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By Denzel Nonhof

The following sermon is thanks to Denzel Nonhof and Lection List for encouraging the exchange of funeral sermon ideas during the week of August 17-23 1997

From:          "Denzel Nonhof"
Reply-to:      Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
To:            Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
Subject:       Funeral for a Saintly Man of God
Date:          Tue, 19 Aug 1997 11:32:02 -0500

For a Dear Saint, truly a Man of God!
Scriptures: Exodus 20:1-20 and Ephesians 4:17-32

Message: A Moral Life and a Godly Life
by: Denzel Nonhof

Vacation times are a time to relax and get away.  But vacation times are
also when God often slips powerful lessons into your life and mine.  One
summer when Charlie, Charissa, Ben and I were vacationing at Mesa Verde, we
were able to tour many of the cliff dwellings which the Indians used.  One
afternoon we toured Balcony House.  Apparently, because of enemy tribes the
dwellers here had to defend themselves.  They did this by moving into a
cliff dwelling which was next to impossible to get to.  We had the
privilege of using a 30 foot ladder and exiting using toe holds which had
been carved into the sandstone by the Indians and a rope with which we kept
our balance.  The ladder was made by lashing branches together.  The rope
was about like a tow line used for water skiing.

As we began our climb out of that place, I remember thinking, "Should I
trust this ladder?"  "Can I trust this rope."  The ladder did not break and
the rope did not tear, and God taught me a lesson.

We cannot live a day without placing our faith in someone or something. 
Where is your faith?  In what are you trusting as you live your life, and
for the day you die?

I have known many good men and women.  If we would review the ten
commandments with them, many of them could say honestly, "I have honored my
parents, I have never murdered anyone, committed adultery, stolen, lied
about my neighbor, or desired to take anything which belonged to my
neighbor."  Many people are moral people, but God calls us also to be godly

I remember as a child, seeing Charlton Heston playing the role of Moses
and carrying down those two great tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments. 
The laws I mentioned were all found on the second tablet.  The first four
laws don't relate to our morality, but to our relationship with God.  God
said, "1) Never have any other God.  2) Never make any carved idols or
statues that represent any creature in the sky, on the earth, or in the
water.  Never worship them or serve them.  3) Never use the name of the
Lord your God carelessly.  4) Remember the day of worship by observing it
as a holy day.  We can disobey these four laws and have a moral life, but
we cannot have a godly life.  We can also lead a godly life and fail to
live a moral life.

Many who are not members of a church seek to please God by leading moral
lives.  Many who are church members seeks to please God by being Godly, but
fail to be moral.  We need both.

The Jesus who instructed us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty,
welcome the stranger, give clothes to the naked, and visit the sick or
those in prison, also said, "First, be concerned about his (God's) kingdom
and what has his approval.  Then all these things will be provided for
you."  (Matthew 6:33)

We cannot go through life without trusting, without faith, yet there comes
a time when we must ask, "What can I trust, ultimately?  What will gain me
entry into heaven?"

When the Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Rome, he said, "All
people have sinned, there all have fallen short of God's glory."  (Romans
3:23)  We all want God to gaze at our strengths, and to wink at our
failures.  But Jesus said we need to "Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is
Perfect."  (Matthew 5:20)  God sees all, and in seeing us in our need loved
us.  In loving us, God sent Jesus Christ to remove us from this spiritual
dilemma.  There is no one who can lead a perfect life and so gain the right
to enter heaven.  Only Jesus has done this and he is heir of all the
spiritual treasures in heaven.

I read a joke about a man who was very rich and was called to heaven. 
Because he was rich, he negotiated with God and finally God allowed him to
bring one suitcase of his worldly treasure along with him.  The man died
and as he stood at the pearly gate, Saint Peter came to greet him.  The man
looked through the gate viewing the glitter of golden streets, and gems of
perfection and such immense size that he was amazed.  Peter saw the man and
the suitcase and said, "This is strange.  Nobody ever comes here with a
suitcase.  The man said, "I negotiated with God, and he said I could bring
whatever of my wealth as would fit in one suitcase.  Peter said, "I will
check it out with God, but first let me see what is in the suitcase."  The
man opened the suitcase and Peter looked in.  Inside the case were several
bars of gold.  Saint Peter said, "This is the wealth that you brought?  You
brought pavement!"

We think our goodness has value.  God says, "Our goodness is as filthy
rags."  We think our godliness has value.  Jesus says, "Unless we are more
righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees, (who were the goody two shoes
of that day), we shall never enter the Kingdom of heaven.  What you may be
putting your faith in may be totally without value to God.

Put your faith in what Jesus says.  Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth,
the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except through Me.  He also says,
"Look, I am standing at the door and knocking.  If anyone listens to my
voice and opens the door, I'll come in and we'll eat together." 
(Revelation 3:20)

As we gather this day to celebrate Don's life and to remember his faith,
we are also called to remember that as Don is now, so one day we also shall

One day each one of us shall stand before God.  Some will stand alone
before the judgment throne of God, because they have always relied on
themselves and they have faith that this is enough.  Others will not stand
alone for they have asked Jesus Christ to stand with them and for them. 
Without Christ, there is only fear.  With Christ Jesus, there is no fear.

On my trip to Mesa Verde, I learned a powerful spiritual lesson.  Trying
to get out of Balcony House without a putting my faith in a ladder and a
rope, would be like trying to get to heaven without faith in Jesus Christ. 
It is impossible!

Don was as man of faith.  He lived a good life, not as a way of getting
into heaven, but as a response the Lord Jesus Christ.

Live the moral life, and live and the godly life, trusting in Jesus Christ
alone for forgiveness of sin and entry into heaven.  There is no other way!
 And then you will have Blessed Assurance of where you stand with God, and
certainty that heaven awaits you.  AMEN!

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