Throughout time, people have placed great emphasis, great value on people's last words. So I did a little research to find some of the last things people have said.
P.T. Barnum's last words, you know, the famous showman, asked before he died in 1891,
Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian who died in 1702, said,
Winston Churchill, statesman who died on January 24, 1965, said,
Grover Cleveland, U.S. President who died in 1908 said,
Lou Costello, comedian who died on March 3, 1959 said,
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby, singer and actor who died on October 14, 1977 said,
Elizabeth I, Queen of England who died in 1603 said,
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President died on July 4, 1826 said,
Karl Marx, who died in 1883 got angry at his house keeper who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity, said,
Marie Antoinette, who accidentally stepped on the foot of her executioner said,
Oscar Wilde, writer who died in 1900 said,
Leonardo da Vinci, who died in 1519 said,
General John Sedgwick, Union Commander who died on the Civil War battlefield in 1864 said, these were his last words,
Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary who died in 1923 said,
Some of these famous last words are snapshots into the character of these individuals, some rather shallow, others profound. Some just show what the individual felt was important to them.
Just before my grandfather died, his four sons drove out west to New Mexico to be with him. His last words to all four of his sons were, "And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was. May the Lord be with you boys in the time of trouble. The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace. Good Bye."
My grandfather felt that the time of the end was very near. He gave me a copy of a book that he wrote on Daniel and Revelation. In the cover he wrote, "Dear Kent, Yours for teaching the prophecies that your loved ones and friends might be aroused to prepare for the Loud Cry and other closing events, which precede Christ's return. Grand Pa"
Kind of interesting I was looking through the library of our late General Conference President, Robert Pierson, a few weeks ago. He had a copy of this book in his library.
Turn with me to Matthew 27:46. As I was researching the famous last words of famous people, I came upon the last words of Jesus. It surprised me! It said that the last words of Jesus were found in this verse: Matthew 27:46. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? But if the person who came up with this had had a red letter version of the Bible, he would have quickly seen that these are not the last words in the book of Matthew that are red! Jesus had more to say because His death was not the end! Jesus came back. He wasn't through. Praise the Lord, He had more to say. The last thing Jesus said to His disciples before ascending to Heaven were focused on His return. My Grandfather was looking forward to Jesus coming again and so is Jesus. His last words in Matthew are instructions on what we are to be doing before His return.
Look at Matthew 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. These are the last words of Jesus before He left this earth. But He is not done yet.
That is what will take place before Jesus will come back! Look at Matthew 24:14. These are more words of Jesus, telling us about the end of time. Matthew 24:14. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
What an awesome responsibility! God is telling you that you have been called to do this! Do you have the commitment to follow it through?
You may have heard of Shackleton, the great explorer. He was planning what proved to be his last expedition to the Arctic seas. When he was planning this, an interesting incident took place.
Shackleton was seated in an office in London, speaking to a friend about his upcoming expedition. The friend said, "I am surprised at the publicity you are giving to your new venture. It is rather unlike you. You usually do them quite secretly. People don't find out about it until you're gone."
And Shackleton replied, "I have a purpose in doing so. I want my colleague, Mr. Wilde, to hear of my plans. He has buried himself in the heart of Africa, and has left no address, but I thought that if I would broadcast the news that I was going, it might filter through into the very center of Africa, and if Wilde knows I am going, he will come." At that moment, there was a noise at the door. They both turned, and standing in the doorway was Mr. Wilde.
It was a dramatic moment as Wilde and Shackleton shook hands the handshake of loyalty. Mr. Wilde then said, "I heard you were going. The news found its way into the heart of Africa, and when I knew, I dropped my gun, picked up a bit of baggage, and made straight for home, and here I am. What are your orders?"
Would you do that for Jesus? Change all your plans for your whole life to follow wherever he may lead? Do you have the ability to do as Jesus has asked?
It was advertised in New York City that a great violinist would be performing soon. The main attraction was, that he would be playing a Stradivarius violin worth close to a million dollars. Many came to hear such a valuable instrument being played. They were not disappointed! The first half of the concert was wonderful. People gave a standing ovation to hear such beautiful music. Then, to the shock of everyone, the musician dropped the violin. Was it an accident? He proceeded to stomped on it, crushing it to pieces, before walking off the stage. The people stood in disbelief and confusion until concert hall manager came on stage and explained that the violinist did not really use the valuable violin but one he had picked up at a yard sale for $20.00. For the second half of the concert, he would play the million dollar violin. The second half of the concert was beautiful as well. But very few people could tell the difference between the two violins, because in the master's hands, even a $20.00 fiddle will make beautiful music!
We are God's instruments. Some of His instruments seem more beautiful, more talented, more acceptable, more valuable. So how can He use me? Why would He even want to use me? We could even say that about each other. Have you ever judged someone else's usefulness? I have.
Way back in the late 1900's, when I was a Pathfinder, we had a boy in our unit, inthe Collegedale club, and this boy always caused trouble. I'll be honest, we didn't like him very much. You see, everything that we did, he undid. He didn't mean to, it was just the way it happened. But, in spite of all of this, our unit of Junior boys had the reputation of being the best fire builders in the whole Georgia-Cumberland Conference. The reason was that my dad was our counselor. He is a great fires builder and he made us practice. We loved building fires, and we were looking forward to a competition, and we didn't really know how to use this guy, to keep him out of the way. Because, you see, in all of our practices he messed it up. And this was a pancake baking fire building completion. And he would either spill the pancake batter, or he would kick the fire accidentally. We didn't know what we were going to do.
Pathfinder camporee came. And back when McKee Foods had their recreation center over near Harrison Bay Park, we held our conference wide camporee there. All of the clubs from all over the conference came. As usual, wherever the Pathfinders go, strange weather follows them. The rain lasted until Sunday morning which was when the fire building competition was scheduled. The woods were soaked. How were we going to build fires in the rain?
The competition was this: Build a fire, using one match, no paper. Mix up pancake batter, cook the pancake over the fire. When it is time to flip the pancake, you had to run about 30 feet, flip it over a wire, catch it in the skillet, run back, finish cooking it, put butter and syrup on, and the counselor had to eat it. And when the counselor finished the last bite, you time was up.
We were perplexed. What are we going to do? The woods are wet. We have no paper, one match. Well, first off, this one boy, we wanted him out of the way, so we assigned him to the duty of finding wood. Maybe he will get lost in the woods somewhere and not find his way back until after the competition.
Well, the whistle blew and all the Pathfinders headed out into the woods, looking for wood, while others of us were mixing pancake batter, trying to get it ready. But soon the pancake batter mixers were just standing there because nobody had come back with any dry wood. There were no fires, just pancake batter.
After a little while we heard sounds of groaning from other units in the competition. "Oh, man, no fair!" they were crying. We looked up to see our hero, this clumsy boy. Somewhere, somehow, he had found what looked to be a dried up old Christmas tree. It was dry as a bone. I don't know what he dug it out from under! And he came up there, and the other units were already complaining to the guys in charge of the competition, "that's not fair, that's not fair" and we were saying "yes it is, yes it is!" Needless to say, our reputation as the fastest fire builders in the conference was safe. The boy that we judged to be a nobody was suddenly seen as being of great value.
We cannot look at another person and determine how God can use them. We don't know God's plan for another. We cannot look at ourselves and judge our usefulness either. That is God's job. Our job is to be willing when He calls.
I, like my father, like my grandfather, believe that Jesus is coming soon. Things are going on in this world today that would have had my grandfather printing off more books than ever before. It is time to proclaim this good news to everyone in every way that we can.
That is one of the functions of the Pathfinder Club. Not only to share Jesus with our young people, but to disciple them to share Jesus with others. They are also learning skills of leadership and survival. I know that in the last days, God will provide for our needs, but it may not be ravens bringing you food, it may be a Pathfinder showing you edible plants. It may not be water flowing from a rock. It may be a Pathfinder that shows you how to collect moisture from the morning dew. It may not be a prophet that comes to heal you. It may be a Pathfinder administering first-aid. It may not be a cave provided for your shelter, it may be a Pathfinder lashing you a lean-to. It may not be a pastor reading the Scriptures to you. It may be a Pathfinder quoting them from memory. Being a Pathfinder means being ready to be used in any way God leads!
I've heard a lot of excuses of, "Why I'm not a Pathfinder." I've never heard one that was valid. You still may be asking yourself, "How on earth can God use little old untalented useless me?" Well, let's look at history
Hymn of Praise: #508, Anywhere With Jesus Scripture: Mathew 28:18-20 Hymn of Response: n/a
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