May 9, 2012
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“Seeking To Stay Faithful”
The last several days we’ve had some longtime friends visiting. Mike and Kathy Matangelo, along with their daughter, Tina, presently live in North Carolina but were a vital part of our church in northern Pennsylvania from the very beginning. In fact I met Mike before the church even started when he stopped by our apartment right after we had moved from Missouri to Pennsylvania in 1977. He was curious about a report of a young couple who intended to start a church!
The Matangelo family was a tremendous blessing to us and that church and continue to serve the Lord, now primarily in prison ministry. Their children walk with the Lord as well and their son Doug, who was in preschool when we met them, went on to Moody Bible Institute and is now a pastor in Washington state.
During my ministry I have often found assurance in the two daily verses. As a young Christian I memorized them and often quote them aloud as I preach or share with others. In fact this morning as we bid farewell to the Matangelos as they departed for their home it was included in my prayer for them.
Some of our conversation over the past couple days included the names of dear brothers and sisters that we’ve been in touch with who remain vigilant in their Christian walk. In fact, we talked about the joys of heaven when we will once again reunite and not just for a reunion but there will be no more separation – we’ll enjoy eternal fellowship there.
But the reality is this: not everyone who has been introduced to Christ continues on the straight and narrow way. There are the drifters, the doubters, and the disobedient who veer off on treacherous paths that steer them away from the upward road.
Just this morning Brooksyne got a voicemail from a man with a drug and alcoholic background whom we’ve worked with in our chaplaincy ministry for several years. He appeared to finally get straightened out and we rejoiced with him.
But we’ve gotten clues lately that his abstinence is waning. The phone call confirmed that his drunken state has returned as his message was evident of one who is drunk – and at 8 AM in the morning! This is so frustrating! Why, why, why would you touch the poison again! It cost you your home, your family, your job, your integrity, and your dignity!
I’m not looking forward to returning the call but I know that I must. I must not weary of doing good, for I cannot give up on this person whose life hangs in the balance. His dear elderly, recently widowed mother needs to know we still care. If we think it’s impossible how can we inspire hope or give direction?
Over our life and ministry I can look back at the times of dismay, discouragement, and a few times even despair. I’ve been criticized, attacked, and a few times even vilified. I’ve faced forms of temptation common to all men and forms rather common to a minister of the Gospel. But God’s Word says my labor in the Lord is not in vain and at the proper time I will reap a harvest, if I don’t give up!
One of the wonderful perspectives that comes from the long haul is the many ways in which I am now reaping the harvest of seeds sown years ago. A blessed marriage, so many long-term friends now living all over the world, young people I dedicated as babies and discipled through childhood and youth now serving God faithfully. I know there are still aspects of the harvest that are yet future, and quite realistically more “why” and “how long” times will come. But what a joy, as life progresses, to experience the reaping, although I certainly continue to sow as well.
Here’s my message for our readers today. The assurance in these two verses is for all of Christ’s followers regardless of the type of service you’re in. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain and you will reap a harvest, sometimes immediate, but more often it comes in the unfolding future of God’s plan.
So let me encourage you to continue on. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord and continue to do good as you serve the one true God. Whatever your circumstances, however serious your situation, regardless of how long you’ve waited keep believing, obeying, and praying. We will reap a harvest; that’s the assurance we receive directly from Scripture for the long haul!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Faithful Father, I consider the many portions of Scripture that speak of fruit as an outgrowth of sowing good seed in various kinds of soil settings. When I think of the horrible injustice that was done to Joseph, first by his brothers and then by his master’s wife I’m empowered by his astonishing response. Instead of becoming disillusioned or embittered he continued to pour himself into work for You now in a prison among vile prisoners. His two years of obedience in an undesirable prison setting brought about years of blessings he didn’t anticipate at his time of faithful service to You in jail. Help us to be faithful over the long haul so that we see Your multitude of blessings and answers to prayers unfold in Your timing and through Your plan. We will never give up until we’ve won the race. Victory is just ahead!
We want to thank all of you who shared a message concerning our 36th anniversary yesterday. They were so encouraging to read. Here’s one from a very special couple, the first recipients of a daily encouragement message in 1996:
Dear Pastor Weber and Brooksyne,
Congratulations on celebrating 36 years of marriage!! What a blessing and a testimony to me that you have stayed together and served the Lord together all these years. The longer Nigel and I have been married, the more we realize how intentional we have to be to work on our marriage, if we want our relationship to glorify the Lord. We have been reading ‘Sacred Marriage’ by Gary Thomas: his main point about marriage as God’s way of growing us spiritually is so true. We were basically newlyweds when we first met you at Taunton, in hindsight very ignorant about what it really takes to make a marriage work! Thank God for his mercy and grace that we are here 16 years later. I thank God for faithful couples like you who give me hope and encouragement to continue to persevere in this calling.
Love in Christ,
Yesterday was a rather rainy day here in Lancaster County so we took the Matangelo family to some of our local Lancaster County markets.
“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” Video Indelible Grace An outstanding old hymn with powerful lyrics.
A pastor is so pleased when others whom he has ministered to stay faithful. Here’s a recent sermon titled “Fellowship in the Gospel” by Doug Matangelo posted online as audio. What a great joy to hear the serious preaching and exposition of the Word of God!
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