Sunday, July 31, 2016

Leaving a Lasting Legacy of Living for God

Preparing to Leave a Lasting Legacy of Honoring God and Belief in Our Savior

Do you live your life by sight or by believing?  
"We must understand what this word 'believe' implies. It means 'commit" and 'surrender.' Believing is your response to God's offer of mercy, love, and forgiveness." -- (Reverend Billy Graham).

The Apostle Paul said that believers in Jesus Christ, “… know that when this earthly tent in which we live is taken down – when we die and leave these bodies – we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands.– (II Corinthians 5: 1. NLT). Until then, our earthly bodies gradually wear out as we use them daily. As we journey through this earthly life slowly growing older, we are to prepare to eventually depart these earthly bodies when we one day take on our new heavenly bodies in eternity. How do we know that we will receive new bodies? Well, we are told in the scriptures that “God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.– (II Corinthians 5: 5. NLT). In other words, having the Holy Spirit indwelling us, is our guarantee that we will receive an everlasting body at the resurrection.

Christians then are confident of where we will someday reside and are confident that we will receive new and better bodies when we enter eternity with God. The Apostle Paul phrased this confidence this way: “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. … So our aim is to please Him always, whether we are here in this body or away from this body. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.– (II Corinthians 5: 6, 7, 9, 10. NLT).

True Christians are not afraid to die because we know that we are going to a better place where we will get to spend eternity with God the Father and Christ the Son. However, we are not to take dare devil risks just so that we can get out of this life and into a new one as soon as possible. It does not work that way, for God is the one that calls a person home and into eternity. Instead, Christians know that we have been given a precious life on this earth to live for Christ. Our life is also supposed to be one that will represent Christ to the world and one in which others can see Christ in us. It is in the process of living that we are to make the world a better place by living for Christ and by following the commands of God. In doing so, we are preparing to leave a legacy that will speak to people around us while we are still alive and preparing a legacy that will speak to people that are still here on their earthly journey long after we have gone to be with the Lord. It should be a good legacy that lives on long after we have left this world.

Part of the preparation for our new life in eternity and the preparation for our legacy comes from allowing the love of Christ to control our lives. In fact, we are to show others that through our Salvation and our re-birth that we have died to our old life of living in sin and have entered a new life of living for Christ and doing the things that are good, productive, and kind. It is a new life that is filled with servanthood and living for the betterment of those around us by helping others when needed and by having compassion and love for others. We are to leave a legacy of honoring God and of living for and pleasing Christ through our witnessing to others and our good deeds. That is the very least that we can do for the One who died on the cross for our sins and then arose from the grave conquering eternal death so that we can have an eternal life with God.

What is a legacy?

Webster’s dictionary says that a legacy is: “1. Money or property left to someone by a will; a bequest. 2. Anything handed down from, or as from, an ancestor.” The good old Thesaurus tells us that a legacy is something that can be transferred from one person to another such as an inheritance, heirloom, birthright, etc. But, when I think of a legacy, I do not think of monetary or tangible items that are passed on to the next generation, although leaving a legacy of wealth is what many people want and understand. Instead, I think of the intangible things in life such as truthfulness, kindness, caring, goodness, etc. that will last forever and which have intrinsic value that can’t be taken away or lost. Indeed, we often read about legacies of honor or peace and even legacies of benevolence and giving that are being passed down from one generation to the next generation. Obviously, such legacies originate in the actions or behaviors of the person or persons who are passing that legacy down to another generation. But, how do these people develop such a legacy to leave to the next generation?

Whether the legacy left to the next generation is honor, peace keeping, truthfulness, kindness and helping others through sharing or it is the more concrete expressions of benevolence and the giving of money to those less fortunate, good legacies all start with the teaching of Christian values. Parents who know Christ and have the Holy Spirit living in them set the example for their children to live in such a way that others will see Christ in them. Indeed, every parent leaves a legacy for their children. But whether that legacy is good or bad depends upon what they do with their lives and how they live their lives.

My parents were a good example of parents who have already left or who are in the process of leaving a legacy of Christian values and truth for their children and grandchildren. They allowed the Holy Spirit to control their lives so that He could produce the characteristics of Christ or the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives, which is: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – (Galatians 5: 22, 23. NLT). These are all character traits that are found in Christ and character traits that Christ wants us to pass on to the world around us. By working to obtain these traits my parents were able to pass down examples of those Christian traits to their children as they daily lived their lives in such a way that they represented truth and the values of Christ for all to see.

Christians are to live as children of light. In other words, Christians are to “Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.– (Ephesians 4: 17- 19. NLT). But that is not how those who believe in God and Christ are to live. Authentic Christians do not live their lives just by sight, but live their lives by believing in Christ and His goodness. Consequently, they are to leave a legacy of Christ-like traits so others can believe in Christ as well. For, other people can then see the light of Christ that shines through our actions and behaviors. They can also hear the Gospel message when we share it with them.

Christian people have a very important legacy to leave to this world. We are to leave a legacy of believing in Christ rather than a legacy of just seeing what is right in front of our worldly eyes or of just living just for the moment. Instead Christians are to have spiritual eyes that can guide us in living for God. Moreover, we can leave a legacy of belief in Christ that can speak into the hearts of people long after we have gone on to be with the Lord, as they remember the kindness, help, sharing and love that we have expressed toward and for them and others. But to develop such a legacy we need to live in such a way that others see Christ in us and can see Christ in the children that we have raised. Then others will want the same consuming peace and love that comes from knowing Christ and receiving His Salvation. Hopefully, they will want what Christ and the Holy Spirit have implanted within our hearts.

Leaving a legacy of belief and Christian love for the next generation starts when we repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins while believing that Christ died and arose for us, i.e. He took our sins upon Himself conquering eternal death so that we would not have to spend eternity in Hell. But when we accept that free gift of mercy, grace, and eternal life through the re-birth of Salvation, authentic Christian lives should change both internally and outwardly. Like the Apostle Paul said, you have to “throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy, and true.– (Ephesians 4: 21-24. NLT). In other words, Salvation is not only a one-time decision to believe in Christ, but it is a daily conscious commitment to live for Christ and a commitment to care about others who need to know Christ as their Savior and to help others whom we can help. Our re-birth also means that we are to live our lives promoting a legacy of belief in Christ that will show others that we have a new direction in our lives and that we have a new Christ-like nature of truth and goodness.

One example of such a modern day legacy is that of the Reverend Billy Graham. Just think of all the people he has told about Christ and all the millions of people who have come to know Christ through either being at one of his conferences or through reading one of his books on the subject of Salvation. In fact, I often quote out of a book entitled Billy Graham in Quotes, because his quotes on life everlasting are so profound and to the point. Billy Graham is a living legacy of Christian belief, values, and traits. But, when he dies, the legacy that Reverend Graham will leave is one that will continue to touch the hearts and minds of future generations. Billy Graham, however, has already left a legacy that can be seen in the hearts and minds of his children who are now doing the work of the Lord through their own Christian endeavors. They are now working on leaving a legacy of their own for future generations. Their legacy, though, comes from their belief in Christ as their Savior and their desire for individuals in the world to come to know Christ personally as well. They will leave a legacy of Christian belief and love that has already gone throughout the world with such programs as Samaritans Purse.

Your legacy – What will it be?

What will your legacy be? Will you leave a legacy that shows the world that you lived your life believing in Christ? Or will your legacy come about from seeing what the world is doing and then just wanting what the world has to offer or from simply living for the moment with no thought of what you will leave behind? Will you leave your part of the world in a better place because of the knowledge of Christ that you have shared with others or because of the help that you have given to others through some Christian service such as Active Relational Christian Mentoring? Will people be able to say that you lived for God and His Son, Jesus Christ? What will your legacy be?

 It is easy to see others doing things that they shouldn’t do and then easier still to accept that doing those things that they or we shouldn’t do is just the norm or just the way of the world. So, we often decide that we can also engage in those behaviors or at the very least we can accept those behaviors from others as the new norm. It then becomes so easy to fall into step with the secular world and to not stand up for what is right and true. But, true “born-again” Christians must stand up for the truth of the Gospel message and stand up to shine the light of Christ out into this dark world. 

If we believe in Christ and if we believe in God, the Father, who gave us the original commandments of truth to live by, we will not gladly accept the ways of the world as legitimate or acceptable. Instead, we will stand up in some fashion or another against the evil that is taking over our society such as standing up for the unborn babies who are being aborted. We will even speak out against liberalism and so called progressiveness, which is just another word for socialism. We will vote against any progressiveness or liberalism that takes away our freedom to believe in and worship God the way that we want to worship Him. We will speak out and stand up for truth and justice and not just simply accept that some Christian was just unfortunate enough to have their freedom taken away because of political correctness. As an authentic Christian will actually leave a legacy of Christian belief, values and truth. In fact, the Apostle Paul said, “Don’t copy the behavior and the customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.– (Romans 12: 1, 2. NLT).

The Apostle Paul told the new Christians not only how to live but that in living the right way they would leave a lasting legacy. Paul said, “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner, if they need lodging, for the night.
If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.
Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. … Instead, do what the Scriptures say: ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.’ Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.– (Romans 12: 9-21. NLT).

Obviously, the above verses are the core of Christian life. These are the attitudes and behaviors that will help spread the Gospel message as well as leave a lasting legacy of Christian love. But every Christian needs to show that sincere Christian love is more than just the hypocritical or polite actions and words of political correctness often used by the secular world. True Christian love is expressed in loving actions and behaviors that helps others and that helps us become better people at the same time. No one person can change an entire community or town, but one person can be the catalyst for others to also share the love of Christ as they, too, reach out to help those who need help or as they reach out to share the Gospel message. You can be the beginning of a living legacy of love as others see your actions and want to get involved in helping and doing for others. You could even be the beginning of a legacy of Active Relational Christian Mentoring for your community.

A Legacy of Sharing the Gospel

We need to not fear to spread the Gospel message and are not to fear being ridiculed for doing so. Neither should we fear Christian service. Instead, we need to seek out a Christian service that will not only benefit others in this life, but that will benefit them in the life to come as they too hear the Gospel message and make a decision for Christ. We all need a service that will develop and promote a legacy of caring and love that will be left for others to emulate. Such services as participating in Active Relational Christian Mentoring, holding a Bible study in your home, working for a soup kitchen, helping the poor in any way that you can, or reaching out to volunteer within our schools as a kind and caring adult who sets a good example are all things that will help develop a legacy of believing and living for the Lord. There are also many other services that authentic Christians can get involved in, if we are just willing to reach out and do something for the Lord.

Excuses given for not engaging in a Christian service or for not leaving a legacy of love for Christ are just that – excuses. Even Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic, is leaving a legacy of Christian belief, love, values, and truth through her speaking engagements and her program of giving wheelchairs to those who can’t afford them as well as through her Christian writings. She can’t even turn herself over in bed, yet she is leaving a legacy of Christian belief and love through the things that she can do. So, your excuse for not reaching out to share the Gospel or for not helping others in Christian love is just that, an excuse.
Many Christians find excuses not to stand up for the truth of the Gospel or excuses not engage is some type of Christian service. Unfortunately, as a Christian country we have made many excuses over the last fifty years or so. In fact, we have strayed so far from truth and from belief in God and Jesus Christ that our country no longer accepts God’s commandments or even allows them to be displayed in our government buildings for fear of stepping on someone’s politically correct toes. In fact, one of the reasons that our nation has fallen so far from its original godly beliefs and laws is that we have accepted the idea or excuse of political correctness, which in turn accepts and encourages bad actions and bad behaviors as something that has to be part of a free nation. Instead of maintaining a free nation, though, that acceptance has actually taken away our freedoms and our right to believe and speak as we feel led. Rather than leaving our children a legacy of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we are now on the verge of leaving them a legacy of suppression: suppression of the freedom to speak and suppression of the right to worship the way that we want. Worse still is that instead of a legacy of democracy for future generations, we may find that we have left them a legacy of progressiveness which is just another word for socialism. Remember, socialism is just one very small step from communism.

So, what has happened to our country’s Christian legacy? Well, we have allowed our Christian legacy to be eroded away as we have sat back and gradually accepted more and more impositions and encroachments upon our civility, our freedoms and our religious beliefs, which include such things as: deceptions, dishonesty, underhanded practices, mockery of our religion and beliefs, along with the circumvention of the truth and the falsification of stories with hidden agendas. Indeed, one of the most egregious means of circumventing the truth and of manipulating societal opinion while attempting to destroy our religious freedom is through direct manipulation by the the news media. But, it has all happened so slowly that it is only in the last few years that Christians have finally begun to worry about their freedom to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Christians are finally realizing that they have failed to stand up for their belief and the truth. 

Christians have accepted each and every attack upon our religious freedom and our values by turning the other cheek or in believing that we can do nothing to change things back to where they should be. Sadly, many of the things that we have accepted over the last 50 years has led to the derailment of our Christian legacy. But, it isn’t too late to get our train back on the right track and again leave a Christian legacy to future generations. That legacy would be; to again have the majority of our nation believing in and living for Christ while showing the world that we haven’t rolled over and succumbed to atheism and liberalism which begets socialism. We can start by showing the world that Christians have the light of Christ shining out of us and that we are willing to step up to help others, and we are willing to make a difference in the world one person at a time, starting with those around us.

We can leave a legacy of truth and love, because we can teach others about Christ and His truth. This means that we can share the Gospel message. Moreover, we can live God’s truth and live by His commandments every day, as we teach our children to do the same. We can also be fruit producing Christians who reach out to help those less fortunate or help those in momentary need. Indeed, there are so many things that Christians can do to leave a legacy of love and to share the Gospel message with future generations. But, it has to start with each of us individually. We have to live as authentic Christians and not be a Christian just in name.

Individually, each Christian must determine to leave a legacy of belief, truth and love. In order to leave a lasting legacy, not only must we live daily for Christ, but we must determine to step forward and work for the Lord by doing one or more of the following things among a myriad of many others.  1.We can determine to actively mentor another person for Christ, “passing our love and care forward”.  2. We can determine to step up and do something for someone else.  3. We can determine to teach our children the Ten Commandments. 4. We can teach and show our children how a true democratic republic should work.  5. We can stand up for truth and justice. 6. We can determine to work for some Christian outreach program or work within our church home. 7. We can engage in Active Relational Christian Mentoring, or  8. we can commit to some other type of Christian service; setting an example for our children and leaving a legacy of servanthood. 

Obviously, there are many other things that Christians can do to leave a legacy of belief, truth and love. But first we must determine to set an example of love, sharing, caring, kindness, and of doing for others. Moreover, we have to determine to truly live for Christ. But that is hard to do in a world that gives preference to those who accumulate wealth and to those who live to accumulate things and do things that make them momentarily happy in this fallen world instead of doing for others and living for Christ. Living for oneself is not real life nor is it a way to have an eternity of life with God. In fact, Christ said, “Real life is not measured by how much we own.– (Luke 12: 15. NLT). For, a legacy of wealth will not necessarily produce a legacy of love or one that leads to eternal life. In fact, a good life has nothing to do with hoarded wealth or greed.

Yes, we need money to live on, but we need Christ more than money. For, with Christ in our heart, God will help us to find the job that will bring us the money that we need, if we are willing to work and willing to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life. Indeed, Jesus went on to say that “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.– (Luke 12: 21. NLT). I don’t know about you, but the legacy that I want to leave my son is one of a Christian mother who loves the Lord and was willing to share her faith with not only her son and her family, but was willing to share her faith and service with others who needed to hear about Christ and His love. Yes, money is nice because it buys you the things that you need along with some of the things that you want. But it is much better to leave your children a legacy of Christian truth and love than to leave them a legacy of greed and wealth that will do nothing for their souls or their eternal life.

Life is fleeting. It is short and can be even shorter than we expect. So no matter how old you are do not be deceived into thinking that you still have years and years to live. In fact, James, the brother of Jesus Christ, told us in the scripture that “… life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” – (James 4: 14. NLT). This means that we never know when our time on this earth will be over. We can only know the legacy that we will leave when we are gone. What kind of legacy will you leave? I hope that you will determine that your legacy will be a legacy of Christian belief, love and truth shared with others you encounter. 

I know that you can share the Gospel and perhaps even actively and relationally mentor others for the Lord. I know that You can do it! You can leave a legacy of living for God. You can leave a legacy of belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior. For Jesus said, "He who hears My Word and believes in Him Who sent Me has passed from death into life." -- (John 5: 24. NKJV). What is your legacy?

No comments:

Post a Comment