What does the Bible say about what happens when we die

By Douglas M. Williams Sr.

Death is a subject about which we do not like to think, and especially our own. We know, as the Bible teaches, that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thus, we need to consider death seriously to make preparation for it. Amos 4:12 tells us to “prepare to meet thy God.”

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#afterlife, #bible-study, #death, #judgement, #soul

They named him Ezra

I don’t know why it even bothered me. It certainly was none of my business, but somehow I couldn’t get past the fact that this young couple named their little baby boy Ezra. It sounded so antiquated to me, so out-of-date. I thought of how he would hate his name when he grew up. It reminded me of when as a young girl I told Raymond Elliott, our preacher, of how when I married and had a baby boy I wanted to name him Ishmael. Raymond immediately came back reminding me I should check out the name before labeling a child with that name for life. I never forgot his suggestion and never named our son Ishmael. Well, some would say, “There’s nothing in a name. It doesn’t matter.” Doesn’t it?

Ezra has a book in our Bibles named after him. I’ve read it more than one time…lately because this is still on my mind. But you know what I’ve found? Ezra was a fine man. Read what the Today’s English Version records in Ezra 7:6-10:

“Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to Moses. Because Ezra had the blessing of the Lord his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra set out from Babylonia for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workmen. They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God’s help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord, to practicing it, and to teaching all its laws and regulations to the people of Israel.”

Notice:

  1. Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord.
  2. Ezra had devoted his life to practicing the Law of the Lord.
  3. Ezra had devoted his life to teaching all the Law of the Lord’s laws and regulations to the people of Israel.

I imagine with the fine Bible training this little fellow is getting, one day he will want to read the book of Ezra for himself. And when he does without doubt he’s going to be mighty pleased with his name. I know I am. There’s something important in a name.

#bible-study

I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.

The editorial in the local paper said he was 30 years old, lived in Texas, and went to a “Covid party.” He died after being infected with the virus. The article continued with “Just before he died, he told his nurse: ‘I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.’” The editor continued as he encouraged people to be safe, wear a mask and wash hands…regularly!

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.” There’s a lesson to be gained by the young man’s statement both physically and spiritually. I wonder when we are standing at the entrance of death’s door if we will be faced with the same thought. Imagine with me…

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of an antiquated book called the Bible was out-of-date. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of being baptized for the remission of sins was a hoax, and flipped the idea away.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of attending the services of the church faithfully was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of serving the Lord while I was young was a hoax.” I thought I had plenty of time and would sow my wild oats before giving my life to the Lord.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the Lord’s example of taking the Lord’s supper every first day of the week was not something He meant EVERY week and necessary.

I think I made a mistake. I thought giving on the first day of the week as I had been prospered was a hoax, and just so I dropped in a dollar on Easter Sunday or Christmas when visiting my family would be enough.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching about going into all the world and teaching others was a hoax and meant for preachers and others but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His example of loving your neighbor was a hoax and meant for my neighbors but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on praying all the time was a hoax but just for times when I was really in desperate need.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on Bible study was a hoax and just for preachers but not for me.

At death our history is written. All that we can do has been done. It is finished. The saddest thought we could ever have at that time is to say, “I think I made a mistake. I thought the Bible was a hoax, but it’s not.” It would be great if wearing a mask and washing our hands regularly could right the mistake but only the blood of Jesus can do that. Now is the time to make sure our life is not a mistake when our last breath is about to be taken. Christianity is not a hoax

#christian-living, #faith

What does the Bible say about hope

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:7).

“Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5).

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24-25).

“And now abides faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

“Lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19).

Hope is defined as “Desire with expectation of obtaining that which is desired,” and is so important in our lives on this earth and ‘to the hope of eternal life’” (Titus 1:2; 3:7).

Hope is one of the three greatest things that Paul mentions in the last verse of his great chapter on love. In that familiar verse Paul mentions faith, hope, and love, and it is interesting that Paul mentions these three things again in Colossians 1:4-5, where he says, “we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all saints, because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” These are certainly three graces that should always be conspicuous in the life of every Christian.

We should be rich in faith; full of love; and abound in hope as we prepare ourselves for our inheritance in heaven. Let not these three kindred spirits be strangers to your souls, but let faith, hope, and love always abide in your heart.

Of the things we know about hope, have we given proper consideration to the fact that hope is one of the things whereby we are saved (Romans 8:24)? Since the Bible points out that all are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23), our great need is salvation. God in his love and grace has done His part, and Jesus died for us that we might be forgiven.

Our part is to obey by believing, repenting of sins, confessing our faith in Christ as God’s son, and being baptized for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then with the Lord’s help we are to live faithfully for Jesus (Revelation 2:10), and He will save us eternally in heaven.

 

#bible-study, #christian-hope

Lesson from shelled peas

Summertime is here and it is time to freeze vegetables. I was washing little white peas earlier last week and couldn’t help but think of the Judgement Day. I thought of the peas as people who will be gathered on the day of judgment.

Just as the peas were all on one side of the sink, I thought of how every person will be gathered in one place on the Judgement Day. We will all be standing in front of the greatest judge ever. Everyone will be there.

The peas had all colors in them. There were light and dark peas, good and bad. On the Judgement Day all kinds of people will be there. No one will be able to skip out on attending this great day.

The peas were covering the bottom of the sink. Some were underneath others but with a little stirring on my part, all were visible. All people will be visible on the day of judgement. There will be no hiding behind the rocks on that day.

Each pea stood for itself. I looked them over and decided if they were good enough to be saved. On the Judgement Day the books of life will be opened and every person will be inspected (judged) by the great Judge according to the way they have lived and performed on earth. 

As I worked in the peas I divided the good peas from the bad. The good peas I put on one side and the bad on the trash side. The Great Judge will be dividing the people on the Judgement Day. He will separate the sheep (good people) from the goats (evil people).

Trash will be weeded out on that day. Just as I weeded out the trash from the peas, our Lord will make sure there are no mistakes made on that great day. He is an honest and good judge and will make no mistakes.

Only the best peas were saved. On the day of Judgement only those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and who have grown as they should in words and deeds will saved.

#judgement-day

What does the Bible say about afflictions

By Douglas M. Williams Sr

“Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1).

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Affliction is trouble, hardship, difficulty, adversity, tribulation, and grievous distress. It causes pain, grief, sorrow and suffering.

Afflictions come in different ways, and everyone has them from time to time. How grateful we should be to know that we have a loving heavenly Father who knows and understands our afflictions and that the Bible offers comfort, help, and salvation as we trust the Lord in faith and obedience. In our afflictions it might be of help to think about the woman in her troubles that said she liked to think of her favorite verse. When asked what it was, she replied, “And it came to pass,” and explained she was glad the Bible didn’t say, “that it came to stay.”

The Bible says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction” (Jeremiah 16:19).

In Acts 7:10 we read that God was with Joseph and delivered him out of afflictions. In Hebrews 11:24-25 we read, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”

God has not promised us a life free of affliction, but he has promised He “will never leave nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). God bless you, and may He always help us look to Him in faith and obedience that we may enjoy all of God’s blessings, and especially His spiritual blessings in Christ and salvation in heaven.

 

#afflictions, #bible-study

Jesus is always there

 It never occurred to me when I married Doug and moved away from home how I would never be able to call home without it being long distance again. Of course, today we don’t even think about long distance calling or how much it costs. But back in the 70’s I was very conscious of it .

We were just starting out in marriage and Doug was in Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis working on a Master’s degree. I enjoyed talking to mother and writing her letters as we tried to stay in touch often. I’m sure she missed me as much as I missed her.

I can no longer call that familiar 897-2788 telephone number and hear her sweet voice on the other end. Today I dialed it once again and though I expected to get another voice, the recorded voice said, “I’m sorry the number you have reached has been disconnected or is no longer in service.” I can’t call mama anymore but there is someone who knows where she is, what she is doing, and how she is doing. I can call Him anytime.

I remember in January 2014 the morning after mother went to heaven I woke up and said, “Well Lord, how is mother doing this morning? I know she is fine and that you are taking care of her now.” How comforting to know that she is in His care and no longer in mine after ten years of loving her in our home.

It gives me great joy to know that I can call my Lord at anytime and He will see and answer my prayer. He is:

Waiting – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

Watching –  Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).

Longing – “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy ladened

and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Listening – “Ask and it shall be given unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

Concerned – “He cares” (1 Peter 5:7).

Happy to hear from me – “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

#jesus, #jesus-christ

What does the Bible say about the religion of Christ

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).

The above scriptures and others indicate the urgency and seriousness of the religion of Christ. At Acts 15:25-27, the Bible speaks of those “who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet, today, many times people do not feel that religion is anything about which to get excited. Like some modern clothing, religion has become casual and, in some cases, slovenly. But God doesn’t accept such easy religion that costs nothing. “Again,” Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

God has blessed us with a time of affluence, and a good life in so many ways. Compared to former generations, for example, we have air-conditioned homes and automobiles, and even farmers have air-conditioned tractors. Let us never take these blessings for granted, but always be thankful and use our blessings in service to others as we glorify God.

Remember, Jesus, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Also, the following passage is so much needed by our materialistic society: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (of heaven) (Revelation 22:14).

 

#bible-study, #religion

What does the Bible say about quarantine?

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“The priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days,” and then the priest shall examine the person and if necessary “the priest shall isolate him another seven days” (Leviticus 13:4-5).

These verses refer to isolation, and in all probability most of us have heard more about quarantine and isolation in recent days than ever before. Also, notice the possibility of the isolation being for fourteen days. Sound familiar?

The context of the above verses refer to God’s laws concerning leprosy from Leviticus chapters 13 and 14.

Leprosy was a very terrible, dreaded, and fearful disease. The leper was not permitted to mingle with others, and in fact, if approached by people he had to cry out the warning, “Unclean! Unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45). Thus, the reference to leper colonies. This is shown when ten men who were lepers “stood afar off” and “lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!'” (Luke 17:11-19). By the way, this is a sad situation as Jesus healed these ten, and only one came back to thank Jesus.

Other examples of leprosy in the Bible: Moses (Exodus 4:6-7); Miriam (Numbers 12:10); Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14); Amaziah (2 Kings 15:1-5); Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-23); a man healed by Jesus (Luke 5:12-14).

Our problem of quarantine is not leprosy, but Coronavirus or Covid-19. We need to take pre-cautions and follow the guidelines that have been given, and pray much, diligently and fervently that this virus might soon stop the illness and death it is causing (James 5:16). God is still in control!

Let us be grateful to everyone who is working to stop this virus. We are all in this together even though we are apart!

 

#bible-study, #quarantine

What does the Bible say about patience?

By: Douglas M. Williams, Sr

The subject of patience may remind you of the familiar Bible example of Job. James 5:11 states, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

In the previous verse James said, “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of patience and suffering.” “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3).

“That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Patience means to have constant perseverance with calmness; uncomplaining endurance under distress or annoyance; long-suffering. Everyone would probably agree that patience is not something that comes naturally. We learn it as we grow and observe that we must wait for some things to take place. For example, the farmer knows there are several weeks between planting and harvesting, and he cannot make the crops grow faster. James 5:7 states “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”

Lack of patience causes people to do things, which they later regret. There are times when we must have patience and just wait. Don’t be like the fellow who prayed for patience, and said, “God, I want it right now!”

We have a lot of “instant things” and are sometimes impatient and want things immediately. But we need to learn to be more patient.

God is patient, or long-suffering with us (Romans 15:5; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9, 15); and He wants us to practice patience as a fruit of the Spirit and one of the Christian graces (Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:5-7).

 

500 members and no piano

Saturday afternoon I was talking with a friend and she related how she became a member of the church. She said the first time she went to the church of Christ, she remarked to her husband, “500 members and they can’t afford a piano?” He shushed her quickly lest someone hear her. She said she didn’t see a piano or an organ anywhere and thought surely with 500 members they could afford one. Continue reading

#instrumental-music-in-worship

What does the Bible say about Bible study

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

“Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

“These (in Berea) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

These people studied with an open mind and an open Bible, and such is a winning combination to learn God’s will for us today.

Some thoughts in this article are from A. L. Franks of the Magnolia Messenger. As he stated, it may be that you should lay this article aside (for a while) and start your daily Bible reading right now. Because you can go to heaven without reading this article, but you can’t go to heaven without learning and obeying the teachings of the world’s greatest Book.

We should make daily Bible reading and study a part of our daily routine like we do in eating, sleeping, etc. God bless each of us in our diligent daily Bible study. You will thank God throughout eternity for the time you spend reading and studying His precious Word.

These lines of an unknown author are titled, “An Unused Book”:

“Mother, I found an old dusty thing high on the shelf – just look!”

“Why that’s a Bible, Tommy dear; be careful – that’s God’s book!”

“God’s Book!” the child exclaimed; “then Mother, before we lose it,

We’d better send it back to God, for you know, we never use it.”

                    

 

#bible-study

How do you feel about praying to God

I have a “hang-up” I guess you could say. Maybe there is nothing to it, but it is a “thing” with me. I feel guilty praying to God and asking Him to bless me or those I love when I have not been faithful in my Bible reading. It is so hard for me to have a close relationship (conversation) with God when I haven’t “listened” (read my Bible) that day. It makes me feel selfish that I could ask Him to listen to me and respond favorably when I have not listened (read His word) to Him all day.

The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). That is a close relationship with God to be able to pray without ceasing. That is like sharing everything with God. If we envision God with us all the time, and He is, then whenever and whatever happens to us, we can communicate with God about it. If we envision Him walking beside us everywhere we go (and He does), we can talk to Him openly. Have you had something good happen to you or hear something good and say, “Thank the Lord”? That is good, but what if He is right beside you, could you not say, “Thank you, Lord” as if you are communicating with your closest friend standing right beside you?

The Bible says Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:24). If walking with someone means they are beside you, that you communicate with them, then it is more than just attending the services of the church one to three times a week. It is more than just picking up the Bible when you think about it. It is more than just praying to God when you need Him. It is indeed a personal relationship with Him, don’t you think? It is as if under your breath (or loudly if you choose) you talk to God. Pray without ceasing. Be in a prayerful attitude at all times. If we talk to Him in our innermost thoughts throughout the day, we will be drawn closer to Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

The beautiful thing about our God is He is always there. He is always ready to welcome us home. No matter what we have done or how long we have been out of a close relationship with Him, He is standing ready to welcome us back. How beautiful is the love of our Father? Christians who have fallen away from God only have to pray and ask for forgiveness. Whether that prayer should be public or private depends on how public or private the sin has been. The safe thing is to make a public confession and ask the church to pray with and for you.

If you have never become a Christian you must hear the Word, believe it, repent of your sins, confess your faith, and be baptized to wash away your sins. Then walk close to God and remain faithful until death. It is beautiful to grow and continue drawing near to God, realizing He is drawing near to you. It is where He wants to be in your life and mine.  

#prayer

What does the Bible say about the value of the church of Christ

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 12:44).

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

These verses tell us of two of Jesus parables referred to as the parable of the Hidden treasure and the Pearl of Great Price. These parables teach us lessons about the value of the kingdom of heaven which is the church of Christ. Jesus says it is the “kingdom of heaven” because the church came from heaven, and one day it will return to heaven (1 Corinthians 15:24).

Notice, the first of these parables speak of an “accidental finding,” while the second indicates an “intentional finding.” But in both parables when the treasure is found he is willing to give all he has in order to possess it.

But what about spiritual treasure? These parables teach us of the unsurpassed value of the church of Jesus Christ. We must be willing to give up everything necessary (sin, habits, fame, friends, family, fortune, etc.) too enjoy the blessings of the church Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28).

Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26)?

We must deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow Jesus. A song states:

“Men strive for the wealth of this wide, wicked world,

They seek after honor and fame;

So lavishly sporting their diamonds and pearls,

They put the dear Savior to shame.

I’d rather live in Heaven, Than to own all of earth’s silver and gold.

I’d rather have Jesus than the diamonds of a palace to hold,

I’d rather be a beggar and live in a little shack by the road.

Than to own all earth’s treasures with no title to a future abode.”

  • Luther G. Presley (1935)

#church-of-christ

Eternity Awaits Poem

ETERNITY AWAITS

What can I say, my brother, my friend,

  To make you realize the danger you are in?

With your complacent attitude about the work of the Lord,

  You are flirting with danger and will lose your soul.

A visit, a call, a letter written in love,

  Will it make you think of Heaven above?

Is there something I can do to shake you awake,

  About spiritual things and the dangers you take?

Week after week you let His day pass by,

  Missing His supper, you are too busy, you cry;

You’re sleepy, you are tired from a hard day before,

  So another day passes without worshiping the Lord.

Death is coming to you and to me,

  No more excuses can be offered then, you see;

Your doom will be set, eternity awaits;

  No welcome home sign for you at the pearly gates.

  • Glenda Williams 1-2006

#eternity