One Month to Live – Living the Dash

  • One Month to Live – Living the Dash
  • John 10:10
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • May 21, 2017
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5-21-17 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Look at almost any tombstone in any cemetery and you’ll find the following items – name, date of birth and date of death. Life gets summed up by a small dash between the dates.

When you think about it, we don’t have control over many things in life. We didn’t get to decide where we were born, who our parents are. We don’t get to decide the dates on our gravestone. We don’t know when our time on this earth will be up. Only God knows.

But there is one thing we have control over. We get to decide how we’re going to use our dash – the time between the two dates of our earthly existence.

What are you spending yours on? Are you living the dash, knowing fully who you are and why you’re here? Or chasing things that really don’t matter to you?

As a pastor I have had the privilege to minister to many people in the last days of their lives. I’ve noticed some common characteristics in each experience. When they know they only have a short time to live they have amazing clarity about how they want to live. They focus on their relationships, saying the things they had always wanted to say. They forgive and ask for forgiveness. They don’t waste time.

I want to challenge you to do something and I promise that I’m not trying to be morbid – live the next thirty days as if they were your last – not because you’re going to die in a month, Lord willing you are going to live many, many more months and years.

Think about it. Jesus knew when he had thirty days until the cross. So what did He do? 1. He lived passionately, 2. He loved completely, 3. He learned humbly and 4. He left boldly.  That’s why He came. Look at what He said in John 10:10. “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (Msg.)

With the remainder of our time this morning I want us to unpack these four principles and challenge us lean into them with how we live our lives.

Principle 1: Jesus lived passionately.

God wants you to live a life where you are fully who He made you to be.

 

1 John 5:11-12 tells us how to live fully, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

John was sort of like Howie Mandell in Deal or No Deal. He says the choice is yours and it’s clear cut. Life or Death — Deal or No Deal. He says you can live your life the way you were made to live. You can really live and not just exist. But to live passionately, you must have the Son of God! Deal or No Deal.

Satan acts as the banker of the game show of life. He calls in, but he doesn’t say, “That’s a bad deal God offers you. Don’t take that. Take my offer.” That would be an easy choice for us to make.

He says, “You know, God’s offer is really pretty good. He does offer you a better life and you really ought to take it, just not today. Do that someday.”

Maybe you are thinking about becoming a believer, committing your life to Christ and you think, “Yeah, that’s what I need to do.” Think about committing your life to Christ and Satan whispers in your ear, “What’s the hurry. Not today, someday. It’s not a good day for you.”

Or maybe you are a believer and you’re thinking about really living all out for Him, getting really involved in the church, devoting yourself to the work of God.  You think, “I really need to do that,” and Satan says, “Interesting idea, but not today. The timing isn’t right. Maybe someday when things settle down.”

God’s favorite word is today. Satan’s favorite word is some day.

We get stuck in what I call the “Someday Syndrome.”

  • Someday, when things settle down I’ll really live for God.
  • Someday, when work is not so busy I’ll spend more time with the kids.
  • Someday, when I get that promotion and I’m making more money, then we’ll really enjoy life.

Folks, when are we going to wake up and realize this is life? It’s beautiful and wonderful, painful and frightening, exhilarating and awe-inspiring all at the same time. Now is life, but we are constantly waiting to live.

Have you seen the commercial where the dad is pushing his boy on the swing? He pushes him out and then when he comes back he’s transformed into a 180-pound teenager that just clobbers his dad and knocks him to the ground.

Then it says “Life comes at you fast.” I can relate. It seems just the other day I was the father of preschoolers and had hair, as of May 6 I have a college graduate and on May 28 I’ll have high school graduate. I’ll assume my lack of hair speaks for itself. There is no doubt that life comes at your fast.

In Luke 7:31 Jesus talks about His generation. He says, “To what can I compare the people of this generation? How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t weep.’” (NLT)

Jesus is saying, “We played the music of life, but you didn’t dance. You didn’t enjoy life. You were always waiting to live. You had ‘someday syndrome.’ Then, when the pain and the problems came your way you didn’t cry, you didn’t experience life; you tried to avoid all risk at all costs. You didn’t live. I put you on this earth and gave you the most sacred gift of all, the gift of life and you didn’t use it. You didn’t live. You were always waiting to live.”

We vastly overestimate the power of tomorrow and we get stuck in the ‘someday syndrome.’ We vastly overestimate the power of yesterday and we get stuck in our guilt and our past regrets. Live passionately today.

Principle 2: Jesus loved completely.

Look at what Jesus did when He knew He had only a short time. John 13:1 (NIV) “Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.”

If you knew you only had one month to live you most likely would want to do the same thing. You would want to love completely. You would say the things you’ve always wanted to say and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. You would focus on relationships and express your love to those closest to you.

Jesus summed up the entire Bible in a couple of verses in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

At the end of life it won’t matter how much money is in the bank, or how many awards you’ve won, or how many goals you’ve achieved. All that will matter is did you love? Did you love people? Did you love God with all your heart?

1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us, “Love never fails ….” If you love completely, you will not fail. If you want to succeed in your business let love be your primary aim. You want to succeed in life? Let love by your primary motivation because love never fails. You want to succeed in your family? Let love and loving your family be your primary goal. Love never fails.

By the way, love is not a syrupy feeling. Love is an action. Love is a choice. So, let me ask you, who do you need to tell today that you love them? Do it now.

All the flowers at their funeral won’t mean a thing. Who do you need to show that you love them today? Love is an action. Who do you need to show love to? Who do you need to give love away to today so it can become real?

God placed you on this earth to love and you’ll never live until you love. Jesus showed His disciples the full extent of His love by doing something simple, He washed their feet. He loved completely.

Principle 3: Jesus learned humbly.

Even though Jesus was God, He taught us by His own example how to learn humbly. In Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) the Bible says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

What an example of humility! This verse challenges us to be the same as Christ. It is all about building our character. The only thing you can take with you to Heaven is your character. You can’t take anything else with you, but you take your character into Heaven.

This earth is a preparation ground where God is building our character to make us more like Himself, to get us ready for eternity. There are only two things that build your character.

One is God’s Word. It builds your character. I think it’s so important for us to find a Bible reading plan and dig into it.  Put God’s Word into your life.

The second thing that builds my character is problems. I like God’s Word a whole lot better than problems. But, the truth is, that some of the greatest blessings in our lives are disguised as problems. Some of you are going through the most difficult problems you’ve ever gone through.

I find that life moves on two tracks. There are great things happening in my life and then there are tough things happening in my life all at the same time. Every one of us have problems. If you have a pulse, you have problems. Every one of us have painful things going on in our lives right now. But here’s the good news, those problems can’t stop God’s plan for us.

God will not allow our problems to be wasted. Instead, He seeks to take them and redeem them by using them for good. He wants to use those problems to make us more like His Son, to build our character for our own good. That’s what God is doing.

I want you to look at Proverbs 3:6. It’s a great verse. It says, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

How many of you want to be successful? Raise your hand. Yeah. It’s a good desire, but I have to let you know this word for success in the Hebrew doesn’t mean what we think success is. We think of success as monetary success, financial success. That’s not what this means.

The word for success, in this passage, literally means ‘the ability to make wise decisions.’ That’s what you need more than anything else.

Have you ever made a bad decision? Oh man, I’ve made some bad decisions. We’ve all made some bad decisions, but God says if I will put Him first He’ll give me the ability to make wise decisions.

I always pray, “God, help me not make a mess of things. Close this door on me if it’s not right. God give me the wisdom to make the right decision.” God says, “You can’t go wrong. I’ll give you the ability to make wise decisions.”

You were made to live passionately, you were made to love completely, you were made to learn humbly, but you were also made to leave boldly.

Principle 4: Jesus left boldy.                                                                                            Jesus was focused on His mission on earth and knew why He was here. I love the sense of urgency in Luke 9:51 (NIV), “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”

There was no hesitation or reservation with Christ. He was resolute in fulfilling the purpose for which He came. If you knew you only had a short time to live, you would be resolved to finalize your purpose.

You wouldn’t waste time or energy on things that didn’t really matter, but you would look for ways to leave a lasting legacy. You would prepare for eternity.

There is something that tells us there is more to life than just the here and now.  We were made for eternity. We were also made to leave a legacy.

Look what this verse in Matthew 25:23 says. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

A lot of people tell you how to live your life, but at the end of your life, there is only one opinion that matters – the Audience of One – your Heavenly Father saying “Well done. You lived the life you were made for.”

God is not going to look at you and say, “Why weren’t you more like Billy Graham? You should have been like Billy Graham.” God’s not going to look at you and say, “Why weren’t you more like this guy or that gal?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you more of who I made you to be?  Why didn’t you live the life I made you to live?”

What I want God to say, more than anything, is, “Well done. Sure you didn’t have it all together and you made mistakes, but you were fully you. You were who I made you to be. Well done good and faithful servant.”

On everyone’s gravestone is your name, the date you were born and the date of your death. Everything else is represented by a dash. The choice is up to you as to how you live the dash.