All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Book Review: Life in the Shadow of Death by Michael Whitworth

Life in the Shadow of Death by Michael Whitworth
Life in the Shadow of Death
by Michael Whitworth
2019, Start2Finish

How do you deal with grief? Everyone is different, and everyone moves through the emotions related with grief at a different pace. Michael Whitworth deals with the topic gently and with sensitivity in his book, Life in the Shadow of Death. This short book is a must-read not only for ministers, but for all Christians. Every one of us grieves and ministers to friends as they grieve, and brother Whitworth’s book gives the reader insight into what to say and do the in those situations.

Brother Whitworth reminds us of some “unconventional losses” that are often overlooked or mishandled when we think about grief: miscarriage, suicide, and divorce. The church can and must do a better job of deal with these situations with meekness and love, and the author gives some practical and Scriptural advice on how to do that.

From the back cover:

“We live in a grief illiterate society.”

Truer words were never spoken. Grief is more than unpleasant; it’s messy. Grief is more than foreign; it’s counter-intuitive. Grief is more than probable; it’s inevitable. Do you know what the Bible has to say about grief? Have you prepared yourself to grieve, and to do so well when your time comes?

Life in the Shadow of Death will educate you on grief and equip you to grieve to the glory of God. In the book Michael Whitworth discusses what the Bible has to say about the grief journey, how to weep appropriately with those that weep, how to grieve unconventional losses, and how we can know we are never alone in the valley of the shadow of death.

Purchase Life in the Shadow of Death by Michael Whitworth.

God’s Merciful Invitation (Isaiah 55:1-13)

Isaiah A Study of Selected Texts

God’s Merciful Invitation (Isaiah 55:1-13)

  • 55:1-5 – The invitation extended
    • To everyone (Revelation 22:17)
    • Salvation cannot be earned (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9)
    • “He who dies with the most toys wins?” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
    • Action required: incline, come, hear
    • “The sure mercies of David” (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Acts 13:34-39)
    • Christ is the faithful witness (Revelation 1:5; John 18:37)
  • 55:6-9 – Accepting the invitation
    • Action required: seek, call, forsake, return
    • Seek (Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 11:6)
    • Repentance: forsake wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts, and return to the Lord (Proverbs 23:7; Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8)
    • Abundant forgiveness (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19)
    • Contrast between man’s thoughts and ways and God’s
  • 55:10-13 – The purpose of God’s Word
    • Rain and snow serves physical purpose
    • God’s Word serves spiritual purpose
    • “The pen is mightier than the sword” (Hebrews 4:12-13; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:22-25; James 1:18,21)
    • “Jesus does not offer us the peace of the world. Peace is not the absence of alarm, but the presence of God in our lives.” (Michael Hatcher)

Discussion Questions

1. How abundant is God’s mercy?

2. What are “the sure mercies of David”?

3. In order to be forgiven, what must the sinner do?

4. What is the contrast between man’s ways and thoughts and the Lord’s?

5. What does He mean when God says His Word “shall not return to me void”?

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 30/260: Read Acts 6

How important is your reputation? When the apostles sought men to help serve the widows, a good reputation was important. Yet, a good reputation does not guarantee a wealth of friends. Winston Churchill said, “If you don’t have any enemies in life you have never stood up for anything.”

Stephen stood for the truth, and his stand created enemies. There were some men who disputed with Stephen, accused him of blasphemy, and even set up false witnesses against him.

Peter wrote, “But even if you should suffer for righteous-ness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness has fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:14-17).

Suffering can come from good or from evil. Do an honest evaluation when you face trouble to be sure your suffering comes from standing for the truth.

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Pray

Pray for strength in your stand for the truth, and for patience in the face of persecution.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 29/260: Read Acts 5

Jealousy. A desire to receive the accolades of peers. Greed for attention and praise. This is not only the story of Ananias and Sapphira, but all too often, this is the story of us.

The early church shared their possessions and distributed to each other when needs were made known. Ananias and Sapphira saw others doing this, and wanted to be included, but when they sold their land they kept part of the money back. They claimed that they had given all, and Peter called them out. “You have not lied to men but to God.”

The result was an immediate punishment from God; both Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead. The impact on the church was widespread.

We need to guard our hearts against jealousy in the church. Rejoice in the accomplishments of others without seeking the steal the spotlight for yourself. Do not lay claim to the good works of others, or lie about your own activities.

Do not seek the praise of your fellow man. Do good to the glory of God and let God reward you, even if no one this side of eternity takes notice.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the _______________ of Jesus Christ for the _______________ of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy _______________.”

Pray

Pray for humility in your service to the Lord, seeking glory for Him and not self.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 28/260: Read Acts 4

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

What a testimony to the impact Jesus had on the lives of these men! What kind of an impact has the Christ had on your life?

When you talk to others about the Lord, are you confident in your belief? Can others see Jesus in your life, the way you talk and act? Do you exhibit the meekness and mercy of the Messiah? Do you love your neighbor enough to tell him about the only path to salvation?

Peter and John were so convinced that they would not let the threats of violence derail them from the mission. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Is your faith so strong that you have to tell others?

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “_______________, and let every one of you be _______________ in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall _______________ the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Pray

Pray for boldness as you talk to others about God regardless of consequences.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 27/260: Read Acts 3

The birth, life, and death of Jesus were foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. Hundreds of years before He appeared in the flesh, they said He would appear. They not only prophesied about Him, but also His church. Peter says, “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”

Here are just a few of the prophecies fulfilled in Christ:

  • Jesus’ lineage (Genesis 26:1-5; 28:13-14; 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-10)
  • Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • Worked miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6) and taught in parables (Psalms 78:1-4)
  • The betrayal (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13)
  • The crucifixion and surrounding events (Isaiah 50:6; 53; Psalm 109:24-25; 34:20; Zechariah 12:10; Amos 8:9)
  • The resurrection (Psalm 16:8-11; 68:18; 110:1)
  • The church (Isaiah 2; Daniel 2; Joel 2)

These were not educated guesses; these were Spirit-inspired prophecies about the Savior of the world and His kingdom.

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Pray

Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the foreknowledge of God to provide a path to salvation for His creation.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 26/260: Read Acts 2

How do you react when someone confronts you about something you have done? Are you defensive, or penitent? How we react to the awareness of sin in our lives says a lot about our hearts and our desire to be right with God.

After giving a brief history lesson, including prophecy that pointed to the very day they were witnessing, Peter tells the Jews on Pentecost that they had crucified the Lord and Christ sent from God. What was their reaction? Luke says, “They were cut to the heart,” then they asked, “What shall we do?”

They were genuinely concerned about the atrocious act they had participated in and wanted to correct it. Obviously, they could not undo the act, but by the grace of God they could be forgiven.

It is interesting to note that Peter responded definitively: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Without obedience to this command, their sins would not be remitted.

What do you lack in your relationship with God? Have you repented of your sins and been baptized? Are you obediently faithful to the revealed Word?

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Pray

Pray for forgiveness, but do not neglect obedience. Pray for stronger faith.

God’s Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

Isaiah A Study of Selected Texts

God’s Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

  • 52:13-15 – Exaltation of the Servant
    • “Exalted and extolled and be very high”
    • Exaltation followed severe maltreatment (Luke 23:14; John 1:1,14; Philippians 2:7)
  • 53:1-3 – The Servant despised and rejected
    • “Who has believed our report” (John 12:37-38; Romans 10:14-17)
    • He wasn’t what they expected (Mark 6:2-4; John 1:46)
    • He can still be despised today (John 12:42-43, 49-50; Romans 8:17; Matthew 25:31-46)
  • 53:4-6 – Vicarious suffering
    • Because of our sins (Isaiah 59:2)
    • Wounded or pierced (Psalm 22:16; John 19:34; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37)
    • The folly of following human wisdom (Proverbs 3:5; Jeremiah 10:23; Judges 17:6; 21:25; Proverbs 14:12)
  • 53:7-9 – Silence of the Servant
    • Before Pilate (Matthew 27:11-14)
    • Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60)
    • Jesus as an example of suffering (1 Peter 2:18-25)
  • 53:10-12 – Victory and Reward
    • “The fruit of his suffering is the redemption of men effected by the offering for sin which Christ made when he went to the cross.” (Guy N. Woods)
    • “He shall prolong His days” – resurrection from the dead (Revelation 1:18)

Discussion Questions

1. Why is this passage so often read as we prepare to observe the Lord’s Supper?

2. Why was the Messiah “despised and rejected by men” in the first century? What are some reasons men today still reject Him and His message?

3. What phrases indicate the vicarious nature of Christ’s suffering?

4. In what way was the Lord’s days prolonged?

5. Identify some of the specific prophecies in this chapter and their fulfillments in the New Testament.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 25/260: Read Acts 1

For three years, Jesus prepared His closest followers for the mission of taking His gospel all over the world. That mission was to begin in Jerusalem, but it was never meant to stay there. They were to preach the truth “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Two things absolutely necessary to accomplish this mission were unity with each other and communication with God. Luke tells us, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” Without unity with each other (“one accord”) and communication with God (“prayer and supplication”), these men could have never accomplished their mission.

We still need that unity and communication today. The will of God will be accomplished, but if we are to be involved (and all faithful Christians should desire involvement) then we need to be united in the truth and constant in prayer. These two fundamental facts are repeated throughout inspiration (Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Do you endeavor for unity and peace among the brethren? Are you praying without ceasing?

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Acts 1:11. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Pray

Pray that God will use you in His service; pray for unity in the local congregation and the brotherhood at large.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 24/260: Read Luke 24

Jesus is risen! His disciples did not understand at first, despite all He had taught them. They failed to connect the dots between the Old Testament prophecies and the life of Jesus.

He admonished them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” He said, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

Let’s not be too hard on those disciples, though; we are often the same way today! Too often we have a tendency to be short-sighted, not comprehending the spiritual blessings God has in store for His faithful children in eternity. Discouraged by the temporal, we forget the permanent promises of Christ. Too often we are the foolish ones; we are slow of heart to believe.

Here’s the big picture: the Son of God came to this world, dwelt among men, and was killed by His own creation. But the story doesn’t end there! He rose from the dead, and because He conquered death, remission of sins is involved to penitent believers today! What a wonderful covenant He has made with His people!

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Acts 1:11. “Men of _______________, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same _______________, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like _______________ as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Pray

Pray for patience in the promises of God; pray for confidence in the covenant of Christ.