Dear Loved One,
As you may have already heard, my beloved Anna peacefully stepped into the presence of the Lord on March 8, 2017, as I sat by her side. About a year ago, Anna was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, and our family sought the Lord for His direction on Anna’s treatment plan. Over these past several months, Anna was covered in prayer by our family, and many of her brothers and sisters in Christ, as she received the best of medical care.
My wife lived this last year without pain and with the peace that her future-her eternity-was fully in our loving Father’s hands. Our family is at peace that Anna’s healing was accomplished through the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as He took hold of Anna’s hand and led her into eternity.
Anna was a strong woman in her faith and was loved and admired by many. She was gracious, hospitable, and a formidable leader known for her gentle strength. It was a joy to be her husband and to serve alongside her in the ministry for sixty years. Anna will be greatly missed on this side of eternity.
I am, along with our family and friends alike, grateful to God for the time He allowed us to enjoy the wonderful gift of Anna Hayford. During this time, Anna’s life verse brings comfort to us all, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7 NJKV).
Another comforting verse the Lord has been laying on my heart is 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (NKJV). I want you to look at that for just a moment, “the last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” The word “destroyed” literally means to put out of business. In other words, it is no longer effective, no longer operational. It has been bankrupted.
When Jesus comes again, death will be utterly defeated and "swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54). Praise God for that! As we await Jesus’ glorious return and death’s ultimate defeat, I would like to share with you about the dominion believers have over death in the here-and-now. These truths have blessed and comforted me and my family in the wake of Anna going to be with the Lord.
Jesus has given us dominion over death at two dimensions.
The great disposition of most believers is to believe in the healing power of Christ and the miracle power of God. And many of these folks have seen sufficient healings and miracles to support their belief that God’s power to accomplish the miraculous is for today just as surely as it was in Jesus’ time on earth. Sometimes, we can be hard pressed to know how to respond when our prayers don’t bring the results we had hoped for, and we tend to look at these times as our failures.
As believers, we have reason to believe we haven’t “lost” anything when our loved ones step into glory. And I’m not saying that just to cheer people up. I am saying that to confront a truth that needs to be understood when we face times like this, because we can be vulnerable to the devil’s accusation that we did something wrong, or didn’t have enough faith in our prayers, or didn’t have enough spiritual gumption to see a miracle performed on behalf of a family member or friend.
I’d like to serve notice against any accusation of the devil right now and say, we are more than conquerors through Christ and even when our prayers don’t bring the answers we were hoping for, we still have Jesus. And Satan doesn’t have any member of the body of Christ that steps to the other side of eternity. That’s a victory, Loved One!
When we come to the subject of dominion over death we need to understand the two dimensions of dominion Jesus has given us. The first is dominion over the fear of death, which is a present provision right now. The second is a dominion over the fact of death, which the Bible says is a future reality to be received by the people of God when Jesus returns.
The fear of death can manifest itself as both the fear of physical death, or the fear of one’s life not counting for its intended purposes. This is something that torments some people for all their lifetime, and Jesus came to completely remove those fears from us.
Responding to circumstances that don’t seem victorious
Loved One, there are times that we pray and pursue the Lord and are blessed with what we determine to be victory in a situation. The dilemma for many believers is how to respond when we face times that the circumstances are anything but what we would define as a victory.
The fact is there are situations in which we don’t get everything we were looking for, and the answer to our prayers are not at all what we desired them to be. As we seek to rightly respond in the face of these times, I believe we must ask ourselves, do we really believe the ultimate victory is to be with Jesus?
To help answer this question, let’s look at the life of Paul, as he was sitting in a Roman dungeon. He wrote to the Philippian church and essentially said, “I’m really having a tough time here lately. My head could be on the block here shortly, and I’m having a hard time figuring out whether I hope I’m freed, or whether I hope I go to glory.”
Paul wanted to be all the Lord wanted him to be for as long as the Lord wanted him to be it. Paul wrote that to live is Christ, but to die and be with Christ is gain. According to Scripture, being in the presence of Jesus, our loving Savior that gave His life for us, is the ultimate victory.
That doesn’t mean we should stop praying for healings and miracles, though! The enemy would love to intimidate believers into not praying for people that are sick and dying, because then the fear of death wins.
We must not be afraid to pray for those that need a healing touch or miracle from God for fear that our prayers won’t get the result we are looking for. The enemy wins anytime the people of God cease to pray and exercise our faith. The challenge for us is not to be intimidated to pray, but, at the same time, recognize that God’s will may not always align with what we would define as victory.
We never labor in vain with the Lord!
Loved One, I want to assure you the Lord is not trying to build Himself some kind of an Avis rent-a-miracle operation, in which people get their desired results by “trying harder.” What the Lord is looking for are people who will say “Lord, you’ve given us dominion over death, and we will not fear. We will pray in the face of anything. We will move in faith until, finally, the last enemy of death is destroyed at Your coming.”
As believers, not one minute of prayer, of seeking God, of reading the Word, of loving a family member or moving in any situation in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit, will be fruitless or wasted time or effort.
Let us live out 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 and give thanks “to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
That means we should love always, even when we get rejected, pray and witness always, even when people don’t receive our witness, pray for healing always, even when somebody is sick and doesn’t get healed, and always seek the face of God mightily when someone is facing death. And even if they go on to be with the Lord, we must continue to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because our labor is never in vain in the Lord.
Being with Jesus is the ultimate victory, and Heaven is the ultimate reward.
Loved one, we are wise to remember the words of the old Gospel song, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” We must remember that being with the Lord in Glory is not an unwelcome alternative to more days on this side of eternity.
Please hear my heart: Heaven is not a cheap reward. It was purchased for us by the blood of Jesus, and Jesus promised that He was going to prepare a place for His Beloved Church to receive us to Himself.
As believers, we can rest assured that when our temporal lives on this earth have run their course, we have the hope of Heaven. It is there where sickness, pain, and death are banished forever. It is there where we will be in the presence of our Lord, ever under His blessed and wonderful rule, and in the center of His light, life, and love forever. It is in this wonderful place that I know my sweet Anna is dwelling right now, and it is to this glorious place that the Lord has promised to receive His Children when our time on this earth comes to an end!
Resting in God’s promises,
P.S. Maybe you or a family member is going through a time of loss or fear of the future. I’ve asked our team to create a solid collection of bible-based teaching to help. Take a look at the information below for more information and please know that we are praying for you and thankful for your friendship.
When the loss of a loved one or the fog of discouragement surrounds you, it’s easy to lose hope and allow fear to cloud your vision of the future. In this special 5-message collection, Pastor Jack reveals how God brings His presence to believers when we face grave difficulties. While we like it when Jesus takes us out of rough times, sometimes the only way out — is through. You’ll also discover that, because of the foreknowledge of God, believers are assured of a place in Heaven. And, you’ll understand why your belief in Jesus gives you the ability to trust Him and welcome the place in Heaven He has gone to prepare for your loved one…and for you!
As our way of saying “thank you” for your gift of support this month, and in honor of Anna Hayford’s commitment to serve others, we want to send you your own copy of, Ready for Heaven.
Messages included: Sealed by the Holy Spirit – The Letter on Going Through – What Will Happen When Jesus Comes? Pt. 1 – What Will Happen When Jesus Comes? Pt. 2– In the Wake of a Sudden Call Home
Click here to download this series for a gift of any amount Click here to receive this 5-CD set for a gift of any amount