Vance Havner used to tell the story of an old farmer whose clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The farmer got up and ran all over the house, saying, “Get up! It’s later than it ever has been before!” By God’s eternal timepiece, it is later than it’s ever been before, and it’s later than you think.
As we begin 2009, this is no time for business as usual. The militant church has become the decadent church in the last 25 years. The church has always had issues, problems and scandals, but now with the ability to beam stories around the globe in minutes via the internet, scandals seem to take a bigger stage.
There’s another issue we face: the complacent church. Most of the evangelical churches in America are status quo or dying. Many never baptize a soul. It’s not that there aren’t lost people, it’s that the church cares little about the lost. Some churches are more concerned about business meetings than doing the business of the church. The Great Commission has become the Great Omission.
Someone somewhere has to persistently push to change these things. Somebody has to say, “Enough is enough.” Some preacher, some church has to step up and say, “We will not sit silently while the world races toward hell.”
We hear the rumblings of socialism in the halls of government. We are a debtor nation on our way to being a second rate country. Like Rome, decadence is applauded. Rick Warren and others are criticized for taking a stand on same sex marriage. We are pushing toward a society where there is talk of tolerance, but no tolerance if you have a Judeo-Christian ethic.
The auto industry is in shambles because of the greed of white collar workers and union bosses. Americans have become their own worst enemy. Our greed, materialism, obsession with credit cards, and the assumption that we have a right to health and happiness is taking us down a dead-end road.
Where are the people who are persistent in the things that matter? Where’s the bulldog tenacity to do the right thing, even when it hurts? Where’s the passion for the higher good? We are a nation of couch potatoes. We will talk back to the TV commentators, but we won’t get off our blessed assurance to do anything about the times in which we live.
This is no time for believers to be spiritually ADD. Spiritual attention deficit disorder cannot be treated with medication or counseling. It has to be taken to the altar. We must fix our gaze on God, not on passing fancies or secondary issues. The church cannot afford to do business as usual. It’s later than it’s ever been.
The times in which we live could be depressing, but I believe it’s a great opportunity for God to work. It’s an opportunity for the church to have a laser focus on the Lord. These days provide a chance for us to seek the Lord, pray, witness, teach, train and equip. Knowing that the days are evil, we have good news.
As we begin this new year together, let’s be sharp, focused and resolved to do all God has for us. If we listen to the prognosticators, we will be discouraged. If we listen to the prophets of the Bible, we will not be surprised by these events. Judgment always comes upon a nation that forsakes God. If we will seize this time to listen to the Lord and follow Him, we could find ourselves in a position for God to move in mighty ways.
Be persistent in prayer. The greatest thing you can do for yourself, your church and this nation is pray. Be an intercessor. Pray for God to move in mighty ways in our midst. Pray for His hand, His power and His presence to be manifest among us.
Be persistent in attendance. I noticed attendance went up when gas prices skyrocketed. I also noticed that people began to focus more on spiritual things (a low motive is better than no motive). Being in God’s house puts you in a position to listen and learn. Be persistent in bringing your kids on Sundays and Wednesdays. We want to help you raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Be persistent in serving. We are in constant need of workers in our preschool area. This is a good problem because we have so many children. Jesus loved children. The church that is persistent in ministering to children will find God’s blessings.
Be persistent in inviting others to come. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a significant increase in guests. Invite your friends to be a part of what God is doing here. Speak lovingly and often about the Lord and this church. You are the greatest advertisement we have. Be persistent in friendliness. Walk slowly through the halls. Linger after the services. Meet new people. Invite new folks to eat with you. Enjoy the blessings of this incredible fellowship.
Be persistent in giving. I know the economy is in trouble, but God’s economic plan has worked for thousands of years. If you want to see your money go further and make a difference, obey the Word. Luke 6:38 reminds us, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Matthew 6:33-34 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” Malachi writes, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts (3:10-11).
These verses are not given as a means to raise money for the budget. They are given to raise our faith. In times like these, persistence in giving is a shot over the bow of the devourer that says, “We will take God at His Word.”
Will you join me in being persistent?
Copyright 2009, Michael Catt