“Mercies In Disguise”

April 20, 2016

View from Camp Conquest in Lancaster County PA 4/19/16
Camp Conquest is situated on a verdant hill overlooking a calendar type view of a farming community in Lancaster County.
“Mercies In Disguise”

Message Summary: “Hope does not disappoint us.” The ultimate hope we have in Christ will not disappoint! One thousand years into eternity no one is going to regret having placed their hope in Christ. May God give each of us the awareness today that our times of suffering do indeed work for our good, providing us with deep assurance that “hope does not disappoint.”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:2-5).

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Isaiah 40:31We have a longtime friend who has experienced much heartache in life. For over twenty years now she has had one hard blow after another. Each one has been a trial of great significance affecting her personal health, life-long family illness, and a double desertion from loved ones. But she maintains a positive faith-filled outlook in life. She has maintained a remarkable faith, a persevering spirit, and demonstrated a godly character in the midst of her suffering and losses.

In “The Last Lecture” the late Randy Pausch, who was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, shared his childhood dreams and the many ways in which his life has been fulfilling. I found a spiritual application in his observation: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

Throughout life we accumulate a great deal of experience since we all share the common testimony of not always getting what we want or perhaps even what we feel God surely wanted! At times this means we undergo trials and, as our life progresses, we have a growing collection of them (experiences).

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

We’ve all been disappointed by experiences that just didn’t work out as we had planned. Likely, each of us has had several profound disappointments in life and many lesser ones. But the “experience” we walk through and the lasting results we cope with and endure is invaluable and part of God’s plan to shape our spirit and produce Christ-like character.

I don’t always understand the Biblical truth expressed in the daily verse. Specifically I have trouble rejoicing in suffering. What about you? But the equation is a progression of godly traits and is inter-related:

  • “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

The last two characteristics (character and hope) result from the first two (suffering and perseverance). I want godly character and I want eternal hope but, according to this Scripture, they are the end result of suffering and perseverance.

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

I doubt that it is in the nature of any believer to sincerely rejoice because of suffering, but rather we rejoice because we are confident that our loving God is in control. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” The eventual outcome for our “experience” will be good, as we yield our will to the plan of the Father. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” A maturing spiritual outlook enables us to realize that this time of suffering is part of God’s plan in forming the character of Christ within us.

In faith, cling to a phrase from the last portion of our encouragement Scripture.  Read it slowly and appropriate it to your need today: “Hope does not disappoint us.” The ultimate hope we have in Christ will not disappoint! One thousand years into eternity no one is going to regret having placed their hope in Christ. May God give each of us the awareness today that our times of suffering do indeed work for our good, providing us with deep assurance that “hope does not disappoint.”

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Heavenly Father, we live in Your grace that enables us to seek You more fervently as You produce in us a persevering spirit in the midst of adversity. Instead of driving us to hopeless despair, our suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces proven character whereas proven character brings about a mature hope that turns our disappointments into rejoicing, that will help us to see them as mercies in disguise. You have poured out Your love into our hearts and brought assurance to our spirit. The image of Christ is seen in our lives through the character traits You grow in us as we die to ourselves and live for You. Keep us faithful and hopeful during the painful process and teach us how to turn our mourning into dancing. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.


JK Mechanical Community Service Workday

Yesterday we joined around 100 employees from JK Mechanical (an HVAC, electrical and solar company) for their annual community service workday. Each year they suspend normal operations and take a day to serve their community. (The service team was still on call for emergencies.) This year they devoted their service to sprucing up Camp Conquest in northern Lancaster County. It was a blessing to experience hard-working teamwork on a beautiful spring day.

JK workday stain team 4/19/16
Brooksyne was on a crew that cleaned windows and sanded down the edges of the arms and legs of chairs, finishing them off with a clear polyurethane finish. They stopped to pose for my camera but are still holding sandpaper to prove they had been working!

JK workday stair team 4/19/16
This crew was rebuilding a set of steps while others in the background were clearing brush.

JK workday stair team 4/19/16
They worked with a very scenic background.

JK workday dumpster team 4/19/16
All smiles on the dumpster team!

JK workday lunch 4/19/16
Did you notice all the orange shirts! Lots of bright orange shirts at lunch time. If you look closely you might see the side of Brooksyne’s head though you’ll also see a pony tail at the top of it which doesn’t belong to Brooksyne at all. The employees sat very close together and Shanyse, who was sporting the pony tail, sat to the left of Brooksyne.

JK workday lunch $88.88 hoagie 4/19/16
Lunch was provided and the $88.88 hoagie was outstanding! Actually all the turkey sandwiches had $88.88 so I would guess that this was the total price for the “turkey” subs, otherwise it was the most expensive sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

JK workday 4/19/16
This is one of the few times you will ever see us in matching shirts!

Phlox flowers, Lebanon County 4/19/16
Creeping Phlox on hillside in Lebanon County
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Bank in Schaefferstown, Lebanon County, PA 4/19/16
Bank in Schaefferstown, Lebanon County, PA
The spring flowers planted in this large animal trough gives a fresh updated touch to this old historic bank.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Blessings”  Video  Laura Story Throughout the message today this song was quoted. It has a powerful theological perspective. Laura has a heart gripping story regarding her husband’s illness that resulted shortly after their marriage and the ongoing care he needs daily, probably for the rest of his life.

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

“Hope Does Not Disappoint” (Romans 5:5, 8:24-25)  Video  Scripture Memory Songs

“What Salvation’s Done For Me”  Video   Booth Brothers

“He Understands My Tears”  Video  The Isaacs

“Grace Flows Down”  Video  Chris Tomlin

Note: On Monday I posted a photo seeking some advice concerning a water issue I had behind some siding that was revealed when I removed some deck boards. Thanks to several who responded with ideas. The consensus is to use some metal flashing.


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