When I was a pastor, I served many women who were moms. I called on them in the hospital and rejoiced with them for their precious babies who had come into the world. I counseled with anxious mothers and tried to assure them that God was watching over their rebellious teenagers. I stood with mothers at the bedside of injured or ill children and felt their pain. And I cried with them in their grief when their son or daughter died.
A music professor with a well-trained voice usually sang the major male solo parts in the choir of a large church. A young man named Bob who had no training sometimes took a few shorter solos. As the choir director prepared for the Christmas cantata, she felt that Bob’s voice and style made him a natural for the lead role. However, she didn’t know how she could give it to him without offending the older man.
A pastor I know and love is discouraged. Although he is diligent in prayer and works hard, his church remains small while a new congregation nearby is rapidly developing into a megachurch. Yet when I think of the alcoholics, drug addicts, and sexually immoral people he has led to the Savior and a new way of life, I see him as one who witnesses in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The repeated appearances of Jesus after His death and resurrection brought His followers so much joy that they must have wanted the visits to continue indefinitely. But on the 40th day after His resurrection, having given His disciples final instructions, Jesus slowly ascended and a cloud hid Him from view.
Few today believe the pagan idea that the world is under the control of warring gods like Artemis, Pan, and Apollo. Yet even sophisticated skeptics readily acknowledge the reality of "forces" over which we have no control. For example, they attribute our inability to prevent violence in various places around the world to what they vaguely call "international forces." And they speak of "economic forces" beyond our control. For example, millions of people are starving despite the fact that there is more than enough food in the world to provide for every person on the earth.
What is the meaning of Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints”? God certainly doesn’t value or find enjoyment in the death of His children! If He did, why would the psalmist praise God for delivering him from death? And why did Jesus groan and weep as He saw the grief at Lazarus’ tomb? (John 11:33-35). I agree with scholars who render Psalm 116:15, “Costly in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
King Herod, dressed in his royal apparel, delivered an oration to an audience eager to win his favor. He reveled in their flattering response. “[This is] the voice of a god and not of a man!” shouted the crowd (Acts 12:22). Fear and awe of the one true God should have led him to protest, but he didn’t. For his failure to “give glory to God,” he was immediately struck by an angel of the Lord. He suffered an excruciating death because of his lack of reverence for God.