Amy Ruth's Manifesto: "She Being Dead Yet Speaks"
Amy Ruth's Manifesto: "She Being Dead Yet Speaks"
The following is the sermon (with minor edits) Pastor Jeff preached at the memorial service for Scofield member Amy Ruth Hall, March 10, 2012.
Amy Ruth Hall went to glory on March 8, 2012. She had been active member of Scofield Church for about 75 years. Only in the last few months prior to her death did ill health keep her confined, and away from the gathering of her church. I used to meet her early on Sundays, she and I were often the first ones here, besides the Deacon who was in charge of opening the church doors. It took her a while to work her way up the sidewalk, in later years with a walker, but she always had a warm greeting, a good word, and a comment or two about the message the week before. If you listened to Amy Ruth, you came to realize that she had never heard a bad sermon. I am sure I have preached some bad sermons, but according to her, they were all good.
I have learned that some people will not come out with the congregation on Sundays to worship if the wind is blowing the wrong way or if Aunt Bessie shows up for a weekend visit. But there are others who would swim through an alligator infested moat to get out to worship (and take others with them). Amy was in the latter category. She was a faithful church member. She did not leave much behind in terms of worldly possessions. In fact the church paid some of her funeral expenses out of the benevolent fund. She was only married a couple of years when her husband passed away many years ago, and they never had any children. But her church and the church's missionary roster became her family.
I did not know everything about Amy Ruth, but after many years as a pastor I know a faithful believer when I see one, I know the marks of those who walk with God. Amy Ruth walked with God and now does walk with Him, in the glory of the presence. I am not going to preach today, I am going to let Amy Ruth do so. I have her Bible. As I looked through it, I found three kinds of marks in it. First of all there are comments she had written, notes, applications, personal comments, some things like that. Then there is a lot of underlining. She marked things that stood out to her. Finally there are some verses which are sort of squared or boxed, fewer of these, most in the New Testament. Perhaps these are like the mountain peaks of her Bible reading and Bible marking. So I read all of these. It is an amazing collection. I started thinking these are Amy's ten commandments, then there got to be more than ten. Then I thought, you could make a discipleship manual out of these marked sections. Finally I thought, this is how Amy Ruth lived. So I am going to read you these portions of Scripture and make a brief comment. Not all of them, but most. I am calling it Amy Ruth's manifesto. The dictionary defines "manifesto" as a "public declaration of intentions." These are Amy's intentions, her declaration on how she wanted to live, this is how she would instruct us. She being dead, still speaks to us (Hebrews 11:4). Hold on to your seat there are fifteen of them:
Don't neglect salvation (Hebrews2:3).
Understand that salvation is by grace through faith (Titus 3:5-6).
Trust the Blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7).
Believe in Jesus, He is the only way (Acts 2:21, 4:11-12).
The first four are about salvation, as if Amy is saying to us, let's get that straight right away. That is the foundation of everything: salvation. The next three are about prayer. Once you get saved, you have to learn to pray, to walk with God.
Jesus prays for us (John 17:7-10).
God hears our prayers (Luke 18:7).
Have faith and pray (Luke 17:6).
So these next three are about prayer, after salvation, we walk with God. The next few are about Christian living:
Be filled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Love the Word (Romans 15:4).
Love the Brethren (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
Don't be corrupted by the world (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Trust God in trials (James 1:2-5).
Live Soberly (1 Peter 4:7).
All of these are about Christian living. These are the basics, Amy Ruth is saying this is how you live for the Lord. Finally there were a couple about the Lord's second coming:
Look up the Lord is coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Rejoice, we will soon be in glory (Romans 8:18).
The last two, then, are about the Lord's return and our inheritance in glory.
So this is Amy Ruth's manifesto, what she says to us. Get salvation right, walk with God, live for the Lord, and then go home to glory.
I don't think I can improve on that. Because she lived that way, she became a faithful Christian, a prayer warrior, a friend to pastors and missionaries, a servant in the church, and a good and godly witness for the Lord. Now she has rested from her labors and has come into the presence of the Lord Jesus and His reward. No one in this world took much note of her except her brothers and sisters in the Lord. But now the Lord has welcomed His dear child home.
Most of us have probably heard the old story, I think it is true, as far as I can tell. It bears repeating now and then. About the old missionary couple many years ago who had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; in some ways they felt defeated, they had labored hard and long without a lot of accomplishment.
As the trip began, they discovered they were on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.
No one paid any attention to the missionaries. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President's entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "It doesn't seem right."
"We have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and no one cares a thing about us? This man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, nobody gives two hoots about us."
"I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I can't help it; it just doesn't seem right."
When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President's arrival. No one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship, disappeared in the crowd, and found a cheap apartment trying to figure out how they were going to make a living and survive in the city.
That night the man's spirit broke. He went in alone to the bedroom and met with God. After not a very long time, he came out of the bedroom, but his face was completely different. He was beaming, he was at peace. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"
The man replied, "The Lord settled it with me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said:"You're not home yet."
Let us rejoice friends, Amy Ruth is home. How wonderful for her.