What We Do In Life, Echoes In Eternity – Matthew 9:35-38, 28:18-19a
“What We Do In Life Echoes In Eternity” Maximus Decimus Meridius
Thanks for inviting me here on this special day for your church. Wow 70 year anniversary. And I am looking forward to getting to know each other a bit more after …I hear we get lunch too!
In the movie Gladiator, Maximus Decimus Meridus utters some famous words: What we do in Life echoes in eternity. I love this quote because it resonates with a profound a Biblical point: Life is short, eternity is long, but our lives matter in eternity.
I want to be a part of something that makes a difference for eternity, I mean who doesn’t?
What I hope to do this morning is share with you a bit of my story and journey and how I have gotten to know God in a real and personal way and how he has been leading me on the greatest adventure I’d ever imagine.
– We’ll start by looking at some scripture, I’ll share some of my story, we’ll look at some pictures, I’ll share some stories, quotes and bible passages.
– My hope as I share these things is for us to want to follow Jesus with everything we got.
So let’s start by taking a look at two passages of the bible.
Would you stand with me as we read the words of God to us.
- 35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
God the great shepherd invites us to join with him in rescuing men and women from the path to hell and bring them with us into Gods Kingdom.
- 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…
Last words that Jesus says to his disciples
- 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
We all have a story, here is mine.
A major turning point in my life took place in High school. This is where I began to truly believe in God, the bible and where I asked Jesus to be the leader of my life. Now that I look back I can see more of what was really going on.
Coming into Gr. 9 I didn’t have many real friends, I was a bit small for my age, which made me insecure of my manliness and I didn’t have any hair on my legs or face like most others did.
I desperately wanted to prove myself.
A big factor that got me feeling like a no-body was that I got teased for going to church the year before – to me God somehow seamed to to be the cause for my difficulty in life.
So into grade 9 and 10 I wanted to prove myself, make a name for myself and prove that I was ‘somebody’. Two best ways I thought I could do so was through sports and doing well in school.
I tried to be the best athlete, played on nearly every team. I longed for the coach to say ‘great job Rolf’,
Academics and extra curricular’s I wanted to be the most involved and brightest students. I wanted to make a name for myself.
And actually my plan was working – well kind of. I was a good athlete, I was a good student. but I always seemed to find others who were better, so I felt like I was never good enough. I had tried so hard but I wasn’t feeling any better about myself.
— I still remember one time, I just finished practice for two different sports teams and was waiting for my mom to come pick me up and take me home. I was tired, sweaty and stinky from practice, my knee’s and shins heart from over training, I was dreading all the homework I needed to do to try and get good marks.
I remember standing there thinking what is the point of all this? Is this what life is all about? I am so tired. I have tried so hard, and for what? But what was it all for.
This became a real time of questioning in my life: what was my purpose? Was it to try and be liked but others? Or was it something greater? Did Spiritual life, God and Jesus have something to do with the purpose of my life? …about being great.
Growing up, I had learned about God. I had learned that he was the creator of the whole universe and that he knew everything. He even knew all of wrong things I had ever done and thought but he was still willing to love me, to accept me and show me his plan and purpose for my life.
I thought to myself- this truly is amazing- would other people, if they knew all of the bad things I have ever done or thought, ever really accept me like God would? Probably not, I admitted.
I also remembered learning that it was these bad things in my life (the things I didn’t want people to know about me) that separated me from the perfect love of God, but thankfully God provided a way that he could still accept me. God came down to earth as a man named Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life but was willing to sacrifice his life and die to take the punishment for my wrongs. And if I accepted his gift to forgive me I could experience Gods love and plan for my life. Just like Jesus rose from the dead God wanted to give me new life with him as my leader.
When I was younger I had asked Jesus to forgive me but in these last years I had forgotten that the only place I could find real acceptance was in him. Years before I had committed to make Jesus the leader of my life, but recently I had tried to find my own source of success, but I was failing.
As I thought about how the God of the universe accepts and cares for me, how he will be with me guiding me every second of my life, the peace inside of me began to grow. I was so thankful that God had reminded me that this inner joy could only be found in knowing him.
If I had continued to strive for others acceptance I would still be empty inside, always wanting more. Thankfully now I know that God, the greatest in the entire universe and of all time, accepts me and loves me and has a plan for my life. Now as I have been following Jesus I have been on the greatest Adventure ever!
Another major factor that helped solidify this new life knowing God was youth group.
Joe and Anita were so faithful, to serve and pour their lives into ours.
A great example for me to also want to live for God and be a blessing to others.
After high school I was off to university where I got involved with a Christian club called campus for Christ.
I challenged to consider going across the globe to help others know about God that had little opportunity to do so. I didn’t have good enough reasons not to go so I went.
I got to meet lots of different students. Kevin, Tony, and Joel. Friends, toured me around the school and her a local park with a lake, we got to know each other more and more. I began to share with them about holidays like Christmas and Easter – how they were about Jesus and how he was the leader I looked up to. He was God that came to the world… bit by bit they believed. After a friend we knew took them to a local family church they decided to accept Christ. I remember them coming up to my dorm… to tell me the news.
“Rolf, we have something to tell you. Now we are brothers!”
This was the greatest moment of my life up till then. I had helped them know God. For eternity their lives were changed.
In life I have had many other great moments– sports victories, awards and scholarships in school, yet this simple act of being a witness of what I had known and experienced – sharing the good news of Jesus was the greatest thing ever.
This is where God Taught me that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, I wanted to be a disciple of Jesus and go and make disciples of others.
Now I hope to transition from my story and help us reflect a bit about life and inspire us to live our lives with purpose. To live for what really matters.
Then I hope to give some practical ideas to help us be a part of bringing in the harvest.
Things don’t last
- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Sometimes we get mixed up and forget what really matter in life. We being to think that stuff/belongings is what matters most.
Like when I was younger, my bike, or my favorite brand name shirt, later my car, apartment, sound system…
Eventually everything we have ends up in the dump.
When we make stuff our greatest treasure and hope in life, it becomes and idol. We hope it will give us hope and Joy but it will eventually disappoint us.
Life is Short
- “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Things quickly end up at the dump.
The Bible describes our lives as a mist. A mist is brief. If you boil water – there is a mist there and then it is gone. The bible says our lives are like that. Like a mist. Brief. Momentary. Short. Our culture is often obsessed with age and staying and looking young. But time and life is short. It is hard for us to reflect on this reality. We often try to push this idea aside. But the statistics are unwavering. 100% of us will die.
Even people who live long lives – their lives are like a mist.
What is life…
What is our life compared to that of eternity.
Our life is a tiny speck in light of eternity.
Yet what we do in this life echo’s in Eternity
Life is short, eternity is very long
- “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
What lasts for eternity?
- The Bible
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
God has a plan
- For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God is looking for people through whom he can do the impossible, what a pity we plan to do only the things we can do ourselves ~Tozer
God wants to use to do good,
Not only individually, but as a community as a church.
I read a book a while ago that got me so excited about what God can do through the local church.
Bill Hybels – Courageous Leadership
The church can make a difference in this hurting world
When we look at the world, the wars, famine, when we look in our neighbourhoods, the loneliness and brokenness. We think, what can we do? It is all so messed up.
Look at this issue. Lots of potential solutions: better governing structures, legislation changes, creating more jobs, education, self help programs, psychological techniques but ultimately can any of this truly transform the human heart?
- “only one power exists on this sorry planet to do that. It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. The radical message of that transforming life has been given to the church. That means in a very real way the future of the world rests in the hands of local congregations like yours and mine. Without churches so filled with the power of God that they can’t help but spill goodness and peace and the love and joy into the world, depravity will win the day; evil will flood the world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Strong, growing communities of faith can turn the tide of history. “ ~Bill Hybels
So now let’s get practical, I’d like to offer a few ideas, suggestions, and places for us to start. My hope is that you would take at least some of them and act on it.
Let’s take action!
- Enjoy Knowing God Psalm 16:11
- Go in John 17:15
- Care Matthew 9:36
- Listen and transition Acts 17
- Tell your story Acts 21 – 26
- Share the Gospel effectively Rom 1:16, Rom 10:14
Who Does God want me to reach out too?
I have a lot of suggestions here but choose one as an action step for you.
Enjoy knowing God: Pray, read the word. Not yet a Christian, see if he truly exists
Psalm 16:11 11 You have made [e] known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. he wants to speak to us, mentor us, take us on an adventure of faith. As we make Knowing God our highest aim, we will experience great Joy and adventure.
Go in: John 17 I pray not that you take them out of the world not avoiding or escaping from the world and staying in our Christian bubble. Jesus nicknamed ‘friend of sinners’ – spent time with shady business men (tax collectors), went to parties, welcome prostitutes. Jesus prays for his disciples for us. 2 Cor 5:20
Care: (this doesn’t come naturally) –Ask God to give you spiritual eyes. On the surface ppl may seem fine but so many are dead spiritually – eternity with out God. pray that Gods love for you would flow through you – giving you power to forgive those who hurt you and even giving you ability to love your enemies.
Listen: practically – sounds simple but I surprise myself sometimes by how I dominate conversations. I used to always try and disagree, argue and dispute without really listening. Apostle paul is a great listener. Acts 17 “I see that you are religious, you have many idols.” There is much in others ideas that is good. since all humans are made in Gods image they are valuable. Figure out what they are really saying. Jesus example – great question asker, temple tried to trick him, ask questions. Listen well, ask good questions to help others self discover.
Transition: to spiritual things. Later in Acts 17, Paul refers to their what their own artists of the day were saying… Lets do the same. so you are driving with a friend or co-worker listen to U2 “and I still haven’t found what I am looking for”, ask “Do you think that is true, spend our whole life looking for something, meaning purpose?”. Monday get back to work, “how was your weekend, “God, Sunday I got to go to church and learned some really helpful stuff on how I can experience true peace…”
You see Deep down God made us to be empty with out him. Like putting dishwasher fluid in engine in stead of oil, it may run for a bit but will quickly overheat and conk out.
Tell your story. Powerful and authentic ways to let other know about Christ. Be a witness of what you know and have experienced. What did you notice about what or the way I shared? Notice when I shared I didn’t say “When I was six my mom told me how be born again and ask Jesus into my heart”. That is true but it isn’t helpful for me to describe it like that. I purposely chose to highlight an aspect of my journey I thought you could relate too. I actually spent a lot of time thinking of different ways I can share so that I can connect with others. We need to work hard at not using Christianeze using language and issues that people can relate most too.
Share the Gospel effectively – Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. False idea of evangelism: I don’t need to speak; people will see it in my life. I have tried it, it doesn’t work. Sure People hopefully will be attracted, that is only the first step. Just from watching people will not be able to figure out who God is, that they must repent of their sin, that through Jesus their sin can be forgiven and he can lead their life.
Believes: Rom 10:14 “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
Think of 3-5 friends (pause and pray)
How will I know if I am successful?
It is important to define success.
If we don’t we can end up feeling like a failure or we can become prideful and take credit for God’s work.
- Success is taking the initiative by faith, depending on the power of the Holy spirit and leaving the results to God.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
- 5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Taking initiative by faith
The year was 1890 and in a small town in North Dakota, USA, a baby girl was born. As the youngest in a family of 7 children she grew up in a family with a rich spiritual heritage and at the age of 7 she accepted Christ.
Circumstances in her life changed such that in 1926 she met the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California. The pastor indicated that the church was in need of someone to head up the Sunday School program.
For 35 years she served in the church. There were ups and downs in her role as there always are. Some days were easier than others and she would faithfully teach the children entrusted to her care week after week. She herself was not a gifted evangelist or overseas missionary. The Lord had not gifted her to be a public speaker in front of thousands of people. But want God had called her to do was teach Sunday School, something she was very good. She loved children and she loved teaching them the truths of God’s Word.
Sitting in her class week after week were two boys. Eager to learn they would open their Bibles and attentively listen to their teacher.
Her name, one that pretty much nobody will recognize, is Henrietta Mears. But the two names that you will recognize are two young boys who were in her Sunday School class in California. The men’s names:
Bill Bright and Billy Graham.
As the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, Bill Bright has mobilized thousands of missionaries to be sent around the world. (Now 25 000 missionaries like Irene and I around the world)
Billy Graham, the gifted evangelist, preached the gospel in hundreds of countries around the world to massive numbers.
Through these two men millions have been impacted.
Henrietta Mears was a steadfast and faithful woman. She knew what God had called her to do. She knew God had gifted her to be a Sunday School teacher and she served faithfully.
May we also be faithful to God in all that we do, taking steps of faith to Love others and share the hope of new life through Jesus.
One life to live
One life to live, twill soon be past
Only what’s done for Christ will last
What will you do with your life?
Stuff is not our treasure.
Life is short, eternity is long, and may we invest our lives…into the things that matter for eternity.
- People – helping them know Jesus.