Summary: Christian funeral service
Friends, we have gathered here to praise God and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life of Vera Helen Stevens. We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss. May God grants us grace that in pain- we find comfort, in sorrow- hope, in death- resurrection.
When you think of Vera Stevens, how can you not see the perseverance and patience of God? Vera was a wife, a homemaker, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother who cared for and loved her family. She was born January 18, 1924 in Searcy to the late Arthur and Ella Mae Fife Solomon. She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, C.E. Stevens and two brothers. She is survived by her children: one son, Sam Stevens, wife Vickey of Sherwood and one daughter, Karon Horton, husband John of Judsonia; four grandchildren; eight great-grand children and three step-grandchildren.
I would like to bring you a message today from the Twenty-third Psalm. For centuries these verses have been one of the most treasured passages in all of Holy Scripture. It is among the most familiar, so much so that even people who are not religious or very knowledgeable about Scripture recognize these words. Karon shared with me that this is Ms. Stevens’ favorite passage of scriptures. They are among the most comforting, and often read in times of distress.
Verse one reads, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Ms. Vera understood this, that day so long ago, when she accepted Christ as her personal Savior and Lord and as she worshiped and served at Bethel Grove Church of Christ.
As the passage continues we know it reads, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters.” Through her patience, her kindness, her gentle speech, and her silence Vera displayed her understanding of God.
Verse three says, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” If there could be one message Vera would want each of you to know is that she has received ultimate healing being in the fullness of Christ and He is walking with her in those paths of righteousness. If you will put your faith in God, through Christ, He will restore your soul.
You see friends; there are many images in this Psalm which hold particular meanings and truths. Our next image comes from the fourth verse, “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.”
It would be so wonderful if God would simply promise to us that we would never go through difficult times. But we do go through great and terrible difficulties all of the time, and God constantly warns us of these dangers and difficulties in His Holy Word.
Peter wrote in his first letter (1 Pet 4:12) “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
The Bible constantly tells us that there will be difficult times in life, and Psalm 23 voices such a warning. It does not say, “God will keep you from danger,” but rather it describes that there will come times, and they come for all of us, when we feel like we are walking through a dark, dangerous valley -- a “valley of the shadow of death.” But what the Word of God does make very clear is that as we move through such times, God is with us. God is there to comfort us and sustain us.
For anything to have a shadow, light must be shined upon it. Christ is our light. It is not the ‘Valley of Death’, but the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death.’ I f you have not responded to Christ’s call to repentance, accepted His offer of forgiveness, and received His promise of eternal life; do so today by placing your faith in the name of the one Ms. Vera placed her faith in, the name of Jesus.
For in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us in chapter 7 that it is the “destiny of everyone to die, and the living should take this to heart!” It’s one thing to die, but it is something altogether different to die in the Lord. The Bible puts it this way, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord, is the death of His saints.” Something precious happened on March 24, 2011. It may have sent tears and grief into our hearts, but God said what took place was precious in His eyes. Anything that’s precious in the eyes of God ought to be precious in our eyes as well, because we know God is good.