“Hope-inspired Endurance”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photo of Horses in pasture

Horses in green pasture along Kraybill Church Road.
Click here for larger version with Scripture verse!
After all the rain we are very saturated green in our area. It’s a beautiful clear day with lots of sun but early this morning we could sure sense that Autumn is coming with temps in the forties!

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“Hope-inspired Endurance”

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

I’ve been blessed by our daily verse for many years. Can you see the ready-made three point sermon outline in this text? Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, begins the letter in a manner typical of his writing style, as he expresses warm appreciation in his introductory remarks. He gives thanks to God for the faith, love, and hope of the Thessalonian believers. It’s important to be thankful for those to whom we minister. Like Paul, we also need to assure them of our regular prayers on their behalf.

Today we want to especially consider the last phrase of our text where Paul is commending the Thessalonians for their “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Scriptures frequently stress the character quality of “endurance”. The underlying Greek word “hupomone” is used often in the New Testament. It has the sense of remaining, bearing trials, and having fortitude. My observation in the Christian life and in Christian service is that it’s one of the character traits most lacking among Christ’s followers today. That’s why I especially rejoice when I hear of a fellow believer staying on course.

Moon flowerThis endurance is inspired by “hope”. Inspirational artist, Thomas Kinkade, paints the following word picture, “Hope lights our spirit in the midst of despair; it is the life force that through the green stem drives the flower; it keeps a divine vision alive in the hearts of the weak and needy.” Now that’s an inspirational thought for endurance!

I recall a professor noting that the Greek word for hope (elpis) conveys an absolute confidence and assurance, not a wishful thought. The foundation of this hope is “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The hymn, “He Giveth More Grace”, has the following line in its third stanza, “When we reach the end of our hoarded resources our Father’s full giving has only begun.” Brooksyne often uses this hymn line as a prayer for the unsaved or backslidden. She prays that they will come to the end of their own “hoarded” resources and look to God whose resources are not hurtful, destructive, or based on the ever-changing philosophies of this world. Instead His resources are inexhaustible, satisfying and have eternal, redemptive qualities about them.

The believer endures great heartache as he or she watches a loved one year after year selecting from their seeming endless bucket supply of hoarded resources that lead them to yet another wrong choice. That’s why we often pray, “Lord, help (Johnny) to reach the bottom of the barrel so that he can dig no deeper and finally looks up to You. Help him to see that his way is not the right way and show Him Your way, Father.”

Brooksyne and I pray for all who are undergoing this kind of heartache today with a child, parent, spouse, sibling, friend, co-worker or whomever God has laid on your heart. May He fill you with His enduring hope as you wait for your loved one to come to Christ so that he or she can experience the abundant generosity of a loving, saving, giving God.

Let me add one more thought: We, as believers, can also be guilty of hoarding our own resources, such as education, possessions, pride and a host of other things or attitudes that pull us away from God rather than forcing us to fully rely on Him guide us in the thoroughfares of life.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we continually remember the work of our fellow believers that is produced by their faith in Jesus, their labor that is prompted by love, and their endurance that is inspired by the hope they have in the Lord Jesus Christ. How grateful we are for the love and fellowship we enjoy with our brothers and sisters who serve You all throughout the world. We lift up those who are presently enduring matters that weigh heavy on their hearts. May the hope they have in the Lord Jesus Christ inspire confidence that You will give them victory as they stand firm in You. In the Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen.

Brooksyne’s Update: Over the years we’ve been transparent in our home life, most recently sharing with our readers of Ester’s decision (with strong prompting from Mom and Dad) to go to New Life for Girls, a residential home for girls and women struggling with behavioral issues or destructive addictions. We were genuinely blessed with many responses of support, prayers, and words of encouragement over the past nine days. We’ve earnestly sought God about Ester’s need for a very long time and most acutely since NLFG became her home where she would deal with some behavioral problems in her life. The first week was extremely difficult for us making the transition, but just when we were getting accustomed to the change we got a call from the acting director on Wednesday evening that Ester had chosen to come back home. NLFG is a voluntary program where participants choose to stay or leave. Because most of the residents come from very troublesome situations or have no home to return to NLFG is their only choice. Ester had a choice, of course, and we were asked to pick her up yesterday which we did so with very heavy hearts. She stands beside me right now as I share this  update with our readers. I asked her, “How can our readers pray for you, Ester?” She asks that you might pray for her to more fully understand what God wants to do in her life. We thank you for your heartfelt prayers on our behalf and are believing that Ester will find the resources (love, joy, peace, self-control,forgiveness, etc.) that God provides to guide her through life’s journey here on earth.

Mike MuhlhammerWe consider many who deal with trials today and one especially comes to mind. Mike is a young man who grew up in the church we served in northern PA some 20 years ago. He recently had a fall resulting in serious injury. Mike has had some other unexpected overcomings in life and we share his testimony here.  We welcome those who know Mike and others so burdened to pray for him as he recovers from the three surgeries he underwent for his injuries. His mother, Chris, who periodically fills in for a chaplain at a center for disabled people wrote, “About 2 weeks ago I preached a sermon that I have been working on for a long time titled “When things go wrong” – I used Job as my “role model” for how we should respond. In this location the residents are significantly impaired for the most part. One of the illustrations that I used as I closed was to have a tug of war with a large rope.  I had them pull and tug each other in opposite directions. Then I told them this was the reminder I wanted them to take with them was that sometimes all we could do was to hang on tight to God’s love for us – just like they hung onto that rope.  I know that I am hanging on to that rope right now and I sense perhaps you are too….”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“He Giveth More Grace”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“When Trials Come”  Video  Keith and Kristyn Getty   The Getty’s will be ministering in our area on September 23 at Lancaster Bible College. Brooksyne will be attending the concert. For a number of years we have been blessed by this husband wife team.  If you are local and interested ticket information is here.  “There are two reasons we write modern hymns,” explains Keith. “First, it’s to help teach the faith. What we sing affects how we think, how we feel and ultimately how we live, so it’s so important that we sing the whole scope of truth the Bible has given us. The second reason is to try to create a more timeless musical style that every generation can sing, a style that relates to the past and the future.”

“In The Valley”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

“My Jesus I Love Thee”  Video  Grace Church Toronto

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