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Sermon Illustrations: Death

It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls. Epicurus (Ancient Greek philosopher)

The certainty of death and the uncertainty of the hour of death is a source of grief throughout our life. Edgar Morin, French philosopher

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin

One patient said to another, "Are you getting a new suit?" "No, why?" asked the second patient. "because there was a whole bunch of people measuring you up while you were asleep."

When Julio Ruibal, a pastor in Cali, Colombia received death threats from the drug lords, he said, "I am immortal until I've done everything God has asked me to do." He was right, and he preached the gospel fearlessly till he was martyred.

Death is always painful. We can suffer God's way or our way. For instance, a young woman becomes a Christian and an unsaved man shows an interest in her. If she chooses to suffer God's way by crucifying her own desires, it will hurt for a while. If she decides to marry him, then she will suffer anyway in her marriage.

When they're dying, people pray about (or think about) what's important. They're not thinking about whether the garbage was put out. In John 17, Jesus is praying about things that are important to Him. What does He pray for? Community in the church.

A wealthy young man was told that he needed to turn to God. He dismissed the idea. That night he woke up to find a frightening being at the end of his bed. "Who are you?" he cried. "I am the angel of death." "Is my time up?" "Not yet," said the angel. "Before I come to take you, I will send my messengers to warn you that your time is near." Then the angel disappeared. Relieved, the man fell asleep. The years went by, and he thought, "I've got plenty of time to make my peace with God. There have been no messengers." That night he woke to find the angel of death sitting on the end of his bed again. "W-what are you doing here?" he stammered. "I've come for you," replied the angel. "But you can't. I mean, I'm not ready." "Well, I've kept my part of the bargain. I sent my messengers." "What messengers?" "How could you miss them? Your grey hair, your wrinkles, your failing eyesight. And now, your time is up."

It was very late in the evening, and after a night of solid drinking, Jack decided to take a short cut through the local cemetery and fell into a freshly dug grave. Unable to climb out, he laid down at the bottom and fell asleep. Early in the morning, the gravedigger heard moaning and groaning, so he went to investigate. When he looked into the grave, he saw Jack shivering and demanded, "What on earth is wrong with you, making all that noise?" "I'm freezing to death," Jack replied. "Well, of course you are," said the gravedigger. "You've kicked all the dirt off yourself."

O'Hara worked at the local brewery. One day, he lost his balance and fell into a vat of beer. Later that day, they delivered the terrible news of his drowning to his wife. "I hope it was mercifully quick," she said weeping. The foreman shook his head sadly. "I don't know if I can honestly tell you that Mrs O'Hara," he replied. "To tell you the truth, he climbed out twice to go to the toilet."

I want to die before my wife and the reason is this: if it is true that when you die your soul goes up to judgment, I don't want my wife up there ahead of me to tell them things. Bill Cosby

Every time you sit down at a meal, something has died that you may live. Trevor Chandler

Warning on a sticker on a vehicle bedecked in shiny chrome and obviously someone's pride and joy: "Is there life after death? Touch this ute and find out." Reader's Digest August 2005 p 114

One time John Wayne got shot in a movie, and the woman who shot him came over and kicked him. He stood up and she jumped backwards. "I thought I hit you," she said. "You did," he replied. Then he fell down dead. He died a tough man's death. That's fine for the movies, but in real life when John Wayne was actually about to die, he called for Billy Graham and said, "I need to get right with God".

Shortly before his death, Gandhi wrote, "All about me is darkness; I am praying for light." Contrast this with evangelist D. L. Moody's last recorded words: "This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!"

1 Ministry Advantage: Leading Change p19