Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Talking Dead

Two things in life are undisputed certainties:
  • Everyone dies
  • Death is forever

Everyone dies, and death is forever.  How shall we then live?

If there is no God, then one can choose to either live for himself (carpe diem; eat, drink and be merry), or he can choose to live so that the world is a better place, or live to be remembered, etc. 

But if there is a God and He is going to put us someplace forever or raise us again … we should live for Him, according to His word. 

Wouldn't it be nice if we could speak to someone who is already dead?  If we knew for sure, we could live accordingly.  But God wants us to live by faith, not by sight. 

It seems like if we could be like Scrooge and hear from an old friend now dead, the warning or encouragement would be really great.  As it turns out, we sort of have that in the bible.

Jesus told us a story that gives us some great clues, and he gave us some insight into what someone might want to tell us from beyond the grave. 

I have paraphrased this story and put it below, for your consideration.  I expect to write more about this in weeks to come, so I hope you’ll read this story now – and read it daily for the next week or two.  Pray on it, and ask God to reveal truth to you.  He will, if you seek it/Him, but you gotta be persistent.  

This week I’d like you to consider the rich man’s warning from the grave.  See that he wasn't a generous person in life, and see what becomes of him and what he aches to say to his family, but it’s too late. 

I suppose we all know someone who died.  If Jesus’ story tells us the truth about the afterlife, then those who have died are either in paradise or torment right now.  And no matter where they are, if they could come speak to you, what would they say? 

  • Would the dead tell you to spend lots of time enjoying silly things? 
  • Would they encourage you to be more shallow, more concerned about your appearance, seeing the latest movies, the latest posts on social media? 
  • Would they say you should make a real effort to be more generous, more forgiving, more loving? 
  • Should you actually work to be stronger, resist temptation and devote your life to God, or should you spend your time begging forgiveness while barely putting forth any effort to make God smile? 
  • Should you live according to the rules of a religion or church, or should you live according to what you think is right, or should you live according to the bible?

It matters how you live the rest of your life.  Let Jesus’ story below encourage you to hear the voice of the talking dead.  What would they be telling you about the kind of life you should be living? 

Now consider this story, and keep in mind the things that matter and the things that don’t, and challenge yourself.  Did their family life matter?  Relationships with others?  Church attendance?  What really made the difference, and what message would each speak from the grave … to YOU?

While you remember that everyone dies, and death is forever, and learn the wisdom of this story, and apply it to your daily life:

There was a well-dressed, stylish rich guy who was happy, and lived the good life. 

Also there was a guy named Lazarus who was poor, sick and starving to death; he was so poor and sick he had disgusting skin sores that dogs would lick.  Since he couldn’t move himself, others would lay him near the rich guy’s house to beg for scraps.  But poor Lazarus was so gross he was hard to even look at, much less help.

Eventually they both died.  Angels carried Lazarus’ soul to Paradise, but the rich man went to torment.  When the rich guy looked up he saw God - far away - and Lazarus was with Him in Paradise. 

The rich guy cried out,
‘God, have mercy!  Please send Lazarus to bring me a drop of water just to cool my tongue, ‘cause I’m in agony in this flaming fire!’
God replied,
‘Son, remember that during your life you had it good, and Lazarus was miserable.  But now he’s being comforted here, and you’re in agonizing pain. And besides – you can see there’s a huge, bottomless canyon between us and you – impossible to cross.’
Next he pleaded,  
‘Then I beg You, Father: send him to my family to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’
God said,
‘They have bibles, let them study them.’
Then he argued,
‘No, God - if someone goes to them from the dead, they’ll change their ways!’
God concluded by saying,
‘If they won’t listen to Me through My word, then a ghost won’t convince them.’”

Luke 16:19-31 (KPV)

Will you listen to the voice of the talking dead? 
Will you take steps to improve?  If so, what will you actually do?

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