Yesterday in Youth Bible Study I taught on "Death and Dying". At first glance this sounds like a depressing topic! However, as we got in to the Word and discovered a Biblical perspective on death and dying we quickly learned that hope is around every corner and in every word of Scripture.
Here's a recap of the main points:
1. Contrary to popular belief or the ideas represented in the theme song to the Lion King ("The Circle of Life"), death is NOT a "natural" part of life. In fact, death was not a part of God's original plan, nor will it be a part of His final plan. Death is a consequence of sin and the Fall, and understanding that truth makes the pain we feel when confronted with death make far more sense. See 1 Cor. 15:21-22, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23.
2. Again, contrary to what pop culture thinks is "in" right now regarding the afterlife, when we die we don't go to purgatory or limbo, we don't become ghosts and wander the earth, we're not annihilated, reincarnated, or anything like that. When we die, we go straight to God and face judgement. At that point, considering we're all sinners before God, it's a pretty good idea to have a relationship with Jesus, as He will claim you as His own! See Heb. 9:27, Rom. 3:23, John 3:16
3. As Christians, it is okay for us to experience the full range of emotions God gave us and mourn for loved ones - Jesus did - as long as we maintain our Biblical perspective on death and dying and profess faithfully the hope we have over death in Jesus. See John 11:35.
There may be some things that seem surprising to you when you begin to understand a Biblical perspective on death and dying. What doesn't sit well with you? What suddenly makes all the sense in the world? What lingering questions do you still have? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I thought in light of last night's message at youth group - "Live in the Living Word" - that I would post links to some of my favorite youth Bibles. Check them out!
LIVE delivers easy-to-understand NLT text and hundreds of relevant opportunities to respond to God's Word right on the spot. Illustrations are by teenagers, for teenagers. Brief devotions and challenges peppered through the Bible invite honest, open responses.
Click here to check out the Live Bible!
Like the acclaimed Apologetics Study Bible that has sold 115,000+ copies, the Apologetics Study Bible for Students will anchor younger Christians in the truths of Scripture by equipping them with thoughtful and practical responses for whenever the core issues of their faith and life are challenged.Click here to check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students! Packed with personal notes, cool quizzes, challenging insights, smart advice, and open discussion about life today, True Images is the Bible for real teenage girls with real lives. This revised edition features the same relevant features with updated content, a new interior design, and a new cover.Click here to check out the True Images Bible!
In addition, here are a couple devotional Bibles that are great for students who are looking for a way to get in to a regular daily routine of reading the Word!
The great thing about the One Minute Bible for Students is that you will never again get stuck in Leviticus for forty years. The One Minute Bible for Studentsmoves you through the entire Bible—from Creation to the return of Jesus—in just ONE YEAR!Click here to check out The One Minute Bible for Students! The Message Remix: Solo revolves around lectio divina, or "divine reading," an ancient approach to exploring Scripture updated for today's students. Each devotion delivers a unique, contemplative study that will encourage you to uncover biblical wisdom and revelations as you learn to read without the typical limitations that often cut Bible reading short.Click here to check out Solo!
This is adapted from a Bible Study I recently taught middle and high school students on Matthew 6:9-13 - The Lord's Prayer.
You should pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” - Matthew 6:9-13 (HCSB)
1: Prayer reintroduces us to God.
“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.”
When we pray like Jesus taught us to it reminds us of Who God is. When we direct our thoughts and affections toward Him in worship and prayer, we are introduced anew to the only One who is worthy of receiving such attentions. Our tendency to forget Who He is from moment to moment (evident in our lives through doubt, worry, sin, and inaction) necessitates our reintroduction to “our Father in heaven” Whose very Name is to “be honored as holy.” Prayer puts us into His presence, awakening us again to the reality of God’s true identity as Creator, Sustainer, Almighty, our Father, the Holy One.
2: Prayer realigns our priorities.
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
If we follow Jesus’ model of prayer it means that we assent to God’s Kingdom and His will having supreme priority in our lives. It is impossible to pray this sort of prayer and remain selfish. Maintaining a consistent prayer life that is centered on asking God for His plan and His purpose to be lived out in our lives removes any delusions we may have that this life is all about us. When we pray in earnest we are moved to work less on our little kingdoms and more on the Kingdom that is coming and is now already here.
3: Prayer reassures us of God’s providence.
“Give us today our daily bread.”
Prayers for “our daily bread” can cause one to wonder why some who pray earnestly still go hungry or without the necessities and comforts that many of us enjoy. A student of Scripture quickly realizes though that the bread that sustains is the body and blood of Jesus – ultimately our communion with Him. “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:35) Prayer reassures us of God’s provision of His Son who is with us “always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
4: Prayer reemphasizes grace.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
At the center of Jesus’ redemptive relationship with mankind is His intrinsic nature of grace. One simply cannot know and have fellowship with Jesus Christ without having an experience of and an intimate knowledge of His grace. However, we quickly forget the mercies that were extended to us and thus fail to extend them to others. Praying like Jesus brings us to the recollection that we are sinful people who need forgiveness every day of our lives and have it through the grace of our Lord.
*Note that Jesus’ prayer is presumptive in that we are to have already forgiven our debtors. Having lingering conflict or relational strife in our lives is a detriment to our prayer lives and Jesus taught us that as we come to our Father in prayer it should be so under the condition that have at the very least attempted reconciliation with those who have, as some translations say, “sinned against us.” "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24.
5: Prayer redirects the way we live.
“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
When we pray like Jesus taught us to, it helps to put our lives on a different course than the one our sinful nature or our enemy would otherwise lead us to. The heart that pleads to God to be delivered from sin and Satan – who “roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8) – is one that God is faithful to redirect away from the temptations both within and outside of us. The Christian who is faithful to pray to God for deliverance from sin is the one who quickly learns that when we are faced with temptation God always provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13).
6: Prayer recasts the lead role in the story.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Finally, prayer forces us to remove the spotlight from ourselves and place it on to the One who is truly worthy of it. The most appropriate form of prayer is the kind that literally “puts us in our place”. When God’s people will “humble themselves” and pray, then God truly “hears them from Heaven” (2 Chron. 7:14). The throne in every man’s heart that is reserved to seat the King of Heaven and earth is always under threat of being taken over by “self”, but to pray as Jesus taught us continually replaces or secures the true King upon the throne. It reminds us that the story we are living in is not our own and neither are we the stars of it, but His is the glory forever!
So this week Trisha and I both headed back to work, me full-time (I'd already been back part-time for several weeks) and her part-time for the next couple months.
I know it's going to be hard - a big adjustment for both of us - but it CAN be done! I'll be bringing GGB with me to church in the mornings while Trisha goes to work, and then I'll drop him off to her at lunchtime and she'll have some mommy-time in the afternoons with him.
Check out the picture above of my new workspace. Do you think I'll be able to be productive? :)
- Tim B.