Three weeks ago, I officiated at the funeral for my sister and then this last weekend did the same at the funeral for my wife’s youngest sister.
While It has been a hard time for our family and two very emotionally difficult times for us, I want to share what I have realized, personally.
I have come to realize that there are two of God’s miracles He allows us to participate in. The first is the miracle of birth and the second is the miracle of death. The two are part of the very fabric of life and part of God’s whole plan for us.
I am sharing my sermon notes from my wife’s sister Debbie’s memorial service so that we may look at death from God’s eyes, rather than from our grief.
'I am the resurrection and the life,' says the Lord. 'Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. John 11.
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.
Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. So we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4.
Jesus was with his disciples, making his way across the Jordan River and back to Bethany in Judea when he spoke to his disciples, saying,
12His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
Of course we all know what happened when Jesus went to the tomb, had the stone rolled back and called Lazarus, now dead 4 days, to come forth. That lesson even Thomas learned that even the dead are alive in Christ. The apostle, Paul said “to be out of my body is to be with Christ” Even so, dear Debbie.
On Thursday morning, our sister, mother, friend and loving wife, Debbie quietly fell asleep in the arms of her Father in Heaven. Debbie’s sleep, though, has not been long. God reached down and picked her up from her broken, tired body and gave her not only eternal peace and rest, but eternal pleasures at his Savior's right hand.
Today, as we mourn her loss, she is perhaps spending these minutes running around with strong legs and hugging all her loved ones who have gone ahead.
Or perhaps, as we mourn, she is making up for all the desserts that her sickness and pain had robbed her of. Maybe she is enjoying the feast that God has prepared for her.
Or, maybe as we mourn, she is at God's side at last, talking to her Savior as we talk among ourselves. Jesus loves her, and how glad he is to have Debbie at his side for eternity. Debbie’s vision has been make perfect, enabling her to see with her eyes what his heart has always known -- the love of her Father in heaven.
One thing is sure.
In Christ, mortality always leads to immortality
The only certainty to life is death. Ps.116:15 proclaims Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints
There are three ways
in which for the Christian death
is precious to God.
Death is going to sleep.
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
Jesus described the little girl’s death as sleep.
Death is a journey.
Paul talks about his death as a “departure” in 2 Timothy 4:6. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
The word departure is used of striking a tent, or untying a boat from its mooring.
Paul talks about life as the good fight.
Paul talks about life as a race and the need to finish well.
Paul also talks about life as keeping the faith.
Deb fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.
Deb has already arrived at the celestial city.
Jesus teaches in John 14 that our destination has been determined.
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
First, he has prepared a place for us, complete and perfect.
It’s impossible to describe this place, because we’re trying to describe an infinite idea to finite minds; we’ll just have to experience it.
Second, in heaven Jesus awaits those who are His.
Heaven is going home, and who is afraid of that?
The song, “Finally Home” says it well, with a little editing from Pastor Ed
Finally Home lyrics
When I finally make it home when I finally make it home.
At her death, though Deb’s body had wasted away, she became more alive than ever.
For the Christian, the most exciting experience of life lies in the future.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend thy servant Debbie.,
God be with you all,