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Text Sermons : Leonard Ravenhill : We Wrestle Not!

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We are slackers, and as far as I can discern, at the
judgment seat of Christ there will be no medals for
slackers. Dear reader, do you and I realize that we
are just one heartbeat from a fixed state of reward,
be it of joy or shame?

Napoleon Bonaparte made a lonely surprise visit one night to
the outpost sentries on one of the vital positions of his
battlefield. Stealthily he moved along in the gray light of the
morning. One sentry after another immediately challenged him.
Finally, the crafty warrior stole up to a strategic spot. There
was no sentry to challenge him. The wily Napoleon moved closer
and saw a pair of boots protruding from under a shock of corn and
a rifle propped beside them. He made no comment - just picked up
the rifle and himself stood guard, waiting for the awakening of
the snoozing soldier. Finally the corn stirred, and up jumped the
guilty defender and grabbed for the gun that was gone. Can you
imagine his confusion and chagrin? What a bitter and shattering
experience - caught napping by *Napoleon!* When the Lord of glory
returns, will He find us Christians sleeping at our post of duty?
John the Apostle warns that we be not ashamed before Him at His

I well remember a Bible conference in England where I stood on
a platform beside a wrinkled old lady. She had a faraway look in
her eyes and the drip of a tear from them too, as hundreds of
people were singing:

There is a love constraining me
To go and seek the lost;
I yield, O Lord, my all to Thee,
To save at any cost.

That "elect lady," known to prisons and scarred in spiritual
battle, was none other than the Marechale, eldest daughter of
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. She had
written the above stanza as part of a lovely hymn.

"Will He find us Christians sleeping
at our post of duty?"

The versatility of Paul is amazing. To the Thessalonians the
very same man who stormed down the road to Damascus is "as gentle
as a nurse"; to the Romans he reveals the brilliance of his legal
mind; and to the Corinthians he is "a wise master builder." But
to Timothy, Paul is "a soldier of Jesus Christ." Years later the
famed English cricketer, C.T. Studd, who deserted the playing
field for the battlefield of world evangelism, used to twit folk
about being what he called "chocolate soldiers." In his "Quaint
Rhymes of a Quondam Cricketer," he has this ditty:

Get up, get up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross,
A lazy Sunday morning surely means harm and loss;
The Church of God is calling; in duty be not slack;
You cannot fight the good fight while lying on your back.

"We are not living in a day
of militant Christianity.
The very suggestion
throws many into a
spiritual pout..."

Let's face it: We are *not* living in a day of militant
Christianity. The very suggestion throws many into a spiritual
pout, for they believe the Lord did all the fighting. (Appalling
philosophy!) They glibly tell me,"The battle has already been won
at Calvary." Christ *did* win, but that does not eliminate human
responsibility. The folly of this philosophy was burned into my
mind recently while visiting tough mission fields. Men hardly
expect our soldiers on earth's battle fronts to make their own
ammunition as well as to fire it at the belligerent enemy. Yet on
the mission battlefield we kept hearing of the lack of conquest
when the folk at home cease to pray. The new missionary is
snowed under with readjustments. His mind has to get readjusted
to a new language; his spirit has to get readjusted to a heathen
atmosphere; his appetite has to get readjusted to new foods; his
soul has to get readjusted to new emotions. All things are new -
new pressures he never dreamed of, new burdens he never thought
of, new physical challenges. On top of these, the new missionary
has to do his own sweating in prayer for victory against foes,
entrenched for millenniums, who stubbornly resist ejection. All
this time we at home fail to pray. We are slackers, and as far as
I can discern, at the judgment seat of Christ there will be no
medals for slackers. Dear reader, do you and I realize that we
are just one heartbeat from a fixed state of reward, be it of joy
or shame?

A missionary just wrote, "On many mission fields there is no
lack of new missionaries who have technical knowledge." Of course
the know-how for building, educating, and the like, is not to be
despised, for there are countries right now where one cannot
enter simply as a gospel missionary; he must be an artisan.
Nevertheless, today the missionary cries,"We are in need of men
of burning hearts, men who can knock on doors, or trail in the
bush, men motivated by holy compassion for souls."

I do not doubt that many Christians who read this chapter will
mourn that they are not eligible for the foreign field. Others
will mourn that though they crucified the flesh and the lusts
thereof, they neglected the bit of the text which demands
crucifying the affections. There is no question that this demand
for crucifixion is tough on young folk. But men who were called
to earth's battlefields crucified their affections. In the last
war, I saw rivers of tears as men left our country for the mud
and blood of the battlefield. The athlete might come back with a
shattered body, he might come back blinded, he might come back
with a flag over him - but what of that? The risk was coolly
calculated, for England was in peril. So, tears or no tears,
heartache or no heartache, sacrifice slipped out of one's

But some men who once missed years of home comfort to fight
on earth's battlefields will not miss even one night's comfort
now to pray for mission fields. Today there is so much physical
comfort for the pray-ers. (Our churches are more air-conditioned
than prayer-conditioned, and are well-heated, too.) Not so for
Master David Brainerd. The lone forest buried in snow, saw him
grief-stricken and broken-hearted over the lawless, immoral,
drunken Indians. Of our Saviour one wrote,

"Long nights and chilly mountain air
Witnessed the fervour of His prayer."

"Prayer *must* have priority.
Prayer *must* be our bolt to
lock up the night, our key to
open the day."

Prayer is battle. Could it be that in our churches the right
slogan over the door of most of our prayer rooms would be "We
Wrestle *Not*"? I often see listed in churches names of athletes
who will play ball of some kind, but I would like to see these
"muscle men" operating where strength really counts - that is, in
the place of prayer. Prayer taxes even the physical frame; prayer
wears on the nerves; prayer involves the whole man. Prayer *must*
have priority. Prayer *must* be our bolt to lock up the night,
our key to open the day. Prayer is power. Prayer is wealth.
Prayer is health of the soul.

"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer makes the darkened clouds withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above."

Shall men crippled in earthly warfare call Christians
"chocolate soldiers" because we fear the gashes the enemy of
souls might inflict upon us? God forbid! Shall men whose hearts
once bled as they left wife and children (many with a one-way
ticket) rise to our condemnation because in the greatest warfare
the world has ever known, and for the greatest Captain of time
and eternity, we can neither rise to pray nor skip the blankets
for one night? Again I quote Scripture: "God forbid!"

When Paul the Apostle says, "Some have not the knowledge of
God; I speak this to your shame," *did he mean you?*



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