A Word From Bro Joe!

Dear Church Family,

This past month, I led six memorial services, celebrating the home-going of many precious sisters and brothers in Christ. It’s always an emotional time, as people who loved and cherished those who passed realize how much they are going to miss them—but only “for a season.” (Aren’t those three words awesome?) For the Christian, the Word of God promises that “The grave has no victory; and death has no sting!” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

If we’re followers of Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into God’s family for all of eternity! We are assured of eternal life in a place called Heaven, where we will be reunited with those Christians who have gone on before us. One of my favorite songs, which I’ve sung at many funerals, is “What A Day That Will Be!” It’s going to be a glorious event! None of us who know Jesus as our personal Savior need fear death. What a blessing!

One of the scriptures I use at most funerals is the 23rd Psalm. The fourth verse reads, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” For David, youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, the life of a shepherd could be lonely. When Samuel, the prophet, went to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as successor to King Saul, Samuel rejected the seven older sons. Jesse mentioned that there was one more, the youngest, who was keeping the sheep. The implication was that David was away, in the hills with the sheep; he was tending the flock alone, as he had been sent to do.

There are many references to David’s solitary life as a shepherd, during which he had time to contemplate God, creation, and his place in everything. Psalm 23 is the ultimate example of God in the role of the shepherd, David’s shepherd. Though often alone, and sometimes in dangerous situations, David fell back on one truth: “You are with me,” even in the “valley of the shadow of death.”

You may not be facing death today (all will one day). But wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, you are not alone. God is with you. Alexander MacLaren, a famous Scottish Baptist minister known as “The Prince of Expositors,” always said, “True peace comes not from the absence of trouble but from the presence of God!” These are troubling times, death is all around us, but fear not! The Lord is our shepherd!

This Sunday, I will finish my series on Marriage & Family with a sermon entitled “Starting Over.” You can read Ruth 1:1-18 in preparation. I’ll be looking for you at 10 a.m. Invite a friend to join you—the experience will bless them!

Love always,

Bro. Joe