Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Fred Toke, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 14 April 2019.
Because He Lives
(Live Well Now – Leave Well Later)
The apostle Paul once said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Death is the number one common denominator for mankind, it is the greatest equalizer for everyone. The only thing that mankind cannot stop. The only control over our death is to be prepared for it. How we live today will determine where we are heading.
In the story of an unnamed rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus Luke 16:19-31 tells of the relationship during life and after death. There came a time when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, the rich man was in torment so he called to Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his family for he has 5 brothers. The rich man wanted Lazarus to warn his siblings so they would not come to the place of torment. Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets let them listen to them. If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Many times, we do not listen because we are stubborn, selective or self-centered. Jesus says the thief comes to steal, kill and to destroy but Jesus has come so that we might have life and life in abundance (John 10:10). God wants us to live well because He has done everything possible for us to have a fulfilling life. Jesus conquered death for us to leave with Him in eternity.
There are 3 ways how we should life our life:
1. Because Jesus lives, I can be Happy.
We all can be happy because Jesus lives. His resurrection ensures that our faith is not futile. Do not grieve for the joy of the LORD is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). We ought to be happy as Christians. Without the joy the LORD there is no strength. A happy heart is a good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). In the book of Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, he discovered that happiness fuels success, not the other way around.
According to Achor’s research 80% of us found happiness in the wrong places. Most people found happiness when they find more wealth, stuffs and more belongings. In fact, material wealth will not bring us true happiness. The right way to be happy is firs to be happy with ourselves. When we are happy with ourselves we will achieve more in our work and in our life to maximize our potential. How to be happy with our self? We need to accept who we are and what we have. We do not compare our life with others as each of us is unique. Don’t always look at the disadvantages but try to see the opportunities available for us. Happiness is who we are from inside out not outside in.
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20).
2. Because Jesus lives, I can be Healthy.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised and we held Him in low esteem (Isaiah 53:3).
Jesus already took up our pain and bore our suffering in order for us to be healed, we are entitled to have 4 areas of health: physical, mental, social and spiritual health. By Jesus’ stripes we are healed and are a miracle working God. There are people who commit suicide mentally, they stop thinking and shut his/her mind. We need to live healthy holistic you, in these 4 aspects. Suicide is not only physical but it can also be social suicide which personal isolation. We need friends and there will be times when we need the assistance of others.
The most dangerous suicide is a spiritual suicide where we cut off ourselves from God. We no longer read the Bible, no prayer, no praise and worshipping Jesus. The LORD Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities, therefore we need to be responsible with the life that God has given to us. We also need to be responsible to take care of our physical health as our body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
3. Because Jesus lives, I can be Holy.
Holiness is to please the LORD. Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that openly profess HIS name (Hebrews 13:15).
Holy Living is to trust Jesus completely and not to compromise with the values of the LORD. We owe our lives to God and the time will come when we will have to give accountability to our LORD and Savior.
Holiness is to care for the less fortunate the needy and the destitute. The bible reminds us in Hebrews 13:16, “Do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” God puts a high premium on our actions to impact the world. Give others a helping hand, be gracious and be thoughtful. Sharing is caring, be willing to be generous to serve others with God’s love.
How are we living our life today? In Matthew 25:40, Jesus gave us a hint on His criteria - whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters you did it for ME. Holy living is selflessness, looking out to help others. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Today, reorder our life and prioritize the values of eternal life. We owe it to God to live well now in this world to live is Christ and to die is gain. Don’t let Jesus die for a meaningless death, leave this world with no regrets. We owe it to God to be such people to please Him. Live well now so we can leave well later.