THAT WHICH SHALL NEVER PASS AWAY

When someone dies we often try to soften the harsh reality of it by saying they have passed away. That means that something or someone has ceased to exist.

In Scripture there are several things that we are told will one day pass away. The first of which is the number of days on earth as Moses shared in Psalm 90:9. That is fairly obvious depending on our genetics and how we care for ourselves. The hope within that reality is that we age gracefully and pass away as a ‘new creature’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) born into the faith of Jesus Christ.

Ceasing to exist will obviously be all that which is of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31)  including the very heavens (not the final dwelling place) and earth which so many in mankind seem to worship. To care for what God has given us in this life is certainly proper, but the level with which we do it to the point of it becoming a religion (naturism) is the danger.

Yet in all this there is hope. There is that to which we should most cling which will NEVER pass away. First, as Christ Himself shared in Luke 21:33, are His Words. This is why as believers preparing for Heaven, not unlike children prepare for higher learning, we should be daily in the one textbook that really matters which is God’s Word (Bible) for no greater institution of higher learning exists than Heaven. That is a Kingdom (Daniel 7:14) which SHALL NEVER PASS AWAY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Passing away does not apply to people who will participate in paradise.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Daniel 7:14 “Christ’s dominion shall not pass away”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for assuring me I will never pass away in an eternal sense.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What thoughts have you  given to the reality of passing away?
  2. Have you become a ‘new creature’ in Christ?
  3. How do we balance caring for versus worshiping this earth and life on it?
  4. How important is God’s eternal Word to you?

WHAT TO DO WITH ‘OLD’ PEOPLE!

As society becomes increasingly a throw away society in so many ways it is natural that it would eventually come to human lives. From the unborn to the elderly ‘choice’ is now the word of the day. Not God’s choice who created us but our choice on whether an unborn child should live or die or even an elderly person as assisted suicide (fancifully called euthanasia) gains acceptance.

God’s Word treated life considerably different. The elderly contributed a great deal. King Rehoboam after seeking consul from the elderly foolishly rejected it (1 Kings 12) and paid a price. Job 12:12 tells us correctly “wisdom is with aged men (and women) and with length of days understanding”.

The story of Anna recorded in Luke 2:36-38 tells of the spiritual service elderly can give. With time and retirement elderly can provide the back bone of any faith related needs whether it be intercessory prayer or any number of Christian activities. People of old age can still be fruitful (Psalm 92:14). In fact in many ways they can provide leadership serving as examples in their bold declaration of the words of Joshua 24:15: “But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.

So the question remains ‘what to do with the elderly’? First, like Abishag in 1 Kings 1:15, we must minister to their needs and that does not mean providing them with the means for an untimely death. Senior living centers, families and home care providers when set up properly can certainly do this. The care should always be provided in a respectful manner. No less so than God would do as we are told in Isaiah 46:4 with the words: “even to (your) gray hairs I (God) will carry you”.

The Bible is clear. The elderly often referred to as ‘silver or gray’ haired are to be honored (Leviticus 19:32 and Proverbs 16:31). That is the answer to WHAT TO DO  WITH ‘OLD’ PEOPLE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Elderly are not an encumbrance but rather a source of spiritual enlightenment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Job 12:12 “understanding comes with age”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may we always honor our elderly.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How has society become a throw away society especially in areas of faith, family, friends, finances, etc.?
  2. In what ways are we as a nation committing the same crimes we fought against in World War 2?
  3. What type of spiritual service can elderly provide?
  4. What can we do for the elderly that honors them especially those living lonely lives?

RELATED BLOGS: What comes with age? and Blessings of being old.

 

HOW FLEXIBLE ARE YOU?

With age it seems comes a hardening of most everything. Perhaps that is why the oldest fossils and trees are petrified. With age we become petrified of change as well. We may change somewhat at the time of the new year as resolutions for improvement are part of the game but they often fall by the wayside as well.

David in Psalm 55:19 expressed a concern about those who would not change because they did not fear God. That is spot on in describing our world today. We do not care to be flexible especially toward the will of God because we have no Godly fear or even desire it.

Godly fear is life giving and the beginning of wisdom we are told in Scripture. Yet we turn our face away from God. Woodrow Wilson once said: “If you want to make enemies try to change something (or someone)”. How true those words are. We fear talking of our faith to others because we are afraid they will turn on us in some fashion.

Truth is that there is room for improvement in each of us. When we understand the real meaning of this then our growth first begins. The process begins by getting into God’s Word which as 1 Peter 2:2  tells us is like pure milk to a newborn baby. The process after this initial step is recorded in 2 Peter 1:5-8 culminating in entrance into God’s everlasting Kingdom (vs. 11).

Knowing this we should not only be anxious to change ourselves but to share its importance and how it is done with all others. The key question is HOW FLEXIBLE ARE WE?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: True improvement comes only when implementing God’s plan into our lives.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 55:19 “why some do not change”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek improvement through Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Why won’t people change?
  2. What will bring Godly fear back to a place of prominence?
  3. What is the growth process for a Christian as recorded in 2 Peter 1:5-7?
  4. How flexible are you?

STUMBLE AND THEN GET UP!

Last evening I attended a prayer service for a family friend. In my eagerness to share how important Olinda was to my life experience I stumbled through some words. It bothered me some yet I suspect knowing her family they understood. This morning God shared James 3:2 in my personal devotion with me. James tells us “for we all stumble in many things”. If we didn’t we would be perfect. We all know perfection rests in God alone.

Scripture lays out for us what can cause us to stumble most easily. We all know how stumbling or poor judgment often comes with strong drink (Isaiah 28:7). Many a bad decision has been made with lifetime consequences after drinking but one often overlooked source of stumbling is God’s Word.

In 1 Peter 2:8 we read that as followers of Christ, God’s Word is the standard by which we are to live. How well is that going for us? For me Scripture is a constant source of inspiration and comfort. It is also a source that shows my shortcomings.

Thankfully Christ knows we will stumble and as Romans 9:33 tells us our belief in Christ will not allow our stumbling be a source of shame. It is only those who do not know Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23) who will stumble and are likely to stay down. For them Paul shares with us in 1 Corinthians 8:9 that we must not be the source of their tripping up but rather show in our Christian liberty what it means to STUMBLE AND THEN GET UP.

With age we are to grow in wisdom, love, graciousness and maturity. Last evening Olinda helped me take another step in that direction.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Stumbling can lead to spiritual success when we strive to be like our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 3:2 “all stumble in life”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord pick me up when I fall.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. When did you last stumble?
  2. What was the source of your stumbling and how did you respond?
  3. What are primary causes of people stumbling?
  4. How can we be an example for others when they fall?

WHAT COMES WITH AGE?

Getting older is not always easy as many of you reading this can attest to. With age no matter how well you cared for yourself over time comes the inevitable breakdown of the human body. That all being said there is good also that comes with years and Scripture points these out to us beginning with wisdom (Job 12:12). Wisdom as I have shared before is knowledge guided by understanding. To a certain extent it is referred to as personal experience and a personal faith which should and can obviously come with age. Those just graduating even with the highest honors if honest with themselves will admit they have much to learn.

The maturity spoken of in Job 5:26 is also a blessing of getting older. Many commercials on television try to sell us on anti-aging products and ideas while I would suggest that even wrinkles are a sign of beauty. Like a medal of honor for fighting in battles the gray hair (or in my case lack thereof) and wrinkles tell stories of years of bad and good times.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 16:31 where we read the words “the silver haired head is a crown of glory” especially if found in a persons life of righteousness. This life is one of ‘Spiritual beauty’ if not also of physical beauty in a fashion. Personally I don’t understand why anyone would want to prevent the graying of hair as it is a ‘crown’ gift from God.

Aging is a time of fruitfulness which I believe exists even to the time of last breath. It is why I am so opposed to Euthanasia. Perhaps I don’t understand but observing others who’s bodies have been ravaged by poor health, there is still the love of God that can be seen if one looks closely. Fruitful to the end.

Finally with age I find my faith growing stronger each day. My example here is Joshua who in Joshua chapter 24 tells of the commitment he and his family made to the Lord. Joshua lived to be 110 and how pleasant the years must have been growing not only in personal faith but also seeing the faith grow in the lives of those he loved most.

WHAT COMES WITH AGE is not the same for everyone but to the extent we allow God into our lives and share Him with others makes the aging experience a ride filled with many pleasures.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Advancing age can be a wonderful accomplishment when we fill it with affection for our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Proverbs 16:31 “the glory of aging lies in spiritual beauty”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord be by my side with each day that passes.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you ask questions of those older to learn from their experiences?
  2. How do you see beauty in an older person?
  3. Can a person ravaged by poor health still be fruitful?
  4. What makes faith grow stronger?

LIVING A LONG LIFE!

Society today it seems to me has a great many problems two of which are inter-related often time. They both fall under the category of poor parenting with the first being a parent being over attentive so a child cannot grow up learning by making mistakes and occasionally getting hurt and the second is being totally absent or nearly so and thereby not setting guidelines and explaining their importance. In both these situations we do our children no favors and their length of life can become endangered by their subsequent stupid decisions and actions.

Our Father God had the answers to assuring length of life for ourselves and future generations and the first rule was to keep His Commandments (1 Kings 3:14). Virtually all trouble our world faces today can be traced to someone  breaking one or more of God’s Ten Commandments and yet our government and courts do not want them displayed in our government buildings or schools at the risk of greater problems and shortened lives.

Long life also comes with wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-16) when the wisdom and understanding is the reflection of a Holy God. For we to have that type of wisdom and understanding requires in depth study of God’s Holy Word. The Bible should be the most used book in every home.

Prayer is also key to a longer life. King Hezekiah discovered this in his miraculous recovery mentioned in 2 Kings 20:5-6. Our Lord wants to hear from us on a regular basis (see category on prayer) and not just when it is convenient such as in times of trouble or during worship services.

Honoring our parents is a key to long life (Ephesians 6:1-3) and reflects back to my opening thoughts. A successful family life is a two way street between parent and child and though the road may need occasional maintenance it must be open for travel no matter who is in need of assistance at the moment.

Finally length of life comes with fear of the Lord (Proverbs 10:27). This fear is not such as one would have with impending disaster but rather the life giving respect and love for a Creator Who has given us all we have and so much more to come. Following these guidelines we all will be LIVING A LONG LIFE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Length of life comes with learning to be led by God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Proverbs 3:1-2 “Keeping God’s law leads to a longer life”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always be guided by Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are societies major ills and how can they be traced back to a broken Commandment from God?
  2. How can broken Commandments shorten  life?
  3. Can a society survive when setting aside Biblical laws as seen in the Ten Commandments?
  4. Why is honoring parents and those in Christian authority a wise thing to do?

RELATED BLOG: What good are they?

 

 

WHAT IN LIFE DO YOU WISH TO FURTHER?

With age you begin to sort things out in life. You  decide in regard to physical property what to keep a while longer, discard or give away and so it is with our spiritual and emotional life. For me as with many others it is why matters of faith and family are foremost and if they are at the close of life why should they not be our entire life.

For me in this regard one of my role models is Paul who even though in prison he writes in Philippians 1:12 “what has happened to me has helped in advancing the Gospel”. Imagine for a moment that you promote whatever you desire your legacy to be no matter the circumstance you find yourself in. Doing so truly makes it your highest priority. Something which “you wear on your sleeve” as one expression puts it so well.

Showing our faith and spreading the Gospel should be for all of us at the top of our list yet sadly we let society in its many ways (media influence, peer pressure, laws that need to be challenged) put us in a position where we think God’s message should be kept in church or a few rare other opportunities where it can be shown. That is a lie and a deception that society has foisted upon us that must be overcome. God’s Word must be shared in ALL PLACES AND AT ALL TIMES.

It may mean we take on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17), but as with Paul when we have total trust in God we will find the strength to meet the challenge. God expects no less from us nor should we expect any less from ourselves. The question each of us need to now ask of ourselves is WHAT IN LIFE DO WE WISH TO FURTHER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: First further our Father God’s Kingdom and all else will fall into place.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 1:12 “always advance the Good News”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to always speak out for you for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What in life do you wish to further?
  2. What hindrances has society placed in your way?
  3. How do you overcome the hindrances facing you?
  4. Why does it seem society wants to silence the Word of God in many respects?

SINK OR SWIM!

To the best of my recollection when I took my first swim class I was a college student and on day one was told to jump into water over my head. Informing the instructor of my inability to swim I was assured all would be okay and this was important to see my level of skill and commitment. The end result was I nearly drowned if not for some outside help.

Life in many respects is like that first class. In the early stages of our journey of faith or participating in other institutions (baptism, confirmation, wedding day) we make promises not fully realizing the reality of what we have done until some years pass and we grow in maturity. It is why some re-state their marriage vows on an anniversary after many years of marriage or are baptized as an adult when they previously had been baptized as children.

The question for today deals with maturity and most specifically spiritual maturity which we first see directly addressed in 1 Corinthians 13:11 where we are told it means to put aside childish ways. Some individuals never do grow up and continue to act contrary to the will of God and when put in relationships whether it be family, business or government make terrible decisions causing great harm  often irreparable.

Spiritual maturity comes with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:20). That means to know things in their right relationship with God. It is here where I believe education falls short of its purpose. In society we have a serious disconnect between the head and the heart and that chasm widens as we continue to remove God’s Word from our daily lives. What individuals, families and society should do is the exact opposite which is to build ourselves up in the Christian faith to the point that we are constantly looking for the solid food that comes with in depth study of Scripture.

When doing so we will be able to stand alongside of those John addresses in 1 John 2:14 as being able to overcome evil for we have the strength of God which abides in us. It is no longer a matter of SINK OR SWIM as now we swim and we do it well.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Spiritual maturity means having our lives managed by the Messiah.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 John 2:14 “how to overcome evil”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to grow in strength in you.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are some childish ways of ‘adults’ carried over in marriage, business and government as well as church life?
  2. What are the actions of someone spiritually mature (see gifts of the Spirit)?
  3. In what ways are you seeking solid spiritual food?
  4. Do you have the strength of God to overcome evil?

RELATED BLOG: Spiritual food!

BLESSINGS OF BEING OLD!

My first reaction when I chose this title was how I am able to buy a McDonald’s coffee at senior rates for my drive home from the city. One of life’s little pleasures that I suspect many would consider silly. Truth be told there are many blessings with being old if we choose to focus on them rather than the negatives.

The first is that we should honor our elders (Lev. 19:32). They should not be put in nursing homes and forgotten or even made to wait until the children go through a food line first at a holiday meal. Even the little things mean a lot. When some in society want to cause those with some age to feel useless even to the point of allowing them to be euthanized (legalized murder). God has another view shown in Psalm 92:14 which shows that with old age wonders can yet be realized. Fruitfulness of various sorts are a reality until the last breath returns to God.

Another blessing for many is grandchildren (Prov. 17:6). I suspect few if any would not say that there best memory other than for the birth of their own children would be the birth of a grandchild or hear the words grandma and grandpa.

Irregardless of all mentioned so far a blessing that I have received is a secure faith (Prov. 22:6) that began through training in a family of faith and is made more secure with my studies each day. To see this pass on in my children truly is a blessing as well. In Isaiah 46:4 this journey of faith is rewarded in the knowledge that God will carry us no matter what lies ahead in this life until one day we will be ushered into the gates of heaven.

Now as I enter whatever remaining years I have left I look back at a rich and full life often blessed with the realization of many goals fulfilled (Isaiah 66:20). A few yet remain but should they not reach fruition I for one can say that with age can come many blessings. Now is the time to dream dreams as Paul tells us in Acts 2:17. Memories and dreams of a life well lived, of some years yet to come and secure in the salvation that lies ahead. These are the BLESSINGS OF BEING OLD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: With old age can come obstacles or the blessings found in obedience to our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Prov. 22:6 “Security in old age”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the many blessings You have given me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What blessings are you realizing as you get older?

2. Make a list of all your blessings?

3. How do you look upon others older and less fortunate than yourself?

4. What dreams do you still have?

 

67!!

I hope you will allow me after writing this devotional for nearly 3 years to go somewhat off topic by sharing with you the number 67. Why 67 you might ask and the answer is that it is the number of years ago on this date that I was born. As the saying goes since that date ‘a lot of water has gone under the bridge’. That being said I have found that with age I reflect more on my life and its three essential components which are my thoughts, words and deeds that have occurred over these many years.

In retrospect there are thoughts, words and deeds that I would like to take back. Blame it on anything you wish (human nature, impulsive foolishness, etc.) but I believe we all have come up short of perfection or living out God’s Word a time or two (or more).

For me what is important is that in my daily quest for knowledge and truth those years I have lived and the people God has placed in my life have led me to a point where whatever remaining years I have left will be a ‘ride into the sunset’ that will be indescribable no matter what life holds for me.

The reason for my optimism is simple. I FOUND JESUS. words easy to say but difficult for many to truly realize. Having found Jesus and looking at life from the priorities (in order) of faith, family, friends and finances and always with the perspective of how in each of these areas I can grow more into the image of God makes waking to each new day an adventure. As one popular saying well puts it that “God is good, all the time”.

Job in chapter 3:1 and Jeremiah in 20:14-15 cursed the day they were born. I cannot say that though as with those two men of God I had to have a wake up call or two also which I believe is the case with many of us. My being here had a purpose and so I choose to celebrate with each of you friends and family whom I love as Christian brothers and sisters.

What I wish is that I could prepare a feast and invite you all as Pharaoh did on his birthday (Gen. 40:20) and Herod on his (Mark 6:21). That not being possible I invite you to find Jesus as I have and celebrate an unending birthday in eternity some day with the feast that is yet to come.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Birthdays are a blessing from our eternal benefactor.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Mark 6:21 “a birthday feast”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for each and every day You bless me with.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. How do you look upon birthdays?

2. What have you learned from the years you have been given?

3. How do you intend to live your remaining years?

4. Have you found Jesus?