Dear Fellow Children of God,
Paul’s second letter to the Christians in Corinth is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Paul speaks with faith, from the heart, about personal suffering, about deep anguish, about care for others, and about the mission of God’s Church. I have personally found comfort, strength, and direction for my life many times in the God-inspired words of Second Corinthians. Therefore, a Bible verse I asked every confirmation student to memorize, understand, and to put into practice is 2 Corinthians 5:15. “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Because Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose for me, I am called to live for Him, not for myself. That verse is an excellent description of the life of a Christian disciple.
Later in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul shares the amazing grace of God with this congregation. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthian 8:9) Paul shares this undeserved love of God while encouraging the Corinthians to participate in a financial offering of love for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. His basic line of reasoning goes like this. “If Jesus left the riches of life with His Father in heaven, if Jesus took on the poverty of this world, with it’s sin and death, so that you can have the riches of His blessing in this life AND receive eternal life in heaven, how will you respond to this amazing grace?” Paul’s hope was that the hearts of these Corinthians would be moved by our Lord’s love and His grace, and that these Christians would want to serve God with all their lives (2 Corinthians 8:5), including their resources and their finances.
Yes, as we respond to the unbelievable love God has for us, we want to live for Him, even with our finances. But, . . . have you ever thought of what we might do for the Lord when we are no longer living on this earth?
Kathy and I have been working on our wills again, and setting up a trust for when God calls us home. Don’t worry, we don’t have any medical harbingers of our imminent departures. But, when my dad passed in 2018, at the age of 90 years, and 11+ months, he set an example for us of leaving his legacy to his children in a trust. We decided to follow his example. While working on these documents (This is our 5th will in our married lives.) we wanted to leave more than possessions. Our greatest gift and possession is God’s unbelievable grace, which we receive through faith in Jesus. So, how can we leave our faith, how can we continue to serve our Lord, even when we are dead?
In actuality, Kathy and I already had a statement of faith in our last will, but we both thought that one was clumsy, and poorly worded. Kathy, however, found another statement of faith which we adapted. Perhaps, this can give you some thoughts for your response to God’s love, now and eternally. Perhaps our Christian Preamble can help you consider the question, “How can we leave our faith, how can we continue to serve our Lord, even when we are dead?” Following is what we are including in our wills and in our trust.
In the name of the True God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
First, I want my loved ones to know that I place full confidence and trust in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who promised: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die." (John 11:25-26)
Second, knowing that the wages of sin is death, I believe that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, suffered and died for the forgiveness of all my sins, which I neither deserve nor merit, but I receive it as a free gift of God, Who is rich in grace and mercy.
Third, I leave to all of my loved ones the promise of eternal life, because Jesus rose from the dead, and I leave with them the truth and comfort of the words of our Savior, found in John 3:16; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” I leave those who survive me the assurance of knowing that I have died in this faith and now have joined my Lord in eternal glory.
Fourth, I praise God for giving me a loving, caring, Christian helpmate in my wife/husband. They have been a blessing to me, and a wonderful parent to our children. Knowing that we both share our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we will praise the Lord forever in Heaven.
Fifth, I pray that the Lord would guard and protect my children. You are very special to me and I thank the Lord for you. Through your baptism you have been received into God's family and I urge you to remain faithful to Christ until you are called home to be with the Lord. I love you and I look forward to eternity with you in heaven.
Sixth, I pray that the Lord would shower His blessings upon my grandchildren. May the Holy Spirit guide you along the narrow path of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I urge you to respect your parents and honor them as your parents have honored me.
Seventh, I recognize that all my earthly possessions are a gift from God. Therefore, I have made provisions in my will to continue my Christian stewardship after I have gone to Heaven to be with the Lord. I trust that what I offer as a gift will be blessed many times over by the Lord in sharing the Good News.
Eighth, my heirs will receive, through me, gifts from God. Our greatest temporal blessing has been our family. May you always remember that everything you have is a trust from God. Be good and wise stewards of His blessings, managing wisely and returning to Him a generous portion for the work in His Kingdom. Please especially take care of one another. God bless you, and I love you.
Kathy and I have been thinking on the question, “How can we leave our faith, how can we continue to serve our Lord, even when we are dead?” Perhaps our thoughts can be a blessing to you as well.
A Child of God, Responding to God’s GRACE in Christ, Through Life AND in Death,
P.S. Here are some fishing pictures
· Surf casting at Crescent Beach, 2-12--2020: https://photos.app.goo.gl/o2LQaZntWrkbzWBJ8
· Fishing on the Suwannee River with brother, Stephen, 2-15-2020. https://photos.app.goo.gl/vS8DSr5ox8swCivG6
· Fishing on Orange Lake with new friend, Randy, 2-18-2020. https://photos.app.goo.gl/jckHt4x1k5FBf9Mz7
ABOUT THIS DEVOTION - I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK. This devotion was previously titled, "Thoughts from the Pastor." However, with life's changes I will now call it "Journeys Through Life as a Child of God." I am only sending this message to those who have asked o receive it. If you know someone else who desires to receive this message, have them e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view this message on my Facebook page.