If God’s heart is set on you, you can’t escape his grace, his mercy, and compassion. You can’t out run him or hide from him. He is always right there, at your elbow. You may forecast doom and gloom, but he is forecasting love and grace. You look to the future and see only trouble. He looks to the future and sees your eternal joy.
My dear friend, Summer Ellison is my guest writer today. This past year she lost her beloved grandpa. At his graveside service she gave the following message. It was a trying, stressful, and sorrowful time for Summer, but she could rejoice knowing her grandpa was with Jesus, enjoying all the blessings of Heaven. So, at his service she gave him the highest honor possible, she shared the Gospel with those present, and today she has agreed to share the message with us.
Charles R. Ingerson
June 3, 1929 to July 19, 2020
Graveside Funeral Address July 25, 2020
By Summer Ellison
Everyone here today would agree with me that Grandpa was a very special man, and that he was. We all have countless precious memories of him and how he impacted our lives. The legacy he left for us was his example of love. He modeled love not by his words, but by his actions. He demonstrated his love through his example of how he loved his wife, grandma. This made such an impression on me. Through this example, he also modeled the love of Christ, and therefore I would like to honor him by sharing the gospel with you.
The gospel is God’s plan to redeem His people to himself through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son. You may be thinking, okay, that sounds a little churchy and I don’t really understand what that means. That’s understandable, and I have a confession. As a believer, God is so great and vast that I often have a hard time communicating the good news of the gospel because the gospel really is that! GOOD NEWS!
The gospel is, simply put, and in one word: Jesus. I struggle putting into words what this means because Jesus is so incredibly powerful in my life. He has made the single greatest impact and impression on me, and I have felt no greater love and joy outside of him. And yes, that includes the birth of my children.
All of us were created with an innate knowledge that there is something greater than ourselves. That something greater is God himself. God set eternity in our hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” He knew we would want to run things our own way. That was proven by Adam & Even in the garden of Eden, resulting in the fall of humankind. We all seem to know and grasp that story and how it turned out. We were not designed to be our own gods, but we sure try, don’t we? We try to control every aspect of our lives and things inside our world. But what we find is that the world is much greater than ourselves and no matter how hard we try; we fail at running our lives and cannot control the outcomes.
There are forces beyond our control; people, things, circumstances, all of which are fallen and imperfect like we are. We are all corrupt. Our thought process and understanding is not only faulty, but incomplete. The only thing, or rather person, that can make us whole and complete is Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus has always existed as part of the trinitarian God, God in three persons: The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is a holy and just God. His standard for being in His presence, in a right relationship with Him, is to be like Him. Blameless, righteous, holy, different. It is so hard to wrap our minds around what this really means because we are NOT like Him, but we were created in His image. God is good…all the time. His holiness is good. His justice is good. His wrath is good. He knows the truth about each person and knows what is in his/her heart. He alone can properly judge humankind.
And herein lies is the problem. There is no one who is good, not even one. Romans 3:10-12 tells us “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” And then again in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This sounds harsh, but we know this to be true deep within ourselves. How? Have you ever made a mistake, or have you ever hurt someone else or spoke unkindly towards someone (whether it was on purpose or unintentional)? Have you ever felt ashamed and not good enough? That is because you and I are NOT God and we will never be God. We do not and cannot ever make the mark or reach the bar, no matter how hard we try on our own. Sin is anything we do apart from faith in God. Think about that. Anything we do apart from faith in God. That is huge. We are all familiar with the Ten Commandments, referred to as part of the Mosaic Law. God created the law to bring to our attention sin and those things that separate ourselves from Him.
He did not design and create us to be separate from Him, but to have relationship with Him and with each other. Since he is a holy, just, and perfect God, the result of sin is death. Death, through separation from our body and spirt, but also eternal separation from God. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, there is hope! He made a way for us! While we did not seek Him, in His love he sought after us. Jesus came to earth as a man, and lived the perfect, sinless life that we could not. We learn from Philippians 2:6-8 that “Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus experienced pain, suffering and even death. He took on all the punishment and wrath that we deserved for our sin. He paid the price and stood in our place before the Almighty Judge and served our sentence. Not only did He do this, but He conquered death. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (paraphrased) “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (disciples). Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and lastly, he appeared to Paul.”
He provided undeniable proof that he conquered death. He ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God LIVING and interceding on our behalf.
God, in grace, gives us saving faith. He enables us to believe and accept Him. When we then surrender our way, to His way, we are seen by God through a new lens. We are seen through the covering of Jesus Christ himself. God sees CHRIST in us! Jesus lives in and through us by giving us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a life full of joy, hope, peace, faith, and love. We know that we have a Savior who loves us enough to die for us and give us a new and abundant life because He gives us Himself. This “salvation” is not just “get out of hell free card” or a “one-way ticket to Heaven”. I cannot express enough that salvation is much MORE than this. Salvation again, is Jesus Christ himself. He gives us Himself in the here, and now, not in the distant eternity. As we grow in love and relationship to Him, He shows us no greater love. He provides all our needs. He gives us living water and satisfies the deepest thirst within our souls. He gives us life, abundant life! When speaking to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This does not mean that our lives here on earth will be without pain and suffering. In fact, Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation, but he reminds us to take courage, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Pain and suffering co-exists in this fallen world. BUT we have the love of Christ, which is such a mystery. As we get to know Him and love Him, He enables us to break free of the sin that entangles us and causes harm to ourselves and others, and He fills us with clean, living water that refreshes our souls. We begin to have a peace that surpasses all understanding as we begin to live, and want to live for him, NOW. He creates a hunger within us to know Him, and as we begin to get to know Him, we are satisfied with the spiritual food and drink that comes from Him alone. The only way to experience this is to come, taste and see. Drink the water that will never make you thirsty again. To surrender to Christ and wave the white flag is to receive His great power to have the true and abundant life He intended for us all along!
May you be comforted to know that he is now in the presence of Jesus, surrounded by, and covered with the love of Christ. This is where he is.
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)
Time. God gave us time, for we are finite and must number our days.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years (Genesis 1:14).
But, what is time to us and what do we do with it?
We run out of time.
We kill time.
We are on time or not.
We wish for more time.
Time drags or flies.
Time is either short or long.
There are specific times and vague times.
It can be an event: the time of the harvest.
Point in time.
There are evil times and good times.
At all times, at no time.
And there is an end of time.
Space and time.
Time has a past, present, and future.
We waste time.
Once a second tics by it is gone. What am I doing with my time?
I have lived approximately 28,440 days; at 24 hours a day equal 682560 hours and I will not figure out the seconds.
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That is our beginning, when God created time. Not his beginning, he is eternal.
And here’s the thing: he put eternity into our hearts. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. “Also, he has put eternityinto man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
So, here we are, living in time with eternity in our hearts and we yearn for something more. We all instinctively know there is more after this time bound life. Let us with Moses pray, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
In other words, teach us to make the best use of our time with a view to arriving at last in eternity.
One way we do that is seeking in our time bound days the Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Nothing will fill that eternity gap in your heart except Jesus.
Quite looking elsewhere. It is fruitless and a waste of time.
I have the honor and privilege to be on the Book Launch Team for a new 28 day devotional that will be available on Amazon January 1, 2021. Bright Hope was written by Erin Cushman, the founder and former Executive Director of Hope Mommies (hopemommies.org), a gospel-centric nonprofit ministry that serves the infant loss community.
Although, it is written with those families in mind, it ministers to anyone suffering loss and grief. I am a great-grandmother and by God’s grace, I have not experienced the loss of a child, but I have had more grieving times in my life than I like to think about. During those times I would have loved a book like this.
You can’t ask someone who is grieving to focus and absorb big chunks of words, no matter how encouraging they might be. With that in mind Erin has written this book for mourners who can grasp a little at a time. During my times of grief my attention span shortens and my focus blurs. During those times, if you handed me five pages of encouragement to read, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Even Scripture that I love, I have to mustard all the concentration I can to read and absorb it. This is the beauty of Bright Hope. It gives me small doses of hope and comfort for 28 days. That is a goal I can accomplish.
But that is not all I love about this book. It is filled with Scripture and theology and put together with grace and love.
Let me give you an example.
“Grief makes us desperate. Desperate for answers, for time to reverse itself; desperate for one last moment with our beloved.
Impatient to escape from the constant pain; frantic for understanding; desperate for good. Grief is all consuming, taking over the heart, mind, and body. It feels inescapable, and depression deepens.
David, the psalmist that penned Psalm 143, understood that all-consuming desperation… David didn’t spend his time problem solving for himself, taking endless counsel with others, or ignoring the pain until it passed. David was not waiting on the passing of time to mitigate the pain.
David’s first response was a heartfelt appeal to the God of steadfast love to act.”
Erin then shows us how to come before the Lord, to behold the Lord, to find Bright Hope and to walk in Bright Hope.
On December 1, Giving Tuesday, if you make a donation to Hope Mommies you will receive a copy of the Book. Not only will you be contributing to a vital ministry, but you will be blest with a gift of the book. Then on January 1, Bright Hope will be available on Amazon.
If you know anyone who has lost a child or is grieving for any reason, Bright Hope would be the perfect gift for them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
As Erin says, Jesus’ offer to come has no expiration date. Be blessed!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).
I have written on this passage before, and I do so now again, because I need reminding what good mental health looks like.
Rejoicing Reasonableness Not anxious about anything Thankful Prayerful Peaceful Controlled and sober thought life Mentored Practice godly living