12. Don't Wait Until You Are Dead to Get a Life

You Have Another Choice To Make
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Once you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you take on a new identity
(2 Corinthians 5:17). In addition to a new identity, you are immediately
given a new citizenship (Philippians 3:20). In reality, you have a
dual citizenship. You're a citizen of heaven, but at the same time
you're still a citizen of earth. More correctly, you are a foreign
citizen on earth (1 Peter 2:11).

You Have Two Choices
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Once you have attained your dual citizenship, you must live your life
in a kind of tension between your permanent future home and your
temporary earthly one. Your choice to believe in Jesus resulted in
your heavenly citizenship. But while you're still here on earth, you
have another choice you need to make:

        How am I going to live?

Here you have only two choices: 
 
Choice #1--Living your life from an earthly perspective
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If there's one word that best characterizes life from an earthly
perspective, it's fear. More specifically, it's the fear of loss. When you
live life from an earthly perspective, you think the same way that the
world thinks. You are reduced to worrying about your stuff and your
physical self, both of which are temporary and earthbound.

The Fear of Losing Your Stuff
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You have possessions, which are neither good nor bad in themselves. It
really doesn't make any difference if what you own would barely fill a
shopping cart, or if you have so much stuff that you need a warehouse to
hold it all. When you live life from an earthly perspective, you don't
want to lose any of it. And because you are afraid that you might, you
take whatever measures are necessary to protect and insure your stuff.

The Fear of Losing Your Self-esteem
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You care about your reputation, about what people think and say about
you. You also care about success, wanting to avoid failure. Failure is one
of your greatest fears.

The Fear of Losing Your Health
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No one wants to get sick. It is one of our greatest worries. No one wants
to experience pain. But even if you work hard to keep healthy, you still
live with the fear that something might happen.

The Fear of Losing Your Life
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Read the headlines in any city and you'll see the same reports. Daily,
people lose their lives through accidents, disease, and violence. No
matter how great the precautions are that you take, you must always know
that you could be next.

As a believer, it's not wrong to fear, but it is wrong to live in the grip
of fear. If fear characterizes your life, it means you are living your
life from an earthly perspective. It means you have your eyes on the
things of earth rather than the things of heaven. You are trusting
yourself rather than trusting Jesus. That's the way the people without
Jesus conduct their lives. They are earthbound, without any other options.
They have no choice but to protect themselves and their stuff while they
work to accumulate more. Read Luke 9:25 to see what Jesus had to say about
such a perspective.

Fear Will Cause You to Sink
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There's a great story in the New Testament (Matthew 14:22-33) that
illustrates the danger of fear. The disciples were trying to get from one
side of the Sea of Galilee to the other when a big storm kicked up some
heavy waves. Just when it seemed the boat was about to capsize, they saw
Jesus walking toward them on the water. This freaked them out and the
disciples screamed out in terror. Jesus comforted them, calling out, "It's
all right, I am here! Don't be afraid."

Then Peter, the impulsive disciple, decided he couldn't wait for Jesus to
get to the boat, so he stepped out and started to walk on the water toward
Jesus. He was doing fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but when he
looked around and saw the strength of the waves, he was filled with fear
and began to sink. "Save me," Peter yelled out. Jesus grabbed him by the  
hand, pulled him to the top of the water once again, and said, "You don't
have much faith. Why did you doubt me?"

The lesson for us is that fear comes from a lack of faith. Fear comes when
we take our eyes off the Savior and start worrying about our circumstances.
 
If You're Going To Fear Something, Fear God
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What do you think of when you hear the expression, "Fear God"? If you're
living life from an earthly perspective, you will probably identify with
the verse, "It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living
God" (Hebrews 10:31). But, if you choose to live your life from a heavenly
perspective, the meaning of "Fear God" takes on a much different meaning.
To fear God means to take Him seriously and do what He says. As a
Christian, the first step in living your life from God's perspective is to
do just that.

Choice #2--Living your life from a heavenly perspective.
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Only Christians have the choice of living life from a heavenly perspective. 
It's living a life of faith rather than a life of fear. The God of the 
universe invites you to view life and death from his eternal vantage
point. It's what God calls us to in His Word:(Colossians 3:2).

Do you really believe in heaven? Are you convinced that heaven is a real
place? If you really are sure about heaven, then you should have the
ability to see things from a heavenly perspective. Don't worry about being
"too heavenly minded to be any earthly good." You need to be more heavenly
minded, not less. It's time to let faith characterize your life rather
than fear (Hebrews 11.1).

Let Your Future Revolutionize Your Present
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Your Stuff
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Jesus was very clear in His teachings about stuff (Matthew 6:25). When
you live your life from a heavenly perspective, you begin to see that
your pessessions ultimately belong to god in the first place. They are
yours to manage, not to own. You shouldn't get too attached to your
possessions (Matthew 6:19,20).

Your self-esteem
----------------
Live with a heavenly perspective (Luke 22:26). Your fear of losing your
self-esteem and your fear of failure will melt away when you adopt the
heavenly perspective of serving others.

Your health
-----------
Your body is in a state of decay. This is the natural order of things.
Do not lose hope (2 Corinthians 4:16,17). Death is a doorway to glory
(1 Corinthians 15:54,55).

Bring Heaven to Earth
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As a Christian, you have another important responsibility while you're
living here on the planet: bringing heaven to earth. Jesus emphasized this
when He told His disciples how to pray (in what is known as the Lord's
Prayer) (Matthew 6:10). Jesus was making a connection between the kingdom
of heaven that is coming and the spiritual kingdom which is real now in
our hearts. As believers, we are the link between the two. We are given
the responsibility of bringing heaven to earth. There are three ways God
uses us to bring heaven to earth.

1. God with Us--God dwells in heaven, but one of his desires is to live
   with His human creations on earth. He walked with Adam and Eve in the
   garden (Genesis 3:8) and was with them on earth until sin broke their
   fellowship. God then established a people for Himself on earth (the
   Hebrews) and instructed them to build a tabernacle, which He filled
   with His presence (Exodus 40:34). When His people rebelled, God broke
   earthly contact once again. Then in God's most dramatic move, He came
   to earth in the form of a baby born to a virgin. He was called Immanuel,
   which literally means "God is with us" (Matthews 1:23). But once again, we
   rejected God's presence on earth, and He returned to heaven. In his
   future kingdom, when He creates a new heaven and a new earth, God will
   once again live among His people (Revalation 21:3). In the meantime,
   God wants to live on earth with you. When you invited Jesus into your
   heart, God literally came through your heart's door to live within you
   (Revelation 3:20). You became a temple of the living God (2 Corinthians
   6:16). So the first way you bring heaven to earth is to invite Jesus
   into your heart.
2. God in Us--God wants to be with you, but He also wants to be in you. In
   order for you to really experience the dynamic power of God, He has to
   get under your skin. He has to get deep in your heart, where He can
   rule as Lord. That's where He wants to be: on the throne of your life.
   When this happens, your life will begin to impact the world around you.
   As people see God in you, they will begin to see God.
3. God Through Us--God is big on glory. His greatest desire is that we
   glorify Him. In the past, God has displayed His glory, particularly
   when Jesus came to earth (John 1:14). In the future, God's glory will
   be on full display when Jesus comes to reign on earth during the
   millennium (Matthew 19:28). But right now, he wants to display His
   glory through us by way of the good works produced in our lives. As you
   allow God to work through you, He will bring peace, rest, security, 
   beauty, and fellowship into your life now and help you to bring them to
   others. 

Becoming a Kingdom Person
-------------------------
You've got a past (God saved you), and you have a future (you will be with
God at the end of the world). But right now, it's your job to bring God's
presence to the present. You do this by becoming kingdom person. As you
grow in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you, you will exhibit
more and more of the qualities God desires for you to show to the world.
Don't get discouraged if the process takes time. It will take a lifetime.
But you will see progress. Here is God's guarantee:

As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like
him and reflect his glory even more (2 Corinthians 3:18).

May God bless you as you serve Him as a kingdom person.

What's That Again?
-----------------
1. As a believer, you have a choice to make between living your life from
   an earthly or a heavenly perspective.

2. When you live your life from an earthly perspective, your life will be
   characterized by fear.

3. When you live your life from a heavenly perspective, your life will be
   characterized by faith.

4. You will bring heaven to earth as God works with you, in you, and
   through you.

5. Make it your goal to become a kingdom person.