Chapman shares $6M reminder of Cooperative Program support

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Tuition was due and a young Morris Chapman didn’t have it. He sold his ’48 Chevy, hoping to raise the cash for his first year at Mississippi College. Instead, he ended up with three post-dated checks and a miracle.

When Chapman tried to enroll without enough cash, the registrar recommended the deferred payment plan. Pulling the checks from his pocket, Chapman noticed each was "dated almost to the day" the deferred payments were due.

"I try to remember that through the years," Chapman said while preaching Apr. 20 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. God’s grace, providence and mercy made the difference, he said in chapel. "Without his provision, I would have never made it."

Amid thundering applause, Chapman -- president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee -- presented a larger-than-life reminder of God’s provision to Southern Seminary: a check for $6,349,243. It symbolized a year’s support for the seminary from millions of Southern Baptists.

Following Chapman’s sermon, hundreds of students, as well as administration, staff and faculty members of the seminary, signed a huge card that read, in part: "Thank you to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention for your generous support through the Cooperative Program."

Citing the biblical account of Joshua and the people of Israel crossing the Jordan River, Chapman preached from Joshua 4 and emphasized the need for Christians to depend upon God and remember his provision.

Joshua directed the people of Israel to erect a stone memorial to remind their children of how "their fathers crossed the Jordan on dry ground just as they crossed the Red Sea," Chapman recounted. The stones also reminded Israel of their disobedience and subsequent wandering in the wilderness.

Joshua and Caleb had been in the minority when the spies returned with reasons why they could not take the "land flowing with milk and honey," Chapman noted. "But Caleb said, ‘Let us go up at once and possess it for we are well able to overcome it.’"

The people of Israel saw themselves as mere grasshoppers among the giants of the land. Caleb and Joshua knew that God was "greater than the giants," Chapman said, noting that Christians must remember that "God is greater than any giant or obstacle we may face.”

"This is one instance where the majority failed the test," Chapman said. Only Caleb and Joshua would see the promised land. Forty years of punishment in the wilderness followed because of unbelief.

While in the wilderness, God provided manna from heaven. "It was not exactly what the people expected and certainly not what the people wanted," Chapman said. "In fact, the Bible says the people murmured." As they murmured against Moses and Aaron, Chapman said, they also were murmuring against God.

Chapman urged pastors and leaders to encourage Christians "to rise above murmuring." Examine the cause and see if their murmuring is at the initiative of "our actions in pastoring churches," advised Chapman, because the Bible says, "Do all things without murmuring and disputings."

The Israelites returned to the promised land with different results. "Joshua obeyed at the earliest possible moment," Chapman said, and led the people across the Jordan River.

Christians should also "remember the presence of God," he said. The Israelites were instructed to follow the ark at a distance, showing their reverence for the very presence of God.

God said to Joshua, "And this day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel that they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." God’s hand is on a man’s life not to magnify a person, Chapman said, "but that God will be glorified."

Noting two additional areas of importance, Chapman stated that Christians should "Remember the protection of God." The Lord promised Joshua, "I will be with you when you go into battle."

Also, "Remember the power of God," Chapman noted. Joshua told the people, "Sanctify yourselves. For tomorrow, the Lord will do wonders among you." Prior to battle, the people were required to confess their sin before God, he recounted.

The Lord does not do wonders for many of us because "we live with unconfessed sin," Chapman admonished. We come to God saying, "I can’t," rather than "God, you can," even though his Word says: "‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’"

God didn’t lead the Israelites across the river until the priests did as they were instructed and stepped into the water’s edge, Chapman said. "God is waiting upon his people to listen to him, to know his will and way," and to obey.

When we "step into the water’s edge we will begin to see the power of God at work," Chapman affirmed. In that moment, God will take over and we will begin to do "more than we ever thought" possible.

This world needs to see evidence "among Southern Baptists and every Christian in this land" that is inexplicable except by the power of God, Chapman said.

Southern Baptists must leave a legacy for their children and their children’s children, implored Chapman, stating, "Remember the provisions of God, remember the presence of God, remember the power of God and remember the protection of God. He shall never leave you."

God is looking for men and women today to "stand in the gap" and say to Jesus, "In my hand no price I bring/Simply to Thy cross I cling," Chapman said, quoting a hymn. "That’s our only hope,” he said, and “America’s only hope and the world’s only hope."

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