In Memory of Betty Murphree
I want to read several verses of scripture this morning, in light of Betty’s passing. Actually, I’ve got 47 verses of scripture. And they talk about death, and about life, and about God, and about Jesus Christ.
Psalm 27, verse 13 says; “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD, in the land of the living!” In other words, whatever shall happen to me in this life, and even after I die, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD, in the land of the living!”
I like that phrase, the “land of the living”. It’s the “realm” of the living, not the realm of the dead, but of the living. Jesus said in Luke 20, verses 37 & 38; “Even Moses demonstrates that the dead are raised, in the passage about the burning bush. For he calls the Lord.. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; For all live unto Him.”
Our Father in heaven, keeps us, and cares for us, “in the land of the living”, when we pass from this life.
The scripture says in 2 Peter 2, verse 9; “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” God knows how to deliver the godly, out of temptation. I think that a lot of times, we may tend to associate those words with God helping us get past some kind of temptation during this lifetime. And God certainly does that. Just like the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which promises us, that “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
That’s talking about delivering us from temptation during this life. But the words of 2 Peter 2, verse 9, are actually dealing with the afterlife; What happens to us after this life is over. That word “temptation” in this verse, is used to refer to a trial, and a testing; Kind of like a “proving ground”. The Lord knows how to rescue the godly, out of the “testing” that we all go through in this lifetime. God recues us from this “proving ground” that exemplifies this physical life, and He brings us to safety and comfort, when we pass on from this life.
We can know that the verse is talking about our future spiritual life, in the “land of the living”, because of the reference to the ungodly. The verse says; “..and to reserve the unjust, unto the day of judgment to be punished.” The ungodly being reserved for punishment, happens after, they pass from this life.
Now, here’s a verse that’s actually dealing with a different subject, but I want to mention it anyway. In this verse, Jesus is actually talking about how He’s going to be crucified and buried, and taken away from His disciples; But that after His resurrection, He’ll see them again. Here’s the verse.. Jesus said in John 16:22; “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” And so although Jesus is specifically speaking about His death and His resurrection, I think we can use it as an analogy, referring to the sorrow that we encounter in this life, but the joy that we’ll encounter when we see Jesus is the next life.
And that reminds me of 1 John 3, verse 2, where John wrote; “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: But we know, that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; For we shall see Him as He is.” And what an encouragement that is. We shall see Him as He is, and we shall be like Him!
Philippians 3:20 & 21 says to us; “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who will transform the body of our humble state, into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has, even to subject all things to Himself.”
And Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 1; “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
And he wrote in Romans 14:8; “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; And whether we die, we die unto the Lord: Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”
But he took it one step further, in Philippians 1:21 and said; “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” And shouldn’t that really be the sentiment for all Christians. Once we are “in Christ” in this life, what more is there to gain? The “gain” comes when the Christian leaves this life, an goes to the other “land of the living”.
There was a wise preacher, who said in Ecclesiastes 7, verse 1; “A good name is better than precious ointment; And the day of death, than the day of one’s birth.” It is indeed a very good day, when we return to God.
We’re told in Revelation 21, verse 4; “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: For the former things are passed away.”
Peace and Comfort
Jesus told His disciples in John 16, verse 33; “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
“In Me you might have peace” That’s really all that we want isn’t it? Peace ? Peace and comfort, right?
Listen to the words of 2 Corinthians 1, verses 3 & 4; “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
And speaking of comfort and peace in Christ, the words of Romans 8:37 thru 39 are pretty powerful; “But in all these things (in all the trials that we face in this life) “..In all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us, from the love of God, which is IN Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Isaiah prophesied these words, in Isaiah 41, verse 10; “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I’ll uphold you by My righteous power! Now we can take those comforting words with us all through this life, and right on into the next!
Jesus told us in Mathew 28, verse 30; “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” That’s the rest that we find in the next life, not here, but in the “land of the living”.
“There remains therefore, a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4, verse 9)
“To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to search and a time to count as lost, a time to keep and a time to discard; A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 thru 8)
Assurance from Jesus
You know, Jesus gives us assurance. “I am the resurrection and the life; (Jesus said) He who believes in Me, will live even if he dies; And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die!” (John 11:25 & 26)
“I am the way the truth and the life” Jesus said in John 14:6; “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Proverbs 12, verse 28 tells us; “In the way of righteousness is life; And in its pathway there is no death.”
Jesus said that “everyone who lives, and believes in Me will never die!” And here’s the passage that illustrates that fact perfectly; 1 Thessalonians 4, verses 13 thru 18..
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him, those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15, verse 55)
The bible has a lot to say about death, and the resurrection; And for one who is “In Christ” it’s ALL comforting!
Just two more passages now, from the book of Psalms. First, Psalm 34, verses 4 & 5; “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.”
And finally, Psalm 46, verses 1 thru 3; “..God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear; Though the earth be removed, (and though our physical life be removed) and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Though any or all those things were to occur, God is still our refuge and strength, and we will not fear!