The following message was delivered at my dad’s funeral on Friday, December 23, 2016. He passed away on December 18, 2016 after a 10 month battle with cancer.
God’s Work, My Dad, Harold Ray Skyles from Effects Of Grace Ministries on Vimeo.
During the holidays when mom and dad would have us all together, we would gather around to bless the food. Dad would start by saying, “God has been so good to me and my family. He has blessed us so much this year. I don’t deserve his goodness.” He would then urge us to look to Jesus. To ask forgiveness for our sins, to believe on Jesus and to follow Jesus. Then he might point us to counselors in the back, if we wanted to talk to someone about Jesus. That is only a slight exaggeration.
So, in the spirit of our family gathering, I want to thank you for coming. God has been so good to us this year. He has blessed us, even though we do not deserve it.
I believe God is sovereign in all things. Referring to salvation, Jesus taught that no man can come to Him, unless the Father draws them. And, all that the Father gives Him will come to Him. (John 6:44,37). When a person is truly saved, it is only because God, Himself, has drawn them. I also believe, as Scripture teachers, that those whom God saves, he conforms to the image of His Son. Today, I want to honor my dad by honoring our Lord. I want to point out a fewways I saw God conforming my dad into the image of His Son: (Mom and dad together)
In Generosity: God’s Word reminds the Christians in Rome that God “… did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all” noting that God also “freely gives us all things? “ (Romans 8:32). Not only did dad (and mom) faithfully give to their church and other Christian ministries, he would meet any need that he saw. Whether it was a stranger at Wal Mart trying to get enough change to pay for groceries, or his children struggling to make ends meet. God’s generosity was reflected by my dad.
In Mercy: God’s Word says to a rebellious people, “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.” (Isa. 55:3) Without offering too many details, there was a time that I sinned against God and my parents and got caught. I deserved to be punished. Instead of punishing me, Dad hugged me as I cried and told him I was so sorry. God’s mercy was reflected by my dad.
In Discipline: To the Hebrew believers, the Bible says that God “… disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” And that “afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.“ Hebrews 12:10–11 (NASB95). I do not need to spend a lot of time here, but just trust me when I say Dad was extremely concerned about our lack of righteousness. God’s discipline was reflected by my dad.
In Love for His People: The Bible instructs, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….” (Eph. 5:25). My dad’s overriding concern was that Jesus be glorified and his wife be cared for. Dad loved Jesus. Dad loved his bride. Dad loved Jesus’ bride, the church. He loved His brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s love for His people was reflected by my dad.
InLove for All People: The Bible tells us that Jesus felt love for the rich young ruler, even though the young man did not realize Jesus’ worth to be followed (Mark 10:21). God’s love for all people, made in His image was reflected by my dad.
In Proper Worship: Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “…”Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”“ (Luke 22:42–43). My dad was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. He was in a great deal of pain. Toni, my sister, and mom can verify this. – My dad was in tears, hands raised, asking for relief from the pain, but also praising Jesus and thanking Him for His goodness. Proper Worship of God was reflected by my dad.
In Compassion for People: As Jesus hung on the cross, the Bible says, when He “… saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. “ ( John 19:26–27). The night before he died, my Dad looked up from his bed at a house full of people. He could not believe so many would come out to see him. He was concerned about our suffering. He looked up and said, “Look at all these precious people. You are all so precious.” God’s compassion for people was reflected by my dad.
We have been hit with a devastating blow and we are trying to get our bearings. I am not going to pretend like we are not sad. We are extremely sad. But we also see glimmers of light that make their way through the noise, confusion and darkness. The reason God’s grace gives light is to show us Jesus. We see it in the eternal characteristics reflected by my dad. We see it in the faithful prayers offered on our behalf. We see it in neighbors caring for my parents’ yard. We see it in people volunteering to stay with my dad in the hospital and so many more.
My dad would be the first to tell you he was not perfect. But we all saw he was being perfected. He was God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10). And according to Scripture, “… I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 1:6). Jesus has overcome the grave and lives forevermore. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). My dad’s faith in Christ was evident to the end. I take comfort in knowing that Jesus is faithful to complete His work.
Even though God gets all the credit for our good works, He still says, “Well done good and faithful slave, … enter the joy of your Master.” (Matt. 25:21). I am not sure how, but one day as we are gathered around the throne with all of the other saints singing “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns,” I hope I can lean over to my dad and say one more time, “Good job, dad. I love you so much.”
View entire funeral by clicking here.
Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA for recording the video.
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