Death

* How to face death

Saul faced death the same way he faced life.  He took matters into his own hands without thinking of God or asking for his guidance.  If our lives aren’t the way we would like them to be now, we can’t assume that change will come more easily later.  When nearing death, we will respond to God the same way we have been responding all along.  Coming face to face with death only shows us what we are really like.  How do you want to face death?  Start facing life that way right now. (NLT)

1 Samuel 31:4 – Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines run me through and humiliate me.”  But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it.  So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.

* Death casts a frightening shadow over us because we are entirely helpless in its presence.  We can struggle with other enemies–pain, suffering, disease, injury–but strength and courage cannot overcome death.  It has the final word.  Only one person can walk with us through death’s dark valley and bring us safely to the other side–the God of life, our shepherd.  Because life is uncertain, we should follow this shepherd who offers us eternal comfort. (NLT)

Psalm 23:4 – Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

* Why you need not fear death

David stated confidently that God would not leave him in the grave.  Many people fear death because they can neither control nor understand it.  As believers, we can be assured that God will not forget us when we die.  He will bring us to life again to live with him forever.  This provides real security.  (NLT)

Psalm 16:10 – For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow our godly one to rot in the grave.

*For many, death is a darkened door at the end of life, a passageway to an unknown and feared destiny.  But for God’s people, death is a bright pathway to a new and better life.  So why do we fear death?  Is it fear of the pain we expect, the separation from loved ones, or the unknown?  God can help us deal with those fears.  He has shown us that death is not final but just another step in the eternal life we received when we followed him.  (NLT)

Proverbs 12:28 – The way of the godly leads to life; their path does not lead to death.

* If this present life is most important to you, you will do everything you can to protect it.  You will not want to do anything that might endanger your safety, health, or comfort.  By contrast, if following Jesus is most important, you may find yourself in unsafe, unhealthy, and uncomfortable places.  You may risk death, but you will not fear it because you know that Jesus will raise you to eternal life.  Nothing material can compensate for the loss of eternal life.  Jesus’ disciples are not to use their lives on earth for their own pleasure; they should spend their lives serving God and others. (NLT)

Luke 9:24-25 – [Jesus said] “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.  And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?

* Christ’s death and resurrection set us free from the fear of death because death has been defeated.  Every person must die, but death is not the end; instead, it is the doorway to a new life.  All who dread death should have the opportunity to know the hope that Christ’s victory brings.  How can you share this truth with those close to you? (NLT)

Hebrews 2:14-15 – Because of God’s children are human beings–made of flesh and blood–Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form.  For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.  Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. 

* Don’t let death leave you empty-handed

The rich and poor have one similarity: When they die, they leave all they own here on earth.  At the moment of death (and all of us will face that moment), both rich and poor are naked and empty-handed before God.  The only riches we have at that time are those we have already invested in our eternal heritage.  At the time of death, each of us will wish we had invested less on earth, where we must leave it, and more in heaven, where we will retain it forever.  To have treasure in heaven, we must place our faith in God, pledge ourselves to obey him, and utilize our resources for the good of his Kingdom.  This is a good time to check up on your investments and see where you have invested the most.  Then do whatever it takes to place your investments where they really count. (NLT)

Psalm 49:10-14 – Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind.  The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever.  They may name their estates after themselves, but they leave their wealth to others.  They will not last long despite their riches–they will die like the animals.  This is the fate of fools, though they will be remembered as being so wise.

Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd.  In the morning the godly will rule over them.  Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates.

* Planning for death 

Many people avoid thinking about death, refuse to face it, and are reluctant to attend funerals.  Solomon is not encouraging us to think morbidly, but he knows that it is helpful to think clearly about death.  It reminds us that there is still time for change, time to examine the direction of our life, and time to confess our sins and find forgiveness from God.  Because everyone will eventually die, it makes sense to plan ahead to experience God’s mercy rather than his justice. (NLT)

Ecclesiastes 7:2,4 – It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals.  For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time.

A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.

* Death the result of sin

Paul has shown that keeping the law does not bring salvation.  Here he adds that breaking the law is not what brings death.  Death is the result of Adam’s sin and of the sins we all commit, even if they don’t resemble Adam’s.  Paul reminds his readers that for thousands of years the law had not yet been explicitly given, and yet people dies.  The law was added to help people see their sinfulness, to show them the seriousness of their offenses, and to drive them to God for mercy and pardon.  This was true in Moses’ day, and it is still true today.  Sin is a deep discrepancy between who we are and who we were created to be.  The law points out our sin and places the responsibility for it squarely on our shoulders.  But the law offers no remedy.  When we are convicted of sin, we must turn to Jesus Christ for healing. (NLT)

Romans 5:13-14 – Yes, people sinned even before the law was given.  And though there was no law to break, since it had not yet been given, they all died anyway–even though they did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did.  What a contrast between Adam and Christ, who was yet to come!

 * If you’re not ready to die you’re not ready to live

To those who don’t believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values: money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige.  For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective.  Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him.  Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face.  If you’re not ready to die, then you’re not ready to live.  Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve–devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death. (NLT)

Philippians 1:20-21 – For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die.  For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better.

* Being spiritually dead 

The problem in the Sardis church was not heresy but spiritual death.  In spite of its reputation for being active, Sardis was infested with sin.  Its deeds were evil, and its clothes soiled.  The Spirit has no words of commendation for this church that looked so good on the outside but was so corrupt on the inside. (NLT)

Revelation 3:1 – [Jesus said] “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis.  This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:  “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive–but you are dead.”

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