Summary: We all make judgment calls in life. But there is one that is far more important than all the rest.

“The Road to a Better Life: Make the Right Call!”

Hebrews 9:11-28

There was once a program on TV in which the main character always received a newspaper one day in advance. That meant that what he read had actually not yet happened - he was reading the future. This put tremendous strain on him as he tried to prevent tragedies from occurring. Sometimes he read where more than one tragedy was going to happen at the same time. He always faced a choice: How should he respond; which should he choose? He wound up making what we label a judgment call. Officials in athletic events try to enforce the rules. Sometimes what happens on the field is open to more than one interpretation - so the official makes a judgment call. School superintendents decide if the roads and temperatures are safe for students; they often make a judgment call.

But there’s another kind of judgment call that concerns me today - it’s one that affects each of us somewhere down the road of life. But knowledge of it impacts us today. I’m always struck by the words of Hebrews: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

The author of Hebrews confronts us, first, with the REALITY OF DEATH. We are all destined to die once; we have an appointment with death. The Bible is very clear regarding life and death. It is the only Book that tells us where we come from, where we are, and where we’re going. And it says that DEATH IS INEVITABLE. Ps. 89:48 - “What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?” The wise preacher, in Eccl. 8:8, claims: “No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death.” James, in 4:14, points out - “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

And all of this is only affirmed by our experience of living. As sure as night follows day, death comes to everyone. It is no respecter of persons. As Billy Graham has pointed out, “It’s an axiom that there are just two certainties in life: death and taxes, but that is not true. With the right deductions and a good accountant, millionaires have managed to avoid paying taxes at all. But everyone, millionaires and paupers, will face the ultimate certainty: death. ...No matter what your diet, no matter how much you exercise, no matter how many vitamins or health foods you eat, no matter how low your cholesterol, you will still die - someday, some way.” How true! We cannot avoid it, buy our way out of it, or stop it.

It reminds me of a woman who became very ill. She was eventually confined to bed. Her eight year-old daughter was not yet aware of the terminal nature of her mother’s illness. One afternoon the young daughter stood outside her mother’s bedroom door. Her parents and the doctor, unaware of her presence, talked frankly. The doctor said, “The time is not too far off. Before the leaves have gone from the trees, you will die.” Sometime later the father came to the breakfast table but did not see his daughter. After some searching he looked out the window and saw her in their back yard. His heart was broken as he watched her picking up leaves that had begin to fall; she was using thread to try to tie them back onto the limbs. She was trying to stop death. But she could not.

Maybe that’s why we’re so frustrated by yet also fascinated with death - it’s one of the very few things humankind has not yet learned, nor ever will learn, to control. But we need not despair. DEATH CAN SERVE US WELL. Daniel Webster once wrote: “One may live as a conqueror, a king or a magistrate, but he must die a man. The thought of death brings every human being to his pure individuality, to the intense contemplation of the deepest and most solemn of all relations - the relation between the creature and his creator.” And it is that relationship, between you and your creator, which is at the forefront of my mind today.

Think therefore of THE RESULTS OF DEATH. After death, we face judgment. “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment...” First, WE FACE THE JUDGMENT OF OTHERS. When we die people will talk about us. They will share their feelings about us, claiming how we did or did not have a positive impact upon them. They will, in truth, be judging how we lived. It is a fact of life that we determine our future judgment in the here and now.

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