Pets Past, Prayer, and Peace

Monday, November 10, 2014

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

What comfort does God’s Word provide regarding pets that have died?

Recently, a Christian brother emailed me for advice. His family had just lost a young pet to an automobile accident, and his distressed children had inquired as to whether pets go to heaven. I too have faced this interesting question posed by young children, and what I have always responded with is that the Bible does not provide any details about that matter. While this answer is valid, it does not provide any comfort, particularly for very young minds. My reply to him was to share today’s Scripture with his children.

If ever confronted by young people asking about pets being in heaven, we should tell them today’s Scripture and explain it to them. God’s Word is so plain that even a child heartbroken by the death of pet, can profit from it. Small children should be reminded that, whenever they remember a pet that has died, they should thank God that He gave the pet to them for the time they had him or her. Part of praying is telling Father God that we are thankful for His provisions; after all, He is “the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Prayer—talking to God about all the details of life, in every circumstance, in light of what His Word says to us—brings His peace to our worrisome hearts during difficult times. We talk to Him in light of what we read in His Word, and His peace guards our minds and hearts through Christ Jesus. Why do our minds and hearts need protection? Satan will use those awful circumstances to make us miserable, to discourage us, to defeat us. Father God knows how Satan operates, and He has made provisions for us in Christ to withstand Satan’s schemes and scams. Whenever our pets die, let us remember today’s Scripture, such soothing words of God. 🙂

Tips to Timid Timothy to Tolerate Troubling Times #1

Sunday, December 1, 2013

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).

We have often heard the expression “timid Timothy,” but have you ever wondered why he was timid?

Paul first met this Hebrew-Greek Christian Timothy back in Acts chapter 16, on his second apostolic journey. Acts 16:2 says Timothy was “well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium,” so Paul took him along as a traveling companion and ministry coworker. Thereafter, Timothy accompanied Paul during his travels and helped him in his ministry (he was also known as “Timotheus;” Acts 17:14,15; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2,6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1).

Years later, at the close of the book of Acts, Paul was held in Rome under house arrest for two years (Acts 28:30,31). After his release, he went on other apostolic journeys. It was during this time that he left Timothy in Ephesus, and then wrote 1 Timothy (1:3). Some years later, Paul was rearrested and imprisoned, and this is when he wrote a second and final epistle to Timothy, our Bible book of 2 Timothy (the context of today’s Scripture).

Timothy was considerably younger than Paul. Hence, Paul called Timothy “[his] son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 1:18). This is also why Paul admonished Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Notice, Timothy started out well, but as time went by, today’s Scripture indicates that he grew afraid and weary. Evidently, Timothy was on the verge of quitting his ministry. In fact, Paul reminds Timothy that he greatly desires to see him, “being mindful of [his] tears” (verse 4)—Timothy is under such pressure that he has actually cried.

Just what has Timothy so depressed and fearful, and what can we learn from this? We will search the Scriptures for the answers….

As We Tarry Here and Long for There #1

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23,24 KJV).

Before we go on to the next world, we must tarry in this one….

Not too long ago, I visited the grave of a recently departed saint and a family friend of many years. Another Christian and I stood by her grave with her widowed husband, and there we discussed our memories of her. In that time of great emotion, we rejoiced that she is free from frailty and suffering, and yet, we mourned that we will never see her again in this life.

It is never easy to lose a loved one, even if that person had a testimony of having trusted Jesus Christ alone as personal Saviour. We still miss their phone calls, visits, voices, and friendship. Even as Christians, we are not shielded from physical death: short of the Lord’s coming for us, we and all other Christians we know will die. Such is a part of living in a sin-cursed world.

The Bible’s shortest verse, John 11:35, simply says, “Jesus wept.” Upon seeing the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus is deeply moved inside, knowing that death has Lazarus captive and his family members and friends are heartbroken. Amidst Jesus’s tears, He shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!” Lazarus, all bound in burial clothes, hops out, as alive as ever! The crowd is not only amazed at the love Jesus had for Lazarus, but also at Jesus’ power demonstrated at such a morose occasion.

We are tempted to wish the Lord Jesus Christ would appear at the graves of our departed Christian loved ones and do what He did at Lazarus’s tomb. How we long to be with them, to be out of this world of pain and suffering. How we “look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” to see those saints once more.

Yet, as we tarry here and long for there, let us remember why we are here….

Peace of Mind in a World in Pieces

Thursday, August 15, 2013

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 KJV).

Despite all of the weeping, sleepless nights, and despondency, there is hope in Jesus Christ!

With the recent passing of a Christian couple’s newborn baby, the sudden demise of a Christian brother and ministry fellow-laborer, and the death of my great aunt yesterday, I can assure you that the member of the Church the Body of Christ, although guaranteed a blissful eternity in the heavenly places, is not spared from pain and grief in this fallen creation. My, what horrific, constant suffering all around the world! In fact, this very reality is often used as an “argument” against God’s existence (but is likened unto the folly of, “I do not believe in the existence of law enforcement officers because of the widespread criminal behavior!”).

Dear saints, sin produces division, disruption, disease, despair, decay, and death. What we see today are merely the remnants of the original perfect creation, what is left of that paradise before God cursed it so Satan could not use it in all its glory for his own purposes (Genesis 3:14-19). As each day passes, this ruined creation comes closer and closer to the day when that “bondage of corruption” will be lifted, when paradise will be restored on earth and in heaven (Romans 8:18-25). Much needs to happen before that glorious day arrives, so we Christians must patiently remain here on earth until our program finishes.

As our Apostle Paul wrote in that awful Roman prison cell, “Rejoice in the Lord alway [in every instant]: and again I say, Rejoice” (today’s Scripture). We cannot rejoice because of our dire conditions, but we can rejoice in these difficulties. Right where we are, whether good or bad circumstances, we should rejoice in our identity in Jesus Christ, in who He is and who we are in Him, what He has done for us (saved us spiritually), and what He will do for us in the future (deliver us physically).

Remember, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9,10) and we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]” (Philippians 4:13). 🙂

Saint, Why Sayest Thou Nothing? #5

Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13 KJV).

You are not alone in being shy about witnessing for Jesus Christ….

Once the Apostle Paul began his ministry, and started preaching the glorious Gospel of the Grace of God (that we are saved by grace through faith without works), legalism (works-religion/Mosaic Law-keeping) contradicted his message and confused and divided Christians (sound familiar?). Two areas where legalism was dominant were Ephesus and Galatia.

Paul instructed Timothy, a church leader in Ephesus, to “charge [command] some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). They have swerved from “godly edifying” and “faith unfeigned [genuine],” and have “turned aside unto vain jangling [useless, foolish talking]; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (verses 6,7).

Sometime later, Paul writes a second epistle to Timothy. It is the Apostle’s final letter. Paul pens that he is “mindful of [Timothy’s] tears” (2 Timothy 1:4). Timothy is very discouraged in the ministry, as evidenced by Paul’s encouragement: “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (verses 6-8).

Timothy is now ashamed of God’s Word and of Paul’s imprisonment. He once courageously proclaimed God’s Word, but now he is craven. The false teachers in Ephesus have intimidated him to silence, lest they have “competition.” Paul instructs Timothy not to fear the lost world. He should endure the suffering that comes with being a Christian. He should speak up about God’s Word! How can he do this? “According to the power of God!” Dear saints, our flesh is weak, but God’s power is more than sufficient to give us boldness to speak His Word to this lost and dying world.

Brethren, Pray for Us

Friday, November 2, 2012

“Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25 KJV).

Today’s Scripture exhorts us to pray for our Christian brethren, and we beseech you to especially pray for this ministry.

Saints, I hope you do not mind, but I must share with you what has been on my heart for these past few weeks (and several months). It is very difficult to express in words, but I have endured (and am still enduring) one of the most heart-wrenching issues life affords. The issue, whose details God knows, has hindered this ministry for nearly 18 months now. From the very beginning, I tried my absolute best to handle it Scripturally, hoping to avoid the disastrous outcome that nevertheless came to fruition.

In short, dear readers, I want to take this opportunity to counsel with you, in hopes that you will spare your Christian brethren the emotional, spiritual, and mental turmoil that troubles me still. I beseech you to take the utmost care in the words you say and the deeds you do, especially to your grace brethren in Christ. The lost world is certainly unkind to us Christians. Why must we too “consume one another?” When we do it to the Christian brethren, we do it to Christ!!!!

We Christians always have forgiveness at Christ’s cross, but the damage we do to our Christian brethren does not magically disappear. We can never take back those harsh words. Thus, let us exercise great care in what words we speak, especially to our grace brethren in Christ. Let us prayerfully meditate on the rightly divided King James Bible before we make rash decisions we will later regret. We do and will make mistakes, but if we persist in those mistakes, we really have not grasped what grace living is all about.

Grace living is not sinless living, but letting God’s grace transform you, and allowing it to correct you when you do make mistakes. Selfishness, bitterness, and bickering are inconsistent with God’s grace to us in Christ; consequently, they do not belong in our lives. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Hope Deferred, Sick Heart Incurred

Sunday, September 2, 2012

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 KJV).

Regarding today’s Scripture, we can all shout, “Amen!”

Have you ever had an intense desire to have something (or perhaps, someone)? Your heart was thrilled beyond words, was it not? How you looked forward to that wish coming true. In effect, that want became a crutch, something that you depended on entirely. You had such hope, and you looked forward to that certain event happening (a relationship, raise at work, new car or house, friendship, job, vacation trip, et cetera).

But to your horror, that hope was shattered, as that dream was “deferred” (delayed), or worse, it never even came to pass. Were you not sick to your stomach? Did you not have a horrible feeling inside, like something in you died? Maybe you despaired even of life? Perhaps you felt angry, sad, or both. This is to be expected, since the first part of today’s Scripture reads: “Hope deferred [delayed, overdue] maketh the heart sick.” When we hope for something, and it fails to come to pass, it wounds us emotionally. Our innermost being feels sick.

Now, the second part of today’s Scripture declares: “but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Here is the flipside to our previous paragraph: suppose that wish or hope did come true. Were you not overjoyed? You wanted to live and enjoy that good time, right? The Bible describes this as “a tree of life,” something that makes you want to live and makes you happy that you are alive.

Saints, life is full of disappointments. While we are emotional beings, we need to be reminded that our emotions should not be in control of our lives. Let us walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us (believing the King James Bible rightly divided), and let our emotions follow us (not vice versa). Above all, let us hope in Jesus Christ and our sufficiency in Him, which hope is never deferred, and a sick heart is never incurred.

Jesus Wept

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35 KJV).

Crying is often viewed as weakly and feminine, but the Bible leads us to another conclusion. In today’s Scripture, the shortest Bible verse, we see the magnificent Lord of glory weeping as a man. As the mighty Creator God is saddened by the death of His friend, Lazarus, and weeps, the Jewish onlookers respond (verse 36): “Behold how he [Jesus] loved him [Lazarus]!”

But, let us back up to verse 33. Weeping Mary, Lazarus’ sister, accompanied by other crying Jews, comes to Jesus. Verses 33 and 34 explain: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Here, the event of today’s Scripture occurred: “Jesus wept.”

We see Christ’s emotions further exemplified as the passage continues (verses 37,38): “And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.”

Oh, how Christ was deeply affected upon seeing Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus loved Lazarus, so He wept. God’s Word speaks of other occasions when Jesus wept and strongly cried (Luke 19:41; Hebrews 5:7). It is not wimpy if one cries, for the Lord Jesus Christ wept! Crying is part of being a human. The Apostle Peter wept bitterly after denying Christ three times (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72) and the Apostle John wept much (Revelation 5:4). The Ephesian believers wept on Paul’s neck when the Apostle was leaving (Acts 20:37,38).

God created us humans with a seat of emotions. Emotions are not sinful, but sin has tainted our seat of emotions. Rather than our emotions following our will, they attempt to become our will. Emotions try to dominate us, and while Jesus did cry, He was the perfect Man. He controlled His emotions, rather than letting His emotions control Him.

If ye cry, just remember “Jesus wept.”