A life well lived!
Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world-like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Many years ago in a land far from my home there was a humble little girl born. God had a plan for her. As she grew she became closer to the Lord and realized her call, the burden in her heart for the poor and destitute of her world grew. She went to her religious leaders and they told her she could not do what she wanted. She could not become the light to those she was called to love. Praise the Lord she did not listen but she became the salt and the light of Jesus to them. She was not a famous star or great religious leader with some new "word" from God. In fact for most of her life she lived with one change of clothes and only the bare necessities of life. She worked in the trenches with the poor lepers of India. She did not take kindly to rewards or honors. She shot straight from the hip and told it like it was.
In February of 1994 this feeble old woman who had no external beauty made her way to the podium at the annual Presidential prayer breakfast. Because of her bent over stature she was barely visible. To her left was Vice President Al Gore and his wife and to her right was he President of the United States Bill Clinton and his wife. As I said she was not impress and her are her words. "I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself… By abortion the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."
After her speech the crowd rose to give her a standing ovation. But, both Gore and Clinton refused to stand and acknowledge her words. When Clinton rose to speak to the crowd he said "It's hard to argue with a life so well lived." Mother Teresa had the guts to stand up before one of the most powerful men in the world, two of the most powerful supporters of abortion in America and take a stand for Jesus. That day she was the salt and the light to those present. But, both Gore and Clinton refused to accept it. Yet, because Mother Teresa lived such a good life for Jesus they had nothing they could say. They could not argue her reasoning! They could not argue her words! Not because she was more educated than them. Not because she was richer or more powerful than them. But, because "It's hard to argue with a life so well lived." We can say what we want about Mother Teresa's religion but she was an individual who showed Christ to the World. Do you! Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) "You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. What would this world be like if every Christian that ever lived followed these words. If you were to be called home today what would be on your resume for God to read? A resume for God to read you ask? In simple terms yes! The Bible and Jesus was very clear that we will be judged by what we have done for the kingdom of Heaven on Earth. So when we all get to that day of Judgment we will get to review our fruits. Will Jesus say "It's hard to argue with a life so well lived." And embrace you or will you be reminded of His words on earth. Matthew 7:17-20 (NLT) 17A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced. Now be honest with yourself are you a light and salt to this earth? Even though we are told by doctors that salt is bad for us it has been used to make food taste better for centuries. Over the years salt has been one of the ways to keep meat from going bad. This was what Jesus was telling us that we could be to the world that salt that helps keep it from going rancid. Have you noticed how the world grows darker and darker each day. Well my friends that is because much of the salt has lost it flavor and is good for nothing. The majority of the church today is more concerned with "their best life now!" than how to make the world they live in a better place. They are more interested in what God can do for them than in what they can do for the Lord. It is very sad but even in the early church James the 1/2 brother of Jesus saw this problem James 2:14-17 (NLT) 14Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, 16and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well"-but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all-it is dead and useless.
Years ago a pastor said it best. "We are to be a movement not a monument!" Today we have the fundamental Evangelical movement. But, it is more of a political group than a movement to spread the gospel. President Bush was elected to two terms by this group of Christians. Not to spread the Gospel but in hope to have a power in the government to pass laws etc. favoring their causes. After his election to his second term President Bush politely told these well meaning Christians to take a flying leap because he was going to do what he wanted period. So, I ask you how many could have been reached for Jesus if all the time, effort, money and prayers had been directed to that goal, souls for the kingdom, instead of focusing on electing their choice. The Bible is plain and clear "pray for your leaders" not become a political force. How many homeless, orphans and widows could have been helped by the millions spent by just this one group to elect Bush?
My friends, how do you live your life? When that fatal day comes and you close your eyes on this earth and open them in eternity will you be remembered for the life you lived so well? Or will the world just go on and no one will notice because you never touched anyone? My lovely wife always reminds me that we must do it for eternity! In other words how will your actions today affect the eternal scheme of things? Or will your actions make no difference at all. Matthew 7:21 (NLT) 21"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. 22On judgment day many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' 23But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized. The Greek here for "unauthorized" means to do something illegal or of wickedness. This is why we must be so careful in our relationship with the Lord. Here Jesus is saying that many will "prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name." Only to find that they worshiped a false god. One of the true tests for this ministry and myself is what are the motives behind what we want to do. Do we want to do this or that because it will glorify us or Jesus? In fact if you are busy doing good behind the scenes and God sees but the world does not notice then you are sure you are in God's will. But, when it becomes all about "My best life now and what God has for me!" then you are in deep, deep trouble my friend.
One thing everyone even Gore and Clinton can say about Mother Teresa was she lived a humble life. James 4:6 (NLT) 6He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." 7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. 9Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. Again I ask where do you stand? What will be the comments concerning you when you close your eyes permanently? Is the work you do for the good of you or the good of mankind and the kingdom of heaven?
I can be totally honest when I was a young Christian working in the Church, even though I would say it was all about the Lord deep down inside I knew it was all about me. It was about that feeling I got being a "good person" working for the Lord. I was not concerned about that soul I passed. I was not thinking on the heavenly plane of more souls for the kingdom. But, I praise the Lord He got hold of me and showed me that there is so much more to our lives as Christians than we can ever know. Each and every move affects someone or something in this world. We never know if that orphan we help in Africa will become the next great evangelist if the Lord tarries. The saddest piece of Christian propaganda the church ever sent forth was that we are all only one link in a great chain to do God's work. Sadly, at one time before I found the Biblical truth I believed that garbage. Show me in the Bible where God had to use a chain of people to save someone. On the day of Pentecost we do not see the apostles tag team preaching. We do not see all eleven preaching and then finally days or months later we saw the 3000 be saved. Nope Peter got up and told it like it was and the Holy Spirit convicted them and 3000 were saved that day. You see when we believe the garbage that we are only one link in a long chain we do two things. First we remove any responsibility of the individual Christian to make a difference. They always feel that there will be someone along that chain that will pick up their slack and do what they should. This garbage is one old slue foots lies to give weak/lukewarm Christians an excuse to sit in their pew and do nothing. The second thing it does has far graver consequences. It removes the power of the Holy Spirit to do what he is supposed to do. John 15:26 (ASV) 26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: I ask how can the Holy Spirit of truth bear witness of Jesus if you are some link in a chain that defers your responsibility to the next link. We must get back to the pure and true Word of God and get out there and make our world a better place. The majority of the world looks upon Christians as a bad word and as a group of bigots' and hate mongers. Why, because we are not being the salt of the world. What they see are the whacked out groups that picket soldiers funerals with hatred. The worldly agendas have done a great job of convincing the world that Christians are a group or intolerant hateful bigots, who will condemn you if you do not follow their ways. We have let this happen because Christians have followed all the false doctrines that focus us on ourselves. Whether it is "your best life now", " sow your seed to meet your need." "God has your miracle waiting for you. You just need to activate it." You will inherit the riches of the wicked if you give to this ministry." God has treasures stored in heaven for you my friend and he has told me that he will release them to you if you give to our ministry." Etc. They all focus us on ourselves. They are all about me. Be honest when you last sowed a seed, I know you have, Why did you? Only you and the Lord know the reasons.
Do you see what I mean about a life well lived? It is your choice my friends but the word of God is very clear on this point. The motives behind the motion matter. Take a real good look at your life to this point, then put yourself in Jesus' shoes. How will your life stack up. Just to truly find out where you stand this week take a piece of paper and make two columns on it. Label them "FOR ME" and "FOR THE KINGDOM" then write down all you do each day. For this to help, you must be totally honest. No one will see this but you, the Lord already knows the deepest parts of your heart. I am willing to venture that if you are the average Christian the "for me" column will far out weigh the "for the kingdom column". Now if you want to make sure that someday the Lord will say to you that you had a "life well lived" start moving those "for me" to the "for the kingdom" column and then watch the blessing flow from heaven to you. Remember, we are told we cannot out give the Lord. Those that have little and use it for the kingdom will be given more and those who have little and use it for themselves will have it taken away.
"It's hard to argue with a life so well lived." Is that where you want to be? Mary and I live extremely blessed life's. In that last 10 years we have probably earned more at our secular jobs than the average person will in their lifetime. Yet, in worldly possessions we have very little to show for it. But, my friends we have treasures stored in heaven beyond our fondest dreams. It has nothing to do with Mary and I, except we are willing vessels, willing to give it all for the cause of Jesus. How about you? This life is but a blink in the grand scheme of eternity. Make your life lived for eternity and you will not regret it. As always the choice is yours. Your best life now or in eternity. You chose!