How to Die! (Part 6)
This will be my final column on the subject of dying and death. I would suggest that those of you new to the column go back and read on the past ones on this subject.
I pray that these have blessed you and helped prepare you for the greatest journey you have yet to take. Sometimes I say “death is my next great adventure'.
For me I have found that being prepared to die has given me freedom to live! There is liberty in knowing the final chapter as you write the story of your life.
I have said on several occasions: “you can't kill a dead man. I am already dead! You can only transfer me to heaven'!
As you read the following devotions you will see what I mean.
I want to add the following devotions by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. So please read the following.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church. The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000'”all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle also known as 'Spurgeon's Tabernacle.
Charles Spurgeon is my favorite historical preacher. I even had the honor and pleasure of preaching in that church and pulpit in 1972. Spurgeon wrote what is now known and 'Morning and Evening' devotions. My wife Denise reads these every day. The following will help you with instruction and inspiration and the Word of God to deal with death as well as to live life to the fullest.
FOR A LITTLE WHILE. 1 PETER 1:6
I was lying on the couch this past week, and my spirits were so low that I cried like a child. I did not know why I wept, but a little thing will move me to tears. A kind friend was telling of some poor old soul who was suffering great pain and yet was full of joy and rejoicing. I was so distressed by that story and so ashamed of myself that I did not know what to do. Here was a poor woman with a terrible cancer, yet in the most frightful agony she could rejoice with “joy inexpressible and full of glory' (1 Peter 1:8).
In a moment, 1 Peter 1:6 flashed on my mind and with its real meaning. “Though now for a little while, if need, be, you have been grieved by various trials.' You have been made to weep, and you cannot bear your pain. You are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith seems as if it would fail you.
This is what the text declares: at times the Christian should endure suffering without a gallant and a joyous heart. Sometimes your spirit should sink. Sometimes you should become as a little child struck by the hand of God.
Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but tit is one thing to see it and another to feel it. The breaking down of the strong is the result of God striking. Many times we have said, “If I did not feel the rod, I would not mind it?' It is how you feel that is, after all, the force and center of your affliction.
This one idea has been enough to feed me for many days. There may be some child of God here to whom it may bring some slight comfort. “Though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.
WE HAVE PASSED. 1 JOHN 3:14
Life is like a parade that passes before our eyes. It comes. Hear the people shouting. It is here. In a few minutes, people crowd the streets. Then it vanishes and is gone. Does life strike you as being just that?
I remember, ah I remember, so many in the parade. I have stood, as it were, at a window, even though I have also been in the procession. I recall the hearty men of my boyhood, whom I used to hear pray. They are now singing up yonder.
I remember a long parade of saints who have passed before me and have gone into glory. What a host of friends we have in the unseen world, who are “gone over to the majority.' As we grow older, they really are the majority, for our friends on earth are outnumbered by our friends in heaven.
Some of you will fondly remember loved ones who have passed away in the parade. But please remember that you also are in the parade. Though they seem to have passed before you, you have been passing along with them, and soon you will reach the vanishing point. We are all walking in the procession. We are all passing away to the land of substance and reality.
We expect good things to come. We are not inhabitants of this country; we are citizens of the New Jerusalem. We are only shipwrecked here for a while, exiled from home until the boat comes to ferry us across the stream to the land where our true possessions lie.
Life, light, love, and everything is He who has gone before. Jesus is our Forerunner to the place that He has prepared for them that love Him (John 14:2).
ALPHA AND OMEGA. REVELATION 1:8
Nothing will happen that God has not foreseen. No unexpected event will destroy His plans. No emergency will transpire for which He has not provided. No peril will occur against which He has not guarded. No remarkable need will take Him by surprise. He declares the end from the beginning, from ancient times things that are not done (Is 46:10). God fills His own eternal now. He sees everything, the past, the present, the future. All, all, all of the future is foreseen and fixed by Him. Derive great comfort from this fact.
Suppose you go to sea with the most skillful captain. That captain cannot possibly know what may occur during the voyage. Even with the greatest foresight, eh can never promise an absolutely safe passage. There are dangers. Hurricanes or tremendous waves could sink the ship.
When you come to the ship of Providence, however, He who is at the helm is Master of every wind that blows and of every wave that breaks its force on the ship. He foresees both the events that will happen at the destination and those at the starting port. He knows every wave, its height, width, and force. He knows every wind in all its connections. We are safe with a Captain who has fore-arranged and foreordained all things from the beginning to the end. It is to our advantage to put implicit confidence in His guidance:
Be this my joy, that evermore, Thou rulest all things at Thy will:
Thy sovereign wisdom I adore, And calmly, sweetly, trust Thee still.
DO NOT BE AFRAID. REVELATION 1:17
This “do not be afraid' may be specifically applied to the grave. We need not fear death, because Jesus has the key to the grave. Jesus will come to our dying bed in all the glory of His supernal splendor and say, “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana' (Song of Solomon 4:8). Come with me “until the day breaks and the shadows flee away' (Song of Solomon 4:6). The sight of Jesus as He thrusts in the key and opens that gate of death will make you forget the supposed terrors of the grave. They are only suppositions; you will find it sweet to die.
Since Jesus has the sepulcher's key, never feat it again, never again. Depend on it. Your dying hours will be the best hour you have ever known. Your last moment will be your richest. Better than the day of your birth will be the day of your death. It will be the beginning of heaven, the rising of a sun that will never go down forever. Let the fear of death be banished by faith in a living Savior.
What have stood and peered as best we could through the mist that gathers over the black river. We have wondered what it must be like to have left the body and be flitting through that land from which no traveler has ever returned. It is not as if you crossed the channel from England to France and were among people speaking another language under another sovereignty. You do not pass from one province of your Lord's empire to another. In that spirit-land above, they speak the same language, the language of New Jerusalem, which you have already begun to speak. They acknowledge the King that you obey here. When you enter heaven, you will find them singing the praise of the same glorious One whom you adore. You will find them triumphing in the love of Him who was your Savior here below.
THE CROWN OF LIFE. REVELATION 2:10
Carlyle, in his History of the French Revolution, tells of the Duke of Orleans who did not believe in death. One day his secretary stumbled on the words, “The late king of Spain,' and the duke angrily demanded what he meant by that remark. The secretary responded, “My Lord, it is a title that some of the kings have taken.'
We are immortal. God has endowed us with a spiritual nature that will outlive the sun, outlast the stars, and exist throughout eternity. When the righteous soul leaves the body, it appears before God. “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise' (Luke 23:43).
Christ, however, has not only bough His people's souls, but also their bodies. Our bodies will be raised, and our souls will re-enter our bodies. Here we are a shriveled grain, sown in the earth, but our next body will have all the loveliness that heaven can give. It will be a glorious body, raised in honor, raised in power, raised to die no more (1 Corinthians 16:54). “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall sand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another' (Job 19:25-27).
Let me wave the palm of victory (Revelation 7:9). Let me wear the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). Let me wear the fine white linen of immaculate perfection (Revelation 19:8). Let me cast my crown before Jehovah's throne (Revelation 4:10). Let me sing the everlasting song. Let my voice join the eternal chorus, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!' (Revelation 19:6). My voice will be sweetly tuned to the notes of gratitude, and my heart will dance with ecstasy before the throne.
“He who testifies to these things says, ' surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus' (Revelation 22:20).
AN END TO TEARS REVELATION 7:17
The ancients were accustomed to use bottles to catch the tears of mourners. I see a bottle that contains grief common to all, for believers suffer like the rest of the human race. Physical pain does not spare the servants of God. Their nerves, blood vessels, limbs, and organs are as susceptible to disease as those of the unregenerate. Some of the finest saints have lain long on beds of sickness. The dearest to the heart of God have felt the heaviest blows of the chastening rod. Great pain forces tears to wet the cheeks. The human body is capable of a fearful degree of agony, and few there are who have not at some time watered their bed with tears because of pain.
Coupled with this are the losses and crosses of daily life. What Christian among you lives without occasional difficulty and serious losses? Can you travel from the first of January to the last of December without feeling the weariness of the way?
No ship can navigate the Atlantic of earth without meeting with storms; only on the Pacific of heaven is all calm, and that forever. If Jesus wept (John 11:35), do not expect that you will be without tears of bereavement. Parents will go before us; infants will be taken, and brothers and sisters will fall before the scythe of death.
You cannot, dear friend, travel the wilderness of this world without discovering that thorns and thistles grow in it. Step as you may, your feet must sometimes feel the power of the thorn to wound. We may forget to laugh, but we will always know how to weep.
The surest method of getting rid of present tears is communion and fellowship with God. When I can creep under the wing of my dear God and nestle close to His bosom. I am safe, content, happy, peaceful, and rejoicing.
THE BOOK OF LIFE. REVELATION 21:27
Fame is a transient blessing, and yet our humanity fondly covets and eagerly pursues it. We want to be more illustrious than our peers and outstrip all our competitors. It is natural to want to make a name, or to gain some note in our circle, or to widen that circle whenever possible.
Yet fame does bring an equal measure of dissatisfaction. When you work for fame or honor, there is a degree of pleasure in the search that is not possessed when the object is gained. Some of the most famous have also been the most wretched.
If you have fame and honor, accept it. But let this be your prayer, “MY God, bless me indeed. For what profit is there if my name is in a thousand mouths and You vomit it out of Your mouth? (Revelation 3:16) What value is it if my name is written in marble and not written in the Lamb's Book of Life? (Revelation 21:27) These blessings are only shadows and wind that mock me. Give me Your blessing. The honor that comes from You will make me blest indeed.'
If you live in obscurity and have never obtained any degree of fame, be content to run your own course and fulfill your own vocation. Being unknown is not the most serious illness. It is far worse to have fame that whitens the ground like snow in the morning but disappears in the heat of the day. Does it make any difference to the dead if people are talking about them?
Make sure that you indeed get God's blessing.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt