Friday, May 6, 2005
She must have been scared to death. She wasn't a public speaker, but that day she agreed to speak to 70,000 people in a football stadium in the Northwest. It was the last day of Billy Graham's Crusade in her city. And he had asked her to read a letter she'd received from her son. It was the end of the first Gulf War, and the troops were coming home; except for a relatively few American soldiers who weren't coming home and her son was one of them. He had died in a helicopter crash on the last day of the war. He had written a letter to his mother and given it to a good friend with instructions to mail it only if he was killed. Now she shared that letter with the masses in that stadium, knowing that her son still had something to say by way of what he had written. His letter said: "Mom, if you're reading this letter, it means I didn't make it. But that's OK, Mom. Because now, for the first time, I'm smarter than you are! Because Mom, I've seen heaven. I've seen Jesus!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Thirty Seconds After You're Gone."
What a way to live! And what a way to die - knowing that all death is going to do is send you to heaven, to see the One whose death and resurrection opened the door for you to be there. God wants for you to be able to say - and to know beyond any shadow of a doubt - that 30 seconds after you're gone, you're going to be saying, "I've seen heaven! I've seen Jesus!"
Is it really possible to really know that you're going to heaven when you die? Not if you have to earn heaven by living a really good life. You'll never know if you were good enough. In an interview about his recent movie, which has some supernatural subject matter, Keanu Reeves was asked, "What are your notions of heaven and hell, and eternal damnation vs. eternal bliss?" He said, "Well, I hope I get the bliss. And I know I'm going to have to work for it." A lot of folks think that way. God doesn't. He actually says in His book, and these are God's words. "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy" ( Titus 3:5). You can't possibly do enough good to satisfy a perfect God or to pay the death penalty for the sinning you've done. It took Jesus to do that.
God tells us that when those who belong to Him are "away from the body," they are "at home with the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 5:8). How can you be sure that will be you? As Jesus was dying on the cross, there was a criminal on one side of Him who had started out mocking Him like everyone else. Then, in our word for today from the Word of God in Luke 23:42- 43, he suddenly says, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." What changed him? Moments before, He had heard Jesus say these words from His cross:
"Father, forgive them." And that criminal must have thought, "If Jesus would forgive the people who nailed Him there, then He'd forgive me for my sin." Here was Jesus' amazing answer: "Today you will be with me in paradise."
That's what He wants to say to you when you've breathed your last breath, "Today you'll be with Me in heaven - and forever." But that can only happen if you put all your trust in the One who said from the cross where He died for you, "Father, forgive them." He was forgiving you that day. But it's like a gift He's offering you. You have to take what He paid for at such a high price.
When should you do that? The Bible says, "Now is the time of God's favor. Now is the day of salvation" ( 2 Corinthians 6:3). Why would you wait one more day to turn from your sin, put your trust in Jesus to forgive your sin, and have every sin erased from God's book forever? Why would you wait one more day to trade hell for heaven when you don't know how many more days you'll have?
If you want to belong to Jesus, for now and forever, I'd like to send you something I think might help you in getting started with Him. It's my booklet, Yours For Life, and it's yours if you'll just ask for it.
There is no greater peace than going to sleep at night knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt what will happen when you have taken your last breath - that you're going to be seeing heaven and you'll be seeing Jesus.