BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5 New Living Translation).
For the saints and the sinners, this earth is not our home. That means everybody will die one day. It could be a natural death or unnatural death. People can die at old age or a young age. They can die due to old age, sickness, disaster or unknown reasons. Somehow, something will happen to terminate our existence on earth.
Another thing that is peculiar to believers in Christ, which can terminate their existence on earth is the rapture. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 New King James Version). Therefore, for believers in Christ, death or the rapture can terminate their lives.
Everybody prays for long life, but we must live, ready for death or the rapture every time. We must live our lives as if each day is the last day on earth. In Hebrews 11:13, the Bible says that all the heroes of faith died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Take note of that phrase, strangers and pilgrims on the earth. If they hadn’t died, we should be visiting them and our forefathers and foremothers in the museum today! But everybody will die one day, or the rapture will take place for the believers.
Apostle Peter also referred to the believers as sojourners and pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11). “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14, New Living Translation). According to Paul, in Philippians 3:20, our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In view of the above, we must be expectant that God can recall us home any time, and therefore, live ready. The 157 people from 35 countries, including two Nigerian Professors, who died in the March 2019 Ethiopian Airways plane crash, didn’t know death would come so soon. If Jesus were doing His ministry on earth today, He could have said, “Do you suppose that the 157 people who died a tragic death in the plane crash were worse sinners than others?” He could also have said, “Or the twenty, including innocent school children, who died in a house collapse in Lagos, Nigeria, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other people living in Lagos?”
Are you not familiar with similar statements Jesus made in Luke 13:1-5? The passage says, “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish’” (New King James Version).
Many have died suddenly in similar plane crashes or other disasters, at different times, who were not expecting death. Some died in their sleep. Some died after brief or prolonged illnesses. They were not necessarily worse sinners than others.
Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NKJV). According to Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time” (New Living Translation). In other words, a funeral is better than a party. Why? Because a funeral reminds us that we are going to die one day. You and I will die one day. So we should live each day as if it is the last, not because we want to die now. People who were younger than you have died!
The death of a believer in the LORD, at any age, and no matter how painful it is, is a transition to glory, a journey to eternity. The Bible calls the believer’s death sleep. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 New King James Version). If death is falling asleep, then there is a waking up – the resurrection! “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15 New King James Version).
How to live each day as if it is your last day on earth
1. Love the LORD with all your heart, soul, and strength. God told the children of Israel, through Moses, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4 New King James Version). Jesus also reiterated this command.
To the lawyer who asked Jesus which was the great commandment in the law, Jesus said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 New King James Version). Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27a say a similar thing. Love the LORD every day. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:22, “If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!” (New Living Translation) You won’t be cursed in Jesus’ name.
The sin of the Church of Ephesus was that she had backslid from her first love; she had left her first love, though she was commended for other things. She was told to remember from where she had fallen; repent and do the first works, or else the LORD would come quickly and remove her lampstand from its place (Revelations 2:2-6). It’s so easy for the believers to be full of works, yet be empty of the first love.
In the Bible, there is a relationship between love for the LORD and obedience to His Word. It’s not merely expressing love for the LORD by words of mouth. “Therefore, you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always” (Deuteronomy 11:1-2 New King James Version). Verse 13 says, “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (New King James Version).
Relationship between love for the LORD and obedience to His Word is seen again in Deuteronomy 13:1-5: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ — which you have not known — ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst” (New King James Version).
Joshua also talked about loving the LORD and walking in all His ways, keeping His commandments (Joshua 22:5).
All these scriptures underscore the fact that we must demonstrate our love for the LORD through obedience to His Word. Therefore, as we live each day as if it is our last day on earth, we should obey His Word as a demonstration of our love for Him. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (New Living Translation). Psalm 97:10a says, “You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (New King James Version)
Make sure you also obey the voice of the Holy Spirit in your recreated human spirit. Follow what the Holy Spirit tells you. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God always agree. Whatever you think the Holy Spirit is telling you that is contrary to the Word of God is not from God. “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8, King James Version).
Love the LORD wholeheartedly. Joshua said, “Therefore, take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God” (Joshua 23:11 New King James Version).
2. Prioritize family life. Give attention to your family. Ordinarily, we start each day from home. There is the tendency to hurry out of home or stay too long away from home and disconnect from the family. We can even be at home, stay under the same roof with our family but still neglect them – no healthy interaction. This could be because of obsession with work. People spend nearly all day outside and still, habitually, bring work home to do, having no time for the family. It can be that you’re doing more than God wants you to do per day, you’re not applying wisdom to your work, you’re tired of the family or Satan wants to destroy you and your home.
In Billy Graham’s 735-page autobiography written when he was 78 years old, he spoke on his regrets and many things he would do differently. One of them was spending more time with his family. He said, “For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family. When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and engagements we kept. Sometimes we flitted from one part of the country to another, even from one continent to another, in the course of only a few days. Were all these engagements necessary? Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it. Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever. Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not.”
Don’t neglect your family as you live each day. When people are near death, they don’t bother about their money; their concern is their family, especially their immediate family. Money, business-empires, worldly accomplishments and the like will not matter when death comes. Don’t neglect your family. Invest quality and quantity time in your family. Care for your spouse and children, relations and others you have close relationship with. Life is not about possessions but about relationships. The first of such relationships, after God, is the family.
The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 never neglected her home despite all the ventures she is involved in. Verse 27 says she watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
While David was running away from Saul, who wanted to kill him, he still remembered to take care of his parents. “Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.’ So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold” (1 Samuel 22:3-4 New King James Version).
Also, Jesus, on the cross, made arrangement for his mother’s care. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25 New King James Version).
Some career women have lost their husbands to other women, because they neglected their children and husbands while being busy with their career goals. Some managed to take care of their children, but asked their husbands to take care of themselves! Some men did the same thing. They’re regretting today, living a lonely life. Why? The children grew up and went to start their own families. The businesses or careers they devoted their lives to don’t need them again, either due to retirement or retrenchment. They’ve estranged themselves from their husbands or wives over the years. Your success at work can never compensate for your failure at home. Don’t be an absentee husband, wife or parent.
3. Walk in love with others. Right from the Old Testament, the Bible has emphasized that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Leviticus 19:18b says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (New King James Version). This is also repeated in the New Testament. Jesus said in Matthew 22:39 that the second important commandment of God is to love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 also records this. Jesus said there is no other commandment greater than loving the LORD and loving one’s neighbor (Mark 12:31). He said on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:40). In Romans 13:9, Paul said that all commandments regarding relationship with fellow human beings were summed in “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (New King James Version). In verse 10b, he said that love is the fulfillment of the law.
As you live, each day, walk in love. Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:2 that we should walk in love, as Christ also had loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. If you don’t walk in love, your faith will not work. According to Apostle Paul, in Galatians 5:6, faith works through love.
Jesus said you shouldn’t just love those who love you, but love those who hate you, too. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 New King James Version).
To walk in love daily means that you forgive those who offend you each day. The Bible talks a lot about forgiveness, including the teachings of Jesus on the subject. Imagine those who died suddenly, like the victims of the recent plane crash or road accidents, and they harbored unforgiveness in their hearts! You shouldn’t die with any offence in your heart. Whether people ask for forgiveness or not, forgive them for the sake of yourself and for the sake of eternity.
In Genesis 50, Joseph’s brothers, who had wronged him, fell down before his face begging for forgiveness. Their father had died, and they thought that Joseph would seek revenge. But he didn’t. He forgave them, saying, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19 New King James Version) Vengeance belongs to God (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). You shall not take vengeance (Leviticus 19:18a).
Jesus emphasized forgiveness in His teachings, including in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12-15; Luke 11:2-4; Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26;Luke 17:3-4). On the cross, before He died, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34a New King James Version).
Go about your day peacefully. Death can come or the rapture can take place any time. Don’t go and quarrel with someone whose appointment with death is on that day. Otherwise, if he dies, you might be held responsible! According to Romans 12:18, “Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible” (New Living Translation). Hebrews 12:14a says, “Try to live in peace with everyone” (New Living Translation).
4. Think of and live for eternity. You won’t live for eternity on this earth, as it is at present. An end will come one day and you’ll ultimately give account to God. Hebrews 9:27 says “…each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment…” (New Living Translation). Live your life not the way unbelievers do pursuing material things, but live in light of eternity. Always consider eternity as you take every decision.“Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal” (Agnes Maude Royden).
Set your heart on things above. 1 Corinthians 7:31 says those who use this world should not misuse it for the form of this world is passing away. As you interact with this world each day, don’t be assimilated into the worldly system. Hold loosely the things of this world and hold tightly to the word of life (Philippians 2:16a New Living Translation). Cling tightly to your faith in Christ (1 Timothy 1:19a New Living Translation).
Colossians 3:1 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (New King James Version).“Aim at what is in heaven” (New Century Version). There is a difference between those who set their minds on what is in heaven and those who set their minds on what is on earth. Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (New King James Version). Hebrews 9:28 talks about those who are eagerly waiting for Jesus. Are you one of them? Philippians 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (New King James Version).
How are we supposed to live if we are to live for eternity? In 1 Peter 2:11-12, Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims , abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (New King James Version).
Think of and live for eternity, not this present world. In 1 Corinthians 7:31b, Paul said the form of this world was passing away. John said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 New King James Version).
5. Do the work of God enthusiastically, and diligently pursue God’s purpose for your life. Because each day can be one’s last day on earth doesn’t mean one should be idle, expecting death or the rapture. No.
You should be busy with the LORD’s work and your life’s assignment. “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come’” (Luke 19:13 New King James Version).
You don’t always have all the time to do the work of God or to fulfill your destiny. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4 New King James Version). Make hay while the sun shines. There may not be a better time than now. Don’t procrastinate. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 New Living Translation).
Paul told Timothy, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:4 New King James Version). He wrote to the Colossians, “And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it’” (Colossians 4:17 New King James Version). In other words, Archippus should carry out the work the LORD had given him.
“Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Romans 12:11, New Living Translation). Don’t face your business while you neglect the Father’s business. Jesus said, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 New King James Version)
Death or the rapture will cause every work for the LORD or ministry and destiny to cease. Sometimes, age also affects what we can do. There are things you can do when you’re young. Do what you need to do now. A time is coming when you won’t be able to do them. There is a day referred to as the difficult days. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, New King James Version). The New Living Translation refers to the difficult day as “before you grow old and no longer enjoy living.”
One major thing you must not neglect is soul-winning. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 New King James Version).Use every Biblical means possible to preach the Word of God to sinners. There is eternal reward for soul-winners: the crown of rejoicing. Paul said, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 New King James Version).
Don’t be engrossed in the affairs of life that you don’t get involved in kingdom service, especially soul-winning. “And as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. Hardworking farmers are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor” (2 Timothy 2:3-6 New Living Translation).
Conclusion: Nobody knows when death will come, or when the rapture will take place. Live each day with the seriousness that it may be your last day. See every day as a gift from God to be lived to His glory. Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 New King James Version).
If you are born again, you’ve already died; you were crucified with Jesus, and also resurrected with Him. You should now live for Him every day. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 New King James Version).
If you’re not born again, please, don’t delay any further. Give your life to Jesus. There is no repentance in the grave, and there is no second rapture!
If you’ve decided to give your life to Jesus, please, take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the LORD and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O LORD God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my LORD and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the LORD make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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