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Life's Fleeting Pilgrimage

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 31, 2020 7:00 am

Life's Fleeting Pilgrimage

So What? / Lon Solomon

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December 31, 2020 7:00 am

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Good morning, everybody. Hey, it's wonderful to have you here.

And if you brought a Bible today, we'd like you to open it to Genesis, the first book in the Bible, Genesis chapter 47, if you would. There was an article this week in the Wall Street Journal that talked about how the events of September 11th have really caused Americans all over to reevaluate their working lives. For example, a young lady, a lady named Roberta Mignon, who watched the Twin Towers fall from her daughter's apartment in lower Manhattan, went back after that, took early retirement from Kraft Food, sold her home in Massachusetts and moved to Hilton Head. And here's what she was quoted as saying. She said, I did not get a handsome retirement package, but I just had to make the change. Seeing all that made me aware that life is short. Then there was Dan Morgan, who decided to retire early from Verizon Communications after he went to the funeral of a friend who died in the September 11th attacks. He said, and I quote, I suddenly realized that I wasn't going to live forever.

The Wall Street Journal said, quote, financial planners say they are seeing people willing to settle for leaner retirements so they can leave their job earlier than planned. The collapse of the World Trade Center provided people everywhere with a swift and dramatic reminder that life is fleeting, end of quote. Now this is what we want to talk about today as we look forward to a brand new year starting in a couple of days. We want to talk about this issue that our life really is fleeting here on this earth and how we as followers of Jesus Christ can maximize the time that we have here and use it in a smart way.

So that's our plan to kick off. We want to look at this passage here in Genesis 47. And if you a little bit of background, if you remember, Joseph now has become prime minister of all of Egypt. And Joseph has invited his father and all of his brothers and their families to come down and emigrate into Egypt, which they have done. When they arrived in Egypt, of course, there was a tearful reunion. And then Joseph took his dad and they went off to go see Pharaoh.

Verse seven. Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And after that, Pharaoh asked him, how old are you? Now, Jacob was 130 years old at this moment in time. And I think his age so impressed Pharaoh that the very first thing Pharaoh thought to ask him is, man, how old are you anyway? And here's what Jacob said. Now he could have given Pharaoh a real simple answer. He could have said, I'm 130. But he didn't. Actually, he gave him a very profound answer.

Here's what he said. Verse nine. Jacob said to Pharaoh, the years of my pilgrimage are 130. My years have been few and difficult and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers. Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

Now, there was a word that two times in verse nine, Jacob uses to describe his earthly life. He describes it with the word pilgrimage. Now, folks, what exactly is a pilgrimage? Well, the essence of a pilgrimage is that we're on our way somewhere, but we haven't arrived yet. The essence of a pilgrimage is that our present position is not our final destination.

We are in transit. And this is exactly what Jacob meant when he referred to his earthly life as a pilgrimage. He meant that he was merely in transit through this earth, moving through this earthly life on the way to his final destination, which was in eternity. Now, from cover to cover, this is the perspective on life that the Bible presents.

First of all, the Bible tells us that as pilgrims moving through this world, our time here is temporary and it's short. For example, Job 14 one, man who was born of woman is short lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower, he comes forth and then withers. James four, verse 14.

What is your life? You're like a vapor that appears for a little while and then passes away, which is why David then said, Psalm 39, Oh Lord, show me how fleeting my life really is. I read an article a while back about a young girl who had cancer and had to have her leg amputated. And the reporter asked her in the article whether or not she was terminal.

I love her answer. This young teenager, she said, and I quote, we're all terminal. It's just that some of us are more aware of it than others.

Is that a great answer? And you know, whenever I do a funeral, I try to remind people of this biblical truth that we're just pilgrims, that we're just passing through, that God never intended this world to be our final destination. So the fact that our life here is short and the fact that our life here is temporary shouldn't shock us.

It shouldn't surprise us and it certainly shouldn't depress us. This is not our home, was never intended to be our home. The second thing the Bible teaches about this pilgrimage we're on is that our ultimate destination is in eternity where we meet God. Hebrews chapter nine, verse 27. It is destined for human beings to die once and after that to face God, to face judgment. Friends, the Bible tells us forget reincarnation, forget recycling.

Nobody's going to get recycled. Shirley MacLaine is not Joan of Arc. She is not Cleopatra.

She is Shirley MacLaine. She's going to live once. She's going to die once.

She's going to face the Lord once like everybody else does. And the Bible goes on to tell us that in eternity, which is our final destination, there are two landing pads and everybody will land on one of these two pads. One of them the Bible calls heaven, the other one the Bible calls hell, and the Bible says whichever pad you and I land on, that's where we're going to be forever. The Bible also tells us that what determines which pad we land on, it's determined exclusively by what we did with Jesus Christ while we were on our earthly pilgrimage. Did we embrace him as our Messiah, our Lord, and our Savior? Did we trust his death on the cross to be the only payment that we offer God for our wrongdoings? If we did that, then the Bible is very clear that our landing pad is going to be heaven.

And listen to what Jesus said to the thief on the cross who had made that decision. He said, Luke 23, today when you leave this world, let me tell you where you're going to land, son. You are going to be with me in paradise. This is why the Bible says Philippians chapter 3 verse 20, that for followers of Christ, our citizenship is in heaven.

That's where we're going. And 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 8, for us as followers of Christ to be absent from our body when we leave here means for us to be present with the Lord. Folks, this is the wonderful news of the Bible if you're a follower of Christ, is that regardless of the vicissitudes, the struggles, the heartaches, and even the tragedies of life, our eternal destination is settled.

Period, period, double period. And that's wonderful to know. Our landing pad is secure. Now, let me say if you're here and you've never trusted Christ in a real impersonal way, that your eternal destination, I'm afraid, is not quite that attractive. And it doesn't give me great joy to tell you that, but folks, this is what God says in the Bible and it doesn't do any of us any good to sugarcoat it. However, the good news of the Bible is that you can change your landing pad whenever you want to. You can switch it to heaven whenever you want to by simply doing what God tells us to do in the Bible, trusting Christ as our personal savior. God is not only willing to change your landing pad, God is anxious to change your landing pad, but you just got to do what he asks you to do. You can do it here today before you ever walk out of here. Just bow your head to accept Christ and change your landing pad before you leave here today. What a wonderful weekend to do it to begin a new year. But folks, landing on the wrong pad in eternity is a nasty affair.

You don't want to do that. If you're here and you're not absolutely sure your landing pad is secure, make it secure and make it secure while you got the time to do it. Well, let's summarize. What have we learned so far? We've learned since most of us here are followers of Christ today, we've learned that we're on a pilgrimage, that we're headed through this world on our way to our final destination called heaven. Now, folks, that pilgrimage could last all of 2002 and you could be right back here at the beginning of 2003 and we're talking about something else for 2003. That'd be good. Or that pilgrimage could end in 2002 for you and you could actually go and arrive at your eternal destination.

That could happen. But either way, I want to spend the rest of the time I've got left this morning talking to us about 2002 being smart pilgrims. We know we're pilgrims. Now, what God wants us to do is be smart pilgrims, not dumb pilgrims. And I've got four suggestions about ways in which God wants you and me to be smart pilgrims in 2002.

Here we go. Number one, God wants us to be smart pilgrims, number one, in the way that we use our time. Ephesians five, verse 16, Paul says, redeem the time, make the most of the time, use time strategically because as a pilgrim, you know, you don't have an unlimited supply of this stuff. Use it wisely. In the verse that we read earlier in our scripture reading, Psalm 90, Moses writes, teach us to number our days properly, that they're short so that we might act with wisdom. And it's very interesting as I look around our world, I noticed that most people in our world use time as though they got an absolutely unlimited supply of it.

That's how they treat it. Isn't it sad that it took a tragedy like 911 to wake some people up to what God's been trying to tell us from the beginning, that our time is limited and we've got to be smart in how we use it. Hey, you're a pilgrim.

Your time is not indefinite and a smart pilgrim understands that and says, okay, as a smart pilgrim, I've got to be strategic about the things I do with my time. I remember an incredible story that Chuck Swindoll told a few years ago about an incident that happened to him when he was in the Los Angeles airport. He was waiting for his flight and he's looking around and he noticed there was an elderly man sitting over all by himself, looking out the window onto the tarmac there in the waiting area and the man was just weeping uncontrollably.

He said that he tried to ignore the guy for a while, but finally when he just couldn't, so he got up and he went over and he put his arm around the man and he said, sir, you know, he says, you know, I noticed over there that you're over, you're crying and I'm a pastor. I don't know if I can be of any help. I mean, do you need emergency medical personnel? Do you need some kind of assistance?

Do you need me to call some emergency people for you? And the guy goes, no, no, no, no, no, nothing like that. And then he said, this guy told him this amazing story. He said, you know, my wife for years and years and years, all she ever wanted to do was go to Hawaii. She asked me for her birthday, take her to Hawaii. She asked me for our anniversary, take me to Hawaii.

She asked me for Christmas, take me to Hawaii. And he said, you know, I always had some excuse why I wouldn't work to go to Hawaii. We didn't have enough money. I was too busy at work. The children needed too much.

We need to spend the money on the house, whatever. He said, about two months ago, my wife took ill and passed away. And he said, as she was lying there in the hospital about ready to die, I was visiting with her and she took my hand in hers, he said to Chuck, and she looked at me in the eye and she said, would you do me a big favor?

And he said, sure, anything. She said, when I die, would you go to Hawaii please? And so he said, here I am, I'm off to Hawaii by myself, having buried my wife, and I'm sitting here saying to myself, what in the world was so important that all those years I never took my wife to Hawaii?

Chuck said it was one of the most tragic things he's ever experienced in his life, that poor man. Now, folks, as smart pilgrims, we ought to know better than put things off like this. As smart pilgrims, we ought to know better than procrastinate important things in life, because we don't know how much time we got, but we know we don't have unlimited time. And so in 2002, if you want to be a smart pilgrim, and if I want to be a smart pilgrim, it means that we don't put off the important things like serving God and investing in our family and speaking to people about their relationship with Christ and caring for other people around us, because we don't know how much time we've got. We've got to make it strategic in how we use it. Number two, smart pilgrims, number two, distinguish themselves in the way that we approach future planning. James chapter four says, now listen, you who say today or tomorrow, we will go to this city or to that city and carry on business and make money, why you don't even know what will happen to you tomorrow, James says.

So instead, you ought to say, if it's the Lord's will, we will live and do this or do that. Some of you may remember Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. And if you remember, he went into his office one day, walked past his secretary, closed his door to work on his business. When his secretary came to get him to keep his lunch appointment, he was dead in his office. He'd had a heart attack slumped over. His head was down on the desk. He was gone.

That poor man couldn't even keep his lunch date. And smart pilgrims understand there are no guarantees on this pilgrimage, that this is a very, this is a very uncertain pilgrimage in terms of when we're leaving. And so smart pilgrims plan the future, but they plan very lightly and they never say, I will do this. They never say I will go there. They always say, Dio Valente, the Lord willing, I'll go here. The Lord willing, I'll go there because the Lord might be willing for me to come home, in which case I'm not going anywhere else down here. I'm going home.

You know, I drive my family crazy saying this. My kids will come to me and go, can we do this? Can we do that?

Can we do the other thing? And I always go, Lord willing. And they go, what is wrong with you? Why can't you just ever say yes or say no? Why you always got to say the Lord willing? I have one son who said to me, you just say this to irritate me, don't you?

I said, no, I don't say this to irritate you. I say this because this is biblical truth and I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. How can I say we will go anywhere? We'll go there, Lord willing. Friends, smart pilgrims plan, but they plan lightly because they realize it's all up to the grace of God, whether we do anything tomorrow.

Number three, smart pilgrims distinguish themselves in the way that they use their material wealth. First Timothy chapter six, verse seven. For we brought nothing into this world. I was there when all four of my children came out the womb and they came out the womb with nothing.

I was there to see it, nothing. And it is certain, the Bible says, certain that we can take nothing out of this world. Hey, we've all seen pictures of the pyramids. Some of us have visited the pyramids. You know, the pyramids of course were just big tombs. That's all for the pharaohs. And when the pharaoh would die, they would bury all the material possessions of the pharaoh right in the tomb with him because they figured he'd need them for the afterlife. Well, of course, most of these tombs have all been robbed centuries ago.

There's nothing there. But in 1922, Mr. Howard Carter found the tomb of Pharaoh Tut Ankh Amun, whom we better know as King Tut, and in there found the most incredible treasures. And this was a minor pharaoh.

He only ruled for nine years. And, you know, it staggers the imagination to think what must have been in some of the tombs of these major pharaohs when we see what was in this guy's tomb. Now, here's the interesting thing, though. When they found all of this 3500 years later, guess what? Everything was right where they put it.

Not one thing had moved one inch. You know why? Because it is certain we can take nothing out of this world with us. And friends, even if they bury you in your BMW, it doesn't make a bit of difference.

It's going to be there 3000 years later. You're not taking that with you. Now, this is why the Bible goes on to tell smart pilgrims how to handle their wealth. The Bible says, First Timothy, Chapter six, command those who are rich in this world. You say, Well, that's good.

That's not for me. Well, if you've ever traveled anywhere outside of the United States, you know that people who make the average salary in Washington are rich women and rich men compared to the rest of the world. Oh, yes, this applies to us. Command those who are rich in this world not to put their trust in uncertain riches. Command them to do good with their money, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share for by doing this, they will lay up for themselves treasure in heaven. See friends, as pilgrims, the only riches we can take with us to heaven are the riches we give away to the work of God while we're down here.

That's it. You know, I hope you're not going to misunderstand what I'm going to say. But this past week, I was sitting in my office at home and I was getting ready to write out my end of the year giving check to McLean Bible Church. I'd address the envelope and everything and I wrote the check and just let me say for where my family and I are right now, it was a fairly substantial amount that we were going to give. And I wrote the check and I went to stick it in the envelope and then I hesitated. I couldn't get it in the envelope. And let me tell you why I couldn't get in the envelope because I was sitting there thinking about all the things I could do with this money if I didn't give it to the work of God and all the things I could buy. And so I'm paralyzed.

I cannot get this check in the envelope sitting there. I tried. And it was right at that moment that the Lord spoke to my heart and said, Lon, hello. Yes, Lord. He said, Lon, you lead tourists to the Middle East, right?

Yes, I do, Lord. You've been to Cairo, right? Yes, I have, Lord. You've been in the Egyptian Museum, right? I have, Lord. You've seen the treasures of King Tut. I have, Lord.

Did any of that go with him, Lon? Now, Lon, don't be a dumb pilgrim, son. Be a smart pilgrim. Everything you buy with this money, if you keep it and buy stuff, is all staying right here. But you give that money to the work of God and you have my promise when you get to your destination in heaven, it'll all be in that bank account, every dollar of it waiting for you when you get there. Now be a smart pilgrim.

You know what? I put that check in the envelope, licked it, sealed it and sent it and never even thought about it again, folks. It's amazing how a little bit of biblical truth will change the way you handle your resources down here. And I'm here to tell you that if this world were our home, if this is where we were staying permanently, God would be telling us in the Bible to hoard everything we could get our hands on. And I'd be up here telling you to do it. Follow my example.

I would. But this is not our final home. This is not where we're going. Smart pilgrims understand that and they make sure they send enough on ahead that when they get to their final destination, there's enough weight in there for them that they're happy with their bank account. Be smart in 2002. Be a smart pilgrim in the way you use your material wealth. Number four and finally, if smart pilgrims number four are distinguished by the way we make our choices in life. First Peter chapter two verse 11, I urge you as foreigners and pilgrims in this world, there's our word, to stay away from sinful desires that wage war against your soul.

Instead, live holy and godlike lives as you look forward to the day that you and God will meet. You know, Merv Griffin, some of us here know who he is. We remember his talk show years ago on television. He's also the creator of a number of very well known game shows. You know, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Survey Says, you understand, you know? Well, anyway, he was on TV a while back and here's what he said, and I quote, he said, a hundred years from now, who in the world is ever going to know what any of us did?

So why worry? And the quote, well, I say to Merv, Survey Says, Merv, you got that wrong because the Bible says the exact opposite. The Bible says not only does God know everything that you and I do, but as followers of Christ, when we arrive in heaven, he's going to give us a performance review where we go back over everything you and I have ever done. Not, not in terms of whether or not we stay in heaven. I mean, that was settled the day we trusted Christ, but in terms of reward or lack thereof that God hands to us when we arrive. Friends, the Bible speaks of this performance review all the time. Second Corinthians 5 verse 10, for we as followers of Christ must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ that each one of us may receive what is due us, reward or lack thereof for the things we did while we were on our pilgrimage in this human body. For Romans 14 verse 12, so then as Christians, each of us will give an account of himself or herself to God. I think knowing this, if you're a smart pilgrim makes a huge difference in what you choose to do down here. I mean, why is it that I try and choose to try not to cheat, not to lie, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to eye up women, not to defy authority, to keep my word even when I'm sorry I gave my word. Why? Not because I'm afraid of not going to heaven if I do some of these things, friend, it's because I know that I'm going to face Jesus Christ eyeball to eyeball when I arrive and I'm going to give a personal accounting of every thought, every word, every deed, every action that I did on my pilgrimage.

I'm telling you that scares me. And if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, I'm here to tell you every one of you is going to have the opportunity to have that same appointment with the Lord Jesus. And if that doesn't make a difference in the choices that you and I make, then all I can say is we are dumb pilgrims. Dumb. I believe that smart pilgrims are always asking themselves a question many times a day. And what is that question?

It's not so what? That's not the question. The question that smart pilgrims ask themselves is this question.

Here we go. Am I prepared when I arrive in heaven to look the risen Lord Jesus square in the eyeballs to explain what it is I'm about to go do and then to accept the consequences that follow. I've got to tell you, it's pretty amazing when I run things through that, that little question, how quickly things that I really wanted to do 10 seconds before it look unattractive after I've run them through that, I say to myself, well, you know, I really wanted to do this, but if I got to stand in front of Jesus and explain this, I don't think I want to do it that bad.

I think I can let this one go. Now friends, this is a question we should ask ourselves before we say things, before we do things. Many of us face this question after we've done it. That's the wrong time to ask it. The time to ask it is before we do it, because as pilgrims, we know we're headed for that showdown.

We're headed for that meeting. And if we're smart, we let that, that knowledge affect the choices that we make here on earth. What have we learned today about being a smart pilgrim in 2002? Well, we've learned number one, that a smart pilgrim is distinguished by the way he or she uses their time.

They use it strategically because they realize they don't have an unlimited supply. Number two, a smart pilgrim is distinguished by the way we approach future planning. We approach it lightly, the Lord willing. That's how we plan. Number three, a smart pilgrim is distinguished by the way we spend our money and manage our earthly resources. We realize we're leaving here.

We're leaving everything material behind. We better make sure we send something on ahead by giving it to the work of God. And number four, smart pilgrims are distinguished by the way we make our choices in life.

We know we have a performance review coming. We're going to look Jesus eyeball to eyeball when we get there. And we make choices that we're not going to be ashamed of when we have to face him. This is how smart pilgrims live. And my prayer for you, my prayer for me in 2002 is that we will distinguish ourself by being smart pilgrims. We're pilgrims. We can't change that. We can be dumb pilgrims or we can be smart pilgrims.

And I hope we'll be smart ones. Let me close by saying that, do you know what the biggest obstacle here in Washington DC is in trying to bring people to faith in Christ? You go, yeah, I know what it is. People here are too educated. Nope. You say, well, they're too secularized. Nope.

They're too affluent. That's not it. It's the Supreme court. That's the way that's what's getting in the way. No, no, no.

Not the Supreme court. Friends, here's what it is. The biggest obstacle of bringing people to Christ here in Washington is that most people in this city don't see any real difference between the way we as followers of Christ live and the way they live. We tell them what their need for Christ and how Jesus can change their life and they look at people who claim to be Christians and they say, well, you know what? I look at the way she lives. I look at the way he lives.

I don't see any big change. They live just like I live. See, God wants us to live so differently that when people look at our lives in the good sense, they say, yeah, I do see a difference. I see that person living out of biblical worldview and they may not know these words, but they will end up saying in concept, that person's being a smart pilgrim. I can see the difference.

Difference in the way they use time, difference in the way they plan the future, difference in the way they use their money, difference in the way that they make their choices. I see a difference and it's a wholesome difference. And if we're going to make an impact on this city for Jesus Christ, we're not going to do it by just putting stuff on the radio. We're not going to do it just by having church programs. Friends, the way we're going to make an impact on this city is having thousands of smart pilgrims go out there and live a pilgrim biblical worldview in the eyes of everybody around us. That's the only way we're going to make that difference.

So that's my challenge to you and me, is in 2002, let's live like smart pilgrims and let's make an impact on this city. Because you know the hymn goes, this world is not my home, I'm just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

That's truth. Now let's go out and live it. What do you say? Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thank you so much for talking to us today about right down where we live, everyday life. Lord, you know the world entices us and the Bible lures us towards making decisions, making choices, spending our money, using our time, making our plans in ways that reflect that we're going to be here forever. That this world is our final resting place. My prayer is that you would give us a biblical perspective, a biblical worldview. My prayer, Lord, is that you would remind us we're just pilgrims.

We're just passing through and that our final destination is with you. We need to live like that. We need to handle our resources like that.

We need to make choices in light of that. Use our time that way. So God, change our lives because we were here today and may that change be conspicuous to the people around us so that we might have the privilege of seeing many of their lives changed too. God, may 2002 be a wonderful year for us, a year where regardless of the difficulties, you find us living like smart pilgrims. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 20:38:56 / 2023-06-10 20:51:07 / 12

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