This Memorial Day weekend we remember those who fought and died for our freedom. It is because of these heroes and the sacrifice they made that we are able to enjoy the benefits of living in this wonderful country.
On Memorial Day many of us will pause to remember loved ones who have passed away. Many of us have experienced the sting of death when someone we cared deeply about died. Others of us have looked death square in the eye because of a health emergency or a diagnosis of cancer or some other life threatening disease. The truth is death is a reality we all have to face, whether we're grieving for a loved one or facing our own mortality. Each of us will one day die unless Jesus returns before then.
There's a depressing thought. None of us wants to think about death, and yet it's essential we be prepared for it. The good news is that we can be prepared and there is hope for all of us. This Sunday I will preach about "Our Hope," the hope we have for salvation and eternal life if we believe in Jesus. We'll look at the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and remember that Jesus has power over death. He is, as he said, "I am the resurrection an the life." If we put our hope in Jesus, then we need not fear death. In fact, in Jesus we will not know death because the moment we close our eyes in death on this earth we will find ourselves in the presence of Jesus in heaven.
In Jesus Christ we have hope. We activate that hope by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a man. After a three year teaching ministry Jesus died on a cross and there paid the price for our sins. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where he reigns at the right hand of God the Father. Because of his sacrifice, Jesus has the power to forgive our sins, save us, and give us eternal life. But you must choose to put your hope in Jesus. We are saved by grace, salvation is God's gift to us, but that gift is activated by our faith in Jesus Christ. Believe in Jesus and follow him today.
As a pastor who has performed hundreds of funerals, I want to tell you about an incredible hope you can give to your lived ones before you die. I talk to so many family members, who when planning a funeral, say, "I don't know if my loved one ever accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior." Forever they will wonder what happened to their loved one or if they have any hope of seeing that person again in eternity. Make the decision to put your faith in Jesus today. Tell your family and friends about your decision. When you die your celebration of life (your funeral) can be a celebration that is filled with hope that the loss they feel is temporary and that they will see you again in heaven.
If you have questions about life and death and want to know more about "Our Hope," come join us for worship at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday. Our Traditional Worship with hymns, organ and choir begins at 9:00 a.m. and our Contemporary Worship led by our worship band is at 10:45. Discover hope for yourself and for your loved ones this Sunday at First Baptist.