November 16

Today's Bible Reading
      Chronicles 7-8
      Hebrews 11
      Amos 5
      Luke 1:1-38
            ''And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS." (Luke 1:31); ''By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.'' (Hebrews 11:11)
            Today's Scripture reveals two very important births. If you were to ask a Jewish person to acknowledge the most important birth in their history, they may refer you to the birth of Isaac, which was a miracle birth. Abraham and Sarah were very old (approximately 100 years of age), and Hebrew s 11:11 tells us that Abraham was as good as dead.  They had already stepped ahead of God and Ishmael had been born to Hagar. Now, they were about to give birth to God's promised seed, Isaac.
         To ask a Christian believer about our most important birth, there is no question that we would tum to the virgin birth of Jesus. This was, indeed, the miracle birth of the ages for all of humanity. But if we were to be completely honest, most of us really feel that our own birth is perhaps the most important to us.
The date of this devotion ismy birthday, and I am writing it in the year of my 72ndcelebrationof birth. That age is younger than it used to be, but I think it still qualifies me to be an old-timer. The most urgent prayer in my life, at this time, is to be able to finish well. ''They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing." (Psalms 92:14)
It is my sincere prayer that my epitaph can be the summary of the life of Barnabas. ''For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  And a great many people were added to the Lord." (Acts 11:24) Indeed, the time between our birth and when we become old-timers, seeking to finish well, is of short duration. The Scripture calls it a ''vapor that soon vanishes away." To leave a lasting legacy that continues to bless others would be the urgent goal of every child of God, and the earlier we begin,the better. 
How striking are the last lines that David Livingstone (1813-1873), penned on the night he died. His sons found that the famous missionary had died on his knees beside his bed, in the posture of prayer. He had written these words: ''Jesus, my King, my life, my all; to Thee again I dedicate myself.'' For Livingstone, every day was another to serve and to grow.
          We tend to lose heart as we age. Our physical strength abates, our health deteriorates, our memory gets cloudy, but we need not despair. Every day can be a new beginning toward a ''good old age." Growing older can mean maturing, growing in grace and fruitfulness, getting sweeter as the days go by - more mellow, less critical of others, less impatient with the attitudes of the younger generation.
            The drain of the years can be happily met by the spring of God's grace that flows within. We can continue to grow and be spiritually productive as we age. Getting older can mean growing, maturing,ministering, venturing -enjoying life to the end of our days. 
                        As the sun is setting on your life, 
                        May its golden rays reveal, 
                        Godly qualities of faith and love. 
                        The years have made so real.
            We want to pray today for those missionaries and evangelists who are ministering to refugees from the Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs. Many of them have been won to Christ and brought to fellowship together. It is a wonderful example of how the power of the Gospel and the blood of Jesus Christ can bring together people who formerly hated each other.  A compassionate ministry of both foreign and indigenous church/mission agencies such as Baptists, Lutherans, and others in meeting human needs have given hope to these people, and won much credit for the Gospel.  Pray for these ongoing outreaches and their lasting spiritual impact.
apersonalrequest. . .that in these late years I will finish well and leave a lasting legacy within our family and in the hundreds of pastors and church planters we are training. 
''The last sheaves that fall beneath thy sickle can be the heaviest, the width of thy swath can be the greatest as you tum toward home."
Pastor F. B. Meyer (1847-1929)