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FOLLOWING CHRIST: Worn Out Knees

On February 26, 1829, a Jewish boy by the name of Loeb Strauss was born in a cottage in the Bavarian village of Buttenheim. As a young man, Loeb changed his name to Levi and wound up in California, where he opened a textile company in San Francisco. One day a gold miner walked into Levi’s shop and assailed the young merchant. “Look at these,” said the miner, pointing to the pants. “I bought ‘em six months ago, and now they’re full of holes!” When Levi asked why, the miner explained, “we work on our knees most of the time.”

“What you need is some really strong material,” replied Levi. “We have some canvas. It’s used to make tents. If we make your trousers out of canvas, I’m sure they won’t get holes.” A tailor was called, and presently the miner had a set of trousers—and the rest is history.

Soon miners across the West were wearing Levi Strauss’s jeans. (Signs of Life pg. 83)

William Cowper wrote: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his (or her) knees.”

What does it mean to live with worn out knees?  It implies that we connected with God and that we speak often with Him while on our knees. The little observed rule of life is that our best work will be done on our knees. It is on our knees in prayer that the greatest battles of life are fought.

There are two ways to get on your knees. You can do it by choice and the desire to deepen your relationship with Christ or you can be driven there by the circumstances of life.

There are 3 implications that you can draw from this metaphor or worn out knees:

1. Worn out knees mean we are reverent

It would be incorrect to teach that the only position that you can pray in would be kneeling. Throughout the Bible we find descriptions of people who like Jesus stood and prayed with His eyes lifted to heaven or fell prostrate on the ground in the garden of Gethsemane, or like David in 1 Chronicles 17:16 who sat before the Lord in prayer.

There is no certain way however different postures communicate different attitudes in prayer:

Standing suggests boldness, walking suggests fellowship, sitting suggests a business like transaction and kneeling represents submission, earnestness and yieldedness.

When we bow before Almighty God, we acknowledge Him as our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. When we live our lives in relationship with God and understand who He is and wants to be in our lives, we come to live with a reverence that should only be reserved for Him.

“We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; The Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”  Oswald Chambers

“The whole meaning of prayer is that we may know God” Oswald Chambers

“If God sees that my spiritual life will be furthered by giving the things for which I ask, then He will give them, but that is not the end of prayer. The end of prayer is that I come to know God Himself.” Oswald Chambers 

2. Worn out knees mean we are obedient

One more time let me remind you that obedience matters to God. When you are really connected to God on a daily basis obeying Him becomes a lot easier. There is a story from the life of King David that illustrates how important obeying God really is.

“David consulted with all his officials, including the generals and captains of his army. 2 Then he addressed the entire assembly of Israel as follows: “If you approve and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send messages to all the Israelites throughout the land, including the priests and Levites in their towns and pasturelands. Let us invite them to come and join us. 3 It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.” 

 4 The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. 5 So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. 6 Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name[b] of the LORD who is enthroned between the cherubim. 7 They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. 8 David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. 

 9 But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon,[c] the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the LORD’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God. 

 11 David was angry because the LORD’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today. 

 12 David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” 13 So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.


There are clear instructions from God that had been given to Israel on how the Ark of the Covenant was to be handled. It wasn’t until afterward that David began to process his mistake and then realized that he had not followed God’s clear directions. He didn’t take time to consult God he just went with what seemed right in the people’s eyes and turned it into a big celebration.

Later in 1 Chronicles 15:13 after David had prepared a place to house the Ark we read these incredible words: “Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the LORD our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” 14 So the priests and the Levites purified themselves in order to bring the Ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to Jerusalem. 15 Then the Levites carried the Ark of God on their shoulders with its carrying poles, just as the LORD had instructed Moses.” 1 Chronicles 15:13 NLT

You and I should be on our knees consulting God before major purchases, accepting a job offer, choosing a new church or making any decision of consequence. God expects us to be obedient to His will but you won’t hear His will very clearly if you aren’t consistently on your knees. 

“It is impossible to conduct your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.” Oswald  Chambers

3. Worn out knees mean we are dependent

I’m talking about a lifestyle here. I am talking about daily accepting God’s influence and input into your life. I am talking about a daily consistent ongoing and vibrant relationship with Christ that effects and influences every area of your life.
There are people today that will stand in long lines to hear someone teach them how to enjoy the blessings of God and they often are looking for easy formulas. You and I aren’t going to manipulate God but we can be in an authentic relationship with Him.

“If you want to pull down blessings from above and impact the world around you, you have to be surrendered to God’s will, approaching life on your knees, bowing in humble reverence, obedience and dependence.”  (Signs of Life, pg. 86-87)

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote: “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of our human soul. Man is the greatest and highest, when upon his knees, he comes face to face with God.” 

In the January/February 2003 issue of Pray Magazine, Elmer Towns said that he and his wife made it through college by faith, praying together and trusting God to meet their needs. Towns earned a dollar an hour driving a school bus, but his income barely met their needs. 

"One evening," he wrote, "the only thing in the kitchen cabinet was a can of tuna, so my wife served a tuna casserole. As we clasped hands to thank God for the food, I prayed, 'God, you know we are broke. You know it's two days until payday. You know we are willing to fast until we get money, but we ask you to please take care of our needs.'" 

Just as they finished, the laundry man came to the door. Ruth greeted him, telling him they had nothing to send to the laundry, for they couldn't afford to have anything cleaned. 

The man quickly explained that he hadn't come to pick up but to deliver. "A few months ago," he said, "your landlord asked me to pass along twenty dollars to you to pay for having thawed the pipes for him. I had forgotten about it until today."
Elmer and Ruth earnestly believed their prayer had reminded the laundry man that he had money for them. 

If you want to pull down blessings from above and impact the world around you, you've got to be surrendered to God's will, taking life on your knees, bowed in humble reverence, obedience and dependence on Him. 

One of the reasons we're so worn out with life is because our knees aren't!

 “Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.”  Oswald Chambers

Praying Like Jesus

He prayed to His Heavenly Father

If you are a Christian you have the privilege of calling God your Heavenly Father. This would have never happened in the days of the Old Testament but when Jesus came to this earth He brought with Him a familiarity and spoke often of His Father in heaven. In John’s Gospel alone Jesus referenced God as His Father 110 times.
Let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer together:
“  Our Father in heaven,
      Hallowed be Your name.
      Your kingdom come.
      Your will be done
      On earth as it is in heaven.
      Give us day by day our daily bread.
      And forgive us our sins,
      For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
      And do not lead us into temptation,
      But deliver us from the evil one.”
Luke 11:2-4 NKJV

Jesus taught His disciples to pray this prayer with all of its familiarity and to approach God as our Father. In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus teaches us that if we being evil know how to give good things to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give blessings to those of us who ask Him? 

“Pray because you have a Father, not because it quiets you, and give Him time to answer.” Oswald Chambers

Is God your Father? How often should a child speak with their Father or mother that they love? It’s an interesting question and not one meant to produce guilt but for those who no longer have living parents there is often a nagging feeling that maybe they should have spoken more often with their parents when they were living. 

He prayed in Secret

Jesus knew the value of being alone with His Father and frequently He slipped away from the disciples and the crowds to deserted places. It is important that we have a place where we can drop out of sight and into the presence of Jesus. 

The Gospel writer Mark, talks about Jesus praying in secret, “ 35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Mark 1:35-36 NLT

Jesus even spoke about our need to pray in secret when He was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. 

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6 NLT

“Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret.”       Oswald Chambers 

He prayed all the Time

“Jesus prayed in the morning at the gateway of the day, and in the evening when the day’s work was over. Great crises were preceded by prayer. Great achievements were preceded by prayer. Great achievements were followed by prayer. Great pressure of work was a call to extra prayer. Great sorrows were met by prayer. He died praying.” Oswald Sanders 

Missionary Frank Laubach became well known because of his personal efforts to “practice to presence of God.” He trained himself to remember how near God is every moment of every day. He taught himself to pause once an hour and acknowledge the presence of God. 

“If you have ever prayed in the dawn you will ask yourself why you were so foolish as not to do it always: it is difficult to get into communion with God in the midst of the hurly-burly of the day.” Oswald Chambers 

“Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.” Oswald Chambers

He prayed Submissively 

We learn to best pray like Jesus prayed when we learn to imitate His deepest and most powerful prayer. He prayed it in a garden hours before He knew He was about to die a horrendous death. 

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 

 40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
 42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[g] unless I drink it, your will be done.”
Matthew 26:39-42  NLT

Prayer isn’t our way of getting God to go along with our wants and wishes; it’s God’s way of making our hearts willing to go along with His designs for us.
It's great to have good habits, high hopes, bold strategies, deep pockets and passionate zeal. But nothing can replace humble hearts, bent knees, and worn out pants. 

“It is not so true that "prayer changes things" as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man's disposition.” Oswald Chambers

“Prayer does not fit us for greater work, prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers

Like a California miner, let's each declare: "I do most of my work on my knees."
My desire for all of us today is that we somehow find the grace and strength to separate ourselves from the influences of those around us who would destroy our relationship and walk with Christ. 

There are people who face painful things down here on this earth and often it makes them pull away from God instead of pressing into Him. I want you to watch a video testimony of someone from this church who faced disappointments and hardship but allowed it to move her closer to God instead of away from God. Notice the influence it had on a daughter and others who witnessed the transforming grace of God. 

Video

There is a song from my southern Ohio days of growing up that is deep inside of me because somehow I believed that the people in the church I grew up in really believed it. There was the outside world of ugliness and sinfulness and there was the church gathered every Sunday and during the week to remember and revel in the presence of our God. We were just strangers and pilgrims on this earth on our way to a better place. How many times we sang these words I have no idea but there was hope in them and strength in them. I can hear the voices and see upraised faces. Can you hear them? 

“This world is not my home, I'm just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door And I can't feel at home in this world anymore. 

Chorus

O Lord you know I have no friend like you If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?

The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

Christfollowers live in two worlds, two dimensions, two landscapes on this earth. We live with a foot in each. We are living in the world but we are not to be of it. In other words there is a higher and nobler cause than the self centered system that we are surrounded with day after day. David Jeremiah writes these poignant words:

“In case you haven’t noticed, the world frontloads its pleasures and back loads its pain. The Christian life sometimes front loads the pain, but it always back loads the pleasure. And I’d definitely rather be moving toward joy than moving away from it. That’s why I’ve chosen to live my life for the Lord and to walk in fellowship sweet.” (Signs of Life pg. 105)

How are you doing?

How is your relationship with God today?

Do you even have a relationship with God?

Do you feel a little anxious and hungry to have an ongoing day by day relationship with God?

Why don’t you tell Him about it right now?

Song: Knees to Earth

Prayer/Benediction:  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, Amen.

I feel the touch of hands so kind and tender.
They're leading me in the paths that I must trod.
I'll have no fear for Jesus walks beside me
For I'm sheltered in the arms of God.

So let the storm clouds rage high,
The dark clouds rise,
They don't bother me;
For I'm sheltered in the arms of God.
He walks with me,
And naught of earth shall harm me,
For I'm sheltered in the arms of God.

 



2009/09/08