Friday, December 29, 2006


A Funeral Sermon Centred on Psalm 90

Ray Charles said, “Live every day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you’re gonna be right.” The Bible often reminds us that we should live our lives with the end in view. One of those scriptures is Psalm 90. “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart unto wisdom” (vs. 12). George Bernard Shaw once said, “Life’s ultimate statistic is the same for all people: one out of one dies.” This admonition is set against the backdrop of the eternal nature of God. The Psalmist begins, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”
1. God Is Eternal The Eternal Nature Of God
2. Life Is Transient The Frailty Of Man Life Is Speedy a watch in the night.. seems long, but over before barely begun. Life Is A Story Life Is A Dream Life Is A Flood
So brief our days, so very brief Like an autumn rose with its falling leaf, A moment’s light, a glance of sun And then our pilgrimage is done. As the rainbow fades in the summer sky As the green grass flourishes to die
This moment’s triumph, too, will wane And none shall call it back again. Write quickly, then, while the candle glows A little while and the book will close, Go carve your figure of renown For soon you must lay your chisel down.
Use well this hour’s joy, its grief -- For life is brief, so very brief.
• The most important things in life are not things. A philosophy professor illustrates what I am saying. He walked into his class one day and placed some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to .ll it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He again asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand .filled up the rest of the jar. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, “yes.” The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table, and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that the jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your faith— if everything else were lost and only these things remained, your life would still be full. “The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar .first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for our life—if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important for you. Pay attention to the things that are critical for your happiness. “Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. Worship God regularly. There will always be time to clean the house and .x the disposal. “Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.” One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled, “I’m glad you asked,” he said. “It just goes to show that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”
He was reminding us that the most important things in life are not things. They are relationships. Relationships with your parents, children, family, friends, and, most of all, God. And let me just remind you that no matter what your relationship is to your parents, you’ll miss them when they are gone.
• All glory is fading. Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one else does. The movie Patton ends with General George W. Patton, the colorful and controversial general of WWII, describing the victory parade of a Roman general returning from a triumphant conquest. At the head of the parade were the trumpets. They were followed by the strange animals from the country he had conquered, and then came the chariots laden with treasures he had taken. In a chariot rides the conquering general. Before him, in chains, march the prisoners he has taken. Beside him, or perhaps riding on the trace horses, are his children dressed in white robes, and behind him stands a slave whispering in his ear, “All glory is fading.”
• Even if you have a pain, you don’t have to be a pain.
Elderly peoples’ wedding I began the ceremony by saying, “Win, do you take Sue to be your lawfully wedded wife, and do you promise before God and these witnesses to love her, comfort her, honor her, keep her in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, to keep thee only unto her so long as you both shall live? Do you so promise?”
And instead of saying, “I do,” he said, “I’ll try.” I like that! That’s enthusiasm. That’s optimism. Eightynine years old and still willing to try. The years and tears had not stolen his joy or his optimism or his willingness to venture.
• Only God is in a position to look down on anyone. Thaddeus Stevens has been called “the best white friend Black Americans ever had.” A congressman from Pennsylvania, Stevens opposed slavery with a vengeance. He flayed his fellow congressmen over the issue every chance he got. Brilliant, fearless, unyielding, Stevens believed that slavery was the lone blot on the world’s noblest document, the U.S. Constitution, and he was determined to have it erased. But in the midst of the conflict, he never became bitter. His wit grew famous. Once, an enemy met him on a narrow path and snarled, “I never step aside for a skunk.” Stevens moved out of the way saying, “But I always do” (Reader’s Digest, June 1971, 169). Thad! Don’t ever stoop to another person’s level except to lift him/her up.
• When we die, it’s more important to leave a testimony than a title.
One day, young ladies and gentlemen, you will die and they will carry you out to the cemetery and throw dirt in your face. Then the mourners will come back to church and have ham and potato salad and talk about you. When they do, what do you suppose they will say? They won’t talk about your titles or positions, but rather what you did in life to make the world a better place.” Then the question I want to ask you is this: ‘When you die and are gone, will you leave a title, or will you leave a testimony?’” Just one life Will soon be past Only what’s done For Christ will last.

A sermon on John 14:1-16
• Heaven is real.
Sigmund Freud explained heaven as a human fantasy rooted in man’s instinct for self-preservation. Harvard philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once said, “Can you imagine anything more appallingly idiotic than the Christian idea of heaven?” Freud was wrong and Jesus was right. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
• No more sea (v. 1) — nothing that separates. • No more tears (v. 4) — nothing that saddens.
• No more death (v. 4) — nothing that grieves. • No more pain (v. 4) — nothing that hurts.
• No more sin (v. 27) — nothing that defiles. • No more night (v. 25) — nothing that frightens.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
An elderly Christian woman was grief-stricken after the death of her daughter. To adjust, she boarded a ship from England to New York City to visit her other daughter. While at sea a severe storm struck. Passengers frantically raced for lifeboats. The elderly lady showed no signs of panic. A young man excitedly said, “Lady, don’t you know we may sink and all die?” “Young man,” she quietly replied, “I have one daughter in heaven and one daughter in New York City, and it doesn’t make any difference to me which one I see first.”
• Heaven is ready.
Hebrews 6:20 Jesus is called our “forerunner.” In the Roman army the forerunners were the reconnaissance troops. That is what Jesus did. He blazed the way to heaven and to God that we might follow in his steps. He has gone ahead to make things ready for us. “No more patients can be accepted.” Sometimes we want to buy tickets to concerts and discover that every seat has been sold. Periodically we want to take a certain flight and learn that it is overbooked. There was no room in the inn for Mary and the child, Jesus. This experience is commonplace on earth, but it is not in heaven nor indeed on the pathway that approaches heaven. “Whosoever will, may come! . . . and yet there is room.” And, there’s room for you. John, in the book of Revelation, pictures heaven as a city with twelve gates “On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates” Rev. 21:13
• Heaven is restricted.
It is an “exclusive” place. But its exclusion is not a matter of race or face or place. Jesus made this abundantly clear when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me.” Suppose we are in a strange town and ask for directions. Suppose the person said, “Take the first road to the right, then the second to the left, cross the square, and go past the church, then take the third road to the right and the fourth road to the left, and you’ll be there.” Chances are you and I would get lost before we were halfway there. But suppose the person we asked said, “Come, I’ll take you there.” In that case the person would be to us the way, and we could not miss it.
That’s what Jesus does for us. As Peter declares, “Christ died to bring us to God.” He not only gives us directions, he takes us by the hand and leads us safely there.
Robert Frost wrote a poetic masterpiece entitled, The Road Not Taken. The poem concerns a traveler who comes to a fork in the road and must decide which way to go. After evaluating the options, he makes his choice. Yet, even as he begins his trip down the road of his own choosing, he remarks:
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in the wood, And I . . . I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference!
There are two roads in life. One is broad and easy. The other is straight and narrow. One leads to life. The other leads to destruction. The difference is heaven and hell. Choose Christ and heaven can be yours.
Life is short, Death is sure, Sin, the curse, And Christ, the cure.

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