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Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 2, 2003

On Grandma’s door there was a little brown plaque which read, “Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Do any of you remember seeing that plaque? Also on the plaque were these words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 1:27, “For me to live is Christ.”

For some time now I’ve been thinking about those words - and Grandma - and the struggle to live as those words tell us we should live. At the core of that poem - at the heart of what Paul wrote - is trust - the choice to trust God with our lives. That trust is something that we struggle with. Its hard for us - in the different circumstances of our lives to be able to let go of everything that we cling to for security and to allow God to have complete control over our lives. That’s hard.

Grandma struggled with that trust. When I was a kid my parents would leave me at Grandma’s for the night. Grandma and I would sit in her living room - in the dark - without heat - and watch Hogan’s Hero’s together. The only source of heat and light was the fire in her fireplace - usually fueled with trash - not wood - or anything she’d have to pay for. At night I would crawl into bed and shiver under the covers until I could warm them up.

Grandma was very careful with how she spent money. What she had earned - what she possessed - she had a hard time letting go of. And yet on the other hand there were times when I experienced Grandma’s generosity. She could give when it was needed. Her trust was in God.

On one hand - we have an awareness that God is worth trusting. That God makes sense out of life. That real life is in Jesus. Things worth doing are those things which are done for God. And yet, it is so hard to let go and trust Him with our lives.

We have an opportunity this morning to think about the value of what we’re placing our trust in. When we face death - we face our own mortality. We’re challenged to think about our own lives. Some things that seem terribly important and serious often prove to be worthless. Things that we’re tempted to put our trust in.

Paul writes, "For to me to live is Christ"

Paul, later in the same letter to the Philippians - in chapter 3 - verse 8 - says this, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."

Paul was a man who traveled life's road with many challenging and difficult experiences. Hard circumstances that go beyond what most of us will ever experience. Constantly he was under pressure to abandon his trust in God. Paul says, that there is no greater priority in life than knowing Jesus Christ. The pursuit of anything else - any other priority is worthless.

In Philippians 3:9, Paul writes that his desire - his passion - is to be found in Jesus - to personally know God's love and salvation - to know the life - the true life - of value and purpose - life lived with God - which God gives to us - today and forever.

So many people are looking for something to tether their lives to - to commit to - to trust in. To know Jesus is to realize that God Himself has reached to us - to save us from our sin and separation from Him. When we trust Him with our lives He will always be there for us.

For Paul - life is Christ. That was true of Grandma. Despite everything - it was her relationship with Jesus that had the greatest priority. Her trust was in Jesus.

In the verse from Philippians there are two parts. Paul begins, "For to me to live is Christ." Then the verse concludes, "To die is gain." Death is gain.

At Gordon Manor when we’d visit Grandma she’d talk about a number of things - her past - how she missed Baba Tzolak - her living situation - and so on. It was a loop. Especially in in the last couple of years she would get to the end of the tape and start over again. In the last few months the different subjects in that dialogue got more confused - more mixed up. So that unless a person really knew what the different subjects were they would have hard time making sense of what Grandma was saying.

One thing that amazed me the last couple of times I visited Grandma was that in all the confusion the one thing she was not confused about - what she was able to clearly articulate - was her relationship with God in Jesus Christ - and that she knew she was going to heaven.

Beyond the intellectual, the “When we die we go to heaven” part - when the rubber meets the road - when our faith confronts eternity - do we really trust in God? Do we look to death as an opportunity for gain or an unknown to hide from?

For many people God is a last resort when all else fails - a crutch to lean on in time of need. Rushing through our lives who has time for God? Trust in God - living in obedience to Him - is something for spiritually minded people who get too carried away with their religion. But. so many people are all asking the same question, "What is my eternal destiny?" "Is this all there is?" They live empty and hopeless lives.

Paul says - in Philippians 3:10,11 - that his desire - in knowing Jesus - is to know the power of Jesus' resurrection. To suffer as Jesus did. To die in obedience and trust of God in order that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Jesus said, (John 11:25,26) "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Grandma did. Living with Jesus - in death she gained eternal life with God.

As I’ve been thinking about what to share this morning I’ve come to imagine that Grandma had that plaque on her door as a reminder to herself. I wanted to share it with you this morning because its a reminder for me - for all of us - of what’s really important in life.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior. You need to. Trust Him with your life. If you know Him - learn to trust Him more fully. His promises and all that He offers are what life - and eternity - are all about.