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Good to Remember

November 27th, 2018

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1-3)

This is a good truth to remember for us with responsibilities in life – especially for those of us with spiritual responsibilities. But all of us have some spiritual responsibilities toward others – if only to be a good Christian worker or Christian neighbour – so this psalm is universally meaningful. We need not occupy ourselves with things too marvelous for us. God is God and we are not.

We take responsibility seriously, and we should do so. Whatever role we play we stand in a key position, a meaningful link, in the work of God. The Lord said through the prophet Ezekiel:

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)

So to pray, to teach, to encourage, to witness, to give, to help others, to merely do the right thing and not to do the wrong thing – all of these are important. We stand in the gap in our positions of spiritual leadership, and whether they are great or small in the eyes of others, in the eyes of the Lord they are precious.

Yet it is also good to remember that the work does not depend on us alone. It rests upon the shoulders of God. The workman (or workwoman) passes away yet the work of the Lord goes on. As God said to Joshua so He says to each of us: “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). And these words need to be heard by the Moses’s as much as by the Joshua’s.

The Lord is the Lord of the Harvest, and He sustains the work. Rest in this truth today. Take your responsibilities seriously. Do your best in the power of the Spirit in whatever God has entrusted to you. But do not trouble yourself with things too great for you. Leave the mysteries of life and ministry and time into the hands of the Almighty where they belong. And He will increase your peace in what you do for Him.

Psalms

Precious Passings

November 13th, 2018

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15 ESV)

This verse might strike us as peculiar, an oddity in the holy Scriptures. Why would the living God ever delight in anyone’s death? Death, after all, is called an enemy that God shall ultimately destroy (1 Cor. 15:26).  Death belongs to sickness and defeat and is the opposite of who Christ is: “The resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

But it has its place in the Bible, for death also has its place in our lives. This verse upholds the faithfulness of God to believers after death. Paul could write, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). For believers death is merely a door to a new and better life.

This speaks of a homecoming in heaven for believers. Anything precious in God’s sight is worthy of celebration and observance. God Himself rejoices in the salvation of sinners (Luke 15:7), and since there is no saint who was not also once lost in sin, surely the believer’s entrance into heaven will be celebrated by God.

What will it be like for us to enter heaven? We have a few glimpses of this from scripture. Overall, we can say that there will be a warm welcome. John in Revelation 4 describes the vision of heaven as one that instantly reveals clarity (a voice like a trumpet), authority (the throne), mercy (jasper and carnelian stones were on the high priest’s breastplate), and faithfulness (rainbow). The reaction of John to the first glimpse of heaven was one of praise and complete awe. He was in the midst of resounding praise of the Lamb of God.

Paul had a vision of heaven, and many scholars believe that this could have happened when he was stoned at Lystra and left for dead. And though he spoke about it in third person, it seems to be autobiographical. He said, “The things he heard were too sacred for words, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Cor. 12:4), and though we do not have the information this does tell of instant knowledge of truth that is withheld from us here. Elsewhere Paul said the knowledge in the afterlife is complete, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). He also spoke of intimacy with the Lord, of departing this life to be “with Christ” (Phil. 1:23).

When Christ was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, and they saw Him in His glory, Peter’s initial response must have foreshadowed the heart of every believer who enters into heaven, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” (Matt. 17:4). Peter was ready to settle down and remain there forever, and though it was not time yet for Christ to come to earth in His glory (it was just a foretaste), still the sentiment of Peter must be what we will all feel in heaven, the realization that we are home.

F.B. Meyer, the great preacher, author, and Bible teacher, in 1928 wrote a letter to George W. Truett, the long-serving pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, and expressed the affection (with a sense of humor) which Christians should have toward one another with regards to sharing our heavenly home together.

My dear friend: What a lovely letter you have written, with your own hand. I am deeply touched by it. The only thing to do is for us to make an effort to meet, as soon as possible – if not before – on our arriving in Heaven, at the Middle Gate on the East Side of the New Jerusalem. Then we will go off together, for a ramble by the River of Water of Life, and will doubtless find a nook, where we can have a quiet talk and perhaps the Prince Himself will join us. There will be much to talk about…

For us heaven is our eternal home, and our transfer from this life to the next brings instant knowledge and intimacy with Christ, a deep realization that we are received by the merciful and faithful Savior. So, yes, the death of believers should be precious in the eyes of God and in our eyes as well.

Psalms