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Living Above the Pain

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What do you say? When the phone call comes from the family saying their father or mother is passing away. They tell you it is just a matter of time. You, as the pastor, rush over, Bible in hand, but what do you say?
What do you say to the wife, who has watched, helplessly, as the life has slipped away from her husband, the man she has spent the majority of her life with? What do you say to bring comfort at a time like this?
What do you say to the wife, who has watched, helplessly, as the life has slipped away from her husband, the man she has spent the majority of her life with? What do you say to bring comfort at a time like this?
What do you say to the wife, who has watched, helplessly, as the life has slipped away from her husband, the man she has spent the majority of her life with? What do you say to bring comfort at a time like this?
This question is a problem we all have to face. It is, in fact, a query Paul was facing as he wrote to the church in Corinth. What do you say at the time of death?
What do you say to the huband, who has stood by helpless to stop the ravining of cancer
What do you say to the husband, who has stood by powerless to stop the ravening of cancer?
This question is a problem we all have to face. It is, in fact, a query Paul was facing as he wrote to the church in Corinth. What do you say at the time of death?
This question is a problem we all have to face. It is, in fact, a query Paul was facing as he wrote to the church in Corinth. What do you say at the time of death?
Paul would tell us, as he did the Corinthians, there are three helpful steps.

First, You need to Recognize the Problem.

1 Corinthians 15:50 NIV
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50
The problem is our body. Have you noticed it does not work like it once did. Most of us as not able to work like we could when we were younger.
Age takes a toll of us.
Three sisters, ages ninety-two, ninety-four, and ninety-six, lived together. One night the ninety-six-year-old drew a bath. She put one foot in and then paused. “Was I getting in the tub or out?” she yelled.
Three sisters, ages ninety-two, ninety-four, and ninety-six, lived together. One night the ninety-six-year-old drew a bath. She put one foot in and then paused. “Was I getting in the tub or out?” she yelled.
The ninety-four-year-old hollered back, “I don’t know; I’ll come and see.” She started up the stairs but stopped on the first step, shouting, “Was I going up or coming down?”
The ninety-two-year-old was sitting at the kitchen table having tea, listening to her sisters. She shook her head and said, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful,” and knocked on wood for good measure. Then she yelled, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.
Age takes it toll. Paul said our present body is deteriorating, falling apart, perishing, day by day.
Paul tells us this broken down body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. But would we want it to… would heaven be heaven with all the problems of age. Would the pearly gates look as good, it you had to see them through bi-focals. Walking the streets of Gold would not be the same with arthritis.
So, here is the problem, according to Paul, this old, worn out flesh cannot inherit the kingdom.
So what is the solution to this problem.

Second, You need to Realize there is Solution.

1 Cor 50:

1 Corinthians 15:51 NIV
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
Paul tells us that we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.
Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament ἀλλάσσω (and ἀλλάττω)

alter, transform (1C 15.51); (2) exchange

This old body will be exchanged for a new one at death.
We are about to enter the season of returns. After everyone has ooohhhed, and awed, around the tree on Christmas, comes the trip back to the school to get something you really want. This year about 5- 10% of all Christmas gifts will be returned. The number is much higher for on line purchases it can go as high as 20%. This year between late December and early January returns will run over 6 Billion dollars.
But even 6 Billion dollars, with a B, is not even to purchase a body that in imperishable. Paul said that in twinkling of an eye this exchange will take place. How fast is that.
I googled it. Listen:
A twink is a reflected particle of light seen in the eye and thusly travels at the speed of light (983,571,056 feet per second) This equates to an infinitesimally small fraction of a second, so it would be fair to say it occurs in about a billionth of a second.
I would like to see Amazon, Target, or Wal-mart try to compete with that.
The solution to the problem is clear:
1 Corinthians 15:53 NIV
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

Third, You Need to Repeat this promise often.

1 Thessalonians 5:10–11 NIV
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thess 5:
Here is the promise, here is how we live above the pain of loss. If we are awake, or alive here on this earth, or we are asleep, dead in this life, we are “at the same time” with Jesus.
Our soul is not separated from God until Christ returns. Your loved one is now presently with Jesus Christ, and you are with Jesus Christ.
You ask, Pastor T, how can that be? I confess, I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to understand it to believe. I don’t understand how electricity works, but I believe it does. I don’t understand how electricity can I have been told it travel almost 186,282 miles per second. I would think it could jump from the outlet to the television when I forget to plug it in, but it does not.
I don’t have to understand electricity to believe it.
So back to my question what do you say in the face of death?
First you recognize the problem is real. Death is real, the pain is real, the separation is real. Don’t minimize it. Don’t down play it. But also Realize there is a solution. Death is a transformation, an exchange, release from this body of sin and death.
As Paul, to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ.
Not only do we need to recognize the problem, and realize the solution, we need to repeat that answer often. We need to remind ourselves and others, of the promise of scripture.
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Say it with me “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
One more time “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:55 NIV
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
I close with this abomination from Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
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