Dear Friends,

I know this isn’t the most enjoyable subject, but I’m not into watered-down, syrupy-sweet Christianity.  If the thought of dying is too depressing to you, then I want you to know my Lord more intimately.  Allow me to address this subject in an encouraging way.

Recently, the father of a close friend was dying of cancer.  I talked to the father a number of times as he walked through his difficult fight against this dreaded disease.  When he first learned of his bad prognosis we talked on the phone.  He was a committed Christian who had served the Lord faithfully his whole life.  I told him that he had been teaching his children and grandchildren how to live.  Now it was his time to teach his children and grandchildren how to die.

Here are a couple of stories to lighten the mood…

A YOUNG BOY…was once standing in the lobby of the church looking at pictures on the wall.  The pastor stood beside the boy and said to him, “These are some of our members who died in the service.”  The boy, without taking his eyes off the pictures responded, “Which service 9am or 11am?”

A PASTOR…was preaching about heaven and getting all worked up as he thought about how glorious it would be.  He shouted, “If you want to go to heaven stand up!”  With that, the entire congregation stood up except one young boy on the front row.  The preacher looked at him and said, “Son, don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”  The boy answered, “O yes sir, when I die!  I thought you were getting up a group right now!”

My dad used to say, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die!”  I completely understand this sentiment.  Although I am prepared, I have much more to do and don’t have any desire to leave soon.

HERE ARE SOME TRUTHS THAT PREPARE US FOR THE INEVITABLE:

First of all, when a Christian dies, we do not grieve like those without hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.

While we are rightfully sad at the passing of a Christian loved one, God is delighted. 

Psalm 116:15 (NKJV) Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.

DURING OUR TIME OF GRIEF GOD IS AT WORK PROVIDING…

  1. Generous Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

  1. Inexpressible Joy

1 Peter 1:8 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

  1. Transcendent Peace

Philippians 4:6–7 (NIV84) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  1. Enduring Strength

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

  1. Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3 (NIV84) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

What happens to a Christian when they die?

 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NIV84) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Billy Graham said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Q:  How do I know that there is life after death for a Christian?  A:  Jesus died and came back to life! 

Revelation 1:18 (NLT) “I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

Because He holds the “keys of death and the grave” we need to respond to Him in faith.

John 11:25–26 (NLT) Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Each person must face their own death one day. 

Hebrews 9:27 (NLT) And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,

Are you prepared to face Him?

1 John 5:11–13 (NLT) And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

God has plans for you…Will you seek Him?

Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV84) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

By living fully into these truths, you and I will be prepared for death whenever it comes.  Settling your relationship with the Lord brings incredible peace and strength to your life.

If you’re not prepared, will you trust Him today?

Romans 10:9 (NIV84) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

If you have questions about being prepared, please let me know.  I’d be glad to talk with you about this.

Onward prepared,
Pastor Gary