Yesterday was my 50th birthday. When you come to this type of marker in your life you can’t help but reflect on your life thus far. I want to share some of those reflection with you today. The Bible teaches us to number our days.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalms 90:10-12)
This passage tells us that the lifespan of man is, by God’s grace, 70 to 80 years. We also have God’s promise that if we honor and obey our parents we will have long life.
We never know when God will call us home. Some He calls at a younger age, and some He gives many years. During those years some have good health and some don’t. It is a life that God has given us to enjoy.
I have spent 50 years on this earth. When you take stock of how many years you have lived and how many you have left, things tend to get a bit more serious. There are 52 weeks in a year and if I should be so fortunate to live to be 80, I have 1,560 weeks left here on this earth to leave behind a legacy. Not for myself, but for my Lord and Saviour. I hope that when I have come to the end of my race God will be able to say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
We are all running a spiritual race. The goal of this race is that our lives would be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). When you stand in front of a mirror, you see your image. If you wave and the image does not wave back you have problems. The image in the mirror must follow the master, the one who is casting the image. As Christians we are to be reflections of Christ in this world.
As I look into the days that I have left, I want to encourage you to look at the days you have left. If you are 18 and just starting out in your life, you have 3,224 weeks to leave your mark if God gives you a full lifespan. If you have reached 30 you have 2,600 weeks left. If you are in your 40/s you have 2,080, you are at the halfway point. If you are in your 50’s you have 1,500, in you 60’s you have 1,040, if you are in your 70’s you have 520 and counting. This is assuming we live to 80 years of age.
Another thing that comes to mind is, what are you leaving behind for the next generation? What are you teaching the next generation by your life, your children, your grandchildren. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I am hoping that they will come along soon. When you look at your legacy, will you have left behind children that honor and serve God?
I fear that Christianity in the West has become apathetic toward the spiritual life and walk. When I look in the New Testament at those God used, and compare them with the saints today, I see two different things. I see a lack of God’s power in most Christians today. We have been in this state for so long that it has become our normal. I believe that our normal today is really sub-Christian living. I think this is why we realize that we need revival.
When we say we need revival, we are saying that we are not really living God empowered lives personally, or in our churches. We understand that we need His power and His touch upon us. It is an admission that we have fallen into sub-normal Christian living. Normal Christian living is empowered Christian lives, living where the Holy Spirit empowers us to mighty things. The marvel of God’s working is hardly seen in our lives and in our churches. I don’t want that for me or my family.
What I am about to say is very convicting to me. I believe that we have spent too much of our time running at 211 degrees. By this I mean that if you try to run a steam engine and you keep the temperature at 211 degrees, you will have to shovel coal and work very hard, but the engine will not go anywhere. Just 1 degree more and the water will begin to boil. That one more degree produces the energy to make the steam engine move down the tracks. I believe that we are giving a lot of activity that is almost enough, yet not enough.
I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying. We don’t achieve great things for God in our strength, but there are things we can do. If we are really going to succeed we have to do it in God’s strength. If we are going to work in God’s strength we must be yielded to Him. We say we want revival, and I believe that this is the solution.
As I have said many times, the White House is not going to fix our problems. Politicians don’t have the answers. Financial wizards don’t have the answers. The answer is not in our colleges and universities, it is not in Wall Street, it is not in our academics. We have a sin problem, we’ve got a rebellion problem, and Christians have a lack of God’s power upon them. We need to yield ourselves to God so we can be in a position to receive God’s power.If revival is going to come, it will only come through the door of repentance. If revival is to break forth there must be a holy repentance in the hearts of people.
There is one thing that can bring this kind of repentance, and it is prayer. God have given us the road map for revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
I want to talk a bit out prayer. This is so convicting for me. I have been saved 45 years, and I have not always walked as close to God as I want to. There are time when I get on fire for God, and times when I don’t. I don’t want to falter at the finish, I want to finish well. If we want to see God do His part we need to be people with a passion for God and His precepts.
When I read E. M. Bounds, especially his book “Power Through Prayer,” I really come under conviction. Sometimes I hate it because it is so convicting. It steps on my toes and stomps on my heart, but we need this. Here is some of what he says:
- The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.
- When God declares that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him,” he declares the necessity of men and his dependence on them as a channel through which to exert his power upon the world.
- What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer
- The man makes the preacher. God must make the man.
- Preachers are not sermon makers, but men makers and saint makers, and he only is well-trained for this business who has made himself a man and a saint. It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God.
- The great hindrance is in the preacher himself. …. Somehow self and not God rules in the holy of holiest. Somewhere, all unconscious to himself, some spiritual nonconductor has touched his inner being, and the divine current has been arrested. His inner being has never felt its thorough spiritual bankruptcy, its utter powerlessness; he has never learned to cry out with an ineffable cry of self-despair and self-helplessness till God’s power and God’s fire comes in and fills, purifies, empowers.
- Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.
- Professional praying there is and will be, but professional praying helps the preaching to its deadly work. Professional praying chills and kills both preaching and praying. Much of the lax devotion and lazy, irreverent attitudes in congregational praying are attributable to professional praying in the pulpit.
- We shut ourselves to our study, we become students, bookworms, Bible worms, sermon makers, noted for literature, thought, and sermons; but the people and God, where are they? Out of heart, out of mind.
- What the preacher is in prayer to God, for himself, for his people, so is his power for real good to men, so is his true fruitfulness,
- The scientist loses God in nature. The preacher may lose God in his sermon.
- Of course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian, else he were a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary Christians, else he were disqualified for the office he has undertaken. If you as ministers are not very prayerful, you are to be pitied. If you become lax in sacred devotion, not only will you need to be pitied but your people also.
- Prayer is no petty duty, put into a corner; no piecemeal performance made out of the fragments of time which have been snatched from business and other engagements of life; but it means that the best of our time, the heart of our time and strength must be given.
- Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.
- As the engine never moves until the fire is kindled, so preaching, with all its machinery, perfection, and polish, is at a dead standstill, as far as spiritual results are concerned, till prayer has kindled and created the steam.
- The preachers who gain mighty results for God are the men who have prevailed in their pleadings with God ere venturing to plead with men. The preachers who are the mightiest in their closets with God are the mightiest in their pulpits with men.
- Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze, a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear.
- So we come to one of the crying evils of these times, maybe of all times — little or no praying. Of these two evils, perhaps little praying is worse than no praying. Little praying is a kind of make-believe, a salvo for the conscience, a farce and a delusion
Prayer is not the Garnish – but it is the Main Course
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