It is difficult is to try to sum up in just a few moments a life of ____ years and at the same time offer to the family and friends some words of help and hope. As I sought what I should share with you today, I have asked myself what is it that _________ would want for me to share. As I thought about what I could share with you about _________ life three words came to my mind.
The first word that I would use to describe ________ was Family. ___________ loved and was proud of his family. Family has always occupied a place of primary important in his life. His life was devoted to his wife ______ and their many years of marriage attest to that. He was also devoted to his children (_____ and ______) and then in turn to his grandchildren. He was proud of them if you asked he would willingly share with you how beautiful and how smart they are, and maybe even if you didn’t ask.
The second word that I would use to describe _________ life was Church. He loved his church, the ____________Church. I don’t know how long he has been a member here but I know that he has as has long as I can remember. In fact our last conversation was about his church. His heart was here and he stayed, he stayed when he agreed and when he disagreed, he stayed when things were going great and when they weren’t so great, he stayed. Having served as a pastor of the same church for over eighteen years I can tell that faithful church members are a blessing.
The third and most important characteristic of his life was Faith. _________ was a man who not only believed deeply but who tried to live out what he believed. That does not mean that he did so perfectly for no man can.
The faith that I am referring to, does not mean adherence to a religion. Religions are formed in an attempt to get God’s attention and make him notice us. But religion is a waste of time. There is no religion in the world that can force God to pay attention to us or that can lift us up to God’s level. And therein lays the difference between Christianity and all “the religions” of the world. You see, Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with a Living Savior. Paul states it well in his letter to Timothy when he says, “I know the one whom I trust and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Christianity is the good news that God in his infinite wisdom and compassion has already come to us in his Son Jesus Christ. Religion is about people seeking God. Christianity is about God seeking us and finding us. The story of Jesus is the story of God reaching out to us!
It is God’s reaching out to us that I would like for you to think with me about for a few moments this afternoon. At a time like this we need to be reminded that God cares! The Bible reveals to us that God does indeed care. The Phillips translation of I Peter 5:7 says, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties on him, for you are his personal concern.” The Living Bible paraphrases that verse with these words, “Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” It is comforting to know that God is aware of your sorrow today and desires to comfort you. One of the greatest expressions of God’s care is found in the 23rd Psalm. It begins by saying “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.” This means that God cares for all our circumstances.