Devotional Thought for Today – 04/07/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part VI

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefDepression.

Like so many other things Christians with enough faith should never get is depressed. At least that was the story we got told about my wife’s condition from a so called well meaning “friend”. Of course, this well-meaning person also was not a doctor and did no investigative questioning before blurting out the statement. I mention this not for sympathy, but to underscore the need for Chaplains and Ministers to make all due diligence in understanding the condition and history of those they are serving. I know with HIPAA this can be daunting but being well informed can greatly help in our care, comfort and counsel process.

I have yet to meet anyone going through the grief process that does not experience Depression in some manner. The obvious signs will usually manifest themselves as feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, and other very detrimental effects that may affect the individual. It is important to note that these can be sublime and hidden in some folks. Again, using my wife, for example, she suffered a stroke due to poisoning before we met. She suffers from depression that is treated with counseling and medication. Her response to loss, like the recent death of her mom, is “I’m alright” even though she clearly was not. Like most folks (estimates as high as 67% of people suffering from depression) She just tries to grin and bear it. My wife because of her medical condition processes things differently and we (chaplains/ministers) need to be on the alert for this and any out of the “ordinary” situation and know when we are in over our heads. Here is a good list of types of depression.

So, what is depression? First depression is not just being sad. I lost my wedding band a few months ago, I was sad (even a little afraid of what my wife would say 😀)) but not depressed. Depression is sad on super steroids. It is constant here is the clinical definition:

The clinical definition, based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), is “a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.” This definition excludes grief after mourning.

Before we move on I think it would be helpful reminder to list some of the things that one could encounter as a Chaplain/Minister in the Grief process that could lead to depression:

  • Trauma
  • Painful past experiences (PTSD)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Incarceration
  • Job loss or cut in pay
  • Financial problems
  • Parenting concerns and raising respectful, resilient kids
  • Loss
  • Life-changing illness
  • Marriage/relationship issues

The second thing to note about depression is that is often MISDIAGNOSED. Far too often healthcare professionals and Chaplains/Ministers are quick to say someone who has experienced one of these issues is depressed. Many times they are simply melancholy, which means intense sadness but a far cry from clinically depressed.

Another thing that might surprise some is that stage 2 (ANGER) can rear its ugly head here again. Let me explain, folks can socially withdraw a clear sign of depression setting in, if you try and force them out of that they can become hostile. Other symptoms of Grief/Depression include:

  • Can’t concentrate or think straight
  • Restless and anxious
  • Poor appetite/ Weight loss
  • Sad demeanor
  • Dreams of the deceased or even talks to them
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Can think of nothing but the loss, illness, or event…
  • Makes up reasons for the loss, many don’t make sense
  • Dwells on mistakes, real or imagined, that he or she made with the deceased

The last thing I have learned about this stage of Grief counseling is in this stage of Depression, where folks begin to address feelings that have been put off (consciously or unconsciously) such as abandonment, helplessness, loneliness, fear, despair, agony, etc. These are things that they did not look at during the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining.

I am not a professional Licensed Christian Counselor/Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist, if dealing with my wife’s condition has taught me anything, it is I need to be involved and I need to leave much of that stuff to the professionals.

The Tree Planted By Streams of Living Water (Psalm 1) - YouTube

Psalm 1:1-3

As the Psalm says, we can be that care comfort, and wise counsel of the Lord’s Law to those who are in need. I am convinced it is here that Chaplains/Ministers can have the greatest impact. Again offering the care, comfort, and (compassionate) counsel that God has called us to do.

Devotional Thought for Today – 27 March 2021

Death and the Christian

Matthew Henry quote: He whose head is in heaven need not fear to...
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2 Corinthians2 Corintios 5:5 5:5

Over the past few months our family has experienced the death of family members and dear friends. While we can and should mourn their deaths, we also need to look at these events from a Biblical and practical standpoint.

In some cases the individuals were sick and suffering, in other cases the sudden loss was from an accident or in one case a random act of violence. In all but one of these deaths I, was able to provide comforting words to the families because I was convinced the individual was a true believer. For some it was that they were no longer suffering and were as the Bible promises ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord.’ For others we can not begin to explain why things happen, why the guy ran a red light, but we can find comfort in knowing God is in complete control and His ways are always greater and wiser than ours.

The great preach Charles Spurgeon had much to say on the Subject of death having preached many a sermon on the matter. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes of his:

1. “To be prepared to die is to be prepared to live.”

2. “It is the very joy of this earthly life to think that it will come to an end.”

3. “The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven.”

4. “The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church.”

5. “If I do not think of death, yet death will think of me.”

6. “It is not a loss to die, it is a lasting, perpetual gain.”

7. “Let us learn to hold loosely our dearest friends. Let us love them, but let us always learn to love them as dying things.”

8. “It is a grand thing to see a man dying full of life.”

9. “He who learns to die daily while he lives will find it no difficulty to breathe out his soul for the last time.”

10. “All the glories of midday are eclipsed by the marvels of sunset.”

Today’s Prayer

Pray for the Grace Needed to Die Well

We must pray for grace to deliver us from death* and to carry us well through our dying moments.

Lord, make us know our end and what is the measure of our days; let us know and consider how fleeting we are, that our days are as a few handbreadths and all mankind stands as a mere breath! Psalm 39:4-5(ESV) Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 1 Chronicles 29:15(ESV)

Lord, so teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12(ESV) and make us to discern our latter end! Deuteronomy 32:29(ESV)

Lord, make us always ready, dressed for action with our lamps burning, Luke 12:35(ESV) for the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect. Luke 12:40(ESV)

Keep us all the days of our service, waiting till our renewal comes; and then shall you call, and we will answer. Job 14:14-15(ESV)

Bring us to our grave like a sheaf gathered up in its season; Job 5:26(ESV) satisfy us with life, whether it be long or short, and show us your salvation. Psalm 91:16(ESV)

And when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, be with us, that we may fear no evil; let your rod and your staff comfort us. Psalm 23:4(ESV)

Let goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life, and let us dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6(ESV) May steadfast love and faithfulness be with us. 2 Samuel 15:20(ESV)

Ransom our souls from the power of Sheol, and receive us; Psalm 49:15(ESV) guide us with your counsel, and afterward receive us into glory. Psalm 73:24(ESV)

MATTHEW HENRY’S “METHOD FOR PRAYER”

* We must all die (save those alive when the Lord comes), so the author directs us to ask for deliverance not from the inevitable fact of death, but from the fear and power of death. Editor.

OTHER RESOURCES

A Believer’s Last Day, His Best Day – Thomas Brooks

Mortality – Christians Need Not Fear Death by J I Packer

What does the Bible say about death? GotQuestions.org

What Does the Bible Say About Death And Dying? 100+ Bible verses

Devotional Thought for Today – 01/15-2021

1 Corinthians 15:29–58 (NIV) - 1 Corinthians 15:29–58 NIV - Now if there  is… | Biblia

1 Corinthians 15:50-58


This text v.50-58 is certainly about the resurrection.  I am focused today on v.55-57 specifically because my wife’s mom, Fela went home to be with the Lord this morning. 

Fela loved God and was ever ready to praise the Lord. She had been very ill the past few years and was ready to be, as Paul said, absent from the body and present with the Lord. 

Two important lessons here, First, death has no real sting, we can and should morn not her passing but the loss we feel. For secondly,  she has won the Victory! No more pain, no more suffering, she is rejoicing with her Lord and Savior tonight in Glory.

So today I ask you to rejoice with me in the vicorious life that was Fela Ortiz Dones and pray for all the family and friends that will miss her infectious smile. 

Devotional Thought for Today – 12/08/2020

Lord Make Me To Know My End (Psalm 39:4-6) - YouTube

PSALM 39


CONTEXT: This individual lament psalm focuses on the brevity of human life. The psalmist suffers because of sin (see note on 38:title–22note on 38:11). He intended to remain silent but was unable to do so (vv. 1–3). He emphasizes the brevity of life and prays for Yahweh to reveal when he will die (vv. 4–6). He affirms his trust in Yahweh and asks Him for deliverance (vv. 7–8). The psalmist attributes his suffering to Yahweh’s discipline (vv. 9–11) and asks Yahweh to hear him and turn His discipline away (vv. 12–13). – Faithlife Study Bible 


Why is it David is petitioning God for here in v.4 Lord, let me know my [life’s] end… ”  at first glance it seems he wants to inside tract on when he is doomed so he can plan to live a full life prior to that.  I think that is what most folks would do, if they found out they were going to die Dec 8th 2030 they would party hardy up till just before then, some until 11:59 pm on the 7th.

But David (and all wise men) had other ideas he finishes v.4 with; And [to appreciate] the extent of my days; Let me know how frail I am [how transient is my stay here].  He is in effect saying, God I need you to show me how really frail and weak I really am. 

Remember this is KING DAVID, oh that all leaders would be so wise. Toi know and understand the limits of there power the true fragility of their existence and the sovereignty of God.  May we all pray they come to their senses. 


Related Resource:

“Wise Christians Clip Obituaries”

Death vs. Life

1 Corinthians 15:22 In Adam All Die In Christ All Made Alive (brown)

CONTEXT:

Yesterday in our devotional Blame Game we can trace the history of blaming others back to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:12-13). But the consequences of their actions were far greater than that, instead of peace and good health with eternal life in the Garden of Eden they brought about sin, disease, and DEATH. Genesis 3:16-19.

Here in 1st Corinthians Chapter 15 the Apostle Paul begins by laying out the facts of Christ’s resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. He then proceeds to make the argument that if Christ has resurrected so too shall there be a resurrection of the dead 1 Corinthians 15:12-34. It is in the middle of this I wish to pull our text for today and explore God’s Holy word. 


1 Corinthians 15:19-22 

If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (ESV)

Si en esta vida solamente esperamos en Cristo, somos los más dignos de conmiseración de todos los hombres. 20 Mas ahora Cristo ha resucitado de los muertos; primicias de los que durmieron es hecho. 21 Porque por cuanto la muerte entró por un hombre, también por un hombre la resurrección de los muertos. 22 Porque así como en Adán todos mueren, también en Cristo todos serán vivificados. (RVR 1960)


v.19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, 

There was and still are cults that claim to be “christian” or claim some level of christian faith but deny the full deity and resurrection of Christ. Their desire or better put reason for being associated with Christ is worldly gain. 

The second category and the one Paul is more likely writing about is all those who claim to be Christians, suffer for being so (remember Paul’s hardships) yet have no hope of eternal life.

we are of all people most to be pitied.

If either case is true of man what is left of them but to pity them? In the first man will live out his days and gain nothing for the Kingdom Matthew 6:19–21. In Paul’s case he would have willingly suffered for no reason at all for his hope was a lie. The original Greek here, eleeinoteroi, meaning pitiful or miserable combined with The whole of every kind of man.

v.20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,

Okay, here are the facts, Christ has risen from the dead Matthew 28:6 so our hope is not in vain not to be pitied.

the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 

Firstfruits were the first of the harvest offered to God by the Jewish people. By using this term Paul insures the reader understand that Christ is the first of many believers to follow in God’s harvest of His chosen.

v.21  For as by a man came death, 

Remember it was Adam who brought sin and death into the world for all mankind. For anyone out there who is a naysayer claiming that’s not fair, why should I pay for something or be held accountable for something some guy did 6000+ years ago? If you look deeply at your true nature (apart from Christ) you know you would have done the same thing. 

by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead

Jesus is the ONLY way, there is no other to eternal life.

v.22  For as in Adam all die,

Adam brought death, despair and helplessness into the world. A man of sorrows to be pitied

so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Jesus brought comfort, hope and Life to all who believe upon him as Lord and Savior.

CONCLUSION:

Are you to be pitied, is your hope in this life only today? Or are you to be counted among the saints born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven(1 Peter 1:3-4 ESV). 

 

Daily Devotion – God’s Love Never Fails

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2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; 9 hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; (AMP)

que estamos atribulados en todo, mas no angustiados; en apuros, mas no esesperados; 9 perseguidos, mas no desamparados; derribados, pero no destruidos; (RVR 1960)

As always we need to start with some context. Paul in writing a second time to the church at Corinth begins this part of his letter, Chapter 4:1-6 with a continuation of the previous chapter. He makes it abundantly clear that he and his fellow laborers preach Christ and Christ alone. It is not now nor will it ever be about himself. 

I consider verse 7 a set up verse. To use a baseball analogy, a pitcher will use one pitch to set up another to get a strike out. Here Paul uses the content of v.7 to set up our main text for today. He says v.7: But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves. The message of Christ alone must be delivered in and by this frail human body so that the power and glory of God may be manifested to all. So what does that mean for us, simple put our frailties mean we will at times suffer. But through it all God is there with us. Which brings us to our main text: 

We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed: In the Greek it says “being pressed hard” which is different from totally or completely crushed. We will experience times in our lives when things just seem to being in total chaos, but know that God is there. 

perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair: We have all been there, a point in our lives when we stop and say how in the world did I get here? Then we ask the question how can I get out of this mess I am in? Note what Paul says here that no matter the circumstance, no matter the depth of the mess God has a way out and we are not {to be} driven to despair.

hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]: Jesus made it clear Matthew 5:10, Luke 6:22, Mark 10:29-30 that true believers and Gospel workers would endure persecution. Does that mean everyone will be hunted down, jailed, beaten, etc. No of course not, everyone will experience different levels of hate and evil against them but all who are truly working for God’s Glory Alone (Sola Deo Gloriawill undergo some persecution. If not they are probably not working for the right king or kingdom. 

The second part of this phrase is critical to our Faith as Christians. Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes but not deserted that is we never have [to stand alone]. Again the bible makes it clear that God will never leave us or forsake us in times of trouble Deuteronomy 31:8, Matthew 28:20, Philippians 4:6-7Hebrews 13:6. 

God’s Love Never Fails and he is always there for us. In fact Paul in writing to the Romans reminded them of the same thing Romans 8:35-39 asking Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Most answer no one and nothing. The correct answer is only ourselves and our unrepentant sin. 

struck down, but never destroyed: This one is a hard pill to swallow for some, how can a loving God allow some of His children to be struck down?  Again the Greek word here clearly means struck down as with a arrow in the hunt. Some of God’s Gospel workers will be persecuted unto death. BUT, praise God, they are never destroyed; for they may be gone from their earthly body but they are eternally with the Lord;Death 2 Corinthians 5:6-8  So then, being always filled with good courage and  confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]— 8 we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

In closing, we as believers must understand that persecution is coming and that God will always stand beside us. Our best defense is a strong offense, that is to be armed with the knowledge of the Word of God (Sola Scripura).

 

 

 

Only one way to Victory

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Where O Death is Your Victory? (also see Isaiah 57:1-2)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible

Verses 51-58

All the saints should not die, but all would be changed. In the gospel, many truths, before hidden in mystery, are made known. Death never shall appear in the regions to which our Lord will bear his risen saints. Therefore let us seek the full assurance of faith and hope, that in the midst of pain, and in the prospect of death, we may think calmly on the horrors of the tomb; assured that our bodies will there sleep, and in the mean time our souls will be present with the Redeemer. Sin gives death all its hurtful power. The sting of death is sin; but Christ, by dying, has taken out this sting; he has made atonement for sin, he has obtained remission of it. The strength of sin is the law. None can answer its demands, endure its curse, or do away his own transgressions. Hence terror and anguish. And hence death is terrible to the unbelieving and the impenitent. Death may seize a believer, but it cannot hold him in its power. How many springs of joy to the saints, and of thanksgiving to God, are opened by the death and resurrection, the sufferings and conquests of the Redeemer! In 1 Corinthians 15:58, we have an exhortation, that believers should be stedfast, firm in the faith of that gospel which the apostle preached, and they received. Also, to be unmovable in their hope and expectation of this great privilege, of being raised incorruptible and immortal. And to abound in the work of the Lord, always doing the Lord’s service, and obeying the Lord’s commands. May Christ give us faith, and increase our faith, that we may not only be safe, but joyful and triumphant.

 

Are we a People to be Pitied?

WISHING RESURRECTION SUNDAY BLESSINGS FROM ALL OF US AT FAITHFUL STEWARD AND FAITH BUILDERS MINISTRIES TO ALL OF YOU AND YOURS.

Logos.com

Image Source

Christ is risen! Hallelujah

Christ is risen! Hallelujah!

Risen our victorious Head;

Sing His praises; Hallelujah!

Christ is risen from the dead.

Gratefully our hearts adore Him,

As His light once more appears;

Bowing down in joy before Him,

Rising up from griefs and tears.

C

Christ is risen: Hallelujah!

Risen our victorious Head;

Sing His praises; Hallelujah!

Christ is risen from the dead.

2

Christ is risen! All the sadness

Of His earthly life is o’er;

Through the open gates of gladness

He returns to life once more;

Death and hell before Him bending,

He doth rise the Victor now,

Angels on His steps attending,

Glory round His wounded brow.

3

Christ is risen! Henceforth never

Death nor hell shall us enthrall;

We are Christ’s, in Him forever

We have triumphed over all;

All the doubting and dejection

Of our trembling hearts have ceased,

’Tis His day of resurrection;

Let us rise and keep the feast.

SOURCE

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged – Also known as JamiesonFausset and Brown

VERSE 19

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most robe pitied-namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial, and after all are doomed to disappointment in our cherished hope; for our salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on Christ’s resurrection,without which His death would not avail us (Ephesians 1:19-201 Peter 1:3). The pagan are “without hope” (Ephesians 2:121 Thessalonians 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (1 Corinthians 4:9). The immortality of the soul apart from the body is not in Scripture made our hope, but in connection with the raised body.

Verse 20

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Now – as the case really is.

And become. Omitted in ‘Aleph (‘) A B Delta G f g, Vulgate.

The first-fruits – the earliest and most costly, and so consecrated to God; the earnest that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. An appropriate image, for this letter was written about the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7): the day after the Passover Sabbath was that for offering else first-fruits (Leviticus 23:10-11); the same was the day of Christ’s resurrection (Colossians 1:18Revelation 1:5).

“What does the Bible say about abortion?”

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Answer: The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion. However, there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is…

Simply put, abortion is murder. It is the killing of a human being who is created in the image of God

Read the Whole Article at: https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html

PURITAN QUOTE(S) FOR TODAY – 20 & 21 June

PREVAILING PRAYER

I will not let thee go, except thou bless thee – Genesis 32:26

It is a sweet saying of one. ‘O Lord, I come to thee; but by thee, I will never go from thee, without thee.’ – Thomas Brooks

All the prayers in scripture you will find to be reasoning with God, not a multitude of words heaped together. – Stephen Charnock

DEATH OF CHRIST AND SIN

Our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with – Romans 6:6 (R.V.)

If Christ had not died, sin had never died in any sinner unto eternity. – John Owen

All are not saved by Christ’s death, but all that are saved are saved by Christ’s death. – Henry Smith

Taken from: The Puritans Day by Day © The Banner of Truth Trust 2016

Check out our Faithful Steward Ministry Facebook page and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones excellent, “Walking with God”, daily devotional. The topics are A DEEPER KNOWLEDGE OF GOD and THE PRAYER FOR POWER