Seed of Faith – RESURRECTION VICTORY By Pastor Dave
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Psalm 84:10-11
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” I Corinthians 15:53
Dear Faithful Friends, Family and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
As I sit down to write a Seed of Faith, I realize it has been a long time since I’ve sat at my computer. My last Seed of Faith was written on October 2nd, 35 days ago. My last Seed of Faith was entitled, “Resurrection Revelations”. I had been writing a series on I Corinthians 15. I think this SEED OF FAITH will be a witness and a testimony to the love and grace of Jesus.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and read Paul’s writings in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.
By now, I am sure that you heard that our family came down with Covid-19 in the month of October. All seven of us in the house had Covid-19. The three grandchildren, our daughter and and son-of love and my wife and myself. We fell like dominoes–all 7 of us in 7 days. What is fascinating to me is that we all had different symptoms. My daughter and myself had it the worst. But, the truth be told, Covid hit the adults all pretty hard, we were in bed for a week! And the 3 teenagers recovered in days.
I want to thank all of you who loved us through this time. We received text messages, emails, cards, phone calls, food, food and more food. I also want to thank our doctors who got us the right treatments and medications. My wife and I both qualified for the monoclonal infusion; that certainly helped. Without your love, support, prayers and encouragement I do not know how we would have made it through. Thank you!
I have several devotionals that I read each morning along with my regular Bible reading. When I got knocked down with Covid-19, I did not do much but sleep and lay in bed for days. Jac tells everyone I slept 22 of the 24 hours a day for the first week.
Today I picked up my devotional, “Voices From The Past — Puritan Devotional Readings” edited by Richard Rushing and I noticed my book marker. I opened to the last day I had read: October 10th. The opening Scripture was the Psalm above, Psalm 84:10-11.
Today’s reading begins with Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 15:53.
On top of struggling through Covid-19–the entire house moaning and groaning–we received the sad news that “Dad” had contracted Covid in the memory care home. They have been battling Covid on and off for the past year. Dad had been isolated for the last half of September. Then we got Covid. Then Dad got Covid. With all of Dad’s medical conditions, he passed away on October 27th. The golden thread in all of this is that because we had had Covid, the nurse and the director allowed us to stay and visit dad once we hit our day 11. We were able to spend the last week of Dad’s life with him. That was a blessing–for him and for us. Hospice had isolated Dad and he was alone in his room for the first two days. I was then able to go and care for him, and a few days later Jac was able to join me. Dad was doing really well until the morning of Day 9. He really only suffered for a few minutes until Hospice gave him a dose of morphine–he was gone two hours later. Great peace filled his room those last two hours.
About 650 days ago, Jac’s mom fell and we found out she had stage IV lung cancer with metastases to her brain. We brought her home on hospice. Within 5 weeks, Mom passed to heaven. By now, we were noticing that Dad was not able to care for himself alone. Covid had hit America very strongly in early 2020, so we stayed 3 months and tried to figure out a plan. In mid-May we implemented our plan: rented a motorhome. packed up all Dad’s belongings that we could and moved dad from Florida to California. What a kind, gentle and loving man dad was. My wife said through her tears, the other day as we were cleaning up up his room, “Dad sure is miss-able.”
Boy, I thought about that statement! When I die, I want to be miss-able!
We know that Paul wanted to pass along to the church what was the most important thing he had — the resurrection. Listen again to the opening words of 1 Corinthians 15. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” I Corinthians 15:3-5
A good so what thought, or question is, “What is the most important thing you have? What is the most important thing you want to pass on to your children and your children’s children? What do you want your friends and family to remember about you?”
We all have questions about heaven and the resurrection. As I mentioned, my wife and I have been caring for Dad since her mom died in February of 2020. Dad lived with us for a year, and then his dementia got worse. We moved him into a memory care home. He loved it. He loved having his own room, little kitchenette, and private shower/bath. Every day he’d say, “I really love this place. It’s all I need.” Every day I would go and visit him—I used the excuse of bringing him the newspaper but it was really to check on him and to see how he was doing and if he needed anything. We’d go 2-3 times a day. The morning was to refresh his room, and the late afternoons were to play cards, and watch golf and baseball. During all of these visits, he has really become my dad; I call him dad. I’ve known him for 49 years now.
Almost every day as we would sit and talk, Dad would say, “I just cannot believe that Jo Ann (his wife of seventy years) is gone. I never thought this is how life would turn out. I always thought I’d go first.”
Every day I would talk with dad about the resurrection and heaven. I got to tell him heaven is a joyous place and that he will be given a new body. His old body that was dying and not working very well would be replaced with a new body that will never perish or get weak again. He said he liked that idea, “I hope you are right, David.” I would tell him about these passage in 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21 that teaches about a new heaven and a new earth–where there will be no more tears, pain, or suffering. I would tell him that we are all going to die, but we will have life eternal given to us through Jesus Christ.
Friends, this is exactly what Paul is teaching the church in Corinth.
When dad passed away my wife, Jac and I were sitting by his bedside reading and praying with him. Right before he passed, Jac asked me to read the passage that we read to her mom when she passed. I got my Bible out and turned to 1 Corinthians 15 and starting reading at verse 53
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:53-57
When I started to read verse 57, dad took a deep breath and puffed up his chest and breathed out slowly and walked into the arms of Jesus. Dad was not afraid of death and he bravely faced it with his chest out as he embraced eternal life.
What is so fascinating to me is that when mom died almost two years ago dad sat with us as I read the same passages. He looked at Jac and I and said, “I have never seen anyone die before.” Over the past two years, dad has come to know the power, the hope and the resurrection victory.
Do you want the people who love you to say of you after you are gone, “Boy, are they ever miss-able” ?
When Jac walked into Dad’s room, Dad got the biggest smile on his face. He’d wave and say, “Hi, Jac! That’s my daughter!” Wherever he was, he’d tell everyone, “This is my daughter! She’s terrific!”
I’ve watched this relationship for 49 years now. I can’t recall a time when Dad wasn’t happy to see us. He’d stop whatever he was doing and see how we were. He’d offer a sodie, and food. Like Jac often says, “It was like we were movie stars or something!” Jac’s dad had a million dollar smile and a laugh to match.
Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework: Do you believe it’s too late to change? It’s not. Do you want to be deeply missed when you move on to heaven? What do you need to change about yourself in order for that to happen? Jac’s dad would always say, “I don’t want to be any trouble. I want to be nice. I want to be kind.”
Dad, you are really miss-able around here.
See you Sunday!
God loves you and so do I,
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Dear Faithful – Fearless – Fruitful Seed Sowers,
I pray that each and everyone of you are safe in the grace and love of Jesus! The days we are living through are difficult. I pray that you find comfort in these SEEDS OF FAITH and in the living, enduring WORD OF GOD. I pray that your faith will increase and your fear will decrease. God be with us as we face this pandemic. Amen.
Over the past few weeks, we have learned about Daniel. Daniel and his three good friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive from Israel as teenagers and brought to Babylon. Daniel served under four different Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. By the time we reach this story in chapter 6, Daniel is in his eighties. He has been serving the kings and interpreting dreams for sixty years. One thing is noteworthy to me: during all of his time in captivity, Daniel remained faithful to his one, true God.
Back to our story, King Darius now appoints Daniel to be the one of three administrators over his kingdom. The king has plans to set old Daniel over his whole kingdom.
Have you ever thought about this? King Darius plans to set Daniel over his whole kingdom?
I have! How does someone get to that place in life where the King wants to put you in charge of his kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I believe it was because of Daniel’s faith and faithful service. In our story, we learn that Daniel that is willing to remain true to his faith even when the new order is placed: “All people should not pray to any other god. All people are to only pray to the king, and if this edict is violated, you will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Put yourself into THIS story, friends.)
What I glean from this story is that Daniel’s coworkers were jealous and envious of Daniel. They know they will not find any corruption in Daniel so a plan is concocted in order for Daniel to fail. After the edict, Daniel goes home, like he always does, opens his window like he always does, and begins to pray to the God of Jerusalem like he always did. We are told right here in Daniel 6 that three times each day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed to God. Daniel gave thanks to his God. As far as Daniel was concerned, there was no edict for Daniel that could stop him from praying to God.
Even when Daniel learned that the decree had been ordered and published and enacted, he went home to his upstairs room where his windows were opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
I like these words, “just as he had done before.” If we were really in this story, we would know that we could count on one thing: Daniel would go home three times each day and pray. This wasn’t just a pattern with Daniel, this was a lifestyle.
The outside world may have been changing, but God had not changed, and Daniel was not going to allow his relationship to God to change regardless of the shifting circumstances.
What about you? Is your outside world changing? I think we can learn a lot from this story. Despite our changing outside world, we can not allow our relationship with God to be changed regardless of the circumstances. We can learn from Daniel how to be faithful and true.
Are there shifting circumstances in our world? You bet. It’s been a year since the pandemic started and our world has changed. Our circumstances have changed. What about you? Has your God changed, too? Or have you remained faithful to God—no mater whether you go to church or worship from home? What would be your response if the government issued the same sort of decree today? “Everyone must bow down to the golden statue.” (We all have a golden statue. We do. We either resist the temptation to bow down and let it control our lives or we bow down. We have much to learn from Daniel today.)
Daniel knew that, no matter what, his God would be with him. He had heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He knew the stories of deliverance of his people. He knew about their former slavery in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the cloud by day and fire at night to guide his ancestors. Daniel knew his history and Daniel knew the truth. His circumstances may have been changing but his God remained the same. “Daniel did what he had always done.” Daniel went home and bowed before the one, true King and, soon after, he was confronted by his enemies: surrender, stop praying to your God and pray to King Darius alone or else.
I came across this illustration the other day and thought of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.
Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.
For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.
Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she had escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant — everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.
The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on that January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.
Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced more attacks except for the folly of one of the bullies. He had filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.
A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.
Unbeknownst to him the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.
Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.”
Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number. He told Khoury to call him if he needed him. From that day forward, Khoury has been a phone call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.
Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection? [i]
(Here is the link to a YouTube video of Nadin and the Philadelphia Eagles https://youtu.be/_O4eipeoh78)
Do you know something? God gives us this very same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted them in his epistle:
“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV
In closing, I want to share a story. When my wife and I had just moved to California in 1999, we had to bring our van in for engine work. Being new in town, we asked around and found the shop. (Rochelle is a city of 10,000 people. When we left, there were two stop lights in town. Upland had 77,000 people and was surrounded by a sea of suburbs. Finding a new mechanic, new doctors, new friends–all intimidating tasks when you’re new in town.) Anyway, we dropped our van. As you may recall, we are that family that names their vehicles. This van was 7 years old, and had over 350,000 miles on it. We got her when the kids were still in school. We named our van, FAITHFUL AND TRUE BLUE. She was the car we drove through my seminary years, and through our first two church calls. When we went to pick up our van, there was a homeless guy sitting on the curb by the van. The new California plates read GKG with numbers. Jac, my wife, would always say as we climbed into “faithful and true”, “Let’s go serve the Great Kingdom of God, Dave!” We paid our bill and started to get into our car. Wait, the homeless guy. We talked for a bit. I asked if he was hungry (he was) and walked to the local burger joint next door. Jac stayed with the van and the homeless guy started chatting with her. He told her, “You know, you guys serve the great kingdom of God? Your van is faithful and true–just like you.” I delivered the meal. We drove away. Jac told me what the guy had said and asked me to go back. We’d been gone 3 minutes and the guy was nowhere to be found. You see, we were missing home. We had been exiled to Southern California! Our nearest family was 2,000 away. Everything was so new in this land of Oz. As we drove away, I told Jac that God had reconfirmed a promise from the bible: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”
That’s my prayer for you today that somehow, someway you will know that you know that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU.
It’s the theme of our Lenten journey: GOD WITH US. GOD WITH ME.
By the way, God’s cell phone number is JEREMIAH 33:3–put it on speed dial in your heart:
“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”
A hungry, homeless guy in the middle of our desert? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework. It’s simple but not easy:
AM I FAITHFUL AND TRUE?
You see, Daniel was faithful and true. He never stopped praying to God no matter what the circumstances of his life entailed. We can learn a lot from Daniel today.
See you Sunday!
I’m praying for you!
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!
We have already had one very grim description of the human race in the verses that end Romans 1. There humanity was described as being “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity (see Rom 1:29-31). After a list such as this, we might think unnecessary to catalogue more. Yet, as Paul gets to the end of this first main section of Romans, in which the need of people for the gospel of grace is so clearly and comprehensively pointed out, he seems to sense a need to do it all over again. The difference between this and the passage in Romans 1 is that each of these sentences is a quotation from the Old Testament, whereas the earlier passage was made up merely of the apostle’s own descriptive terminology. In other words, the verses in Romans 1 are a description of the world as Paul saw it, though he is also writing as an apostle and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The verses in Romans 3 are more specifically and obviously God’s own description of the race’s depravity.
Verses 13 and 14 are made up of three quotations from the Old Testament: Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, and Psalm 10:7, though there are other passages that are similar. What is striking about them is that they all refer to organs of speech: throat, tongue, lips, and mouth. And they describe how the words spoken by these organs are used to harm others. In the previous verses we have shown how people harm themselves by turning away from God. Here we learn how they also harm others by the organs of speech that God gave them. What do you think of first when you read these verses? If you are like me, you notice the words cursing and bitterness and think, first of all, of harsh speech, which is meant to wound another person. Yet, what Paul is saying here goes deeper, because the words that describe the outcome of the harmful words of the ungodly all have to do, not with psychological injury, but with death.
We are not to think that this grim description is limited to mere words; in verse 14 the deceitful and poisonous speech of verse 13 boils over into “cursing and bitterness” on those who refuse to be deceived. And in verses 15-17 those who teach falsehood move from words to violent actions. These verses, quoted from Isaiah 59:7-8, describe three acts of violent men, beginning with the end result of these acts. To see the progression, we need to take them in reverse order. (1) “The way of peace they do not know” (v. 17). This relates to people as they are in themselves apart from God. They know no personal peace-“… the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud” (Isa. 57:20). This also describes the effects such persons have upon others. Having no peace themselves, they disrupt the peace of other people. (2) “Ruin and misery mark their ways” (v. 16). Again, this is something wicked persons experience themselves; their way is misery and ruin. It’s also something they bring on others. Without a changed nature, human beings naturally labor to destroy and ruin one another. (3) “Their feet are swift to shed blood” (v. 15). Working backward, we come to the last of these deceitful actions. Their end is death – and not just physical death, though that would be bad enough in itself – but spiritual death, which is death of the soul and spirit in hell. Death means separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul and spirit from God. It’s forever!
The last phrase of this great summary of the human race in ruin is from Psalm 36:1. It tells why all these other violent and wicked acts have happened: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In the Bible the word fear, when used of God, denotes a right and reverential frame of mind before Him. It has to do with worshiping Him, obeying Him, and departing from evil. When Romans 3:18 declares that the human race has not done this, it’s saying what Paul has been stating all along. Because men and women will not know God, choosing rather to suppress the truth about Him, their minds are darkened and they become fools. They claim to be wise but, “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:22).
It’s interesting, that Paul here also refers to “eyes.” This is the sixth of the specific body references Paul makes in these verses in order to make his accusations vivid. Since eyes are our organs of vision, and to have the fear of God before our eyes means that we have God constantly in our thoughts and in a central position in everything that concerns us. It means that we are ever looking toward Him. Again, in discussing man’s downward path, that it is our destiny as those who are made in God’s image to look up to the heavenly beings and beyond them to God and thus become increasingly like God. To have the “fear of God before [our] eyes” is to do just that. It’s the way of all blessing, growth, and knowledge. But if we will not do that, we will inevitably look down and become like the beasts that are below us.
How could our salvation be due to anything but mercy if we are as ruined as Paul describes us? Ruined? Yes! But we may be saved from ruin by the glorious work of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Romans 3:13-18 Reflection Questions:
Why do you think Paul felt the need to quote from the Old Testament in these verses?
What other New Testament passages come to you mind regarding harmful speech?
Are your eyes ever looking toward God throughout your days?