Sermon #1447 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: A New Year’S Prayer
Text: Psalm 90:12
Reading: Merle Hart
Subject: The Brevity of Our Time in this World
Date: Sunday Afternoon – December 31, 2000
Tape # W-18b
The title of my message this afternoon is A New Year’s Prayer. You will find my text in Psalm 90:12. But I want us to read the entire Psalm. Then we will come back to verse 12.
A Prayer of Moses the Man of God
It might help us to understand this Psalm if we recall the circumstances which surrounded Moses when he was in the desert. For forty years, he watched a whole generation of people die in the wilderness. All of that great multitude which came out of Egypt (all who were above 20 years of age when Israel crossed the Red Sea), probably, between two and three million people, died in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb. There must have been constant funerals in the wilderness for forty years. The path of the children of Israel was marked in the desert by the graves they left behind them. This Psalm is called “A Prayer of Moses the Man of God.” It is the prayer of the man of God, who was continually reminded of the mortality of fallen men. In the midst of constant death, Moses the man of God reverently and turns to the ever-living and eternal God, and finds rests in him.
Verse 1. LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Though we are now weary pilgrims in this earth, who have no fixed dwelling place, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we do dwell in You, our great God and Savior. You are our home and hiding place. Christ is the dwelling place of his people in all generation.
Verse 2. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
God alone is eternal. Time is nothing to him who “inhabiteth eternity!” He who is God is the only one who has eternal and essential existence independently of all others. All others owe their existence to him. He alone is life. He gives us life; but he is life!
It is God who gives us life, and it is God who calls us back again in death.
Verse 4. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Yesterday, while it was here, was a short 24 hours. Now that it is past, it seems like nothing at all. A thousand years, big with events that we consider to be weighty, important, and meaningful, in God’s sight are nothing. They “are but as yesterday when it is past.” A thousand years with God are but the few hours of a night watch. A thousand years are but “as a watch in the night” to the Eternal God. And our God who keeps the night watch for us is that one of whom it is written, “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
Verse 5. Thou carriest them away as with a flood.
A thousand years are swept away by his hand of providence, like a gnat in a raging flood.
Verse 5. They are as a sleep.
Our earthly existence is but “as a sleep.” Most things in this world are not what they seem. Our thoughts concerning them are but a dream, or a nightmare. But the time of awaking is coming. Then things will look very different to us from what they seem to be now.
Verse 5. They are like grass which groweth up.
Fresh, green, vigorous, lovely, so restful to the eye. --
Verse 6. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
It requires no long period, ages upon ages, to destroy the beauty of grass. Let the sun arise and the wind blow, and it withers away.
Verse 7. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
If we had to endure the fire of God’s wrath, we should be consumed by it. How I thank God that this speaks not of God’s elect, but of the reprobate and unbelieving. We who are in Christ are not under the wrath of the Almighty. We need not fear being troubled by the divine wrath, for his anger is turned away from us by the great atoning sacrifice of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But the children of Israel in the wilderness were consumed by God’s anger, and by his wrath they were troubled night and day, as are you who are yet without Christ. “The wrath of God abideth on” you who believe not the gospel.
Verses 8-9. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
How sad! For those who abide under the wrath of the Almighty, there is no escape from his sight; and we must all soon appear before his august throne of judgment. Like a short story, so the life of man is “as a tale that is told.” Quickly, our time here will be spent!
Verse 10. The days of our years are threescore years and ten.
The ordinary period of human life has been shortened to just 70 years.—
Verse 10. And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow: for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
But to where do we fly? That is the important point. Shall we fly away to God in heaven, or shall we fly away from God into the pit of the damned?
Verses 11- 12. 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.
It has been well said that many men will number their cows, and number their coins, but forget to number their days. What fools we are! Numbering our days, and seeing that they are but few, should teach us to seek Christ, to apply our hearts to him who is the Wisdom of God. May God give us grace to live every day as if it were our last.
Verses 13-14. Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
If our days are but few, let them be happy. Give us the abundance of Your mercy, O Lord, and let us have it at once, so that, however few our days may he, every one of them may be spent in the ways of wisdom, peace and happiness, in sweet communion with Christ.
Verse 15. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
C. H. Spurgeon suggests that Moses is saying here, “Balance our sorrows with an equal weight of joys. Give us grace equivalent to our griefs; and if thou hast given to us a bitter cup of woe, now let us drink from the golden chalice of thy love, and so let our fainting spirits be refreshed.”
Verse 16. Let thy work appear unto thy servants.
May God give us grace to devote ourselves entirely to him and the service of his kingdom, his glory, his Son, his gospel, and his people. May he grant us grace, day by day, to do the work he has appointed us to do!
Verse 16. And thy glory unto their children.
What a broad prayer! Yet, it is most reasonable. Shall not fathers seek the very best good for their sons and daughters? This is what we desire from God, let it be the only thing we desire from God for our children, that he will cause them to see his glory in the face of his Son!
Verse 17. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us.
We must soon die. Let our work, the work God has given us, the work God has done through us live. Let us pray together that that which we are doing, as laborers together in the cause of Christ may be established by our God, that the work of our hands may have permanent, everlasting results. — How I pray that the work of our hands will not prove at last to be nothing but wood, hay, and stubble, which the fire will consume. May God make ours a building of gold, silver, and precious stones that will endure the fire that, sooner or later, will “try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
Verse 17. Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Now, go back to verse 12. How quickly the time passes! How rapidly things in this world change! My text contains a prayer that I have uttered to God more times than I can count, especially in the last few weeks. It is a prayer that weighs more heavily upon my heart than ever before. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Of all mathematical problems this is the most difficult. Men can number their herds and their flocks. They can estimate the revenues of their farms and businesses with relative ease. We can count our cash, balance our checkbooks, and calculate what our retirement income should be.
Yet, mortal man foolishly imagines that he is immortal. Most are persuaded that their days are infinite and innumerable. Therefore they do not number them. We look at a strong young man, one who watches his diet, exercises regularly, and seems to sparkle with life, and say, “He has a long life ahead of him.” And we look at an old woman, weak, worn, wrinkled, and ever weary, and say, “She will not be with us very long. Her days are few.” Thus, we imagine that we can number the days of others, but few will number his own days. What folly!
It is evident that the great thing needed to persuade us to prepare for eternity is the persuasion of our own mortality and the brevity of our lives in this world. We will not apply our hearts unto wisdom until we are brought to the numbering of our days. Yet, the fact is, no one will number his days and apply his heart unto wisdom until he is taught of God to do so. Thus Moses prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
As we reflect upon the brevity of time, we ought to be persuaded to set our thoughts upon things that are eternal. As we look into the grave, which must soon be our bed, we ought to be humbled and made to know how frail we are. But we are not wise. Only the grace of God will cause a mortal man to number his days and apply his heart unto wisdom. Let this, then, be your prayer and mine, as we stand here, at the close of the year and look forward toward the dawn of the new year tomorrow: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Proposition: A sense of mortality ought to make us wise and cause us to apply our hearts unto wisdom.
In this message, I want to show you five words from God about time, about our brief, brief time in this world. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher and apply these things to our hearts.
I. A Word of Comfort - “My times are in thy hand” (Ps. 31:15).
Thank God, my times are not in the hands of my enemies, or even in the hands of my friends, or even in my own hands. “My times are in thy hand!” The time that I shall live is in the hand of my God, determined by him alone.
· The times of my trials, troubles, and temptations are in his hand.
· The times of my peace, prosperity, and pleasure are in his hands too.
· My times of darkness, desertion, and despondency as well as my times of dancing and delight are in his hand.
· All my times are appointed by him, ordered by him, and disposed of by him for my good and his glory.
· I can think of nothing in all the world more comforting.
“Our times are in Thy hand,
Father, we wish them there:
Our life, our soul, our all we leave
Entirely to Thy care.
“Our times are in Thy hand,
Whatever thy may be,
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.
“Our times are in Thy hand,
Why should we doubt or fear?
A Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.
“Our times are in Thy hand,
Jesus the crucified!
The hand our many sins had pierced
Is now our guard and guide.
“Our times are in Thy hand,
Help us to trust in Thee;
Till we have left this weary land,
And all Thy glory see.”
As this fact quietened David’s heart in the midst of great trials, so let it quieten our hearts as we make our pilgrimage through this vale of tears. “My times are in thy hand.”
A. My time in this world has been appointed by my heavenly Father (Job 14:5).
B. My time in this world is ruled by my heavenly Father
C. My God will see to it that I fulfill all my time in this world.
He has promised, “The number of thy days will I fulfil” (Ex. 23:26).
II. A Word of Warning
The apostle Paul warned us of the perilous times in which we now live (2 Timothy 3:1-7, 14-17).
In these days of apostate, free will, works religion, we must tenaciously adhere to the old, old path of gospel truth that hold our hearts in peace.
· Divine Sovereignty
· Electing Love
· Particular Effectual Redemption
· Efficacious Grace
· Special Providence
III. A Word of Instruction (1 Cor. 7:29-31)
Because the time is short, we must redeem the time we have (Eph. 5:16).
C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment.”
A. The time for salvation is short (Isa. 55:6; 2 Cor 6:2).
B. The time for service is short. -”The night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4).
C. The time for suffering is short (1 Pet. 5:10).
IV. A Word of Admonition (Eph. 5:16)
Paul urges us to redeem the time, to buy up every opportunity we have, because we are naturally prone to squander the opportunity God gives us in this world. It is our responsibility to be careful and diligent in our use of time. That does not mean that we should have no time for recreation and relaxation. But it does mean that we should study to improve our use of the time and opportunities we have to the best advantage of our own souls and the souls of others.
Nothing is more precious and valuable than time. Time and the opportunity of the moment, once it is gone, is gone forever! It cannot be recalled or even prolonged. We must not neglect any opportunity God gives us to serve him or one another, to worship him in private or in public, to gain spiritual benefit for our souls, or to minister to the bodies and souls of others for the glory of God.
NOTE: The best way to withstand the temptations that come with idleness is to redeem the time that is wasted in idleness, buying up the opportunity to do good.
V. A Word of Preparation
The wise man Solomon tells us that there is for us all “a time to die” (Eccles. 3:1-2). “It is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9:27).
God help you to hear me now. “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). Shall a mortal, sinful man meet the holy Lord God? Indeed, we must. That thought would send waves of shock and terror through your soul, if you ever gave a moment’s reflection. There is only one way you can prepare to meet God. You must trust the Lord Jesus Christ. You must flee away to him like the manslayer in the Old Testament fled to the city of refuge.
· You must be washed in his precious blood.
· You must be robed in his perfect righteousness.
· You must be saved by his grace.
· If you would be saved, you must apply your heart to Wisdom - That Wisdom is Christ! - Christ is our Wisdom before God. - Christ teaches us the Wisdom of God. - Christ gives us Wisdom as we walk with God.
When the appointed time of my departure from this world comes, I want to be found in Christ, not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ imputed to me. Washed in his blood and robed in his righteousness, I hope to leave this world in confident faith, like the apostle Paul.
Application: As we gather once more around this blessed table, remembering what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, let this be our prayer: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Let us set our hearts upon Christ, as he has set his heart upon us!
I want us to sing number 53 in your Songs of Grace book, The Time is Short, while the deacons come to serve the Lord’s Table.