A time to die.

… from the message I delivered at a memorial yesterday.

There is a time for everything.  There is a time to be born and a time to die.  There are times in life to experience joy and there are times in life to experience sorrow.  There are times when both experiences are present.  Certainly, when Jesus gathers to himself one of his children the two of them begin to spend times of silence and times of speaking, times of laughing and times of dancing together in God’s Kingdom.  With that in mind, we yearn for that time when the Lord Jesus will sweep us up into his arms as well.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

We can have confidence in Jesus today because Jesus saves.  Jesus tells his followers, in John 10:10, that he is the gate; whoever enters through me, Jesus said, will be saved.  That person will enter through and find pasture, a Psalm 23 type of green meadow and quiet waters, with the Good Shepherd.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  And so, when someone responds to Jesus they began an eternal lifetime with God.  From that day forward, that person no longer belongs in this lost, struggling world, except to pursue the mission given by God to love, serve and rescue people in it.  And for that there is rejoicing.  For even in the season of death, a time that each of us will someday experience for ourselves, in the scope of eternity, in Jesus Christ death is a declaration of victory.  For in Jesus Christ death does not destroy life.  In Jesus Christ, death is only a time… a season.  With Jesus Christ, death is not eternity.  Eternity is the life, the abundant life, given by Jesus Christ.  Life is not a time nor a season now that Jesus has come.  Life is an everlasting embrace with the Savior.

And so we rejoice with Paul, who said in 1 Thessalonians, “We will be with the Lord forever.”  This is why Paul could also say in 2 Corinthians, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  In this way, the time for everything, the turning seasons of this world, are not the things that control us.  In this way we can say with Paul in Philippians that no matter what the circumstances I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.  For in Jesus Christ there is victory over even the most pressing, crushing, despairing season.  In Jesus Christ is the power to overcome every time, even the time under heaven to die.  For in Jesus Christ is everlasting life: a life that we may now have and someday have to the full.  Jesus gives us a pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, his own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.  Dearest Father, thank you that we may today live in hope and that we may tomorrow be in your embrace.  For this reason today we can sing, though Satan may buffet, though sorrows like sea billows roll, we can sing it is well with my soul.  Glory be to God for ever and ever.

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