My friends, no doubt you have seen and heard about the trying times in which we live. I do not endeavor to recount all the world events that you know are occurring in our world. That would accomplish nothing but introducing more stress and I will allow the mainstream news media to peddle that product. My intention is to encourage you through our common belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first thing we must recognize as the body of Christ on earth is that we were never promised comfort or painless living on this earth. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are confronted with the absolute pain, torment and degradation that all the prophets, saints, and believers have had to suffer on this earth. Job suffered terribly with the loss of his wealth, the murders and killing of his children and the loss of his servants and employees. Job even lost his own health and was reduced to scraping the puss out of his open sores with bits of broken pottery (Job chapters 1-2).
In the book of Acts, Paul lists the various ways in which the Apostles and disciples of Christ were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and afflicted.Acts 7:54-60 recounts how the Jews stoned and murdered Stephen the Martyr.
The ultimate example of all of these cases, of course, was the scourging and crucifixion of Christ. This month, we have celebrated this event and the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. We know from historical documents left by Roman historians like Tacitus and Josephus that the death Christ suffered was on of the most excruciating deaths imaginable.
As a part of His scourging, He would have been beat to the point of near death. His ribs and internal organs would have even been slightly visible through the wounds that would have been inflicted upon Him. He would have lost control of His bowels. By the time He was nailed to the cross (yes, he was nailed and not tied up by rope, as some might say), He would have been an unrecognizable slump of flesh on that cross. In fact, crucifixion was such a horrific form of execution, it was forbidden under Roman law to crucify a Roman citizen. This is the reason Paul was beheaded and not crucified.
However, despite all of this, we have a hope that surpasses all hopes, my friends, because three days later He arose from the dead! The prophet Isaiah foretold this hundreds of years beforehand when he wrote some of the most magnificent words found in the scriptures.
He wrote, “’He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away forever; for the Lord has spoken’” (Isaiah 25:8). My friends, we have NOTHING to fear! We know that Job was restored, that Stephen sang hymns and prayed as he was stoned to death, and that Christ rose from the grave!
For us, death can only be a positive. Death means that we receive the reward Christ died and was resurrected to win for all Believers. Death means we get to see the Lord face to face. Death means no more crying, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more depression, and no more failure.
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