I went to a memorial service last Saturday. I had met the deceased (I’ll call him Joe) about a year earlier when he rented an office in my building. Joe was an author of history books and was working on a new volume. He kept odd hours and so I rarely saw him except an occasional passing in the hallway. Joe was, I think, what anyone would describe as a really nice guy.
The service was held in a conference room at the old Valley National Bank building downtown (Now a Hilton Hotel). Joe was a banker and worked in that building before retiring to become a full time author. About seventy-five people showed up, including many of Joe’s old banking buddies. Unfortunately there was only seating for fifty. It was close-up and personal, sort of like a flight on Southwest, but without the peanuts.
The service began with one of Joe’s buddies telling numerous funny stories about their days collecting bad debts for the bank. The next forty-five minutes were a mixture of stories from a half dozen other attendees, including Joe’s sons and daughters. Toward the end, someone read a poem entitled: “Do not stand at my grave and weep” which included such lines as: “I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am not there; I did not die.” There was no prayer and there was no mention of our Redeemer. Joe was a “nice” guy, but it was clear that he was not likely a Christian or a follower of any religion. I was so struck by the emptiness of his life without God.
Then a sadness came upon me, but not for the obvious reasons. You see about two weeks before Joe died, he invited me into his office and told me about his cancer. Just then, I remembered a testimony from my friend Don Hodges about praying for people that cross your path. So I offered to pray for Joe and he accepted. Neither of us knew he would be dead in fourteen days. So I just prayed for healing. It never occurred to me to witness to him and pray for salvation. I learned an important lesson: From this day forward, if God puts me in a position to pray for a friend or stranger, I will pray for their salvation first.
At the very end of the memorial, Joe’s young grandson stood and closed the service with a beautiful prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps God sent him to witness to Joe before he died. The Lord’s will was surely done. There is always hope.
Yesterday, I joined a group of men, young and old, to pick fruit trees for one of the families of our church. Due to difficult circumstances, this couple couldn't get out to do it, so we went to lend a hand.
When we arrived, I was told that the fruit needed to be picked off the tree or else the tree wouldn't bear fruit next season.
There is a spiritual lesson here. As believers, one of our greatest callings is to bear spiritual fruit. But just like a tree, which doesn't bear fruit for itself but for others, so too we don't bear fruit for ourselves. Our spiritual fruit is meant to bless those with whom we share it.
Here's the connection: if we don't share our fruit with others, we won't bear fruit the next season.
I felt the Lord urging me to share my fruit and not keep it to myself. He's urging you as well. This reminds me of a quote which seems appropriate:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot
This is a wonderful passage for new and veteran believers. God provides insight into who we should be in Christ. He also tells us who he is and what his attributes are with respect to evil, trials and righteousness. Read the whole chapter then pray that God gives you strength to be his vessel.
Cheers in Christ!!!
Dr. Bill Prevatt
Calvary North Elder
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.