Tag Archives: Jeremiah 29:11

How can God call Death of His Saints “precious”?

“It’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” he said.

We were eating ice cream on the porch of a log home. The sun was shining brightly. It was a beautiful chilly fall day as only the mountains can be.

He corrected himself. “No, the second worst thing.” I knew he was referring to the near death of his day old son, the tiny thing covered in patches and wires and tubes, coming back from being “80% dead.” But this time his sister had recently died from brain cancer.

How, he wanted to know, could God be happy over the death of his saints?

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

Those of us who know the Bible and know God also know this – He is not inconsistent, nor does He refute Himself. There’s a lesson here somewhere.

First, not everyone is called a saint. If we say someone is not a saint we get into muddy water.  Who are we to say who is and who is not a saint? At the point of physical death it is well known that individuals may grasp on to the truth of God and end up in heaven after a life as rascals who condemned God to His face. But that is His grace and we are not there.

God looks on the heart and we can’t see it.  His sister was silent for one week before her death.  Whatever she and God were talking about is not known to us now or then. And his sister wasn’t the chief of sinners either.  So that explanation is out.

But, there is more than one death. Locked as we are in the physical world we think only of that death, the one where we say prayers, send flowers and present a formal public goodbye.

The memorial service custom has nothing to do with the “departed” – all the formalities are for us, the living, to mark a point in our lives when we can say to ourselves, however weakly, we must move on. Grief, if held on to for any reason can eat up the soul and contaminate the spirit with bitterness and regret and blame.

There is no such thing in life as the status quo; we are either moving forward or deteriorating.

But second, there is more than one death; there is a second death. Since the physical body cannot die twice, God must be talking about something else, and that something else is what Christians call “death to self.”

Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Paul is using the present tense: I am, right now, living in this body, believing myself crucified just as Jesus was, living not for myself and my own goals but for Him and His goals for me and the human race. All those wonderful plans I had for myself are gone and I am available to Jesus and to Him only for whatever gifts and work He has for me in this world.

That is what it means to be crucified – present tense – with Christ. It is a sacrifice and God knows a lot about that subject.

Jesus could well have lived forever in His sinless body.  No disease could touch Him.  He could have enjoyed a 2,000 year ministry laying hands on the sick and them recovering. He could have written some best sellers, been on TV (what a program) and spoken in multiple languages on radio to reach millions. But He chose His Father’s plan instead.

And that plan was then and is now to give the power and authority to His followers so they can put on TV shows, preach the good news in multiple languages, lay hands on the sick, cast out demons – whatever Jesus did is now possible for millions, perhaps billions of believers worldwide and through the centuries.

Yes, that is a better plan. He said, “As My Father sent me, so send I you.” He could not have been clearer. (John 20:21)

So when God’s people – the saints – make that choice to kill off their personal goals and take up whatever God’s plan is for their life, it requires them to die to their old ways, thoughts and projects. For introverts it may be coming out into a hostile world; for extroverts, it may be a life hidden in a life of prayer.

But whatever that plan God has for your life, it is superior to the one you have. Jeremiah 29:11 is a key scripture for any young person today.  God has a set of plans for you.

The death of God’s saints means an exchange – my plans for His, His work for my goals, my deliberate living today for Him and doing his work.  And yes, that is precious to Him and of great benefit to us.

The gruesome death of his sister? No, that is not precious at all. Make no mistake – Death is our enemy and Jesus has, in his time, overcome it all for us.

 

The Lessons You Should Learn before You Die

God gives us all by right 70 years, or so says the Bible. We can be cheated out of those years, or cheat ourselves with bad living, or because of a better managed government we might enjoy many more than 70.  Life is a test, not to show God what we are made of. He already knows, but to show us.

Forgiveness first for others and then for ourselves.  For some it is an extremely hard lesson. It’s best to learn this young so we don’t become embittered and contaminate our surroundings.

We must learn to keep our mouths shut and when; and when to open to speak, when to take on a problem and when to let it slide. We can’t fight every battle nor should we fold whenever life gets tough.

We must learn to prepare for the future both physically and mentally, to educate ourselves in the needful, but also in something artistic so we do not become hardened and legalistic.

We must learn the difference between patience and indulgence.  Help yes, enabling no, but where is the line?

We will all have grievous times, loss, poverty, disappointment; we will all enjoy times of largesse.  We must be sure not to think we are entitled to all of this.  We are no more entitled to wickedness than we are to blessings.  They simply come with the territory. If you seek Utopia you will be disappointed.

We have a very difficult lesson which usually comes when we are adults – the searing revelation that we have been lied to – big time – a system shock.  I read a screed from a young Jewish girl about how the priests had lied, had not recognized Jesus as the Messiah.  She was furious.  But truth be told, those Jewish priests were in the dark just as much as she.  We cannot know the ignorance of others.  When we find out we have been deliberately lied to – well that is another matter and we are entitled to be enraged.

We learn to handle death, both of others and our own. Blame never moves the ball forward. In fact, you’ll never be able to enjoy life if you continually blame someone or something else.

You should also learn the self-satisfaction of a job well done. Work in and of itself is not a curse but a blessing especially if you are working for your own benefit or that of someone you care for.  That is why government taxes provided for the poor mean so very little and cost so very much.

You must learn to both give and accept graciously.  Mama was right; say please, thank you, I’m sorry and if you add Ma’m you will be thought to have good manners as well.

We must learn to be wrong, and to accept our failure. Too much energy is spent in self-justification. Learn from your faults and move on.

We are supposed to know all this before we die, lessons learned at random but essential for a balanced, contended life. Your lesson plan is provided by God. Jeremiah 29:11.

 

What has God Called Your Nation to Be

All nations, like all individuals, have a clear cut call from God. (Jeremiah 29:11 for individuals). The Bible refers to nations as “ethnos” rather than  geographical divisions.

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations {ethnos} of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

It’s not likely you’ll ever hear a sermon on this although you might learn about God’s divine intolerance for world government. That has been tried and failed, badly. About 5,500 B.C.E. at the Tower of Babel all human beings spoke the same language.  After they tried to replace the government of God with their own under the direction of a wicked dictator Nimrod, God scrambled all the languages and communication became impossible.

Today the unstable nature of the European Union should give us pause, that maybe this is not God’s perfect will for Europe. And the embarrassing failure of the United Nations is an example of why global government is a foolish goal. Unity is internal; union is external and God wants the former.

God prefers Unity with Him over Union in the natural. He classifies nations as either sheep or goat. He does have a clearly defined political jurisdiction in mind for all nations and a specific contribution to the whole of mankind for each individual nation.

The United States of America was formed officially 236 years ago but the call itself is eternal. And that destiny is clearly given in the Declaration of Independence

All men are created equal.

Americans bring to the world table the sanctity of the individual; it is the reason people flock here from across the globe.  It is also the same reason we can fail as a nation, if individualism gets out of hand as it has in the past four decades. That individualism has now come to a national mess, so out of control that thousands have not a clue who they actually are. Every blessing and call can be bastardized to an extreme and become a curse.

When President Donald Trump says he wants “to make America great again” he means to restore the primacy of the individual and God’s call to America as a model for individual liberty. Does President Trump know this? Probably not. He appears not to be a person who theorizes; he leaves that to philosophers. His word to the past managers of America is, “You’re fired.”

There are 191 nations today; each one has a call.  It is not my job to know what the call is for each one of them but I believe I know the call of these three.

  • England demonstrates a respect for history, especially to learn from history, and because of that respect England also is able to adjust to changes in the world and to culture. But like individualism in the USA it is also possible for that ability to change to be a trap and send the county into free fall.
  • China long continuous identity shows respect for and love of nationhood. Her glory days were the 15th century but in the 16th century China pulled away from the world to protect herself from change and world interaction. China became fearful.  When you embrace fear you make yourself weak and ineffective.  Fear is rightly called “frozen.” China wanted to preserve its identity so carefully that it withdrew into itself and the Chinese people have suffered great loss from this over the subsequent years. God looks at the long haul.
  • Estonia showed the world how to rid itself of a tyrannical dictatorship of the Soviet Union through spiritual warfare, in her case, the power of music to win freedom. To my knowledge Estonia has neither lost nor hindered that power or her ability to teach the rest of the world.

If you are paying attention you’ll notice I’ve eliminated Palestine which might be a nation in God’s eyes but because it claims Israel’s territory it cannot be identified as one. God set aside Israel as His own nation with its own specific estate, a land mass considerably larger than the one it now occupies. The deed for this land appears in Ezekiel 47. Because God disciplined His people for a time, other nations assumed they could take over.  They try that at their peril. God has promised once Israel is back in her land to defend her at all costs.

Goat nations are those that disobey basic moral laws and rebel against God. They need not stay that way. Like individuals, they can repent and reform. Today Syria is a good example of a nation badly astray. Also, North Korea is a goat nation which is coming down in our lifetime, thankfully.

I will let the other internationals reading this blog to search out their national Godly mission. If you find that out, let me know.

Getting Tired of Reform Theology

It’s my own fault by even reading these old theologians. Dr. R. C. Sproul Sr. says everything that happens, even our sins is the will of God. Horse pucky!  We are warned not to lay a charge to God’s elect but it is OK to lay a charge on God Himself? (Romans 8:33)  Pleeeze.

Good and evil

Good and evil

I am also told by these men (mostly men) that there is not one good thing in Man. What about the image of God which entered Man when the Lord breathed upon him at the creation (Genesis 2:7)  turning clay into something worth saving?  And while we are at it, why would God bother saving something without redemptive qualities?  Another false notion. As a fellow theologian I can testify we do have a tendency to go too far.

Yes, Man is a mess,  Ronald Reagan said the definition of the status quo is “the mess we are in” and for sure we are in a mess. We start out in the mess when we are born.  But I have noticed we do not have any choices.  I arrived here many years ago;  I have no memory of asking to be born, maybe so.  I started out in heaven and I am now here.  This is the world I was born into with the problems inherent in me and in the world. Someday I will return to eternity.  I have a pre-history and a post-history.

Tough.  We deal with life as it has been handed to us. And that is our challenge and our potential glory, to find God and His Promises to us in it where we are.  I am not French or Chinese, which would be fine. But I am an American and I have obligations to my country and my countrymen. I also have plans from God for how my life is to be conducted as a reflection of that “Imago Dei” and a goal.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Now about Adam and Eve.  Were they depraved? No. They made a giant mistake but they were created bearing the glory of God.  When they sinned that glory departed; they knew it experientially because they hid and made clothing for themselves since they’d lost their covering. Mankind eventually became totally depraved so God destroyed them all at the Flood, save 8.  It is prophesied that Man will again become totally depraved but now, not yet, no.

Neither are we.  Yes, babies are sinners.  Just watch them fight with a sibling over a toy.  Adamic man is there, but in their innocence they remind us that their love and  their ability to accept everyone and everything without rancor is the basic goodness in man. Calling man totally depraved is calling God a liar.  Yes, it happens a lot.

God gave us a measure of faith Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. I suppose the reformists would say, being consistent, that is evil too.

The Chinese are right – ying and yang, pictured as about half.  I can’t gauge that.  Maybe it is three quarters versus one quarter.  But no matter.  There is basic goodness in human kind. And that is what God works in us and with us. It is the ground of possibility in us.

Secular humanism would have us believe that we are born without fault and the wicked, nasty world makes us evil and produces evil societies. More horse pucky! Man is born flawed and he has, from that point, only a way up.

Look up and live! (Numbers 21:8)