(From my wife Kathy.)
These words . . . Continue reading
Just like that.
You always think you have more time.
As I write this someone I love lies dying in my bedroom.
Life is short.
Life is fragile.
Live for Jesus.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Jesus Christ
[Time Is Running Out Image via glasgow’s finest – Creative Commons]
God’s telling a story with your life. But at the same time He’s given you free will to write that story pretty much any way you want to. So when it’s over, when you die and you stand before God, and you’re reading your life story back to Him.
What do you want Him to hear?
Can I give you my best advice? Continue reading
To see the previous post on Genesis go to Financial Feast and Famine.
Read Genesis 47:14-27.
Joseph’s Choices and Consequences
So here we see Joseph, after his preparation for these years of famine that have come upon Egypt and Canaan. And now he’s experiencing the consequences of that preparation. You know, God gives us the freedom to make choices, but He doesn’t give us the freedom to choose the consequences of our choices. That’s just the way His universe works. If you jump off a 100 story building, that’s your choice, but you don’t get to choose whether or not you’ll experience the consequence of gravity. That’s how it is with everything. A whole lot of pain can be avoided if you can just understand that one principle.
Because Joseph chose to prepare for the famine, the consequences of his choice put him in a position to receive tremendous blessings:
He collects money from those in Egypt and Canaan, in payment for the grain they were buying.
When the money ran out, he gathered up livestock as payment.
When the livestock ran out, he exchanged land for payment.
Ultimately he received 20% of their crop production every year.
Everything listed above was on behalf of Pharaoh. But he also found himself, personally, in a position to establish his family, the Israelites, in the land of Goshen, where they acquired property, and became fruitful, and grew in number.
Individual Choices and Consequences
Often times, wisdom is simply doing now, what you will be glad you did, one, or seven, or ten, or thirty years from now. Joseph was able to receive all these blessings, and enjoy all these benefits, as a result of his preparation according to the leading of God’s Spirit, beginning seven years before.
Any individual living in Egypt or Canaan could have done the same, on a smaller scale. They could have recognized the time of plenty, and they could have anticipated a time of economic correction. They could have saved their grain. They could have put themselves in a position to receive great blessing during the time of famine.
But they chose not to. And they had to live with the consequences.
Your Choices and Consequences
Preparing for hard economic times is important. But infinitely more important is preparing for eternity. Every single one of us will die. And we know this time on earth is the briefest of time compared to our eternal life on the other side of the door of death. David asked God, “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days…” And the answer came, …the span of David’s years was as nothing before God. “Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure,” David said. (Psalm 39:4-5)
As important as it was to prepare for the seven years of famine, it was only seven years. When it comes to preparing yourself for death we’re talking about eternity. There is no more important preparation to be made. Not for school, or for marriage, or for work, or for retirement. Nothing compares in importance to your preparation for eternity.
So prepare for it. Right now. Recognize you’re a sinner. You’ve made wrong choices in your life. Those wrong choices alienate you from God. There’s no way to save yourself. But God provided a way. He sent His Son to die on your behalf, to pay for your wrong choices. He says, yes, if you insist, you can spend eternity in hell, but it will have to be over my Son’s dead body!
God doesn’t want that!
He wants to spend eternity with you. He wants that so bad He sacrificed His Son to provide you a way, a path, to get you there, to get you to heaven, to spend eternity with Him.
So do it. Ask Him. Ask God to forgive you for your wrong choices. Tell God you know you’re a sinner. Tell Him you know you need a savior. Tell Him you accept the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on your behalf. Tell Him you’re opening your heart up to receive His Son into your life. Tell Him you’re giving your life over to Him.
Surrender yourself to God.
Do it now.
Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
Statistic on death: 100% of people die, including you, and including me.
At a recent retirement ceremony, my wife Kathy shared a list of annoyances with the crowd gathered there. They’re things she never knew she’d have to contend with as the wife of a firefighter:
1) At the movies, when there’s a car explosion, he will lean over and say, “That would never really happen.”
2) When asked to go for a “drive” with him, he starts scouting fire access to homes or does street familiarization.
3) After a hard shift, the words, “Let’s take a nap,” really do mean a nap.
4) Certain tones on appliance timers can get him awake and out of bed in 3 seconds flat.
5) You can come home to find he has set up a multi-casualty incident scene with your kid’s matchbox cars.
6) Terms of endearment on a text are “ETA” and “Copy.”
That was a few days ago. Today I spoke with a woman who recently lost her husband of 30 years. With tears welling up in her eyes, she told me how the little things that irritated her about her husband didn’t matter anymore. She said she’d give anything to have him back, along with those little quirks that seemed so annoying before he died.
Two men I know have little time left to live. They’re both dying of cancer. Amazingly, they both told me, if they could somehow go back in time and erase their cancer, they wouldn’t do it.
They said, before their cancer they feel they wasted most of their time on things that aren’t important. Making money, mainly. But now their focus is on anything and everything that has eternal value. Loving God and loving people, mainly.
They’re not wasting their lives any longer. They’re focused on Jesus Christ, and bearing fruit for Him — at work, in their family, with their friends, everywhere they go. (John 15:4)
We’re all going to die.
Everyone of us.
Relative to eternity, we all have very little time to live.
So live for Christ.
Give your time to Him.
Give yourself to Him.
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
What we find in this passage of scripture is that God can not only require the life of a person, but God can also require the life of a whole civilization. The people of Noah’s day continued on in their lives without regard for God, as though everything would continue as it was. (Genesis 6:5) But the day came when the door to the ark was shut and the people of Noah’s day had no recourse. They must have found the highest ground they could but it was to no avail because verse 20 tells us that the water rose to a height of 15 cubits above the highest mountain tops. As the water rose, and rose, and rose they must have thought about God’s provision for escape that they had seen under construction for the last 120 years or so. But by then it was too late, the water remained for 150 days providing for no chance of survival. Verse 22 tells us that everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. It was up to the people of Noah’s day to repent before the flood came.
A friend of mine was recently told that he has less than 5 years to live. He’s sought second opinions about his illness, including one from one of the top hospitals in the United States. Lamentably, they all give the same answer: less than 5 years. All of us will die of course and as Jesus has told us, it’s true that God could allow for any one of us to die tonight. (see Luke 12:13-21) Like the people of Noah’s day, the great questions of eternity are asked of us not during the judgment but during our day to day lives. These questions are asked of us quietly, almost inaudibly. What the people of Noah’s day experienced during the 120 years leading up to the flood, you and I are experiencing right now! It’s up to you and it’s up to me to live for God before the day of judgment. Like the time of the flood, deciding to live for God during the judgment will be too late! It’s up to you and it’s up to me to enter into the ark of our salvation, Jesus Christ, before the judgment comes. (see So Your Life Is Falling Apart)
My friend who’s dying is a believer and I’ve been tremendously blessed to watch him during his trial. You know, people are seldom influenced for Christ by our success. It’s when you’re demonstrating courage, courage from faith in Christ, courage in the face of difficulty, that’s when people find themselves drawn to God. My friend continues to work hard in his job as a firefighter, he’s kept his sense of humor, he’s kept his love for people. He continues to show grace and God’s love to others, just as he always has. That’s how it should be for any Christian during a trial. When the waters rise and increase greatly, when trouble comes and increases greatly, like the ark, we should be lifted up.
…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
May our hope be in Him.
[Image via: labguest — Creative Commons]