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Are You Prepared for Eternity?

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Are you prepared for Eternity?

That was the question posed to me for this post. Before answering it in a blog post, I had to answer it personally. In doing that, I want to rephrase the question in two parts, which I will then address individually:

  1. Are you prepared for eternity?
  2. Are you preparing for eternity?

Are you prepared for eternity?

The first question, "Are you prepared for eternity," is to ask, "Do you know where your soul will go when you die?"

Are you going to spend eternity separated from God because you never took the steps required to restore that relationship? Those who have not taken those steps have a severed relationship with God and unless that is fixed in this life, that relationship will remain severed for all eternity. 

How do you restore that relationship in this life? How do you prepare to spend your eternity with God in heaven instead of separated from Him? You can do so by following obediently in the steps detailed for us in the Bible, God's Holy Word.

  1. Believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
    Jesus said, in John 8:24, "unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins."
  2. Confess that belief. In Matthew 10:32, Jesus assures us, "Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." Essentially, Jesus Christ will be our advocate after we die -- He will tell God the Father, "Yes, this soul restored the relationship."
  3. Repent.
    In 2 Peter 3:9, we read, "He (the LORD) does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent."
  4. Be baptized. 
    If it weren't enough that Jesus did it (so it's good enough for me), we are also commanded to be baptized. In Acts 2:38, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The relationship with God is restored by grace -- nothing more. These are the steps we are instructed to take in order to receive that gift. It is not forced upon us so we must demonstrate our acceptance. 

I have received God's free gift of grace. I have confessed my sin, professed my belief in God and His Son, repented for my sin, and I was baptized on April 16, 1989. I can answer the first question with, "Yes. I am prepared for eternity. I am confident that my soul will live forever with my God in heaven."

What a blessed assurance. If you aren't sure of your answer to that question, please do not wait! Consider God's gift of grace and don't delay. This weekend, WRCC is having a baptism celebration -- why not follow Christ's example and be sure of your answer as well?

Are you preparing for eternity? 

The second question, as I would like to address it, refers more to how I live my life since having accepted the gift of grace. It saved me, but did it change me

If it changed me, then it should show in how I live my life. The book of James expands on how, once we have Christ in our life, it affects not only our eternity, but these aspects of our life on earth:

  • how we handle our challenges and pain (James 1:2-12)
  • how we respond to temptation (James 1:13-18; 4;7-8)
  • how we respond to social injustices and need -- by putting our faith into action. (James 2:1-9; 5:1-6)
  • how we speak. (James 1:19-20; 26; 3:2-12)
  • how we pray. (James 4:2; 5:13-17)

It is in living out our faith as prescribed above that  we also, as instructed in Matthew 6:19-21, "lay up treasures in heaven."

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 

If we place value on the things of God and His eternal kingdom instead of on the temporary things of this world, we will have those treasures forever. We work hard in this world to provide a home for our family, clothes, food, etc, and there is nothing wrong with that. But when you look at this lifetime relative to eternity, we are faced with how unimportant those things become. 

Imagine you are on an extended vacation and you arrive at your hotel before they have prepared your room for check-in. They take you to a temporary lounge to wait for your room. While there, you unpack, redecorate, and make yourself at home. In no time, they come to take you to your permanent room. Why did you waste so much energy on something so fleeting?

This world is a temporary. When we use our time, talents, and treasures to accumulate earthly treasures, those are temporary as well. But when we give our resources for Christ's sake, we demonstrate that we value Christ and that we consider other people worth more than our own comfort and preservation.

Another example that somewhat illustrates the concept of laying up treasure in heaven is compound interest. I started contributing to a 401k retirement account when I was only 19 years old and have rolled it from account to account ever since. Choosing to set aside a portion of my income for the future rather than spending it on something I wanted in the moment will pay off. 

Say, for example, I saved, or set aside, a mere $300 from a month's pay when I was 20 years old. At that time, it as worth only $300. (Actually less, after taxes.) I might have been able to buy a VCR  since I was 20 in 1995. Google it, kids.

But by investing it instead, even at a conservative interest rate of 5% , when I am 70 years old, that $300 would be worth $9,127.93, having been multiplied by compound interest over time. The VCR I could have bought in 1995 would be worthless by comparison. 

I see the work and sacrifices we make for Christ and to serve other people instead of accumulating things for our own creature comforts are compounded over time and when we get to heaven, we will find their value is immeasurable. 

Do you want to waste your effort sprucing up a temporary lounge or do you want to live in a mansion in heaven for all eternity? Do you want a VCR today or unfathomable treasures in glory?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

So, are you prepared for eternity? If not, you can fix that immediately. Confess, repent, and be baptized.

And are you preparing for eternity? If yes, keep it up! Could you do even more?

If you are not yet laying up treasures in heaven, what are you waiting for? Get connected and find a place to help and people to serve. Start investing in your eternity today. 

Do You "Re-Gift?"

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After I married my best friend, David, in July of 1996, we celebrated our nuptials by riding some roller coasters, then settled into our first apartment. We eagerly tore into the mountain of wedding gifts we had received from our friends and family. We recognized several things from our Target registry and were surprised by a lot of other items.

As we opened a set of beautiful, silver candlesticks, a card fell out of the box.  I mean, another card fell out of the box in addition to that which had been attached to the giftwrap. At first I was confused, but as we looked at the second card, we chucked as we realized that this item had been re-gifted to us. The couple had likely received it their own very recent wedding and paid it forward to us. Maybe it's just the kind of people we are or the fact that they really are a beautiful set (which I still use), but we thought it kinda funny and in no way diminished our appreciation.  And of course, we never confronted our friends with the evidence. 

Most of us have done it and I would venture that most of us have also received a re-gifted item, whether or not we knew it at the time. I mean, how many bottles of Bath and Body Works lotion does one elementary school teacher possibly need, right? Maybe you have received something you already have or something you just don't need. Maybe you're just trying to save some money. Or maybe it's just the perfect item for someone on your list. 

I would like to encourage another kind of "re-gifting." I'm referring to the commission on our lives to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. We have received a priceless gift that is beyond compare -- a gift that is two-fold (at least). Acts 2:38-39 assures us that once we repent from our sinful nature and follow Christ's example to be baptized, we receive forgiveness of our sins. We are no longer condemned to an eternity separated from God. As if that weren't enough, we also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. What do we do with that gift?

We are saved by grace, not works. We are saved by what Christ did for us, not by anything we do. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our eternity has been redeemed and we no longer have reason to fear death. (Romans 6:22)

But what about our life? How does this gift affect the way we live until that time that we enter eternal glory?

When we accept God's amazing gift, we die to our old nature and simultaneously receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit -- God's presence in us. Romans 6 explains how this in-dwelling should affect our lives. 

"Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Instead, give yourselves completely to God.... So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." (Romans 6:1-4, 12-13)

Re-Gifting Encouraged

The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul. (Charles Spurgeon)

If you recognize the value of the gift you have been given, it should change the way you live your life. If you have given yourself completely to God as instructed, you should be moved to introduce that grace to others. You see, this is a gift that you can keep for yourself and re-gift to others!

We can re-gift the good news -- that Christ died to save us from eternal death. We have knowledge of the cure for a fatal epidemic. Moved by compassion for others, we should share it every chance we get! (Matthew 28:16-20)

We can re-gift our gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has many purposes in our life and if we allow him to do his work in us, we become world changers. 

As the Holy Spirit helps us look more and more like Jesus, we become a force for good in this world. We become people who care for the hurting, tend to the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and give hope to the lost.

As the Holy Spirit reminds us that there is no condemnation for us because we are sons and daughters of God, we live a life of bold love. With no fear of death, we can live lives of service and sacrifice to reach others.

As the Holy Spirit unites believers (Ephesians 4:3), the church becomes the hands and feet of Jesus. United by the Holy Spirit, we have a heart for the hurting and can affect real change in our communities and this world -- and ultimately, for eternity.

As the Holy Spirit protects us with the armor of God, we live lives no longer controlled by sin, but we live as instruments to do what brings glory to God. We behave ethically in our professions. We are loving to our neighbors. We are faithful to our spouses. We are not perfect, but we are working to live righteous lives of obedience. 

And as the Holy Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts, we are empowered to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that everyone who receives Christ also receives the Holy Spirit and at least one spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit decides what gift(s) each should have and distributes them accordingly for the purpose of serving in God's Kingdom. 

For example, I have the spiritual gift of discernment, an ability to distinguish truth from lies. That gift has helped me to serve effectively in the jail ministry to which God called me. He has also gifted me with mercy, which breaks my heart for people who have made mistakes. Mercy also helps me use discernment sensitively. 

Do you know your spiritual gifts? You can find them with THIS ASSESSMENT

And once you have determined your gifts, use them! That is what they are for. We re-gift by using our spiritual gifts to help others and to win the lost for Christ. 

The greatest gift ever given was God's only Son, sacrificed to pay the wages of our sin. And it is God's desire that no one should be lost, so we need to share this gift with the world.

To whom will you re-gift this season?