I was asked to do a tribute at the memorial service of my cousin Raymond Middleton, who was an amazing trophy of grace, and no doubt welcomed by the Saviour with a ‘well done faithful servant.’
Raymond’s death was totally unexpected. His attractive and youthful seventy two year old wife Janet, was with her fit and healthy hubby one minute and not the next. Ray was a minister, and both were faithful servants of the Lord. What comfort could I possibly bring to Ray’s grieve stricken wife?
We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t grieve or shed tears for the loss of a loved one. God created us with our emotions of tears, laughter, sadness. Jesus wept at a graveside.
Death is no respecter of persons. All the great heroes of the Bible were not exempt. But unlike the unsaved, Janet can draw comfort from the fact that she will see her Ray again. And although we will know them, there will be ‘no giving in marriage’ because God has something far better! We will have perfectly renewed relationships, like it was supposed to be before the fall. Yet there are still Christians who adamantly believe that we will not even recognise one another in heaven because of a verse in Ecclesiastes 1:11 “There is no remembrance of former things.” But that ‘lack-of-remembrance’ will be all those not-so-nice ‘THINGS’ that marred life and relationships here. It was God who designed the family unit, and you only have to read God’s word to see how important a design it was… family.
I realise there may be relatives or family members (maybe even spouses!) that you may prefer not to be reunited with! That they caused you stress and heartache! Don’t worry! Those will be the forgotten ‘THINGS’ in Ecclesiastes.
How cruel it would be for a mom and dad to lose a little daughter never to see her face again! Or for a spouse to be told ‘that’s the end!’ But because of the Lord’s compassion, he has given loving clues that we will be reunited with our families. This fact helped King David with his grief on the death of his child.
God had taken David’s son because it was conceived in some sin David had committed. The child became sick so David fasted for him to live but his prayers went unanswered. David had to live with the pain of losing a son, but he did draw comfort that he would see him again, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).
David wouldn’t have found such comfort if he wasn’t going to recognise his child!
*The rich man recognised Lazarus in heaven!
*The disciples recognised Moses and Elijah in the transfiguration even though they had died years before!
*The disciples recognised Jesus after He had risen from the dead. “A spirit does not have flesh and bone as I have” (Luke 24:39).
Many think heaven will be sitting on a cloud bored! The Lord’s Resurrection graciously shows us that we will be real people not ‘ghosts’, “A spirit does not have flesh and bone as I have” (Luke 24:39). The Lord looked like an ordinary person. So much so that Mary thought he was the gardener, all to show that we too will be real people with a renewed perfect body! No age. No aches and pains. No deterioration. No weaknesses. No hair loss. Permanent youth! The Lord had a real body. .He walked. He talked. He ate. He conversed. He even cooked!
Heaven is real tangible place like earth, only without all the nasty bits we don’t like here. And Revelation 21 describes a little of what our permanent home will be like, and it is breathtaking. God only makes the very best and He wants to share His home with us! “Your dwelling place” (1 Kings 8:40). That is why He has left so many promises that we will enjoy it with Him. That’s why He made us! To dwell there with Him. A place of sheer bliss and never-ending joy. A place called heaven. Paradise! And the ‘Inevitable’ will be the start of a new life that even a multi billionaire’s lifestyle couldn’t even come close to!
What detracts from your enjoyment here? Disappointment? Bills? Sickness? Regrets? Getting old? Stress? Work? Or perhaps this new ideology influencing our children? Who wouldn’t want to live in a new world called heaven without any of this?
If I am looking forward to meeting my heroes of the Bible who I’ve never met, such as blameless Job, faithful Jeremiah, & meek Moses, why wouldn’t I also meet up with my loved ones again? There would be no point to ever having known them! “I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The Lord didn’t leave heaven’s glory to come to earth to abolish sickness. Sickness was the outcome of disobedience, and although I do believe in divine healing having experienced it firsthand, the Lord was crucified to abolish the result of sickness – the ‘INEVITABLE’ – and ‘death’ was mocked in the very face of Satan… “O death where is your sting? O death where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). “He will swallow up death for all time” (Isaiah 25:8).
These days everyone craves to live for as long as they possibly can, to avoid death for as long as they possibly can! So much emphasis is on how to stay young. Adverts bombard of products that promise to keep us living longer. Chemists are full of them and at what a price! That’s what is so wonderful about being born again. The free gift of Salvation brings about life of never getting old, without having spent a penny! Because Jesus paid the price – and what a price! We will be fit, strong, forever young, healthy, flawless. God couldn’t be kinder than to give us this assurance…“He who believes in me will live EVEN IF HE DIES” (John 11:25). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
I’m looking forward to seeing my Godly Mom and Dad again. But I also want to shake the hand and have a chat with some of my favourite people in the Bible such as Abigail, that long-suffering wife who tolerated a fool of a husband called Nabal, who’s mother must have had trouble bringing him up, as his name means ‘fool’. And I must speak with Mary, who was the chosen vessel to carry the Lord for 9 months, and I long to meet the Apostle Paul who endured so much brutality to bring us the Gospel.
I’m looking forward to joining my parents, my cousin Ray, and others, in what they’ve already had the privilege of seeing and enjoying before I have! The Creator. The One who made the world. The One who allowed cruel people to cat whip Him and drive nails into his body to destroy what puts fear into people most – death. THAT is why He came to earth and what He came to do! To destroy the ‘inevitable.‘
Satan’s very first lie in Genesis 3:4 was about death! He said, “You surely will not die!” Yet he was unwittingly telling the truth as we will not!
There is a clue in Psalm 90:10 about the inevitable, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years. Or if due to strength eighty years.”
The Scripture says “life is a mere breath and like a tale told” and this is so true as we look back and ask ‘where did those years go?’
Our real, true, ideal home is one of never ending pleasure, somewhere called PARADISE – heaven! A real place of uninterrupted contentment that nothing can spoil. Whatever luxury cruise, or ten star hotel, in the most exotic of places offered here on earth, it is nothing to what God has prepared for us!
So never fear death dear Christian! Your body is only the ‘pod’ that keeps you intact on earth – your ‘earthly house’ your soul is the real you and lives on. Your soul is as real and visible to God as your body is to other bodies!
“This perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
The Thessalonians were worried about being separated from their loved ones. So Paul comforted them with this…
“We do not want you to be uniformed (i.e. oblivious, unenlightened, ignorant) about those who are asleep so that you will no grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18).
Unbelief robs of peace and truth. There is no doubt that we will be reunited with families again, and that we will KNOW them. The unsaved do not have such comforting knowledge as they simply don’t believe it. So for them, grief is more unbearable.
The Apostle Paul knew just how exciting heaven was, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain and I do not know which to choose, having the desire to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:21-23).
Paul wouldn’t have been excited about dying if it wasn’t something better than life on earth! And Paul wouldn’t have preferred to be with Christ if he thought it meant waiting under the dirt for 2000 years until the Lord returned again. Paul knew that death just did not didn’t exist for a Christian!
God could not be kinder than giving us this promise… ‘absent from the body present with the Lord!’
When we are truly born again death should never haunt us.
My husband often bemoans that I talk of heaven far too much because he doesn’t like to think he may have to live without me one day. And it is true that death does cause pain to those left, but it is only temporary pain compared with the everlasting glory to come! Everything here is temporary; and when I was preparing for this tribute for my cousin Raymond, it got me even more excited than ever about heaven, much to my husband’s dismay!
I have a song for my funeral if the Lord doesn’t return prior…
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
I looked over Jordan and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home
I saw a band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home
If you get to heaven before I do
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends, I’ll be coming too!
Coming for to carry me home.
‘Home’ is where my heart is!
Someone asked Billy Graham, ‘Will there be golf in heaven Billy?’ Billy answered, ‘if golf is necessary for your joy, then there will be golf in heaven’
If ever God called me to take out a message it would be this one: to excite Christians about their inheritance as I know so many Christians who are afraid of dying. Yet it is going to be such a reunion, such a celebration, such a party of happiness and laughter, it would make the glamour of the Hollywood awards with their red carpet, million dollar cars, mansions, sequin frocks, diamonds, and banquets, look like a boot sale on a miserable grey rainy-day on a muddy field!
We often hear people ask, ‘What is life all about?’ ‘Why are we here?’ ‘Is this it?’ And we need to get the message out, that thankfully, NO, this is not it because being born again means, ‘I am not dead, I am more alive than I’ve ever been!’
Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, TODAY you shall be with Me in PARADISE” (Luke 23:43). “Your dwelling place” (1 Kings 8:40).
This next Scripture is almost too exciting for me to take in! “When He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Can it be that our humble Saviour is going to make us like HIM!!? Well God doesn’t lie!
What is the deepest desire that most Christians have? It’s a longing to be used of Him. And this next Scripture not only shows how humble our God is, but reveals how we will be used of Him in a way we could only dream of…
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he/whoever believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12).
Greater works than His!? How can this be!?
>He raised the dead. Jairus’s daughter. Lazarus. The widows’ son.
>He healed lepers and ten all at one time!
>He put the ear of Malchus back where it had been since birth!
>He made the blind see.
>He told the sea to stop causing a fuss.
>He created enough bread & fish to feed thousands with lots left over.
>He made water ferment in seconds.
>He made a withered hand unwithered.
>He put money in a fish’s mouth.
>He cast out demons.
>He healed a man who was paralysed.
>He withered up a fig tree.
Jesus doesn’t lie, so what can that Scripture mean? Even though the disciples did perform miracles, they weren’t ‘greater’than those of Jesus. And anyway, the Lord wasn’t addressing this statement to just the disciples as it says ‘whosoever.’
Let’s be honest, we do not see ‘greater works’ these days. So are we waiting for that special person to come and do these ‘greater works’? What worldwide news that would be! But I don’t think so. That person wouldn’t be able to handle such power and would become the biggest celebrity this side of heaven, something so contrary to God’s humble nature. And that person would find it impossible to keep humble or hidden. People would begin to idolise them and see them as God! And how would they cope with the protection needed when doing ‘greater works’ as Jesus had to preach from a boat due to the crowds.
This Scripture has to be futuristic. It has to be prophetic because it says, “WHEN He appears, we shall be like Him”
The Scriptures teach that we will reign with Him! “If we endure, we will also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Dictionary definition of reign: when a King or Queen reigns over a country; to control it; to rule over it.
What will we rule? Kingdoms! God will need to give His authority and power to His children to perform these ‘greater works’ which will be greater works than healings as the issues will be greater.
But like most promises in God’s word, there are conditions to them. And this promise has a condition too… “If we endure.” Endure what? “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). It isn’t easy being a Christian – a true one that is.
Whether it be bereavement, or feeling like we don’t belong in this crazy world, or being mocked because we still believe the Bible, that is endurance! I am a stranger in the earth” (Psalm 119:19). This world’s new ideology pains me daily, and I dread what further nonsense will be dreamed up next for our children to have to conform to.
This world’s standards are so contrary to Gods that He called the world ‘the enemy’ because the world’s views and standards are the opposite to the teachings of the Christ. So we don’t fit in it and are like fish out of water.
Don’t get too comfortable! You don’t belong here when you are born again!
And the ‘INEVITABLE’ will be the beginning of PARADISE! “Our Saviour Jesus Christ Who ABOLISHED DEATH” (2 Timothy 1:10).
But better than all the luxury in Paradise, and the joy of seeing our loved ones again… will be to actually see the risen Lord – who paid the price to save our soul to deliver us from ‘the inevitable’!
See you there sometime!
“I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
God bless you.
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Thank you Janice for your comment. I get so excited about what we are promised! Every blessing. X
Thanks Janis. Yes, His word is what keeps us looking forward to our glorious inheritance. God bless. x
excellent expound of God’s word and truth as to our Blessed Hope in Christ Jesus, in Him we have eternal life, He has conquered Death Hell and the grave
Loved reading that Christine. It was so comforting in these difficult days. 👍
Janice & Ron x
can hardly wait!
Excellent message. Filled with hope. Thank you!