Jim Price - Third Speaker at the Funeral Service for Gilbert Ricter - Lakota, ND - June 4, 2005, 10:30 a.m.

Workers sang “The First of My First”

I count it a privilege to come to North Dakota to be with you. I’m thinking of a lot of good memories, sweet influence, a good testimony, and sound counsel. The last few weeks, thoughts often came of the 25 years Gilbert spent with us in New Mexico. I’ve been reminiscing abut the missions he had, some of the things that he shared with us. All you today have good memories also.

We think about the influence of faithful men. It brought to mind that verse in Job 38:31 where Job spoke of the sweet influences of Pleiades. I think Job was thinking about the sweet influences of heaven on the earth that brings forth fruitfulness, that brings forth order, and establishes. We think today of the sweet influences of heaven on our lives. We think of all that God has shared in His Word, in His Son, in the working of His Spirit. We give thanks and are grateful for His work in our lives. I was thinking today of the testimony and influence that we leave.

We had a young man on our staff that was known to leave things behind. One day he made very sure that he had everything and double checked. When he got in the car, his companion told him that he had left something behind. He said, “No, I’ve checked and I have everything.” He said, “No, you left your influence.” Our testimony is one thing we take with us into eternity, and is the one thing that we leave behind. We want to leave a good testimony and more so we want to take a good testimony. Sometimes we give a testimony of ourselves. Often times it is slanted one way or the other, but our own testimony doesn’t have a lot of weight.

It is wonderful when others can give a good testimony of our lives. It was said of David, that he was a prince among them. In Daniel’s day, they could say that there was a man amongst them that was a dissolver of doubts and that he had an excellent spirit. The testimony that matters is the testimony that God will be able to give of us. He said of Abraham that he was His friend. He said of David that he was a man after His own heart. He said of Job that he was a patient man. Those are testimonies that have stood over the years. What we say today doesn’t add or take away from Gilbert’s testimony.

I appreciate the sound counsel Gilbert gave to us when we were younger. When Gilbert came to New Mexico, I was still in high school. He was there when I professed, when I was baptized, when I offered for the work, and was there when I started in the work, although I started in another state. I remember one of several times he stopped by and gave counsel. I think he knew what was on my heart. The Lord already knew what He wanted for my life, but I was fighting against that. Gilbert said to me, “The choices you’re making, where will they bring you in your relationship with God 10 years from now? 20 years from now? 30 years from now?” That helped me think more seriously.

I thought about counsel from God. We read in 1 Samuel 25 when Abigail came to David. She gave some counsel to David that day that was totally opposite from what David had in mind, and totally opposite in what he was justified to do. When Gilbert came to me that day, I had some plans in mind for my life, and felt justified doing what I planned to do. Gilbert’s counsel came from God and caused me to lift my eyes. It moves us to give thanks to God. When David realized that the counsel was from God, he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me; And blessed by thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.” (1 Samuel 25:32-33) We’re thankful today when we recognize the counsel given to us is from God.

We heard last week at Hector (MN) from John 17. It was mentioned that in that chapter we get a little look into the heart of Jesus and into the mind of Jesus in the final hours of His life. We can see some of the things that He was thinking about, and what He was concerned about. Looking back at that prayer, it has helped me realize His sense of urgency. He told His disciples a little about what God had given Him, what He was thankful for, what He was concerned about, and that the joy in Him would remain in them. I was with Gilbert in the hospital and appreciated that his concern was still for the kingdom at that hour. I remember when an older saint in our state died; Gilbert said he went to an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11, “'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' saith the Lord, 'Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.'” That can be our portion, too. When we come to the end of life it is not a surprise, but it is an expected end.

We read about a rich man in Luke 16. When he came to the end of life, it was the end of all that he had lived for. Death can be the end of what we have lived for, or else the fulfillment. I’m thankful for Gilbert’s life, his sound counsel, the memories, for his good testimony, and sweet influence amongst us. I am thankful for the grace of God made evident in the fruitfulness here. May our time together encourage us to glorify the One who’s called us and to lift one another’s hands so that the kingdom can be stronger.