THE HOPE IS STILL ALIVE

A while back I wrote in my diary, “Today I’m 60, but I’m going to live forever so I’m just a kid.”  I haven’t felt much like a kid since I wrote this, but the hope is still alive.  One of my old flippant sayings when confronted by a health conscious (health food nut) person was, “I don’t get my new body till I wear this one out.”  I want you to know I’m doing well with the wearing this one out part.  However it’s not as fun as it once was.  The wearing out is now quite painful, but the new body hope is still alive.

Sunday morning I found myself doing what I used to think was a strange activity that old people did.  I was reading the obituaries in the newspaper.  Not only was I reading them, but I was emotionally involved in reading them.  The short assessment of a person’s life was somehow hauntingly relevant.  As I sense the nearing of life’s end, I think, “What might be written about me?” What in my years was good and what was bad?  Fortunately, most obituaries focus on the good.  The family usually keeps the bad to themselves.  Woo, I say as I contemplate this.

I could get lost in these thoughts, but what I wrote on my 60th birthday is the real truth.  I have the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  I’m going to live forever.  The assessment of this short beginning time is recorded by the eternal God.  He makes the final evaluation.  Praise be to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The bad is forgiven and forgotten because the most significant act of my years was receiving the great gift Jesus purchased for me on the cross.  The worth of my other acts is in his hands.

Life has seemed long, but when I look back the part that has passed went by rather quickly.  There is still more to come.  I relish what remains.  And, the hope is still alive!

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VALUABLE INSIGHTS

Situations come upon us from time to time in which prior information would be quite valuable.  Say you come upon a situation where two people are engaged in a quarrel.  What should you do?  If you don’t have much income, but you’re living comfortably, should you still give to the poor? Are you a person who has to have something to say about every subject?  A wealthy but stingy man invites you to dinner, should you go?  At work there’s a group of party animals that go out 3 or 4 times a week.  They spend the next day talking about the great time they had. When they invite you to join them, should you go?

These are just a few of the situation addressed in the Book of Proverbs.  Our God has provided us with a rich source of information for our daily lives.  Proverbs is not outdated wisdom, but it is full of wisdom for all times.  Provers contains 31 chapters.  By reading a chapter a day you can read the whole book in most months.  Try filling your day with rich practical information for your daily decisions.

You can find valuable insights into the situations I mentioned above by looking at these verses:

Proverbs:         26:17,  21:13,  21:23,  23:6-8,   23:20-21        {these are listed in order}

Mortality

It is a fact that we are all going to die.  The mortality rate among humans is 100%.  People around me are dying.  Recently, a friend of mine who was 15 years younger died from brain cancer.  We’ve lost two women in our church in the last year.  I know others who are currently fighting cancer trying to stay alive.  The death of others always brings us closer to the reality of our own mortality.  The loss of a loved one is deeply painful, almost unbearable.  So, for a Christian what is a good perspective?

Our pastor, Eric Nelson*, Spoke on resurrection last Sunday.  He brought up two points that I believe help us to deal with our mortality.  First, he reminded us that the Apostle Paul referred to death as falling asleep (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15), and who is afraid to fall asleep?  The second point was that the life we are going to is far better that the life we leave.  For one thing, it is eternal.  Once we pass from this life, death will never again be an issue.

In our eternal life we will be living in heaven.  In heaven we will live a sinless existence.  Try to imagine what living without sin would be like.  I find it really hard to contemplate.  What would it be like living with no sin? The earth and all of creation is tainted by sin.  Imagine what the new earth will be like when sin is gone.

For me, when facing mortality, my greatest fear is what if my wife should go before me.  How would I be able to survive such a loss?  We are true soul mates, partners for the last 34 years.  But, notice that the concern is for me.  She will have gained.  She will be with Jesus.  Her time in a sinful world will be over.  She’ll have arrived in eternity.  She will be home, her work will be done.

So, in looking at mortality, I find there is much to rejoice about.  The future is only going to get better for those who belong to him.  Christians live by faith not by sight.  All we know now is this world, but through faith, we believe that God has prepared us an eternal place.  The greatest truth in our mortality is that we will be with him forever.

(If you don’t know him, he’s just a prayer away.)

*Eric Nelson is pastor of Delta Life Four Square Church in Madera, California.  Hear his sermons at deltalifechurch.com