Tag Archives: Eternity

Life’s end?

noEnd

Driving home the other day, I was talking with God – eyes open…I promise.  I was just trying to spend some time praising Him for all I could see and it made me think about what Heaven may be like when that’s what we get to do for all eternity…praise Him.  When I think about Heaven, my mind takes an “earthly” turn and I get overwhelmed.  What will it be like to pass from this life to the next?  What is eternity – how can we even begin to comprehend never-ending?  Through that thought process I felt a gentle tug at my heart – a calming peace.  I have come to know that calming moment as when the Holy Spirit reminds me that He has this.  I’m not to worry about things that I can’t possibly grasp, but to turn to my faith and know that God has this.  What’s my job then?  My job.  My blessing.  My life is to sing praises to my redeemer.  My job is to spend my days worshiping Him with all that I think and do.  Praising Him for the blessings, praying to Him through the struggles and trusting in Him for the answers.

So, the question I started with – what is life’s end?  It occurred to me that, even  though I may experience an earthly death, my life does not end.  I am living with an eternal perspective.  The Bible is clear that when we close our eyes on this side of Heaven, our next conscious thought will be in Heaven.  There is no end for the believer.  In reality, there is no end for any of us – believer or not.  Life will continue in one place or another.  For those that have trusted Christ as their savior and put their faith in His finished work, that life continues in Heaven – praising and worshiping Him forever more.  For those that reject this free gift of salvation, and choose to place their faith in this world, that life will continue forever more in torment and separation from the one that created us.

So, today, when I think about life that doesn’t end, it gives reason that I should live as though it doesn’t end.  Too many times, I get caught up thinking about how hard I should work now, before I run out of time.  That is true in one sense.  My job here – bring God glory through worship, praise and telling others about Him.  Tell them verbally, show them through my actions and life, etc.  When I die, I won’t be able to impact anyone else still on this earth, other than through the testimony I leave behind.  But my focus has to be on more than just what can I get done while I’m here, but continually allowing God to change me to be the person that I’ll be forever, even after “the end.”  I want to begin today, letting God have all of me, to change me to the person that praises Him everyday, all day in all that I do.  I want to live life as though it doesn’t end, and go ahead and get started living with the same focus as I’ll have in Heaven.  I know that I can’t have the mind or clarity that God will give us when He “connects all the dots” and we understand completely, but I can use all that He blesses me with in this life, no matter how hard the blessing is, to praise Him and bring Him glory.

Don’t short yourself while you are still on this earth.  The blessing in Heaven is going to be sweeter than anything we can imagine, but we can get started living for it today!

Lord, I thank you for an eternal perspective.  I wish I had submitted to it earlier in my life.  Praising you every day of my life brings no greater joy and peace.  I thank you that you have never left me and I thank you for the sweet fellowship you pour out on me.  I don’t deserve the love you show me, but I am thankful for it.  I pray today, that my life will be lived as though I am already there.  Help me to radiate the love you pour out to all those around me and help me be your hands and feet in this world.  I pray for your courage and humbleness as I seek ways to serve you and tell others about you.  In your name I pray – Amen.

Lay down my life – am I ready?

firefighterPray

I have read several posts from fellow firefighters over the last couple months about “laying down my life” and “being willing to give it all” for the sake of someone else.  This is a popular theme among first responders.  While it’s not in the fine print, it’s an underlying thought that we all know is there.  The more I read these memes and posts, the more God has laid a burden on my heart to share the truth that should be paramount in that decision to “lay it all down”.  Are we ready?  I’m not asking if we are ready to give our life as in, “will I consciously choose my brother, sister’s or patient’s well-being over mine?”  Honestly, no one knows that answer until it is asked of them.  But the question I am asking is – Are you ready for what happens after you make that choice?

There are no guarantees in life.  There is no way to know where we are on God’s timetable.  As an ordinary human being the Bible paints an urgent picture to be “right with God”.  To make a decision, while we still can, for Jesus Christ.  James 4:13-15 paints a solid picture about the brevity of life and the need to live on purpose.  Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say,”If it is the Lords’ will, we will live and do this or that.”  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.  We don’t know.  Life is short.  It really is.  While we can’t live just for today or tomorrow, we certainly can’t put off decisions and actions thinking there will be time later.

My post, today, is directed at those that I serve with in first responder world.  It’s open for anyone and everyone, but those men and women are on my heart today.  I challenge you this – are you ready for what happens after you so bravely lay down your life?  Have you made a decision to trust Jesus with your eternal life?  If you haven’t made the choice, or if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I challenge you today to read on.

We are not perfect.  God is.  We do not measure up to His standard – which is perfection.  We can’t be with Him because we are imperfect sinners.  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).  This is hard to digest, because we can’t imagine in our mind that laying down are life wouldn’t be enough.  Can’t we become righteous for paying the ultimate sacrifice?  According to God’s word, we can’t save enough people, we can’t give enough, we can’t do anything enough to become acceptable to God.

Where did sin come from?  Why was I born this way?  Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.  We are descendants of the first created being – Adam.  He sinned, and His perfection ended.  From that moment it was in his DNA and passed on to each generation.  The result of that sin is simple – death.  Adam and Eve were created to live forever, but God wants us to choose Him, so he gave them a choice.  Their choice had an outcome.  They chose to disobey God’s direction, and live for themselves, and their outcome was life that ultimately ends in death.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23).  Don’t miss the last part.  God didn’t create us to kill us.  He created us to be with Him.  That was the original design and it was perfect.  God doesn’t throw away His design, so He made a way.  That gift was His way that we can be together when our time here is up.

God shows us His never-ending mercy and love by giving the ultimate gift – Jesus Christ.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ came to this world for one purpose: to save us.  As a first responder, maybe you can relate in some way to that.  Maybe that is exactly why you chose to serve – to save.

God demonstrated his love by giving us Jesus who would live the life we couldn’t and die the death we deserved to satisfy the penalty that is rightly ours.  To show that his payment was sufficient, God raised Jesus up, giving him victory over death.  He put one requirement out there to get this free gift – believe.  That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)  God requires that we put our trust in what Christ did as the payment necessary for our sin.  In accepting that He is the payment, we also must believe that God accepted that payment on our behalf.

Worried about your past?  Don’t be. This gift has no prerequisites.  There is nothing we can do other than believe.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13).  It’s out there for everyone.  We just have to accept it.

Remember, we don’t know when God will call our name and our life will be over – here.  We, as first responders, have signed up to help others at all costs, even death.  While you may, so bravely, hold that commitment in your heart, I beg you to do it with the assurance that you have trusted Christ as your savior.

Stop Wandering, Turn North

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I am 100% male.  I know this, because of the obvious, but also because I despise asking for directions.  I am a careful planner, and do my very best to be sure I don’t have ask for directions, but ultimately end up making a wrong turn here or there, and then the real struggle begins.  I first try to problem solve. While driving 75 mph, arguing with the mapping app on my phone, I end up driving further in the wrong direction, and when it’s a family trip, end up in a disagreement with my wife that adds to the list of things to do: be humble, say you’re sorry, and thank her for still loving you.

Life can be like this too.  I was working on a half-time devotion for the upward basketball games this weekend and came across one that I really found intriguing and it is where I focused my time in God’s word this morning.  Deuteronomy 2:3 says “You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward.” (ESV).  A little context.  The Israelite’s had been wandering around the desert for 40 years (and my wife thinks that extra 5 miles we drove, while I tried to figure it out, was a waste).  Now, God was directing them on the path that would lead them to the promised land.  His simple instructions, quit wandering around, turn northward were epic.  Simple, deliberate and I can almost imagine with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.  Are you done now?  You tried it your way, didn’t work out, ready to listen?  How many of us are wandering around our own desert trying to find the right path, or direction that will take us to our “promised land”?  How often does our wandering cover the same paths, time and time again?

This scripture stuck out to the original author of the devotion and I have to say, I agree.  God specifically pointed them northward…because that was the way he wanted them to go.  Now, remember I have ADD, so I heard north and immediately thought of a map…and maybe a squirrel and a tree, and…

But the word north, brought a picture of a map to mind, and on the map, north is…up.  Where is God?  We are told to look up to the heavens, to lift our voice up to our heavenly father.  So in essence northward may have been the direction of travel, but it was also invoked my natural instinct to think of looking up to follow God.  God is still speaking this same truth to us today.  To anyone that will listen, to anyone that cries out, where should I turn?  God speaks, through His word, and says, enough is enough. I will show you the right path towards where you should be, to what I have for you, and that path is always toward Him.

Human beings (especially males) are independent creatures. We don’t like to think we need help or assistance with anything.  That is what we teach our young men from day 1, be independent.  The truth is, we need someone to give us direction.  We need someone to guide us.  When we turn toward God, we find that someone, or better yet, we find that only one that can lead us in the right direction.  Our sinfulness is what keeps us wandering our own desert, turning down the wrong paths, and following the wrong directions.  When we turn toward God, we find our focus and direction and most importantly a life free from the guilt and dependence of sin.  John 14:6 is an often quoted verse of scripture, but it is so plain and clear.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.” (NIV)

Jesus went to the cross to bear the punishments for my sin, and all the sin of humanity.  He did it without any expectation of compensation from me or anyone else.  It was a free gift to an undeserving world.  It is through that free gift of grace that we are able to live the life God intended for us.  To follow the right path, in the right direction.

Friend, are you wandering today?  Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over again, with no sense of direction or purpose?  Do you find yourself on worn-out paths that keep your circling the mountain?  Well ENOUGH is ENOUGH.  Turn to Jesus today and follow his direction.

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Father God, today I thank you for the gift of your word, and for the gift of salvation through your son Jesus Christ.  I thank you that I am 100% yours, and that nothing can ever change that.  I thank you for the Holy Spirit that guides me everyday.  I pray that someone may read this devotion today and see their need for you.  I pray that you will help me depend on your word and your direction to lead my family and raise my children to understand their need for you.  Help us all to submit to your direction and plan, and give you all the glory forever.  In your name I pray, Amen.