the only thing

the only thing

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Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time (Ecclesiastes 7:4).

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Read Psalm 90:1-17 to discover how death changes our perspective on life.

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What would you do if you knew this was the last day of your life? Live with that mindset today!

My elderly friend called me to ask if I would come over and pray with his wife who he thought might not survive the night. It was a sacred privilege to kneel beside her bed.

When I grasped Janet’s hand, she looked at me and said, “How do I do this? I’ve never died before.” I asked her if she was ready to go, and she replied that she had long ago given her life to Jesus and she wasn’t about to stop now. She would trust Him to carry her across this final step. Janet spoke of her godly parents and her three children and dozen grandchildren who, as far as she could tell, were living for the Lord. We clasped hands and thanked God for the legacy that she had passed on to the next generation. We praised God for her eventual resurrection, and we cried with sadness for her impending death.

As I drove home, I realized that we had spoken only of the people in her life: Jesus, her parents, her husband, and her children. Janet hadn’t mentioned the job she gave up to stay home and care for her children—only that they had turned out as she had hoped. As she lay dying, Janet wasn’t thinking about any of her possessions, projects, or problems, but only about the people who filled her life with joy. I thought of what had burdened my heart earlier that day. The bills and daily problems that once had felt so big now seemed silly.

Death focuses the mind, which is why Solomon wrote, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). One day you’re going to die. What do you think will matter to you then? Live accordingly.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Hebrews 11:1-40

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12 Responses to “the only thing”

  1. nivla says:

    great message!

    i too was overly bugged by life’s troubles until I read this post(my career issues, guilty feelings, bills, among many others).. what a refreshing way to shift ONCE AGAIN my perspective that after all, these things are only supplementary. Not that they are not important (in fact, they are),,.yet it’s the relationship I’ve cultivated with my family, friends and God that matter more.

  2. Wow, Mike – what a story. Thank you, and thank God for this woman’s faith and perspective on what most matters.

  3. hchead says:

    I must say I am touched by this woman’s faith. Sometimes I ask myself who am i saving for? and sometimes it seems the savings is too little for the bills/project that stare me in the face. Knowing that making heaven is real and most profitable, i constantly pray that i do not deviate from the grace God has given me. The word of Ps. 90 v 12-”Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” is one things i must continue to pray for.

    May God give us faith that will move His heart.

  4. mike says:

    As I am preparng to go to work this devotion was a wonderful pause in my day to remember those things that are most important.

    Thank-you.

  5. dossk says:

    Dear Mike. Thanks for the post. I have never seen anybody dying. But one thing I noticed many times, after the death of a person. Some of my close friends are Hindus and other set of friends are believers. When we attend the funeral, I particularly look at the faces. The face of the non-Christians looked Horrid, aghast, desperate. The face of the believers looked calm, composed with a streak of smile. The believer’s death is precious in the sight of the Lord..

  6. Gene says:

    Thanks, Mike, for story and Scripture about the how “the living should take this to heart.” With the events this past week in Connecticut, we are reminded about how fragile life is and that we all face death whether we are young or old. Lord, help us to have your perspective on life and eternity. Amen.

  7. mike wittmer says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. One other thing that I couldn’t fit in the devotional but I think is important. As Janet and I talked we concluded that the answer to her question, “How do I do this?” is that she doesn’t need to do anything except climb on Jesus’ back and let Him carry her across the Jordan. She has lived her entire life for Jesus, and it’s just about to pay off in the biggest way possible. Death is precisely the reason to be a Christian–for we alone have God’s promise that we will rise again!

  8. nattykins says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes and definitely needed to hear this. Like many of you, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and dwell on my illnesses…but after hearing this, I feel refreshed and greatful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. tom felten says:

    Mike, two things Jesus said come to mind: “I tell you not to worry about everyday life” (Matthew 6:25). “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). Trusting Jesus and living for Him today prepares us for facing death and any other challenges in the future.

  10. Tom Kopper says:

    And we do have the hope of all who knows Jesus, as their Lord and Savor, we can tell anyone with confidance and conviction that person is in Heaven, !!! Just waiting for you !!!

  11. yemiks1 says:

    Jesus has overcome death for us all- O Death, where is your sting?… 1Corinthians 15:55
    But one thing we should always remember are the ‘THINGS!’ Matthew 6:33 they are prepared to drag us off our WAY; Isaiah 35:8

  12. winn collier says:

    ‘How do I do this?’ That question is sitting with me.

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