Life and Death

I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid. Genesis 50:24

I will never forget sitting at the bedside of my friend’s brother when he died; the scene was one of the ordinary visited by the extraordinary. Three of us were talking quietly when we realized that Richard’s breathing was becoming more labored. We gathered around him, watching, waiting, and praying. When he took his last breath, it felt like a holy moment; the presence of God enveloped us in the midst of our tears over a wonderful man dying in his forties.

Many of the heroes of our faith experienced God’s faithfulness when they died. For instance, Jacob announced he would soon be “gathered to [his] people” (Gen. 49:29–33). Jacob’s son Joseph also announced his impending death: “I am about to die,” he said to his brothers while instructing them how to hold firm in their faith. He seems to be at peace, yet eager that his brothers trust the Lord (50:24).

We can believe the promise that Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

None of us knows when or how we will breathe our last breath, but we can ask God to help us trust that He will be with us. We can believe the promise that Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:2–3).

Lord God, Your dwelling place will be with Your people, and You will be our God, wiping away our tears and banishing death. May it be so!

The Lord will never abandon us, especially at the time of our death.

INSIGHT:Genesis, the book of beginnings, concludes with important endings. At the beginning of chapter 50, we find one of the Old Testament’s greatest examples, Joseph, weeping over the death of his father, Jacob. The chapter ends with Joseph’s death and burial. In between, three key events take place. First, Joseph takes his father’s remains back to Canaan to their familial home. This marks Joseph’s first return to the land since the dark days of Genesis 37, when his brothers sold him into slavery. Second, Joseph reassures them of his love and forgiveness by affirming God’s purposes and his own desire to care for his brothers and their families (50:19–21). Third, Joseph, anticipating death, again reminds the Israelites of their proper home in Canaan by asking that they take his bones to be buried in the land of promise. These ideas prepare the way for the exodus—God’s eventual rescue of Israel from bondage in Egypt more than 400 years later.

Knowing the Heart of God

Deuteronomy 4:29

People long to be understood. We appear to have many acquaintances, but we all have a deep need to feel truly known by those we love most. This is because we were created in God’s image—He is a relational being who desires for His children to know and understand Him.

Just as you don’t want to be known for only the superficial details of who you appear to be, it’s not enough to simply know about the Lord. He wants us to learn how He thinks and feels, what’s important to Him, and what His purposes are. Of course, it’s impossible for man to completely know the mind of the Creator of the universe. Isaiah 55:9 tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” The depth and breadth of His mind are far too great for us to grasp fully.

However, we can better understand God’s heart and character by seeking Him and learning daily from His Word. If we truly desire to walk in His ways, we must first genuinely know Him. We come to know our friends better by sharing more experiences together. Similarly, we will also understand God better the longer we walk with Him and meditate on what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible.

God wants you to seek Him with all your heart, and He promises that when you do, you will find Him (Jer. 29:13). So, the next time you’re feeling a need to be better understood, turn to the One who understands you perfectly. Even more importantly, ask the Lord to help you know Him better.

Satan’s Proposition

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 1:9-11)

Satan acknowledges the sovereign power of God, whether in pretense or flattery, by conceding that God has “made a hedge” around Job and that He has “blessed the work of his hands.” Satan had the power to do damage (and he does have great power), yet he appears to understand that no damage could be done unless the Creator Himself gave the permission. Even in his blatant disdain for everything God represents, Satan knows that God must withdraw the “hedge” before any “touch” on Job could occur.

The Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:12). So, Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Although God’s “thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways [His] ways” (Isaiah 55:8), He does extend His protective authority on all of His twice-born. “No temptation [has] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Whatever may happen “to them who are the called according to his purpose” in this life, God is overseeing and protecting every moment so that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). HMM III

Adapted from The Book of Beginnings  by Dr. Henry M. Morris III.

“Watch and Pray.”

Exodus 17:8-16

Exodus 17:8

These ferocious wanderers attacked Israel unawares in a cowardly and unprovoked manner, when they were least able to defend themselves. They seem to have been of all Israel’s foes the most wantonly malicious, and hence they are instructive emblems of sin and Satan.

Exodus 17:9

We must fight as well as pray. Though effort without prayer would be presumption, prayer without effort is mockery. Joshua must go to battle as well as Moses to the hill. Jesus said, “Watch and pray.”

Exodus 17:12

Let all of us labour to uphold the prayerfulness of the church, for if that flags all flags. “Lift up the hands that hang down, and confirm the feeble knees.” Spiritual evil can only be overcome by the energy of prayer, and when we fail in devotion, the enemy easily overcomes us.

Exodus 17:13, 14

It has been suggested by a quaint author, that the Lord’s reason for specially commanding this event to be recorded is, that his people may imitate it. We are to fight against sin, and to expect victory over it by God’s help, afforded us in answer to supplication. Our Lord Jesus is both our Joshua to slay our sins, and our Moses to intercede for us against them, and his hands never need upholding. “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” Amalek shall be utterly destroyed, and we shall be for ever freed from sin.

Exodus 17:15

or, the Lord my banner, for the uplifted rod had been as a sacred banner to Israel. Whenever we win victories we ought to bring thank-offerings, and ascribe the glory unto the Lord alone.

Exodus 17:16

We find this war carried on in Saul’s day, and he was bidden to root out the nation.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

On account of the sinfulness of Amalek, as well as its unprovoked hostility to the tribes, the nation was doomed by divine justice to utter extirpation, even as our sins are by divine grace doomed to be crucified with Christ, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Let us read

Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

Deuteronomy 25:17, 18

God will not endure it that his people should be assailed. He counts their injuries as done to himself.

Deuteronomy 25:17, 19

By the aid of the Eternal Spirit let us carry on war to the knife against all sin, whether in ourselves or others. All sins are our deadly foes, with whom we must hold neither truce nor parley. Death to them all, for they all aim at our death, and they were the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus.


While Moses stood with arms spread wide,

Success was found on Israel’s side;

But when through weariness they fail’d,

That moment Amalek prevail’d.


O thou whose hand is stretch’d out still,

Our sinking hands confirm and stay;

While praying for us on the hill,

Fight with us in the plain to-day.


Don’t Get in a Hurry!

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Have you ever wondered, God, how long am I going to have to wait for that promotion I deserve? Is there a reason that the promotion I want keeps getting delayed? What is happening in my life, Lord?

We always seems concerned about making things happen faster, but God doesn’t work in the same time frame we do. There are some things that are more important to God than giving us a promotion when we want it or making sure we get a pay raise when we think we deserve it.

Now, God does reward us for our faithfulness, but sometimes He takes a little longer than we might like to promote us in order to make sure we’re really ready for that next big assignment. It’s hard on the flesh while we wait, yet it is actually the mercy of God at work. You see, during that time of waiting, the imperfections that would have ruined us are exposed so God can remove them. Then He can move us up into the new position with no concern that a hidden flaw will cause us to fall flat on our faces.

We know from Acts 9:20-25 that when Paul first became a Christian, he tried to barge right into a public ministry. But he wasn’t ready for that yet and therefore created some problems and a lack of peace in the Early Church. Although saved and called, he simply wasn’t ready to be promoted into such a visible position of leadership. It was going to take some time for God to prepare Paul for the kind of ministry and anointing he was going to carry in his life.

Paul referred to this process when he wrote to the Thessalonians. He said, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). This verse is packed full of insight regarding Paul’s own experience of being prepared, tested, and finally promoted into his own public ministry.

Notice first that Paul says, “But as we were allowed of God….” The word “allowed” is the Greek word dokimadzo, a word that means to test; to examine; to inspect; to scrutinize; to determine the quality or sincerity of a thing. Because the object scrutinized has passed the test, it can now be viewed as genuine and sincere.

This word dokimadzo was also used to illustrate the test used to determine real and counterfeit coinage. After a scrutinizing test was performed, the bona fide coinage would stand up to the test and the counterfeit would fail. The strictness conveyed by the word dokimadzo is evident by an early use of this word to picture the refining of metal by fire to remove its impurities. First, the metal was placed in a fire that burned at a certain degree of heat; then it was placed in a fire burning at an even higher degree; and finally, it was placed in a blazing fire that burned at the highest degree of all. Three such tests were needed in order to remove from the metal all the unseen impurities that were hidden from the naked eye.

From the viewpoint of the naked eye, the metal probably looked strong and ready to be used even prior to those tests. But unseen defects were resident in the metal that would have shown up later as a break, a fracture, or some kind of malfunction. Before a person could be assured that the metal was free of defects and thus ready to be used, these three purifying tests at three different degrees of blazing hot fire were required. The fire was hot and the process was lengthy, but the tests were necessary in order to achieve the desired result.


Because Paul uses the word dokimadzo, he testifies to us:

“It was a lengthy process and I went through a lot of refining fires to get to this place, but finally I passed the test and God saw that I was genuinely ready….”

So don’t be discouraged if it takes time for your dream to become a reality in your life! God never gets in a hurry, because godly character is more important to Him than gifts, talents, or temporary success in the eyes of other people. He wants to use you, but He also wants you to be ready to be used!

Right now you may need some time to prepare, change, and grow. That way when God finally promotes you, you’ll have what you need both naturally and spiritually to STAY established in that God-ordained position as you fulfill your assignment with excellence.


Lord, thank You for considering my character so carefully. I know that You want to change me and conform me into the image of Jesus more than anything else. I often feel rushed to get things moving, but I know that You are looking to see if I have the character I need so I can successfully do what You’ve called me to do. I yield my heart to You and ask You to do Your work inside me. Change me so You can use me as You wish!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I declare by faith that I am being changed so God can use me to the degree He desires! Yes, I have areas in my life that need to be transformed, but because I renew my mind with the Word of God and spend time in prayer, God is free to work on me and get me ready for the big job He has designed for my life. I know that as I stay open and willing to change, my character WILL be transformed into the image of Jesus so I can complete my task successfully and to the glory of God!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Do you think you’re ready for a big new promotion?
  2. If it seems like your promotion has gotten delayed again and again, do you have any idea why this might be happening?
  3. Are there any areas of weakness in your life that could hinder you once you step into a more visible and demanding role? What are those areas you need to work on?


Is It Possible To Be Highly Knowledgeable And Yet Remain Ignorant Of The Truth

Paul thought so as he observed the religious practices of his day. They are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)


That being the case, let me suggest three reasons as to how this is possible:


1. We are learning too much


Information overload.


Because knowledge spells power and survival, we are continually packing our minds with new information and knowledge. We err, however, if we assume the Holy One will be known in such fashion.


Spiritual truth is revealed to us by the Spirit in moments of quiet and unhurried reflection and contemplation. The seeming slowness of that process is often difficult for us to accept, especially if we are conditioned to stuffing in knowledge through condensed articles, tapes, and other forms of mini information bites.


2. We are learning the wrong “stuff


Much of what we learn lies outside the boundaries of God’s intended knowledge for us, thus polluting the inner springs of our soul.


I want you to be wise in that which is good, and innocent in what is evil.” (Romans 16:19b)


3. We are hindered in our learning by our pride


In their blinding arrogance, the Jews and Greeks demanded of God that He package His truth through the medium of attesting miracles and human wisdom:


For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 1:22)


In response however to their obdurate conceit, God reminded them that He would only be known through humility and brokenness:


Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish (literally: a “moron”) that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18b)


So today, if you sense you are lacking in your knowledge of the God of truth, it may be well to reassess what you are learning and how.



Trial by Fire

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life.  James 1:12

Last winter while visiting a natural history museum in Colorado, I learned some remarkable facts about the aspen tree. An entire grove of slender, white-trunked aspens can grow from a single seed and share the same root system. These root systems can exist for thousands of years whether or not they produce trees. They sleep underground, waiting for fire, flood, or avalanche to clear a space for them in the shady forest. After a natural disaster has cleared the land, aspen roots can sense the sun at last. The roots send up saplings, which become trees.

For aspens, new growth is made possible by the devastation of a natural disaster. James writes that our growth in faith is also made possible by difficulties. “Consider it pure joy,” he writes, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2–4).

Trials and tests can draw us closer to Christ.

It’s difficult to be joyful during trials, but we can take hope from the fact that God will use difficult circumstances to help us reach maturity. Like aspen trees, faith can grow in times of trial when difficulty clears space in our hearts for the light of God to touch us.

Thank You, God, for being with us in our trials, and for helping us to grow through difficult circumstances.

Trials and tests can draw us closer to Christ.

INSIGHT:James says trials will reveal whether our faith is genuine (James 1:3), and will strengthen and mature us (v. 4). The apostle Paul also believed that suffering is beneficial. He said, “we can rejoice . . . when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (Rom. 5:3–5 nlt). Read James 1:12 and consider what’s in store for those who endure testing through faith in Jesus.

Yes, Desires of Your Heart

Psalm 37:4-7

God wants to be the greatest passion of every believer’s life. If we claim to love the Lord, our connection with Him should have priority over possessions, vocation, and even other relationships. Yet we often miss the true message of Psalm 37:4 by assuming the verse means we can get what we want. It’s not uncommon for someone to tell me about a prayer request and then add, “God promised to give me the desires of my heart.” In fact, believers at times are so fixed on an outcome that they take matters into their own hands to “help God out.”

But in context, that scripture reveals the Lord’s principle for purifying our desires and issues a call for devotion to Him. To delight in the Lord means to take pleasure in discovering more about Him and following His will. This leads to the Holy Spirit aligning our heart’s desires with His, which always puts us in position to experience His blessings.

When we commit our way to God, we allow our thoughts, goals, and lifestyle to be shaped by His will and the things He loves. In other words, we acknowledge His right to determine whether our longing fits His plan. If we rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, then we will rely on Him to work out circumstances, even when the desire He’s given us seems impossible. When He is our first love, our hearts become focused on making His glory known in our life.

When we are aligned with His will, our Father wants to give us our heart’s desires—in His time. As we learn to enjoy Him for who He is, our self-focused wants are replaced by His perfect will and purpose for us.

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