Summer ought to be a season when we’re able to rest well—a time we can spend with the Lord and His goodness. But, oftentimes, we actually fall out of healthy spiritual habits and end up trying to rest from the Lord instead of resting in Him.
That’s why we’ve created the Summer Selah Series. Over 40 days, we’ll be sharing daily devotions during a season where you may not feel very devoted.
Based on excerpts from his book Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion, Ross Lester, our Pastor of Preaching and West Congregation Pastor, will provide readings from select Psalms, a brief devotional reflection, and some prayer points for each of the 40 days.
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Take some time to read Psalm 116. Then, come back and read the following verse again.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15 ESV)
Some time ago, I had the rare privilege of conducting the memorial service of a family member. We loved her very much and so it was a tough day—full of all the emotion associated with remembering a shared past and considering an unshared future.
Yet, this memorial had a sense of victory in the mourning; a sense of triumph in the tears; a sense of certainty in the confusion.
Why? Was it a vain hope or a series of empty platitudes in an attempt to provide short-term comfort? I don’t think so. I think it was because many of the people in the room believed the Bible and what it says about death for those who believe.
My relative was a saint. When I say that, I don’t mean she was very good. I mean she was a saint in the biblical sense, which means she was a forgiven daughter of God. The Bible says that God isn’t indifferent when one of His saints dies. In fact, the Psalmist tells us that He considers it a precious occasion.
John caught a glimpse of this in Revelation. He was shown a vision of heaven, and then was instructed by the Holy Spirit to write this: “‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’” (Revelation 14:13 NIV)
Saints receive rest when they die and so God sees it as precious because He knows how hard life has been. As a loving God, He enjoys being able to welcome His saints into a state of rest. No more strife, doubt, sickness, suffering, struggle, or pain. Just rest.
Saints receive reward when they die, and so God sees it as precious because, as a loving Dad, He wants to lavish undeserved gifts on His kids. No more earning, striving, saving, and wondering if we are good enough. Just lavish grace and reward.
When I ponder on these things, two things start to happen. Firstly, I start to identify with Paul more and more as he said, “To die is gain”. I get it. Death for the saint is better by far. But I also start to understand what he meant when he said, “To live is Christ”, because if this stuff is true, then I want to use every available breath I have to let as many as possible know what it takes and what it means to be a saint, and what awaits those who are.
Father God, my death will one day be precious in Your sight. Teach me to live for Christ so that, on that day, those left behind will have a great deal of hope in their mourning.
Ross Lester, Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion (Magnolia, Texas: Lucid Books, 2017)