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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Autumn beauty (Photo  by Dois High)
Autumn beauty
(Photo  by Doris High)

"Dying Well"

Message summary: The apostle Paul's perspective on life and death is so liberating.

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"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

My brother Pat shared an account concerning a friend of his who died following a long illness. At his time of death he was with his wife and family. After expressing his love to them he raised his hands and said, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" just before he died.

Pat didn't know whether his friend had purposefully planned ahead for this inevitable event and make his dying words a faith declaration or if it was a spontaneous Spirit-led declaration. Either way, what a confident, victorious way to depart this earth!

Bill BrightBill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, had a significant influence in my life since I received much of my early Christian discipling through this ministry. In an interview toward the end of his earthly life he offers this perspective.  "The most important moment in anyone's life as a believer is the last breath because the next breath is in heaven.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. A Christian can't lose, if we live, we go on serving Him. That's an adventure. If we die, we're in heaven with Him, and that's incredible."

The verse my brother's friend quoted is part of a teaching by the apostle Paul.  Notice how he introduces the concept with the words, "We are confident". Of all things in which to be confident this is surely at the top, an assurance of our future home due to what Christ has done for us.

The present tense "are" describes Paul's attitude as one of continuous, courageous confidence because of God's express purpose and promise to bring Paul (and all believers) to glory and because of the Spirit who indwelt him and strengthened him to continually fight the good fight of faith. This courageous confidence was not a passing emotion for Paul but a continual state of mind. Paul's courageous mindset enabled him to face death not with fear but with great confidence. (Precept Austin commentary note on 2 Corinthians 5:8)

The apostle Paul's perspective on life and death is so liberating. After his conversion on the Damascus road he began experiencing the great joy that comes in living for Christ. In confidence he faces death, with a willingness "to be absent from the body". Indeed at our death, though our body remains, our spirit departs to be with the Lord. We are "present with the Lord".

Today, what a joy it is to follow Christ and have a deep, abiding assurance of His love. When the time comes for our departure we shed our frail, aging, and mortal body and abandon our residency in this world that is day by day sliding into decadence and destruction. We will "gain" and be better off by far with our immortal, ageless, and healthy bodies residing in a place that is timeless, ageless, and sinless. That's what we live for! Praise the Lord, today I am a child of the King with my home address on earth, but some "tomorrow", as a child of the king, my home address will be heaven. Won't you join me there as we finish well here.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as I live out my time here on this earth, I'm so glad that I belong to You. You hold my right hand and guide me with Your continuous presence and daily bread which is leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but You and I desire You more than anything on earth. My health may fail and my spirit may even grow weak, but Father, You remain the strength of my heart and You are my portion forever. My Refuge, my Fortress and my Deliverer, I will joyfully tell of Your mighty works as I seek to finish well on this side. I long for the day that You call me to my eternal home, when I will be absent from the body on this side and present with You on the eternal side of glory. Amen.

Another touching death message:

In September we shared a message about a tragic vehicle accident in our area in which two men were killed. Tim, a minister friend of ours, was a friend with Bob, one of the two men struck and killed by a vehicle. He conducted the funeral service and shared with us how at the service Bob's daughter expressed a very moving tribute to her dad.

She shared how growing up her dad had always insisted that every departure, even going to bed each evening, be accompanied by a verbal expression of
"I love you" to one another in his family. He did this when his girls were young and continued to do so when they were adults. And of course he did so with his wife.

The accident followed his car breaking down along a busy 4 lane highway here in Lancaster County. Bob, the motorist, had called a tow truck driver who had arrived and loaded the car. Just as they were preparing to leave a drunk driver slammed into them, killing them both (Bob and tow truck driver).

Just moments prior to the accident he had texted his wife informing her of the breakdown. He took a photo and shared "I Love You". Unknown to him, that would be his final message to the one he loved the most.

Cerwin and Doris HighToday's lead photo of the Autumn scene was taken by Doris High. We met Doris and her husband Cerwin at a Transport For Christ retreat ten years ago and have often used her photos here on Daily Encouragement. She is a prolific photo blogger with regular posts of outstanding photos on her blog "My Journey".

Cerwin and Doris have four married children and sixteen grandchildren. Two granddaughters are married and we have one great-grandson. They serve with Transport For Christ - a ministry to truck drivers - and love life in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Finish Well"  Video  Karen Peck and New River

Special Thanksgiving Resources

Each year we offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 23).

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" (printable webpage).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

Today and all through this period we will share a selection of Thanksgiving music.

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

"Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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