Our text for this morning is Isaiah 43:1, “But now thus says the Lord,he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)). This is our text.
Dear Christian friends and particularly you the family and friends of the deceased. We have gathered here today to lay to rest someone you loved very dearly. For the past few years of her life her health has been on the decline. Certainly she has struggled having had a stroke and being laid up. At this time I believe we can truly believe the words we just hear in the reading from Acts, “And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” By faith in Jesus, your loved one is now perfect in the Lord’s presence. She has passed away and this is not an easy thing. Death is a traumatic experience; even for a Christian, death is not easy. We like to think we are prepared for the death of a loved one, especially a Christian loved one, but when it happens it still catches us off guard. Death is a time of mixed emotions. On the one hand we are sad, because we will miss our loved one and that is okay. On the other hand we give thanks because we know that our loved one is no longer suffering but is at peace and is with our Father in heaven and that is okay too.
I have to admit that I did not have the honor or privilege of personally knowing the deceased, although we did meet, briefly. From speaking with her son, I understand that she was very active in her church which certainly shows the importance her faith played in her life. No, I did not personally know the deceased, but I want to assure you that my knowing her is not important. What is important is what we hear in our text, that is that God created her, that God redeemed her, that God knew her name, that God called her by name, and that she belongs to God.
God created the deceased. When her mother and father were married and in their sharing of their love for each other, at the moment of conception God began creating her. Of course, we understand that she too carried the traits of our original parents, in other words, she was, as the Psalmist David says, “conceived and born in sin.”
But Isaiah is not finished. He reminds us that the deceased was also redeemed, by God. Yes, she was born a sinner as we are all conceived and born in sin. And we all sin, that is simply a part of our nature. We sin in thought, word and deed. We sins sins of commission, that is doing the things we should not be doing. We sins sins of omission, that is we fail to do the things we should be doing. And your loved one was no different. Yet, Isaiah reminds us that she was redeemed. She was redeemed even before she was born. The word redeem means to buy back or to trade for. Many of us remember S & H Green stamps. We saved them in a book and then redeemed them at the redemption center. We traded the stamps for merchandise. Well, much the same way, God redeemed us, though not with S & H Green stamps. God redeemed us by trading His Son, even His own life for our life. What we should have received, eternal, spiritual death, Jesus received. What Jesus should have received, eternal life in heaven, we receive. We have been robbed in with His robes of righteousness.
When your loved one was baptized, God put His name on her. He put faith in her heart. He gave her forgiveness of sins. He wrote her name in the book of life. He claimed her as His own.
As your loved one grew and lived her life, her life reflected all that God did for her, and in and through her. As I mentioned earlier, her active involvement in her church is what showed forth the fact that she was God’s child.
The point I want to make this morning is that too often we get things backwards in our world and then we wonder why we have no hope or comfort. Too often we want to focus on ourselves on what we are doing, on our doing things to appease God or to gain His favor. Our text reminds us that we get it right, we get hope and comfort when we get our focus right. When we focus on what God is doing, what God has done, what God continues to do, then we get hope and comfort. It is God who created your loved one. It is God who redeemed her, who called her by name. Our hope, confidence and comfort come from the fact that God is going the doing and we know we can depend on God to get it right.
This morning we can give thanks because we are confident that your loved one has suffered only physical death. She has merely fallen asleep in the Lord. Your loved one was a baptized child of God. As we said earlier, at her baptism our Lord claimed her as His child. He washed her. He created faith in her heart. He put His name on her. By faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior, which is what your loved one professed, she is now seated at her banquet table where she is receiving her eternal inheritance prepared for her in heaven.
This morning we are here to remember the deceased, your loved one. We are reminded how God called her by name. This morning we are here to remember your loved one, we are also here to pay our last respects. We are here today as a part of our grieving process. We are here to say goodbye. In a sense we are here to give thanks that the Lord has been with her as she has traveled through this “valley of the shadow of death” here on earth. We are here to celebrate that she has reached her final reward in heaven. We are sad, because we will miss her, and that is okay, but we give thanks because we know that now she is far better off.
We are not here today to celebrate death, because death is a result of sin. We are not here today to praise your loved one because she too was a sinner like you and me. We are here today to celebrate Jesus’ work in and through her. We are here to praise the Lord for His bringing your loved one to faith, for keeping her in faith, for watching over her, and for taking her to dwell with Him in His house forever. We are here today to be comforted and strengthened in our faith. May the Lord give you that comfort and strength for Jesus sake.
Before I end this morning I want to share with you the words of a song which I know not too many of you have heard. It is a song written by a man named Jim Likens. I always thought this song was great for singing at baptisms, but my wife assured me it was more appropriate for funerals. Anyway, our text for this morning very much reflects the words of this song and takes us on a journey through one’s life. The song is title, God Knew Your Name and it goes like this:
Before the light of day shined on your little face God knew your name.
When no one else could see how precious you would be God knew your name. And He held you so close in His loving hand and He wanted all to see That before the light of day shined on your little face God knew your name.
Before you walked around, before you first fell down God knew your name. Before you rode your trike and then that first red bike God knew your name. He was with you everyday right there by your side
Even when you made mistakes And before the light of day shined on your little face God knew your name.
Before those wedding bells rang their story well God knew your name. Before that first new home and children of your own God knew your name. And through all the times both the good and bad He held you in his hand, And before the light of day shined on your little face God knew your name.
As you gracefully grew old you know you had been told God knew your name. One day when you died your friends and family cried God knew your name. And My angels carried your soul to Me I said, “Welcome home. You were one of Mine. I loved you for all time For I knew your name. You were one of Mine. I loved you for all time For I knew your name.
I would like to leave you with the artist singing this song http://www.godknewyourname.com/. Amen.