Death Does Not End it All!

This I believe as a Christian… DEATH DOES NOT END IT ALL!!  As a Christian it is not birth > life > death (with a big period at the end).  It is instead birth > life (and somewhere in there NEW BIRTH > more life! Abundant life! > death > ETERNAL LIFE!  Death is NOT the end … it is simply the doorway into an incredible and eternal future with the Lord!!

Thought about all of that as I read these wonderful, inspired words of Apostle Paul telling us about our future and Christ followers (whether we are living or have died) when Jesus returns…

1 Corinthians 15:50–58 (NIV)

“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.

Apostle Paul argued that all of that was incredible motivation for the following…

”Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!”

As a Christian I have a wonderful confidence and hope (beyond the grave… past death)!  I want to live life full – giving myself to the Lord’s will and work!!  I want the sound of my efforts for Jesus to blend with the piercing sound of the “last trumpet”!!

What to Pray When You’ve Fouled Up

I hate to admit it, but might as well… I’ve had to make David’s prayer in Psalm 51 my prayer more often than I’d like to acknowledge.   Covering up sin doesn’t help…  “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 ESV)  Acknowledging my sin to God and asking Him to forgive me has been the only effective solution to deal with guilt that I’m aware of… (“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess (acknowledge) our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1.8-9)

So here are David’s words from Psalm 51 that I read again this morning (words, I’ve had to make my own on more occasions than I’d like to admit).  …Word’s you might want to keep handy, if you’re at all like me …Words, that if you pray them sincerely from your heart, God has promised to honor and heed!!

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me… You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  (From Psalm 51)

Freed by Jesus! … Tell Your Story!!

You’ve got to picture this… The guy was plain scary!  Possessed and controlled by, not one, but a host of demons!  When he was asked his name, the demons inside him answered in a distorted voice… “Legion,” they said, “for we are many.”  And violent – uncontrolled!  Any attempt to control this person’s destructive and violent behavior had failed… they tried to chain him, and he tore off the chains apart and broke the shackles.  He lived out in a graveyard.  During the day and late at night you could hear his eerie screams (scared the kids half to death!).  Self-destructive – continually cut himself with sharp stones – a total societal misfit!  Helpless, hopeless, completely out of control!

He showed up just as Jesus got off the boat when He arrived in the Gerasenes.  The guy came screaming out of the tombs and with multiple, creepy, demonically produced voices screamed, “What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”  Imagine it!  What a welcoming committee, eh?

But Jesus spoke to the demons with a divine word of authority… “Come out, you unclean spirit!”  The demons in the man began to beg not to be disembodied and instead asked to be sent into a nearby heard of pigs.  The destructive character of demonic power is clearly revealed in the fact that when Jesus gave them permission to enter the pigs, they rushed down a steep bank and drowned themselves in the sea, nearby. 

But the man was delivered – obviously cured and set free!  When people come up to see him he was sane, clothed, sitting down, listening to Jesus in total mental, physical and emotional control!

As Jesus got into the boat, ready to leave the region, the man begged to go along with Jesus.  But Jesus urged him instead, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you!”  In other words, He told him, “Go share your testimony with others!”  And the Bible says, he did, and “began to proclaim in the entire region how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (From Mark 5:1-20)

Your story may – or may not – be as dramatic as this story in the Bible.  However, it is significant!  Share it!  Step out in faith as you have opportunities and tell others what the Lord has done for you!  Your faith will grow and the lives of others will be transformed as they are encouraged to trust God to help them with the seemingly impossible challenges in their lives… DO IT – TELL YOUR STORY!  It will help someone!!

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