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Saturday, January 26, 2013

God Sends a Dream that Foretells the Future




God Sends a Dream that Foretells the Future

 

 

King Nebuchadnezzar woke up with a jerk.  It was the middle of the night and perspiration was pouring down his face as he jumped out of bed and yelled for his servants.  “My dream woke me up,” he screamed.  “What was my dream?”   His favorite wife scurried out of the bedroom as the servants rushed in and bowed before him.

 

“My dream! My frightening dream!  I can’t remember what it was!  What am I to do?  Help me.”  The servants cowered as the anxious king paced the floor raging.  The king called in his guards.  “Hurry, go out and bring the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers and all the wise men (occult advisors) here to the palace right away. The wise men will be able to tell me what I dreamed and what it means! Go!” The sky was still dark as Nebuchadnezzar’s guards jumped on their horses and rode off to find all of the magicians, astrologers and sorcerers in the kingdom and order them all to report to their king immediately.

 

The next day several hundred astrologers, sorcerers, magicians and other assorted wise guys were all assembled before King Nebuchadnezzar in the palace.  “They greeted the king, ‘O king, live forever!  Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’” (Daniel 2:4)  “The king replied to the astrologers, ‘This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble…’” (Daniel 2:5)  Perhaps the king had not really forgotten the dream, but rather maybe he reasoned that his wise men, if able to predict the future by interpreting dreams, ought to be able to perform the lesser task of reconstructing the past – the king’s dream. 

 

The wise men were sure that they had the power to interpret the dream if the king would only tell them what the dream was.  But the king, getting more upset by the minute, (thinking they were frauds) insisted that if they couldn’t tell him what his dream was then he didn’t believe that they could know what the meaning of the dream would be either.

 

The astrologers answered him:  “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks!  …What the king asks is too difficult.  No one can reveal your dream to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”  (Daniel 2: 10-11)

 

“This answer made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.  So the decree was issued to put all the wise men to death.  And the kings’men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.”  (Daniel 2:12-13)  Daniel and his friends had been considered part of the king’s group of royal counselors or “wise men.”

 

The guards began killing some of the wise men and the news got around that Daniel and his friends might be next. Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were in big trouble and they talked together about what to do.  Soon the king’s guards would arrive to take them away and kill them. They decided to pray and ask God to tell them what the king’s dream was and what it meant so that they wouldn’t be killed with the others.  So these four young men knelt together and prayed, begging and pleading with God to give them the answer and save their lives.

 

That very night God answered their prayers. (Dan.2:19)  During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  God not only showed Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed, but He also showed Daniel what the dream meant.  Daniel was so thankful that he sang out his praise to God for answering his prayer and giving him the answers. (Dan. 2:20-23)  

 

“Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute all the wise men of Babylon, and said to him. ‘Do not execute the wise men.  Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.’”  (Daniel 2:24) 

 

When Daniel stood before King Nebuchadnezzar he told the king: “No man can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.  He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come…” (Daniel 2: 27b-28)  Daniel made sure that the king knew that it was God alone who had given him the meaning of the dream.  And also that it was God who gave the king the dream in the first place.  He gave all of the glory to God. 

 

Then Daniel told the king what his dream was – the dream that the king said he had forgotten.  The dream had been of an impressive, glittering, frightening metallic image in the form of a man.  “You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.  The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.  While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands.  It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on the threshing floor in the summer.  …But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”  (Daniel 2: 31-35)  The king was amazed because now he remembered his dream!  Indeed Daniel (Daniels’ God) had told him what it was.

 

And then Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream, as God had given it to him in the vision.  Daniel told the king that the gold head of the great image represents himself – the king of the Babylonian Empire (verse 38 and Jer. 51:7 and Isa. 14:4)  The silver chest and arms of the great image represent a lesser empire that will rise after the king dies – (we believe it to be the Medo-Persian Empire established by Cyrus in 539B.C.)  The bronze belly and thighs is still another empire coming after that –(believed to be the Greek Empire established by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.)  And the iron legs and feet are still another empire after that one – (believed to be the Roman Empire.)  Of all the four metals, iron is the strongest.  None of the three previous kingdoms were as strong and mighty as Rome.

 

And after the legs of iron come the feet of iron and clay.  Some believe that the feet of iron and clay represent Rome fragmented and reassembled – socially, culturally, and politically – all the peoples, institutions, etc. even today affected by the Roman influence. And it is also believed that the feet of iron and clay may represent the many nations of our modern world – some strong and some weak – the iron and clay. Daniel says it like this: “so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”  (Daniel 2:43b)  

 

But what happens after the feet of iron and clay is the most amazing part of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream!  “While you were watching a rock was cut out, but not by human hands.  It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.  Then the iron and clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on the threshing floor in the summer…”  This is the end of man’s rule. It has been blown away like chaff!  According to the dream and its interpretation, the destruction of the feet and the statue itself (man’s rule) by the rock not cut with human hands is sudden, violent and catastrophic!

 

“But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth …” (Daniel 2: 34-35) We notice that the rock -Jesus is the Rock (Isaiah 32:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:4-10)- in this dream; a rock that was cut out –“but not by human hands.” (Dan.2:34) This new ruler is not another human (this is not another empire ruled by a human or made with human hands) but the new ruler is the Rock – Jesus, the Son of God.  Jesus will come again in all of His glory as prophesied in Scripture. God, not man, will now rule the earth forever.  (Revelations 19 and 20)   

 

Daniel gives this explanation that God gave him to the king: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

 

King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face when he heard the meaning of his dream.  He said this to Daniel: “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and the revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”  (Daniel 2:47)  

 

This dream and Gods’ interpretation of it through Daniel have influenced people down through the ages.  It is one of the many prophecies in Scripture that foretell the future of humankind.  Most of the dream where the great image (representing man’s rule) moves from the gold head to the silver chest to the bronze belly and then the iron legs may have already played out through human history. It would seem that possibly we are now living during the time of the feet of iron and clay when there are many nations both strong and weak.

 

 If that is true, the only part of the prophecy that still remains to be fulfilled is the part where the rock not cut with human hands will strike the feet of iron and clay and become a huge mountain and fill the whole earth.  Could it be possible that we may live in that time - the end time? A wonderful time – Jesus will come again.  A violent and catastrophic time – the feet and the statue (mans’ rule) will be struck down and destroyed.  We could be living in that very time.  Are we ready? 

 

     

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

    

 

 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daniel




Daniel

 

 
Daniel was a teen-ager living in Jerusalem when his whole world fell apart. The year was 605 B.C. and it was a very bad year!  This was the year that thousands of fierce Babylonian warriors wielding swords and spears surrounded the city of Jerusalem, battered down its’ walls, and rushed in to loot and destroy. Any resistance from Jewish soldiers was brutally crushed as the invading army conquered the city.  The people of Jerusalem had no choice but to stand by helplessly and watch as their animals and valuables were stolen, their homes set on fire and their lives changed forever. 

 

Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon in 605 B.C. and he had ordered his soldiers to capture the citizens of Jerusalem and forcefully march them out of their homeland and across the desert to Babylon.  They would become slave laborers for the Babylonians. As the soldiers raged through the streets of the city killing and capturing people, the sounds of screaming and wailing could be heard everywhere as parents were being separated from children and husbands from wives.  Daniel was one of the thousands on that terrible day to lose his freedom and his homeland. 

 

Scripture says that long before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, the Jewish people had turned from God and had been worshipping idols.  Only a small number of Jewish people were still worshipping God by 605 B.C.  Most had become arrogant and didn’t care for their poor.  They cheated one another and ignored Gods’ commandments.  Scripture says that God was grieved and disappointed with His children.

 

 For several hundred years now God had been sending prophets to the Jewish people begging them to return to Him.  But very few listened to Gods’ pleas or took His prophets seriously. Finally God began warning them that if they continued worshipping idols and living evil lives that He would stop protecting them from their enemies.  The prophets warned that a future Babylonian king would destroy Jerusalem and take the Jewish people away to Babylon if they didn’t turn from their sins. (Jeremiah 25:8-11)  But the people still didn’t listen!

 

So now the day of reckoning had arrived!  Time had run out! The warnings that the prophets had given to the people over several hundred years were finally coming true!  If only the Jewish people had listened and changed their ways. But now it was too late.  

 

One of the many prophecies that had been given to the Jewish people concerning the punishment they would get if they continued worshipping idols was from Isaiah 39:7.  It had been written over a hundred years earlier and it reads: “And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”  This prophecy would come true in the lives of Daniel and his friends. 

 

Scripture tells us that Daniel came from a wealthy Jewish family and was young, good looking and intelligent.  He knew the Scriptures and he was one of the few people left in Jerusalem who still loved God and refused to worship idols.  Even his name –Daniel- means “God’s prince.”  (We shall see later that he lived up to his name)

 

  We can only imagine what it must have been like for Daniel on that terrible day when the Babylonian soldiers destroyed his home and carried him away in shackle, separating him from his family.  He was just a teenager at the time.  Was Daniel torn away from a sweetheart, a girlfriend?  He would never see his beloved homeland again!

 

Scripture tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, the chief of the eunuchs, to go out and find young men who were good looking and intelligent and bring them into the palace to serve the king. It was the custom in ancient times for a king to emasculate the males that served in his palace since these men would be living and working near the women in the kings’ harem.  And the jealous king wanted to protect his women from any possible sexual advances.

 

So after the Jewish people had been deposited in Babylon by the soldiers, Ashpenaz went around checking out the new arrivals.  Among the new Jewish captives, he picked out a group of fine young men for the king and Daniel was one of them.  He also chose three of Daniel’s friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  All of these teen agers were taken to the king’s palace and castrated, making them eunuchs for the kings court. We can only imagine how upsetting this must have been for Daniel and the other young men.  Their sexuality was taken away from them. Now they could never fall in love, marry or have a family! 

 

King Nebuchadnezzar looked over the young men and decided that they should be given three years of training so that they could better serve him.  He also ordered Ashpenaz to feed them special food from the king’s table.  This might sound good since Daniel and his friends could eat the finest delicacies.  But Scripture says: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”  (Daniel 1:8) 

 

The Jews were forbidden to eat flesh sacrificed to a pagan god (Ex.34:15) for it was similar to serving other gods in the public eye.  This food was not kosher.  Daniel had the discernment to recognize that the king’s purpose in these things was to wean him from his holy faith.  And Daniel resolved not to yield if he could help it.

 

Daniel asked Ashpenaz if he and his friends could be excused from eating the king’s food.  And Ashpenaz answered that the king believed that his good food would give the young men strength and vigor.  The king would have Ashpenaz put to death if the young men did not look healthy.  So Daniel asked Ashpenaz to allow himself and his friends to eat vegetables for ten days as a trial period.  If after ten days they appeared as robust as the young men who had eaten the king’s delicacies then they should be allowed to continue eating their vegetables. Scripture says that God caused Ashpenaz to like Daniel and to go along with his request. (Dan.1:9)  God raises up defenders for his people in strange ways!

 

King Nebuchadnezzar planned to wean these teen-agers from their old religion and culture and transform them and their identity into Babylonians. The Babylonians worshiped and sacrificed before the altars of many gods.  And their magicians and astrologers performed many supposed miracles.  And the king wanted the young men in the palace to fit in.  

 

In antiquity a person’s name was more a part of his identity and character than it is among us moderns. Nebuchadnezzar changed Daniel’s name to Belteshazzar.  The name Daniel means “God’s prince” and the name Belteshazzar means “Bel’s prince”.  Bel was one of the chief gods of Babylon. (Isa.46:1, Jer.50:2; 51:44)  Hananiah was given the name of “Shadrach”, Mishael was given the name “Meshach” and Azariah was named “Abednego”.  These young men had been through so much and now even their names had been changed.  But they vowed to remain loyal to God.  

 

But Daniel and his three friends refused to go along with the crowd even if it cost them their lives. Later we will see that these four would choose death before they would bow before a Babylonian god. They clung to God no matter what; and God blessed them because of their unshakable consecration.  Scripture says:  “As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”  (Daniel 1:17)

 

We will learn more about Daniel in future blogs. God gave Daniel the powerful gift of prophecy.  Daniel’s importance as a prophet was confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 24:15. The book of Daniel is one of the major books of prophecy in the Bible and an influence down through the ages. Daniel served for sixty years in the kings’ palace from his youth on into a ripe old age.  Daniel greatly influenced four kings:  Nebuchadnezzar (2-11-4:37) Belshazzar (5:1-31): Darius (6:1-28); and Cyrus (10:1-11:1) These heathen kings respected Daniel for his wisdom and they all believed that Gods’ Spirit was speaking through him.

 

In a world where everyone was worshipping idols, Daniel stayed true to God even when he was threatened with death.  As a teen ager in Jerusalem he refused to join his neighbors who were worshipping idols.  He was carried away to Babylon with the others for sins he had not committed.  He was emasculated as a young man and lived out his whole life in exile.   

 

You might say he had a tough life. Daniel could have become bitter through all of his troubles.  He could have languished and grumbled over his fate.  But there is no hint of melancholia in his writings.  God was his total provision.

 

 Daniel faithfully served in the palace and prophesied Gods’ Word year after year.  He never wavered in his devotion to God throughout all the years of his life. When everything seemed out of control for the Jews in Babylon, God used Daniels’ life and prophecies to show that the God of Israel, the only God, is in control of the destiny of all nations.  And down through all of those long dark years of captivity in Babylon, Daniel was there for his people and also for the Gentile nations, as a light and a testimony to the faithfulness to God.          

 

      

 

        

 

  

 

 

 

 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Which Path Shall We Take in Life?



 

Which Path Shall We Take in Life?

 

 

 When God created people He blessed them and gave them the power, intelligence and ability to rule the earth.  Here is how the Bible records it.  “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.  God blessed them and said to them.  ‘Be fruitful and increase in number.  Fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. …And God saw that all He had made was very good.” (Genesis 1:27-28, 31a) 

 

So here we read in Genesis that God blesses and sends mankind out into a very good   world to enjoy and flourish, to be parents and build families and loving communities, and to exercise dominion over the earth and over the earthly creatures; (Gen.2:15) –to care for but not exploit the earth or the earthly creatures.   

 

We also read here that God created people in His image.  And since God has free will, we who bear His image also have free will – and are free to make our own choices. We are God’s respected children, not His mechanical robots.  God did not program us to automatically do what He wants, although He asks for us to do that throughout Scripture.  And He asks for our love but He won’t force us to love Him.  

 

God gives us the freedom to make our own choices- good or bad.  Freedom to make Him glad or freedom to break His heart!  We are free to be whatever we choose to be! And that’s where we can get into big trouble!  

 

Along with freedom, the Bible has much to say about Gods’ blessings.  It tells us that God, like a proud parent, delights in us and wants to bless us in the good work and endeavors that we choose. And of course He can withhold His blessing and be angry and grieved if we choose evil.  Scripture says that He cares deeply about how we live our lives. 

 

Like an earthly parent, the heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts.  Scripture says: “If you parents, even though you have faults, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to you if you ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)  And “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father …”  (James 1:17a) 

 

God invites us to pray to Him and ask for what we need and want.  He promises to give us anything we ask for that is in His will.  Of course He won’t answer our prayers if we ask for something that He knows won’t work together for good.  He sees the bigger picture even though we may not understand.  He speaks to us through Scripture: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds: and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  (Matt. 7:7)  And “Casting all your troubles on Him, for He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)

 

And there is more!  Because of Christ’s death, God gives us salvation, eternal life and forgiveness of our sins.  And then He gives believers the Holy Spirit as their personal guide.

 

So what can I say?  We have a wild and giving God!   We are rich-we are spoiled-and we have it all!  Abundance, pressed down and flowing over! We have been promised spiritual blessings that we can not begin to wrap our minds around.  We will never be able to comprehend all that God has done for us!  Scripture says: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into our imagination all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

 

So with all of this in mind; how shall we conduct our lives?  How shall we use our freedom to choose the paths we take in life?  Should having a loving God in our lives change the way we live? As always, the Bible has much to say about how God wants us to live.  

 

When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus gave them this answer.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:36-39)

 

Jesus is telling us here that love is the shinning star that needs to guide our lives.  And all of Scripture backs that up.  We can more easily obey the Ten Commandments if we live loving lives.  We won’t break the commandment that commands us not to murder if we love God and our neighbor.  And we won’t break God’s commandment and commit adultery or steal from our neighbor if we care about their welfare.  Love says it all!

 

Paul preached to the Ephesians and told them how God would have them live.   They were new Christians and Paul told them to put off their “old self and put on their new self.”  (the new selves that we become in Christ)  (Ephesians 4:22)  They were to “put off falsehood and speak the truth.” (Eph. 4:25) He warned this new church against “hardening their hearts” (Eph.4:18) and against “indulging in impurity and lust”. (vs.19a)

 

The Ephesians were “not to allow unwholesome talk to come out of their mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.”  And they were not to “grieve the Holy Spirit”. (vs.29)  And Paul instructed them to “get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”  (Eph.4:31) Instead  they were to  “Be kind and compassionate to one another” and “forgive one another as Christ forgave them.”  (vs.32)  Paul encouraged the Ephesians to leave the darkness (sinful ways) and live in community “as children of the Light” (Eph.5:8)

 

It seems that everything has been provided for us to live a good productive life.  If we have burdens that are too heavy or duties that cause us anxiety, all we have to do is ask God for help.   Scripture says:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  He is our provision.

 

 God calls us to Himself but only we can answer that call.  He knocks on the door but only we can open it.  We can decide to follow Jesus or we can decide not to follow Him. And we can choose to be responsible or we can walk out on our responsibilities.  We can take care of our children or we can skip out and leave them fatherless or (motherless).  We can live just to entertain and pleasure ourselves or we can reach out and care for others.  We can help the needy or we can turn our backs on the poor. The God who has created us and provided for us waits to see how we will choose – what we will do with the life that He has given us. So what will it be?      

  

 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

What the Bible Says About Death




What the Bible Says About Death

 

 

I bent over my mother as she lay on the hospital bed taking her last breaths.  “We have done everything we can for your mother,” the doctor whispered, shaking his head, “I’m so sorry.”  My father slumped beside his dying wife holding her hand in his as tears ran down his face. And I was crying too as we watched her blood pressure continue falling lower and lower on the screen that monitored her vital signs.  My husband slipped out into the hall to call the family.  

 

We all knew that my mother had a bad heart, but we weren’t prepared for this final ending since it happened so fast. One minute she was so alive, laughing and loving, so involved with her family.  And the next minute she was gone.  How fragile is this mysterious gift of life!  Scripture says our life is like a mist.  “…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  (James 4:14b)  

 

We all live knowing that someday we will die – someday our loved ones will die.  We fear death - dance around it- play games and pretend it isn’t there.  And then death comes and separates us from our loved one.  And because we can’t see the loved one or physically feel their touch any longer, we fear that they have vanished – that maybe they no longer exist!        

 

The Bible tells us that a person who dies still exists afterwards but is in another place.  Scripture says: “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  (2 Cor. 5:8)  If we have a loved one who has died, we will see them again.  Scripture says we will be reunited.  This is what King David said about his infant son who had just died: “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”  (2 Sam. 12:23b)

 

Since we can’t see beyond the grave we tend to view life as ending at the grave.  But we need not be so near-sighted but instead look at the whole picture - look with the eyes of faith beyond physical death to eternal life.  We need to put on spiritual (faith) glasses.  We need to view temporal things in the light of the eternal. 

 

Here on earth we believe in what we can see and hear and feel.  But the Bible teaches us that we are not to live just by outward appearances –by what we can see and feel - but we are to live by faith – faith in God and in His Word.   Let’s see what the Word of God – the Bible – says about death and what happens to a person after they die.

 

First let’s read the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?’  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as He has determined, and of each kind of seed He gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Humans have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies: but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. …So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, but it will be raised imperishable:  it is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory:  it is sown in weakness, and it will be raised in power:  it is sown a natural body, and it will be raised a spiritual body. 

 

If there is a natural body, then there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written:  ‘The first human Adam became a living being’ the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.  …and just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the heavenly man . 

 

…Listen, I tell you a mystery:  We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and this mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

 

Where, O Death is your victory.  Where, O Death is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1 Corinthians 15: 35-40, 42-47,49,51-57)

 

We read in Philippians of how our life after death is tied to Jesus’ life after death:  “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”  (Philippians 3:20-21)  And Jesus tells us: “Because I live, you shall live also.”  (John 14:19)

 

In 1 Peter we read: “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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  (1Peter 1:3-5)

 

Jesus left us with these words concerning the gift of life He gives us:  “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die….”  (John 11:25-26) and He also said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand…”  (John 10:29) 

 

 

Here in 1 John we read about the future glory that will be ours:  “Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we will be has not yet appeared: but we know that when He (Jesus) appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”  (1 John 3:2)   And also: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:18)

 

About life after death we read:  “God will live with them, and they will be His people … and 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.”  (Revelations 21:4) 

 

And concerning our own death, God promises to be with us and comfort us at that time.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You (God) are with me: your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4)  Death is our graduation day – our transition to eternal life.  Scripture says:  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”   (Psalm 116:15)

 

Here on earth it seems so natural to believe in what we can see and hear and feel.  But the Bible calls us to live by faith and not by sight. When we are faced with death – our own death or that of a loved one – if we go on what we can see (pain, trauma and disease) we may be afraid.  But if we replace our fearful thoughts with faith in God we will have peace.

 

Each time we have a fearful thought we can replace it with a “faith” thought.  We can pray for Gods’ help to do that.  Scripture says:  “We demolish arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.  And we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Cor. 10:5)

 

 If the fear and dread of dying settles in on us, let’s learn to take these thoughts captive.  We can make each thought obedient to the knowledge that God will take care of us when we die.  He will comfort us and hold our hand when it is our time to walk through that valley of the shadow of death.  And on the other side of that valley there will be eternal life and unspeakable joy forever more.