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Week 4 October 2023, Devotion Part 2

And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and wizards who chirp and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Isaiah 8:19

The Bible demands that we ponder their spiritual validity, no matter how compelling the similarities of such tales. Take decaying Lazarus, stinkingly, not just “clinically,” dead. Restored to life, he did not go on the lecture circuit. Instead, Lazarus quietly continued to relish his Lord’s nearness and instruction. The Apostle Paul was caught up into Paradise – “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” – but was forbidden to speak about it. Furthermore, his “abundance of revelation” was checked by the thorn in the flesh that resulted in the famous line, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Paul never tired of boasting of this grace that perfected Jesus Christ’s strength in his weakness. Of Him he testified that He “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). Every other light shed on the subject is suspect, “for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). (Part 2 of 2)

Comment: Speaking of “light,” could there be a lighter side to the subject of going to heaven? “You have to die first,” said the kid in Sunday school. With our Swiss families far away, Fred and I happily converted local friends and neighbors into proxy relatives. The day after Thanksgiving 1972, the doctor told Grandma Kit she was beyond medical help. So Grandpa Les had us come to the hospital. His wife drifted in and out of sleep, and at one point her much older husband delivered a brief, amazingly touching speech. “Kit, you have long been my best friend and much-loved wife who has suffered much too long and fought hard. I give you my permission to let go of all that holds you back from going to sleep and waking up in pain free peace.” So we all waited with bated breath for her to die, but try as she might, she couldn’t. At one point she roused herself to say quite indignantly, “God, if you don’t take me right now, I’m going to pee in my pants.” We left the hospital quite unable to hold back the laughter. I spent Saturday night at Kit’s bedside, found out she was scared to death of dying, held her hand and prayed with her. After that she fell into a coma and died in my presence 3 days later. Would you believe me if I said that I have mentally “rehearsed” my own demise? You get my drift if you read the story of Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7. His sermon that caused him to be stoned to death tells us the caliber of this valiant man of faith. The key verses in 7:55-56 tell you and me how we can emulate the confidence that the dying Stephen modeled. “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” His focus was not on the murderous mob or the stones that tore at his flesh. Stephen rejoiced in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the reality of his living Savior ready to receive him into His Father’s glorious presence. Isaiah 8


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