Tag Archives: death

Grief and Hope

My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. (Psalm 6:7 ESV)

Suffering comes to all in some form and intensity. People bring upon themselves suffering and pain. Others may cause suffering because of what they believe and their consequent actions. Suffering may happen because of sin from long ago or circumstances far out of the control of those in pain. Suffering may also come because of a person’s relationship with God. This comes from persecution and is called suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus tells us to know we are blessed when we suffer for righteousness’ sake. We usually do not feel blessed.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

We feel weak. Suffering and persecution drains energy, motivation and brings hopelessness and helplessness. Yet, Jesus, in Matthew 5, uses the word blessed twice, often translated happy. The blessing or happiness does not come from the world, which is transient, but from God who is eternal. Fixing one’s attention upon the world and the things of the world can never bring eternal blessing. God gives that which cannot be taken away, available for those who are His, only in eternity with Him.

Still, facing death without hope of continued survival affects the physical body in startling ways. The senses may begin to shut down. Fatigue and lethargy grow, coupled with insomnia. Memory goes as forgetfulness sets in. Brain functions begin to shut down causing sight and hearing problems. Concentration disappears and the person begins missing obvious things happening around them. This is called depression.

Jesus was not depressed. David could have been. Hezekiah could have been. When faced with hopelessness, impending death with no hope of survival, a person may start shutting down physically. Everyone who belongs to God has the eternal hope He offers. Many do not recognize this hope because they are so captivated by the present.

To waste away means to fail or be consumed, to shrink. To grow weak means to advance in age, be removed, or to transcribe or write out one’s feelings at the end of a tumultuous experience. Grief is anger and provocation, frustration, especially with men and with God. Foes are those who cause distress, besiege, bind, press hard upon, are put in a straight and narrow place where there is no turning or fleeing. Enemies, waging war against anyone, will do all they can to besiege and trap, frustrate and stop, cause to fail. There is a war waging between righteousness and unrighteousness. The battleground is the thoughts of the hearts of men.

Hezekiah faced the Assyrians, who had just defeated the Northern Kingdom, driving its people away because of their idolatry. The king of Assyria then turned his attention to Judea and Hezekiah. Jerusalem was surrounded and faced ultimate defeat. The king of Assyria ridiculed and belittled God before the people. Hezekiah sought God and worshipped Him. God miraculously delivered Judea from the attack of the Assyrian. Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would fight for him. “That night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies” (2 Kings 19:35 ESV). Hezekiah knew what God would do for him and the people he ruled who worshipped God. 

Later, when Hezekiah lay dying he became despondent and depressed. He wept and prayed and God answered his prayer by giving him 15 more years of life. Death was Hezekiah’s enemy. He would die but he was young, only 39 years old when he became sick to death. He had great wealth and sought the LORD. But he was afraid to die.Jesus faced death by torture. He was afraid of the process of dying, not of death itself. For death could not hold Him. He knew that once His body died He would be raised from the dead to never again die. He also knew His death would bring many into His eternal kingdom. None would come in without His death and resurrection. Jesus’ eyes became weak and wasted away in death because of His enemy. But, when His eyes would open again in His resurrection, His grief over sin would change to joy and His blessing would come to those who are His. 

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Mourning

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. (Psalm 6:6 ESV)

Emotional duress is more exhausting than physical pain, bringing depression, despondency and even hopelessness. Weary means toil and labor, exhaustion from constant activity. Moaning  means sighing, an expression of grief or distress, to groan. The Psalmist is feeling internal grief because of imminent death. 

As king Hezekiah lay dying, he turned his face to the wall and prayed God would spare his life. “Like a swallow or a crane I chirp; I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!” (Isaiah 38:14 ESV). He was afraid of death and begged God through tears to allow him to live. “‘Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38:3 ESV). After God gave him more years Hezekiah, showed why he was afraid of death. He had great wealth and no concern for his family. He showed off his wealth to the Babylonians. Isaiah prophesied what would happen.

Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:17-20 ESV)

Jesus faced death, setting His face to go to Jerusalem where He knew what would happen and the death He would endure. As He approached Jerusalem, He wept over the city and its people.“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41-42). Wept means to mourn and lament, to bewail, to shed tears as evidence of emotional pain and grief. Jesus felt anguish over the sum total of the act of sacrifice He would offer to God, His Father, for a people who cared nothing for either God or Him. He felt grief for the people, whose eyes and ears were closed and who refused to come to Him, repenting of their sin. Jesus performed signs and miracles and many did not believe Him. In a manner of speaking, Jesus flooded his bed with tears and drench(ed) my (His)couch with my weeping as He lived with and ministered to an obstinate people.

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43 ESV; see Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:14)

Jesus showed His love for His people by dying for them. His weeping over Jerusalem was the release of emotion built over time. Jesus always knew what He was to do in Jerusalem that week and it grieved Him.

As He walked through the land, teaching people, performing miracles, and calling people to repentance, He saw they did not understand what He was doing. The religious leaders hated Him and conspired to murder Him. Many, being fed, wanted to make Him king, so He would continue feeding them. Many came to be healed. Many followed to see and be entertained by what He did. To be sure, there were many who believed Him and followed Him from devotion. But none had a complete understanding until after the Holy Spirit was given. Jesus lived among a people who could not understand because they were blinded by sin.

His grief built over time, coming to a head as He approached Jerusalem and His impending death by torture. Jesus was troubled in His innermost being. Soon after entering Jerusalem He told His disciples how troubled He was. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27-28 ESV). As much grief as He felt, God was His comfort. “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (John 12:28 ESV). 

God turns grief into joy.

Life or Death

For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? (Psalm 6:5 ESV)

God does not tell us much about eternity, either in or away from His presence. We can know being in His presence brings life and all of the peace and rest which comes with obedience and doing that for which people were created, and in Christ, re-created. We can also know those who exist outside of His presence, eternally absent from the source of life, are in agony and constant turmoil. These are simple and inadequate illustrations of the difference between heaven and hell. We know God will separate those who are His from those who continue willfully rebelling and sinning against Him.

God gives us clues about death, being separated from that which supports and maintains life. Death is the opposite of life. Death is non-life, removal from that which sustains life. In the physical world that which has life needs food, water and air. Remove any one of these three elements and life ceases, the organism dies and begins to decay. Sheol in the Hebrew is the equivalent of haides in the Greek, the grave, the pit, a place of no return, the place of the dead, the underworld. Both sheol and haides are considered hell by many. The place of the dead is not a place where those who die cease to exist but are conscious of who they are and their circumstances. 

David declares that those who have died have no remembrance of God and will not give Him praise. They will not remember Him nor thank Him or confess His greatness. This does not mean there is no consciousness for those in the grave. David is thinking of burial, the covering of dirt, entombing of a dead body, where it will decay. Those who knew the dead person can no longer hear their words or see their actions because in death they neither speak nor act.

Jacob uses the word sheol to describe what has happened to his son, Joseph, upon hearing the report of his death from his brothers. 

Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.(Genesis 37:34-35 ESV)

Those who have died are still under God’s control and government. Thus, the grave is an intermediate place between heaven and hell. Those who are wicked will eventually go to hell, away from God, the Giver of life, while those who are righteous will come into God’s eternal presence where they are sustained with life. Death and the grave bring mourning to those who remain alive. For those facing death there is tremendous fear of the unknown. They do not know what they are facing. 

King Hezekiah echoed David’s words as he lay dying, then wrote his own Psalm after he was healed, reflecting upon what God had done for him. When his body is placed in the grave he believed he would no longer praise God.

For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you;  those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. the father makes known to the children your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:18-19 ESV)

Jesus faced death. He saw beyond death. He spoke often about His own death but always continued speaking about His resurrection and what would happen because of His resurrection. During the last Passover week, Phillip and Andrew brought to Him a request by some Greek believers who wanted to see Jesus. Knowing His death would draw all men, Jews and Greeks, to Himself, He responded with a small parable. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24 ESV). Many Christians believe this parable speaks directly to people. It does not. Jesus spoke about Himself. The grain of wheat is Jesus. Falling to the earth is His death. Bearing fruit is His resurrection. He must die to bring all to Himself. His fruit is the ingathering of all those who are His. They are in Him. He is their refuge.

But what of those who are not in Him? Death becomes eternal separation from God. There is a separation of those who hate God and continue in their rebellion against Him, and those who love God and obey His command to come to His Son. Hell becomes a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Those who hate life are sentenced to not have life. Death ends life.

Those who love Him will receive life. But only those who love Him more than they love their own life will receive life from God. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26 ESV). For those who are separated out for God, physical death is not the end but the beginning of true life. 

Facing Death

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4 ESV)

Only God can both save and deliver anyone’s life from death. Those who have faced death and lived are better able to see and know the value, or lack of value, of their life compared to their stuff. For those who face certain death, yet continue to live and who have no hope for eternity, their property becomes the only reason to live. Without their belongings they have nothing. They know they cannot take anything with them when they die so they cling to life as long as possible and covet that which was never theirs. For those who have hope for eternity, who know they are known and loved by God, material possession carries little or no value. Spiritual maturity brings a realization that only that which is eternal holds eternal value. Only the Word of God (God Himself) and people created in His image have value. 

Only God can determine eternal value. He created people for relationship with Him because He wants them with Him for eternity. Those who rebel against Him will continue to exist for eternity but will exist away from His known presence.

Hezekiah lay dying. Isaiah came to the king, delivering a hard message. “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Chronicles 32:24). Despondent, facing imminent death and deeply afraid, Hezekiah prayed.“‘Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38:3 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:3). Isaiah returned, giving another message to the king.“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5 ESV; see 1 Kings 20:5). God listened to king Hezekiah. He did not avoid death but was given more time.

There are two things we should note about king Hezekiah. He did follow the LORD with his whole heart, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD.“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV; see 2 Chronicles 31:20). But his righteous works did not follow in those extra years given by God. The evidence is shown in the life of his son, Manasseh.  

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (2 Kings 21:1-2 ESV; 2 Chronicles 33:9).

King Hezekiah was rich and became proud. After God healed him he did not continue working for God with his whole heart but exulted in his riches. Though he humbled himself, and God saved Judah and Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrians, God still punished Israel for not seeking Him with the whole thinking of their hearts.

“But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:25-26 ESV).

God turned away from His judgment and delivered Hezekiah’s life. God saved him because of His love. In his later life, Hezekiah did not return to God the compassion and grace he was given. 

God did not turn away from, or stop the required judgment against sin endured by Jesus even when He asked God. Jesus did respond to God’s mercy and compassion in a way that lifted up God before all the people.

Without an eternal perspective life is self-focused and people are self-absorbed. Created in the image of God, people are given the natural and eternal ability to know Him intimately. Replacing Him with stuff is idolatry. Those who do not intimately know God are agonizingly afraid of death and the unknown. Those who do intimately know God, and are known by Him, are peacefully at rest with death. There may be fear of the process of dying but not of death itself. Death, separation from this sinful world, our sinful flesh and the constant attacks of the Deceiver, brings relief. We know this because of Jesus, who was raised from the dead, tells those who are His they will be with Him in eternity. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV).

Peace in the Face of Death

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.  (Psalm 6:2 ESV)

Is there a burden God cannot lift because it is too heavy? God created the heavens and the earth and all in the universe. He is not created but always exists. If there is anything heavy, it was He who created it for His purpose. There is nothing He cannot lift or carry, but there are many things He will not carry or lift. He cannot abide sin in His presence. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV). No one who sins against Him, who dies in their rebellion, will stand in His presence. Christ took upon Himself the burden of the sin of everyone who has ever lived or will live. This weight is unimaginably heavy because it is eternal, not just temporal. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV). That which Christ bore for all was the sacrifice required by Himself to atone for the criminal activity of all created in His image. His sacrificial act brought peace where there was only wrath.

Having peace with God brings security and rest. Our own sinful flesh, the tugs and pulls of the world, and the Deceiver, fight to interrupt and frustrate our peace with Him. When the war against our peace with God engages, the sabotage of the world and the Deceiver insinuates we never had God’s peace. Even our own flesh may work and fight against our reckoning of peace with God. There appears to be no peace because of the assaults.

What does it mean to languish? Languishing means weak and feeble, as when all strength is expended and the muscles no longer respond to the commands of the persons will. This happens when a burden becomes so heavy it can no longer be carried. Bones means essence and substance as well as, body, limbs, physical members. Troubled means dismayed, terrified, and to hasten or quicken, vexed. David, when he wrote these words, had come to the end of his abilities and strength. His being was quickened with fear, his heart racing with terror, his body battered into submission. His soul distressed, facing a danger over which he could not control, which wanted to destroy him.

Hezekiah sang to the LORD after his deathly illness, when God promised him another 15 years of life. He praised God and remembered how he felt upon knowing his death was imminent. “Like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night you bring me to an end” (Isaiah 38:13 ESV). Hezekiah faced death and it exhausted him. So, too, throughout David’s life, there were many times when he was surrounded by those who wanted him dead. He found himself in places where he could do nothing to save himself. Both David and Hezekiah faced the ultimate consequence of sin. They faced death. Hezekiah languished in his bed as he lay dying. His innermost self was disjointed, torn apart with grief. Both these men reflect the feelings of Jesus as He faced an excruciating death. 

Hezekiah was given another 15 years of life after God answered his prayer. Hezekiah then slept with his fathers and died peacefully. David was rescued from those who wanted to kill him, reigned as king and finally died peacefully.

Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. The time that he reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. Then he died at a good age, full of days, riches, and honor. (1 Chronicles 29:26-28)

Rebellion Judged

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:10 ESV)

God does not tolerate rebellion against His will. From Adam and Eve to the present and into the future until time ends, people mutiny against God. Those who strive against Him, who disobey His will, are finally separated from Him. God told Adam to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 ESV). God actually said, “die die.”  Eat this fruit and you will die spiritually after you die physically. Spiritual death is separation from Him who gives spiritual life, while continuing to exist. To exist eternally without spiritual nourishment is hell. Psalm 5 is God warning people of the consequences of rebelling against Him.

People do not commit just one sin. Those who are enslaved to sin can only sin. Everything they do springs from the thinking of their hearts, which is corrupted. Every thought, emotion and motivation is against God. Jesus tells those who would believe in Him the truth about sin and salvation. Everyone sins because it is their nature and are therefore under the judgment and wrath of God. In Jesus, God sets people free from the eternal consequences of sin. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36 ESV). Instead of accepting freedom from sin people chose continued bondage.

One sin brings separation from God. One act of righteousness brings God’s grace and forgiveness to all. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men”  (Romans 5:18 ESV; see Romans 5:12-21). After there is an understanding of what God has done, and God’s grace is rejected, only one sin is enough to separate the unrepentant sinner from God.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

God gives everyone His image because He wants a relationship with everyone. It is the image of God, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which draws people toward God, commanding them to turn away from sin. Those who reject the prompting of the Holy Spirit disobey the command of God. They continue to mutiny and fight against God.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.  (Matthew 12:30-21 ESV; see also Mark 3:28-29, Luke 12:8-10, 1 John 5:15-16).

God does not ask for obedience, begging those who are His by creation to stop sinning and be holy. He commands obedience. God never ask any to obey. He expects obedience because He is God. For any to continue to rebel, after knowing what God expects and demands, is an in-His-face act of insubordination.

People are without excuse in their rebellion. Those who are enslaved by sin are given the opportunity of freedom and choose continued slavery. It is the image of God in each person that is the catalyst for change. This change is ignited by the Holy Spirit, who wants relationship, who shows all their place before God. Choosing sin over God means separation from God.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 ESV)

Morning Prayer

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3 ESV)

God wants us to listen to Him and talk to Him. Praying to God upon first awakening from sleep is evidence of a person’s devotion to Him and desire to intimately know Him.

Morning is not the only time to pray. Morning is a good time to pray. We should pray always, at all times of the day. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 6:16-18 ESV). There is something about morning and prayer that has captured the discipline of many of the greatest spiritual leaders, beginning with Jesus. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed”(Mark 1:35 ESV; see also Luke 4:42). Throughout His ministry Jesus prayed often at all times of the day.

Sleeping in the Psalms may mean resting with eyes closed and moving into the physiological state where one dreams. But it may also mean death. Jesus raised people from the dead and was, Himself, resurrected from death. Sleep is not death but the word is often used for someone who has died. Death is an enemy for the living in this world because it symbolizes God judgment. But sleep is a time of peace and rest that shows God’s pleasure and protection. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 ESV). Jesus was not afraid of His enemies during His ministry, nor of death and dying, for He controls death, it does not control Him.

Morning is used twice in this verse. Morning is the time to direct special attention to God. The ESV adds the word “sacrifice” to this verse, and sacrifice may be implied. Prepare means to direct, to arrange, order, furnish, as in to prepare a sacrifice or a meal or some other special experience. Watch means to keep close look out, to spy, observe or watch closely. The Psalmist suggests he has an anticipation of something important happening during his morning prayer. Praying in the morning prepares him for the meeting with God, insuring all is in order and ready for him to receive what God is giving. Our morning sacrifice is ourselves to His purpose and will.

Dreams and visions are times when God speaks to people about themselves and their relationship with Him. God spoke to Joseph about Mary, his future wife, in a dream (see Matthew 1:18-25) telling him to marry her even though she was pregnant with Jesus. After Jesus’ birth, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream, telling him to take his family to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of Herod the Great (see Matthew 2:13-15). In Scripture dreams have special meanings. However, outside of Scripture, dreams are often misinterpreted, giving the dreamer an excuse to act on a superstitious belief. Nostradamus dreamed and led many people astray. Other times dreams will frighten and keep a person from acting. Sometimes God speaks to people in their dreams. Most often dreams reveal the innermost thinking of our hearts, often suppressed because of pain and discomfort. That which we long for may be revealed in dreams. Often, we dream and immediately forget our dreams upon waking.

Praying in the morning becomes a way to prepare for the day after a night of rest and dreaming deeply. Intimacy with God begins from the moment we awake. Or, a lack of intimacy is shown by removing thoughts of God from our hearts and minds from the moment we awake because of the “great” things we must face or accomplish. Praying in the morning becomes a discipline of obedience and love for God.

Jesus charges those who are His to stand ready for His return at a moment, driving home His instructions with several parables about those who lost because they were not prepared and ready for the return of their Master. He is speaking about His second coming “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44 ESV) and “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13 ESV). Jesus characterizes His coming as a thief in the night. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15 ESV).

Discipline involves every thought and action. We are at war with sin, our own flesh and Satan and the world. Each of these enemies would storm our lives and enslave us, dragging us away from God. God’s Spirit in us, and the Word of God, gives us the tools we need to fight this war. It is a war fought in the heavens while the battlefield is within each person. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” ( Genesis 6:5 ESV). Jesus does not fix the old heart, the dead person. He makes a new person with a new heart that hungers and thirsts for Him and His righteousness, driving the recreated person to intimacy with Him. We are left in this world for two reasons. First, we are witnesses to the grace and truth of God before the world. Secondly, God is preparing us for eternity with Him. Our preparation begins at the moment of salvation and continues in eternity.