Mavis Fitzgerald

SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 1:16-18

The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.

INTRODUCTION

Onesiphorus was a friend of the apostle Paul, who Paul mentions twice in his second letter to Timothy. Onesiphorus whose name means “Profit bringer” was a dear freind from Ephesus who made the long voyage to Rome to visit Paul while he was in prison. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul’s chains. He risk his life in more ways than one to get to Paul. [1] Travel was treacherous and [2] Nero was persecuting Christians. Onesiphorus took the risk and came to Paul.

His visit and presence was a huge encouragement to Paul who says of his friend, “He often refreshed me.” This word refreshed is a compound word that I think Junior Hill has translated well, Onesiphorus was a “breath of fresh air.” He had the gift of encouragement. He had the ability to make you feel better about yourself and your circumstances. This means he was positive and up beat, a happy fellow.

MAVIS FITZGERALD WAS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR: SHE WAS A PROFIT BRINGER

  • Most Danvillites are introverted: very introverted but Mavis and Hugh were the exception. They would not allow you to stay a stranger. They were meeters and greeters. Mavis was a ball of sunshine. She had an radiate personality, she had a glow of joy, she sparkled with hope. No matter what the circumstance, when you asks Mavis how she was doing, her patented answer was W O N D E R F U L.
  • Mavis was a positive thinker: encouraging others seemed to come natural to her. Just a few months into our ministry hear, I became very discouraged and Hugh invited me to come eat super with them after church. That night, he and Mavis had a talk with me and I will never forget the kindness they used to correct my negative thinking. MAVIS WAS AN ENCOURAGER.
  • The only problem with eating with Hugh and Mavis was her continual encouragement…she would say again and again…EAT…like I need encouragement in that area.
  • She was also a joker: she had a great sense of humor. For years Mavis was one of my two designated laughers {Joe Eaton was the second}. When I said something remotely funny, Mavis cackled. I love folks who laugh at my jokes. I love my children in spite of the fact they don’t laugh. You can spot my children, they are the ones whose face is buried in their hands. MAVIS WAS UNASHAMED TO LAUGH at my jokes.
  • Mavis worked with me as we planned our Centenieul Celebration. She pulled a good one on me. She talked me in to calling a former pastor who had been dismissed. His wife answered and she gave me a good old fashing chewing out. Mavis was on the other side of the room laughing. I think she knew what would happen.
  • Mavis was a school teacher and she was very intellectual. She had an expansive knowledge of the facts. She could work a cross word puzzle with an ink pen. She would work the Sunday puzzle. She had an unbelievable vocabulary. I have never heard one of her fomer students speak ill of her. When I was growing up, school teachers were not popular. MAVIS WAS THE EXCEPTION BECAUSE SHE WAS EXCEPTIONAL.
  • Mavis was a fun person to be with: she knew how to have a good time. I thank God for all our memories of good times with Mavis.
  • Mavis was a huge Alabama fan. Even though Bradley graduated Florida State, Mavis was a tide fan. Of course Bradley is a tide fan also. She loved Nick Saban and had an autographed picture of him. Up until a year ago, she watched all the BAMA games, even the late Saturday night games that I don’t watch. SHE WAS A ROLL TIDE ROLLER.
  • There is no way I can do justice to the memory of MAVIS FITZGERALD. Each one of you has a story about Mavis. If we had the time, we could spend days talking about this sweet and precious lady. When God calls a man to preach, it often means that he leaves his mother and father. June and I married in August and left for New Orleans in October. Danville is as close to home as we have been in these last 48 years BUT in each church, GOD GAVE US PARENTS. Someone who took us in and loved us. Some one who made us feel like family. Hugh and Mavis were those people here in Danville. I spent a lot of time with these boys when they were in their 20’s [playing ball]. Then Bradley moved to Florida and that really hurt our Basketball Team.
  • My family [wife and children] love the FITZGERALDS. Joe is an icon at our house. I miss Hugh as much as I miss anyone but when I see Joe, I see Hugh, just a kinder, gentler version. Boys I want you to know in behalf of the BAILEY’S we love your mom and dad. We appreciate all they did for us.
  • Last but not least: MAVIS LOVED JESUS. She has been promoted to a far better place. We did the best we could to care for her here but she is under better care than we could ever give her.
    • Mavis understood that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
    • Mavis understood that selfishness is the essense of sin
    • Mavis understood that Jesus died because of our sin and for our sin.
    • Mavis is in heaven because she trusted Jesus as her savior.
    • Have you trusted HIM? She would want you to do so.
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Psalms 116:15

Scripture: Psalms 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.

INTRODUCTION

In Hebrew, this verse contains 5 words but they are five powerful words. O that I could put so much substance into five words.

The first word Precious in yaqar [ya’car] and it is in reference to the value of a gem, a precious stone. God places great value on the death of His saints. I normally use the NLT and it reads…The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die. God places great value on the life of a saint. The blood of the martyrs is precious to God. The blood of Able still speaks, after 6,000 years, the blood of Able is still precious to God. God cares about our life. He cares when innocent life it taken by violence and brutality. God also cares when one of His saints departs this world from natural causes. Blondie promotion is precious to Him.

Whatever is precious to Him should be precious to us.

Note secondly: THE DEATH OF THE SAINT IN PRECIOUS IN THE LORD’S SIGHT. The world does not value the death of a Saint but God does. It is very important that we look at Blondi’s physical death from God’s perspective.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:11… If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Here Jesus compares earthly fathers to our Heavenly Father. This is the key, we must remember that God is not some distant deity, some impersonal force way out there who doesn’t care, someone who has no feelings or sympathy for our condition, He is our heavenly Father. He cares infinitely more about us than our earthy parents. My mother and father loved me: I know they did but my heavenly Father loves me more.

So lets look at the death of a Saint from our Heavenly Father’s perspective.

[1] THE DEATH OF A SAINT IS A HOMECOMING. I came from a family of 7 children. Actually, there were 8 but my oldest brother died as an infant. Of the seven, I was the only one who lived away from home. When we were in Seminary at New Orleans, we came home every time we got a chance but that wasn’t often. Our arrival at home was precious to my folks. Our heavenly Father rejoices when one of His children comes home. It is precious to Him. We don’t see Blondie as a child but to God, she is a child come home.

[2] THE DEATH OF A SAINT IS A PROMOTION. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I like to translate it like this, For me to live is Christ and to die is a promotion.

[3] THE DEATH OF A SAINT IS A GRADUATION. Our earthly sojourn is done. Our boot camp is over. Blondi’s sorrow and suffering are over. Watching a love one suffer is never easy. The precious thing about Blondi’s promotion is no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more disappointment, no more heart break.

[4] THE DEATH OF A SAINT IS A CORONATION. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4…For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give [award] to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. Blondi is getting her crown of righteousness.

[5] THE DEATH OF A SAINT IS A CELEBRATION: Paul said, “I have finished the race.” Blondi has crossed the finish line. I have participated in a lot of races and the finish line is always a wonderful place of celebration. I still remember my first marathon: it was a very cold day. The conditions were miserable and I was struggling but as I neared the finish line, I heard crowds cheering, my grandson who was five came out and ran the last 100 yards with me. There were people waiting to to take hold of me as soon as I crossed. A PA system was calling out my name. It was a big deal but nothing compared to what Blondi is experiencing. What a celebration. We sorrow today but not as those who have no hope. In light of our faith and this promise, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints,” we join the heavenly celebration.

CONCLUSION

Note the text: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Death in and of itself is not precious. There is nothing precious about the death of an unbeliever. Death is precious only for the saints. Blondi was a believer in Jesus Christ, she could say…

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Can you make this affirmation today, THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD?

If not this is how the Psalm would read for you…

1 The Lord is not my shepherd; I do what I want.
He does not make me to lie down in green pastures; He does not lead me beside the still waters.
3 He does not restore my soul; He does not leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will walk alone; I don’t need the LORD in life or death; I don’t need His word nor His Spirit to comfort me. I am on my own.
5 He is not preparing a table for me and He will not anoint my head with oil; My cup will never run over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy will not follow me and I will not dwell in the house of the Lord ever.
 

Surely, this is not your affirmation today. If the LORD Jesus is not your shepherd, make Him your shepherd today by repentance and faith.