Billy Graham - Time
Now tonight I want you to turn with me to the 90th Psalm, the 90th Psalm. I want to speak tonight on the brevity of life. And I'll make it brief, like I did last night. The tenth verse of the 90th Psalm, "The days of our years are three score years and ten", that's seventy, "And if by reason of strength they be fourscore", that's eighty, "Yet is there strength, labor, and sorrow for it is soon cut off and we fly away. 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". Do you number your days? Do you realize how important every single day is? Think of it, God has said, that if you live to be seventy, you may live to be eighty. And then the scripture says, if you live to be 80, you're likely to have a lot of labor and sorrow, and troubles and difficulties.
I heard about a train passenger who was handing out cigars, because the train down where I lived arrived on time for the first time in a long time. That was a number of years ago. The conductor said he couldn't accept a cigar. Why? He said, "Because this is yesterday's train". There's the collapse of time all around us. Do you know in the days of Jesus, as fast as a person could go was as fast as a horse could run? And that happened all the way until 1830, when we developed an engine faster than a horse, think of that. Those hundreds and thousands of years all as fast as you could go, was on horseback. Then in 1910 we developed a military aircraft that went 42 miles an hour.
And then I remember very well just like it was yesterday when Lindbergh took off for Paris and in 33 hours he was in Paris, and we thought that was really something. Today we get on a Concorde, or some people do, and they are there in three and a half hours. And in 1960 we started going through the air at 18,000 miles an hour when we got up in the stratosphere. Now my father drove a horse and buggy and we're trying to run today a space age on a horse and buggy moral and spiritual condition. Time is collapsing on us, how much longer do we have?
The Psalmist requested that the Lord remember how short my time is. "Behold thou hast made my days as a hand breadth, and mine age as nothing to thee. A thousand years in thy sight is but as yesterday when it is passed and is a watch". A watch is four hours in the night. "One day as with the Lord is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day". "He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof look to God like grasshoppers. The grass withereth and the flower fadeth", the scripture says. "My days are like a shadow that declineth and I'm withered like grass but thou, o Lord, shall endureth forever and thy remembrance unto all generations".
Think of it: God will endure forever. But on this earth, we're like a shadow that's declining. We're all dying. From the moment you were born you started dying, because we're all heading toward death. Every one of us are under the sentence of death, there won't be anybody in this audience alive, I'd say, 90 years from tonight. Nobody, we'll all be gone. And what are you going to do with those years? Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Do you know how many minutes there are in a day? 1,440. Do you know how many hours there are in a week? 168.
Now if you live to be seventy, your first fifteen is childhood or adolescence. You spend twenty years in bed. The last five years are physical limitations and you're curtailing your activities. That means you only have thirty years left for everything else. Thirty years to live, and part of that time has to be spent eating, and working, and figuring up your income tax. The scripture asks this question, what is your life? "It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away". The oldest of us... Won't live long. Our time is already in God's hands: God has a date already set for your being taken from this world. It may be in an accident, it may be a cancer, and it may be a heart attack. Whatever it is, it's already set. And the scripture says, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment".
You will stand before the great judgment of God to give an account of how you spent this life and what you did about Jesus Christ. Because God gave his Son to die for your sins because you see, we're all sinners. We all have the same disease. I don't care what the color of your skin is. God doesn't look at the color of your skin. God looks at your heart. And God sees that you have a spiritual heart disease. And that spiritual heart disease is called sin. And we're all sinners, that means we've broken the laws of God, we've disobeyed God, we've rebelled against God. And because we've rebelled against him and we're going to have to face a judgment. And he's going to say, "Depart from me, I never knew you".
It's interesting to me that rich people cannot buy more hours. Scientists cannot invent new minutes. You cannot even save time to spend it on another day. You've got a little time today, and you say, "Well, I'd like to save it up for tomorrow". You can't do that. There's an urgency to time. The Bible says, "Redeem the time because the days are evil". The days are very evil. We look at our newspapers and we cannot believe all the murders and the rapes and the racial problems. All these things all over the world. Yes, the days are evil and we've got a big task ahead of us if this earth is to be spared much longer. The scripture says that we are to redeem the time. It's a phrase out of the business world, it means to buy the time.
I heard about people who tithe their time. We are supposed to tithe our money, ten percent of our money belongs to God if you're a Christian. But we can also tithe our time. Take ten percent of your time and say, "Lord this is yours for Bible study, for prayer". You say we spend too much time on freeways going back and forth and interstates and stuck in traffic. You know, we've invented all of these modern things to save time, and we have less time than ever before. We have a lot less time now than my father and mother had in the horse and buggy days. And yet we have fast automobiles and fast airplanes, and we're running from place to place like mad people. And most of us don't know what we are going to do when we get there.
You have so much time, but for what? You have time to serve Christ. You have time to live according to his will. You have time to obey him. Have you done like the Psalmist said in 31:15 and put yourself at God's disposal, when he said, "My times are in your hands"? There is a current movie showing in this area entitled the commitments. Have you committed your whole life to Christ? Has that ever happened to you? Oh, you say, "Yes, I've been baptized, I've been confirmed. I go once in a while to church. I think about God once in a while". But have you really committed to him? Are you totally committed to him? Are you sure if you died at this moment you'd go to heaven? Are you certain your sins are forgiven?
That's why Christ came and died on the cross and shed his blood. And God raised him from the dead. And then there is the tyranny of time, it controls us and we become frustrated running from one thing to another. Because we don't feel that we have enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. Jesus said, "I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work". The night is going to come to you and you won't to have an opportunity to serve God. Serve him while you can, serve him now. Put him first in your life. Yet at the end of his life, he said, I've finished the work that you gave me to do.
God has a plan for your life, and you can finish it with God's help. And he'll give you a joy and a peace that you never dreamed existed, if you put your confidence in him. Oh yes, when Jesus left the earth there were people that needed to be healed and lives that needed to be touched, but Jesus said, he'd finished the work that had been assigned to him, by the father. God has assigned a work that only you can fill, you are unique, nobody can take your place. And God needs you in his kingdom. Time can be our tool, but we can also be its slave. Even so, time is amazingly fair, and forgiving, no matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you can still have tomorrow.
Adlai Stevenson once said, "It's not the days of your life, but the life in your days that count". You have to buy it. What is the price you have to pay? The price is that you have no time for certain things. We shouldn't drift along haphazardly doing all the pleasures and all the drinking and all the other things that are wrong. God wants us to love others. The main thing that he wants us to do is to love your neighbor and love people of another race. The one thing that distinguishes a believer from others is love that dominates your life. Your life should be carefully planned. Then there is the termination of time, "Brethren", the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians, "Time is short". In Revelation it tells us that time shall be no more. Jesus and his disciples spent the 94 verses of Matthew 24 to the end of the chapter 25 talking about the end of the age.
As we approach the end of the age we read in Revelation 12 that the devil will be frantically active, because he knows that his days are numbered. Yes, there is a devil: there is a Satan. He's a real person, and there are real demons. And they are going to battle for your soul tonight, because Satan does not want to give you up. He'll battle to keep you in his kingdom because there are two kingdoms, there's the devil's kingdom and there's God's kingdom and you have the right to make a choice which one you want to be in. Of course, we don't know when the time of Jesus' coming is going to be. In Mark 13 we are told "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but of that day and hour knoweth no man so take heed. Watch and pray for you know not what your time is".
We don't know when God is going to come for us. In Romans 13 the apostle says, "Knowing the time, that now it is high time to wake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light". The Bible several times uses the phrase, "The time is at hand". Jesus told us to discern the signs of the times. One of the signs is that iniquity shall abound. Pick up your newspapers and watch your newscasts, iniquity is abounding everywhere. Not just in New York, not just in New Jersey, but throughout the world. When the roll is called in heaven will you be there? Is your name written on the book of life? Because the scripture says if your name is not on the lamb's book of life you'll never enter heaven.
Your name right now is on what is called in the Bible, the books. And under your name are all the sins that you ever committed. All the things that you've ever thought that are wrong, all of your intents that are wrong. It's all there, recorded, and will face you at the judgment. But when you come to Christ and present yourself wholly and completely to him as Savior and Lord he blots out everything in those books, and writes your name in another book, the book of life. The lamb's book. Is your name written there? If my name was not written there, and I didn't know it I wouldn't leave this building tonight until I was sure because there may never be another moment like this in your life. This is your hour with God. And then the brevity of time calls for immediate action. The fact that time is short calls for us to do something about it now, because the scripture says in II Corinthians 6:2, "Now is the accepted time". Not tomorrow, today.
Things you ought to do, do it now. Money you ought to give, give it now. People you ought to witness to, witness now. Every time the clock ticks it seems to say, "Now". Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart, you can harden your heart. You hear a message like this and it can be very dangerous, because you will harden your heart and the next time you hear the Gospel your heart will be harder and harder and harder. Come to Christ now. If there's even a whisper in your heart that you need to come, you come. Then there's the warning of time. It will someday be too late for your soul.
Time is too short for indecision and vacillation. Don't halt between two opinions. Fools say there's plenty of time: the devil says there's plenty of time. Every morning you have 86,400 seconds to spend and to invest. Each day the bank opens a new account with you. There may be no tomorrow. Come now. The scripture says, "Seeing then that all these things shall come to pass, what manner of persons ought you to be"?
I read an article some years ago, talking about some people that were having a great time on New Year's eve and this man that was writing the article said, "They drink like there's no tomorrow". You've probably all heard the song, "Another time and another place", and that's what the devil will whisper in your ear tonight. When I tell you you need to come and make your commitment to Christ with these hundreds and thousands that have already come in this crusade, the devil will say: "Wait... Another time, another place, this is not the time".
This is the time, the very fact you are here indicates it's the time. By some strange coincidence or providence God has brought you here tonight and before you came you thought you were all right with God but now you're not sure. And you want to make sure, you want to be certain. Yes, the devil always says, "Yes, do it, but some other time, and some other place". God says, "Here and now". In Luke 19 it tells us of Jesus weeping over the people of Jerusalem. There is a poem that I first heard years ago that goes, there is a time, we know not when, a place, we know not where, that seals the destiny of man for glory or despair.
Someone wrote me a letter here this week. It says, "Dear Mr. Graham, in 1957 your crusade came to the old Madison Square Garden in New York city. I was 6 years old. I can still remember the bus ride the hard wooden bleachers, and my shiny new black patent leather shoes. I remember it all just like it was yesterday. When you made the invitation to give my life to Christ I was ready and I jumped up to go, but unfortunately in those days and in that generation, my mother replied to me and said 'hush, sit down. We don't do that. Someone might see you'. I stayed in my chair. Here it is 35 years later and I'm privileged to be a volunteer counselor down on the floor, and it's my prayer that not one person stays in their seat, but comes forward to receive Christ while there's time. Thank you for bringing your crusade back to this area. My six year old girl memories are bursting with excitement. I'll be praying for you this week, God bless you".
There's a man from this area that cliff barrows told me about on the telephone today. His family had been urging him to stay here because he didn't believe and he made a point of telling people that he didn't believe in Christ, he wasn't a believer. But he would not stay here and he wouldn't come, and he didn't want to accept the claims of Christ. Instead he went the Bahama Islands, and in the early morning, this morning, he died of a heart attack.
For him, it is now too late, his decision is made. What about your decision? Is it going to be yes or no to the claims of Christ? Christ died for you, he rose again. And then what do you have to do? You have to first repent of your sins. That means that you say, "Lord, I am a sinner. I'm sorry for my sin. I'm willing to change my way of life. I want to follow you and serve you and I surrender my life to you tonight", or "I rededicate my life to you tonight". "I need you Lord and I want to make my commitment on this night".
In this crusade, we'll never be in this auditorium again, and you're here tonight. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat. From up there in the balcony it will take an extra minute, so start now and come and everyone stand down on the front, in front of me here, in front of the podium. And after you've all come, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you and give you some literature to help you in your Christian life. You say, "Why do you ask people to come publicly"? Because every person that Jesus ever called, he called publicly. There was something about making it public. He died for you publicly, hanging naked on a cross. Certainly you can come and stand here publicly to make your commitment to him and say, "Lord, you have all of me tonight, I want to be sure that I am ready to meet you". Just get up and come from all over the stadium.
While many others are still coming I want to say a word to you that might have been watching by television because these services are being recorded on tape to be played some time later this year or early next year. And there are many people that have been watching in television and you've been thinking about how fast time is going. It just seems like yesterday that you were a little boy or a little girl, and time has flown. You may be in a hotel room somewhere, you may be in a bar, and I want to tell you that God loves you, he wants to forgive you, he wants to make you a new person, if you'll let him. You can make that commitment where you are, right now.