Tag Archives: death

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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, Romans, Uncategorized

II Chronicles 22-23; II Kings 11; Psalm 131; Matthew 8

II Kings 11:20 Then he [the child king] sat on the throne…so all the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet…

II Chronicles 23:21 So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword.

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Matthew 8:23 Then He [Jesus] arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

There is a great hymn with the opening lines: “When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot I have taught myself to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” I’ve read that these lines were penned by Horatio Spafford, a Christian man who was a successful lawyer and loving husband and father to a son and four daughters. Within the span of two years, his son died, then the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of his investments, and a trip meant to bring comfort to his family ended horribly when his four daughters were killed in a collision at sea while traveling with their mother to England.  Spafford reportedly wrote the poem/prayer on his way to his grieving wife. Further reading revealed that Horatio and his wife, Anna, had three more children, one son who died at the age of four from disease, and two daughters who lived to adulthood. Horatio’s religious views were also persecuted to the point of separating from the Presbyterian Church.  He and Anna became philanthropists to the people in Jerusalem, and their work continued by others was said to play a critical role in supporting those communities during and after World War I.

Can we really relate to the tragedy of others?  Do we have the kind of faith that weathers storms that threaten to blow our preconceived notions about the goodness of God right out of the waters? Some days I think I’m doing all right holding onto the peace of God.  Then circumstances cause another walk through the recent tragedy of my own life, retracing those steps to set up an estate account, to move my home again, to pick up her ashes…

Horatio wrote those opening lines as he crossed the same waters where his four daughters drowned. His wife wrote to him on that fateful day, “Saved alone.” Where does this strength come from?  A faith and a peace that is no mere human effort, I think.

For in my own strength, I fall to pieces.  In my Lord’s presence, I am held up.  After 38 years of walking with Christ, I think I am just beginning to be like the weaned child – trusting that He will rise up and command the storms in my life to be still. Fearing not destruction.  Believing the following:

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Peace to us all.

Janet

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, Psalms

Joshua 22-24, Psalm 116, Luke 19

Keep your chin up…hang in there…stay tough…are phrases that people use to encourage you to either stop focusing on your problem or to not give up.  Hollow words to those of us whose hope for the best ended with “A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside,” (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed). What is healing to this wounded and confounded soul is to do as Joshua encouraged, “… hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day,” Joshua 23:8. Yet, the days can be complicated and the nights restless once our head droops and eyes are cast downward.  It’s as if we cannot remember our pledge of loyalty to God.  Human nature has not changed all that much, for Joshua had to remind the Israelites long ago, “But take careful heed… to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,” Joshua 22:5.

“But,” you might say, “That is all well and good when everything is going right – when we are ‘on the other side. Besides, only Christ Himself could rise above despondency from losses such death of a loved one, a barren womb, or the destruction of addiction.” Yet even Jesus Christ wept with despondency. Luke 19:41-44 says, “Now as Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this day, the things that make for your peace!” What is it that Jesus knew so intimately and with such certainty? He knew to sing Psalm 116:1 even at the last Passover supper he shared with the disciples. He would have lifted the ‘cup of salvation’ and sung, “I love the Lord, because He has heard my cry…because He bends down from His place in glory to meet my needs.”  Jesus Christ knew even then that the disciples would speak words of no comfort, and that even their attempts to console Him would be of no use. It is not comforting to hear words from those who have not suffered greatly. Nor is it company to swap misery. What brings perspective to all this suffering is when we know, really know, that we can call to the Lord and Savior of the world to take action on behalf of just one. Notice the personal pronouns in Psalm 116:3-9 “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Hell laid hold of me; then I called upon the Lord, ‘Deliver me!’”

Therefore, hold fast to the resurrected Christ who knows suffering.

Hold fast to the trustworthy God who hears your cry.

Hold fast as you know to do, as your experience in this fallen world has taught you to do. Hold fast because the God of the universe delivers those who cling to Him.

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Filed under Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Deuteronomy 15-18; Psalm 115; Luke 9

Worshiping God as a celebration. What a novel idea.  It’s hard to wrap my head around how the Israelites found pleasure in worshiping God with rules, regulations, and ritual that seem excessive and burdensome.  It’s like Christmas or Easter. So many days leading up to the ‘celebrations’ and all the fuss we make of these holidays.  Yet, I wonder how much of my rituals and traditions are even focused on worshiping God.  Much of what I do is buy, wrap, cook, spend, decorate, and stay up too late at night catching up on my regular chores. However, the God-given feasts, such as the Passover that celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites, were less about man to man and all about man to God. Something for me is missing, I think, today. Instead of a Holy Day celebrating the blessing of God in our lives, we chase the illusion of happiness on a holiday from work or to relieve the boredom of just another day.

Another contrast of our worship with the Israelites of the Old Testament is that they feared their God where we tend to take Him for granted. In Deuteronomy 18:16-17, the Lord’s chosen people said, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.  And the Lord said… ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet.’” If we could know this level of trust in the absolute holiness of our God, we might begin to understand the High Priest and King who was sent to deliver us.

Oh, we usually start out with reverence and awe when we embrace the Messiah’s passion and resurrection. We mumble humble thanks year after year when remembering His sacrifice and merciful forgiveness.  Over time, though, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the routine of church services and the complacency as a spectator – letting someone else do the talking, the praying, the serving. I guess most of us need led which was even more reason for God to send us Jesus Christ. I’m not so worried about our desire to listen more than preach. Some of us need longer than others to believe we are accepted. But when we forget that “The dead do not praise the Lord, Nor any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord From this time forth and forevermore,” (Psalm 115:17, 18) – when we forget this, we lose our opportunity to worship while we live on this earth.

So worship Jesus Christ for setting His face toward the road of suffering. Worship His exodus from earth to heaven through His death and resurrection. Worship His “coming into his own glory, and in His Father’s and of the holy angels,” as Christ said would happen, (Luke 9:26). And worship only Him.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,

But to Your name give glory

Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1)

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