There’s something about death that has a way of putting things into perspective.Continue reading “Death Reviewed”
What Is This World Coming To?
Several years ago, I heard that question posed and answered this way, “What is this world coming to? This world is coming to Jesus!”
Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Indeed, the day in coming when the saints and angels in heaven, everyone on earth, and the devil, his hosts and those in hell below, will bow before Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as Lord, as Savior, as King, as Sovereign over the universe and mankind.
The above stated question is also asked by many believers day-after-day. The answer is the same.
No matter the craziness, chaos, perplexities, or “jaw-dropping-moments” of life, the preeminent response is always “come to Jesus” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Open your Bible. Look into the face of Christ. He gives you saving and sanctifying rest as you learn from Him through meditation and memorization. This exchanges the human viewpoint of life with divine viewpoint that “sets you free” (John 8:31-32) and appropriates the peace of God which will rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15).
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
RIP or LITF
RIP . . . you see this attached to a social media post almost every day. The sentiment is there, but do we really know what RIP means? Do we know what we are saying? What’s its origin? Is it a blanket statement for all deaths?
Wikipedia says, “’Rest in peace’ (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as R.I.P. or RIP. The phrase was not found on tombstones before the eighth century. It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century, and for High Church Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife.”
Of the questions in the first paragraph, I think the last one is the most important one.
Can we say RIP for every death?
For all who die in Christ as a true born again believer, yes; for all who choose to reject Christ’s offer of salvation; no.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus give us a good answer (Luke 16:19-31). For the rich man, he is in the place of torment, apart from God, as is the current state of all unbelievers. For Lazarus, he is in Paradise just as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Another comforting truth for believers is found in 2 Corinthians 5:8 which assures us that we are immediately in the presence of the Lord upon death.
So, do unbelievers rest in peace? Peace nor rest can be found in a place of torment. Furthermore, to randomly attach RIP to someone that you are uncertain of their eternal state is careless.
The worst tragedy today is that unsaved people around the world died and entered into eternal torment. The greatest blessing for believers today is that many around the world entered into eternal rest, joy, and peace in the presence of Christ.
So, could RIP be placed on your tombstone with complete certainty?
If you are not truly born again, a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, would you take time to watch the following video? It will mean the difference between RIP or LITF (Living in Torment Forever).
Please don’t take death and eternity lightly!
According To Your Word
My soul melts from heaviness (Psalm 119:28a). This describes my heart since Sunday afternoon.
The heaviness that has come over me because of the effects of sin.
The grief that has gripped me due to the deep deceitfulness of our wicked hearts.
Wednesday around 2:00 a.m. I was abruptly awakened out of my sleep, praying out loud for the many drowning in sorrow in Uvalde, Texas as well as those picking up the pieces from the SBC/Guidepost report released Sunday afternoon. As I thought of those precious elementary children, I thought also of my dear grandsons.
Oh Lord, strengthen me according to Your Word!!!
As I rolled out of bed, I grabbed my phone on the night stand and went to Wednesday’s scripture reading from Psalm 119:41-48. I needed strength! I needed to hear from the Lord! I needed my heart to be calmed!
Let Your mercies (lovingkindness, steadfast love) come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. (Psalm 119:41)
These were the first words I read. How marvelous to know that God has extended mercy and grace to me as a poor, lost, hell-bound sinner and has rescued me according to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Timothy 1:12-17) . . . according to Your word.
You see, for true salvation and assurance of eternal life in heaven, for our wicked hearts to be changed, for sin to be correctly and adequately dealt with, for quietness in our soul in the midst of such wickedness and sorrow, for an understanding of perilous times, to have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” . . . it can only and always be . . . according to Your Word.
Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life (Psalm 119:49-50).
According to Your word!
P.S. Take some time to read Revelation 21
The Why Questions
Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does God allow this to happen? And the questions continue.
Today’s thoughts are a follow-up to Tuesday’s blog post, Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire.
The “Why Questions” have been uttered for centuries and many without answer. Interesting enough, if our questions were answered, because of the next day of our lives producing more questions, we would never be satisfied.
Instead of focusing on the answers to the “why,” let’s focus today on the following:
Death is certain. You say with perhaps a look of wonder or a scowl, “Wow! That’s an encouraging first point!” Hebrews 9:27 declares, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Man has no power to determine when he is born nor when he dies. Try as hard as you can to survive, the days of your life here on earth are known and determined by God (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16). Since these things are true, you are not ready to live until you are ready to die.
Life is in Christ alone. As I said in the previous post, my heart aches and is grieved by all the sin, tragedies and deaths in the world. I have watched folk die, believers and unbelievers. I have had to console and comfort the broken-hearted. I have preached the funerals of my stillborn daughter, my parents and of friends. The greatest comfort of all is knowing that I will be reunited with these folk in Heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the promises of the Word of God (John 3:16; 14:1-6). Since Christ is life, true life and the assurance of eternal life is only found in Him.
God’s mercy is continually extended. God could have wiped out Covid months ago, but He is permitting it to continue for reasons known only to Him. The same could be said about the Bronx fire and other tragedies. God does not give us explanations. Through each tragedy, He is reminding us of His mercy in giving man an opportunity to consider death, eternity and free gift of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I heard years ago, “The greatest tragedy on earth today is not a tornado destroying your house, or a death in the family or financial loss. The greatest tragedy everyday is that someone died and is in hell because they rejected the person of Jesus Christ.”
Friend, would you click on the verse links and read the following:
Ephesians 2:1-10 – The richness of God’s mercy
Titus 3:4-6 – The mercy of God in salvation
1 Peter 1:2-3 – God’s great mercy
2 Peter 3:9 – God’s mercy displayed
As I said in the previous post, this messed up, sinful world won’t always be this way (Revelation 21:1-4). Today, instead of focusing so much on the why. turn your eyes toward the Who, the mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die. Will you spend your eternity in heaven?
Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire
On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”
According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.
Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)
This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.
Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?
As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
What went wrong?
Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.
Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).
Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).
Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).
My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”
This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
And He Died
As I stood there and watched the casket being transported up the cemetery road, my heart grieved along with everyone else. Words like “tragic,” “too young to die,” “not at Christmas,” “painful,” “just broken,” and “world is rocked” were used to describe the passing of a young man loved by so many.
As I read Genesis 5 yesterday morning, what I witnessed two days ago came back to mind. This chapter in Genesis records the first genealogy in Scripture, the family of Adam. Ten generations are mentioned from Adam to Noah. One thing that stands out is the length of life during that time. Adam lived 930 years, Seth live 912 years, Enosh lived 905 years, and as you might know, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years.
What really captured my attention was not the length of years these folks walked on this earth but a statement that is given eight times, “and he died” (5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31).
Death. We really don’t want to talk about it. We laugh and make jokes about it to some degree to try and erase the reality of it. In our minds, we think we are going to live to be 912 years old. In comparison to eternity, whether we live one year or 969 years, we all die in “infancy.”
The most important part about life here is to be prepared to die. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that man is destined to die one time. There is a 100% death rate. So, truth is, you are not ready to really live here until you are prepared to die.
Death is cold, harsh, difficult, often sudden, final, and due to the fall of man (Genesis 3).
Indeed, each our names are in some genealogy and could be followed with the words, “and he died.” But friend, just as much as that phrase has a note finality to it, there is life after death.
John 14:1-3, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
Revelation 21:1-4, Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
For each one of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation, that phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in heaven.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-christians-go-when-they-die/)
For each one who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven, the phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in hades.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-unbelievers-go-when-they-die/)
For everyone of us, the pain of death will either be exchanged for the glories of heaven or will continue on into the torments of hell.
What will follow for you after the words, “and he died”?
For this now broken-hearted, grieving family, a wonderful, sweet reunion awaits in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
HEADLINES From Heaven
Vaccines, variant dominate headlines
US shoppers shrug off Omicron
Don’t shut down sports again for Covid
Without context, Covid tallies are misleading
These were a few of the headlines and article titles from Monday’s local newspaper.
We have come to the end of the year, We thought by this time we would not be talking about Covid. Yet, here we are, events being cancelled, hospitals at capacity, medical personnel stretched to the limit, fear capturing the minds of millions and more questions than answers abound.
We need some good news; some encouraging, eternal headlines! Absolute truth!
How about these three?
The Lord Reveals His Omnipotence
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man;I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)
Satan Is Defeated
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven[b] and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
God Will Make All Things New
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:1-7)
Yesterday morning I read the local newspaper written from human viewpoint and these three passages from the Word of God written, inspired from divine viewpoint (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
The local paper focused on yesterday, today and the possible future with limited, tainted, incomplete statements. The Word of God focused on yesterday, today and tomorrow with perfect accuracy (Mark 13:31).
The local paper provided a temporal viewpoint. God’s Word gave a transcendent, eternal viewpoint (1 Peter 1:23-24).
The local paper ended up in the trash can when I finished. Who wants to read old papers? My Bible was placed on the shelf to be read again with daily news/truth that settles, establishes, encourages, and enlightens as it points me to Christ (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 24:27; John 20:31; Galatians 3:24) and the fulfillment of all God’s promises (Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 55:11; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 10:23)).
Go back and read the three headlines above with the accompanying “articles” underneath. The eternality of God’s Word is always fresh, compelling, revealing, relevant and true (Psalm 119)!
Today, let the headlines and “articles” from heaven nourish your soul!! That’s the best news!
The Season That Stole Christmas
There I sat with my car backed into the parking lot at Target in observation mode. Still in quarantine, my wife made her trek into Target to purchase a gift.
What did I observe? A steady of stream of shoppers entering and exiting their cars and the stores with sad, frowning, hardened faces. Some were walking briskly, some on a mission, others at a snail’s pace. And, what season of the year is this?
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—Go ahead; sing it! You are hearing it in your head anyway!
It’s the celebration of good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:11)!
Isn’t Christmas all about joy, cheer, good news, giving, laughter, family traditions, get-togethers, etc.?
As I watched, my finite mind could not fathom all the stories in front of me in this “season of joy.” Perhaps sudden job loss, death of a dear loved one, disappointment in not finding the right gift, the general frustrations of life, cancer diagnosis, home life issues, heart-crushing memories, failing marriages, brokenness, fear, rejection, dread, chaos, thoughts of suicide, sorrow, discontentment, etc.
In the midst of these stories of life, many hoping that this season might bring a little good news, a little cheer, a little “Tender Tennessee Christmas” to take off the edge of the pain, my mind considered my own current “covidness” and was once again reminded that this season is only a mere shadow of the Realty. If my heart is fixed on all the ingredients of the season, I miss the preeminent, transcendent Person of this day, this season, this year, and this life. At that point, I have fallen into idolatry; worshiping the creature (and what the creature creates here) more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-25).
You see, the only Story that can completely deal with the root cause of all “the fears of all the years,” which began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), is the Reality of the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who stepped into your life to be your substitute on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18). Life is the Eternal Story, not a temporal season.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).
Today, tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and the days to follow, listen to and meditate on the Story of hope and redemption, the salvation of your souls, in exchange for the shadows of the season. No matter how good they may be for now, they are only shadows.
Don’t let the season steal what Jesus came to give and restore!
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Additional links for your encouragement today:
Burdened, Not Amused
The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9
Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).
If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,
Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,
The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!
If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.
I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!