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Be Thou Faithful Unto Death.wps

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Be Thou Faithful unto Death        Rev. 2:8-11

Revelation 2:10  “...Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

As we hear these words of Jesus, we are reminded of the Christians from the church in Smyrna.  They had been under a great persecution.  Jesus spoke these words to comfort them.  “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.”  He knew they would be tested severely.  He knew they would experience difficult times in their lives. 

Each time I hear these words,  I am reminded of my sister.  Who of us would say that we have had greater trials and tribulations than she?   We could talk of the many trials she has been through.  We could talk of the many reasons she has had to give up.  She never gave up.  Her health robbed her of her ability to live out her faith, but that faith was still there.  We could talk of all her problems.  But rather I want to talk of her faithfulness.  Jesus said, “Be thou faithful unto death”, and that she was. 

I. SHE WAS FAITHFUL TO HER LORD

II. SHE WAS FAITHFUL TO HER CHURCH

            --Faithful in her stewardship--She served, she gave

III. SHE WAS FAITHFUL TO HER FAMILY

IV. SHE WAS FAITHFUL TO HER FRIENDS

I suppose that if we should ask, “Has Tut ever done something for you?”, we would get a response from everyone of here.  Maybe you would answer, “She prayed for me.” or maybe, “My family needed help and she was there to help.”  You might say, “She taught me how to understand God’s Word.” 

V. GOD IS FAITHFUL

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”    (I Cor. 1:9)

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”      (I Thess. 3:3)

Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Observe, First, The sureness of the reward: I will give thee. He has said it that is able to do it; and he has undertaken that he will do it. They shall have the reward from his own hand, and none of their enemies shall be able to wrest it out of his hand, or to pull it from their heads. Secondly, The suitableness of it. 1. A crown, to reward their poverty, their fidelity, and their conflict. 2. A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, who are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself in fidelity to Christ. The life so worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with another and a much better life that shall be eternal.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of my sister is the word faithful.  The word means: trustworthy; reliable; fidelity; steadiness;  to be firm; true.  I think of both her faithfulness and the fatihfulness of God. 

You may be wondering why God allows trials in the lives of His people?  It is revealed in the Law of Moses:   “That he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end” (Deut. 8:16).   Moses said, “to do thee good at thy latter end”.  We can be sure that she is enjoying all the good that God has prepared for her.  That is why John recorded those lovely words in his gospel.

       (JN. 14:1-6)

“Let Not Your Heart be Troubled”   John 14:1-6

Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled”  This is the foundational statement for the whole passage.

To settle the emotions of the disciples, Jesus lists the reasons why their hearts should not be troubled (Gr trassoµ, stir up, disturb, throw into confusion).

Yes our grief certainly will be heavy, but we have a hope that is real because of Jesus Christ.  Our loved one, ......, had that hope.    Why shouldn’t our hearts be troubled at a time like this. 

 

I. Believe. The word believe means to have faith.  Jesus Christ stirs both our faith in God and our faith in Him. This settles a troubled heart. (V.1)

II. The disciple should be comforted with the fact that Jesus Christ is going to prepare an place for them in heaven (my Father’s house).  (V.2).

ILLUS: A pastor from Alabama shared this story of his life.  In south Alabama he grew up as the son of a sharecropper.  Dirt poor and no place to call their own, they lived on this huge farm in a little shack along with all the other sharecroppers.  The man who owned the huge farm lived in a big white house with white columns up on a hill surrounded by trees.  As a boy he often looked up that hill and wondered what it would be like living in that mansion. 

One day the owner of the farm died without heirs and the farm went into the hands of an insurance company.  They did not move anyone into the house. 

One day a man in a bright shiny automobile drove into the yard of their little shack, got out and said to his father that they were not going to bring anyone in to move in the house,  but they needed a farm manager to run the place, would his dad do it since he had been there a long time as a faithful sharecropper?   They asked him to be the manager.  As manager, he would try to keep the other families on it and work the cotton and so forth.  His dad agreed.  Then the man said, “Since we are not going to move anybody into that house on the hill, we need somebody to go up there and look after it and keep it from being vandalized.  I wonder if you would like to move you family up into that house?”  His dad said yes.

As he told his story, tears rolled down this face.  The pastor said, “I will always remember that wonderful experience of moving into that house up on the hill; that mansion on the hill.  We gathered all our belongings together and loaded all we had on two wagons drawn by two teams of mules. 

That morning when they got out of the old shack, and as they were leaving it behind, they started up to that mansion on the hill to live, the boy said to his dad, “Wait a minute, what if some of our friends come here looking for us and they don’t find us.  Do you reckon we ought to leave some word for them?”  “Well, write a note and leave it.” said his dad.  He got the top of a shoe box and wrote a message and stuck it on a nail in the fence post by the gate: “Gone to live in the mansion on the hill.” 

You know that this is what our loved one has done now.  Se has left this old sharecroppers shack, this old body, and gone to live in that mansion our Lord said he has prepared for us.  I can hardly wait till I get there to be with her.  That is our Christian certainty. 

 

III. I will come again. (V.3)  This is the promise that brings hope to troubled hearts. The emphasis of His coming is not so much on the dwelling places but on the prospect of being with the Saviour.  The Greek literally means “face to face”. The way to heaven is through Christ Himself, and when He comes for us we will see Him face to face and be with Him for all eternity. 

(V.5)  Being overwhelmed with grief at the prospect of Christ’s leaving, Thomas did not understand the meaning of Christ’s statement. Thomas objects that since he does not know where Christ is going, how could he possibly know the way to get there?

 

IV. Christ answers with another I am statement.  (V. 6)  The way. Christ is the only way to heaven (10:9). The truth. Christ is the embodiment of all truth (8:32   “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”). Life (1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”; 3:16). No one can come to the Father unless he does so through Jesus Christ.

Jesus does not tell us about the way, nor does He show us the way. He does not even guide us along the way. He says He  is the way!

Here we are today, faced with the death of our loved one.   In this passage, Jesus tells us three things about death. 

First, Death is not the end for you or me as a human being, as a creation made in the image of God - death does not end our existence.  There is more to come. 

Illus: Think of watching a sailboat heading out to sea.  There you stand on the shore, watching her as she sails into the sunset.  Then she is gone out of your sight.  A friend standing by says, “Well, she’s gone.”   Your reply to that is, “Yes she is gone from our sight, but there are others waiting for her on the other shore.” 

Our loved one may be gone from this life, but certainly her life is not over.  In truth, it is just beginning on the other shore. 

Second, when we go from this life, we continue.  That distinctive, unique personality that God has created in his image that is called you, that is called me, that is called Tut, continues on as an independent identity.  We do not cease to exist, neither are we thrown into a vast universe of existence with all the other souls.  We live on with our identity made in the image of God. 

Third, death is not the end, we will continue on, and we will continue on in a higher life than the life we have here on earth.     It will not be a life that limits us or a life less than what we have, but it is a life that is higher. 

Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you”.  For Tut,  life is not over, it has just begun.  She has all eternity to be with God. 

Gravesite:

Read: I Corinthians 15:51-57

 

Committal:

“Cherishing memories that are forever sacred;

Sustained by a faith that is stronger than death;

Comforted by the hope of life that shall endless be;

We commit to the earth all that is mortal of this our friend.

As we have born the image of the earthly,

so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Benediction:

O Lord, support us all the day long of our troublous life,

Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.

Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest, and peace at the last. 

This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen!

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