Thursday, April 9, 2015

For Praise

Good morning!

After my devotional time this morning I am going to travel across town to attend a funeral.  A friend, a man I've known for over 25 years, went to be with his Savior suddenly, on Easter Sunday morning. He leaves behind a godly wife and three beautiful, vivacious, loving daughters.  It was my pleasure to minister in their lives for several years.  I am attending the funeral in an effort to comfort them, but also to honor the life of this man of God.  He would have said, though, that all the honor and glory and praise belong to Jesus Christ, his Savior and mine.

In Galatians 1:10, Paul says this:

Do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

The Galatians had been led into heresy because they respected the Christian leaders from (most likely) Jerusalem who visited Galatia to disciple them.  They were, no doubt, intimidated into combining their pure faith with a bunch of dead actions to try to manufacture their own salvation. They were seeking not only to please God, but also to please "men" (or "other people").

Paul is not advocating that we as Christians go out of our way to be unpleasant or obstructionist or unloving.  However, he is pointing out that there are times when it is costly to hold firm to the truth that is in Christ Jesus.  He is giving a personal example by stating flatly that he would not be so totally devoted to serving Jesus Christ if he had let the opinions of others influence his decision.  There is no doubt that Paul's conversion stood the Jewish community of Jerusalem as well as the budding Christian community of Jerusalem on their respective ears!  He most likely "caught flack" from both camps.  Predicting this could be why he went to Arabia for three years, right after his few, early days of Christian walk in Damascus.

Jesus Christ wants his church to be unified.  We read about the unity of the believers in John 17 and in other places in the New Testament.  However, with the unbelieving world the opposite is true. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to be like unbelievers, to have deep fellowship with unbelievers, to marry unbelievers, etc.  And why not?  Because the basic foundational principles of living life are for the Christian radically different than those of unbelievers.  The two world views are incompatible!

When, like my friend, we come to the portal - - - that place where we are moved from this life into the next, we believers in Jesus Christ will go immediately to be with Him.  The only praise we should seek, both now and then, is His "Well done, My Beloved, Faithful Servant!"  Any other praise is a distant second, merely second-best.

If, when it is my turn, whenever that is, I want you to know where I will be.  Beyond what the Bible says about salvation, I don't try to judge another person's heart.  I can't tell you for certain whether a person has been redeemed, converted, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ or not.  For sure, each person knows in his or her heart whether that has occurred.  I can, however, testify about my own state.  I have no doubt at all where I will spend eternity, because I stand on the promises of my Savior and His finished work for me (and for anyone who believes!)

I hope that, at my funeral service, the minister will boldly proclaim the gospel - - - the beauty and majesty and glory of my LORD, Jesus, and that an invitation will be given to allow those attending to make a decision to accept Jesus as their Savior too.  If there are any words of comfort given to my loved ones, I hope that they will be merely that I loved Jesus first of all, loved my family next and then loved others so much that I wanted desperately for as many as possible to choose Jesus.

My brother in Jesus, Dan, now dwells in the presence of His Savior, forever.  He has gone on before me.  One day, I will see him again and together we will praise our Savior, the One and Only, whom we so dearly love!

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.

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