Tag Archives: death

2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

David honors Saul and Jonathan’s memory with a funeral song.

Paul speaks of spiritual gifts–their diversity, necessity and purpose.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT)

Ezekiel describes the glory of God.

Psalm 49 reminds the fleeting worth of wealth.

The readings toggle two realms: here and hereafter.

Lord, this year especially has me sorting through so many thoughts of past, present and purpose. Help me to order my days in light of your calling on my life. It is a joy and honor to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Numbers 19; Psalm 56-57; Isaiah 8-9:7; James 2

Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid.  You shall give it to the priest Eleazar, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Numbers 19:2-3 NRSV

The Old Testament has quite a few rituals recorded there that God demanded as part of His desire to reveal His authority and His holiness.  I could never get a handle on them all but as I got older, not only do I get them, but I under the new covenant I see what we have been given through Jesus.

 

But the Old Testament also gives us promises.  I love those promises – they are hope to me whenever I read them and those hopes are real because of Jesus.

For you have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life. – Psalm 56:13 NRSV

Even on Sunday morning, as our church started a series on the Apostles Creed – I was reminded that God is the ultimately authority and is holy.  While He is also a generous God who gave us Jesus, and because of Jesus we can call Him, Abba Father, I am to remember that He is my Father and with all the authority and holiness that comes with that.

 

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread – Isaiah 8:13 NRSV

 

So my walk has to be holy too.  I get now why Jesus called us to be perfect and holy.  In the little things, they matter, because God matters and what I believe about God matters. In my fund-raising ministry I might be tempted to favour those with more wealth, but God calls me to obey Him.

 

My brothers and sisters,[a] do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? – James 2:2 NRSV

Lord, I want and need to show my world that deep inside, not just on the outside, I am a follower of Jesus.  I know that when I made the decision to follow You, I invited you to change me from the inside out.  There is no way I want to fake my decision, to act my way through my faith – I want to be real.  I need you Father to help me, I need your strong-arm to guide me and I need your wisdom to teach me.  May those who look on my life say that You really matter to me.  For Your glory and Your honour I pray.  Amen

evanlaar

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Genesis 49; Luke 2; Job 15; I Corinthians 3

We didn’t have those kinds of talks. He’d tell me about a new recipe, or teach me a crochet stitch, or recount a recent outing. Likely the last words I said to him were, “I’ll talk to you later.”

Only later never came. Goodbye was never said. So many questions never asked, never answered. All of this is hard. And in the grief, I find myself surprised by what surfaces. And this one question: what did my father think of me?

I wasn’t expecting my dad to die that night. He spoke to me as if he weren’t expecting it either. Perhaps our conversation might have gone differently if we had known.

Jacob speaks last words over his sons, and I cry.

Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come. Genesis 49:1, NLT

Some of his words sting and some of his words bless.

In Job, Eliphaz responds to Job, and a shaming storm pours from his mouth.

In Luke, Mary receives words from shepherds, prophecies from Simeon and Anna, and she stores these things in her heart.

When I think of things unsaid, unheard, all the unknown, I wonder if it matters now–because I can’t know. Why does that question and answer matter so much?

I turn my focus to the Lord.

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:5-17, NLT

Lord Jesus, I bring my questions to you. I find my peace in you. Your word is the final say and the one that matters. You are truth, and you see truth, and you are judge of deed and heart. I think we all desperately crave to hear your “Well done.” I pray that I keep my eyes firmly fixed upon you. Please equip me for the tasks at hand, and instruct me in your wisdom.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 48; Luke 1:39-80; Job 14; I Corinthians 2

I just found out recently that the famous fictional author, John Grisham, is a follower of Christ.  In the story I was reading they shared a defining moment in his spiritual journey and it went something like this —

Several years after graduating from Mississippi State University, when one of his classmates in law school told John he was terminally ill. Grisham asked him, “What do you do when you realize you are about to die?” The friend replied, “It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.”

The Old Testament is filled with moments of death only because those are also the time of blessings, just as Jacob’s upcoming passing in Genesis 48 caused him to reach out and bless Joseph’s sons.

Death was the reason Jesus came – and Jesus is the reason that John the Baptist came – two miracles expressed so beautifully in Luke 1 when Mary and Elizabeth greet each other.

Job expressed well what death looked like to him – what death looked like before Jesus. Sounds a lot like my favourite book, Ecclesiastes – few days, full of trouble, a shadow, and it does not continue. However, do not miss the hope – 

O that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! – Job 14:13 (NRSV)

With life as short as it is and with Jesus being our only hope, it is for this very reason that I love discipling others.  Discipleship keeps things simple.  How to take the profound truths of the gospel, Jesus death and resurrection, and make them simple enough for people to pass from death to life. Paul tried to capture this struggle himself  —

So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NRSV)

I still remember my much older Dutch friend as I was leading him into the simple truths of what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  We approached the topic of giving.  He could not, he said if he did the heating bill would not be paid.  We prayed.  He decided on Sunday to trust God.  When we met a few weeks later I asked if the heating bill was paid – he said yes.  When I checked in again six months later he said that he made more money in the past six months than in the past year and a half.  He passed from death to life in his walk with God, became a passionate follower of Christ and chaired the missions board at his church for ten years because others needed to hear about Jesus. He kept it simple – let them discover they could trust Him – trust His promises and place their hope in Him. 

evanlaar

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Genesis 34; Mark 5; Job 1; Roman 5

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12, NLT

My dad died last weekend. It wasn’t expected. This week has been focused on completing tasks: contacting friends and family; notifying professional contacts; meeting with the funeral home and cemetery; picking out his clothes.

Each day has held unexpected challenges. Logistical. Financial. Emotional. I’m sure everyone walks a similar road that first week. We bury him tomorrow. Many other things will be buried with him tomorrow too: the untold stories of his history, the future occasions we would have gathered together, the possibilities of what could have been. It’s hard.

I’m thankful God has met me through every step of this way. He’s poured out grace, strength and provision. He’s cleared a way for me to walk, and has helped me step over the obstacles. I cling tightly to him. He meets me where I am, today too, in the reading.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:1-11, NLT

Father God, sometimes heaven seems far away–but it is very near. Thank you for your great love for us, that you would send your Son to die for our sins and ignorance–not only that we would be forgiven and restored, but that we could experience life in full with you here and after. Thank you that your gift is free on belief–and because of this, I know my dad is safe in your care. Help me, Lord, to guard my heart these coming weeks–to meet the new tasks, to process the deeper thoughts, to create my own legacy. Thank you for not abandoning me, but for meeting me in every step of this. I lift my head to hear your song, and I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 33; Mark 4; Esther 9,10; Romans 4

Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids.  He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all.  He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother. – Genesis 33:1-3 NRSV

Look at all that energy Jacob went through just to protect his immediate family.  Where did his trust in God go – where does my trust go when I am faced with such a reality as death?  Sad part is that I remember all too well when I let my devotions slip and my prayer life was pretty much at meal times.  How ready do you think I was when those distant troubles became my crises and sudden overwhelming problem.  Oh, did I ever rush out to God for help.  I heard that this is described as a foxhole kind of Christianity.

But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness.  Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another. – Esther 9:18-19 NRSV

Like I said, nothing really gets our attention like the reality of death.  So on their knees and fasting went thousand of people – what did God do? – He honoured their hope in Him and saved them.  So this celebration called Purim was instituted.  Why? Something else I do along with forgetting my devotions and prayers, I forget to celebrate God’s amazing miracles in my life.  Do I remember that when I pass from this life that I will be celebrating the happiest day in my life? Should that not encourage me and motivate me to spend more time with my Saviour, my hope, and to rejoice more than mourn?

Imagine how stoked I was to see Paul pull out Abraham’s life in Romans —

Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already[b] as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  Therefore his faith[c] “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:18-22 NRSV

Lord, like Abraham I want to ground my faith on hope.  You are my God who will be and do what You promise to be and do.  

evanlaar

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