SPEAKING AT A FUNERAL ( AS A MAN WITH LOVE AND CONCERN FOR THOSE THAT ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN )

I have a couple of friends that are funeral directors. Over the years, just as friends and even speaking at funerals I heard them both say that ( funerals are not for the dead but, for the living ). Since this is true; it becomes the responsibility of the pastor or, the person that is speaking to seek to bring closure and comfort to those that are present at the funeral. Not only that but also to seek to bring conviction to the hearts of those that remain, preparing them for the day that they each face the same end that the person’s funeral is all about.

Over the years of being a pastor and, speaking at funerals, even talking to people that were just before facing death; I come to realize that many people ( fear ) the transition from this life to the next. I’ve walked into many hospital rooms where people were sick. As soon as they seen me, they would reach out their hand toward me and say, ( I’m afraid of dying ) with tears in their eyes. This is the subject I’d like to address in this article.

As we look into this we must realize that there is a difference in fearing death and simply not desiring to leave because of ( what me might call ) obligations. Just as a man, I feel a need to look after my wife for as long as she lives. Therefore, If I face death before she does then she is lsft alone. I suppose that; that mindset would be common to most men that are born again. The point is I don’t fear death and, I’m just like many people that have taken the time to study and, truly get to know Jesus Christ far beyond just being born again.

My prayer is that when I do face death that I will show no fear but, show great confidence in my Lord. ( Philippians 1:28 ) and in nothing terrified by your adverseries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

Another point I’d like to make is about the age that one might die. For instance, I’ve been saved for 45 years. I am now sixty-nine years old. If God would have chosen to take me at the age of, let’s say ( thirty -two ) then the time I would have had to become ( spiritually mature ) would have been much shorter and a certain amout of fear would have been present about the unknown.

I also like to make people aware of the fact that ( ignorance is bliss ). If every person on the face of this earth could go and, spend just ten seconds in hell and, then return; it would make a world of difference in their walk with God the Father.

However, God the Father does not desire for you to walk with him in fear of eternity or knowledge of hell. He desires for you to come to him simply because you see yourself for what you are and, you make a choice ( by faith ) to walk with him in obedience. Put another way; I’d much rather have you to walk with me because you love me than because of any obligation or fear.

I want to use an illustration to show how it should work. If I was drowning in a lake and, just before I was going down for the last time; you come by and pulled me out. I’m very thankful for what you done for me. Therefore I ask you if I can walk along with you for a while.Yor say, sure.

As we walk together and, you begin to share who you are and, how you feel about things I don’t really know if I like you very much. Now, that doesn’t mean you are wrong. What it does mean is that if I am going to be friends with you, I’m going to have to change some things about who I am.

Being born again does not bring us security in itself. It’s not that we are not secure, we just can’t see it. It takes study and, a willingness to change ourselves as we grow spiritually to reach the point that we have security in what we say we believe.

( I believe ) that the security of a believer and, the peace of the people that attend that person’s funeral is very important. What is it that I mean? Let’s say that a person dies; at the end of their life they confess Jesus Christ and, the pastor stands before the people and proclaims this person’s ( late profession of Faith ). Can you see how that leaves the people with uncertain thoughts about what you are saying?

I’d like to give you a true example. When my mom died, I spoke at her funeral. I made this statement: ( I believe my mom died and went to hell )! AS soon as I made that statement in a very crowed Church, almost every head began to nod ( NO ). Why would that be? The answer is that the people in that building knew my mom’s walk with Christ, just that simple.

When we say we are saved ( born again ) we need to allow Christ to direct our walk and also begin to study, being filled with God’s Spirit. Our very conversational topics, the way we talk, the way we walk, every aspect of our lives should become a picture of Jesus Christ.

Those things makes it real to those around us. We become a witness for Christ in all we do. While I cannot see a person’s heart and, I truly realize that I can be deceived by, often what I see; it’s still a very powerful statement to live a life that is pleasing to Christ.

I have great confidence in the Holy Spirit of God. ( I know ) that God will keep his word. That is, even if I can’t see all I’d like to see in a person’s life. When any person is facing certain death, all the faith I have cannot help them at all. It’s when we, as individuals find the assurance we need in Christ that allows us to live and die with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

( I know ) that every person is not like me. Often, what we think we see is not really all it is to a life. I once went to visit a man by the request of another family member. When I pulled in the driveway, the man was standing in the yard. I approached him, stuck out my hand and, told him who I was, he did the same. As we talked, I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal savior? As soon as I asked that, he began to weep. This is what he told me. He told me that four years before that day he had gone to a revival service in a little Church in another town. He said as the man preached, he fell under great conviction and went down to the alter, giving his life to Christ. He also said, I want you to know preacher that for a good while after that I truly tried to yield my life to Chist. But, this liquor has got me and, it’s going to kill me.

It did kill him and, I was asked to preach his funeral. I shared that same story at his funeral. It’s easy for people, like me to judge other people when we really don’t know their struggles. However, it’s equally as easy for any person to claim that they cannot help themselves when they haven’t even attempted to yield their lives to Christ. They have never studied God’s word or sought; through prayer to ask God for his help that they might overcome themselves and the weaknesses they have.

Look at this verse: ( Philippians 4:13 ) I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. What does that verse sound like to you? The secret is yielding ourselves to Christ and, growing ( one day at a time ). As I state that verse, I also know what my weaknesses are and, just how much of a sinner I am. God sees my heart, I realize that however, I desire for the world to see him in me, and not me; myself. Therefore, I allow my flesh to yield to his will and not my own.

A funeral is the final chapter in any person’s life. It represents a true picture of who you are and, to whom you yielded yourself. LIke my mom, ever person actually preaches their own funeral. If we will take the time in our lives to allow ourselves to paint a picture of Jesus Christ then that’s exactly what the people at our funeral will see, without a doubt.

As you look at your life right now, what kind of picture are you painting as you walk each day? How does the people in your community see you? A testimony is a building process. It can much easier be torn down that it can be built. The struggle to build a testimony for Jesus Christ is very hard work, most people don’t won’t to pay the price necessary to build that aspect of their lives but, in the end, it’s worth it all.

In closing, I’d like to share the words of a song I like:

WHEN I CROSS THAT RIVER

MANY HILLS AND MANY VALLEYS, MY OLD TIRED FEET HAVE TROD;

AND SO OFTEN I HAVE WONDERED, IF I’D EVER REACH HEAVEN SOD.

BUT I KNEW THE ANSWER, WHEN I STEPPED IN JORDON’S STREAM.

WHEN I CROSSED THAT RIVER, IT WAS WORTH IT ALL TO ME.

(2 ) NOW I’VE CHANGED FROM RAGS TO A ROBE OF WHITE,

AND MY SHOES ARE MADE OF GOLD.

DOWN GLORY ROAD THE LORD IS LEADING ME.

ALL IS NEW THERE’S NOTHING OLD.

WE JUST STOPPED BRFORE MY MANSION, MY NAME’S INSCRIBED ABOVE THE DOOR.

JUST TODAY IT WAS COMPLETED, AND I’LL LIVE HERE FOREVER MORE.

( CHOURS )

WHEN I CROSSED THAT RIVER, IT WAS WORTH IT ALL TO ME.

ALL THE BEAUTIES OF HEAVEN, BEFORE MY EYES I COULD SEE.

WELL, THERE STANDS JESUS AND THERE’S MOM AND DAD.

THEY’VE BEEN WAITING FOR ME.

WHEN I CROSSED THAT RIVER, IT WAS WORTH IT ALL TO ME.

Marshall Clayton

2 Timothy 1:7

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