When Your Heart Stops!
What would you do if you knew you were going to die in the next 24 hours?
What affairs would you need to set in order?
Once a friend asked St. Francis of Assissi, who he found hoeing his garden,
"What would you do if suddenly you learned that today at sunset you were to die?"
He answered calmly, "I would finish hoeing my garden."
The question is: "What would you do if you knew that death was just around the corner?"
It is impossible to escape the fact of death.
No generation in history has been so exposed to the continuing possibility of sudden,
violent human destruction as ours.
At home, at work, at school, and at play; we are reminded of the truth of Scripture,
"It is appointed unto men once to die." (Hebrews 9: 27)
"Time goes, you say? Ah no;
Alas, time stays, we go."
-- Austin Dobson
It is time for you and me to face the realities of the future, the uncertainties of life,
and the certainties and implications of death.
As the prophet of old asked, "How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"
(Jeremiah 12: 5)
Death is something for which most of us are not ready.
It is something that just doesn't fit into our scheme of things.
We even try to soften the fatal word and refer to it as, "passing on."
People will move heaven and earth to keep the spark of life alive for just a little while longer.
Doctors will dodge and evade the telling of their patients that death is imminent.
People will delay making their wills, and even discussing insurance with their families.
Why this reluctance?
Is it not because we do not want to talk about the possibility of death?
Now is the time to take care of the matter of dying.
It is the most important matter that you will ever give your attention too.
Isaiah, the court preacher, was called to the bedside of his monarch, who was believed to be dying.
As he entered the room, he said to his king,
"Set thine house in order." (Isaiah 38: 1)
If we set our house in order in the days of our health, when the winds of summer blow softly,
we will not need fear the blasts of winter.
The rains may descend, the floods come, and the winds blow, but the house of life
that is built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, will stand.
Stonewall Jackson, after receiving a painful wound in the Battle of Bull Run,
was asked by Captain Imboden,
"General, how is it that you can keep so cool and appear so utterly insensible to danger
in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?"
"Captain," answered Jackson, in a serious and reverent manner,
"my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.
God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready,
no matter when it may overtake me."
Then, after a pause, he added,
"That is the way all men should live, and then all the world would be brave."
But the question is: "What if your heart should stop?"
Determine To Make Each Day The Best Day of Your Life.
I grow more convinced, as time passes, that it is in the common duties
of the common day that we build up our success or our failures.
The decisions we make, the words we speak, the deeds we do day by day will account for what we are.
"Wither therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do -- do all to the glory of God."
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
Augustine put it well when he said, "The last day lies hid, therefore watch every day."
People are always complaining that their days are few, yet acting, as though
there would be no end of them.
How often the Lord warned us to "watch."
We are to watch for His coming by living every moment as we would like to be living
when the last curtain falls upon us.
We should live so that we could say to our Lord,
"Father, I finished the work which thou gavest me to do."
Note his day-by-day faithfulness.
At the close of his life he stands in peaceful security, with heaven smiling upon him
because throughout his life he was faithful -- faithful to truth, to duty, and to God.
"All that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity."
One night a young pastor in his first church was called to a home where a young man was dying.
The pastor talked with the boy concerning his serious illness and about a better life in the world to come.
Then he had prayer with the boy.
As the pastor was about to leave, the boy looked his mother straight in the eyes, and said,
"You have never prepared me for this hour."
We prepare our children for so many occasions and activities, but have we prepared them
for their date with death.
We Must Hold Lightly The Things of This World.
A man, visiting his atheistic friend who was dying, trying to encourage him, pleaded,
"Sam, hold on, hold on!"
The poor fellow turned and said, "But Tom, I have nothing to hold on to."
When hurricane Hazel swept through the Delaware Valley leaving in its wake death and destruction,
many of the residents of that valley stood at a vantage point overlooking the Delaware River.
The river was greatly swollen.
The people could see all kinds of worldly possessions carried down the stream.
They saw pianos, chests of drawers, TV's, beds, refrigerators, and even houses
-- floating down the river.
They were glad to be alive.
At that time their life was more important than their possessions.
We hold our possessions too tightly.
That is what makes it so hard for us to leave them.
We should learn to hold what we have lightly, remembering always, that one day
they will be taken away from us.
"So set thine house in order."
I read of a cabinet maker who found business rather slow at times, and he would leave the little shop.
However, when he did so, he would put his little sign on the door, "Living Above."
His quarters above were very comfortable.
There was a wonderful view of the city from the window.
It is something of a parable.
He lived above his work.
He had dreams and hopes.
He had his eyes fixed upon his heavenly home.
We should live this way with our eyes fixed upon heavenly things.
Day by Day Empty Your Heart Of All Bitterness.
Bitterness is one of the ugliest of sins.
It can produce a poison within the body, which does untold harm to the our well-being.
It can dwarf a person mentally.
Martin Luther said,
"My soul is too glad and too great to be at heart the enemy of any man."
It is odd how often we see people actually boast of a bad temper, a sharp tongue,
an unwillingness to forgive, as if such vices were virtues to be proud of.
Jesus taught us to forgive:
In the Lord's Prayer one of the petitions is,
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
We cannot expect God to forgive us unless we forgive one another.
Life is uncertain.
Surely, not one of us dare harbor unforgiveness in his heart.
If we do, we are not ready to die!
The highest eulogy ever paid President Lincoln was that of Emerson, when he said,
"His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong."
Charles Spurgeon gave this advice:
"Cultivate forbearance until your heart yields a fine crop of it.
Pray for a short memory as to all unkindnesses."
"If you love them that love you, what reward have you?
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them that despitefully use you."
Life is too short to hold hate and bitterness in the heart.
The person who allows himself to be the victim of pettiness is not ready to die.
We Must Busy Ourselves In Witnessing to Those without Christ.
With the Lord Jesus pre-eminent in our affections and the fountain of our joy,
we shall want to tell others about our Saviour who loved us and gave Himself for us.
When Christ enters our hearts, we should want all our loved ones and friends to know Him also.
Dr. John A. Broadus, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in the early years of its history had many highlights in his ministry.
At one point Dr. Broadus led a young man named, Sandy, to a knowledge of the Lord.
While Dr. Broadus could look back upon a life of learning and achievement, he said
that the one thing that would give him the most joy when he arrived in heaven would be
to have Sandy come to him and say, "Thank you, John."
Surely everyone of us would want someone to come to us when we get to heaven and say,
"Because of the words that you spoke to me, I am here. Thank you!"
Christians, we cannot overlook the fact that God has given us the responsibility
of bearing testimony to the saving power of Christ.
You and I came to Jesus because someone was interested in us, prayed for us, and spoke to us.
It is only right that we do for others what others have done for us.
I'm sure that death will be easier to face if we have led others to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
We Must Live Everyday In the Light of Heaven -- Our Eternal Home.
Paul, whose life was often in danger, has a comforting word for all of us:
"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body,
we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight) we are confident, I say,
and willing ready to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
(2 Corinthians 5: 6-8)
Death is at the end of some things, but it is not the end of the life that is ours through faith in Christ.
Jesus was constantly telling His disciples of the life that was yet to come, and of the Father's house.
However good this life may be, there is something much better ahead for every believer.
Whenever Christ calls us home, in that same moment we shall stand in the presence of our Redeemer,
with all the trials of life in the past.
As Paul says,
"Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him."
(2 Corinthians 5: 9)
Strengthened by Christ, we can face death calm and unafraid.
Jesus said, "Because I live, ye shall also live."
A mother explained to her little daughter, who could not comprehend her father's death
that God had sent for him, and that one day, He would send for them -- but they didn't know when.
"Well, then, Mother, " said the child,
"if God is going to send for us soon, and we don't know just when,
hadn't we better begin to pack up and get ready to go?"
"Set thine house in order!"
Time plays with us all, but none of us dare play with time.
A very wise man said, "Our most dangerous enemy is the idea that we have plenty of time."
We must prepare for eternity!
The story is told of Rudyard Kipling who was very ill with typhoid fever.
For days he tossed back and forth, restlessly.
It seemed that his end had come.
As he lay there, he continue to mumble to himself.
The family tried to determine his wants, but with no success.
At last, the nurse bent over him, and asked,
Mr. Kipling, what do you want?"
For a moment his restlessness left him.
He opened his eyes slowly, and feebly said, "I want God!"
Everyone in this building should also cry that we, also, want God.
It has been very simply said, and yet, very true -- you can die and go to heaven without help,
without wealth, without fame or fortune, but you cannot die and go to heaven without Jesus Christ.
This is the time -- if you haven't received Jesus -- this is the time!
This is the time to attend to this most important matter that you will ever face in this life.
You either have Jesus or you don't have Him!
What if your heart stops...?
Will you go to heaven or hell?
Set your house in order -- now!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org