David Livingstone In 1873, the Apostle to Africa, was found dead in the jungle, on his knees, as if in prayer. For 33 years in Africa he had walked, crawled, climbed, waded, canoed, had ridden and been carried some 40,000 miles through the “white man’s grave.” He took notes and made maps every step of the way. He told every African he saw the good news about Jesus Christ.
It took natives 9 months to carry his body to the coast, where it could be prepared for shipment to England. When his body arrived, it was examined by pathologists; they found scars and bone damage where he had at one time been mauled by a lion. His heart and internal organs lie buried in Africa under an mvula tree. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey, among the legends of Britain.
When a teenager, he wrote this prayer in his journal: “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me; Lay any burden upon me, only sustain me; Sever any tie, but the tie that binds me to Thy service and Thy side!”
Livingstone said he was sustained by the promise of a gentleman of sacred character who said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
When I consider the life of David Livingstone, I am convicted of being a spiritual failure – a pigmy, as compared to this Giant of the Faith. Perhaps it might be my privilege, when in the New Heaven on the New Earth, to be assigned as one of the gardeners, working among the flowers in the garden that surrounds his estate throughout eternity. What an honor that would be!
I wonder if we see the Celestial City, as David Livingstone saw it!
Archives for February 2016
“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask,
and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
When I was growing up in a Baptist church in Richmond, California, we always had a Bible study and prayer meeting on Wednesday night. When pastoring, I always had a Bible study and prayer time in the same manner. After feasting on the Word, I would name specific things we should pray for and also ask for prayer requests to be shared. We would split up into groups of two or three individuals throughout the sanctuary. That way visitors could be welcomed and everyone could share more personal requests and everyone could pray.
Today, in the vast majority of Protestant churches, prayer meetings have been abandoned. It appears that we are too busy, personally or corporately to take time to pray. What’s it like at your church? Are there good reasons why we should gather for prayer? Here are a few reasons why I think we should.
Jesus Christ has provided our access to God’s Throne of Grace. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefor draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
“And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
What Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room has applied to every believer regenerated by the Holy Spirit from that day until Jesus returns to take us to be with Him at His second coming. It is my studied conviction that the devolution of American culture can be traced to the apathy and fruitlessness of American believers who have failed to be ambassadors for Christ to our post-Christian culture. We are His witnesses. We have been with Him from our choice by the Triune God before the foundation of the universe to be His witnesses to our time and place in His world.
Statisticians tell us that less than five percent of professing evangelicals have ever sat with a repentant sinner to whom they have witnessed the life-saving good news of Christ’s gospel. Too few have heard in their spirit the singing of angelic beings rejoicing in the conversion of a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace in response to their witnessing on behalf of their Lord.
A gifted writer and attorney said:
“To live our lives and miss that great purpose we were designed to accomplish is truly a sin. It is inconceivable that we could be bored in a world with so much wrong to tackle, so much ignorance to teach and so much misery we could alleviate. It seems that ambition and avarice know no boundaries. Yet life goes on with too many living in a kind of shapeless idleness. Recreation becomes the goal in life. Pubs abound, sports are perpetually proliferating, gambling consumes many, and almost any form of entertainment is pursued to fill the void created by a meaningless life. Year after year goes by in unprofitable pursuit. Young and old alike live for things that do not satisfy and ignore the very things that bring fulfillment. We are not criminals or murderers or thieves. Our sin is not so obvious. We live according to the standards of society, drifting along on this world’s ideas of living, oblivious to the consequences.”
That statement was not uttered recently. It was stated in 1797 by William Wilberforce, the Christian, English attorney and graduate of Cambridge University, who died three days before he learned that Parliament would pass the law abolishing from the British Empire the dreaded slavery trade. He knew what it meant to be a witness for his Savior!
The imperative of personal evangelism has been erroneously centered in the professional clergy. From Acts 8, verses 1 through 4, we learn that it was the witness of the laity that turned the world upside down by being “scattered abroad going everywhere preaching the Word.”
The Evangelical Church in America must return to the spiritual purpose, the imperative of personal evangelism. Jesus said, “As My Father has sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). Until the clergy starts preaching the Whole Counsel of God and the laity starts witnessing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, the church will be historically noted as the “age of shapeless idleness.” We will indeed be spoken of as the “Laodicean” church of Revelation 3, the lukewarm church deserving to be spit out of the mouth of God’s stated purpose.
- Do you believe that it is your responsibility to be a witness for Jesus Christ to those God has placed in your path of life?
- Does your pastor or preacher teach the imperative of personal witnessing on behalf of Christ?
- Have you ever knelt with an individual to hear them open their heart to God in repentance and confession, placing their trust in the work of Christ for the salvation of their life?
- Are you willing to take another look at the imperative or Christian witnessing?
- Will you ask God to place before you people who need Jesus Christ and give you the courage to “say a word for Jesus”?
“Father in Heaven, please forgive me for my failure to be your ambassador to my friends and neighbors…my unsaved loved ones. Please teach me to be an effective witness of your saving grace to others who desperately need you. Please teach me the joy of seeing my life be a light to those in darkness, to those lost and without hope in this dying culture. I ask this for Your glory alone and the praise of your Son’s substitutionary death on my behalf. Please, blessed Spirit of God, cleanse me of my self and use me for the glory of the Kingdom of God.”
“Give me a passion for souls, dear Lord, a passion to save the lost;
O that Thy love were by all adored, and welcomed at any cost.
Though there are dangers untold and stern confronting me in the way,
willingly still would I go, nor turn, but trust Thee for grace each day.
How will this passion for souls be mine? Lord, make Thou the answer clear;
help me to throw out the old life-line to those who are struggling near.
Jesus, I long, I long to be winning men who are lost and constantly sinning;
O may this hour be one of beginning the story of pardon to tell.”