Today's Devotions

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Showcase: Assorted Treats

  • Honoring God: a review of the film A Man for All Seasons +

    How a man who is devoted to honoring God stands against a king and an entire government who want him Read More
  • The Winter Season of Faith: Philip Yancey's blog +

    The following is taken from Philip Yancey's blog. A link to his website is at the end of this excerpt. Read More
  • 1
  • 2

John PondNothing makes me shrink back from holy ambition and the good fight of ministry like preaching a funeral.

I wrestle for days and nights on not only what to say but also how to say it. If I'm enjoying an encouraging season of life, I struggle to enter into the suffering of the grieving. Who am I to represent the feelings of the hurting family as they watch me attempt to honor their loved one? But much changed for me when I preached my dad's funeral last August. God gave me the insight of not just the preacher but also the family member.

This moment is never casual or easy. It takes much courage and help from the Holy Spirit. As we ask for God's help in prayer, we must not be careless with any of our words. What we say is powerful in such a vulnerable situation, and we should tread carefully. So here are five things we must avoid when preaching a funeral.

1. Do not refer to the departed saint only in the past tense.

Part of our duty as the preacher is to honor the Lord by talking about how this child of God loved Jesus and gave his or her life for his glory. However, too many times we can carelessly speak of the person in past tense. If we believe the deceased is alive in Christ and in his presence, we must refer to him or her also in present and future tense. In this way we remind family and other listeners of the hope of the gospel.

2. Do not forget God's perspective.

We're taught in Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." God is glorified when his children come home. Being in the unveiled presence of God is the highest joy a believer can ever receive. It is the end of the long struggle of sanctification and the beautiful beginnings of glorification.

3. Do not ignore the lost.

The lost are always around us. They may not lie in the casket, but they are dead in their sins. The lost need to be reminded that death is a reality of life, a transition we will all make one day. If there is any place for preaching the seriousness of sin and the grace of Christ, it is when preaching over the body of a saint into the eyes of the lost. Plead with them to repent and enjoy eternal life with the Savior. The honored saint is more alive than anyone can ever imagine.

4. Do not say or imply the deceased was perfect.

Real people are encouraged to hear about real life. And real life is full of both joys and sorrows. The honored saint has finished the race and fought the good fight of faith. We can learn from the life of anyone united with Christ.

5. Do not leave out the reality of heaven—expound on it.

The church needs to keep hearing and studying from God's Word about our future home. Lack of talk about heaven reveals our lack of faith, hope, and joy in it. This dearly departed child of God now enjoys God and the riches of his kingdom. For at least a few moments we can pull people out of their "here and now" perspective that shrinks the joy set before them in Christ. Remind them that Christians are always surrounded by grace and have nothing but heaven in front of them.

John Pond is pastor of students at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/07/11/5-things-you-should-never-say-or-do-at-a-funeral/

Reflections to Consider

  • 1

Publications

  • 1

Music

  • Jesus be the centre

    Center is a song that speaks of the essence of our life in Christ, and echoes the words the Christ Read More
  • I Lift My Hands

    A powerful hymn of adoration and praise Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir. This succinctly captures the joy of knowing our savior. Read More
  • 1

Audio & Video

  • 1

Favorites

  • Dallas Willard: An interview with John Ortberg on Understanding +

    Ortberg interviewed Willard toward the end of Willard's life about Understanding, Read More
  • Dallas Willard on C.S. Lewis +

    Willard discusses the  impact of Lewis on Christian thinking Read More
  • Dallas Willard: the genius of Jesus +

    Dallas Willard discusses the way that Jesus brings us to the Father, Read More
  • February 26 Devotional: Henri Nouwen, Ash Wednesday +

    When I speak, let it be of blessing and gratitude; Read More
  • 1

Hidden Blessings

  • The Enigma of King Saul +

    Why did God choose Saul as the first king of Israel? Read More
  • All Things Working To the Glory of God: Stephen’s Martyrdom +

    God works in mysterious ways– Read More
  • God's Love For Us +

    The well of love God has for us is deeper than our imaginations can grasp-- Read More
  • Truth versus Deceit +

    As stated countless times throughout the Bible, God is pure–God is truth. Read More
  • 1