“A Great Work”

June 19, 2017

Mascot Roller Mill 6/17/17 (click to enlarge)
We had weekend guests and took them over to the Mascot Roller Mill Saturday afternoon. This photo could have been takin in 1930 except for our van parked in front of the mill.
(Click to enlarge)

“A Great Work”

Message summary: Fathers, what a powerful model is taught in our daily text. How are you at encouraging and comforting your children? Do you urge them to live lives worthy of God and show them by your own example? These are a big part of your Scriptural mandate as a father. Let us be found faithful in the godly task before us! That is a “great work” God has ordained.

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“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12).

Yesterday was Father’s Day, a day when many people honor the Fifth Commandment  (including many who scoff at the notion of posting the Ten Commandments). Last week in my face to face ministry I encouraged people to honor their fathers and urged men to be good husbands and dads.

NehemiahYesterday the pastor shared an interesting challenge based on the first daily text. Nehemiah was being harassed as he was finishing the work on rebuilding the walls around the city following the Israelites return from their exile. A persistent harasser was Sanballat who did everything he could to thwart God’s work. In Nehemiah 6:2 he sought to derail the process by calling for a meeting but Nehemiah knew the intent was to bring harm. He sent messengers to Sanballat informing him, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

NehemiahNow this verse could be applied generally to any “great work” we do for the Lord but the pastor applied it to fathers and the many attempts to get them off track from doing the “great work” of being a father.

Nineteen years ago my dad went to be with the Lord. He was a big man of relatively few words yet, as I note the characteristics of fathers to which Paul was appealing in the second text above, I recall seeing them in my own dad. I sure miss him and look forward to seeing him in the ultimate reunion when I’m called home.

Paul never mentions his own father in any of his writings recorded in the New Testament and actually gives very little explicit teaching on fatherhood. Yet in the daily verse he presumes that his readers have an experience and knowledge of fathers. “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children.”

He lists three characteristics of fathers as an example of his own ministry among them. As we consider the descriptive role of a godly father, let us ponder these three necessary character traits, “encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God.”

Allow me to consider how I saw these three traits expressed by my father and perhaps it will prompt you to consider how they were expressed by your dad:

E.C. Weber in 19661) “Encouraging” – I had an accident at Bible College in which I injured my knee. This resulted in surgery and several days in the hospital followed by what seemed at the time to be a brutally slow recovery. I was very, very discouraged. Truth is I was wallowing in self-pity. I spoke to my dad on the phone and received some meaningful words of encouragement, along with a subtle rebuke as he shared with me a mature perspective on life’s trials. He told me I would have more trials and he sure was right!

2) “Comforting” – Of course both parents have these duties and in many ways we may associate receiving loving words of comfort more with our mothers. It’s harder for me to recall reassuring words or comforting gestures from my dad, but a memory comes to mind indicating my dad’s love for his wife and family. In 1967 Mom took my sister and me on a train to California to see my oldest brother Mike, his wife Billie and their new daughter Greta, the first grandchild. Dad stayed home to work and missed us a lot. I recall when he met us at the train station upon our return to Kansas City it was the first time I ever saw him cry. That was a side of him I had never seen and it has remained with me to this day. Perhaps his tears were a demonstration of love that was of special reassurance to me at the time.

3) “Urging you to live lives worthy of God” – My dad was skillful in various HVAC and related trades and was knowledgeable in many other areas. I recall going to work with him in the hot Kansas City summers when I was in high school. I really can’t recall many verbal lessons of a spiritual nature. But he sure demonstrated faithfulness, responsibility, and hard work in caring and providing for his family. Biblically this is certainly a component in living a life “worthy of God” and something we desperately need to see fathers modelling.

Proverbs 28:20Do you see these characteristics in your own father? Though there are now many who cannot identify with this kind of father figure, there are others who’ve experienced a similar relationship. If possible, personally honor your father by recalling some instances when this happened and share it with him in person, by telephone, through a written letter or a personal tribute.

Fathers, what a powerful model is taught in our daily text. How are you at encouraging and comforting your children? Do you urge them to live lives worthy of God and show them by your own example? These are a big part of your Scriptural mandate as a father. Let us be found faithful in the godly task before us! That is a “great work” God has ordained.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Heavenly Father, may words of encouragement, comfort, and exhortation flow from our lips so that we may spur others on in the faith, most especially our own children. We pray that You would help Christian fathers everywhere to verbalize their faith and live in a way that honors You and shows others where their source of strength lies. Help them to be the spiritual leaders of their homes so that a harvest of righteousness and peace will be upon their households. Amen.


Mike and Kathy Matangelo and Tina 6/17/17
This weekend our long-time friends Mike and Kathy Matangelo were up from North Carolina to visit. They attended the very first service in our church plant in northern Pennsylvania in 40 years ago in September of 1977 and became a key family as that church developed. They are shown with their daughter Tina on the porch of the Ressler home at the Mascot Roller Mill. For many years now they have been involved in prison ministry and continue to let their lights shine. Mike and Kathy have impacted many lives including a number of you who know them and today before they left I asked that they each share a Scripture.
Mike: Psalm 118:24
Kathy: Ephesians 3:20-21

Nick Matangelo and family 6/17/17
What a blessing that their son Nick and his family were also in the area for a Sight and Sound show and stopped by Saturday evening for a visit. Nick was born after we met the Matangelos and we visited him the hospital after his birth and I dedicated him to the Lord and saw him grow up in the church before we left that area in 1993. In the late nineties I went to California for one of his older brothers wedding. We both had the same red eye flight out of San Francisco and I arranged to sit together all the way to Pittsburgh. I found out later he told his Mom he was apprehensive about sitting next to me since I would probably preach to him the whole trip! I asked him Saturday evening if I preached to him and he smiled and said no although I probably did a little bit. I am known for urging people to stay faithful and it’s hard to imagine that I didn’t share some doses of faithfulness. He is now married with two children and faithfully serving the Lord, working on the lighting team in his church. Both of Nick’s older brothers, Brian and Doug, also serve the Lord and are serving in ministry in California.

Notsen and Toby Ncube 6/18/17
Last night our Zimbabwean friends, Notsen and Toby Ncube joined the Matangelos and us and we went on a triple date; attending a hymn sing followed by a pleasant drive through the country, including a walk through the Pop-Up wildflower garden. There were many people there taking photographs as you can see in the background.

Poppy flower bloom 6/18/17
Lovely two tone red poppy

Poppy flower bloom 6/18/17
Rudbeckia Cappuccino

Schenck's Mill covered bridge 6/18/17
Brooksyne says walking through a field of flowers is a romantic setting. So afterwards we drove through the Schenck’s Mill covered bridge, and as is our custom, we stopped our van in the middle of the bridge and invited each couple to join us in kissing their spouse. And that was followed by a lot of laughter since it’s been about 100 years between the three couples since our pre-marital courting days!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Good, Good Father”  Video  Casting Crowns Yesterday the pastor acknowledged Father’s day and in addition to addressing the fathers in attendance with thoughtfulness considered those who may be experiencing pain, either due to the loss of their father or in some cases having a far less than  ideal father. This song speaks of a good, good father we all have and was a fitting song for Father’s Day!

“Your Great Name”  Video  The People’s Church in Franklin, TN  This song also has a great line that we pray will minister to those with broken relationships.

All the weak, find their strength, at the sound of Your great name
Hungry souls, receive grace, at the sound of Your great name
The fatherless, they find their rest, at the sound of Your great name
Sick are healed, and the dead are raised, at the sound of Your great name

“Never Too Broken to Belong”  Video  Gold City  This song is on my heart today when I consider how many, undoubtedly including some readers, who have brokenness, especially with their father. We plan to prepare a message on this theme later in the week but today may you experience the blessedness of belonging. Here’s another version with graphic, very moving video clips.  I especially like the old pastor and the little country church. The song is based on the return of the prodigal son to his father in Luke 15, which happened to be the Pastor’s sermon theme yesterday.

“Still”  Video  Legacy Five

Forgiven Ministry  Video  Mike and Kathy are involved in this ministry which seeks to reconnect children to their incarcerated fathers (and in some cases mothers). This short video will touch your heart so you might want to have a tissue handy.

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