The Fear of Death

February 8, 2016

 

The Fear of Death

Psalms 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

The fear of death or bodily harm can be the most compelling fear of all.  The one reality we are sure of is the one we are living in; everything else is by faith.  If this life and body are the only hope and reality we know then death can be particularly disturbing and fearful.  Life, as we know it will cease to exist; then what darkness, nothing, back to dust?    

Some who read this could be walking through the valley of the shadow of death today.  It is built into us to protect and preserve our lives.  That fear will motivate us to do everything within our power to avoid death.  When we are really brought face to face with our mortality it is a sobering thing.  It makes us look deep within ourselves to think about the meaning of life and what the loss of it holds for us.  We examine our values and what we truly believe.

David was certainly faced with the awesome possibility of death as King Saul hunted him to take his life.  He was often faced with enemies that desired his death.  I believe David had learned a principle as a shepherd.  He knew that his sheep were totally dependent upon him, as their shepherd, for protection.  They had no real ability to protect themselves.  They knew that if they staid close to the shepherd, his rod and staff, his authority and power, would protect them.  Their greatest peace and our greatest peace are in knowing that we are walking with the Shepherd and that our life is not in our hands, it is in His.  We are at peace and we have comfort even in the midst of the certain threat of death because He is there and our life is hid with Christ in God.  The faith we have in our Shepherd is able to dispel the grip of fear that is seeking desperately to lay hold of our hearts.  Faith will dispel fear, but the lack of it will give place to it.  If we walk in the light, then we will not fear the darkness, for even if darkness surrounds us, it can not extinguish the light and the hope we have within us through Christ Jesus.  Often it can become a battleground between faith and fear as the fear of death seeks to lay hold of us.  

One scripture that brings us much encouragement in this fear of death is found in Hebrews 2:14-15.  It says, speaking of Jesus, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  We have peace and assurance through the blood of Jesus and the confidence that through our trust in Him, He has paid for our sin, and robbed the devil of the fear eternal punishment and condemnation he once could put upon us.  Now we have the peace and confidence that when death comes we step out of the limitations of our mortal body into glory and into His wonderful presence.  We can almost view death as no longer as a curse, but as a promotion.  No wonder so many Christians through the ages have been able to hold fast their testimony and give up their possessions, their livelihood and their very lives.  They had their eyes fixed on One far more glorious that quenched the fear of death and loss.  It was the One who walked with them through the valley of the shadow of death.  

One of the greatest fears and terrors is that of the unknown, but the knowledge we have in Christ and the faith that we have placed in that knowledge of Him has robbed satan of his power of fear and intimidation.  

When Israel had come out of Egypt and was going up to battle against their enemies, this is the word that was spoken to them and what I believe the Lord wants us to hold fast in our hearts as we enter our battles.  It was spoken in Deuteronomy 20:1-4, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.””  If we know that we are already victorious in Christ what have we to fear?  The worst that could happen is that we would wake up in His arms.   In Psalms 27:1 David says, “The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” It is like when you were a small child and something frightened you.  You could run and jump up on daddy’s lap, bury your face in his chest and he would put his powerful arms around you.  You knew then that you were safe; that anything that touched you now had to come through your daddy first.  That is exactly how it is for us in the Lord.  Colossians 3:1-4 tells us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” If we are truly dead to the things and the affections of this world then what power of fear does the devil have over us seeing that we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ in God?  If the devil touches us, he has to come through God to do it.  If I know that God has control over all that touches my life then I have no room for fear, only for trust.  He is my good Shepherd that will lead me and keep me wherever I must go and through whatever valley of the shadow of death I must pass, I will fear no evil.

Blessings,

#kent

The Good Shepherd

July 17, 2015

Psalms 23:1
The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Good Shepherd

The Lord is sufficient for every need that we have. One of the hardest things for us to do at times is to lie down in green pastures when in our perception all there is dead grass. One of the most important things that the Lord wants to teach all of us is to rest in Him. That is hard to process when the natural world around us is falling apart, bills need to be paid, physical afflictions are besetting us. It is hard for us to rest when our children are in rebellion, our spouse is leaving us or that special someone is in critical condition.
God is not in our fears, He is in our faith and faith causes us to rest when everyone else is franticly trying to do something to solve the problem. Some problems are out of our control. They are bigger than we are and there is nothing else we can do except believe and trust in the Lord. We can never put God in a box and say if I just do this, then He will do that. Sometimes He doesn’t rescue us out of our disasters, but He will always be there with us as we go through them. Sometimes God works through miracles and sometimes it is through our hard life experiences. The important place for us to be is in the Shepherds arms. The Psalmist David rested in the profound truth that the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He knew from the experience of being a shepherd that a good shepherd would always act in the best interest of His sheep. Sometimes that meant rescuing them out of trouble and sometimes it might mean breaking their leg, so that they would learn not to stray. Whatever was necessary the shepherd would act out of his love for the sheep. They were an extension of him and his purpose, just as we are an extension of Christ and His purpose.
Today, the good Shepherd is watching over you. If you truly believe and rest in Him, then you shall not want. ‘He is able to meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory.’ “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6

Blessings,
#kent

Walk with Me

October 31, 2014

Philippians 3:14
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Walk with Me

Walk with me a little while
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
It is in your presence I experience love and grace.
I need your perspective as I run this race.

I covet your fellowship in the early dawn,
As I come to you in prayer and feel your holy bond.
It is your strength I covet in this challenging hour,
It is in identity with your life that I find my power.

The grade is getting steep as we travel on.
The way is more narrow and straight than where I’ve gone.
Those I once called friends now scorn my path.
Because I don’t hold the world’s views I incur their wrath.

So it must be as I look up and see the cross before,
I still believe that you alone are the only door,
That leads to life and the Father I seek.
You are the good shepherd that leads your sheep.

Help me Lord to be all that I must,
Forsaking the world, its vanity and lust.
Setting my eye on the prize that is before,
I press on to the high calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.

Walk with me a little while,
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
If so be that I suffer for You I will be glorified with You,
My peace and rest is in You, oh Lord, faithful and true.
Kent Stuck

Blessings!

Deliverance of the Afflicted

Psalms 107:8-15
Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!

There are many reasons we go through trials, tribulation, sicknesses and afflictions in life. One of the things Jesus told us was that in the world we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer for He overcame the world. Our trials and afflictions are not the more pleasant part of our life, but they can serve a valuable purpose.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelites often suffering affliction due to sin or disregard for God’s order and way of doing things. There are times we see the Lord being pretty severe and exacting in His requirements Affliction and trials can do one of two things, either it causes us to seek and pursue God harder or we turn away from Him altogether.
What we are looking at here is a principle and reason why God deals with us at times through afflictions and trials. This is not about bringing condemnation on anyone because they are in this place. There are various reasons we go through trails and afflictions, our willfulness and rebellion is one of those. Let each of us search and judge their own heart in regards to what is shared here. One of the things I found in my own walk as I look back at perhaps specific times and circumstances where I went through an affliction that I felt like was a correction from the Lord. It was to deal with me in areas that I was in willful disobedience to Him. It is like the shepherd who has a lamb that keeps wandering off from the flock. Despite many warnings, exhortations and scolding it continues to venture off doing its own thing. The shepherd knows that this lamb, left to its own self-willed ways, is venturing into areas that it can become a victim and prey of the enemy of the beasts that look for weakness and separation in the flock and one they can single out for destruction. So out of loving concern for this lamb the shepherd does a harsh thing, he breaks the little lamb’s leg. Then he binds it up, anoints it and carries that lamb with him in his arms everywhere he goes. In that place of affliction that lamb learns about a place of intimacy and relationship with the Shepherd that it had never known or had before. There it learns the true character and nature of its Shepherd who cares for it, loves it, and personally tends to it during its time of healing.
Haven’t we all gone astray, each of seeking our own will and way in life? Many of us can relate with this little lamb and are perhaps in that place where we are despising God’s way as we pursue our own. In that place of trials and affliction that pain focuses our attention. Hebrews 12:5-8 brings this point of correction home to us as it says, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” I shutter to think where I would be today if the Lord hadn’t loved me enough to discipline and correct me so that He might put my feet back on a right path. Yes, there are times when my Shepherd has had to break my leg because of sin and rebellion, but thank God He loved me enough to do it. God often brings us to that place where our soul is lean and hungry, where we feel the bands of affliction and iron upon us. When we finally are willing to acknowledge our state, our weakness, our desperate need for our Savior and begin to cry out in our affliction, He hears our cry. It is in the place of true repentance He is able to bring us ‘out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!’
Are you in that place of affliction today? The Lord is present, not to condemn you, but to restore you to righteousness. You are His own and He loves you dearly. There are none more precious in His sight. Jesus would leave the other ninety-nine sheep just to find the one that is lost. That affliction may be your call to come home, to find that safe, warm place again in the arms of Jesus who has loved you unto death. ” Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Blessings,
kent

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