March 27, 2006

Psalm 23:4 Funeral Sermon

Funeral of Nora August 28, 1995

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

IN THE NAME OF OUR SAVIOR WHO HAS DEFEATED DEATH, DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF NORA :

In a telephone conversation I had with you Shirley, you told me that Psalm 23 was a favorite of your mother. Psalm 23 is perhaps the best known of all the psalms. Its message is one of comfort and hope for us as we travel through this life on our way to heaven.

The life we live is like going through a dark valley. We can’t see what lies ahead. Because we cannot see what is in store for us, we are afraid. We are afraid to go on by ourselves. But we are not by ourselves. Someone is by our side. He is there to guide us through the dark valley of life.

That someone is our Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus says of himself, I am the good shepherd. [John 10:14] Jesus is our Shepherd and we are his sheep. We are members of his fold. Sheep are vary helpless animals. They need a shepherd to guide and protect them. We are helpless by ourselves. We don’t know which way to go. We don’t know which is the safest way. We need a shepherd to guide and protect us.

It takes a special kind of person to be a shepherd. A shepherd has to love his work. Above all, a shepherd has to love his sheep. He has to love his sheep enough to want to be with them all the time. Sheep need constant watching. A shepherd has to love his sheep enough to be willing to lay down his own life for the sheep. They are easy prey for wild animals. They need a shepherd to protect them

Our Good Shepherd loves all his sheep. He is always present with them as he promises, And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. [Matthew 28:20] He loves to be with us. He wants to be a vital part of his our lives. He wants to guide us through this life.

Our Good Shepherd is there to guide us through the valley of the shadow of death. That term is used to describe the times of trials and suffering that come into our lives. Presently you, the family and friends of Nora , are going through such a valley. You are experience the pain and sorrow that comes with the death of a loved one. You are not alone. Your Good shepherd is there beside you to guide you through these difficult times. He will not forsake you and leave you alone.

The Lord no where has promised that the life of his sheep will be free from pain and sorrow. The life of your loved one was not without pain and sorrow. Your life is not without pain and sorrow. The Bible tells us We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. [Acts 14:22]

When such trials and sorrow come into our lives, our Good Shepherd does not forsake us. He does not drive us through them. He leads us through them. He assures us No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. [1 Corinthians 10:13] Our Good Shepherd will never give us more pain and sorrow than what we can bear. When times of pain and sorrow come into our life, our Good Shepherd will not only guide us through these valleys, he will give us the strength to endure the pain and sorrow. He will give you the strength to endure your present sorrow and suffering.

The Lord Jesus was also Nora’s Good Shepherd. She was a member of his flock. She became a member when God created faith in her heart. By the grace of God she remained a member all her life.

Throughout her life Nora passed through the valley of the shadow of death. At those times she was not alone. Her Good Shepherd was with her leading her through those valleys. She had the confidence that her Savior was always with her.

This past Thursday afternoon, she literally passed through the valley of death. Her Good Shepherd was there to guide her through that valley. She has passed through that valley and now her soul is enjoying the green pastures of heaven.

Someday we also will have to pass through that valley of death. Someday we are going to die. While we have never experienced death itself, we need not be afraid of death. In the hour of death our Good Shepherd will also lead us through that valley, just as he has led us through all the valleys of the shadow of death. He will lead us to the green pastures of heaven.

As you today and in the days in the future pass through the valleys of sadness and sorrow at the loss of your loved one, you need not be afraid. You can face the future with confidence. The confidence that your Good Shepherd is with you. Therefore, you can express the confidence of the psalmist Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

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