They are entitled - "When a Believer Dies".
Sunday, 26 May 2013
'...You will not grieve like people who have no hope.' 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT
Our culture makes death a subject to avoid or to speak of with gloom. When the subject comes up, even Christians try to dodge the bullet by escaping into vague, irrelevant-sounding metaphors. But God's Word makes death clear and unthreatening for those who trust in Christ. 'Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died, so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.'
God's Word is direct, concrete, and encouraging on this subject. 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His [godly ones]' (Psalm 116:15 NKJV). From our heavenly Father's perspective, death just opens the door for Him to enjoy perfect, eternal, delightful fellowship with each of His redeemed children. 'I heard a voice from Heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them"' (Revelation 14:13 NIV). The Bible assures every believer that their death is not a tragedy but a triumphal entry into Heaven. The Amplified Bible puts it: 'Blessed (happy, to be envied).' God instructed John, 'Write this.' Why? Because God understands that when we lose a loved one we tend to forget His perspective and adopt an emotion-driven perspective.
Rejoice, believer, '...Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord' (Romans 14:8 NIV). And the Lord takes good care of what belongs to Him!
Monday, 27 May 2013
'...God will bring back with [Jesus] the believers who have died.' 1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT
Dealing with death separates us into two categories: the hopeless and the hopeful. The hopeless believe that they have nothing to look forward to. Their losses feel permanent - the end of life and all that's good. But the hopeful have everything to look forward to. Their losses are temporary - the beginning of an endless life filled with God's finest gifts.
God wants you 'to know what will happen to the believers who have died so [you] will not grieve like people who have no hope' (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT). Our hope results from knowing these truths: (1) 'We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again' (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT). All hope begins here: believing in Jesus' death for our sin and His resurrection to represent us before God. (2) Since we believe this, we also believe that...Jesus returns. Faith in Christ's physical return to earth gives us confidence that 'God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.' God will raise us from our resting places and bring us back again with Jesus (Romans 8:11). At that moment, 'He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own...' (Philippians 3:21 NLT).
Never again will you be vulnerable to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, Lou Gehrig's disease, paralysis, disabilities, weariness, weakness, grief, fear, depression, temptation, addictions, failure, remorse, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, OCD or PTSD or any kind of ailment. You'll be transformed into the very likeness of Christ. Isn't that wonderful?
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
'We tell you this directly from the Lord...' 1 Thessalonians 4:15 NLT
What Paul wrote about death, he heard straight from the Lord: 'We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who have died.' The Lord reserves this high privilege exclusively for those who die in Him; they will be the first to experience the resurrection.
Try to imagine that moment. Arising from their rest like we do after a good night's sleep, now dressed in Christ-like bodies, they awake to the sight of their Lord returning in glory with His angels. They meet Him - the first believers to witness His return, the initial wing of His airborne vanguard to escort Him back to earth.
This is no pipe dream or mere fantasy; Paul got it 'directly from the Lord'. Our source is flawless! He writes: (1) 'Together with them, we who are still alive...will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air...' (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NLT). Living believers will rise to join with resurrected brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, family of God never-met-before, in a spectacular mid-air reunion with Christ. We'll be together, inseparable, eternal, one international, multicultural, love-based, Christ-centred family! (2) '...Then we will be with the Lord forever' (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NLT). No speculating or imagining what He's really like. '...For we will see Him as He really is' (1 John 3:2 NLT). We will see, touch and talk with Jesus as we do each other. And He will respond to us in real time! (3) 'Encourage each other with these words' (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NLT).
Wednesday, 29 May 2013
'...To go and be with Christ, which would be far better...' Philippians 1:23 NLT
No matter how much you enjoy where you are living at present, there's always a longing in your heart for the place you call 'home'. And how much more so for those who have been born again into God's redeemed family! The world has its beautiful shorelines and landscapes, but deep down we yearn, like Paul, for our heavenly Father, heavenly family and home. 'For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better...I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me' (Philippians 1:21-23 NLT).
Leaving this life to be with Christ, in Paul's judgment, 'is far better'. Far better than what? Anything else! Nothing here can compare with what awaits you there! '...No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him...' (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT). You ask, 'How will this transition happen to us?' At death, 'The dust [our body] returns to the ground it came from, and [our] spirit returns to God who gave it' (Ecclesiastes 12:7 NIV). Our bodies will 'fall asleep in Christ' (1 Corinthians 15:18). Our God-indwelled spirits return to His presence, delighting in 'the fullness of joy' and revelling in the 'pleasures forevermore' that are found in abundance at His right hand (Psalm 16:11).
While we wait, anticipating our best days, Heaven's hosts rehearse for the drama of the ages, the awesome return of Christ as we accompany Him in our glorified bodies! We say, '...Come, Lord Jesus' (Revelation 22:20 NIV).