1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are some things that are hard to talk about, and harder to cope with. Death is hard to talk about, but if we donít talk about it, then we tend to think that life here and now are the only things that matter. And that is the way that much of the world looks at it, but its wrong.
There is nothing wrong with memories, I will always remember Cecil as the person who was always glad to see you, and the person who really enjoyed coming to church. Nothing wrong with that, we all have our memories. Cecil had her memories, she would often talk about her family and her friends. And Cecil had her faith, and we would often talk about that, and of her confidence that God would always provide whatever was necessary, and of her desire to go to heaven.
The last few years havenít been easy, not for Cecil, nor for us, who saw our friend but really couldnít talk with her the way we used to. And in our heart, we would like to ask a question of God, Why? What was the purpose? Such things are hard to understand.
There is a promise :Romans 8:28-29 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
We know that Cecil loved God, we heard it from her lips, and we saw it in her life. And still we ask, Why? What was the good?
The promise of God is "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." God had already given Cecil life, forgiveness and salvation. Each day, by grace, God gives us what we need. So the only thing left, once we are saved, is to work with God, to bring others to our Savior, so that they too may receive faith, forgiveness and salvation. That is always the purpose of a Christian life, to guide others to our Savior. The problem is that there are many obstacles, and even more excuses. People are often so busy that they canít find time for Jesus, salvation, or church. People often get so caught up in life, that they sometimes forget that all of this world is passing away, and that we are all perishable. But we have this promise of God that death is not the end, that this perishable can be changed into the imperishable.
It doesnít happen because we live a good life. Thatís not how you get to heaven. If we are to be changed, we are changed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and in baptism we are born to a new life, we are born a child of God. As a good tree bears good fruit, so a child of God may live a good life, but not to earn heaven, for that is a gift of God Ė but rather, we live a good life, we keep the commandments in thanks to God for the life forgiveness and salvation he has given us in Jesus Christ. Hopefully people see the change, and the come to us, and ask us, tell us more about this life and salvation that you have in Christ.
And that is what Cecil would want us to remember today -- When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." It is time now to lay aside the treasures of this earth, and work on gathering up the treasures that last forever. It is time for us to remember that we are perishable, that we might see the great imperishable treasure which is ours in Jesus Christ, and trust in it, and cling to it, so that we may not be afraid of death, but that we might look forward to the resurrection, and to the place which has been prepared for us in Jesus Christ. It is time now for all the excuses, which keep us from opening up the Bible, which keep us from having time from learning about God, which keep us from thanking God for his grace and mercy; for all the excuses to pass away. It is time now for us to consider the one thing necessary, Jesus Christ our Savior. For it is in Christ that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to a blessed reunion with all of those who have gone before us, who now rest in Jesus. May we not be afraid, and may we all be found ready in Christ, and may we be comforted by the grace of God in which there is life, forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.