So much of my eternal life is dependent on how I live my current life. That’s what I am thinking about today.
Let’s think about it. We make decisions every day. Which do you prefer to drink, coffee or tea? For most people, the decision about whether they drink coffee or tea has little impact on their lives. For others, it is a decision that is more significant than that. And still, others, the decision about coffee or tea is more about whether or not they consume caffeine. For most of us, caffeine is no big deal, but with others, consuming caffeine poses real health challenges. And, there are those who find the decision of whether or not to consume coffee to be an honest-to-goodness religious decision.
Let me digress for a moment to share a little story about a lady I knew many years ago and about her relationship with caffeine and religion. I was starting a friendship with this lady and invited her to come over to my house for breakfast after dropping the kids off to school. She arrived and we chatted as I placed the meal on the table. I asked if she wanted coffee or tea and she said her religion does not allow her to drink anything with caffeine. No problem. I had other beverages for her to drink. But then I started thinking about 1 Corinthians 8:13, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fail.” I wondered, since she said it was a religious thing, whether or not I should forgo my morning cup of coffee so as not to cause her to be desirous of a cup of coffee and (for my insensitivity) cause her to fail. I wondered what I would do if she asked for a cup of coffee. Would I remind her of her religious beliefs or would I just pour a cup of coffee and move on? Friends, these are the kinds of things I deal with in my head. In my head, I am all gnarled up and on the outside I am cool, calm, and collected. I hope I am not the only one like this.
Oh, by the way, I poured myself a cup of orange juice. It seemed like a respectful decision.
Most of my daily decisions are not complex; although I do admit sometimes I take far too much time making up my mind about the littlest things. Like… one time I could not make up my mind about what color to paint my nails. I asked a friend and the friend said something along the lines of, “Whatever color makes you happy.” Ugh! That answer did not help. I was vacillating between two colors as I traveled to the nail salon. Finally, sitting in the manicurist’s chair I picked a color. The manicurist began coloring my pinky finger and suddenly, I asked if I could change my mind before she continued. She was polite and accommodating. She wiped off the color I initially selected and finished with the color I ultimately ended up with. This decision was not life-altering, so I did feel comfortable changing my mind, knowing everything would be fine.
But, all decisions are not like that, are they?
Sometimes we make decisions that completely change the course of our life, if not for a short duration, but forever. As far as forever, I am talking about eternal life decisions. I assume everyone knows we are not going to live, as we are, on this earth forever. What I am thinking about out loud is whether or not I will live my ultimate life in heaven. I don’t know why I am thinking about this subject right now, but I am. And, really it is not an end-of-life subject; it is a beginning-of-life subject.
When I was a teenager, a youth counselor once said to me, “Live like you want to get into heaven.” That statement stuck with me ever since I heard it. He said I should take a look at what I’m doing and analyze it. He said, if I think I’ll be doing THAT (the thing I’m doing) in heaven, then it is likely I’m doing alright. He also pointed to the bible and said, “Read it!” He said that is where all the answers are. He said the bible will teach me everything I need to know about how to get into heaven.
But, let me add this to the lesson. If you are a person who claims to be a Christ follower, then the bible is your resource. If you do not claim to be a Christ follower, then you can make up your own rules and live like you want and people like me who are Christ followers should not force you to live like us. Sure, the commission of all Christians is to share with you, with hope in our heart, that you would see what we see and come to the knowledge of the saving grace of God, but you are you and I am me and just as I would not want you to force your beliefs on me, I will not force my beliefs on you. Share, yes. Force, no.
Now, let me say this, although written by human beings, I believe everything written in the bible is the word of God. I believe the Holy Spirit was in the heart and mind of each individual who wrote for the bible and the Holy Spirit directed them as to what to write. You might believe differently, but this is what I believe.
I also believe that I do not have a right to twist the words all around to fit what I want to say or do in life. Remember, I am trying to get into heaven. When the trumpet sounds, and friends it WILL sound, you want to be standing on the right side of heaven. Let’s open the bible to read. 1 Corinthians 15:52:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
I want to be a candidate who is allowed into the gates of heaven as is promised to those who deserve. Read 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
And so I want to live the way God wants me to live. I am not going to twist His words and I am not going to pick and choose which words I will live by and leave the rest of them read but undone. The bible is my instruction manual and I am going to do my best to live by God’s words.
I am human and because of that, I am not perfect. I am going to mess up… a lot. But, thank goodness, I live for a forgiving God and whenever I fall short of His expectations, I need only to repent and ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall, when I ask, I will be forgiven and refreshed each time.
Forgiveness is something we can all look forward to. Why? Because God could not look upon sin, but He loved us so much that He gave us His Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to stand in our place, to bear the burden of our sins (past, present, and future sins).
So, I say try to live like you want to get into heaven and on those days when you don’t do everything quite right, take a moment to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Then know that you will be brought back to new and acceptance every time you ask. There is no limit to God’s love. It is everlasting.
Heaven awaits us all. Let’s live like we want to get in.
Walls (Live) Fellowship Creative
This is a beautiful worship song. Each time I hear it I am amplified and filled with the goodness of love. Please take a listen and see what I mean.
I am generally a quiet person, but at times, my thoughts run deep and wild. Most of the time, I keep my thoughts to myself, but sometimes, I feel the need to shout it out! These are just my thoughts and opinions, which may or may not be the same as yours.
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