Tag Archives: death

Psalm 83-86

When I start to read the first eight verses of Psalm 83, I am met with a serious issue raised to God regarding the malicious designs against the people of God and His honour. This is the same prayer I hear in my prayer groups – at its core – a frustration that God is not honoured as He ought to be honoured.

Knock the breath right out of them, so they’re gasping
    for breath, gasping, “God.”
Bring them to the end of their rope,
    and leave them there dangling, helpless.
Then they’ll learn your name: “God,”
    the one and only High God on earth. – Psalm 83:16-18 MSG

I am amazed with all this intensity that I find myself, as a follower of Jesus, in a privileged relationship with God – the only High God on earth. There is honour in His name and in His social position and my blessings are designed to honour God and that relationship by placing me with Him.

 “Shame has often weaned men from their idols, and set them upon seeking the Lord.” – Spurgeon

This prayer is simple – God, show such a manifestation of power that it would be so evident that this could be traced to no one else other than You and by this demonstration, people will honour You. In my mind I see Elijah on Mount Carmel moments.

I think some of my friends think that its okay to leave God His name – that is to say, they believe they can give Him His name because they have frittered away His power. So like giving Him an empty title.

This is where the shame and repentance comes in because without turning there is shame and death. It is like trouble will cause them to turn – and the end result is not chaos but peace.

It is really hard for me to say, but the final day, the great day of judgement, will be the proof of this, before all of heaven, when everlasting shame and contempt will fall on those who have not repented and everlasting honour and praise to those who have decided to follow God.

This is why the prayer is so hard.

  • Knock the breath right out of them
  • Bring them to the end of their rope
  • leave them there dangling, helpless

My prayer is no different – I want God to move into the lives of those who have turned their back towards Him and teach them about the fear of the Lord. I pray this way because the kingdom and the glory and the honour belong to God alone and I will not be satisfied until He has it.

Father, thank You for the passion in this prayer and for encouraging me to be just as passionate.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Hosea 4-6; Psalm 58; Matthew 17

Our family recently suffered another loss of a loved one. We spent several days at his bedside waiting, knowing the end was near, and wanting to be with him as he exited this world. It was comforting for us all to be together during this time. We shared stories and memories of days when we were all a lot younger.  We remembered times of laughter, love of family members who have already gone, and how the family dynamics has changed with the loss of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the family. That stubborn man waited until everyone had gone home to take his last breath. We are now down to one remaining member of the generation before me. But that time we all shared with him helped ease his passing for us. The grief is there, of course, as we miss someone dearly loved.

22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. (Matt 17:22-23) NIV

The disciples were filled with grief over the thought of Jesus’ death. There are times when I question death and what truly happens. As I think of this in light of Jesus and his death and resurrection, everything I’ve learned about being body and spirit makes sense. Jesus was (is) God—not the body in which he dwelt.

1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matt 17:1-5) NIV

Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man. I never thought about that before, how often he refers to himself as Son of Man but I had an “ah-ha” moment. He was God, living in a human body, and only the “Son of Man” part of him was going to die. With sin came death. Physical death of the flesh. Not of the Spirit! In the first few verses of Matthew, we witness Jesus as “Son Of God” (proclaimed by God Himself)! He was God’s plan of redemption from the beginning. Romans 6:5 states, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” We, too, are spirit—not the body in which we dwell. One day we will be gathered up with him (1 Thess 4:13-18) and be with Him throughout eternity.

This past weekend I had two of my grandchildren, aged four and eight. As we were driving in the car, the older one started asking me questions about death. “Mom-mom, what happens to your body?” I had to chuckle to myself as I thought of the study of Genesis my small group is doing and how we spent a lot of discussion on being formed from earth. I tried to explain this concept to them and how, when we die, our bodies turn back to dust but our soul, who we really are, goes to be with Jesus. These verses from Matthew were fresh in my mind as we talked. I don’t think they quite understood but somehow knowing we are all with Jesus someday satisfied them.

Somehow knowing one day I’ll be with Jesus is what satisfies me as well!

Heavenly Father—we know that death was not part of your original plan. Your love for us is beyond our understanding as you never intended for us to be absent from you. Your plan of redemption through your Son Jesus was always in place. He died the physical death of a man but rose again as our Lord and Savior. Throughout eternity, we will sing praises of gratitude and love. Thank you for loving us so much!

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Amos 4-6; Psalm 55; Matthew 14

It was probably ten or eleven years ago, and my dad wasn’t speaking to me, and my heart ached. One day I was out at the grocery store with my kids and a dear friend. I kept seeing an older man with the brightest blue eyes in the store. We had made eye contact several times, and it seems so crazy now (and maybe even a little crazy then), but I had such an urge to approach him. I parked the shopping cart off to the side in an aisle while my friend stayed by my kids. I walked over to the stranger.

“My dad has blue eyes like yours,” I said to him, awkwardly, and he smiled at me. We talked a little, and at the end he opened his arms to me and hugged me (God, bless that man), and I choked back my tears. I looked at my friend and she was crying.

***

Last year within days after my dad died, I was at the UPS Store, my mind scrambled by a to-do list of so much that had to get done that week, and planning a funeral. I walked into the store directly behind a man, who, when he turned, I recognized as a friend.

“Hey!” he said, “How are you?”

I tried to find a way to speak, to respond, and finally I reached out to him and said, “My dad died on Saturday.” And he mercifully hugged me and let me cry. (Thank you, God, for the loving timeliness of friends running errands too.)

***

35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed (Matthew 14:35-36, NLT).

There are times when the need is so strong to cry out to God, the desire great to hear His voice, or if I could … at least touch the fringe of His robe–but really to have Him sit across from me and hold my hand and hear my heart. Hard days when I cling to His Word that He has a plan, that He loves me, that He sees me, that He’s for me, that He will be with me, that He sings over me, that He will bring good and beauty from heartache and ashes.

I read these verses in Matthew and imagined the scene, to reach out and touch the Lord. To be that close. To be healed.

“If you could meet with any person from the past,” I asked my daughter on a car ride recently, “who would you pick?”

Thankfully, one day, I truly will get to sit across from Jesus, and He will wipe away my tears.

Father God, thank you that you hear me from heaven. Thank you for your sovereignty and great plan. Thank you for blue-eyed strangers and friends on this earth who comfort and love and help and encourage in all of life’s seasons.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 47-48; Psalm 25; Galatians 3

Joseph has been heavy on my mind–not only because of the readings, I’ve heard his story preached online a lot recently. I consider him, his trials and testing and perseverance in light of a bigger plan.

This weekend marks a year since my father’s death, and a year since my whole world shifted. Joseph likely never imagined the turn of events that one day as he trotted down at his father’s request to check on his brothers at work; I look back in contemplation at a year I never could have imagined.

My focus with Joseph was a list of questions: Did you know your brothers hated you? What were you thinking as they sold you as a slave? What went through your mind when Pharaoh’s wife set you up? And those years in prison–how did you get through each day of wait?

But today, I focus on what God is doing. Certainly, I’ve seen his hand in my own life this past year–even recently, when our dog got loose. She’s been gone several days. I sat on the couch last night under a wave of gratitude for a God who loves me and loves my dog, who has taken a heart-aching situation and used it to open doors to prayers I’d been whispering to connect with others in my community. In the process, he’s sparked a new flame in my heart. He is molding me into someone new.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

And this is how I can look back at a hard year, grateful, that his hand has never left mine–in fact, he holds me. He has not forsaken me.

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:4-5, NIV)

Lord, how I’ve learned what little I can control, sometimes not even my own tears. You have taken my head knowledge and moved it into my heart to show me so very personally that you are sovereign and your ways are good. When trials cut deep, you are with me, catching every tear, and working every moment for my good and your glory. Thank you for holding me and my family, and I pray that you’ll bring our dog home to us soon.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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