Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ah! So THAT'S Where That's At!

As much as I love Scripture and the study of God’s Word; as much as I have “hidden it in my heart”; as much as I desire to “walk before the Lord in the land of the living”, still, I am not very good at “chapter and verse.”

I know “what” it says - I just may not be able to tell you where to find it. (Thank goodness for “search functions!”)

This week as I come to Psalm 56 in my “weekly study” of the Psalms, once again I find myself saying, “So that’s where that’s at!”

Psalm 56 is titled “A psalm of David, regarding the time the Philistines seized him in Gath.” You remember Gath - that’s where the “Anakim” lived... you know, the big people. Goliath was from Gath…

Several years after David slew Goliath, he was hiding from Saul, and the place that he went to hide was in Gath - talk about jumping out of the fat into the fire! (You can find this story in 1 Samuel 21.) And this Psalm is his cry for deliverance, and his statement of faith.

The first section of the Psalm records David’s cry in which he says, (verse 3) “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”

And then in verse 8 he says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.”

“You have collected all my tears in Your bottle…” This word for “bottle” is not some little ointment bottle, or perfume bottle, but the word for a wineskin; a big bottle. He has them all - every silent whimper, every wail, every body-shaking sob - He has them all!

Last week I gave the message at a funeral for a church member. (See previous post) In it I read the words to the song, “Does Jesus Care?” And we saw that yes, He does!

May He bless and comfort you today.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?


Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?


Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed,
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?


Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Funeral meditation

Welcome brothers and sisters, we have come this afternoon to honor and celebrate the life of Anna Rhea Lynn.

Our God is an awesome God! He took a man from Illinois, and a woman from the hills of East Tennessee, and had them meet - in California - on a blind date - at a high school football game - in the rain! Now you think God wasn’t in that! :-)

The family shared with me of what a strong and adventurous woman she was. She loved cooking and gardening, even belonging to gardening clubs in Calif. and traveling all over judging competitions.

She was a woman dedicated to caring for her family - doing whatever it took.

She was like those familiar words form the book of Proverbs.

(Read Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-30 NLT)

May your hearts be comforted as we share together today…

(Word of Grace and opening prayer - Rev. Bill Cahill)


I want to share with you from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 NLT. (Read)

This is how we are to comfort one another - we are to remind one another of the hope that we have in Christ, Who was the first raised from the dead. Paul is saying that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, but one thing he is not saying, is that it won’t hurt, because it will, and it does. Christ certainly expects us to shed tears and feel loneliness as we go though these valleys. But in the midst of our sorrow, there must be the testimony of the living hope we have in Christ

Jesus Himself said to Martha when Lazarus died, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." And then He said to her, “Do you believe this?”

And we have to answer that as well. Do we believe it or not?

But, do you remember what happens next? He weeps. Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus; He who knew that He was, Himself, “the resurrection and the life”, cried at His best friend’s tomb.

I believe there are several reasons He cried. First He cried because it was necessary for His friend to die. He had to allow Lazarus to die, and that pained Him greatly.

And second, He cried because those He loved so dearly were hurting. Many times, when it’s just us, we deal with grief pretty well. But when someone we love is grieving, it causes us to cry with and for them.

Yes, we have hope, but it is going to hurt.

There is an old song that asks the question, “Does Jesus Care?”

(Read verses 1, 4 Cokesbury Hymnal #180)

These memorials and funerals are hard, but we are not meant to carry this alone. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul tells us that God offers comfort to all.

(Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

Isn’t that encouraging? That we will be able to give one another the same comfort that God has given us! And that is why we are here today. We want to celebrate and honor the life of Anna Rhea, but we also, as a Church, want to comfort and love you.

But, I believe there is another reason that Jesus cried. I believe He cried because He had to bring Lazarus back from heaven.

Can you imagine? Heaven! Paradise! The word for paradise is paradisos - it means “the King’s private garden.” Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise!” Today, you’ll walk in My Father’s garden.

He told the disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

When Bill told me about Anna Rhea doing all that traveling with the garden clubs and the competitions, I thought, “Yeah, that’s where she’s at - she’s “inspecting the gardens!” Her feet aren’t hurting, and her knees are well, and she’s enjoying the garden.

While we’re here on this dying earth, we can rejoice for Anna Rhea who is in the presence of Christ.

Of course you’ll miss her! Of course it’s going to hurt. And you’ll find yourself caught off guard sometimes at the most unlikely thing - a certain flower, a certain sound, a rainy football game, but remember, as we read, the Apostle Paul tells us that we don’t grieve like those who have no hope.

Our parting is not the end - it’s only an interruption. We’ve not “lost” Anna Rhea - we know exactly where she is. She is experiencing Christ’s presence in a place so joyful and wonderful that it is called “Paradise!”

And one day, we’re told, we will be with the Lord forever! “Comfort one another with these words!”
I want to close by reading the words to another old familiar song.

(Read all 4 verses, then chorus of “The Unclouded Day” Cokesbury Hymnal #207)

Closing prayer - Rev. Bill Cahill

Dismiss to Cemetery

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fear Not

Luke 1:30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God." (NASB)

"Wait a minute!" you say, "It's January already! Christmas is over!"

Bear with me, I've got something exciting to share!

I recently did a word study on the phrase "Fear Not", and found something that greatly touched, and encouraged my heart.

"Do not be afraid", or "Fear Not" is how we often hear and read it (the Greek word is phobeo and we get from it our word phobia) but, the "tense" in which it is said carries all the meaning!

The tense (according to my Key Word Bible and "Bibleworks" software) is "present imperative", which means the phrase is really saying, "Fear not, and keep on fearing not!"

It does not mean, "Oh here, let me pat you on the head and comfort you..."

No, it is a command. It recognizes that fear has started to creep into Mary's heart, but the angel commands that the fear stop... and not start back up again!

It is the same with Zechariah (Luke 1:13) and with the angels (Luke 2:10).

With Joseph however, (Matthew 1:20) the word is the same, but the tense is different. In Joseph's case it is "passive subjective", which means (basically) that the fear or doubt only comes because all the facts are not known yet. Once Jesus is born, there will be no further fear or doubt about marrying Mary.

But the real "kicker" is found in Matthew 28:5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. (NASB emphasis added)

It is the very same word, and tense! Fear not, and keep on fearing not!

So yeah, another Christmas season has come and gone, but in many cases, once we come "down from the mountain" the fear "returns" as we settle back into the routines of life.

But, from a borrowed cradle to a borrowed tomb, the "bookends of Faith" say to us, no they Command us, "Fear not, and keep on fearing not!"

May God strengthen and encourage you this new year!


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