. But it was not one of his favorite things to do. He always made sure that he chose a seat in one of the obscurest pews in the gallery, and that, tired from the hard work of the past week, he used to sleep most of the time during the services. Mount Vernon Church was organized as a revival church, particularly to retain in Boston the "fiery eloquence, holy zeal and glowing fervor of Dr. Edward N. Kirk." But even Pastor Kirk's convicting messages seemed to have had little effect on Moody, as a matter of fact he thought them "Quiet distasteful." Moody remembered how his mother tried to induce him to pray but he said he had tried it but it did not work. Moody wanted one thing; to be rich, and when he was settled and secure in life he would seek the kingdom of God. Things were about to change in Moody's life and it would never be the same.

Still being obedient to the terms of his uncle he weekly attended the church's Sabbath-school. The teacher of his class was Edward Kimball, an honest, humble man of God. Moody paid close attention and seemed earnest in what was being taught. A.P. Fitt, Moody's son-in-law and biographer relates how out of his element Moody was:

"The teacher (Kimball) handed him a Bible, and told him the lesson was in John. Moody took the book and hunted all through the Old Testament for John. The other young men (among whom were some Harvard students) detected his ignorance, and nudged each other. The teacher saw his embarrassment, and found the place for him. ‘ I put my thumb in the place and held on,' said Mr. Moody afterwards..."

Once when Mr. Kimball was teaching about Moses, trying to say that he was a man of self-control, wise and statesmanlike, who could sit over the affairs of any nation at any time, Moody asked:
"Mr. Kimball, sir, Moses was what you would call a pretty smart man, wasn't he?"

Fitt goes on to explain:

"This question from his limited New England country vocabulary truly expressed Mr. Kimball's idea, and proved that he was anxious to grasp his teacher's meaning."

It was then that Mr. Kimball decided to speak to Moody about his spiritual condition.

Mr. Kimball determined to win the young man to Christ, prayed about it and arranged to visit him at the boot store. Here in his own words is what happened next:

"I was determined to speak to him about Christ and about his soul, and started down to Holton's boot store. When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go in just then during business hours. I thought my call might embarrass the boy, and that when I went away the other clerks would ask who I was, and taunt him with my efforts in trying to make him a good boy. In the meantime I had passed the store, and, discovering this, I determined to make a dash for it, and have it over at once. I found him in the back part of the building wrapping shoes. I went up to him at once, and putting my hand on his shoulder, I made what I felt afterwards was a weak plea for Christ. I don't know just what words I used...I simply told him of Christ's love for him, and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was. It seemed the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, and there in the back of that store in Boston, D.L. Moody gave himself and his life to Christ."

Forty years later, when preaching in Boston, Moody himself described the effect of his conversion upon his life:

"I can almost throw a stone from Tremont Temple to the spot where I found God forty years ago. I wish I could do something to lead some of you young men to that same God. He has been a million times better to me than I have been to him. I remember the morning on which I came out of my room after I had first trusted Christ...It seemed to me that I was in love with all creation. I had not a bitter feeling against any man and I was ready to take all men to my heart. If a man has not the love of God shed abroad in his heart he has not yet been regenerated."

Moody always remembered Mr. Kimball and the day of his conversion and he often told the Story of how he was able to return the Gift of Salvation to one of his teachers sons:

"I often recollect the day my Sabbath-school teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball, came round behind the counter of the shop I used to work in, and put his hand on my shoulder, and talked to me about Christ and my soul. I had not felt I had a soul until then. I said: ‘This is a very strange thing. Here is a man who never saw me until within a few days, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.'...I don't remember exactly what he said but I can feel that man's hand on my shoulder was not long before I was brought into the kingdom of God. I went thousands of miles away after that, but I often thought I should like to see that man again. Time rolled on, and...I was at Boston again...while I was preaching...a fine...young man came up the aisle and said: ‘I would like to speak to you Mr. Moody. I had often heard my father talk about you.' ‘ Who is your father I asked.' ‘Edward Kimball,' was the reply. ‘What?' said I, ‘My old Sunday school teacher?' I asked him his name, and he said it was Henry, and that he was seventeen years of age. I...put my hand on his shoulder just where his father did on my shoulder, and I said to him: ‘You are just as old as I was when your father put his hand on my shoulder. Are you a Christian, Henry?' ‘ No, sir,' he said; and as I talked to him about his soul, with my hand on his shoulder, the tears began to trickle down. ‘Come,' I said, ‘I will show you how you can be saved."

It was in that way that Moody finally gave thanks to the boy's father who so long ago treated him as his own son.

After he was converted, Moody wanted to do all he could for God. The first thing he wanted to do was go before the church committee and join the church. He was just turning eighteen and had only been in Mr. Kimball's class for a few months. His zeal was strong, but he was not fully tutored in the Scriptures and his command of the language was very limited, his sentences were broken and ungrammatical. Mr. Kimball, who was on the committee, and other sympathetic men made the examination as simple and gentle as possible. Knowing Moody's limited knowledge they shaped the questions to be answered simply "yes" or "no." Finally, one of the deacons unexpectedly asked:

"Mr. Moody, what has Jesus Christ done for you, and for us all, that specially entitles Him to our love and obedience?"

The question was too long and too wordy for Moody to understand and he was quiet embarrassed by it. After gathering his wits he answered the best he could:

"I think He has done a good deal for all of us, but I do not think of anything He has done in particular as I know of."

A.P. Fitt tells us:

"Nothing, therefore, was elicited at this examination that could be considered satisfactory evidence of conversion...the committee deferred recommending him for admission to the church...but three were appointed open up to him the way of God."

A year later in May, 1856, Moody was recommended for membership. He was now "born again" and became an active member of the church even attending the Friday-night church prayer meetings regularly. Mr. Kimball writes about the early Moody:

"I can truly say and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon Mr. Moody, That I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker when he came into my Sabbath-school class, or one who seemed more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear, decided views of gospel truth, still less to fill any sphere of extended usefulness."

Another Christian brother had testified about Mr. Moody, when he began to labor publicly for the salvation of souls:

"He had little more than half of a talent to account for. But it is now evident that he put his half talent to service so diligently that the Lord added to it continually, until at the present time he has come to be endowed with the transcendant influence of ten talents, and to be the mightiest among the mighty in the proclamation of the glad tidings of salvation by the gift of God."

In September, 1856, Moody left Boston for Chicago, where he found work in the boot and shoe store of Mr. Wiswall. He immediately united himself with the Plymouth Congregational Church and began to take an active part in their prayer meetings. He realized that there were many young men in the city who were away from home and friends like he was, so he rented four pews in the church and invited the men to attend the services. This proved to be successful and a ministry that would grow to unusual success.

During this time, two seemingly simple situations affected Moody. One had to do with influencing him greatly toward his total faith and trust in God answering prayer. He tells a story of a little child whose father and mother had died, and who was taken into another family:

"The first night she asked whether she could pray as she used to. They said, ‘Oh, Yes!" So she knelt down and prayed as her mother had taught her; and when that was ended, she added a little prayer of her own; ‘O god, make these people as kind to me as father and mother were.' Then she paused and looked up, as if expecting the answer, and then added, ‘Of course you will.' How sweetly simple was that little ones faith! She expected God to answer, and, ‘of course,' she got her request. That is the spirit in which God invites us to approach Him."

The other had to do with his ambition for God:

"I once heard someone say, ‘The world has yet to see what God can do with, and for, and through, and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.' That statement took hold of me. I thought to myself, ‘He did not say a great man, or a learned man, or a rich man, or an eloquent man, or a clever man; simply a man. Well, I am a man. It lies with the man himself whether he will or will not make that full and entire consecration. I will try the utmost to be that man.'

Moody would travel around the city drumming up recruits for Sunday school. One Sunday he appeared and turned over to the teachers eighteen ragged and dirty "teen hoodlums" gathered off the streets but all ready to be saved. He had no idea that he could teach himself but devoted to God his one talent of being able to "drum up" recruits for the services of God.

In the fall of 1858, Moody started a Sabbath-school of his own in a vacant saloon. His teachers were a Mr. Stillson and a Mr. Carter. Before long larger quarters were needed and the mayor of the city gave them the North Market Hall to use. Volumes could be written about all the incidents that were connected with that ministry:

"One young bully of fifteen years was especially noisy and troublesome. And all the usual means failed to tame him. At last Mr. Moody said to the teacher, ‘ If that boy disturbs his class today, and you see me go for him and take him into the anteroom, you ask the school to rise and sing a very loud hymn until I return.'...Mr Moody seized the boy, hurried him into the anteroom before he realized what was happening, and locked the door. He gave the boy a terrible thrashing, and presently returned, with face flushed, but wearing an expression of victory.

Said Moody, ‘I believe that boy is saved.'

The boy was converted soon afterward and years later was still serving his Lord and Savior.

Moody had no time for the bickering of denominations in the work of God. In his biography there is an interesting exchange between him and the Bishop of Chicago:

"The neighboring Roman Catholic children were a source of great trial to Mr. Moody, disturbing meetings and breaking windows in the Hall. When all other resources had failed to stop this vandalism, he went to see Bishop Duggan...and he stated his complaint and requested the Bishop to exercise control over his parishioners...the Bishop said a man of his zeal ought to be inside the true church. Mr. Moody said that if he became a Roman Catholic, he would have to give up his noon prayer-meeting.

‘No, you won't,' said the Bishop

‘But I could not pray with Protestants?' said Moody. ‘ Yes, you could.' Said the Bishop. ‘Then,' said Moody, ‘ if a Roman Catholic can pray with a Protestant, won't you kneel down right here and pray that God may open our eyes to the truth.' They kneeled and prayed together, and as a result of that interview, Mr. Moody had no more organized persecution from his Roman Catholic neighbors."

In 1858, the Y.M.C.A. was organized and Moody spent time at the prayer meetings held there and also at his Sabbath-school which was filling to overflowing. He was dabbling into preaching at the Y.M.C.A. and the results were fulfilling. More and more children were coming in and the converts were doubling week after week. The building was now in constant use, day after day, filled to capacity. Moody was the life and spirit of it all. Before long he received an invitation to preach from Dr. Goodwin, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Chicago. Moody said he had to rub his eyes to believe the offer. Later another invitation came from the Third Presbyterian Church as his reputation spread. His basic text was on the Holy Spirit, something that was not preached much in those days. Moody, himself, did not have a full understanding on the subject and it was at that point that he was to experience a dramatic change in his walk with the Lord.

There were two humble Free-Methodist women who came to his teachings at the Y.M.C.A. One was Sarah A."Auntie" Cooke and the other a widow by the name of Mrs. Hawxhurst. Sarah would write:

"Mr. Moody was an earnest, whole-souled worker, but to me there seemed such a lack in his words. It seemed more human, the natural energy and force of character of the man, than anything spiritual. I felt he lacked what the Apostles received on the day of Pentecost. Dear sister Hawxhurst and myself would talk to him about it. At first he seemed surprised, then convicted. Then he asked us to meet with him on Friday afternoon for prayer. At every meeting he would get in more earnest, in an agony of desire for the fullness of the Spirit."

Dr. Michael Brown describes it this way:

"The two women would seat themselves in the front row. While Mr. Moody preached, they prayed. After the service they would say to him, ‘We have been praying for you.' Mr. Moody responded, ‘Why don't you pray for the people?' The ladies replied, ‘Because you need the power of the Holy Spirit."

A great hunger began to form in Moody's soul, " I did not know what it was, and I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service." After a few of these prayer meetings with the two women, Moody was walking down a city street when as Sarah Cooke tells it:

"suddenly the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and he staggered under the weight of Glory and the wealth of love. He was so overwhelmed by the revelation of Christ within him that he cried out, right there on the street, ‘Oh, Lord, stay thy hand, stay thy hand, or this vessel will break."

After this Moody's preaching seemed to take on a new power. Many more souls responded and were converted. Where there used to be hundreds now there were thousands. He received new invitations to preach, including an evangelistic trip to England where thousands upon thousands were converted.

Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

To be continued...

JJ (Dark) Di Pietro

Cane Creek Church