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The GIft of Death

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John 14:1-6
   John 14:1-31 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7  The Gift of Death
Florence Long

    Florence Long, a mother, a friend, a wife and a child of God.  Today we celebrate the homegoing of one for whom Jesus Christ made a difference in her life.  It’s something how we see death as a time for sorrow and for grief, in that we are saying good-bye to someone we love.  God shares in our suffering and grief in that the Lord knows the loss that we feel.  But at the same time God gives a special hope in moments like these.
     God has another view by which He looks at death.  It says in Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  Let it be known today that something precious happened in heaven, last Saturday morning when Florence breathed out for the last time.  She found freedom from the body that was keeping her from serving the Lord in the way she wanted to serve.  Today she can once again sing the praises of her Lord Jesus Christ.  We’ve got a reason to be happy for her on this day.
      Florence’s death was precious, because she died in the Lord.  My friends death has a date set for us all, but that date will only be precious if we die in the Lord.  All of life is journey to death.  It takes some of us longer than others to reach our destination but we eventually will get there.  Some of us take fancier and more prestigious routes than others, but the final exit is still at the same stop called death.
      Once we reached that stop, the issue becomes whose waiting for us to give us directions on the other side.  Jesus said, "I’m going away to prepare a place for you and I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am." There’s nothing like having a guide when you reach unfamiliar territory.  Florence had a very special guide for this one final journey.  The same guide who gave her direction and assistance throughout her life; Jesus."
     Some ask if God is loving, why is there death.  I see it as, because God is loving there is death.  Can you imagine what a burden it would be to have to live life in the way we know it forever? What it would be to have pain in our bodies, unforgiveness and bitterness in our soul, or to be stuck in a arthritic body forever.  God has seen all the evil, and the madness, and the pain that goes on in the world, and God decided that at some point this must stop.
     That point is death.
     God has always wanted to be in close relationship to human beings, because that’s why He created us.  But God is holy and righteous.  As human beings, we are sinners the penalty for that sin is that we die.  God’s holiness would destroy us if we attempted to be in His presence with wrong in our lives. 
     God loved us too much to leave us alone, and God knew there was nothing we could do to pay the penalty for the wrong we have done.  That is why Jesus Christ entered into the world.  Jesus offered himself as a payment for the sins that we have committed.  It is through Jesus Christ, that we find the forgiveness and mercy of God.Going to heaven is not a matter of having done more good things than bad ones.  Going to heaven is dependent on the work of Jesus Christ alone.  Florence’s death was precious, not because she lived the holiest and most moral life possible.  Her death was precious because she died in Christ.  She was baptized into his name and receive the forgiveness and eternal salvation that Jesus won on the cross.We rejoice in knowing that Florence Long’s living was not in vain.  Jesus had made a difference in her life.  From the very beginning of our lives God is at work in us whether we know it or not.  He gives us gifts, personalities, and temperaments to be used to make this world a better place and to lead others to Himself.  When God looked at Florence, He decided to give her both love and a servant heart.  It’s a blessing to have both.  Her loving heart is clearly seen in the way cared for her children and her husbands.  It was evident in how she would make those around her feel welcome and comfortable.  
She would not allow you to leave her home without taking something, food or hard candies or for the kids sticking money in their pockets or purses.  Florence was also a servant.  She truly lived to serve her family her friends and the lord.  When John was sick, she would make sure he kept his feet up and put away his dishes, even though she was wheelchair bound.  She started a support group for widows.  She was the chairman of the evangelism committee at her church.  She would also support the local business by buying ten of any item they put on sale.She would make Christmas a huge family time and found her greatest pleasure in giving to others.Like the apostle Paul, Florence’s life has not been lived in vain.  His word of encouragement to us in found in the Scriptures in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 " the time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.
   

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