Monday, August 26, 2013

Death is Swallowed up in Victory

1 Corinthians 15:54 "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
We have all lost those we love. It's difficult if the love is genuine and for most of us, it is!  Humanity looks at death from a different perspective than God  does. For us, even Christians, it is a sad event, although we're promised eternal life. Even a strong Christian may have doubts about eternal life because our faith is frail. However, as Jesus died in the flesh he lives in Spirit, we too will leave this mortal body and live in Spirit, and some day in a fully restored perfect body!
We are corruptible! Not only will our flesh decay, but until we die, we sin. At our death we become incorruptible. We shall have a body which will not age, will not die and will never sin again! (Most people are satisfied with a sinful life, but if you're a Christian, get used to the idea that sin will no longer tittilate). Sin has lost its sting by death! The sting which is death lies defeated! Being alive makes us mere mortals. With death we shall become immortal, providing we have an enduring faith in Jesus! What a promise! What great hope we have! Yet we dread it. Why?
The grave shall never contain me. My poor body may lay in it for awhile, but my soul shall never be restrained by mere earthen walls. Six feet of ground cover will never seal my Spirit!  The grave shall be defeated. Death will be as well. There will be no victory for death since I will live! I like that promise, yet again, I say, "I'm afraid of death!" Jesus understands. He's been there. He did it for us!

Luke 23:46 "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
Jesus was in agony at his death just as we may be. He felt death's sting. He cried out to his father "Why has thou forsaken me?" as the sins of all mankind bore down on his frail body. It hurt Jesus and was painful to "cross-over", breaking that silver cord between life and death. I don't fear being dead! However, I fear the breaking of that silver cord. I fear crossing-over!  Jesus and I have that in common. It's a penalty we pay for being sinners. Jesus, though paid the same price although he was without sin. He bore ours.
The sting of death doesn't start with the cessation of breathing. We know when it's coming and there is a great fear with high anxiety. We may not admit it, but we feel death coming. Even with car accidents, the entire life flashes by and those dying apparently often know what's coming. That innate fear of dying does strange things to those who're dying.
I sit here now asking for forgiveness. I hope that I never do what I may do, but the sting of death may change me. I love my children. They all mean the world to me. At times some of us have been estranged, but my love is unconditional! I had great failures in life and so have some of my children. As a loving father I expect more from my children than I do for myself because I despise my own short-comings. I want them to succeed where I've failed. With that motivation my goals for my own have exceeded my own goals for myself. That has placed a wall between them and me at times. My love has been a barrier to mutual love! My expectations have barricaded a relationship.
I've been proud of the accomplishments of all my children! Each of them has in fact excelled in being what they are. At times I've minimized their accomplishments as I was blinded by my expectations. I'm contrite. My motives were noble, but my methods were ignoble. That's my character weakness!
No one knows my true self more than my wife. She knows where I'm vulnerable and what disappoints me. She understands that even with a flair of an occasional temper, that I quickly recover and my love remains undiminished. I get pleasure from her joy, but have pain in disagreements. Nothing I hate worse is friction in our relationship. She knows I bite my tongue quite often and I knows that she does with me. Pride is put aside as conflict is put aside.
My pleasure is in hers. Outside her overspending, seeing her happy makes me "Happy, Happy, Happy!".  My favorite response is her "arm hug" as we sit and just be together!
With that in mind I may revert to my "Old Man" as the death shadow approaches me near the end. I may say cruel things and do awful deeds. I may strike out at those I love most. I don't want to do that, but when my mind succumbs to age, Dementia becomes my partner. My own cognition may become overwhelmed by mischievous synapses. My utterings may be those of the angel of death. I may not be my own.
I may criticize the ones I love, even curse them. That won't be me! It will be a remnant of original sin rearing its ugly head to make one last stand against love, the best gift God gives us! Satan will relish the last days where I try to take that loving bond we have and turn it into a chain of hate. Remember, if you will, that ugly sinner you see at the end is not me! It's my former self. The "New Man" has been threatened by the "Old Man" breathing his last breath! Why is it that way? Why can we not make a graceful exit? Dissension is the way of the ruler of this world. Death belongs to Satan. Life belongs to God. Principalities battle until the sting of death is complete. Satan succumbs only when our spirit is finally entirely sanctified.
Luke 8:49 "While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 52  And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat."
If we look closely at the account of this miracle in Luke we obtain slightly different information than the other gospel accounts of the same miracle. It was chronicled that "her spirit came again"!  When the girl had died, her spirit had immediately left the body. There was no "soul sleep" awaiting the general resurrection. Her spirit (soul) had left her body as death left its sting!  Upon being resurrected by Jesus, her spirit returned and rejoined her body.
In like manner, when I die, my own spirit will live on. A nice room in a mansion is already prepared for me there in heaven! Someday, when Jesus comes again, my ashes will arise and ascend to heaven to rejoin my spirit and the twain shall again be one!  During that interval I will find joy in Jesus. I shall live on in a perfect place. My life and love will be God. There will be no dissension in heaven. I will have no animosity toward anyone. My shortcomings with those I loved in this world will be replaced with not only genuine unconditional love, but with divine love!
My fear is that I might cause grief to those I love most while I yet live. Consider this a warning! As Dementia strikes a mighty heave at your very existence, remember my name is dad. my name is husband, my name is brother! I reject the me which will be manifested as I succumb to the grim reaper.  I hurt right now at what I may become! Please forgive me what I may do later!
My worst fear is that it may happen to my spouse. It hurt me terribly to see Dementia, who dwelled in her own mother, emotionally try to destroy the one who cared and loved her most. Even knowing that Dementia is speaking provides little comfort because the words are uttered by that loved one. I ask God to allow me to exhaust my life with dignity and preserve the love I have sought to establish with my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and my siblings.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
John 11:25 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"
Dementia has passed away along with another person who has gone. The sting was too much for Dementia. She has been replaced by Joy! The body will become dust for a short while because scripture tells us of Jesus "Surely, he come quickly!". The Spirit of those who died in Christ has already returned to the Creator. The Christian Spirit resides right now with God although the body lies sedentary and lifeless. 
As the body lies motionless the believer lives on! Right now those who submitted to Christ, but succumbed to death, lives on regally, as a king or queen, subjective to and praising God! Fear not the sting of death nor have remorse at those who suffered the sting. The pain of that sting is healed by blood which has already been shed. The sting has been defeated. Death will no longer be feared. Life has been  left behind because the race is won!

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