THE FINAL CURTAIN                                                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 12-31-16  Rewrite 12-31-18

We have finally arrived at a time that many didn’t live to see; the final day of 2018. In just less than 24 hours, the year will slip away quietly into the history books never to be lived through again. Whether it has been good or bad for you, it will soon be gone. I have always been told that wishing time would pass more quickly was just wishing my life away. Now at 53 years old, and only about 14 weeks away from 54, I am trying to enjoy the ride. I have spent most of my life as many of you have trying to get more. Nothing wrong with having stuff but it should never be our priority. “Stuff” comes and goes and the scripture says in Job 1:21″”…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither:…”. I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul behind it. Ecclesiastes 5:15 adds to Job’s scripture and says that a man shall “…go as he came and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.” It’s kind of funny that we mostly think about this kind of thing when we are looking back at the previous year. “Reflecting” on the past can at times be very depressing. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus talks extensively about worrying and explains it is of no benefit. I don’t want to point out all the sad or frustrating or even terrible events of the previous year. Instead, I want to focus on the coming year. In just a few hours, there will be nothing you can do about 2018 but if you live long enough, God will bless you to see another year. What will you do with it? Will we spend it with greed or idleness or will we realize how short the age of grace is getting and try to win lost friends, family, and complete strangers to Christ? Will we sit around and hope that someone gets the gospel to a lost and dying world or take it ourselves? Will we talk to the little cashier at the grocery store and tell her how good God has been to us or just hope maybe someone with a little more boldness comes in and tells her? Will we maybe hand her a tract or just hope maybe the preacher or someone else will come by and do it?

I am not very big on “New Years resolutions” because most of them don’t last through the month of January let alone the whole year. I am however a big fan of taking the opportunities that God gives you and making the most of them, even if you never see the results. The history of this nation was lived by folks just like me and you who lived it one day at a time year after year. They endured hardships a lot of times worse than most of us will ever see. Just like us, they had good years and bad years. I wrote earlier this week about the brevity of life and I don’t mean to repeat that. I do want to encourage each one that reads this to embrace the next year as a new opportunity to show Christ in your life. Someone you pass by each day needs to see a light in their dark world. You never know what someone has faced each morning when you stop to get coffee, or first walk into work or school. They may have been up all night with a sick friend or loved one or been sick or worried themselves. Sometimes just a kind word or a smile can go a long way to helping someone else through their day. You never know what your “random act of kindness” may do to help someone else. The fourth chapter of Ephesians details how we should live right down to our conversation. It ends with the 32nd verse “And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” It’s not really that hard to be kind if you look for opportunities and plus it is not a suggestion from God but a command.

Offer to take someone’s shopping cart back in the store for them as you go. Hold the door for someone behind you. Be kind to the folks that serve you whether in a restaurant, or cashiers, mechanics, receptionist, or whoever you come in contact with. You may be the only Christian they see today. If they don’t see Christ in you, where will they see him? In case you haven’t noticed, sinners don’t come to the Lord’s house in droves like they used to. Jesus didn’t tell us to sit on our padded pews and invite them, he told us to go into the highways and hedges and compel, or urge and convince them to come. Times have changed and church is not the center of our communities anymore like it used to be. Even church members are so busy or preoccupied that they can’t show up half of the time. We are going to have to live for Christ where we encounter the folks that need him. That is in the world. We don’t have home field advantage anymore so to speak. We will have to witness in their territory and give them a good reason to come to ours. “Loving them in” even if they seem unlovable, still works best. That’s what got us in and it still works. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul said “For the love of Christ constraineth us;…” The simple fact that God loves us should make us want to lead others to him.

Whether it’s this year or next or many years from now, one day the final curtain is going to come down on our life. When folks talk about you; what will they say? When they talk about you now; what do they say? Do they have confidence in you as a child of God? Are you at the top of their list of people they can call on for prayer? We all should be. The final curtain may be dropping on this year but if we make it till next year, we have the opportunity to write the final acts in this drama we call life. What will you write and how will it end? It’s up to you. Have a Happy New Year and have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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