Posts Tagged ‘Death


Praying For One Another

One of the more difficult to understand passages of Scripture is in 1 John 5. John writes:

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin,and there is sin that does not lead to death.

​ – 1 John 5:16-17 (NIV)​
So for whom and for what are we supposed to pray? We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and that they will not persist in sin. We need to pray that we will all confess our sins and repent from them. Sin is serious as it says in verse 17. For the believer in Jesus, our sins are forgiven by God’s grace through faith expressed in Jesus. Though we all continue to sin, God is faithful to forgive. For those outside of Christ, their sins are not forgiven until they come to Jesus for forgiveness. They are on the path to destruction. Pray for them to come to Christ and pray for each other that we may continually walk in the light.

A Matter Of Life And Death

Love is life and hatred is death according to the Apostle John. He wrote:

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. – 1 John 3:14-15 (NIV)

John is calling for love in the church. If you look around your church family and you hate the people with whom you worship the Lord, you are guilty of murder, John says. How can you claim to love God and yet hate His people who are made in His image? How can you say you love Jesus and yet hate people for whom He died? Love is what is supposed to set the church apart! Love for God and love for people is what breathes life into the church. Do not let anger boil over into hatred. Deal with your anger before it leads to death.

Birth Versus Death

In James 1:13-15, we read about temptation and how it leads to sin, which leads to death. Our evil desires cause us to give in to temptation and we sin. Sin is what leads to spiritual death and separation from God. But God gives life. James wrote:

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. – James 1:18 (NIV)

It is through God’s word of truth that we can have a new birth and a new life. No longer are we subject to death. We will all die a physical death, but spiritual death is not our reality. Instead, God chooses to save us by His grace through faith in Jesus. Instead of being afraid of death, we look forward to eternal life. Remember that you have been made new and are destined for eternal life. Praise be to God for this wonderful new birth!

No Victory For Death!

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, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the 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 15:51-57 (NIV)

Sometimes it seems as though death wins.  We lose someone we love and cherish and there is no consoling us.  The memories of their life linger on and make the sting of death that much more unbearable.  Life goes on for everyone outside of our realm, but for us it stands still for days.  We don’t know how people can go on living their lives when for us there seems to be nothing but numbness.

As a pastor, I deal with death often.  More often than I would like.  I spend time with families who have lost loved ones and that is the time that I feel most inadequate.  What words can I offer that could comfort them in this difficult time?  Sometimes words fail me, but I know that Truth never fails.  The Truth is that Jesus is coming back.  There is no sting in death or victory for the grave!  Jesus conquered the grave when God raised Him from the dead!  Though tears may sting our cheeks for a while, death will not sting our souls forever!  Just as Christ was raised, those who have died and have been buried with Him will be raised as well.  That’s the promise of Romans 6 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Our hope is in Christ and He gives true victory over the grave!

All praise be to His powerful, holy Name!

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for raising Jesus from the dead and conquering the grave forever. Thank You, Father, for the hope that we have in our resurrected Savior. Fill me with hope today.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


Take It To Heart

Ecclesiastes 7 is full of proverbs that give us little bits of wisdom.  One of my professors in Bible college used to call these “the bumper stickers of the Bible.”  These are little sayings that are chock full of wisdom and insight.  These first six proverbs of Ecclesiastes 7 have some dark overtones.  According to Solomon, laughter and happiness are to be shunned while death, mourning and sorrow are preferred.  What is Solomon saying when he says, “a sad face is good for the heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3b, NIV)?  I think that the key to unlocking this mystery is found in verse 2:
​…​death is the destiny of everyone;

    the living should take this to heart.​ – Ecclesiastes 7:2b (NIV)​

We’re all going to leave this life behind someday.  We’re all going to pass away at some point.  We celebrate our births every year, but think so little of our deaths, even though they are inevitable.  We’ll do many things to stave off death the best we can.  We diet and exercise (at least, we should).  We take vitamins and medicines.  We make figurative pilgrimages to fountains of youth to try and save ourselves.  But in the end, we come to an end.  We need to take this to heart and not waste our lives in reckless, foolish living.  For, as Solomon says:

A good name is better than fine perfume – Ecclesiastes 7:1a (NIV)

Don’t ruin your name by living foolishly.  Don’t ruin your name by chasing destructive pleasures.  Instead, live soberly and wisely.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-6 (NIV)
A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
    than to listen to the song of fools.
Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
    so is the laughter of fools.
    This too is meaningless.

Outrunning Death

Are we really no better than the animals with whom we share this planet?  According to Solomon, no.  In Solomon’s crisis of purpose, he realized something about humans and animals: we all die and return to the dust.  He says that we “all have the same breath” (vs 19) and that we “all go to the same place” (vs 20).  After that, who knows?  Who really knows for sure what happens after we die?  Do human souls ascend or descend and animals cease to exist?  We hear of near-death experiences, but who really knows what happens when we die?
When one contemplates the meaning of their life, one inevitably begins to ponder their own death.  For what are we living?  For what are we working?  What will become of me when I die?  Will I be remembered?  Will I be forgotten?  Solomon says to enjoy the work God gives us to do because we won’t enjoy the fruits of our labor when we’re in the grave.  Kinda grim, right?  Yet this is the pursuit of so many in our world.  We’ve got to go for the gusto today because tomorrow is not promised.  We’ve got to seize the day because you might not live to see tomorrow.  We take tomorrow for granted, but there is no guarantee that we’ll wake up tomorrow.  Then what?
I think that this is where faith comes in and saves us from despair.  Without faith, there is no hope.  Without hope for something beyond this life, we will live in fear of death and with despair.  Faith in Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection gives the believer hope of eternal life with Him.  Something within us, believer and non-believer alike, whispers that there must be something beyond this life.  Earlier in Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon says that God “has…set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).  God has left His thumbprint on every human being and you can either spend your life trying to outrun the inevitability of death by denying eternity or you can embrace the eternal God who loves you and longs to be in a relationship with you.  Choose wisely, for the choice you make has eternal consequences.
Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 (NIV)

I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work,because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?


The Same Fate

I turned 40 in 2013.  I was over the hill.  The “big 4-0.”  Time for my mid-life crisis, right?  Well, that wasn’t the tough one.  The tough one was 39.  It was the realization that I was going to be 40 next year.  That’s when it hit me that my life could be half over.  What had I accomplished?  What had I done?  What would I do with the next 40 or so years?
Solomon was the wisest king over Israel and he stopped to ponder wisdom and foolishness.  As you read through Ecclesiastes, it sure seems like he was facing a mid-life crisis of some sort.  As he considered wisdom and folly, he comes to a startling conclusion.  One of the wisest men to ever live figures it all out – his wisdom couldn’t save him.  He would suffer the same fate as a fool.  With regard to the wise and the foolish he said,
​…​the same fate overtakes them both. – Ecclesiastes 2:14 (NIV)
That fate is the grave.  We all suffer the same fate.
Whether we are:
  • Wise or foolish
  • Rich or poor
  • Black or white or brown or yellow or red
  • Short or tall
  • Woman or man
  • Famous or not
  • Old or young
  • Sinner or saint
We all end up suffering the same fate.  Author and pastor John Ortberg wrote a book entitled, “When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In The Box.”  When you play a board game, all of the pieces go back in the box when the game has concluded.  When our lives are over and we’re done playing the real “game of life,” everything will go in some kind of box, including us.  You may be all kinds of things in this life, including some of the things in the list above, but none of that stuff matters because we all suffer the same fate.  Verse 16 says:

For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

We want to leave a lasting legacy of some sort, but the fact is that we will one day be forgotten.  We have only one thing that will last forever…our soul.  Jesus said, in Mark 8:36 (NLT):

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

You may have the world by the tail, but the world will go on long after you do.  What good will it do you then?  Don’t lose the eternal treasures of heaven for the temporary things of earth.  Your body will end up in a box, but your soul will live on in eternity.  We all suffer the same earthly fate, but we will not all suffer the same eternal one.
Ecclesiastes 2:12-16 (NIV)

Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
    What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
    “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

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