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What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36)
When the U.S. stock market crashed in 1929, J.C. Penney had made some unwise personal commitments.  He became so worried that he could not sleep.  Night after night Penney tossed and turned and became obsessed with a fear of death.  Out of this nervous condition, he developed a disease known as shingles.  He was hospitalized and given sedation to relieve the intense pain.  A combination of circumstances, physical and mental, led him to believe he would not live until morning.  He wrote farewell letters to his wife and son.  He sincerely believed that the monster of death was lurking for him in the hospital corridors.
Somehow Penney lived through the night.  The next morning the fear-torn Penney heard a group of people singing in the hospital chapel.  The words of the song drifted down the halls: "God Will Take Care of You."  He listened to the words intently.  They were followed by a reading of a passage from Scripture and prayer.
Then, something happened.  In Penney's own words: "I can't explain it.  I can only call it a miracle.  I felt as if I had been instantly lifted out of the darkness of a dungeon into warm, brilliant sunlight.  I felt as if I had been transported from hell to paradise.  I felt the power of God as I had never felt it before....  From that day to this, my life has been free from worry."
Penney's fear of death was suddenly cut down to size.  It ceased to haunt him.  Why?  Neither Penney—nor anyone else—could not explain it by reason; yet countless millions have found that when they committed their lives to Christ, they found the reality of a supernatural peace that cuts the fear of death down to proper size.
Knowing Christ links us to Him who has already fought the battle and won.  Remember Christ's words, "Because I live you shall live also" (John 14:19).  This is why the Apostle Paul could say, "O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?  But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).
Simple faith in God goes beyond reason, yet it gives peace that is most reasonable.  What more beautiful expression of peace in the face of death is there than the twenty-third Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.....   Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me."
John Bunyan expresses the attitude of those who have committed their lives to Christ:  "Let dissolution come when it will, it can do the Christian no harm, for it be but a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a vast sea of troubles into a haven of rest; out of a crowd of enemies, to an innumerable company of true, loving, and faithful friends; out of shame, reproach and contempt into exceeding great and eternal glory."
How beautiful are the words of Christ: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die"(John 11: 25-26).   William Cullen Bryant penned these familiar lines: "So live, that when thy summons comes to join/ The innumerable caravan which moves/ To that mysterious realm, where each shall take/ His chamber in the silent halls of death,/ Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,/ Scourged, to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed./ By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,/ Like one that wraps the drapery of his couch/ About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."       

 Resource reading: Luke 12

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Author Biography

Harold J. Sala
Web site: Guidelines International Ministries
Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963 and has served at its helm since its inception. Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

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