Tag Archives: death

I Guess That Depends

Luke 17:20-18:8

As our world continues its rapid downward spiral into sin and insanity, we Christians look toward the sky, expecting, hoping to hear that trumpet and see our Savior descend once again, this time to take us home. We see the signs and believe it could happen any minute.

But it could be another 10,000 years. Only God knows when life on earth will cease to exist. So what do we do in the mean time?

Jesus used the examples of Noah and Lot to remind us that the people in those days were living life; parties and weddings, eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building until they weren’t. They were doing their thing until God came and judged their sin, found them guilty, and demanded the death penalty they deserved.

But there was a difference. The people in Noah’s day heard the Truth and rejected it. They died in the flood. The Ninevites heard the Truth and accepted it, repented, and were spared.

Jesus tells us that, much like those examples, “it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

It won’t be just sinners living life as usual. Christians will be doing the same. So what does ‘life as usual’ look like for you? Parties and weddings, eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building?

Of course. All of that is part of living this life. But shouldn’t we all be the Noahs and Jonahs of our time, too? As we go through our day, meeting our responsibilities, enjoying our blessings, shouldn’t we also be the ones shouting out the warning? THE END IS NEAR!

Very few people alive today will still around 100 years from now, a fraction of a millisecond in eternity. The end for all of us is near whether Jesus returns today or tarries another millennium.

Jesus clearly states that when we die we will face the Judge who will bring perfect justice to everyone. Our fate is sealed the moment we take our last breath, depending on our acceptance or rejection of Jesus in this life.

Christian, do you believe that? Then what are you doing in these last days to warn the people around you?

When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?

I guess that depends on how many people hear and accept the warning from me and you.

Don’t Pass It On

2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30

I have to admit that yesterday, when I read what Mephibosheth said to Ziba, I was disappointed in Jonathan’s son. You remember that, because David and Jonathan had a close friendship, David promised to take care of Jonathan’s crippled son, even though Mephibosheth was the grandson of David’s enemy Saul, and according to custom, the rightful heir to the throne.

David took Mephibosheth under his wing, invited him to eat at the king’s table for the rest of his life, and treated him like a son. Now, when David’s son Absalom is posed to take the throne by force from his father, Mephibosheth thinks it’s his chance to step in and regain the throne for himself. I mean, I heard it straight from Ziba who says he heard Mephibosheth say that. (2 Sam 16:3) It must be true. Even David believed it.

Ungrateful, power hungry, back-biting Mephibosheth. That’s what I thought. But was I right to think that? Is that what was really going on here?

2 Samuel 19 throws a different light on the subject. Mephibosheth himself tells David that Ziba slandered him by telling David a lie. He tells David he never refused to leave Jerusalem or follow David. Ziba had deceived Mephibosheth. And Ziba deceived David. Ziba deceived me, too.

Here is why I believe Mephibosheth’s account can be trusted:

All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me by allowing me to eat at you own table. What more can I ask? (vs 28)

Doesn’t sound like a man who wanted to overthrow David, does it?

In fact, when David said he’d give half of Saul’s land back to Mephibosheth, Mephibosheth told David to let Ziba have it all.

I am content to have you safely back again, my lord and king! (vs 30)

So what I’d heard “about” Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 16, that which disappointed me about Jonathan’s son, wasn’t even true. My disappointment was misplaced because I had listened to gossip. It wasn’t until I actually heard from Mephibosheth himself, that I got my story straight.

A family in my neighborhood lost their daughter this week in a tragic accident. The paper did not give details about the accident, and I don’t know these people well enough to knock on their door and ask. Was she driving too fast, had she been drinking, did she swerve to miss a deer, was she texting at the time? I don’t know. So therefore I am not going to even try to guess.

But there was a woman standing in line at the grocery, loudly talking on her phone, making sure everyone in the area could hear her. She was obviously talking about the accident and said, “I heard she was drunk.”

People, LISTEN TO ME! We’ve all heard people say things like that: second, third hand accounts. And we’ve probably all repeated what we heard at some time or another.

STOP!

That is gossip, and gossip is a sin. Is our need to come across as someone “in the know” more important than our responsibility to be compassionate and kind to those who are hurting, to those who are facing hardship, trials, and loss?

Shame on us.

Whatever caused the accident is unimportant next to the one fact we know for sure: that family lost their daughter, their sister, grandchild, niece, cousin, and many young people lost a friend. Should they grieve less if this young woman had been drinking? What does it matter how she died? The fact is she died.

You can’t control what you hear. But you can control what you do with what you hear. Let the gossip die with you! Don’t jump to conclusions or make a judgment based on what somebody said somebody said…

Don’t pass it on!

Will you pray with me for this family? Their pain cuts deep, and will for the rest of their lives. May God wrap His arms around them, strengthen them, give them peace. And may God be glorified even in this.

Unreasonable Demands

Genesis 49-50

Jacob told Joseph he wanted to be buried in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, and Leah. That wasn’t an unreasonable request considering Joseph’s position and wealth. So when Jacob died, Joseph and the family, along with a group of Egyptians took his body to Canaan and buried him there with fanfare.

Joseph, when he was dying, said he too wanted to be buried in Canaan. His request wasn’t entirely reasonable at the time. He acknowledged that, and asked that WHEN they were able to leave Egypt, he’d like them to take his bones. He knew his family didn’t have the means to make that happen right then. In fact, it took about 400 years before they were able to take Joseph’s bones out of Egypt.

I’ve heard of people who make outlandish requests of loved ones concerning funerals, ashes, or distribution of stuff after they die. I’ve known people who go to great lengths and expense to fulfill last wishes, too.

Why? Do those facing death have such a need for control? Do they think they’ll be forgotten if they don’t continue to pull strings after they’ve gone? Do the remaining loved ones think the deceased are watching them to be sure they obey them?

Here’s what I believe Scripture teaches: absent from the body, present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

It doesn’t say present with Grandma. It doesn’t say present with a telescope pointed at Earth.

We sometimes place unreasonable demands on our loved ones. And we make them feel guilty if they don’t do exactly what we, or some deceased loved one, tells them they must do. Sometime it’s just not feasible.

Friend, the things that happen to your body and your stuff after you die will be up to the living. You won’t know. You won’t even care. You’re going to have enough on your mind for eternity to think about who is feeding your cat.

If you are facing death, let me take some pressure off. Let go of trying to control your loved ones. Love them today. Gift them today. Make memories for them to have when you are gone.

And, if a deceased person has placed unreasonable demands on you – let it go. If you must, honor them in some other way. Trust me – they really don’t care right now.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

Tears (Revelation 18-22)

My heart is heavy on this last day of 2020. Why not, right? This has been a very difficult year, unlike any I have seen in my lifetime. But I’m sitting here broken-hearted, not because of COVID, or isolation, or the loss of freedom. My tears are not for myself, but for a former student, the daughter of a co-worker and friend, who is facing life this morning without her nine-year-old daughter.

What started out as a fun road trip to California with extended family ended in a horrific accident which took the life of this precious child. Her mom and dad took the first flight out of Texas where they live, to rush to their daughter’s side in a California hospital, only to be met with the news their child had died. I can’t even think about what that was like for them.

Many of us have faced similar circumstances, and although we can’t know exactly how this young couple is feeling, we can remember how we felt when we received devastating news. Hearing what happened this morning brings back the feelings of the day we lost my nephew Geoff. It’s a pain I wish no one ever had to experience.

Yet Payton’s family is in that same heart stopping, suffocating, crushing pain this morning, and will continue to be for a very, very long time.

The last verse Mom underlined in her Bible is Revelation 21:4. Listen to what John had to say about what God has in store:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Personally, I’m ready to see that day come.

But let me say something to you in love. That day is reserved only for God’s children. There is another existence for people who reject God, who don’t accept the grace God gives to those who surrender to Him. It is a place where there will only be weeping and gnashing of teeth, no reprieve, no comfort. Forever.

Oh dear one, none of us is guaranteed another second in this life. Not if you are 90 – or 9. Please don’t wait another moment to give your life to Jesus. If you never have asked Him to forgive your sins and be your Savior, do it now while you still have time. You might not see 2021. Payton didn’t.

Would you pray with me for the Osmond/Veigel families? They are hurting right now in an unspeakable grief. May God be their strength and comfort.

And may you know the assurance of an eternity where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. A place where God Himself will wipe away your tears.

The Victory (I Corinthians 15)

Jesus lives. Many people saw Him die on the cross that day. His corpse was buried in a tomb and guarded by Roman soldiers. Yet three days later that tomb was empty, and hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus. They heard Him speak, they ate with Him, touched Him, and many people were there and saw Him rise up into heaven where He lives yet today.

Jesus lives. Now death is not the end of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Oh, this old body will die some day unless Jesus comes back first. But in my physical death, this old body will be replaced with a spiritual body that I will enjoy forever.

Death and sin defeated, and remembered no more!

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs 57)

Eternally Important (Job 14:10-12)

I know there are people who believe in reincarnation. There are whole religions based on the hope they’ll do better at life next time so eventually they’ll reach that blissful nothingness, or euphoria they are working toward. I have a friend who firmly believes she lived during the time of Henry VIII. She didn’t. Do you know how I now she didn’t? Let’s look at what God has said in His Word about death.

Starting with Job. Job says, in chapter 14:10-12,

But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea, or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies low and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (emphasis mine)

Job knew that when a person dies, he is dead. We know there will be a day when life on planet Earth is no more, when the heavens will be no more and Christ returns to take His children home. I don’t see anything to indicate a second or third life on earth in what Job says here. But he’s not the only one with a word on the subject.

The Apostle Paul said this:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine).

Paul has no doubt. Death ushers the soul into the presence of God.

The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Just as a man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment… (9:27, emphasis mine).

We get one go ’round in this life. Just one.

And maybe the most important fact concerning this topic is what Jesus Himself said to the thief while both men faced death on the cross:

Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43, emphasis mine).

Now, some might argue that the thief had lived his best life after several tries, and therefore had earned his Nirvana. Umm… he was a thief. Is that the best he could do? I wonder what he was like in a previous life.

Why is this topic important? It’s eternally important. The fact is, you can’t earn heaven, no matter how many times you think you have to try. You can never be good enough, give enough, or bring yourself to a place of perfection.

You are a sinner. And the God of Creation tells us your sin has earned you one thing only:

Death.

But the God of Creation also tells you there is a way to escape that death, the eternal separation from Him. You have got to go through the blood of Jesus. That’s it. That is the only way.

And you have these few measly years on this planet to choose Jesus. Don’t wait. Don’t assume you’ll do better next time.

There is no next time. Only now. You may have  just today before life on this earth is over for you. Are you ready to face the God of Creation? I pray so.

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

Esther; An Edict Not Revoked

Whenever I read this book I wonder, when I get to the part where the king who condemned all Jews to death, why he doesn’t just rescind his order and let them live once he discovers the truth. Why doesn’t he send out an updated edict and let the Jews off the hook? Instead, he gives the Jews a way to survive the death sentence.

Today Warren Wiresbe (With the Word Bible Handbook) put a light on the subject that helps me see things a bit more clearly. If you have read other posts of mine you know my strong conviction that all Scripture is given us by our loving Heavenly Father for the expressed purpose of revealing Himself to us. So what can a book that doesn’t even mention His Name teach us about God?

His Sovereignty. His dealing with prideful people. The fact He blesses obedience. And this:

JESUS!

Dr. Wiresbe reminded me God, from the time of Adam and Eve, has proclaimed an edict: Sin requires a death penalty. ALL sin, every sin comes with a deadly price tag whether we think that’s fair or not. And God is not going to revoke that edict.

Every impure thought, every vulgar word, every unkind action, all disobedience condemns you. You’re not going to talk God out of it, either.

Just like the Jews in Esther’s day were condemned to die, we are condemned to an eternity of death, separated from God.  But God provided a way for us to survive. He didn’t revoke the edict – He FULFILLED it! Jesus died so we don’t have to. That was our death sentence Jesus took on Himself.

Now here’s the other thing: The king didn’t write the new edict allowing the Jews to be saved, then lock the paper up in a vault. He sent couriers out into the land to tell the good news to everyone!

We need to be doing that, too. Your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker might need to know that they have a death sentence hanging over their heads, and that salvation is their’s for the asking! Jesus paid what they cannot pay. And they can have eternal life through the precious blood of their Savior.

Our Holy God cannot rescind the edict. Sin=Death. But Praise God that He Himself provided a way of salvation from the penalty of death my sin requires. I live because Jesus died. Praise God.

He did the same for you!

I Samuel 20; Goodbyes

We knew our mom was dying. She’d been diagnosed with cancer 18 months earlier, and that awful disease had done its worse. I’d spent the weekend at Mom and Dad’s, and hadn’t wanted to leave Mom’s side. We’d finally gotten a hospital bed, and set it up in the living room so she could be close to us all.

I sat next to her and held her tiny hand. She told me she wanted to die, she was so tired of being sick. She wanted to go home. I wanted her to stay.

I lived and worked about 60 miles from my parents’ home. So that Sunday evening I packed up and got ready to leave. I stopped at Mom’s bed, and put my cheek next to her’s, and whispered,”Gotta go. See you next weekend.”

She hesitated as though there was something she wanted to say. Then, “Ok. Be careful.”

I stood up fighting tears and said, “Love you” as cheerfully as I could manage. Then I walked away, not knowing if I’d ever see her again in this lifetime.

I drove down the road a short way, pulled into an empty parking lot, and cried and cried. I loved her so much.

She died two days later.

You hear people say, “I hate goodbyes” all the time. I’ve never heard anyone say they love them! Especially if the one you are leaving is someone you love deeply, and someone you know you may never see again.

Like David and Jonathan’s goodbye here in I Samuel. I imagine Jonathan’s heart was heavy as he picked up his bow and arrow and headed to the field that morning. I imagine he fought tears so as not to show the boy with him his sorrow. I can almost feel the burning lump in his throat as he shot that arrow, the signal to David that Saul wanted him dead. And I bet he knew he had to get that boy out of there before the dam broke.

At that moment, Jonathan disregarded any fear of danger at being seen with David. He had to have one last moment with his best friend, no matter the cost. And I imagine that as the two men hugged each other tightly, their tears flowed from their deepest pain.

As I write this, thinking about my last moments with my mom, and Jonathan and David’s goodbye, I am weeping. Twenty-one years have passed since Mom went to live with Jesus. But remembering that goodbye still touches the sorrow as though it was yesterday. I can hardly wait to see her again!

So I’m sitting here thinking about goodbyes and wondering what God would say to me about that today. Then I remembered something David said in verse 3:

…Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.

The same can be said of all of us.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my sweet nephew that Sunday afternoon he lost control of his truck and slammed into a tree. He was gone in an instant, without saying goodbye even to his parents and sister. Without giving them the opportunity to say goodbye to him, either.

One step.

Now I’m certainly not advocating tearful goodbyes every time someone runs to the corner store for milk. But maybe God is prompting us to consider if there is someone in our lives with whom we have things yet unsaid. Anger or jealousy we need to confess, forgiveness we need to seek, Jesus we need to share.

Maybe God is bringing to mind someone you’ve stopped talking to for reasons you don’t even remember, or reasons so trivial in the light of eternity.

The truth is we are all one step away from death. Is there someone on your heart? Ask God what He wants you to do about that. Then do it.

You never get a second chance at a last goodbye.