Message summary: Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God’s eternal kingdom up there!
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“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).
This week death visited our neighborhood with a longtime neighbor passing away Wednesday evening. Last night we noted the many cars gathered at the home and considered what that family is going through.
One of the hardest but necessary and fulfilling times of ministry is at the time of death. Serving together in ministry for over 45 years now, since we worked together even while dating prior to our marriage in 1976, we have walked with many through the valley of the shadow of death. Brooksyne especially has a real ministry touch in that regard and would be a good hospice or hospital chaplain.
Sorrow and grief at the passing of a loved one are a healthy and inevitable aspect of love but we are not to grieve in the same way as those who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).
As followers of Christ we do have hope so we want to consider a number of exchanges made at the time of death:
We exchange our natural body for a spiritual body. Some die young or are even murdered while in the womb. Some die in the prime of life, and we see that number increased due to various causes these days. Others have the broken, worn-out earthly body due to increased age. Some have lived with a lifelong disability due to birth abnormality or injury.
We exchange homes. We live in various settings on this side of eternity. Some, like us and many reading this, have had a pretty good life with freedom and relative prosperity. Others have had it to various degrees a very hard life, whether living in austere poverty or in a place of persecution. But we exchange our temporal homes for our eternal abode which now includes not just the Spirit of God but His very presence. It also includes believers who preceded us when they received their eternal inheritance. (The older you get the more this aspect becomes part of heaven’s appeal.)
We exchange our sorrows for a place where there will be no sorrows. Although we have the blessing of peace and joy on this side, sorrow of one kind or another is always present or just around the corner. Revelation 21:4 has a great glimpse of eternity: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
“If You Could See Me Now” is a song written from the perspective of a believer who now dwells in heaven. His or her view of life is so much brighter and absent of any sadness or trace of sorrow as seen in verse three:
Have worked out for my good
To know it brought Him glory
When I misunderstood
Though we’ve had our sorrows
They can never compare
To what Jesus has in store for us
No language can share
(A link to a video is posted below).
These promises bring such blessed assurance for those who remain on this side especially during a time of loss. Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God’s eternal kingdom up there!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Death is a common topic in our chaplaincy ministry. Visiting 400-500 people each week we often hear stories and provide comfort concerning the death of a loved one. This morning we heard an especially grievous story concerning the uncle of a project manager we see weekly. His uncle was a kind man who reached out to others, especially troubled youth. A young man he had worked with showed up at his welding shop asking for money for drugs. His uncle said “no” so the young man took his keys attempting to steal his truck. The uncle reached in the window trying to take the keys out and the troubled youth, high on meth, rolled up the window and drug the man around till he was unconscious and was killed due to blunt force head injuries.
Special Thanksgiving Resources
We offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the USA (November 28).
“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns” (printable webpage). “A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal. A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.
A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)
A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!