Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What If?

Photo credit: Jo Kautt
If 2014 was your last year to live, what would you do?
God’s Word says, “It is appointed unto men once to die; after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  If you knew 2014 was going to be chiseled on your head-stone, how would you want to live this year?
The fact is, you don’t have to be sick to die and neither do you have to be old!  Death has no friends and takes no holidays!
Two friends were talking.  One asked the other, “Would you like to know in what place you are going to die?”  The other responded, “I certainly would – then, I wouldn’t go near that place!”
For the child of God, death is ‘going home’.  God’s Word says, “For me to be absent from the body, is to present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).  For the unsaved person, however, death is the door to eternity in hell.  In hell, there are no atheists.  “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God our Father” (Philippians 2:10 – 11).
Elvis Presley once was asked, “Are you happy?  I mean, Elvis, you are rich – you have everything money can buy – and you are famous – but are you happy?”  Reportedly, Elvis’ response was, “I am as lonely as hell!”  Elvis, like many people living today, had everything to live for, but apparently did not have enough to live for!  Only Jesus Christ can fill the emptiness in people’s lives!  What about your life?
If you knew 2014 was going to be your last year to live, what would you do differently?
May I suggest four things to do differently with the possibility that 2014 could be your last year?
First, if 2014 were your last year upon earth, wouldn’t you be sure to forgive others so that you will be forgiven?  When Jesus gave us the beautiful ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in Matthew 6:9 – 13, He made ‘forgiving others their debts [i.e., sins against us] a requirement if we wanted to have our debts forgiven [by God]’.  When we refuse to forgive those who have wronged us, cancer-like effects begin to devastate our souls, our minds and even our bodies.  Forgive because Jesus forgives you (see Ephesians 4:32).
Number two, if 2014 were your last year upon earth, wouldn’t you be sure to make material possessions less important? Instead, make sure that God’s work is done in you, through you and with you.  Have you ever seen a funeral hearse pulling a U-haul trailer?  As the rich, but foolish farmer, found out too late, one’s soul can be required by God at any moment.  “Then whose will these [earthly possessions] thing be?” (see Luke 12:16 – 21).  God’s Word says that we all came into this world naked [owning absolutely nothing] and that we will leave it naked (see Job 1:21).
A preacher ate Sunday dinner in the home of a wealthy farmer.  The farmer was not a Christian.  After the meal, the farmer took the preacher to a hill, high atop his huge farm.  From that overlook, the farmer pointed in every direction and proudly exclaimed, “Preacher, it’s all mine!  As far as you can see, I own it all!”  Pausing for a moment, the Preacher pointed his finger toward heaven and asked, “Mister, what do you own up there?”  Is there a place prepared for you in heaven?  Is your name in the Book of Life?
If 2014 is to be your last, what is the most important thing for you to do before your life is over?
Number three, if 2014 were your last year upon earth, wouldn’t you be sure to “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33)?  One way to seek God’s kingdom is through consistent, active and cheerful church involvement.  Some people say, “I love Jesus; but the Church – well, I can do without it.”  Consider this:  “Jesus Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for it” (Ephesians 5:25).  Doesn’t it make sense that the things that are important to this Jesus we claim to love ought to be important to us also?  According to God’s Word, all who are saved are added to Christ’s Church (see Acts 2:36 – 47).  In fact, the Church is made up of millions of ‘trophies of God’s grace’ (see Ephesians 2:8 – 10).
Last of all, if you knew that 2014 was going to be your last year, wouldn’t you want to make sure your life counted for Jesus Christ?  The apostle Paul urged the Corinthians like this:  “Be steadfast, immovable; [and] always abound in the work of the Lord, since you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (see 1 Corinthians 15:58).  Solomon put it like this:  “Here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear  God, and obey His Word, for this is entirety of man’s duty [before God]” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Here’s a motto for 2014:  ‘Only one life, [it] will soon be past!  Only what’s done for Christ will last’.
If 2014 was going to be your last year on earth, what is the most important thing for you to do before your life is over?  Answer:  “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12) or, as Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (see John 3:1 – 19).  As someone once quipped, “No man is ever really ready to live until he is ready to die!”
Because our lives are so fragile and so uncertain (see 1 Peter 1:23 – 25), I urge you to live every day and every year as if it were your last.  Someday, it will be!  Let’s stop living like we will never die, and start living today like we will stand before God in 2014!
Praying that 2014 is the best ever for you – as you live ‘Coram Deo’ (‘Before the Face of God’ – see Psalm 1:1 – 6; 121:1 – 8; 124:1 – 8) and in submission to His plan for your life (see Matthew 6:9 – 10; James 4:13 – 17).
(Excerpted from a 2014 New Year’s Letter from Cecil Todd of Revival Fires Ministry)

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