Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Better Yet

READ: Philippians 1:19-26

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. —Philippians 1:21

About this cover
Sir Francis Bacon said, “I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.” Woody Allen said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

It’s not death that’s so frightening. It’s the dying that scares us. As Paul faced imprisonment and the prospect of dying in a jail cell, he shared his view about life and death: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). What a perspective!

Death is our enemy (1 Cor. 15:25-28), but it does not possess the finality that so many dread. There is something waiting for believers beyond this life—something better.

Someone has said, “What the caterpillar thinks is the end of life, the butterfly thinks is just the beginning.” George MacDonald wrote, “How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset.”

I love this paraphrase of Philippians 1:21, “To me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying—well, that’s better yet!” (TLB). During our physical life, we have opportunities to serve Jesus. But one day, we will actually be in His presence. Our fear will melt away when we see Him face to face.

That’s the “better yet” the apostle Paul is talking about!
—Cindy Hess Kasper

Death?—Christ said not death;
He called it sleep;
A vast awaking, a new day breaking,
A bright way taking, with visions deep. —H. Frost

For the Christian, the fear of death will give way to the fullness of life.



READ: Jeremiah 5:20-29

[God has] placed the sand as the bound of the sea. —Jeremiah 5:22

Not a year goes by without a natural disaster causing chaos somewhere in the world. Floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis destroy lives, homes, and livelihoods.

No one would argue that the seas have a “right” to violate their established boundaries and crash across the coastline. In fact, people agree that disaster occurs whenever the sea breaches the shoreline. God Himself has “placed the sand as the bound of the sea” (Jer. 5:22).

God also established boundaries for human behavior. Yet not a day goes by without countless violations of His commands, resulting in disastrous physical and spiritual consequences. Amazingly, we often argue that we have the “right” to violate these boundaries.

In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, God’s people had stepped out of bounds, using deceit to become rich and refusing to defend the needy (5:27-28). The result was disaster. God said, “Your sins have withheld good from you” (v.25).

Within creation there is inherent order. Violating it has inherent consequences. God in His kindness simply and lovingly communicated to us the order of things so that we can avoid those consequences. We are wise to know and to stay within His prescribed boundaries.
—Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, keep us on the narrow way,
Where no corruption, woe, nor evil can destroy,
Where Your right hand defeats the worldly fray
To lead us into Your eternal joy. —Mollon

Disregarding God’s order leads to disorder!


In August 2004, Hurricane Charley brought fierce destruction to areas of Florida. During the storm, 25-year-old Danny Williams went outside to seek protection in one of his favorite places, a shed under the protective branches of a banyan tree. But the tree fell on the shed and killed Williams. Sometimes, the places we look to for security can be the most dangerous.

The prophet Isaiah warned Judah’s King Hezekiah of this truth. Hezekiah was a good king, but he repeated the sin of his father Ahaz by seeking security in an alliance with an alien power (2 Kings 16:7; Isa. 36:6). Instead, he should have been encouraging his people to trust in the Lord.

By seeking help from Egypt, Hezekiah showed that he had failed to learn from history. Egypt had been anything but an ally to Israel. Hezekiah had also forgotten Scripture. Amassing horses for cavalry units was against the divine constitution for the king (Deut. 17:16).

Ultimately, Hezekiah did seek help from the Lord (Isa. 37:1-6,14-20). And God miraculously annihilated the invading Assyrians (vv.36-38).

Judah made the mistake of valuing the strength of Egypt over the living God. May our trust always be in the name of the Lord our God (Ps. 20:7).
—Marvin Williams

Trust in God and you will know
He can vanquish any foe;
Simply trust Him day by day,
He will be your strength and stay. —D. De Haan

No life is more secure than a life surrendered to God.