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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Traveling on the back roads of Lancaster County we see lots of pumpkins for sale. This Amish farmer found a good way to use an old cart.
"A Time To Die"
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Note: Today we share the first of three messages on the subject of death. First we will consider natural death, then unanticipated death, then the martyr's death.
"A time to be born and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). "The time of my departure has come" (2 Timothy 4:6).
In the course of our ministry we regularly conduct Sunday afternoon services at "Longwood Manor", a local personal care home. These are interdenominational services with the goal of providing a church service for the residents who can no longer attend their own church due to age and infirmity. We are certainly not there with any intent of converting people to a particular church or denomination. We stick with common spiritual themes that true Christians agree on. The hymns are especially helpful in this regard.
This last Sunday we held a special memorial service remembering residents who passed on the last several months. This service is a solemn time as we remember those who've gone before us and as we contemplate our own eternal destiny.
I preached a message about being ready to die using an illustration that I knew wouldn't necessarily connect with all but I would explain further. For some reason a "spiritual" thought came to me while considering football. I likened life to a football game with four quarters.
I considered my own life and my projected life expectancy (which is never guaranteed). I turn 59 this month so for one more year I can say "I'm in my fifties." Next year I must begin using sixties! Based on an average of my Mom and Dad's age of death and the life span of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles I project my lifespan to number in the eighties before I die. That means I am either late in the third quarter of life or already into the fourth quarter!
As I shared this illustration, Evelyn, a colorful Mennonite lady who freely speaks her mind, said aloud, "Then I'm in the last quarter." Now it's hard to picture Evelyn ever watching much football but she was clearly getting the point of my illustration (I would guess her to be in her late eighties or nineties).
Today we encourage our readers to consider what quarter of life you're in. We are grateful for younger readers and some of you are still in the first quarter based on a normal life span, others in the second. But probably due to our age the largest segment of our readers are realistically in their 3rd or 4th quarters!
This might be seen as morbid and even dreadful for some but that's not a healthy spiritual outlook. Ecclesiastes 3:2 candidly states that there is "A time to be born and a time to die." Can anyone realistically argue with that timeless statement?
In the second daily text Paul acknowledges that the time of his departure had come. Most take this "time of departure" to mean his impending death. What a blessing to relate to those who speak of their "departure" with a confident resolve and joyful anticipation. Without our hope in Christ our impending death can be despairing, especially if we are in the fourth quarter.
Conversely, as we place our faith in Christ our hope intensifies as we reach the fourth quarter of our lives, for we know that which awaits us is far greater than the best this troubled world has to offer.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, from our birth to our death all our opportunities are governed by time. Every pursuit during our earthly sojourn has a beginning and an end, an orderly and purposeful arrangement designed by You. We must learn to accept Your plan along with its limitations which time and season impose including that of life and death. Since Your plan is revealed in Scripture we know how it will come to an end. Therefore we join our spirit with the Spirit of Christ so that we will, at the end of our earthly journey, hear the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." That's one supreme invitation we don't want to miss! And we're invited because of Jesus who gave His all for us. We thank You, Father, for giving and we thank You, Jesus, for coming. Amen.
Some more rural Lancaster County Scenes
Another pumpkin wagon.
This Amish farmer has devised a way to disk his land in comfort.
On Friday we stopped at a McDonald's near New Holland, PA and watched a dog poke his upper torso through the sunroof. He appears to be placing his order at the drive through window.
Looks like he's excitedly waiting for his Big Mac!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
The following musical selections will remain posted during the next two messages. They are Christian songs on death.
"My Jesus I Love Thee" Video Selah
"He's Walking Her Home" Video Mark Schultz This last Sunday I met two new residents at Longwood, well actually only one is a resident. It was an elderly gentleman who was with his wife who is the resident. She is an Alzheimer's patient and no longer able to live at home. He is a retired minister and still teaches the adult Bible class (seniors) in his church. He is also honorably keeping the vows he made some sixty years ago, when he stated, "in sickness and in health, till death do us part".
"Homesick" Video MercyMe
"Save A Place For Me" Video Matthew West A powerful perspective
"Heaven's Song" Video Phil Wickham
Death Is Gain "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Video
"To Live Is Christ" Video
"To Live is For Christ to Die Is Gain" Video Incredibly moving video
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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