ARE YOU AFRAID TO DIE?

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ARE YOU AFRAID TO DIE?

The end of the world is coming. We all know this. Some say it will end September 23. Some say September 28. And yet if we go by the predictions of others, the world should have ended a long time ago. But this is really not news. We know that the world is going to end. John told us what He was given to see in the book of Revelation.

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

And in this new world, it will be like this.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:36-39

Yes, this ministry is not given to making predictions about the end of the world because, quite frankly, it’s an exercise in abject futility. Jesus said that only our Father knows when. So hey, let’s just leave it at that. He’s God and we’re man. Let God be God, and let us simply be His children, to be cared for, provided for and protected by our Heavenly Father.

But beloved, I do have a doomsday question for you today. Knowing that the end is imminent, how does that make you feel? Does it scare you? Are you afraid to die?

I have only ever met two kinds of people in my life; those who can’t wait to die, and those who are dead scared (pun intended) of death. Those who can’t wait to die are usually those who feel like they are neck deep in trouble. Seeing no other way out, they see death as a welcome relief from their pains. As for those who are afraid of death, they are literally at the other end of the spectrum. They have either amassed so much from their years of labor that they are unwilling to let go, or they have absolutely no faith that their gods, whoever they may be, have the power to secure their eternal joy and happiness in the hereafter. Now, unfortunately, in this last group are some Christians; and not until a few years ago, I was one of them.

But Paul tells us that we, who believe and have put our faith in Jesus, should belong to this third group.

“For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].” Philippians 1:21 [AMPC]

Now, this is not a statement of resignation. This is not something that we say when we are faced with insurmountable odds and we have given up. Instead, this is a statement of faith. We say this because we have a positive expectation of good from our Father, that come what may, He is always there and He will always protect and provide. Let me show you why.

When Paul made this statement, He was in prison. Rome, at that time, though proclaimed as a democracy, really was no less autocratic than some modern day dictatorships, and they quashed any movement which might lead to their loss of power like you would squash a bug. So Paul was put in prison for preaching a message that was seen as having the possibility of inciting mass social upheaval.

Now, his troubles did not end there. In prison, even though he miraculously still had the opportunity to preach, he was faced with competition, and there were fellow prisoners who wanted to make him look bad. Fancy that. Yet, despite it all, he was able to say,

“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:19-20

Whatever trials he was going through, whatever opposition he faced, he knew that his adversaries were never going to make any head way because our Father has promised

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17

Instead, like Joseph, Paul knew that no matter what was done to him,

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

But why was this the case? How could he be so confident that

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

It’s simple really. Just look at Paul’s life. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, hell bent on destroying this rebellion call Christianity. In fact, this was famously recorded of Paul, then called Saul,

“And Saul approved of his execution.” Acts 8:1 [ESV]

So you would think that someone who was doing this to God’s people,

“But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” Acts 8:3 [ESV]

Would be met with the wrath of God, for He did say,

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7

“Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.” Deuteronomy 30:7

“For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,” Exodus 20:5

So the fact that Paul was ‘recovered’ by our Father, was in and of itself, an act of sheer grace and mercy. Not only that, the ministry which was given to Paul flourished. And even though he faced persecution, there were enough miracles in his life for him to realize that when Jesus said,

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

He meant every word.

So how about you? Sure, you probably were not actively hunting down Christians and putting them in jail. Sure, you probably did not have a Damascus experience and had scales fall off your eyes. But by that very token, doesn’t that mean that you are starting ‘ahead’ of Paul? If there was ever such a thing.

And while you were on the way, did not our Father provide and protect? Or did you really think that all that surrounds you right now is of your own doing?

And if you are stuck in a rut and have never heard of the love of Christ, and you are wondering if you should give Him a chance to show you just how much He loves you, what have you got to lose? You’ve been around the block. You’ve probably visited every temple around your neighborhood and you are still stuck. What exactly are you giving up just to give Jesus a chance? Instead, trading in nothing to gain something is probably the best deal you could ever get, true?

You know, no amount of scripture or preaching can ever convince you completely that God is for you and He loves you as a Father loves His child. The only way that scripture and preaching can take root is if you take a look at your own life and see His fingerprints in it. Preachers can preach till we are blue in the face but if you never see Him working in your life, it’s all, literally, hot air. So take time, be honest, and take a good long look at your life.

So then, since you have seen miracles, both big and small, in your life; it’s not a tall order for you then to put your faith in this promise.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

You see, we were made for His glory. He derives glory from our lives. Now, can anyone derive glory from another’s derision or humiliation? Bosses and leaders, think carefully about this the next time you plan your move to secure a promotion.

Glory is gained from being a part of someone else’s success. Think about it. If God drives your life into the ground, what kind of testimony will He be leaving? Will others look on and think well of Him? That is why Paul said,

“For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].” Philippians 1:21 [AMPC]

For when we are here on this earth, He will do “…exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. Ephesians 3:20

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

And when we are gone, we will be with Him in paradise, enjoying our inheritance. For indeed,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

So in the words of Paul,

“Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.” Philippians 1:21 [MSG]

And friend, if you have been touched by Jesus and would like to have Him come in and take control of your life; if you would like to have Him give you the peace to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that come what may, He loves you and He will always be there for you, then say this to Him right now.

“Jesus, thank You for leading me to this point. Thank You for showing me Your fingerprints in my life. Thank You for revealing to me the times when You carried me through. I now realize that even though I never knew You, You never turned Your back on me. Even though I rejected Your call, You never stopped calling. Thank You for loving me so much that despite knowing that I would start out so ungrateful, You still went and died for me; that by Your blood shed, I may receive full remission of sins; that by Your death, I may die to sin and can now have the power to say ‘no’; that by our rising again, You have brought me into eternal life in You. I know You have my back. And I know that come what may, I am now and always, protected and provided for, because I am always loved by You. Amen.”

Beloved, come what may, alive or dead, the promises of Jesus, the love of our Father never changes. When we are here, we’ve got good work to do. When we are there, we’ve got our inheritance to enjoy. So look forward to your future with a positive expectation of good, for our Father has promised,

“Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.” Isaiah 49:23 (NLT)

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