I recently conducted a funeral for a family that requested five specific scriptures to be read aloud and expounded upon during the service. The following is the message, in part, that God laid upon my heart to share with them and now you.
Let me share with you what my heart sees here in this room today. I see a room full of compassionate, caring people; I see a room full of godly love. I say “godly love” because the Bible tells us that “God is love,” and because God is love, it’s from God that all true love flows. Family members selected passages of Scripture they would like read-aloud and for us to ponder on briefly. Our first three passages of Scripture come from the Old Testament book of Psalms. In the first passage, King David’s beautiful poetic verse reveals the greatest desire of his heart, which is to be with the Lord and dwell in His house forever. David wrote:
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For on the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; He will hide me in the secret place of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
When we look back on David’s life, we see that he had been through what we would term today as the school of hard knocks, meaning he fell into temptation and, as a result, found himself separated from God. David had to learn some valuable lessons the hard way, and now, with his relationship with God restored, David is praising the Lord and sharing his faith publicly. However, David did not base his public declaration of faith on a mere wish or a simple hope, but on God’s promise of eternal life through the personal relationship he shared with the Lord in private.
That is an important point. The world is a tough place. It relentlessly presses in on us, and through one life experience after another, we begin to build a hardened exterior. For some, it happens during childhood, others in adulthood. It drives us to a point where we keep our guard up, a firewall of protection, if you will, to avoid the hurt and pains of life. We all have them in varying degrees, but there is always love on the inside; godly love.
God penetrates our so-called defenses to look upon and speak to us through our hearts. No one knows what transpires between God and another person’s heart, no matter how close one person is to another. It could be a husband and wife, a father and son, mother and daughter, or brother and sister. The only two people who know about a person’s genuine relationship with God are the person and the Lord Himself.
You see, spiritual salvation is not a matter of being religious; it’s a matter of having a relationship with God, trusting God, spending time with God in prayer, and letting Him speak to us through His written word– the Bible. When we read or hear this beautiful psalm written by David, it should leave us with this question in mind: “What is my heart’s greatest desire?”
Praise and faith in God are seen vividly throughout the book of Psalms. For example, listen to this beautiful poetic scripture:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very ready help in [times of] trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make the city of God happy, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.”[Psalm 46:1-4
Notice in that passage of Scripture, the author did not say, “God is my strength.” Instead, and this is an important point we ought not miss, he said, “God is our strength.” I have often said that “our human weakness is where we find our greatest strength because in that weakness is where we experience God’s strength, His comfort, and His infinite love.” Those who have preceded us in death and are now in heaven experience the full radiance of God’s love without end and to depths we cannot possibly imagine or begin to comprehend.
Perhaps there is no other time when we feel our weakest than when a loved one, someone we have been so close to for decades, passes on and is now absent. David reminds us that “God is our strength,” He will carry us through the difficult times; if we let Him.
In addition to those two psalms, the third psalm gives us a glimpse of the result for those who first seek the kingdom of heaven above all else and trust the Lord in all things by faith.
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord watches over the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has dealt generously with you, for You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord. In the land of the living.”Psalm 116:5-9
The remaining two passages of Scripture are from the New Testament, and the first passage is the words of Jesus Himself, who said:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. And you know the way where I am going.”John 14:1-4
To have a place reserved in heaven, a place Jesus prepared specifically for each of us, is a wonderful comfort, but getting to heaven’s gate is a whole different matter. Jesus encourages us not to be troubled but to put our faith, hope, and trust in God, and He further tells us that we know the way. What way? Jesus answers that question in verse 6 of that same passage. Jesus said:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.“John 14:6
Here we see yet another reminder that our spiritual salvation is not about religion; it’s about a personal, private one-on-one relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe it was not by any random chance or the mere luck of the draw that the family selected these Scriptures. Instead, I see a more extraordinary work, a holy work at hand here. I see it as a divine message from above. I say that because if any of our loved ones who have gone before us could pierce the clouds and speak to us, they would encourage us to be still and know that God is God and we are not. They would encourage us to draw closer and walk with the Lord daily.
So how do we move forward when someone we love passes on? Where do we go from here? We turn to God. We seek first His kingdom and love as He loves. We pour out the godly love within each of us; to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, body, and strength, and love our neighbors, which refers to everyone we know and meet, as we love ourselves. That’s how we move forward. We love each other as God loves each of us. What does that love look like? Our final passage of Scripture answers that very question. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Therefore, to honor the memory of those who have preceded us in death, let us move forward in love; love for God and for one another. Let us nurture and share the godly love in this room, the godly love that is genuinely within every soul here today because God created us and God is love; therefore, because God is love, we are an extension of His love.
A Faithful Sower Publishing is a limited liability company that is dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and help guide people into a relationship with God and grow in that relationship. The publisher, editors, and authors achieve that end through prayer and the careful exposition of the Bible to best explain and illustrate Scripture in a meaningful engaging way so others can apply its truths to their everyday life. The mission of the the A Faithful Sower ministry team is to carry out the Great Commission issued to all who choose to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).