Friday, May 15, 2009

God's Love Never Fails

Yesterday we had the privilege of sharing God's love with the family and loved ones of Shari Paul. At funerals we always hope to do three things: (1) to give thanks to God for the one who has died, thanking the Lord by remembering the blessings we received from God through their life, (2) to love one another through this encounter with death, known as "the last enemy," and (3) to go to Jesus with our tears and brokenness, asking that he would reassure us with his promises.

I'd like to share the audio from that third part of what we did at Shari Paul's funeral yesterday. It begins with the last verse of "Jesus Loves Me" as sung by the congregation, then two scripture readings from First Corinthians, and then, about 5 minutes into this recording, a brief pastoral message. (Click the words "this recording" in the previous sentence... the colored words in this blog are links.)

I share this because sometimes, when it comes to religion and church, we mistakenly put "faith" ahead of God's love. But God's love is, and always should be, greater than faith, whether it's in our own hearts or in our sharing with others. As I said at the beginning of my message:
Faith and hope may grow weak and fail like our bodies do when they are under attack. But love, love that comes from God, it never fails. It does not end. It, not faith, is what defeats and conquers death.

Faith and hope, as wonderful as they are, are simply ways of depending on the powerful love of God. That's all they are: ways that we hang on to that love. It's God's love that wins the battle with death, raising Jesus from the dead and finally, in the end, God's love will raise you from the dead when you trust in him.
Just as we must depend on God to raise us from the dead on the last day, so faith and hope will not come to life in us by themselves. If our faith and hope are weak or dead, perhaps it's because it's been awhile since we have experienced, or shared, the love of God in a way that can warm us, like the sun warming newly planted seeds in the garden.

When I speak about the Lord, it's His love I want to be clear about. God's love should always be the main thing. I hope you'll find that is true if you listen to the message. We had the chance to share memories also--let me know if you want to hear that part of the service and we'll lend you a cassette tape.

After the message, we heard the song "I Will Rise" performed by Jonathan, Daniel and Toni. You can listen to it here. They did a great job ;-) . The tone of the music, I believe, matches the love God wants to shower on us, especially when we are weak in spirit, in body, in hope, or in faith.

The scriptures promise that God does not quench a dimly burning wick or break a bruised reed. It's on the arrogant and proud that God pours out his wrath--not on the weak. When someone is hurting--and when we are honest, we will find it's true of ourselves--when someone is hurting, what they and we need, more than anything else, is the never-failing love of God, poured out from the cross on us, so we can pour it out on others. If you come to church this Sunday, I hope that's what you will experience. Please pray that would be true, and invite all in need.

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