Summary: A Funeral Sermon for a believer who had Alzheimer’s. Three things the disease couldn’t steal - faith, hope and love.

Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid (Val-la-de-lid), Spain, in 1506. There is a monument in that city that commemorates the great explorer.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion at the base of it where the Spanish National Motto is engraved.

The lion is reaching out with its paw and is destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries.

Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth. Because of that, their motto was "No More Beyond."

The word being torn away by the lion is "NO”, making it read "More Beyond."

For Spain, Columbus had proven that there really was "more beyond."

You know, the same is true for those that have discovered Jesus Christ. There really is “more beyond”. (Borrowed from Roy Fowler’s Funeral Sermon @

The word of God says in Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Godly ones."

This means that on April 27th, 2004 something happened that the Lord thought was very precious. On that day, God sent his angels to Benkelman, Nebraska to bring another one of his children home.

In two weeks from today, I will be giving the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class from Lakeside Central High School. Each one of those young men and women will be receiving a diploma that states that they have finished their courses and are ready to move on to the next stage of life. On Tuesday, Thelma graduated from this life and moved into the next. In God’s eyes, she had finished the course and was prepared to move into the next stage of life.

For several years now, Thelma had been suffering from a terrible disease. Alzheimer’s had begun to destroy her mind. On Monday, Pneumonia had gotten into her lungs and – as Gary shared with me – Thelma was in desperate agony. Finally, Tuesday, God decided to end the suffering that Thelma was enduring and asked his messengers to go bring her to Him.

Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease. It is a thief. It is a disease that steals. Alzheimer’s steals memory. In Thelma’s case, family members shared with me that there were times when she couldn’t even remember who they were. Her memory was being taken from her slowly. Alzheimer’s steals time. In Thelma’s case, it stole years from her life, and it stole precious time with her children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.

Alzheimer’s steals happiness. The pleasures of simple things were stolen from Thelma. She loved to crochet and do patch work quilting. But because of her illness, those things were taken away from her.

There were many other things that this disease stole from Thelma in the final years of her life, but, let me tell you what it couldn’t steal. It couldn’t steal her faith. It couldn’t steal her hope. And it couldn’t steal her love.

Scripture is very clear on this point. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that three things will abide forever . . . faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.

First, Thelma’s illness couldn’t steal her faith.

It couldn’t steal her relationship with Jesus Christ. It couldn’t steal eternity. Merlena shared with me this week about a very special day that her and her daughter Janelle had with Thelma about 4 or 5 years ago. Merlena told me that they were concerned about Thelma’s spiritual condition. They were unsure of her relationship with God. They wanted to know if she had a relationship with Jesus Christ.

And so one day, while they were visiting, they got the opportunity to ask her the most important question a person will ever hear or answer; Do you know for certain that you will go to heaven when you die?

During that time, Merlena and Janelle shared with Thelma four simple truths that changed her life forever; truths that come from the Bible.

First, they shared that God loved her. Most of us are familiar with the passage from John 3:16 – it is a wonderful truth – That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life. That love was for each one of us. He loves you and me just as much as He loves Thelma.

But there was a second truth that they shared. It was that Thelma – like all of us was sinful and was separated from God because of that sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” You see, we were all created to have fellowship with God, but because of sin, that fellowship is broken. We can try as hard as possible to work our way back into favor with God – but because of our sin – it is impossible.

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Dean Johnson

commented on Dec 22, 2011

Very helpful. Thank you very much.

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