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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Berks County pond
Yesterday we enjoyed this view with the barely budding willow trees near a pond, surrounded by yellow daffodils, north of Reading PA.
Click to enlarge

"The Doctrine Of Death"

Note: Today's title and subject may seem off-putting and even morbid to some but a proper doctrine of death is of great assurance.

Message summary: We must know about the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of salvation and so forth and let us add one more to this list: consider the “doctrine of death”, something rarely considered as a doctrine, but it surely is. What do we believe about death?

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“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13).
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Fanny Crosby tombstone, Bridgeport, CT
P.T. Barnum, known as the greatest showman and founder of the traveling circus that bore his name, died on this date April 7, 1891. He is buried in Bridgeport CT where the famous hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, is also laid to rest. Just before his death P.T. Barnum gave permission to the local paper "The Evening Sun" to print his obituary so that he could read it before he died! His curiosity is understandable and it can be a motivation for living to consider what will be written or said about us after we die!

D.L. Moody wrote, "Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal - a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body."

In the Christian life it is not possible to have fruit unless we have roots. We must know our doctrines; that is, what we believe and why we believe them. We must know about the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of salvation and so forth. Let us add one more to this list: consider the “doctrine of death”, something rarely considered as a doctrine, but it surely is. What do we believe about death?

In the daily text the Apostle Paul wrote, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (die).”  In this context he goes on to explain what we call the rapture. But the doctrine of death can be especially developed from 1 Corinthians 15, what is often called the resurrection chapter.

1) Death is Inevitable “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53). It is not morbid to accept the fact that all die. The death rate is the same the world over – one death per person (Hebrews 9:27), and there is no breaking of the appointment.

2) Death is Inexplicable “Listen, I tell you a mystery" (1 Corinthians 15:51a). Death is a mystery. There are some things we do not understand about it and therefore cannot explain. To accept this fact is to be on our way to comfort.

3) Death is A Transition “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51b). The Bible clearly tells us that there is more after this earthly life. Death is not the end; it is the entrance to heaven to those who know Jesus personally as Savior and Lord of their lives, and to those who do not know Jesus personally it is an entrance into hell. Death is not a destiny; it is a door.

4) Death can be Tragic “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We often hear or read of a tragic death through the news media. It may be due to the type of death or a person's age or their fame. When we lose a loved one there’s always a sense of tragedy.

But what is not reported and often not considered is the supreme tragedy of one to live and die and enter eternity without God. When we live a life of faith in Christ till our final breath we also leave a godly legacy for others to emulate. A tragic death is ultimately not determined by the manner of one’s going but by his spiritual unpreparedness at the time of his going.

5) Death is Triumphant for those in Christ. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Death can be triumphant, because of our personal relationship with Jesus. It is not easy to distinguish the picture of a sunset from the picture of a sunrise. To the unbeliever, death is a sunset; but to the Christian, it is a sunrise. Our victory over death, with all its appalling haunts, fears, and heartaches, is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I humbly ask you the simple question, do you know Jesus? Do you know if you were to die today where you will spend eternity (heaven or hell?).  If you are uncertain of your answer why not pray this simple but sincere prayer with us today?

“Lord Jesus, come into my heart. I repent of my sins and ask Your forgiveness. Only You can cleanse me from all my sins. Make me your dear child and give me the assurance of salvation. I choose to follow and live for You according to the Bible. Thank you for listening to my prayer and making it possible for me to enter heaven, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!"

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Loving Father, we recognize that life is a sacred and miraculous beginning and death is an inevitable ending of our life here on earth. It can either end in tragic loss or triumphant victory depending on what master we choose in this life. For those who have followed the master of this world their death brings a sorrowful ache in our hearts. But for those who followed our Lord and Master their death brings triumphant victory because You removed the sting of death through Christ's resurrection. The anticipation of heaven is now fulfilled for the believer who departs this life and makes their permanent home in heaven. Though we miss their presence in our daily lives, we envision their presence in heaven with You, the angels and all the celestial beings on the other side. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Christ Our Hope in Life and Death"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Papa

“Scars In Heaven”   Video  Casting Crowns

"When Death Was Arrested"  Video  The Worship Initiative and Shane & Shane 

Brooksyne's Note:  We sang this wonderful song in choir practice last night in preparation for our Easter service. The words are so victorious and "gladden the heart" as the old-timers would describe such a song. Just look words from this song describing our life before Christ and after our death to sin:

1) Alone in my sorrow and dead in my sin,
lost without hope and no place to begin.
Your love made a way to let mercy come in,
when death was arrested and my life began.


Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with You
It's Your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with You

2) Ash was redeemed only beauty remains,
my orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance,
when death was arrested and my life began
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That's when death was arrested and my life began

Some scenes from our travels yesterday

Pat and Laverne
After our early morning chaplain visit we drove over to the Cracker barrel in Hamburg, PA to enjoy breakfast with Stephen's brother and sister-in-law, Pat and Laverne who will celebrate their 50th anniversary next month.

Berks County stone house
This beautiful stone house, across from the pond in the lead photo, sure caught our attention. It's meticulous yard and driveway setting presents such a peaceful setting. One can only imagine how beautiful it will be when the trees are filled out again.
Click to enlarge

Graffiti bridge
This old bridge on the Ontelaunee Reservoir is now quite appealing for those who enjoy graffiti art!
Click to enlarge

Rick Stickler
Yesterday we stopped by the Leesport Farmer's Market to visit Rick Strickler, who's a faithful member of our Sunday School Class. For fifty years Rick has sold meats and cheeses at farmer's markets. He does so with a joyful disposition and knowledgeable background on his meat and deli products.

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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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