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Seven Days Of Comfort
Suffering and misery often crosses our path as we journey through life. Bereavement touches every life from time to time. I pray that our lesson today can be a source of encouragement to those of you to whom bereavement is still an open wound. Our eyes are often filled with tears. The Bible pictures both the tears and great joy for Christians. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17) How wonderful is that promise to Christians that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Even Jesus, Himself, felt bereaved and grieved while He lived on earth. Almost everyone who has ever memorized Bible verses has memorized John 11:35. That verse simply states “Jesus wept.” It is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of manhood, to shed tears during times of grief. Christians have both the opportunity and the obligation to comfort those who are hurting by weeping with them. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15) Grief can come upon us completely unexpected; this grief can be so great that it is almost overbearing. Job received one heartbreaking message after another. Messengers came to tell him that all of his livestock had been taken and his servants had been killed or taken away. The heaviest blow of all was when a messenger came to tell him that all ten of his children had been killed. “Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job 2:11-13)
Comfort for Job from his friends: Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar made some terrible mistakes when they started accusing Job of sin. However, they must have been truly good friends to him. They came to him when he needed comfort. They sat with him day and night for seven days. They recognized the depth of his grief. “So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job 2:13) These men understood one great truth in dealing with grief. They understood the importance of belief in God, holding on to the love of God and obeying God in our daily walk. We may never truly understand why things happen, but we can understand the love, goodness and kindness of God. The psalmist wrote “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 36:7) Even Job himself said, “And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) Later he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15) Job’s friends comforted him for seven days.
Comfort should be extended to those who weep over their sins: There are times when we each should weep over our sins. This weeping should lead non-Christians to belief and baptism. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16) This weeping should cause the Christian to repent and pray to God for his merciful forgiveness. (James 5:16) The Savior is ready and willing to forgive our sins. “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:36-38) Let us live for God, in the trust, that we are better off, both in the here and in the hereafter if we trust in Him. During the next seven days comfort those who are weeping over their sins.
Comfort should be extended to those who weep over the death of loved ones. David felt deep grief at the death of his son, Absalom. He was weeping over his son and he needed comfort. “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33) There are many, to whom we could reach out seven days a week, and provide comfort. Imagine the grief felt by Rachel and others weeping for their children when the wicked King Herod had the babies killed. “Rachel was weeping for her children because they are not.” “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:16-18)
A great deal of insight is gained concerning Jesus when we see His love and compassion for those who are hurting. Those who become Christians and develop the spirit of Christ can comfort others. To be saved from sin hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), confess Jesus as Lord (Matthew 10:32), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) You are able to feel comfort in your own heart and to comfort others, seven days out of each week when you have strong faith in God and a deep appreciation for His goodness. Our confidence in God’s grace, forgiveness and the hope of eternal life should help us and others as we deal with our own grief and the grief of others. Reach out to the grieving with cards, calls, letters and visits. Say “I am sorry” and “I love you.” Let the person know that you love them and that you are praying for them. It might even cheer them up if you shared some good memory that you had of their loved one. Show the love of Christ to those who are hurting. “Earth holds no treasures but perish with using, however precious they be; yet there’s a country to which I am going, Heaven holds all to me.”
---- Charles Box
News & Notes
1. Prayer List: Stabler Hospital: Jesse Mae Powell, In Need of Prayer: Paige & Briley Barr, Teresa Boutwell, Terry Claunch, Johnny Cole, Camren Coleman, Lisa Cook, Tim Croley, John Curry, Nell Daughtry, Nelson Daughtry, Haley Fortune, Richard Harrell, Michael Hartin, Devin Hawkins, Darlene Herring, Betty Hobbie, Orene Johnson, Stephanie Maddox, Katherine Myers, Ramona Newton, Bill & June Perry, William Pierce, William Poole, Linda Reynolds, Nathan Simmons, Evelyn Smith, Eleanor Stabler, Tete Stabler, Ed Starkie, Vickie Starkie, Raylee Stinson, Andy Taylor, Mary Lou Terrell, Alice Thompson, Leroy Waller, Cleo Wilson, and Barbara Woods. Crowne Health Care: Dorothy Buck, Jewel Cauthen, Gladys Childs, Arlene Coletrane, Ruth Davis, Betty Findley, Betty Garlock, Davis Hester, Ruth Hester, Jim Holmes, Kathy Johnson, Sarah Knight, Alice Padgett, and Annie Ruth Tetter. Pine Needle: Lydia Ann Raybon and Elizabeth Perdue
2. Baptized Into Christ: We rejoice that Matt Brown was baptized into Christ. Matt is the fiancé of Brittany Olive. Brittany has been studying with him and after reading the “Muscle and a Shovel,” decided to be baptized. Please encourage Matt, his address is 202 Foxchase Lane, Enterprise, Alabama 36330.
3. Sympathy Expressed: Our love and sympathy is expressed to: (a) Cheryl Pierce and her family in the death of her brother-in-law, William Poole, (b) Florida Wilson and her family in the death of her granddaughter, Taaliyah “Tiki” Wilson, (c) Jesse Mae Powell and her family in the death of her grandson, Fredrick Powell.
4. Silver Threads Banquet: Thank you to our youth group for honoring our older members. Our young people are a special blessing to the Walnut Street church of Christ. Always love God and put Him first in your life!
5. Help Marty and Alisha Celebrate: We want to help Marty and Alisha Sexton celebrate the adoption of their precious daughter, Quinn. On Sunday night, February 23rd we will share a covered dish meal together, after the evening service in Quinn’s honor. The meat committee has the clean-up.
6. Birthdays: Celebrating a birthday this week: February 16th Lora Gail Bagents and Terry Reaves, and February 18th Dorothy Buck and Jimmy Walker.
7. Contribution Records for 2013: The contribution records for 2013 are on the welcome center in the foyer. If yours is not there or if you see the need for corrections, please see Deborah Stallings.
8. Religious Debate: The University of North Alabama Christian Student Center is hosting a religious debate on April 4th beginning at 6 PM. Bart Ehrman will affirm the proposition, “The pain and suffering in the world indicates that the Christian God does not exist.” Kyle Butt will deny that proposition. For more details visit www.unacsc.com.
9. Immediate Needs For Our Mission Work In Annai: We need, (1) 4,000 Brick to complete Building -- $300 more is needed for bricks. (2) Cement to finish Building -- $810. (3) Moving fill-dirt to building in Annai -- $500. (4) Wiring & Lights for building to use when the community Generator working -- $950. Total Amount Needed: $2,560. Thanks to all who are helping!
10. Vacation Bible School: Happy Ever After…The Salvation Story is the theme of this years’ Vacation Bible School. This is exciting! We hope that you will see its potential and join with us in our excitement. We need your help; there are jobs for everyone! See the bulletin board in the foyer.
11. Area Events: (a) February 21st – 23rd – Marriage Seminar Weekend – Speakers Neal and Kathy Pollard – Theme “Commitment That Excite!” and (b) March 9th – 12th – Gospel Meeting – Luverne church of Christ – Speaker Dennis Sanders.
No Not One
When I was a young boy of 5 or 6 years old, living in Mcdade, Texas, my father preached for a small congregation of the Church. One fond memory that I recall is the opportunity I was given to lead songs on certain occasions. My brother, David, and I had a total of 3 songs in our rotation that we were proud to lead when the time came. One of those songs was, “There’s Not a Friend Like the Lowly Jesus” by Johnson Oatman, Jr. While I certainly couldn’t comprehend completely the meaning of the song, as a 5-year-old I knew that there was no other friend quite like Jesus.
The song begins, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus…None else could heal all our souls’ diseases.” Jesus healed many diseases during His life on earth, but the deadliest, most horrific sickness, sin, could only be healed through His death. (Revelation 1:5; Romans 5:8.) “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Jesus did this, and the only thing He asked in return is that we do what He has commanded us. (John 15:14.)
“No friend like Him is so high and holy…And yet no friend is so meek and lowly.” Oh to think of what He gave up just to save a sinful world. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9.) His love for us caused Him to leave His throne on high and endure the shame of the cross. (Hebrews 12:2.)
“There’s not an hour that He is not near us…No night so dark but His love can cheer us.” In our darkest, loneliest hour we can take comfort in the friendship of Christ. God said, “…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9.) Truly, “Jesus knows all about our struggles; He will guide till the day is done; There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, No, not one! No, not one!”