Posts Tagged ‘funerals’

Reach out to the Living – While it is Day

November 9, 2019

DSCF1617

The recent funeral of a well-known radio and television presenter here in Ireland brought to mind thoughts of being faithful to people while they are still alive. I recall sending something (a tract and a letter I believe) to this person many years ago. When we are faithful witnesses to people, this is something which we will never regret, even if there is either no response or a negative response from the person in question. The Lord loved and died for all and who knows how He will use the little morsels we scatter to His glory? The following is a short modified extract from my book “Singing on the Journey Home….”
I recall years ago befriending a lady whose mother was very ill. One day, towards the end of her mother’s life, I called to see my friend but prior to this I had been praying much for her mother and my desire was to speak with her. After a few moments, in answer to my prayer, she took me upstairs to see her. She was not really old by today’s standards; around seventy I think. The atmosphere was a little strained, but when I look back on that day, I know for sure that the Lord was with me and that He did speak to that lady. I was also sure that she had met another Christian at some time, and that she knew something of the scriptures for she finished some verses of the Bible that I had started to quote. I can recall a certain special moment during this exchange when there was complete silence and the lady looked at me perceptively. It was one of those looks that I shall never forget. I wanted to be gentle, to be led of the Lord, in all that I said to her – yet I felt so inadequate for the task. Still I felt that the Lord was opening her heart, speaking to her in that still small voice – the only voice that can truly penetrate the hearts of men and women.
It was the memory of the journey home from that visit that I shall never forget. I had felt emotional on leaving that home and as I drove away I felt the presence of God very strongly. Then, just as I was about half way home, that presence intensified, so much so that I almost had to stop the car. I tried not to let the tears blind me as I drove along. For the remainder of that day I went about my household duties, continuing to feel the Lord’s strong and loving reassurance in my heart.
A short time later that lady passed away and I went to the graveside as a mark of respect. It was a big funeral. Everyone seemed to know each other but I knew no one there, with the exception of my friend and a couple of others. I shook hands with my friend, who was naturally distraught and then I withdrew a distance from the many people who thronged the graveside. Somehow I was feeling very much a stranger in the midst of it all, particularly with the proceedings that followed.
The ceremony was very elaborate – if it was possible for a ceremony to get someone into heaven, then that one certainly would have. I watched as the young Roman Catholic Priest who was conducting the proceedings suddenly broke into song, in Latin. He sang with all his might and then uttered such eloquent prayers for the deceased. The coffin was one of the best that money could buy, as was the headstone. The intentions and the prayers were sincere but I knew that none of this could make any difference to the most important issue of all – the eternal destination of the deceased.
Walking away from that scene, I realised that I could never know for sure in this life whether this lady had trusted the Lord, but He knew and now it remained for me to pray for my friend and her family, that they too would find the loving Saviour who is our only real comfort in grief and loss. I also knew that the Lord had not brought me into contact with this family for nothing and that His Word, which I had quoted to a dying soul, would not “return unto Him void.”
How lovely it is to tell others of the Saviour who has come “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Like the dying thief on the cross who was only a short time from eternity, they too may find the Saviour before they leave this scene of time. My prayer for the elderly souls that I have felt led to visit (and the younger souls that I have felt led to speak to) is that the light of the Saviour would penetrate the souls of those in their twilight years – and the souls of the younger too, who could also be standing by ‘the very cliff edge of eternity.’ Surely He is but a prayer away… and even though we may be in perfect health, are we not all “dying and perishing” spiritually before we are touched by the Saviour?

 

What is “The Church?”

January 16, 2017

033

I was at a funeral a few days ago, in a small church which was absolutely packed to capacity, given that the deceased was very well known in this rural community. Later after standing in the bitterly cold wind in the country churchyard, I decided to make my way into the warm church hall for a welcome cup of hot tea and the customary sandwiches and “tray bakes.” Some people that I talked with referred in vague terms to “the church” in conversation, something which led me to my present train of thought…

So what exactly is “the Church?” Many would say that it is an organisation or denomination… their denomination; others would say that it is a building; still others would use the term generally, in the ecumenical sense for members of many (usually mainstream) denominations, while there are those who would say that “the Church” consists of those who “attend church services.”

Well, the truth is that “The Church” as portrayed in scripture is not a building, nor an organisation of religious people, nor a denomination or denominations, nor even the “people who attend church services.” “The Church” is that body of believers throughout this entire world who have been truly born again of the Spirit of God – those who have trusted, by faith, in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and who “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1John 1v7) These individuals may attend a variety of different churches or denominations but they are marked by one common trait – the love in their hearts for both their Saviour and each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

The warmth and love that is felt when having fellowship with other believers is second to none… and this love is also extended to my fellow travellers in life, whatever their faith or indeed lack of. The believer, the member of that body of Christ has a love for souls and a desire to see them saved and while they may not always see “eye to eye” with fellow Christians of other denominations, they have a love in their hearts for those individuals; love which transcends their differences.

We are not to be surprised if “the world hates us.” (1John 3v13) But understandably it would be surprising to feel the coldness and animosity of those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in the Lord – and yet this must not affect our attitude to them.

In Matthew 24 we are told of many of the signs of Christ’s coming again. In Verse 10-13 we read: “And then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Coldness and lack of love are surely traits of these last days. Places of worship are full of many nominal Christians but “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1John 3v13)

To love the Lord our God and one another is the greatest commandment upon which all others are based. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1John 4v18)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1John 3v23)

And so, “the Church” know the Lord and the Lord knows those that are His. I love the old hymn by Samuel J. Stone: “The Church’s One Foundation” which embraces this truth… “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Timothy 2v19)

Many denominations were represented at that funeral, but there is only one Church – the Church which is made up of those individuals who have availed of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation; those who love Him and walk with Him until He comes or calls them Home…

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord:

She is His new creation by water and the Word;

From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died.”

Link to this hymn, which in its original form has seven verses: https://youtu.be/iOGF93cDYNs

Happy New Year?

January 8, 2015

9733

I certainly hope so! A Happy New Year is what I sincerely wish for everyone who reads this… but who knows? The Bible says: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow: for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27v1) Indeed, knowing how it is with the terrible unrest in this world, we brace ourselves in the knowledge that just about any evil can be perpetrated.

Today I have been hearing about the recent Paris shootings from my daughter who works a short distance from the area where they took place. How my heart goes out to the loved ones and friends of those who were murdered, some of whom were police officers. Yes, who knows “what a day may bring forth?”

Shortly before Christmas my dear Mum passed away on 13th December. I was just starting to come to terms with this terrible loss when suddenly we received the news that my husband’s Dad, of whom I was very fond, had also passed away. My children have witnessed the funerals of two of their grandparents – one on 16th December and the other just eight days later, on Christmas Eve… And this past year I have also had to face up to other negative news concerning my health, having had a third operation.

I often wondered how on earth I could ever cope with the loss of my mother – but I have! How can this be so and how can I have lived through such a traumatic time over these last few weeks, with whole nights spent without sleep? The answer is… I could not possibly have coped if I had not been leaning on the Lord and His great power to carry me through.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46v1

He has helped me to cope physically and He has helped me to remain calm when faced by some very distressing circumstances.

“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34v4)

I met an acquaintance (a Christian) locally one day while shopping and I told her about Mum.

“Oh, but your mother knew the Lord didn’t she?” she said cheerfully.

“Yes, but I miss her so much…”

“Oh, Elizabeth…” she said warmly, “she’s gone just a little while before you. You’ll see her again!”

“Yes, yes… you’re right of course. That’s true…”

Somehow those cheerful words put a spring in my step and I continued on my way, much encouraged on that dark December day after her funeral. Yes, in just a little while I will see her again. Recently, too, I also remembered Mum’s words to me… “Don’t worry about me love… if I’m not here some day, you’ll know where I am…”

What a glorious wonder… to see the face of our Redeemer, our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Meanwhile I will go in His strength, sowing the seed, distributing her testimonies – and that of my Dad who passed away just three years ago.

And I am ready to reach others in whatever way the Lord will direct me, until the Lord’s return – or His home call to me. Who knows, indeed, what a day may bring forth (never mind a year) in this uncertain and dangerous world we live in?

To those who know Him… “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46v11)

What a wonderful Saviour, Redeemer, Comforter, Confidant and Friend to have as we launch into the year ahead – whether its waters are troubled or smooth.

Whoever you are, yes, I do wish you have a happy year ahead but who knows? And even when everything is going our way, without the Saviour life is really meaningless. Furthermore none of us are immune from unhappy events in this world, whatever our profession of faith… but His grace is greater!

If you have never done so – trust Him now to forgive you your sins and to shoulder your burdens and heartaches – and He will deal with them all, for He died that you might have life and have it more abundantly and then, even when the low times come knocking at your door, He will carry you through and you can claim these words for your own…

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)