Friday, November 20, 2015

Even to your Old Age & Gray Hairs: I am He

Source via Deviant Art CC 3.0
Manuscript from a devotional I gave at the Christian Park Nursing home in Escanaba, to the residents. Given as part of my work with the Salvation Army in Upper Michigan. (November 2015)

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. –Isaiah 46:4

God made all of us.  He is the architect of life.  He has set us forth in this world.  And at the end of our days, God comes to reclaim us.  
Many of us here could ask the question, “What is there left to do? Who are we to turn to in our loneliness?”

We are left with only one name to turn to, the only name, Jesus Christ:  He is real, He is the son of God, and he is good.  He is present here.  He is here right now.  He loves us.  He loves me, a young man.  He loves you, his beloved sheep and children. 

Our Christian faith is not simply a tradition or a story.  Do you believe?  Do you believe that Jesus Christ has saved you?  I believe.  I believe he has saved me, from me.  

Many times in my life I have had many friends, family close by, people who cared for me.  And just as many times I’ve had no one.  And it seemed like no one cared anymore.  I’ve felt terribly alone, in depression, in sorrow, just wasting away within.  Who am I to call to?  Who am I to look to?

In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
There is only one who is with us on the good days and bad, who stays with us all the days of our lives until our very last:  his name is Jesus Christ.  He is the son of God, sent by God, to make an offering to us, an offer of eternal life. 

We might’ve received it in the past.  But have we kept up with it?  Have we lived the Christian life?  Or have we fallen away?  Did we choose sin over God?  Did we stop practicing our faith?  Or have we been faithful to this very day?  

As we approach the end of our lives, what can we ask?  I must ask: Am I really in Jesus Christ?  Or has he slipped away from me?  Has he been crowded out by the clamors of the world out there?  Is the volume on the television too high?  Is the radio too loudly blaring?  

Let me tell you the gospel: Jesus Christ, a man, yet also claiming to be the son of God, to be one with God, walked the Earth just over 2,000 years ago.  God became a man.  The Bible calls him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” God with us.  Your God, the God who made you and your race, the human race, came to live within the flesh of a human body.  He lived a life of perfection.  He healed those with injuries.  He spoke the truth without fear.  He shared love and cared for the children.  He never sinned, not even once.  He came for the stated purpose of being offered up as a sacrifice for you and me.  He was slaughtered on the cross to return us to communion with God.  If only we would believe in him, and follow him.  Because it’s true. Jesus Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago, and he was resurrected bodily, and seen by many witnesses to be alive.

We’ve all sinned.  In one way or another we’ve done terrible things.  Which is why we need a savior, we need Jesus Christ.  Do you know what Christ did on the cross?  He took my place.  I should’ve been nailed to that cross.  You, me, in our sins, deserved the cross.  But instead Jesus Christ, God himself, took our place.  Then he died.  And 72 hours later, in the power of the Spirit, he reclaimed his life.  And in so doing he declared victory over death.

Everyone of us need the savior, to take our place, and to give us new life.  Are you born again? 

Jesus said in John 5:24 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

One thing is certain, all of us will die.  The question is: Will we be clothed in Christ when we do?  

Psalm 90:10 says,”The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” 

I would like to invite you to join me in a prayer, in this prayer we will turn our lives over to Jesus Christ.  We will accept him as the Son of God.  We will accept that he died to remove our sins.  We will accept that he rose to life to grant us eternal life.  

Maybe you’ve already done this, but I encourage you to stretch out with your entire being, and express this prayer anew.  Renew your commitment to Christ.  If you’ve never done this before, prepare your heart and mind, and be welcomed into the family of God.

Pray this prayer: Dear and loving Heavenly Father, we cast ourselves before you.  We stretch out in belief.  We stretch out, and cry out to Jesus Christ, Jesus save us!  We repent, we turn from our old ways, we turn all our reliance on you alone God! We cast ourselves upon the work of Christ.  We believe in Jesus, Lord, we believe he lived a real life, that he literally walked the Earth and healed the sick and spoke the truth, Jesus is our way, our truth, and our life.  We receive his sacrifice as the atonement for our sins.  We receive the gift of eternal life, we receive the holy spirit, we are born again.  Thank you Heavenly Father.  We repent of our old ways, we are yours now.  Help us to pursue the new life before us.  In Jesus name, Amen.

The Voyage of Life: Old Age by Thomas Cole, Source
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