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Surviving Death -- Psalm 127; 128



Each Wednesday the summer of 2000, 26 million Americans tuned in to watch the CBS program "Survivor." One of the 16 castaways attempting to be the lone survivor who would walk away with a million dollars was a 24-year-old youth ministries major from Seattle Pacific University. When advised that each of the contestants could bring one "luxury" item to the remote island in the South China Sea, Dirk Been took his Bible. He said, "I couldn't imagine not having my quiet time with the Lord for a single day, let alone thirty-nine."

Being forced to eat beetle larvae was not the most difficult ordeal Dirk had to face on the island. The hardest aspect of being marooned on a remote island was not having anyone around who shared his beliefs. "The spiritual isolation was tortuous," Dirk admits. "The other members of the Tagi and Pagong tribes couldn't understand where I was coming from. When faced with the tensions of insufficient food and sleep (not to mention members of your tribe stabbing you in the back in an attempt to win a million dollars), he said, "I didn't have someone I could really open up to and pray with."

Fortunately for Dirk, he felt the support of family and friends at home praying for him each day. The day before he left for Malaysia, about 70 members of Prairie du Sac Evangelical Free Church gathered around him to pray for his health and safety. "It was awesome!" Dirk recalls. "And it didn't end there. Even though I was alone and lonely as the sole Christian, I felt the presence of the Lord in incredible ways."

Survivor is a game. Granted, surviving on an island then, or in the Australian Outback on another season of the show, would be incredibly difficult. But nothing they could possibly face could even come close to equaling the reality of surviving death.


Death is that final frontier, that door through which we each will one day walk. It is a door that closes behind us, signifying the end of time and space and the beginning of eternity. Surviving death, then, is the most important consideration of life. Why? Because how we fare in death, how we fare in eternity, is determined solely by the choices we make in this life.


Permit me to address two groups of people today because there are two categories of what the Bible calls "lost" people.

I. The Unchurched


What in the world does "lost" signify, anyway? To be lost is to be without the Lord Jesus in your life, to be in a place where you have not yet permitted God to "find" you, to draw you to Himself.


To be lost implies you are:

1) without hope: you don't know which way to turn because you have no direction;
2) you are without purpose: you have no reason to go on; and
3) without a family: you do not know the satisfaction of having an eternal family with whom you can identify in every way.


The Bible talks specifically about the lost in Luke 15:3-10. In three stories, Jesus demonstrates the seriousness and the urgency of finding the lost. Though we don't have time to look at all three of His stories, called parables, notice the first one here:


Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:3-7).


Dropping everything, the shepherd headed out for the lost sheep. Undoubtedly, the shepherd listened to where the sheep was so He could meet him where He was. No doubt, the shepherd searched high and low, leaving no place un-searched. We know with certainty that he sent out signals warning the sheep of danger and encouraging it to come to him.

Likewise, Jesus does that for us. He knows us and meets us where we are. He searches high and low, giving us every opportunity to come to Him and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. He has sent out signs that warn of impending danger if we continue to neglect the gift, and He encourages us to come to Him over and over again.


But what is this gift and how does one receive it? The gift is surviving death, or living for eternity. The Bible calls it eternal life and it's very easy to receive. You see, some 2000 years ago, God sent Jesus, His Son, to live among us. He lived a sinless life, perfect in every way. And then He died on an old, rugged cross, shedding His blood to pay the price for our sins.


When we realize we are sinners and are willing to turn from those sins, when we understand that Jesus died to pay for our sins so that we wouldn't have to, when we realize that God raised Him from the dead three days later, when we believe the Bible is true when it says Jesus is the only way to heaven, then we pray and ask Jesus to forgive our sins and to come into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord, our Leader. Simple? Simple! God made sure it was simple so that everyone could understand it.


If you are someone who generally doesn't go to church, the challenge is clear. You have to understand that God loves you and is offering you a gift, the free gift of eternal life through Jesus, His Son. What do you have to do? Believe. Believe and pray. Pray and ask God to forgive you of your sins and to give you that free gift of eternal life. He'll forgive you and save you today. We have His word on that.


That's a look at the unchurched; the lost, as the Bible calls them. Next time we'll consider what Surviving Death means to The Churched. It's probably not what you think.








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Copyright 2012. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.


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