Hi, I’m Sherri Burgess, and I am thrilled and honored to be here in Huntsville today. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon us all.
Well, my story is story of hope. As a young girl, I remember looking up into the sky and wondering what life was all about. I had the same questions I’m sure many of you have had. “What am I doing here?” “Where are you, God?” “Why can’t I see you?” “Do you see me?” “Do you love me?”
I knew Jesus had died for my sins. I had heard that for as long as I could remember, but I didn’t understand why He had to die. Couldn’t God forgive us of our sins without having to crucify His son? And, a big question I had even as a young adult was “Is Jesus the only way? Would God really send all those other people to hell?”
See, I didn’t know God, so I didn’t understand Him, but thankfully, the bible tells us that if you seek God with all your heart, you will find him. All those questions I was asking weren’t stupid. They were good, because the bible also tells us that if anyone lacks understanding he should ask God. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for wisdom. I wanted to know the answers, and I found them and I keep finding them… right here.
This Word is truth. It’s the only truth… and it is absolute. The God of the Bible is God. How do I know? Because, now, I know Him. I’ve talked with Him, and He has talked with me. He has given me of His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who searches and reveals all things.
Have you ever seen someone at a potter’s wheel when they have the wet clay and they start shaping with their hands something from the clay? Well, God is that for us. He molds and shapes us into what He wants us to be.
For a long time in my life, I think I just sat there on the wheel, this big lump of wet clay. The potter’s wheel may have been spinning, but God’s hand wasn’t upon me, so I was being made into nothing. And, I sat there a useless lump of clay for a long time.
But, then God’s hand touched me, and that lump of clay that was my life started to take shape. He smoothed out rough edges. He added vibrant color and precious gems, and anyone could see that what God was making was very beautiful. But God, in His infinite wisdom, looked at the vessel of clay he was making, and said, “I can do better.” So, he took all that he had been building and smashed it back down to the wheel. The life that had been was no more. It had been crushed, taken back down to nothing, but…
God’s hand gently touched the clay once more and He started sculpting something else, something very different from before… something sure, something useful, not quite as vibrant or beautiful anymore… just a humble pot filled with tears and marked with sorrow, but a pot who now knows who is doing the building in her life.
When you come face to face with death, you realize you have no power over it. You realize that you are in control of nothing and that God alone gives life or takes it. He is power. He is might. He is sovereign Lord above all things, and we… are clay in His hands. He does what He will among men. And once you realize and understand how great God is, then you’ll have gained a real jewel in your crown, humility. You’ll understand as Job did that naked you came from your mother’s womb, and naked you shall you return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
On that day when God took my baby, Bronner, I knew God, and I knew him to be good. I had tasted and had seen the Lord’s goodness. He had lifted me up out of darkness, out of the miry clay, into the light. I could see, and I knew where my help comes from. So, I ran to my Father, and that little girl in me came out again and asked those same questions I had asked so many years before.
“Where are you, God?” “Why can’t I see you?” “Do you see me?” “What am I doing here when my baby is there?” “Don’t you love me, God?”
And, He had to answer those questions all over again for me.
And He said, “I am on my throne, and you will see my face. I love you with an everlasting love. Those I love I discipline and reprove. I don’t give as the world gives. But, I bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all those who mourn. I give them a beautiful headdress instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
“Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
I said to God, “But, we were so happy. We were so happy, God.” And, He said, “But I want you to be holy, set apart for my good purposes.”
And, again, I said to God, “There is nothing worse than losing a child. Nothing! I know you lost your son, but you got him back after three days. Three days!” And He said, “But what about the others? All those I have to send away from my presence for eternity. Those who breathe the breath of life I have given them. They are all mine. You are going to get this glorious reunion with your son, but not all of my children will I see again except on that day when they rise only to die a second death.”
Then I understood from God’s perspective, and I had compassion for God. He loves each person and desires a relationship with us all. I could see that God saw fit to take away my happy life, for a time, so that some others of his flock could come home. I could also see that I was losing my life here on earth, so I could gain it for eternity.
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus is coming again. He’s coming for us. And, I believe that it’s soon. No man knows the hour or the day, but Jesus Himself said, “Behold, I am coming soon.” “Surely I am coming soon.” “I am coming soon.”
This is our great hope. Do you realize that? Our hope is in eternal life with God. If this is all there is, then we are to be pitied. But, it’s not all there is. It’s not. We do have hope.
Romans 8:24-25 say, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Does that mean we just sit around and wait for Jesus to appear in the clouds?
No… we are to be about our Father’s business until that day.
And, just as John the Baptist was a herald of his first coming making straight the way of the Lord and crying out for people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand, we should be shouting from the rooftops the same thing. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
If John the Baptist was a herald of his first coming, we who are His children now are to be heralds of his second coming.
John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Let us also say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Jesus is alive, and He is saying to us in this generation, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades.”
Wake up from your slumber and behold the living God.
Behold Him, have him in your sights, and Trust Him no matter what life throws at you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. I have said that to myself over and over and over again. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all thy way acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
We’re all going to trials and tribulation in this world, but in this we rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of our faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
“And after we have suffered a little while,” the bible says, “the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.”
So, stand firm. Fight the good fight, run your race, and in the end you will be more than conquerors in the fight. You will win, if you do not give up, the crown of righteousness and gain eternal life.
What is not worth that? Nothing. I can endure. I can stand. I can because of Christ.
I say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet shall I hope in Him.” Even if He kills me, I will still hope in Him, because God is our only hope. We live in a world of hurt, of sickness, of pain, of turmoil and strife, but it won’t always like this.
The heroes of our faith from Hebrews Chapter 11, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joseph, Noah, all these died in faith, the bible says, not having received the things promised but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
John saw that city. He said, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Jesus will make all things new. I will see my baby, Bronner, again. I will hold him in my arms, and I will raise him up on a perfect earth where there will be no sickness or pain or even sin.
And, when that happens all my suffering, all these days without Bronner, will fade into a distant memory as this slight momentary affliction will have prepared for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
And, since I know what’s coming, I have the strength to hold on until that day. I can endure this life, because I know in whom I have believed. And, not only can I endure it, I can be useful in it. I can be used of God. My son, Bronner, the baby, the one that brought us so much happiness was taken from us for this purpose, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, that all who believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That is our great hope, eternal life there with Him. Even though we die, we live. That’s the gospel. And I am ambassador in chains for it.
“And the rain fell, and floods came, and winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock.”
“Father God, thank you for being with us today, and thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. I pray, Lord, that if there are any here today who don’t know that kind hope, that today will be the day they find it. Your word tells us to seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. It is my prayer that your Holy Spirit will convict each of us of our sin and that we will turn from it and seek a life fully devoted to you, Lord. Let us walk as children of Light and as heralds of Your return. We know that you are coming for us, and we welcome you, Lord Jesus. But, until that day comes, God bless our state and our nation in order that we may shine Your light to ends of the earth. In Jesus name, Amen.”