Tag Archives: death

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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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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