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Final Exams

June 5th, 2009

“It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9.27

Death is not frightening if you are ready for what follows.

My thoughts today are about “final exams.”

Final exams! Every student dreads that awful wait for their grade – to know how well or poorly they have done.  Remember what it felt like in school to face an exam for which you were not adequately prepared? I remember it well. In college I arrived at a classroom to find a major exam was scheduled, of which I should have been aware and was not. That was not a good thing.

Yesterday along with many others, I said goodbye to a friend far too early in his life-journey. He was too young, his death sudden and unexpected. But he was well prepared for the final exam as was clearly attested by his family and friends, and consistently demonstrated by his life and faith.

There is a troubling reality to death, along with the even more sobering certainty of judgment. Death and judgment are neither optional nor avoidable. They are very real, and require that you live your life with both in view. No one likes to think about death, and the younger you are the less you will. But as sobering and uncomfortable a subject as death is, judgment is inevitable and no one is an exception.

“God has set eternity in (our) hearts.” Ecclesiastes 3:11. You were created for life not death, for eternal fellowship with God not His judgment. Death was not part of creation’s original plan. Death and judgment intruded into yours and every man’s experience as a result of original sin, and therefore clashes with the eternal nature God put within the human spirit. See Romans 8:18-21 NIV. Death is unnatural, therefore foreign and frightening.

Here’s the good news. God has changed the face of death for every Christ-follower. Though our limited knowledge and viewpoint leaves us without explanation of how this is true, the Bible says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” Revelation 14.13. Blessed; Imagine that!

Life is precious by the very nature of its limits. You do not have to live in fear, but in grace and confidence. Jesus’ own death and Resurrection has declared, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.

There is a victory even in death when you live prepared, “but after this the judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation . . to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28.

Remember that final exam you weren’t ready for?  That’s nothing compared to what you would feel facing eternity. That’s not to make you fearful or morbid; it’s to make you wise and prepared. You know you will face death someday, somewhere; everyone does. Too many try to ignore the fact they will then face God. See Acts 17:30-31 NIV. Death is not frightening if you are ready for what follows. Death can be a peaceful rest God gives the night before you ace the final exam.

“God abides in (you) . . that (you) may have confidence in the day of judgment.” 1 John 4:16-17. Judgment for the one who has placed faith in Jesus as Savior is an anticipation of only good, hearing His “Well done,” with the expectation of eternal reward not condemnation. God made you for life and He made life for you, and He means for everyday to be confident and carefree. Live fully; laugh easily; love with abandon; keep eternity in view.

My prayer for you today is that death will hold no fear and His judgment welcomed.

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