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Most people have heard about Jesus’ story of the wise man and the foolish man in Mt. 7:24–27. The wise man looked ahead and made preparation for his future needs, while the foolish man assumed that things would never change and he could get by doing very little about the future. Having built his house on a solid foundation, the wise man was ready when the storm broke. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Mt. 7:25). The wise man’s wisdom lay in his looking forward. He based his actions today on what his needs would be tomorrow.
Most of us understand that we are going to face a great test in the future: we are going to die and stand before God in judgment (Hb. 9:27). We know that those events are going to happen, but like the foolish man, we often fail to make preparation. We glide through daily life as if things were always going to continue as they have in the past, and we forget what we know about the end of life. Moses prayed for the people of Israel, “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (Deut. 32:29 NKJV). We are wise if we seriously consider the end of life. Quality lives do not happen by chance — they are the result of a definite choice to pursue a worthy goal.
It is possible to live in such a relationship with God that we are ready to die. When we obey the gospel of Christ and live in daily fellowship with our Heavenly Father, we do not have to dread the prospect of judgment. John wrote, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).
Throughout the coming week, let’s make it our goal to think more seriously about death and judgment. If we avoid doing that “today,” then “tomorrow” will be a terrible prospect: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hb. 10:31). But if we wisely live in preparation for the end of life, then we “may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4:17). If we want the end, or goal, of life to be a joyful outcome, today is the day to do something about that.
Monday: Hebrews 9:27
Key Idea: It is certain that we will die and stand before God in judgment.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean that we are “appointed” to die? What is the “judgment” that is said to come after death? What difference should it make in our lives if we know these things? See 1 Jn. 4:17.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:31–33.
Tuesday: Revelation 20:12
Key Idea: Judgment will be according to our deeds while we lived.
Questions for Family Growth: Describe what John saw in this verse. What are the “books” that were opened? What are the “works” according to which the dead were judged? In 2 Cor. 5:10, what did Paul say we will receive?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:1.
Wednesday: 2 Kings 20:1
Key Idea: While we have opportunity, we ought to “set our house in order.”
Questions for Family Growth: What happened to Hezekiah the king, and what message was sent to him? What are some things a person might do to set his “house” in order? How should we prepare for our death?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:2.
Thursday: Hebrews 2:14,15
Key Idea: In Christ, we are released from the fear of death.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the “fear of death” that we are released from in Christ? Compared to the worldly person’s attitude toward death, what should the faithful Christian’s attitude be? Consider Phil. 1:21–24 and 1 Jn. 2:28.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:3.
Friday: Matthew 6:19–21
Key Idea: We ought to spend our lives laying up “treasures in heaven.”
Questions for Family Growth: What are the “treasures on earth” Jesus spoke about? In contrast, what are “treasures in heaven”? What did Jesus say about our hearts? How should we be “wise” according to Deut. 32:29?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 16:4.