Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Your once in a lifetime opportunity!

I live in Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and I see a lot of slogans as I walk around the City Centre - From 'Merseyside to Manhattan', for one. It points people back to the days when great liners regularly left Liverpool heading for the New World. In May 2015, three great ocean-going liners visited the city of Liverpool. If you went to the right spot (The Waterfront, Everton Brow, New Brighton, to name a few locations), you got a great view of 'The Three Queens' as they visited our city to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Cunard shipping line.

At that time, I was preparing to travel to Canada for a couple of weeks and had been contemplating the long journey, which was relatively short compared to the long days at sea when my grandad was a sailor. I left Liverpool at 0800 and reached Toronto at 1930 GMT (1430 local time) the same day. Travel by jet has vastly reduced travelling time and seduced us into thinking that we are just popping across the road when we are travelling across a vast ocean to another continent. I'm not complaining; I love the fact that travel has become so easy. When I was a boy, only a few people travelled these distances and often only 'once in a lifetime'

There are some experiences that are still only 'once in a lifetime' - birth, death - I know some people say they have clinically died and come back to life, but that's the exception, not the rule - and well, marriage should also be on the list unless you sadly lose a loved one and decide to remarry. I know that many will not agree with this principle, but from a Christian perspective, it is God's intention that marriage is a lifelong commitment. 

But back to our phrase - 'once in a lifetime'. The term still has some significance. It generally evokes thoughts of exciting things that we would love to do. We think that the chances of them happening are so unlikely that if they did, you would most likely only ever get a one-off chance to do it. We are all different, so for you going to a Garden Party to meet the King at Buckingham Palace might be on the list, or winning the lottery. There is no point in me drawing up a list - my bucket list would probably be vastly different to yours. 

The two main 'once in a lifetime' experiences I mentioned earlier are the two common book stops of human existence i.e. birth and death.  You have no control over the former, and the latter is out of your control unless you choose to forcefully end your life. We all know that this happens from time to time when life becomes unbearable for some individuals, but it's not normal. We need to consider whether our deaths are random events or if there is a higher power in control? 

This topic could get out of control if we explored whether we are just randomly responding to our circumstances, whether we have no real choice but act as our genetic makeup determines or whether there is a balance between our ability to reason, act and choose and God determining events at the same time and somehow allowing us the responsibility of making choices and decisions. I believe the latter is what the Bible teaches. If anyone is interested, I can show them the evidence from the bible.

So, your birthday was set by God, and your mum and dad had a part to play in bringing you into the world. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1 and 2 states, 'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die'. In Genesis chapter 17, verse 21, God tells Abraham the exact time his son will be born - you might argue that God, knowing everything, was just informing Abraham that his son would be born, not that he was involved in ensuring that it would happen. However, in Genesis chapter 21, verses 1 and 2, it is recorded that the Lord visited Sarah and did for Sarah 'as he had promised,' NASB. She gave birth to a boy. In other words, God played a key role in ensuring that conception took place. In this story, we can see that God didn't just know the future but orchestrated the child's birth. Of course, Abraham had to play his part, but God is the author of life. Every child born into this world results from God giving life. There are other references that clearly indicate that God is in control of the birth of every living being if you care to look at them. 

When we consider our mortality, it is amazing that we exist at all. In all of its disciplines, science has concluded that human existence is incredible. The conditions for our survival on this planet are so finely tuned that it is mind-blowing that everything is just right for life to exist. Our physical anatomy is also a demonstration of excellent design and precision, and we all know that we are so fragile that life can be extinguished in an instant. Who of us has not marvelled that our life has been preserved in circumstances well outside of our control! Whether it be an illness, an accident or unexpected events, we would have to admit there is a hand controlling at times when we cannot. The Bible puts it like this: 'but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways,' Daniel 6. 23. God is in control, but we usually ignore him. Job, one of the oldest writers in the Bible, states, 'In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind,' Job 12. 10. When it comes to the end of life; your death will not just be a random event. Hebrews chapter 9 verse 27 makes it clear 'it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment'. That appointment has been set by God; by the way, it's not the end. It is just the transfer from this life to the next, for the verse states that each of us has an 'after this'. 

There is life after death!
You will stand before God on the day of judgment!
What you do and believe in this life will affect where you are and what your situation is in the next!

So God gave you life, and he has chosen to allow you to live up until now. 

He allows you to choose but has His plans for your life. 

What are you going to do with this information?

As described by the Lord Jesus, one man in the bible continued to make his plans, run his business and amass his wealth with total disregard for God. The Lord Jesus, being the Son of God, gives us an insight into what God was thinking about this man while he was carrying on with his life and ignoring God. God is recorded as saying, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'  Luke 12. 20. 

A 'once in a lifetime' opportunity faces you now. You can ignore this message, carry on as you are and miss this great offer of salvation. OR 

You could get serious about your life and your future, sort out your priorities and come humbly to God. God loves you. He sent His Son, Jesus, to this world 2022 years ago to die for your sins. If you repent (change your thinking about God and stop disobeying Him) and come humbly to God confessing your sin, He (God) will forgive you, cleanse you and save you. 

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" - Acts 16:31

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