“Not In Vain”

August 16, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:58“Not In Vain”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player“Your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

MuffinsThis week our community paper featured a story about Lee Laverty, a woman from our community here in Mount Joy, who “has found her niche to help others.” She voluntarily bakes fresh muffins for the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey and also provides muffins for the hospitality cart which makes its daily rounds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

We ourselves have been blessed by such thoughtful expressions when we stayed at Ronald McDonald House numerous times as Ester underwent five different heart operations as a baby and young child. Her recoveries were anywhere from one to three months so Ronald McDonald House became our home away from home. Churches and civic groups often brought in a meal for parents to enjoy. It provided a break from daily hospital food and helped with the expenses as well.

We are pleased to see in print the acknowledgment of Lee’s effort but we also consider how many never receive words of commendation. They may feel, “What’s the use?” It’s energizing when we receive words of affirmation for our labor of service but we know it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we are left to wonder as our expressions of ministry and care for others so often have an unfinished and even unappreciated element.

Chinese penpalFor many years beginning in the early eighties Brooksyne participated in a ministry known as “Operation Sunrise”. She became a “penpal” to a young Chinese student who had signed up to communicate with someone outside of mainland China in an attempt to learn the English language and culture.

Her name is Yhang Sue. Due to religious restrictions imposed by her government and sensitivities Brooksyne had to be very careful as to what she shared, but in time was able to share her faith in Christ. This correspondence continued over 15 years. Yhang Sue eventually married and immigrated to Canada so we lost contact.

One Christmas when we lived in New England we had gone back to the Midwest to visit our families. Our mail service was temporarily discontinued, but upon our return there was a letter lying on a chair on our porch from Yhang Sue. She must have either been down from Canada hoping to meet us or she had someone drop it off (it did not come through the mail). However the envelope had gotten wet and the return address was illegible. We thus were unable to follow-up and we have not heard from her since. We were concerned that she might interpret Brooksyne’s failure to respond as disinterest.

Not in VainThis is an example of an incomplete story that took place in our lives. I’m sure all readers have them if you ponder a bit. A tract you passed out, a challenge to a fellow worker or neighbor to follow Christ, or some other means of extending yourself. One of these days we hope to hear from Yhang Sue again and get the rest of the story. Of course our foremost prayer is that we will hear that she has accepted Christ!

Today many of you are involved in some type of ministry. Some of you are really seeing results. That’s great! But some of you seem to be butting your head up against a stump (as a college history professor would often express). Nothing seems to be happening and you’re hitting serious opposition. You may be discouraged.

Today’s Scripture portion is a timeless truth for servants of God. “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Above all let us stay faithful to our call and leave the results to God, knowing indeed that our “labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:Father, like a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains we too wait for the yield of good fruit that will be produced by our labor in Christ. As we extend ourselves to others we not only seek to be a blessing to them but we also honor Your name. Sometimes the results of our labors can be lost in the long wait. When that happens we’re brought back to the Scriptural reality that nothing we do for Christ is in vain. It all counts and is credited to our account in the economy of God’s kingdom. We look not for the applause of others, but for the affirmation of the Holy Spirit whom we seek to please in all we do. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today we would like to share some specific callouts of encouragement to those we know who labor in hard places and may not be seeing a lot of results, which can lead to that debilitating spiritual affliction known as discouragement:

We consider:

  • Mike and his wife Kathy in North Carolina and Rick in Massachusetts who works in prison ministry.
  • Wayne and Yvette who are planting a church in a spiritually dark city in Massachusetts.
  • Bob and Linda, North Carolinian friends who have weekly ministry in a nursing home.
  • Joel and Adrienne, missionaries to Africa who worked with us up in our church in New England. Joel has been battling cancer.
  • Jason and Rebekah who serve on a Navajo Mission in New Mexico. Becky grew up in our church in northern PA. Jason recently broke his collarbone.
  • Jim and Dorothy, friends in New Jersey, who lost a son last year to cancer now share together in a grief care ministry even as they themselves continue to grieve.

Of course there are many others we are aware of and perhaps this will prompt you to consider those in your own life under similar circumstances who may need encouraged.

Recent feedback: We appreciate the feedback we received the last couple of days, especially regarding the harder teaching we gave on Wednesday titled, “Dealing With What Is Falsely Called ‘Knowledge'”. We are blessed that many are staying true to God’s Word and the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

“Rough And Tumble”
65th Annual Threshermen’s Reunion
Lancaster County, PABrooksyne and I share many of the same interests but we also support one another in those we don’t. I try to patiently wait as she visits her favorite stores like Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle and she walks with me through events that I enjoy. The week we went to the “Rough and Tumble” Threshermen’s Reunion expo here in Lancaster County which has a huge demonstration of old steam machinery.

Fire engine at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
Coal-fired fire truck

Steam tractor at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
All during the event you can not only see the stationary machinery but they are driving it around with lots of steam and smoke and whistles!

Steam excavator at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
A section had old construction equipment like this steam-powered excavator.

Steam engine train at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
A small gauge steam engine train.

Steam engine tractors at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
Most of the machinery was running.

Bluegrass band at Rough and Tumble event, Lancaster County 8/14/13
A Bluegrass band provided music

Lancaster County PA farmland 8/14/13
Rural Lancaster County view
We saw this view in eastern Lancaster County as we left the “Rough and Tumble” steam machinery event. (Click on photo to enlarge)

The “Rough And Tumble” event runs through Saturday in eastern Lancaster County.
Here’s the website.

Today’s Suggested Music and SupplementalResources

“It’s Not in Vain”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“Kindness Boomerang” Here’s a cute video illustrating that what goes around comes around… eventually.

“Farther Along”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

Yesterday I helped our friend Howard Blichfeldt set up his photo display at the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show. Mount Gretna lies in a mountainous area at the very southern tip of Lebanon County. See here for map. (Google) Howard became our friend about six years ago through daily encouragement and he permits us to occasionally use his photos on our website. He is an outstanding photographer focusing on nature. See here for his site. On many of his photographs he includes a Scripture verse. If you are in our area and may have interest in the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show info is here. Make sure and look up Howard! His photo booth is right along Rt. 117.

Bryce Canyon Photo by Howard Blichfeldt

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