“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man’s table.  Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades (hell), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my Father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16: 19-31.)



                Jesus reveals the reality of hell, laid out plainly for us in this parable.  He speaks of Abraham, who is the original Father of all of the Jews that live today.  His children are the people that God chose to send prophets and messengers too.  Jesus describes heaven and hell, and what paths lead to each place.  The man who has a wonderful life, a life filled with luxury is a man who is doomed.  Those who are oppressed in this life; those who find more value in loving others instead of chasing after wealth and beauty; those who have faith in Christ, will receive a reward in the life to come.

                The greatest hope for any Christian is the hope in eternal life.  We give up the comforts in this world because they confuse our purpose, and you can’t love a house, a car, or a bank account, but they can get in the way.  Had the rich man known that on the other side of death lay eternal torment, he would have changed his life.  He might have invited Lazarus in to his house, and taken care of him, and loved him.  The man, being a Jew, knew that the prophets spoke of a time when he would be judged.  The man did not believe in God nor the prophets that claimed God had sent them; and he certainly never knew that when he died he would be in hell; the truth, if accepted causes a person to change.  In this man’s case, he denied the truth, but denying it didn’t stop the reality of judgment from happening.

                Imagine for a moment, that you suddenly become aware that an earthquake has rocked Los Angeles and one of the overpasses has collapsed; imagine that it is the middle of the night and all of the lights in the city have gone out.  Now imagine that you are near the on ramp where thousands of people are pouring on to the freeway that will lead them to their death.  Would you warn them?  Would they believe you?

                Today, God has made it clear to everyone that there is a heaven and a hell.  For some there will be eternal life, and for some there will be eternal death.  He has warned us, and those who believe him change directions, but those who don’t believe him will continue traveling toward their own destruction.  Telling people the truth is an act of love, whether they choose to listen is up to them.  So the question we each have to ask us today is; do we believe Jesus Christ?  Can we trust what he has told us?  Do we believe someone who was raised from the dead so we might believe?  The answer to this question leads to one of two places, and I pray that we might all choose the place of comfort rather than torment.

                “Heavenly Father, we come before You today, and we ask and pray that You will give us the faith that we need to live for You.  Lord, we put our trust in You, and in Your Son.  Lord give us the Hope of things to come, and help us to see the light that awaits us if we take Your path.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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