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July 8, 2018 Don't Waste Your Morning!

Don’t Waste Your Mornings!

 

Scripture reading: Exodus 16:1-4; 14-21; Mark 1:35; John 8:2

 

[I. Introduction] The past several weeks I have taught on preparing ourselves for the great day of judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ. Not the final day of judgment where every person who ever lived will be judged, but the day of judgment by Jesus of his own people. In order to face that judgment with confidence and not shrink back (I Jn 2:28-29) we must be abiding in Jesus (a person can belong to Jesus but not be abiding in him) and we must be living faithfully.

 

We saw that to live faithfully, at a minimum, includes these things:

 

  • We will be building the kingdom of God now,
  • We will be overcoming sin in our lives, including the idolatry of entertainment;
  • We will be sharing the gospel,
  • making disciples,
  • baptizing them, and
  • teaching them to observe Christ’s commandments.

 

You may remember that those last four are taken from the Great Commission. The Great Commission is not just for professional evangelists and church leaders. It is for every person who names the name of Christ. It is for you. It is for me.

 

If we are reflective for even a moment and honest, we will realize that we are not up to the task. In fact, we can become discouraged. We may think, “I cannot do it! I am fearful about sharing the gospel. I find that I have no motivation at night to do anything except turn the television on. It’s all I can do just to keep myself from the big sins. I am plagued with many small failings.”

 

If you think like this then you are not alone. Not only are you not alone, but you are thinking rightly if you recognize the inadequacy that is in your natural disposition. You must know that in yourself

 

  • you cannot overcome sin in your life
  • you will have trouble sharing the good news
  • you cannot make disciples
  • you can do nothing for the Lord for more than a day or two

 

…because our own life is sad and pathetic.

 

Today I will reveal a way in which these things can be done, a way that will prepare us for that great day so that we will not be found in disappointment of a life wasted for the Lord.

 

This is it: We must rise early in the morning to contact the Lord and be supplied with his life.

 

I agree with Watchman Nee who said this:

 

Please do not be offended by my frankness. A Christian who rises up late can not make any progress at all. I am not saying this hastily. I know what I am saying. All those who have some experience know what I am saying. Which do you love more, your bed or the Lord? Brothers and sisters, do you not realize that our bed is the place of our failure?[1]

 

If we will rise up early and touch the Lord each morning the battle is already half won. It is this one simple thing that will make a great difference.

 

[II.] We must rise early because this is the admonition in Scripture.

 

How long will you lie there, O sluggard?

When will you arise from your sleep?

10    A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest,

11    and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

and want like an armed man. [2]

 

I like how the Passion Version renders verses 9 and 10:

 

            So wake up, sleepyhead. How long will you lie there?

            When will you wake up and get out of bed?

            If you keep nodding off and thinking, “I’ll do it later,”

            Or say to yourself, “I’ll just sit back awhile and take it easy,”

Just watch how the future unfolds!

 

This passage warns of monetary poverty if we sleep even a little too long. This warning still applies today. We are called to work for the good of society and community. Most jobs, unless they promote the baser desires of the human heart, contribute to life on earth. And, because of our labor we earn our wages. If we neglect work we may expect poverty. However, under the new covenant the Lord is directing our hearts to deeper matters. In new testament application, a little sleep and a little slumber will result in spiritual poverty. It affirms Watchman Nee’s observation that “a Christian who rises up late can not make any progress at all” – spiritual poverty. It affirms that “our bed is the place of failure.”

 

As a door turns on its hinges,

so does a sluggard on his bed. [3]

 

Why are there so many warnings in the Bible about sluggards? Because this is the condition of so many – including Christians!

 

But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. [4]

 

This command is to the prophet Jeremiah. It is the duty of a prophet to arise and dress himself and to speak the words of God. But, under the new covenant, every believer is a prophet.[5] We all must arise, dress ourselves, and be ready to speak the truth of God. We will either dismay others by our words or we will be dismayed; but it all begins by rising early, getting dressed, and getting ready.

 

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I trust.

       Make me know the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul. [6]

 

The morning is the time to hear of the Lord’s steadfast love. The morning is the time to learn of the way we should go that day. The morning is the time to have our souls lifted up.

 

We must rise early because this is the admonition in Scripture.

 

[III.] We must rise early because this is the example of godly seekers.

 

And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. [7]

 

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel,[8]

 

And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. [9]

 

But I, O Lord, cry to you;

in the morning my prayer comes before you. [10]

 

So, we see that Abraham, Jacob, Job, and David arose early and sought the Lord. If we had time we would see that other godly men and women did likewise (Exodus 8:20; 24:4; Joshua 3:1; 6:12; I Sam 1:19; 15:12; Luke 2:36-37). In two of the verses we read this morning, Mark 1:35 and John 8:2, we saw that this was the practice of the Lord Jesus. Our Lord rose early and sought the face of his Father! Ought not we follow his example?

 

We must rise early because not only is this the directive of the Bible but this is the example of godly seekers.

 

[IV.] We must rise up early because time is a precious commodity. Many people will not waste their money but will waste their time. Why should we waste our time, which is more precious than money? If we should be a little foolish and waste our money on something, we can get more money either by working or by investing. But if we waste our time we can never get it back. Everyone has different amounts of money. Some have none, some have little, some have much, some have an overflow. But everyone has the same amount of time each day. We are all equal in this respect. Once it is wasted it cannot be made up. It is gone forever.

 

We must rise up early to receive manna from the Lord. This manna is just the Lord himself. As we contact the Lord and love him we receive him. He is our manna!

 

Titus 3:5 speaks of two things: “the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.” The washing of regeneration happens only once, but the renewal of the Holy Spirit happens again and again because we need to be renewed again and again! The morning is the time for renewal.

 

When the Israelites were trekking through the wilderness they were supplied with manna. If they did not gather it in the morning then when the sun came up it would melt and it would be gone (exodus 16:21). It would be too late to gather it if it was not gathered in the morning. This is instructive for us! If we do not gather manna in the morning the day will move on and it will be too late to receive the manna.

 

We must arise early when the opportunity is there to touch the Lord and be supplied and renewed.

 

[V.] We must arise early so that we will not lose the opportunity of a new beginning. How many of you have thought, “If only I could relive this past week,?” “This past month?”  “This past year?”  “My whole life?” I have occasionally thought how much better my life could be if I could go back to when I was a child or a teenager with my current memories. I could avoid all the mistakes and sins that I fell into.  We can! We cannot undo what we have done; but, if we belong to Christ, our past sins are  forgiven and forgotten and God grants us a new beginning, a fresh start! He does this each morning if we take the opportunity!

 

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,

that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. [11]

 

Do you see what David is saying here? If we experience God’s steadfast love in the morning then we will rejoice and be glad all our days! One day, one morning, can be the beginning of a new life! That is the power of a morning!

 

We do things at times that are wrong. We sin. We miss opportunities during the day to live and work for the Lord as we ought. The Lord may even become angry with us. But hear what David says:

 

For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

       Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning. [12]

 

At the end of the day we may have regrets of how our day went, what we have done, what we have said. But after we sleep and the sun rises there is an opportunity. The sun rising is God saying to: “As the sun rises in the east and begins a new day so, too, I grant you a new beginning. Take it and experience the joy.”

 

Yet, if we do not rise early, if we only get up and go to our jobs or our schools without embracing the Living God, then we miss the opportunity to start anew. The day will be like the day before.

 

[VI.] The purpose of early rising, although it may have many other benefits – such as cultivating self-discipline and even physical health, is for drawing near to God, to receive a supply, to be renewed. It is not just to read the Bible or to pray. One can read the Bible out of a sense of obligation or pray because we know we are supposed to. And, we may find that we get little out of the Bible this way and our prayers may be nothing more than rote. Even if our prayers are spontaneous and address our concerns and needs, we may feel as if they bounce against a brass ceiling, never reaching heaven. We must touch the Living God! We call out to him. We tell him we love him. We embrace his precious promises such as his promise of never-ending love for us and his promise that he desires our good. His promise that he is our friend! (John 15:15; Luke 12:4)

 

The purpose of rising early is to draw near to God and keep our love burning for him and for the Lord Jesus.

 

There was a woman who worked in a relatively large city, a city like St. Louis. She worked the afternoon shift at a department store – from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday. She was at a coffee shop one morning and got into a conversation with a young man about her age and they discovered they had many things in common. She was impressed with the young man and she learned that he was of high moral character, something her father and mother had impressed upon her to seek in others. It was a pleasant talk and a few days later they ran into one another again at the same place. As they got to know one another and began doing things together, it wasn’t too long before they both discovered they had strong feelings for one another. She was excited at first and thought that Sean, for that was his name, might be the one. She hoped that he was. For many months things were as good as things could be. The only impediment to their relationship was that they both lived and worked on opposite ends of the city. They were about forty miles apart. But they were intentional about seeing one another. They both worked in the afternoons so their mornings were free. They would plan on meeting one another most days of the week, sometimes in her part of town, sometimes in his. On weekends, one or the other often had to work so they did not often get to see one another. As time went on the young woman began sleeping in more often and she started seeing her beau only once or twice per week. Since her friends lived close by she began spending more time with them. After a time, she only saw Sean once or twice per month. He would call but she often had an excuse why she couldn’t see him. After all, it was a long drive through heavy traffic. Some time went by and she sensed a lack of feeling for him. Did you know that absence does not always make the heart grow fonder? Sometimes it makes love grow faint. Sean met someone else. The woman did, too. And the man she met was not as good a man as Sean. She realized it too late. She lost a good person.

 

Do you know that God is a person? If we do not cultivate our love for him and for his Son our hearts may grow distant as did the woman’s.  Indeed, this happens to Christians.

 

The purpose of rising early is to draw near to God and keep our love burning for him and for the Lord Jesus. Reading the Bible and talking to him ought to be part of our communication with the Lord but the centrality of our time in the morning should be our love for the Lord.

 

[VII. Application and Conclusion] Don’t waste your mornings! We must rise early because:

 

  • this is the admonition of Scripture,
  • this is the example of godly seekers in the Bible,
  • time is a precious commodity that cannot be regained,
  • we may miss the opportunity of a new beginning,
  • we must fulfill our purpose of drawing near to God and keep our love burning for him.

 

Many of us have to rise up early for our jobs and some rise up early naturally because of their biorhythms. For these, it is simply a matter of making their time with the Lord the first thing they do before the day gets away. Watchman Nee says,

 

Let us communicate with God and draw near to him before we see any person, talk to any person, or conduct any business.[13]

 

We must get by ourselves, without distractions, and meditate upon the Living Lord. I said that the purpose of rising early is to draw near to God and keep our love burning for him and for the Lord Jesus., not just reading our Bible and praying. Yet, practically, we must get into the word and we must talk to the Lord. My point was that, when we do those things, we must exercise our spirits and not just our minds.

 

For those who are not accustomed to rising early there are only two things you need to do. You set an alarm clock and you go to bed early. Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” It was true 240 years ago and it is still true today.

 

Don’t waste your mornings. Touch God and be renewed. Find the power to live the life we have been called to live.

 

 

 

 

[1] Nee, Watchman. The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Set Two, Volume 21. Anaheim, CA: Living Stream Ministry, 1992-1993; p. 76.

 

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 6:9–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 26:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Je 1:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] http://nsbcwinfield.com/march_18_2018_every_believer_a_prophet

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 143:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 19:27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 28:18–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Job 1:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 88:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 90:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 30:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[13] Nee, p. 81