This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Retiring For the Glory of God by Ritch Boerckel

Are you planning for retirement?  One ING commercial presses customers to find the answer to the question, “What’s your number?”  ING suggests that knowing the exact number of dollars we will need in order to retire will help us to “retire the way we want.”  While financial planning is wise, it really is the minor issue regarding our plans for retirement.   Retirement years are much more than living comfortably in our remaining time on earth without the danger of running out of money.  The reason that the financial issue is comparatively insignificant is that it deals only with our brief time here in a world that is passing away.  It is relevant to our lives only for a short period of time.  The far greater issue relates to eternity.  Much more of our joy rests upon how we are living our lives in faithfulness to God so that He receives glory for all eternity.
Retirement years are years full of potential to enjoy God and to fulfill the work He has prepared for us to accomplish in this brief life of ours.  With the average life expectancy in the US reaching 78 years and the average retirement age sitting at 67 years, one can expect nearly a decade or more of opportunity for full-time service to God. 
But someone may protest, “I want to relax in my retirement years!”  I know that it sounds great to get up in the morning and have no stressful obligations, no appointments to make, no time constraints . . . to live the rest of our years with freedom to decide each day what we want to do.  But is this kind of life really that great?  Will we be thankful for that decision when it is time for God to reward His children for their faithfulness in this life?  Is it really better to rust out than to burn out for Christ?
John Piper’s words ring like a morning alarm to awaken us out of our slumber: 
I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition ofReader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.
Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.
Those words set a fire in my heart to live for the glory of God all the way to my last fleeting breath.  I realize that if I am to make the most of those retirement years, I need a plan.  So again, I ask you, “Are you planning for retirement?” 
Let me share with you seven considerations that may help motivate you to truly plan for your retirement.
1.    Consider that we were created to know and glorify God and will find our greatest joy when we pursue His glory as our chief end.  God knows far better than we do what will lead to our eternal joy. 
Phil. 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
The “Why” question is the most important one to ask and answer.  Clarity regarding our life’s purpose will make many other decisions relatively easy to make.
2.  Consider that God has given a specific work for you to finish. God gave this work for you to accomplish before He created the world.  Furthermore, God has given you the exact number of days and the precise amount of energy for you to complete His work. 
Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
Acts 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 
2 Tim. 4:3-6 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
3.  Consider that your life is God’s and not yours.  God has purchased you with a price.  While 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 addresses the sin of sexual immorality directly, the principle it teaches shapes the way we think about retirement. 
1 Cor. 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
4. Consider that God has placed you in a spiritual family (church) for the purpose of strengthening that family.  Our life purpose is eternally connected to our active relationship with Jesus’ church.  We are not loners, but we are part of a great company that God joins together for His glory.  Each of us are vital to the healthy functioning of the body of Christ.
Eph. 3:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
5.          Consider that the world is broken and that God has placed His church in the world to bring healing to broken people.
Matt. 9:35-37 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
6. Consider that so few in the church are living for the glory of God. 
Rev. 3:1-6 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
7.  Consider the joy that those words, “Well done!  Good and faithful servant!” will bring to you for all eternity.
Matt. 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
We rightly invest time and energy to plan for many temporal issues.  I urge you to spend time in prayer asking God what significant work He has for you to complete with your life.  Do not settle for gathering sea shells along the beach.  God has a much more joyful and significant work for you than that!

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