What After I Die?

Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting (it’s better to go to a funeral than a feast): for that is the end of all men (all of us are going to die) ; and the living will lay it to his heart (it’s good to think about when you die.)
“The day of death is better than the day of birth, funerals are better than feasts, and sorrow is better than laughter.” Why would Solomon say that? Because, at funerals, we are forced to think about life after death. It forces us to prepare for death. We are not really ready to live until we are ready to die.
There is life after death. Life here on earth is preparation for eternity. We all desire to live forever and all of us know there is something more out there beyond this life. Jesus is more qualified to tell us about death than anyone, because he lived and died and came back from the dead. Jesus says “It’s either separation or celebration – Hell or heaven for all eternity.”
Hell is a real place. Jesus believed in Hell. 12 of the 20 times Hell is mentioned in the New Testament, it was Jesus talking about it. You can’t say “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in hell.” Jesus believed in hell and taught that it was real. Hell is just as real as Heaven. People like for you to say that heaven is real, but they don’t like it when you say that Hell is real.
Hell is a place of physical suffering. There is an eternal fire there, and the fire does not burn a person up in Hell. When Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus, he describes the rich man as being in hell, suffering in torment yet not burnt up there.
Hell is a place of emotional suffering. Jesus said there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth there.” Hell will be a sad place full of weeping. It will not be a place for people to party, drink beer, and tell dirty jokes. No one will have fun in Hell. It will be dark there. You won’t see anyone. It will be lonely. You will suffer by yourself with no one there to comfort you. When Jesus said there will be “gnashing of teeth” in Hell, he is using an expression to describe regret over a bad decision. People will regret not accepting Christ when they are in hell. They will remember all the times they had a chance to be saved and to repent. They will remember all the people who tried to share the Gospel with them and they refused to act.
Hell is also a place of spiritual suffering. It is a place of separation from God and his children for all eternity. You are on the outside, separated from Heaven and the joy of it.
You say, “That’s horrible. Why would God send people to Hell? I thought he was loving.” God is loving, and God doesn’t send people to Hell. They choose Hell. God didn’t create Hell for people. He created Heaven for people. Matthew 25:41 says, Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Hell was prepared for the Devil and His demons, not for people! God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God doesn’t send people to Hell, but He did send His Son to come to this earth to die for us so that we would not have to go to Hell. If someone goes to Hell, it is because they choose to go. Where we spend eternity all depends on our decision here on earth – what to do with Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
If we say, “Jesus, I want to know you. I want to be close to you. I want to follow you. I want you to be my Lord and Master.” And we trust in Jesus, what He did on the Cross to save us. Then, in eternity, God graciously fulfills that request by giving us eternal life in heaven.
If we say, “Jesus, I don’t want you in my life. I want to do my own thing. I want to call my own shots. Jesus, you stay out of my life.” Then, God will give you what you want in eternity. You will be separated from God forever in a place called Hell. It will be your choice.
Heaven is also a real place. Revelation 21:1-4 says, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Years ago, there was more preaching on Heaven and more songs about heaven. Why do we not talk about it like other generations did? We have got too comfortable here on this earth. We have nice houses, cars, technology, and we don’t long for heaven like our grandparents and great grandparents did. We have set our affections on things of earth not on heaven.
Heaven is not just a state of mind. It is a real place. Jesus said in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also.” Heaven is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Think of the best day you’ve ever had on earth. Multiply your best day ever by 1 million and then you just scratched the surface of how awesome Heaven is going to be.
Heaven is a perfect place. There is no suffering there, no sorrow, no death, no pain. Heaven is a pure place. There is no sin there. Heaven is a protected place. Jesus will rule and reign and no evil can enter. Heaven will be a peaceful place. There will be no worrying there. There will be no conflict there. Heaven is a beautiful place. We will walk on golden streets, and all the beautiful jewels will be everywhere in Heaven. Heaven is a practical place. We will do productive things in Heaven. We will have jobs, but we will enjoy them. Revelation 7:15 says “We will serve the Lord day and night.” We will have bodies in Heaven, but our bodies will be perfect. Work is not a curse. God made us to work and be productive. Adam and Eve worked before they sinned. Their sin just complicated their work. In Heaven, we will enjoy work. It will be delightful.
Heaven is a place of worship. We will worship the Lord there. We will sing to the Lord. Revelation 5:9, “And they sung a new song saying “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof for thou was slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.”
So the choice is yours – either separation in Hell or celebration in Heaven for all eternity. If you trust Christ to save you, you can face death with confidence, not fear and dread.


Children, God’s Home Improvement Loan

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are an heritage from the Lord.” Children are a blessing, not a burden. The psalm goes on to say, “The fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full.” Not only are children a blessing, they are also a loan. We get them for about 20 years and then we have to release them. They are God’s home improvement loan.

My wife and I are blessed with four children. They are all teenagers now. Our goal is that when they leave our family, they are part of God’s family. We want them to know God personally and to do His will with their lives.

If we are going to raise children with a heart for the Lord, there are some practical things we should do.
1. We should prioritize God in our family.

God is the master builder of the home. Our kids must know that God is first in our lives. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and then all these things will be added unto you. As parents, we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Do your children seeing you love God with all your heart?

2. We should protect our children from evil influences

Parents and especially dads are to be watchmen. We are to watch out for the enemy who wants to destroy our kids. That is Satan. God has put two things in the heart of every man: to provide and to protect his family. Not only do we protect them from physical danger, we protect them from spiritual and emotional danger. We must protect them from bad friends.

We must protect them from growing up faster than they should. Kids who are 6, 7, 8 today are learning what they should not be learning until they are 16, 17, 18. If you go on a long trip, you don’t ask a five year old to carry luggage. It’s too heavy for him. Much of what kids are experiencing today is too heavy for them.

It is possible to over protect as well. When they are 16, 17, 18, we need to start getting them ready to go out on their own. That requires trust and freedom. But especially when they are young, we should protect them from the things that would hurt them spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

3. We should pray for our children.

The best way to avoid worrying about your kids is to pray. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would hate evil and love good. Pray that they would not get away with doing wrong. Pray that they will respect authority. Pray that God would surround them with good influences. You need help as a parent, so pray for good teachers, coaches, pastors and friends to be brought into the lives of your children. Pray that they would remain morally pure. Pray that they would marry the one that God has for them, or if it is not God’s will for them to marry, they would accept that. Pray that they would know and do God’s will for their lives. Even when they leave home, you can influence them by praying for them.

4. Point them in the right direction.

Psalm 127:4 says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man so are children of the youth.” Children are like arrows, and arrows need to be shaped. Arrows begin as bent twigs that need to be sharpened. Our kids come to us with a sin nature. We sharpen them by discipline. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth the rod hates his son.” This verse does not advocate child abuse. We should never discipline our children while we are angry. We should do it in a way in which we don’t harm them but rather teach them the consequences of disobedience. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope.” Each child is different and has to be disciplined differently, so we need wisdom to know how to administer the discipline. Learn to correct without condemning. Don’t yell and scream. Don’t lose your temper. Demonstrate a broken heart as you discipline your child.

Arrows not only need to be shaped, they need to be shot. No, don’t shoot your kids with a gun, but shoot them like an arrow. Release them. Some parents hold on too long. We only get our kids for 20 or so years. Remember, they are on loan. We have to turn them loose.

Remember when they started riding a bike. You held on to the bike for as long as you could but then you had to let go. The same is true when they become an adult. Don’t try to parent your kids after they are adults. Pray for them, but don’t parent them.

Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are so proud you want to wrap your arms around them and hug them. The next minute you are so angry with them you want to wrap your hands around their necks and choke them. No matter how frustrating it gets, keep pointing them in the right direction.

Every parent needs a local church so they can network with other believers who are going through parenting and some who have already been there and done that. Most of all, every parent needs to be saved and have a relationship with God, so God can impart you wisdom to be a good parent.

If you have made mistakes in the past, don’t be riddled by guilt. Confess those to the Lord and even to your children. Though you can’t undo the past, you can do something about the future. Commit to make God a priority in your family. Protect your kids from evil influences. Pray for them daily. Discipline them in love and prepare them to leave your family to make a difference for God in the world. With God’s help, you can succeed.

If you are not saved, you can be. Admit to God that you have sinned and broken His laws. Tell God you are sorry for the sins you have committed. Believe that Jesus died and rose again to pay the debt for your sin. Call upon him to save you. He will forgive you and cleanse you. He will impart His Spirit into you to change you from the inside out. Your life will be brand new.


How Much Money is Enough?

Francis Bacon coined the phrase, “Money is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.”

There is nothing evil about money. Money is not the root of all evil. It is the love of money, greed, that is the root of all evil. But so often, money becomes our master. It controls us and it brings out the worst in us.
Money is right up there with oxygen when it comes to the necessities of life. But we must make sure we manage it right. Did you know Jesus talked about money more than any other subject, even more than Heaven or Hell? He knew how important this subject is to our lives.

Here are five principles for making money your servant and not allowing it to be your master.

  1. Be honest in how you make money. In Matthew 23:14, Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for using legal means to take the property of widows and profit off them. Jesus taught his disciples to “do unto others as you would have them do to you. If you don’t like people ripping you off, you should not rip them off. Can you lay your head down and night and know you have made an honest living?
  2. Be content and don’t try to keep up with everyone else. You will never be satisfied no matter how much you get. It will always leave you wanting more. Your yearning power will always be greater than your earning power.My high school economics teacher used to say almost daily, “If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” Be careful about getting into debt to keep up with everyone else. Dave Ramsey says, “Too often, we spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like.” Just be content and don’t try to keep up with everyone else.
  3. Value what money can’t buy. Money can buy a house but not a home, a bed but not sleep, an education but not wisdom, food but not an appetite, medicine but not health, friends but not love, amusement but not happiness, religion but not salvation. It can buy you a home anywhere but heaven.Are you saved? Do you have a happy marriage? Good relationships? Health? Peace of mind? If you have these things, you are rich! Money cannot buy these things! Thank God for all that you have that money cannot buy.
  4. Invest your money in eternity by giving. We can’t take money with us when we die. 1 Timothy 6:7 says, “For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Alexander the Great, at his funeral, asked that his hands be put up in the air and opened up so everyone could see he was taking nothing with him, even though he conquered the known world. We can’t take any of it with us when we die, so, invest it in the kingdom of God by giving.Jesus said “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. The more you give to the Lord, the more your heart will be in Heaven. It is worship when we give a portion of our income back to the Lord. We are honoring him. God promises to provide our needs if we put Him first in our finances. In many cases, he blesses us far beyond our needs.
  5. Enjoy what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have. Some people are so busy trying to make more that they don’t have time to enjoy what they already have.One of these days, money will have no value. When Jesus comes back for us, we will go to Heaven. We will walk on streets of gold. Are you prepared for eternity? Money can’t buy you a home in heaven. You have to trust Jesus as your Savior.

Jesus told the story of the farmer who was rich and Jesus called him a fool, not because he was rich, but because he did not prepare for eternity. His barns were too small for all his stuff so he tore them down and built bigger ones, but he did not know that he would die that night. He made no preparation for eternity. What about you? Have you been saved? If not, your money will do you no good on judgment day.

If you are saved, be a good steward of what God has given you. Work hard and honestly for it. Give it back to the Lord. Enjoy it but don’t live for it. Invest as much as you can in eternity. Let money be your servant, not your master.