HOW CAN I BE PREPARED TO DIE?

Death and dying are uncomfortable subjects for most people, particularly when it comes to one’s own death. Many of us make our way through life never giving a thought to our mortality until a serious illness, the loss of a loved one, or some other jarring occasion confronts us with the inescapable reality that one day we will die. Ecclesiastes 7:2 tells us that “death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” How do I take my own death to heart? How can I be prepared to die?

Scripture calls death an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Because of death’s finality and because so much about it is unknown, it’s not unusual for us to feel anxious about death and afraid of dying. But the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ has destroyed the enemy of death once and for all: “Now with the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, he has . . . destroyed death, and through the Good News he has brought eternal life into full view” (2 Timothy 1:10, GWT). Those who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation need not fear death but can have full assurance and confidence in facing the grave.

After death comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27), and most people are not ready to “meet their Maker.” The first and foremost way to prepare for death is to be sure we are in a right relationship with God. Having a right relationship with God starts with acknowledging our sin before Him through confession and repentance. It means placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NLT). Salvation is God’s gift to us (Ephesians 2:8); we only need to receive it by faith.

A right relationship with God through Jesus Christ frees us from the penalty of sin (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 8:1–2; Hebrews 9:15) and from death itself (1 Corinthians 15:22–23; Romans 5:12–17; 7:24). It also liberates us from the fear of dying: “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Hebrews 2:14–15, NLT).

The sting of death is removed for true Christians because we know where we are going when we die. Our perishing bodies will be transformed into immortal ones that will live forever with Christ in God’s eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:42–58). In reality, we are never truly ready to live until we are prepared to die.

After we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, we can further prepare for death by staying in right relationship with the people in our lives. We ought to consider our relationships with family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Are there any relationships that need to be reconciled? Is there someone we need to forgive or someone who needs our forgiveness? Are there words that need to be said?

Concerning practical ways to prepare, we ought to realistically consider the financial impact our death will have on our family and do our best to plan ahead. Do we need to draw up a will or other legal documents, purchase life insurance, or set aside funds for funeral and burial expenses? Another thoughtful arrangement is to leave written instructions for our memorial service.

Scripture teaches us to live with an awareness of our death and an eternal perspective. This means investing our time, talents, and resources in things that have everlasting value. Jesus described this eternal mindset as daily dying for Him: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Luke 9:23–24, NLT). Believers live their lives with the hope of heaven and a readiness to lay down their lives until they get there.

Death for the believer is the beginning of a new, eternal phase of life. When our days on earth come to an end, we will transition to the beginning of a heavenly life. Heaven is our true home where God waits to welcome us into His arms. In His eternal kingdom, all heartache, pain, and death will cease (Revelation 21:4). We will enjoy intimate fellowship with God and our loved ones. No matter how spectacular we imagine heaven will be, the Bible promises it will be even better: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, GWT).

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DRESS MODESTLY?

In describing the mode of dress appropriate for women in church, the apostle Paul exhorts them to dress “modestly” with “decency and propriety” then goes on to contrast immodest dress with the good deeds which are appropriate for those who profess to be true worshipers of God (1 Timothy 2:9–10). While the Bible only specifically addresses the need for women to dress modestly, the same teaching would apply to men in principle. Both men and women should bring glory to God in their manner of dress.

Modesty in the way we dress is not just for church; it is to be the standard for all Christians at all times. The key to understanding what constitutes modesty in dress is to examine the attitudes and intents of the heart. Those whose hearts are inclined toward God will make every effort to dress modestly, decently, and appropriately. Those whose hearts are inclined toward self will dress in a manner designed to draw attention to themselves with little or no regard for the consequences to themselves or others.

A godly woman endeavors to do everything with a “God-ward” perspective. She knows that God wants His people to be concerned for His glory and the spiritual state of their brothers and sisters in Christ. If a woman professes to be a Christian yet she dresses in a way that will unduly draw attention to her body, she is a poor witness of the One who bought her soul by dying for her on the cross. She is forgetting that her body has been redeemed by Christ and is now the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). She is telling the world that she determines her own worth on a purely physical basis and that her attractiveness depends on how much of her body she reveals to them. Further, by intentionally dressing in an immodest fashion, displaying her body for men to lust after, she encourages her brothers in Christ to sin, something condemned by God (Matthew 5:27–29). Proverbs 7:10 mentions a woman “dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent”—here, the woman’s heart condition is displayed by her manner of dress.

The Scripture says that we are to dress modestly, but what exactly does that mean in modern society? Does a woman have to be covered from head to toe? There are cults and religions in the world that demand this of women. But is that the biblical meaning of modesty? Again, we have to go back to the matter of the attitudes of the heart. If a woman’s heart is inclined toward godliness, she will wear clothing that is neither provocative nor revealing in public. Her clothing choices will not signal pride or ostentation and will not reflect negatively upon her personal testimony as a child of God. Everyone else in her circle may be dressing immodestly, but she resists the temptation to go along with the crowd. She avoids clothing designed to draw attention to her body and cause men to lust, for she is wise enough to know that type of attention only cheapens her. The idea of giving occasion for men to sin against God because of her dress is abhorrent to her because she seeks to love and honor God and wants others to do the same.

Modesty in dress reveals a modesty and godliness of the heart, humble attitudes that should be the desire of all women (and men) who live to please and honor God.

Prophet Nathan Emol

what should i do when i don’t feel god’s love?

First, an important question: are you born again? Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation? If so, the enmity between you and your Creator is gone, and you have entered a secure and loving relationship with God. If you have no faith in Christ, then you have no relationship with God (John 14:6).

Feelings come and go, and you may not always “feel” love for God. Hearts tend to grow cold, and even the most on-fire Christians can struggle with maintaining their love and service to God. The church in Ephesus had to be reprimanded by Christ: “You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). A lack of feelings of love, however, does not mean the relationship has ended. God does not change; His love is constant.

As cliché as it may sound, don’t give up! Know that God loves you and desires for you to have an abundant and peaceful life within the parameters of His will. God is a loving, compassionate Father who looks upon you in great love. Second Corinthians 1:3 describes God as “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” He loves you and desires to help you through this trying time of feeling disconnected from Him.

Our relationship with God is based on love. He loved us and sent His Son (John 3:16), and our response to His love is to love Him in return (1 John 4:19) and serve Him. Not service out of obligation, but out of true love for Him and who He is. God’s will is not that we give of ourselves “reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). So how do you become that “cheerful giver” who gives your heart freely to God?

Reflect upon your walk thus far

Should Christians feel warm and fuzzy toward God at all times? No. We all have valleys and deserts in our walk and feel all kinds of emotions at various points in our lives—just like we do in other relationships. In rekindling your affection for God, start at the very beginning. Reflect on where and how your walk with Him first began. When were you saved? Why were you saved? What did you feel when you first began to discover who God was? How has Jesus made Himself known to you in your daily life since? What things in life has God brought you through? Consider past victories (1 Samuel 7:12) and those times when you felt a deep desire and longing for God in your life.

Pray

Spend some quality time with God. Get to know Him more. To know Him is to love Him. Ask God to increase your desire for Him. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and rekindle your appreciation of His character. Continue submitting to the Holy Spirit and confess to God that you cannot overcome these struggles on your own—none of us can. When we ask for His helping hand, He always hears us! Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”

Read Scripture

During the times when you feel nothing toward God, it helps to read His Word to remember how He feels about you. Dig into Scripture as much as possible while dealing with these feelings of disinterest. God’s Word is truly “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). Try reading a psalm a day. The book of Psalms is very encouraging and has many prayers that you might really identify with, given your current situation. It is in the Word that God reveals Himself and His will for you.

Seek Christian counseling

This is especially important if you are angry or upset with God for some reason. It is difficult to feel love for someone while you are angry at him. If there is an anger problem, how long have you felt this way? Can you attribute your feelings to a specific situation? Does anything help relieve your feelings or temporarily change your perception? Biblical counseling can help you work through specific issues. Through the healing process, guided by a pastor or other counselor, you should be able to let go of the anger and hurt, and your perception of God should change for the better.

Find a godly mentor

Surely, there is someone you know who loves the Lord and whose Christian joy is evident. Ask this person to meet with you regularly. Spend time together, study the Bible together, pray together. Ask questions about your mentor’s spiritual walk and how you can love the Lord more. This friend can encourage you on your journey.

Plug into your local church

God intends for the Christian life to be lived corporately. That’s why He calls the church the “body” of Christ (Romans 12:5). There are many opportunities to serve the Lord through your church and many people who can exhort, support, and encourage you.

God will continue to love you dearly! “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19).

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

GOD WILL FIGHT YOUR BATTLES:

That God will fight our battles means we do not have to anguish, be anxious, or be discouraged when bad things happen in our lives. When it seems a situation is hopeless or the matter at hand is too overwhelming, we may be tempted to doubt God. But Christians must remember that no problem is beyond the scope of God’s sovereign care for His children. He has promised to take care of us (Philippians 4:19), make good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and love us beyond measure (Romans 8:37–39).

In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the children of Israel, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” At that moment, they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, hemmed in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation, but it was a situation brought on by the Lord Himself. It was God who had hardened Pharaoh’s heart to pursue the fleeing slaves (Exodus 14:48). Why would God do such a thing? The Bible gives some of the reasons: because God wanted to make it crystal clear to Egypt that He is LORD so that He got the glory over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4). And because God wanted to teach Israel that He is their Deliverer (Exodus 6:6) and their Salvation (Exodus 14:13). They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own—they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (cf. Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).

The lessons believers can learn from the Exodus account can be powerful and life-changing. When Christians trust God to fight their battles, it enables them to circumvent what often accompanies conflict, i.e., panic, fear, and hopelessness (Exodus 14:11–12). There are times when we can see absolutely no way around a problem, just like Israel when they were cornered. It’s quite probable not one of the Israelites ever imagined that the massive sea was going to split down the middle, providing their way of escape. When Christians believe God’s Word (2 Chronicles 20:17), they learn that no battle is too formidable or monumental for God to handle (Joshua 1:5).

Moses gives a review of some of Israel’s history in Deuteronomy 1. In his recap he reminds them of the importance of having courage and trusting God at the edge of the Promised Land. Forty years earlier, the Israelites had spied out the land and concluded that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong (Numbers 13:31—33). Due to that generation’s lack of faith, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells the new generation to avoid their fathers’ lack of trust: “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:29–30). As God’s people obeyed in faith, they would find triumph at every turn. “Victory rests with the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).

Israel, like many Christians today, had forgotten the previous battles God had fought for them all along the way (see Deuteronomy 2:7). The Israelite spies had seen “giants” in the land (Numbers 13:33, NKJV), just like Christians today see “giant” obstacles, complications, and problems that seem too large to conquer. To let the “giants” steal our faith only leaves defeat and a lack of assurance in the God who is in control of every problem, in spite of its size (Romans 8:28).

God is in control, but that does not mean Christians get to avoid the battles—in fact, the Bible states the opposite (2 Timothy 3:12). “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). In order for a believer to live a life of endurance, character, and hope, we must put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10–17) and trust the Deliverer. We “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Our confidence is in God, who will fight our battles and bring us safely home (Jude 1:24–25). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

how can i receive god’s protection?

Because of man’s sin and the subsequent curse that poisoned the perfection of God’s creation, the world is often a dangerous place. People suffer every day from natural disasters, crime, car accidents, poor health, and more. It’s natural to seek protection from the pain and sorrow of life. Does the Bible promise us the protection of God when we become part of His eternal family?

There are many verses in God’s Word that seem to promise God’s physical protection. For example, Psalm 121:3 says, “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.” In verse 7 the psalmist declares, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.” As Israel entered the Promised Land, God promised them that He would never leave or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6).

At first glance, it does seem that God promises to protect His children from harm. But if that were the case, why do so many Christians around the world struggle with persecution, illness, loss, accidents, and injuries? We all know Christians whose “foot” has “slipped.” Is God breaking His promise, or are we missing something?

First of all, we should interpret the Old Testament promises of physical safety in the context of the Mosaic Covenant. As the children of Israel were obedient to the covenant, God promised them various material and physical blessings—on their crops, livestock, children, etc. (Deuteronomy 28). The Old Covenant was very much concerned with earthly blessings, and physical protection was among them. This was the basis for Hezekiah’s prayer when he was smitten with a fatal illness (2 Kings 20:1–6). Throughout the Old Testament, we see God protecting His people in order to bring His plans to pass (e.g., Exodus 1:22—2:101 Kings 17:1–6Jonah 1).

It is important to understand that we are under the New Covenant, not the Old. God does not promise to keep believers in Christ from all physical harm. There are certainly times when He does mercifully shield us from situations where we would sustain injury or loss. Paul and Luke’s survival of the shipwreck in Acts 27 and Paul’s imperviousness to the snakebite in Acts 28 are cases in point. Today, however, God’s promises to believers usually refer to spiritual protection.

When we believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit immediately enters our lives. We are sealed for eternity and brought under God’s spiritual protection from that moment on. This means that, regardless of our future sins or the schemes of Satan, we will never lose the salvation God has granted (2 Timothy 1:12). There is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). In addition, we are given freedom from the dominion of sin—we are no longer slaves to sinful thoughts, desires, and actions, but are born into a new life of holiness (Romans 6:22).

Throughout our lives, God will continue to “guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7), providing the strength, peace, and perseverance we need to make it through any test or trial. His Spirit grows in us fruit that will strengthen our Christian walk (Galatians 5:22–23), and He provides us with powerful tools with which we can fend off the enemy’s spiritual attacks (Ephesians 6:10–17).

There is nothing wrong with asking for physical protection from God, as long as we realize He does not always see fit to grant it. He knows we are strengthened by the trials that come our way, and in each physical trial, we are assured of His spiritual protection. So, rather than seeking complete physical protection from God, we can agree with James when he says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2–3).

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon