Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Death: It Is NOT a Blessing!

These are thoughts I have had today. When you read them, you are, more or less, reading my mind. But I might change my mind, or at least adjust it, tomorrow.

Having experienced the death of my sister in March and several other deaths in or related to our church family, the subject of death is on my mind more often than in the past. Two of the recent deaths, my sister and our church pianist, have been described as "blessings" since Cheryl suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Donna was eaten up by pancreatic cancer. I am sure I have thought the same thing myself.

But to say that death, any death, is a blessing is wrong… every time.

His death was necessary but… If death was the blessing, then why the resurrection?

Cheryl's life was a blessing. Her death was a curse. The same is true for Donna and every child of God.

Death is a result of sin (Romans 6:23). It is a part of the curse of sin. Would you ever say that death is a blessing for a person who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Of course not! Then death itself can not be a blessing.

The blessing for Cheryl, Donna, and every other believer is that they did/do not truly die. Jesus said so in John 3:16 & 5:24! When God says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 115:16), the word "yaqar" means: Valuable, brightness, clear, costly, excellent, fat, honorable women, precious, and reputation. The context of the verse, i.e. the 116th Psalm is about life and living for the Lord. It speaks more of deliverance from death (vv.3, 4, 6, & 8). In its context verse 16 reads more about God's esteem for His children than about the event of death.

For my sister and other believers afflicted by cruel diseases, the end of suffering was/is a blessing because they most certainly remain alive but are free from their tortured bodies. So, we can say that the death of the physical body is a blessing for the follower of Christ because the believer continues to live in the presence of Jesus Himself. Now, that is a blessing!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Does God's Will Change?

We often think of everything associated with God as having the exact same characteristics as God. For instance, God does not change, therefore His will does not change. Hold on to that thought...

When Cathy and I first started looking at the possibility of having a house built, we were among the first to register, indicating an interest in a new development. It turned out that the first group of people to register qualified for a $10,000 discount on their new house if they went ahead with the build once contacted by the developer. We had made the decision to wait until our previous house sold before committing to a new house. Once contacted, we shared that information which was fine with them. After our house sold, we contacted them and told them we were ready to move forward with the new construction. They were happy to have us as customers. Soon we learned that we would not get the $10,000 discount because we had not moved forward when first contacted, opting to wait for the previous house to sell. But we still thank God for our new home.

Okay, the developer changed the offer but surely God does not change His will. Or does He?

Numbers 13 records the account of the twelve spies who scouted Canaan and reported back to Moses and all the Israelites. Numbers 14 records the account of the people balking at taking possession of the land, preparing to select a new leader (even though they were not the ones who selected Moses in the first place), and going back to Egypt because they were not about to go into Canaan where the giants lived. God was angry, killing the ten spies who gave a bad report and incited the Israelites against Moses.

The last part of chapter 14 tells how the people were then ready to march into Canaan. Moses tried to stop them saying, "The Lord won't be with you, since you have turned from following Him." (v.43 HCSB) They went anyway, even though the ark of the covenant and Moses did not go with them.

They were routed.

At first they were supposed to go in and then they were slaughtered when they finally did it. It appeared God's will had changed. Or did it?

Yes and no. They were no longer to march right in and take possession of the land but God's eternal will had not changed. God's will was for the people to follow Him, not take off without Him. It's still that way. There are things God wants for us and we may cancel the opportunity when we disobey/reject/delay/etc. For instance, God may want parents to lead their children to become followers of Christ, but if the parents are not following Christ, God will give that privilege to someone else. But God's will remains that we follow and obey Him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

God Is Not In a Box

When I was in seminary taking the course, "Theology of American Cults," I heard the leader of the indoctrination class for the Church of Jesus Christ, Later Day Saints, Ward 1, in Fort Worth say, "We have God in a box." He stated that everything that could be known about God has been revealed to the church's prophets/leaders and now they had the complete picture.

What a very small god they have.

The one true living God is beyond our understanding (Job 36:26; 37:5; Psalm 139:6; 147:5; Ephesians 3:20). Not only can we not understand everything about Him, we can not even know everything about him. In fact, because of our sin, we do not even have the capacity to think that high. My God will not fit in a box. I will never be able to present Him to anyone. It is Jesus—God the Son—who is able to present us before the Father.

So, does my life prove I believe God is unlimited? Does He ever use me to accomplish the impossible? Is His church living without limits or have we living in a box that can not possibly contain Him?