Interment Service for Elizabeth...
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We are gathered together this afternoon to commit to rest the body of Elizabeth....
We have gathered together in the midst of a difficult season of life for all of you who knew and loved Beth. Since the day that she departed form us each of you have continued to grieve and mourn the loss of this special person and the special relationship that you shared with her.
Having acknowledged the difficulty of this moment we must also acknowledge that we are also able to have great hope. This is because of the gracious and merciful salvation that Beth enjoyed because she had placed her faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. She trusted Him to save her from her sins and she continuously looked to the LORD to cleanse her from all of her sins and unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Beth’s life brought great blessings into each of your lives. Sadly, her life came to a sudden and unexpected end. Because of this, you have been left to process the things that have happened on your own. You have been asking yourselves difficult questions. Since her passing you have carried a heavy burden that you have now come to realize that you are not able to carry on your own. Since December 7, 2022 each of you has had to grieve and mourn the loss of a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, and a friend.
Yet, through all of these things that you have experienced God’s presence, His comfort and His grace. Beth’s death has shocked and saddened everyone who knew and loved her. And yet, we can take great comfort in knowing that Beth had placed her faith in the LORD. All of you who knew her are able to testify of the gracious spiritual fruit that God had produced in her life.
In this world a believer in Jesus Christ becomes a sojourner, a pilgrim, and an exile. They walk through this life as a stranger who is heading towards their promised eternal home. A Christian has become a son or a daughter of God and they have been given a great inheritance. This journey is tough and full of difficulties. But God has done a powerful, decisive and abiding work in those whom He has saved.
The LORD will remain faithful to His people even when we experience trials, testings, sufferings, and a loss of faith and courage in this world. The LORD who begins this good work in His people will finish and complete His work in them and He will bring them into His eternal kingdom. It is then that they will be perfected and made whole. Beth is now experiencing those realities. God Himself has now wiped away every tear from Elizabeth’s eyes. And the LORD will be faithful to help you in your time of grief and despair.
As we gather here today we would do well to take comfort in remembering this work that God has done by grace. No one can snatch a child from their Father’s powerful and strong hand (John 10:28). Yet, sin, the world, and the devil will rage around us like a roaring lion seeking to discourage and frighten God’s beloved child as they journey from here to heaven. Beth, like every other believer, fought a daily battle with these great enemies. In the end her enemies have not won and they did not get the victory.
We all face this same battle; therefore, we need a continual supply of the LORD’s grace and His strength. We know this more now in these circumstances than at other times in our life. At times like this we need to know that God is extending His comfort and grace to all of us. And if it is true that God’s common grace is given to all of us in times such as this how much more can we experience these divine blessings when we call upon the LORD in our time of need. How much more confident can we be that we will receive these things when we by faith take hold of the comfort and help that the LORD alone can give to us.
The kids in my Sunday School class learned a catechism this year. This last weekend we reviewed some of the ones we have learned and they told me which one was their favorite. I wanted to bring them here today because they would have tried to have encouraged and comforted each and everyone of you with the truths they have learned.
They would have looked you in the eyes and they would have asked you, “What is our only hope in life and death?” Then they would answer, “That we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Some of them may have quoted the words of Romans 14:7-8, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the LORD, and if we die, we die to the LORD. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the LORD’s.”
One of the things that I have come to appreciate about the Scriptures is that the Bible often talks about death. The Scriptures give us many examples of all sorts of moments when we are confronted with death. Because of this the Bible is quite sufficient to deliver comfort to our our hearts in times like these. The Holy Spirit is able to fully minister to us when we need it the most. There is help for us when our minds have questions and our hearts and souls are troubled because of these things. God is the God of all comfort! (2 Corinthians 1:3-8)
One of my favorite verses is Romans 15:13 which states, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” In order to experience God’s hope and peace we must know God’s Word and then believe it. As we believe it we can experience a peace and a hope far greater than anything the world can give to us.
Therefore, let me encourage you with these words. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 reminds us that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we can have hope even in the face of death. It says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through the LORD Jesus Christ.”
Elizabeth’s father, Bob, and her sister, Amy, told me a couple times how much Beth enjoyed traveling. They described her as an adventurous person. They said that as she traveled throughout her life she displayed godliness, concern and care for others, determination, love for her family, for friends and for strangers, and that she walked through life with great energy and vigor. Beth’s adventures in this life have come to an end but she continues on her journey in heaven. She is now walking with Jesus and experiencing even greater things.
As I thought about this my mind went to a particular text in the very first book of the bible- Genesis. In this text we see that the Patriarch Jacob was dying. His journey in this life was coming to an end and the next generation who came after him would continue on. When Jacob came to the day of his death he blessed all of his sons but he gave one of his sons, Joseph, a special blessing and a very special inheritance. Joseph was a wealthy and powerful man but I bet this inheritance was his greatest possession because it came from his father.
We read in Genesis 48:22 these words, “Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope…”. Interestingly, this was an inheritance that Joseph himself would never get to see with his own two eyes. In fact, for the next five generations, for the next 400 years, the descendants of Joseph would not get to enjoy this earthly inheritance and see it with their own eyes.
Yet, there was a sense in which Joseph and these descendants were able to receive and enjoy what had been promised to them and even more! Joseph had not only been given this temporal inheritance but he was also given an eternal inheritance. You see, the people of Israel have enjoyed both a physical and a spiritual inheritance from the LORD. This inheritance, and all the promises associated with it, were passed down throughout every generation in Israel’s history until they found their complete fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came into the world He was found to be the one through whom all people, Jew and Gentile alike, could receive God’s salvation and an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of heaven. Throughout every generation before and after Jesus this inheritance has been given to all those who repent of their sins and believe upon Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world, he suffered and died in our place. He took the penalty that our sins deserved and now offers us salvation. If anyone will look to Him and trust in Him they receive His free gift of salvation, they will be adopted into the family of God, and they receive an inheritance because they have become sons and daughters of God through Jesus.
It is my hope today that we will do the very thing that Beth loved to do in this life. I hope that we will begin to take a journey towards the inheritance that lies before us. This afternoon we find ourselves at the foot of a hill and at the place where an inheritance can be freely given. This inheritance stands before us and we have the opportunity to possess it by faith in Jesus and what He has done.
We have gathered here in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4) but we find that our Faithful Shepherd is here to guide us up the mountain of our inheritance towards green pastures and still refreshing waters. He promises that as we follow Him we will be filled and not left wanting. We will find rest for our weary souls. We will not need to fear because He promises to be with us and to guide us. He comforts us with His rod and His staff. He promises to deliver us from our enemies and to anoint us with His Spirit. He promises that goodness and mercy will follow after us all the days of our lives.
In a very real sense, on this occasion we have gathered together in the valley and the shadow of death. But we do not need not stay here. That does not mean that after today we will leave Beth behind. No, we have the opportunity to continue on our journey by faith in God towards the inheritance that she now possesses. On this journey we will experience times of refreshing by the comfort that God can give. We will experience His peace, His grace, His wisdom and all of the provisions that we so desperately need. We begin here but as we continue up this mountain we will be able to behold more fully the glory of God and His goodness towards us. On this journey we will be led by our Faithful Shepherd Jesus Christ. He will lead us all the way to our spiritual inheritance.
Not every mountain that we could climb in this life would be able to give us blessings such as these. Not all mountains lead us to the kingdom of God, to His blessings, to His salvation, and to His eternal inheritance. Not every journey up the mountain leads us to the LORD and to an eternity with Him. Many of us have taken many trips up other mountains and found no eternal comforts and blessings at the end of that road.
The greatest gift that Beth has given to her family and to her friends was that her life and her faith has brought us to this particular mountain and to this particular inheritance. In some ways we know that her footprints have gone before us. She has taken the path that lies before us. Through her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ she claimed this particular mountain that leads to the inheritance that is found in Christ Jesus alone. It is because of her faith and trust in the LORD Jesus Christ that we, and so many others in Beth’s life, have found their way to this particular mountain slope today. Because Beth’s life was characterized by such a faith we can, even on this particularly sad day, share in the spiritual blessings that can be found only at this place. Therefore, our hearts are continually grateful for Beth and her faith in the LORD!
I hear that Beth loved to take adventures with her friends and family. No adventure will be as important as the one that she embarked upon. We too must begin this journey and continue on this path from this day forward. And as we do we must walk this adventure out by faith. Take courage, we never walk this path alone. We are surrounded by a faithful cloud of witnesses and the Faithful Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is our guide, our guard and the guarantee that this journey will be completed.
Song: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
As the invitation to take this journey with Jesus has been given to each of you let me conclude with these words as we commit Beth into the care of her Heavenly Father and into the care of her Faithful Shepherd Jesus Christ. Isaiah 55:12-13says, “You, Elizabeth, shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and hills before you shall break forth in singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Prayer for Comfort:
Benediction: Numbers 6:24-26
On your journey from this day forward, “May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD to make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”