March 5, 2012
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“Working With Joy!“
Friday afternoon we encountered a local cultural experience in shopping at BB’s Grocery Outlet, an Amish “supermarket” in rural Schaefferstown, PA. It’s a discount store with the interesting slogan, “Bents, Bumps and Bunch of Bargains”. (I suppose the poor grammar adds to the folksiness).
As most people know the Amish have some restrictions that seem peculiar to us regarding the use of certain types of modern technology. Based upon our friendship with a number of Amish these restrictions can be peculiar to them as well!
BB’s seems rather dark inside because they don’t use electric lights. Once you enter the store the skylights are adequate, though they do have gas lanterns mounted and use them as needed (which was not the case during our Friday shopping experience). The gas lantern shown to the left is over the entrance door. Loud generators provide electricity for refrigeration and the cash registers.
Throughout the store we heard Amish ladies of all ages singing as they stocked the shelves and even one young lady sang as she checked out customers at the cash register! They seemed rather oblivious to the mostly non-Amish customers. Although I didn’t recognize the words or tune of their songs, I understand they were singing hymns, many which reflect their joy and strong work ethic.
Today most of us begin another work week. How’s your attitude toward your work today? Mondays are dreaded by many with an outlook of the long workweek ahead. The TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) outlook seems to permeate our society. It reflects an attitude that the work week is finally over and now real living can begin (weekend party time).
But God’s Word says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” which would apply to every day of the week! That is a constantly present tense reality. Each day is the day that the Lord has made and on each day we are called to rejoice and be glad.
Solomon makes a point so needed today: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15). Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Notice the phrase in the second daily Scripture text that states, “Joy will accompany him in his work.” What a great perspective to enjoy the work we do realizing that God has providentially placed us in our present job position. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). “Always” would surely include time spent at work.
The Amish people stocking shelves were not doing the kind of work we normally associate with being fulfilling. Anyone who has worked in retail knows the frustration of putting items neatly on display only to have customers move things around or worse yet, change their minds about an item and dispose of it far from its original location. Yet their joy was contagious and I smile as I reflect upon the experience.
Today, like wise Solomon, we commend you to the enjoyment of life and specifically that joy will accompany you in your work all the days of the life. This day do your work wholeheartedly and let the light of Christ shine through you!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we find pleasure and fulfillment in our work when we work at it heartily, as for You, primarily. We thank You for giving us the wherewithal to provide an income for our family where our financial needs are met. Certainly each workplace has its challenges, but as we look to You for strength, endurance and wisdom to deal with those challenges we find joy, thanksgiving, and fulfillment in our work. May others see heaven sent joy flow from our lives as we spread mutual respect and a strong work ethic in the workplace. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Any given day we prepare these messages we are aware of heartache in the world. Today we especially consider the devastating tornadoes in the Midwest and are praying for these folks.
“Joy Unspeakable” Video Curt McKee Not the hymn I am familiar with but a nice sound and especially so since it reminds me of a pastor friend, Jim Gambini.
Here’s a sample of Amish children singing at a one room school. We have been to an Amish school for special programs and can testify that this is really what it sounds and looks like! Video
Tomorrow we are taking the train into Philadelphia to attend the Philadelphia International Flower Show. We have an Amtak station in Mount Joy.
For the curious and local bargain hunter BB’s Grocery Outlet in Schaefferstown, PA is located in southern Lebanon County where we also passed the colorful Schaefferstown fire hall. Google Map
We traveled this route on Friday to drive through the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in northern Lancaster County where thousands of snow geese stop each spring on their way north. Our friend Doris High has an outstanding photo collection.
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July 18, 2011
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“The Outlook Choice”
“And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). “Do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14). “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
The other day we stopped at a local supermarket. As we walked through the parking lot we had no trouble hearing two older women complaining about something. In fact every other word that spewed from their mouths were foul expletives! We couldn’t get away from the vile scene fast enough. But sadly such a scene is all too common and even created in Hollywood for viewing and listening on the big screen.
Let me ask you a candid question. Have you complained about anything thus far today? I’m not only speaking of verbal murmurings expressed to others, but inner complaining within your own heart. (Many of you are glad you really don’t have to answer that question, at least where others might see!) I realize life is jam packed with opportunities to complain if we so choose. I suspect this is true wherever we live; regardless of what situations we’re enduring or conditions we are living under. However each day, really each moment we have a major outlook choice; we can rejoice or complain.
Jim Gambini, a longtime friend of ours, made an interesting observation when he pointed out in a sermon, “Essentially, complaining is accusing God of not doing it right.” Think about Jim’s statement in light of God’s providential dealings in your life. Isn’t the traffic jam ultimately under God’s control? What about that annoying associate? If God is really in control (and I sure believe He is) complaining is essentially accusing God of not doing it right. It’s like telling God, “You got it wrong the first time. How about doing it this time the way I want it, so that You can get it right?” We wouldn’t dare say those words, but our attitude often conveys such a disrespectful discourse, when we find ourselves grumbling to God. It’s easy to criticize the Israelite’s frequent murmurings and thankless hearts as they journeyed to the Promised Land, but we do the same, far more often, as we are journey to our promised land.
I encourage you to read this Scripture carefully: “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:22-24).
Try to imagine, even empathize with Paul and Silas’ ordeal; physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Their exterior circumstances in this single experience is a more traumatic trial than I’ve known in 56 years of life. Look at the key words describing their situation: attacked, stripped, beaten, severely flogged, thrown in prison, guarded carefully, inner cell, feet fastened in stocks. This injustice took place in Philippi.
If anyone ever had uncomfortable and unwarranted conditions to complain about Paul and Silas sure did! Did they appeal to the human rights commission? Did they threaten a personal injury lawsuit if medical staff refused to doctor their potentially infectious wounds? Of course we know they didn’t and likely would not if these options had been available in their time period. In fact the very next verse tells us justs what they did. Since this is a familiar portion of Scripture you likely know the answer, but I’ll provide it below our message, just in case.
Paul later wrote a letter to the church in Philippi and gives two simple straightforward commands: “Do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14) and “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) He sure had the credibility to make these statements!
It’s very easy to make super-heroes out of these disciples of Christ, but they were human just like us. The Scriptures do not speak of their complaining or murmuring, but it’s possible that they did initially (we really don’t know). But we do know that any attitude they might have had led them to conclude that God is worthy of our praise no matter how miserable the circumstance!
Today we all have an outlook choice. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It’s a proclamation every single one of us can make this day and every day!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we’re told to do everything without complaining, so that we shine like stars in the universe. We know that people are drawn to light where brightness is present and warmth is extended. Help our conversation to be full of grace, tenderness, light, and truth so that we will positively affect those around us. May we be as a sweet aroma to You and those whom we meet on our life’s journey. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
* Here is the verse that immediately follows the daily Scripture portion referred to in today’s message: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
“The Joy Of The Lord” Video Twila Paris
“Rejoice In The Lord Alway” Video
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Ministry Update (Revised 12/31/10)
December 3, 2009
Christmas trees on Elizabeth Farms (Photo by Mike Martin)
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“The Joy Of The Lord!”
When I pastored in New England I preached a sermon titled, “Where Does The Joy Come From?” I had several people prepared to demonstrate common sources of joy: some good, some neutral, and some bad. One mimicked the “joy” attained through alcohol and drugs, another his enjoyment of skiing and another the joy of a family gathering. But where does deep, real, abiding joy come from?
Look around you today; this week; this season. Do some people-watching at the local mall, the post office, or even on the highways. It’s likely that you’ll see more impatience, stress and inconsideration than people who demonstrate a deep, abiding joy.
Last week we read about shoving and fighting that broke out at a major retail store on Black Friday. A friend told us that she had filled a shopping cart with special buys at a Toys R Us only to look away momentarily and find that her cart, goods and all, had been taken by another shopper, apparently frustrated that she couldn’t find an unused shopping cart!
Greed is certainly at the heart of such actions. Greed, anger, jealousy, fear and other destructive attitudes have filled the hearts of people since the fall of Adam and Eve.
Nehemiah encouraged the listeners who gathered at the Water Gate by proclaiming, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” This call to joy was issued to the people after hearing the reading of God’s Word. They did not have access to the Scriptures as we do. When, after many years of spiritual desolation they finally heard the Book of the Law read aloud, they stood, lifted their hands and responded “Amen! Amen!”
The priests further explained the meaning of the Scriptures to them and, when the listeners realized how far they had drifted from God’s commands, they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. They began to weep openly. Nehemiah wanted them to recognize it was a new day and to realize their greatest source of strength would come from having joy in the Lord. It was a joyful occasion that their hearts were tender. The better we understand God’s Word, the more comfort we find in it; the darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance, but joy comes when we are enlightened and responsive to God’s revealed truths.
The very heart of the gospel is the message the angel proclaimed to the shepherds as expressed in Luke 2:10, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Just ponder the aspect of “great joy” these lowly shepherds received in the message of the Gospel. This event had none of the normal trappings we associate with joy today. It wasn’t available to just the Hollywood elite, the intellectual, the wealthy, or the big name politicians. The joy the angel spoke of wasn’t related to flashy consumer goods, there was no big sweepstakes giveaway, no great buy at the mall.
Instead the angel spoke of joy that originates from an entirely different source. This great joy is the result of the birth of Jesus who came to save all people who ask forgiveness for their sins. The angel’s message went on to proclaim, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”
This season look to the genuine Source of deep, real, abiding joy. Let us express deep and abiding joy daily as a testimony of what Christ has done for us, what He has done in us, and what He will do through us.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, the media is usually devoid of good news, but rather corruption, murder, greed, and bickering politicians are at the forefront of the daily news. How marvelous that an announcement made by an angel some 2,000 years ago would bring great joy not only for the people of that generation, but it continues to resound even to our generation and those who follow. Your coming to earth brings great joy and provides eternal hope to all who believe on You. Today I will not walk under the cloud of bad news but I will soar above the clouds because my steps are ordered by You, not by the news of the day. You are my strength, my hope and my joy!
Nehemiah 8:1-10 (the context from the first part of today’s message.)
Here’s the simplified outline to my message. Real joy is a result of:
2. Living in obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:9-17)
3. Undergoing trials that develop fruitful character (James 1:2-4)
4. Experiencing God’s presence (1 Peter 1:6-9)
Mike and Nicole Martin share some photos today of their trip to Elizabeth Farms here in Lancaster County.
A thoughtful email we received in response to the message yesterday:
I’ve been researching our genealogy and have really enjoyed it. I just began a month or so ago. I got so excited one day when I was told that I might be the great great great great grandaughter of a subchief of the Cherokee Nation. But then, I thought about it again and really really got excited when I realized that I was the DAUGHTER OF THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE!!! I’ve got good genes!!! This is not conjecture, but a FACT!! He’s my DADDY!!! What a blessing our families are!! They must be important because of the way they are listed in the Bible with the genealogy lines.!!!
Christmas Memories Here’s a collection of Christmas memories sent in by daily encouragement readers several years ago, along with an opportunity to share your own story. “In Remembrance of Me” pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling. “When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with the tune. Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18 pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him” pdf
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.
Christmas Knowledge Test
Wehave also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
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Here’s an idea! “The Blessing”
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