A life in ministry is a life consumed by the issues of life and death. While some are marrying, others are dealing with the death of a spouse. While some are trusting Christ as Savior, others are rejecting Him. While some are seeing God’s evident hand of blessing, others struggle. Life is full of such opposites. Oh, for the grace seen in the Apostle Paul’s life to say, I have learned that in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
However, the issue of life and death is not such an opposite. Life, to many, is seen as one subject and death as another, but looking biblically at both subjects we observe that both are part of God’s plan, and one is interwoven into the other. As a matter of fact, God designed the Christian life to prepare us to die and meet God. A godly life does not lead to a hopeless end. So says David in Psalm 116:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Some of my church members and I attended a funeral this past Friday of a woman who did not leave behind a clear testimony of salvation. I looked upon the faces of the family members and those in attendance to look for any signs of hope…any signs of a brighter tomorrow, reserved for those who know God and love Him. Sadly, I did not see any.
I saw religion on display- a vain pursuit for answers. I saw inability on display- an unwillingness to meet the issue of death straight on. I saw frivolity on display- a way to escape the realities of despair.
Funerals have changed recently. We no longer have “funerals.” We have “celebrations of life.” We no longer wear demure colors but are asked to wear bright and happy shades. We seldom ever see a body displayed that depicts the actuality that death has come. Few, if any, ask to hold services at church facilities or even funeral homes. Some run to the river, others to meaningful places where the deceased spent much time. Often we have been asked to sense the spirit of that person hovering around that place that meant so much to them.
ARE NOT ALL OF THESE “CHANGES” SIMPLY AN ESCAPISM FROM THE REALITY OF DEATH? Have these changes come because too few people know how to filter the issue of death? Are not all of these products of our now living in a post-Christian nation? That is for you to decide.
My dear preacher friend, Dr. Earl Jessup of Baptist Church Planting Ministry (www.bcpm.org), was diagnosed in January with extremely serious cancer. He has sought treatment and the doctors have made dire predictions based upon their facts, not God’s facts. We pray for him and know that the Lord will get great glory through this situation in his life.
He preached for us this past Sunday morning and delivered a powerful message on the end of the Apostle Paul’s life. His title was “He finished well “. (Click here for the sermon 5-16-10 am.) I hope you will take the time to listen to the sermon.
What you will find strikingly clear is that my friend knows how to live because he knows how to die, and he knows how to die because he knows Jesus Christ as his Savior. May this be the day in your life when you learn how to live and learn personally of a God who will give you His grace when it is your appointment to cross the bar to the other side.