CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING – CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO CHURCH – WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE CHURCH
2020 VISION – WE NEED TO SEE THINGS CLEARLY – FROM GOD’S POINT OF VIEW
HOW AM I GOING TO BE DIFFERENT?
“I WISH WE’D ALL BEEN READY” (LARRY NORMAN)
PART 1: RIGHT NOW
- HAVING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE
What has this current Coronavirus Crisis taught us if not that no-one knows the length of their days. Our life hangs by a thread and no-one knows the day of their death.
What has this current “Coronavirus Crisis” taught us if not that so many of the things of the here-and-now that seemed so important to us just a month or so ago are now seen to be so unimportant in the grand scheme of eternity.
What has this current “Coronavirus Crisis” taught us if not that we have to have a different perspective on life – that we need to focus on our eternal destiny and life rather than our temporal life.
So, what I truly hope is that when we all – for we shall all – stand before God in Heaven that none of us cry out “I wish I’d been ready!”
Rather, let us have an eternal perspective from this moment on. As Paul put it so well in Romans 8:18 –
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”
HOW JESUS PUT IT
In Luke 12 Jesus warns His disciples to not worry about people on earth who can kill you, but to focus on the One who can give life eternal or eternal punishment. And then He goes on to tell the people to stop focusing on the desire for wealth and comfort in the here-and-now because eternal preparation is far more important. He goes on to tell this parable in verses 16-21 –
16 And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”
18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’
This is SO simple! The man in the parable was a fool because his focus was on prosperity NOW and comfort NOW and pleasure NOW and peace NOW…and he lost it all – because he was fated to die that very night and all he had laid up for a life of ease and luxury now was a total waste. He had failed to prepare for his eternal life. And if we were to play-on this parable we can imagine seeing him standing before the Judgement seat of God and crying out “I wish I’d been ready!”
He was called by God “you fool!” What about you? Don’t be a fool. Be ready for eternity.
But, of course, the “$64000 question” is HOW do I prepare for eternity? And Jesus carries on to give the answer. In verses 22-23 He declares:
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.’
This, of course, is the “what not to focus on” bit. In verse 31 He tells us the “what to focus on” bit:
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
And here we have it! It’s a “win-win” situation. Focus on His Kingdom – focus on eternal things, focus on life forevermore, focus on living for God now and forever, and you get joy and peace now as well!
BEING READY FOR DEATH AS THE TRANSITION TO REAL LIFE
What has this current “Coronavirus Crisis” taught us if not that our life hangs by a thread, that no-one knows the day of their death and that we need to prepare for it.
This week I have been shocked by the news of the death due to Coronavirus of two of those who formed such a part of my youth. The first was the death of Tim Brook-Taylor (best known from “The Goodies”) and the second of Dave Greenfield (aged 71 – the inspirational keyboard player and song writer of the punk-rock band “The Stranglers”).
How can they be “gone”? It was only yesterday (wasn’t it?) that they were just young men in the prime of their life. Life is so short. Our “four score years and ten” (if we get that far) pass so quickly and then it is all over.
In the current Crisis we are now over the 30000 dead mark due to COVID-19 and the UK has now the highest number of deaths in Europe and is second only to the USA in the number of those who have died.
It has been rightly said that “the only thing that is certain for a person when they are born is that they are going to die”
We have sought to “sanitise death” over the last century. Scientific discoveries, medical advances, hospitals and intensive care units, all has somehow deceived us that death is something that can be avoided. The devil has lied to us and told us not to think about it and somehow it will just “go away”. Long gone are the days where the mortality rate for children below the age of 5 50% and when famine, war and pestilence were accepted norms of carrying away large swathes of the population.
We have been deceived by the father of lies, our enemy, the devil. He does not want us to think on the day of our death. He wants us to forget about it and concentrate on living a full and satisfying life now.
We have been deceived. Death is the constant reality for all of us. It is not the end – the father of lies wants you to believe this though. Death is the transition from the short, mortal, life to the everlasting, eternal, life.
This life is just a shadow of things to come. This life is nothing compared with the promised joys of eternity for those who “seek His Kingdom” and follow Jesus.
Are you ready? Are you ready and prepared for the end of this brief life and the beginning of our forever life?
As has been said before: no-one has ever said on their deathbed: “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”! No! What so many people are going to cry out is: “I wish I’d been ready!”
Are you ready?
Death is not the end. Death is just the beginning. Death is the door that moves us from this short mortal life to a never-ending eternal life.
Fail to prepare for it and death will be the door to eternal separation from God and the punishment that this shall be in Hell.
Prepare for it and death shall be the door to eternal fellowship with God and the paradise that this shall be in Heaven.
Are YOU ready?
CHALLENGE – THE “WHAT TO DO” BIT…
So…how AM I going to be different once the “Coronavirus Crisis” is over and once “Lockdown” is lifted?
- Remember your mortality and focus on your immortality
- Judge all that you do now as to whether it has eternal benefits rather than providing you with purely temporal short-term pleasures. Which means you need to do what Jesus says and…
- Seek His Kingdom:
What does it mean to “seek His Kingdom”? Well to paraphrase Paul it means to long deeply for it all the time. For he says “I’d so much rather be in Heaven than here, but for your sake I am willing to stay on earth a while longer”
- He is the King and his “domain” begins right now and lasts for the rest of eternity. If He is your King, then this means living for Him (and only Him – not yourself) from this time forward and for all eternity
- Get to know Him better right now: spend more time in prayer and less time “doing stuff”; spend more time in His Word and less time “doing stuff”; spend more time in worship and less time “doing stuff”; spend more time with the Spirit and less time “doing stuff”
- Do more for Him NOW. You see, seeking His Kingdom does not mean locking yourself away in a monastery or convent. Seeking His Kingdom means serving Him right now – spending time with the sick and the lonely and those imprisoned in their addictions; feeding the hungry and clothing the naked
- So, our Spiritual service means more time with Him and more time doing “good deeds”
How am I going to be different when all this is over? The choice is yours…you can quickly slip back into your old norm – or you can choose to be ready – ready now to serve and ready to “meet your maker” in eternity.
Are you ready?
[and so to our next session…”OK, I am ready for life after death…but NOW??? I’m not sure that I am really able to make much of a difference now…I mean, what have I got to offer???” Part 2 of “I wish we’d all been ready” is going to be looking at being ready to offer whatever we have right now to the King of the Kingdom]
APPENDIX: HEAVEN AND HELL CONTRASTED
The choice is yours: our focus should be on eternal things. Our focus must be on making sure that we are all ready. if you do NOT prepare for eternity with God then you will find yourself in the eternal punishment of hell. If you do prepare for eternity with God, then you will find yourself in eternal paradise of Heaven. The choice is yours – let us see some of the contrasts between Heaven and Hell…
|For the saved||For the unsaved|
|Place of eternal joy||Place of eternal suffering|
|No more pain||Eternal pain – physical and spiritual|
|No more crying||A place of tears|
|Eternal life (Rev 22: 3-5)||Eternal death (Rev 20: 14-15)|
|Beautiful (New Jerusalem)||Awful (lake of fire)|
|Place of peace||Place of torment and chaos|
|Place of light (Is 60: 19; Rev 21: 23-25)||Place of darkness (Matt 25: 30; Jude 1: 13)|
|Populated by the righteous (2 Pet 3: 13-14)||Populated by sinners (Rev 21: 8; 1 Cor 6: 9)|
|Past sins forgotten (Is 65: 17; Rev 21: 4)||Sins forever remembered (Mark 9: 44)|
|No more tears (Rev 21: 4)||Wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13: 42)|
|Drink from River of Life (Rev 22: 11)||Unquenchable thirst (Luke 16: 24)|
|God and angels there (Rev 5: 11, 21: 3)||Devil and demons there (Matt 25: 41; Jude 1: 6)|
|Our eternal home (John 14: 1-3)||No home|