I see a lot of slogans as I walk around Liverpool 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. This weekend three liners are visiting the city of Liverpool. If you go to the right spot (The Waterfront, Everton Brow, New Brighton to name a few locations) you should get a good view of "The Three Queens" as they visit our city on this historic occasion.
As I prepare to travel to Canada for a couple of weeks I have been contemplating the long journey; which is relatively short compared to the long days at sea when my grandad was a sailor. I leave Liverpool at 0800 and reach Toronto at 1930 GMT (1430 local time). Travel by jet has vastly reduced travelling time and seduced us into thinking that we are just popping across the road when in effect 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 love 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 life long commitment.
But back to our phase - "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 Queen 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. The former you have no control over and the latter is out of your control unless of course 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. The question we need to consider is - are our deaths just random events or is there 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 make up 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 uJs the responsibity of making choices and decisions. I believe the latter is the 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 obviously your mum and dad had a part to play in bringing you into the world. Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 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 17:21 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 21:1,2 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 he orchestrated the birth of the child. Of course Abraham had to play his part (the conception of the child wasn't a miracle) but God is author of life. Every child born into this world is as a result of God giving life. There are other references that clearly indicate that God is in control of the birth of every living being of you care to look at them.
When we consider our mortality it is amazing that we exist at all. Science in all of its disciplines has concludes that it is incredible that we exist at all. The conditions for our survival on this planet are so finely tune that it is mind blowing that everything is just right for life to exist on this planet. 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 instance. Who of us have not marvelled that our life has been preserved in circumstances well outside of our control! Whether it be illness, accident or un-expected events we would have to admit there is a hand controlling at times when we could not. 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 9:27 makes it clear "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment". That appointment has been set by God and by the way; it's not the end. It is just the transfer from this life to next for the verse states that each of us have 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 allowed 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?
One man in the bible, as described by the Lord Jesus, 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 2015 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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