How Much Time Do You Have Left?
by Dan Stolebarger
Dan Stolebarger, Director of Koinonia Institute
I remember listening to a Chuck Missler briefing package years ago when he spoke concerning the brevity of life. Chuck had confronted a friend with the amount of weekends he might have left in his life, if God should tarry. For some reason this had quite an effect on Chuck’s friend when the numbers were converted into weekends rather than years! When their paths crossed months later, his friend had done the math and subtracted the weekends that were originally given —in other words, the brevity issue had an impact!
With this in mind … how many weekends do you have left, and more importantly, what are you doing with the time that God has given to you? Are you coasting, sleeping, or are you redeeming the time? Those who take the teaching of Jesus seriously are those who are redeeming the time! Those who are casual are much like the foolish virgins who were “asleep” most of the time. But what does it mean to be awake? What are the indicators?
I would suggest the following are signs that you are alert and active for the sake of the Kingdom.
1. You have a passion to study and learn the Word of God!
Unfortunately, many Christians today are caught up in one of the worst famines known to man. I am not referring to the devastation that has to do with being deprived of food, water or medical supplies, but rather to something far worse according to the prophets of old:
I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord GOD, That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.
Today our lives, as well as our pulpits, are oftentimes filled with the dispensing of “good advice” and some sort of “psychobabble” rather than the Word of God! Remember the Word of God is for our edification as well as to provide direction for our path. The Word alone is Truth and the Spirit of Truth (The Holy Spirit) works with the written Word to provide edification and exhortation, as well as using this Truth to set us free!
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances. So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, And will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes. ...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:43-48, 105
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The problem is that in order to give it away you first have to possess it. How much of the Word do you possess? If we want to change the world, we need to use weapons that have extraordinary power—the power to destroy strongholds and to revolutionize the world! We need to both preach and pray the Word of God!
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers...
1 Timothy 4:1-3
2. The second thing that we need to be about is to be alert to what is going on all around us.
We need to wake up the prophetic gift that God has given for the Body of Christ today. The function of the priest was to uphold the religious traditions and to be a bridge builder. This is a needed function within the Church today, but sometimes the status quo becomes lifeless and someone needs to come along and “drive out the money changers”!
I believe it was Wesley who once said, “Nothing hardens the heart more than the continuous handling of holy things!” Have you ever been guilty of “lip syncing” songs of worship or being somewhat causal at the Table of the Lord, holding the elements in your hands while thinking of other things …? I know I have! From time to time we need “a voice calling in the wilderness to make straight the path of the Lord!” We need the prophet to come and seek to change a heart rather than to merely keep to the religious status quo. If this is a need for us as individuals, how much more does our nation need a prophetic call back to our roots and back to our God?
Our nation has fallen asleep and if we do not wake up and return to our God, I shutter with fear when I envision our future. I think of a quote from G. Campbell Morgan when he states: “For a people to boast in the glory of the past, and to deny the secret that made the past, is to perish!”
America’s roots are in Faith as well as in the Word of God. Let me remind you of some words that are politically incorrect today but are a central part of our heritage nevertheless: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
God Bless America
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God Bless America,
Land that I love. Stand beside her,
and guide her Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam God bless America,
My home sweet home.
—words and music by Irving Berlin
As I mentioned, I shutter to think of our nation’s fate if we do not return to the Lord! But how can this be done? True revival always begins in the House of God.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17
Are YOU ready to get started? Let’s review: we must become like the Bereans … people of the WORD! And we need to “understand our times” like the sons of Issachar, so that we can know what our next step should be and so that we can provide answers to those who have questions (and believe me, your friends, neighbors and acquaintances all have questions)!
What might be the next step?
3. Always remember this basic and simple truth … Your actions ALWAYS speak louder than your words!
Jesus addresses the subject in regards to who His legitimate disciples are in the following passages:
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Usually when I have the opportunity to speak in regards to Koinonia Institute, I introduce our Koinonos track with the following question that always seems to raise an eyebrow or two:
“What are you doing for Christ’s sake?”
I know it might sound a bit irreverent but the question still stands on solid ground and demands an answer. What are you doing? Not what do you know or what can you preach. No, what are you doing for Christ’s sake? It is clear that we cannot earn our salvation through our works, but nevertheless the Scriptures consistently shove us in the area of producing fruit and being a “doer” of God’s Word!
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
I know that we all have the same desire when we see Christ! I know we all desire to hear the same words that are found in Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
If you were to meet Jesus this moment, are you sure you would hear these words? If not, make a point to start living your life in a way that you will be assured of hearing His approving response … and by the way, “How much time do you have left?”