“I Am The Door”

February 20, 2018

Amish men out on a foggy morning 2/15/18
Red door on an old factory building in Columbia, PA
I like the way they painted the handle!

“I Am The Door”

Message summary: We encourage you all to enter this door of Christ which is the only way to salvation.
ListenListen to our message on your audio player.
“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7,9).

Doors are something most of us take for granted. Anytime we have a dwelling we almost always have at least one door, although I vaguely recall visiting a home in Guatamala in a very poor barrio that had a doorway but no door. There were no doors between the two rooms where this family with two children lived. They used a community sink and latrine.

Our house has twenty-four doors. It never occurred to me, before preparing this message, to count each door. This includes closet doors and a shower door. You would probably be surprised how many doors you have in your house, should you choose to count them!

In Scripture the first reference to a door before the flood is the warning God gave to Cain before he killed his brother Abel, “Sin is crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:7). God speaks of Cain’s sinful thoughts lying at his door similar to a crouching tiger ready to spring, and if it does spring the consequences are irreversible. “Door” is also used figuratively in a well-known verse in Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

Among the most famous of Christ’s teachings are His seven “I Am” statements. We were required to memorize these statements while in Bible College but at this point in life we need to look them up!

In my study of the “I Am” statements I have given the least consideration to today’s verses where Christ speaks of Himself as “I am the door”. Some versions use “gate” which of course has the same function as a door. (We have three gates on our backyard fence.)

In this context, Jesus is telling us that He is not only the shepherd of the sheep, but also the door of the sheep. In doing so, He is vividly contrasting Himself with that of the religious leaders of His time whom He describes as “thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). When Jesus says, “I am the door,” He is reiterating the fact that only through Him is salvation possible. This is far removed from the ecumenical teachings popular in today’s liberal religious circles. Jesus makes it clear that any religious leader who offers salvation through any other means than the teachings of Christ is a “thief” and a “robber.” (from GotQuestions.org)

We encourage you all to enter this door of Christ which is the only way to salvation.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

 

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the majority of people avoid walking through the door of salvation that You provide through Christ Jesus, the Shepherd of our souls. They rely on good works, generous giving, religion, and other means by which they might attain eternal life. But You have made it abundantly clear in the Scriptures and through the teachings of Christ, that the only way we can be reconciled to You, Father, is through Christ Jesus, who is the door to salvation. We thank You for sending Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to be the Lamb who was slain for sinners such as I. Amen.

 

The “I Am” statements of Christ in John’s Gospel:
1. I am the bread of life  6:35, 48, 51
2. I am the light of the world  8:12; 9:5
3. I am the door of the sheep  10:7, 9
4. I am the good shepherd   10:11, 14
5. I am the resurrection and the life  11:25
6. I am the way, the truth, and the life  14:6
7. I am the true vine  15:1

 

In addition to these metaphorical “I am” statements there are absolute “I am” statements in these verses.

Lancaster County farm in snow 2/18/18 (Click to enlarge)
Sunday we passed this Lancaster County farm on Butter Road.
(Click to enlarge)

Hunsicker Covered Bridge 2/18/18
The long Hunsicker Covered Bridge
Yesterday I mistakenly misidentified a covered bridge we had passed through on Sunday. The covered bridge photos posted yesterday were actually not the Pinetown Covered Bridge but the Hunsicker Mill Covered Bridge. It was built in 1848, which is the longest single-span covered bridge in the County at 180 feet. It was rebuilt in 1973 after rising waters from Hurricane Agnes lifted it from the abutments and carried it downstream.

Pinetown Covered Bridge, Lancaster County PA 2/18/18
Here’s a photo Ester took of the Pinetown Covered Bridge over the Conestoga River

Donkey in snow 2/18/18
Donkey in snow

 


 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Am The Door”  Video  Children’s song

“He Won’t Leave You There”  Video   Jason Crabb

“He Knows What He’s Doing”  Video   Jason Crabb

Commentary on daily text from GotQuestions.org

Finally today: In our home we also have 52 more doors counting refrigerator, coal stove, kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors! We also have five more doors in our utility barn and garden shed. We also have three gates on our backyard fence. You’d probably be surprised at how many doors you have! OK, Brooksyne calls me crazy, but once I got to counting I decided to do a thorough job of it.

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Pinetown Covered Bridge 2/18/18
Pinetown Covered Bridge

“I Have Overcome The World”

Message summary: Our key to living a life of overcoming and victory, even in the midst of tribulation, is to stay in Him who has overcome the world and wears the Victor’s Crown.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Hallelujah
You have overcome, You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus, You have overcome the world

Yesterday Brooksyne joined the choir in singing a powerful song with a moving message of truth titled, Victor’s Crown. (Link to video of song below). Later, in the message the pastor shared a series of verses concerning victory and overcoming (which are based on the same Greek word)*

One of the verses he shared was our daily verse, a passage we both memorized as young Christians. This verse is so rich in meaning and has often brought us assurance when we especially needed it. We have quoted it often in our ministry to others. However, in examining our use through the years, we have often focused on the earlier phrases in the verse:

  • “These things I have spoken to you” This was a message Jesus shared with His disciples during the hours just prior to His arrest, trial and death. In fact this verse is Jesus’ last recorded words before His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17.
  • “so that in Me you may have peace”. Jesus said this just before the disciples would enter into one of the most excruciating periods of their lives, a time absolutely unconducive to peace!
  • “In the world you have tribulation”. What a forthright statement, hardly a source of encouragement it would seem! It occurs to me how often we speak of tribulation in regard to relatively trivial matters. Last week I had a leaking toilet and had quite a time fixing it and frankly was a bit out of kilter in regard to having a proper perspective. The types of tribulation the disciples encountered, along with millions of believers throughout church history and in our own age, has included suffering and death.
  • “but take courage”. Various versions translate this, “be of good cheer” (KJV), “but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]” (Amplified), “Be courageous!” (HCSB). What a blessed word this must have been in fortifying the disciples’ faith (and ours).

However, I realize I have not given much consideration to the final phrase in this text. I have sermon and study notes from early in my ministry and each daily encouragement on file since 1996 when I first began writing them. But I don’t believe I’ve ever placed a focus on this final phrase, “I have overcome the world”.

Note that Jesus is speaking in the past tense. Although His suffering and death were imminently before Him He states “I have overcome the world”. What tremendous assurance in His Father’s redemptive plan that brought about His eternal purpose.

Our key to living a life of overcoming and victory, even in the midst of tribulation, is to stay in Him who has overcome the world and wears the Victor’s Crown.

At the cross the work was finished
You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You
For You wear the Victor’s crown

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, there are many trials and tribulations that we face here on earth. It seems we get over one hurdle only to face another, but we are comforted when we remember that we are not alone in our trials, nor are we the only ones to face difficulty. The greatest test and the greatest triumph were both present at the death and resurrection of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ who overcame death and the grave. Help us to remember there is no triumph if there is no test. We take courage when we undergo testings and tribulation when our minds are focused on Jesus, not the trouble at hand. Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true. There’s a race that I must run and victories to be won. Give me power, every hour, to be true. Amen.


We had a beautiful snowfall overnight on Saturday and awoke yesterday to some of the prettiest snow scenery of the season. Following our church service Brooksyne sang in the choir during the second service followed by a meeting, so Ester and I took scenic routes home and went through five covered bridges which we will share this week.

Donegal Springs Road 2/18/18
Leaving home heading on toward Mount Joy on Donegal Springs Road.
(Click to enlarge)

Pinetown Covered Bridge 2/18/18
Built in 1867, the Pinetown Covered Bridge crosses the Conestoga River. It was washed off its base by the flood waters of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The following spring, nearby Amish workers rebuilt the bridge, raising it to 17.5 feet above the average water lever to avoid future damage. The bridge was severely damaged in floods in September 2011, rebuilt, and raised yet another time.

Amish young couple 2/18/18
After going through the bridge we passed this young Amish couple likely going to Youth Group.

Mollie ready to catch frisbee 2/18/18
Arriving home yesterday afternoon Mollie was ready to play frisbee catch. She can’t get enough time to play in the snow before we call her in for fear of frostbite which she had one time. Her favorite winter sport: bury the frisbee in the snow and then dig it out, over and over and over again.

Mollie catching frisbee 2/18/18
Got it!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Victor’s Crown”  Video  Calvary Church choir

Here is the point in the message where Pastor shared selected verses on victory and overcoming.  Video

“Defender”  Video  Another song the choir sang yesterday.

“Keep me True”  Video   Jabu Hlongwane

“The Love Of God”

February 16, 2018

Amish men out on a foggy morning 2/15/18
These Amish men are out on a foggy morning yesterday.
“The Love Of God”

 

Note: Valentine’s Day was on Wednesday so this week we shared a series of messages on love. Today we share the final message of the series.Message summary: Today rejoice in the fundamental truth of God’s love!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).Everybody knows that The Geico Insurance Company has had a lot of rather humorous ads through the years. In one series a person would inform the other that “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” to which the other person rather snidely responds, “Everybody knows that!”

John 3:16 is one of the most familiar and most quoted verses in the Bible so we may have the same thought, “Everybody knows that!” It is one of my favorite texts to preach from although there is a sense that it’s something everyone already knows. However:

1) Everyone does not know.
2) Even those who do know need reminded and assured.
3) There are depths of meaning even in the clearest and most familiar verses.

3:16How often has this verse been proclaimed! It’s been called the gospel in a nutshell! Each word is dripping with the honey of reassuring truth for the believer in Christ. It’s probably the most memorized verse in all of God’s Word. Many of you could close your eyes and recite it right now. From our earliest days as believers we came to associate this reference with the very essence of the Gospel message.

Tie with John 3:16Here’s an outline that I am blessed by that has often been used and God only knows who originally devised it:

  • For God (the greatest Giver)
  • so loved (the greatest motive)
  • the world (the greatest need),
  • that He gave (the greatest act)
  • His only begotten Son (the greatest gift),
  • that whosoever (the greatest invitation)
  • believeth (the greatest decision)
  • in Him (the greatest Person)
  • should not perish (the greatest deliverance),
  • but (the greatest difference)
  • have (the greatest certainty)
  • everlasting life (the greatest possession).

In the expressive hymn “The Love of God”, the hymn writer(s) extol the inexhaustible love of God. This is surely one of the most creative use of words in all hymnology.  May its text bless you today as you personally apply God’s enduring love to your heart.

O Love of God, how rich, how pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song.

Today rejoice in the fundamental truth of God’s love!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, as the giver of all good gifts, You gave the greatest gift possible when You sent Jesus to die in my place. Because of this most wondrous act of sacrificial love I have been forgiven of my sins. I want to live for You all the days of my life and take as many to heaven with me as I can.  Help me to share freely and generously the marvelous message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen.  In the name of Jesus Christ, my loving Lord and Savior, I pray.  Amen.


Old Windmill Farm windmill base 2/15/18
Yesterday we stopped by the Old Windmill Farm to visit with our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth. The old windmill is a working windmill supplying water to the farm. Jesse has straw built up around the base to keep the pipes from freezing.Anna's pantry 2/15/18
Anna Ruth’s colorful pantry stocked to feed a family of nine.Farm fresh eggs 2/15/18
Brooksyne came out to the car with some farm fresh brown eggs.

Maple sap collection 2/15/18
Moses collecting sap for maple syrup. Forty gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup! He even gave us a small sample of his hard work.

Hinkletown Sewing Center 2/15/18
Brooksyne needed some sewing supplies so we stopped in at the Hinkletown Sewing Store. This family is working hard of repairing and servicing machines. Their specialty is Bernina.

Hinkletown Sewing Center 2/15/18
Old sewing machines on display.

White Horse buggy traffic 2/15/18 Click to enlarge
A busy intersection near White Horse, PA


Here is an outline of our messages this week:


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Love of God”  Video  MercyMe

“The Love of God”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band (Another song with same title)

Finally today:

“Everybody knows that” Geico ad compilation  Video  Let’s end today with a chuckle if you have not seen these ads!

Lebanon County barns 2/13/18
Earlier this week we passed this attractive red barn complex in Lebanon County.

“The First And Greatest Commandment”

Note: Valentine’s Day was on Wednesday so this week we are sharing a series of messages on love.

Message summary: Today we will consider what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37).

Loving God book coverOne of the formative books in my Christian growth was a book I read many years ago with the simple title “Loving God” written by the late Charles Colson. Following his involvement in the Watergate scandal Colson had a life-transforming conversion experience and went on to live the remainder of his life as a committed and active servant of Christ. The book is a compelling look at the cost of discipleship and the meaning of the first and greatest Commandment that we are to love God.

Today’s second text is a response to a question by a lawyer and expert of the law who asked Jesus what the most important commandment is. “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'” (Matthew 22:34-36). The question was likely an attempt to trap Jesus.

But Jesus responds with one of the greatest summary explanations of how His followers were to be characterized.  “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Jesus is actually quoting from the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 6 a statement known as the Shema, one of the best-known, most fundamental expressions of Jewish belief. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4,5).

Yesterday a tragic reminder of our fallen world dominated the news with yet another school shooting resulting in multiple injuries and fatalities. There is much hand wringing with various proposals on how to “fix the problem”. Sadly for many the one true fix is mocked. That fix is expressed in these words from a Gaither song:

It’s not complicated;
Don’t need a lot of rules,
This is all you’ll need to know.
Loving God, loving each other.

Authentic, culture-transforming Christianity comes down to loving God and loving each other. Everything we do – our relationships, our work, entertainment, education, and every sphere of life should demonstrate to a watching world our love for God. No success, status, or possession will matter at the end of our days. How we loved God and loved others is what really matters.

So let us be characterized with a sold-out genuine and sacrificial love for God.

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we know that You are a faithful God, keeping Your covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love You and keep Your commandments. Your love is so abundant that You not only have provided for our physical needs but also our spiritual need of salvation. We have not seen, nor have we heard and our mind has not fully conceived of the things You have prepared for us but we look with anticipation to the time when we will receive all that You have promised to those who love You.

But in the meanwhile we remain faithful and trust You for all that weighs our hearts down; most recently the mass shooting yesterday that resulted in multiple injuries and 17 fatalities in Parkland, Florida. We pray that those personally affected will find Your peace in the midst of horrendous chaos. We pray for those in authority, both school and law officials – that You guide them as they seek to bring order and normalcy back to the classroom setting in the days and weeks ahead. May Your comfort be found by those who lost loved ones. Grant strength and courage to those injured. We also pray for those who dealing with inevitable fear from their haunting experience; faculty, students, and family members. May they find courage and peace as they seek to work through and overcome this horrible act of evil. May something good come from that which was intended as evil since we are not to be overcome by evil, but we are to overcome evil with good. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Verses with the phrase “those who love Him”:

  • “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments”  (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • “Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Nehemiah 1:5)
  • “I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Daniel 9:4)
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • “However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
  • “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12)
  • “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?” (James 2:5).ddd

Here is an outline of our messages this week:


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Loving God, Loving Each Other”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“My Jesus I Love Thee”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

“What is the greatest commandment?” from the Bible Study website “GotQuestions”

Finally today:

Basketball goal in sun (Photo by Shawn Sauerwine)Shawn Sauerwine, a friend of ours, took this photo of what appears to be a sun swish! Our temperatures have been more comfortable in recent days so a basketball hoop looks rather inviting for those who enjoy this activity.

“Marital Love”

February 14, 2018

1 Corinthians 13 coffee mugs

1 Corinthians 13 Mugs
(with hot coffee and a little chocolate fudge to warm the heart!)

“Marital Love”

Note: Today is Valentine’s Day so this week we are sharing a series of messages on love.

Message summary: May God give each of us persevering love!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“So she (Rebekah) became his (Isaac’s) wife, and he loved her” (Genesis 24:67b). “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7,8).

Over the years we have met many people and everyone has a story, although some are more interesting and colorful than others. We met Bob and Joan in a church I served as an interim pastor in York County over ten years ago. At that time they had been married over 50 years. It’s very inspiring these days to know people who have an enduring marriage but this couple went on to tell us something that we had never heard before. They both share the same birthday, but that’s not all!

Bob and Joan were born on the very same day of the very same year in the very same hospital. Since their birth records do not specify the precise time of birth they don’t even know who is older! They’ve known each other since they were little and both recall having an “interest” in the other as youngsters. Now that’s about as close as you can get to life-long love with one who is not your blood relation!

An enduring marriage requires persevering love. In over fifty years you can imagine the bumps and hard times Bob and Joan have been through. Brooksyne and I know this as we approach our forty-second anniversary in three months. In my premarital discussions with young couples who are preparing for marriage I candidly share this reality; “you don’t pick your problems and you don’t schedule them”.

In marriage especially we need a commitment to persevering love. This is expressed in loyalty, a great Scriptural virtue that’s sure on the decline. Loyalty is faithfulness expressed in our relationships. It’s keeping the promises we make which ultimately reveals our faithfulness to the Lord. In the daily Scripture from the “Love Chapter” we read these characteristics of love: “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

One writer describes perseverance during troubled situations like this: “Facing life’s troubles is like doing pull-ups…unless you have built up your core strength, you won’t have the strength to hang on. Defeat is inevitable. We need to continually work on our core strength to be prepared for the tests ahead.” (Inspire online)

This persevering love foundationally needs to be expressed to the Lord but is also expressed toward other people; our marriage partners, our children, our extended families, co-workers and friendships.

What about you today? Is loyalty and persevering love a character trait in your life? Loyalty has been defined as “using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those He has called me to serve.” If this is true, it’s difficult times that will not defeat us but will mold and shape us into who we are.

May we persevere in love as we continue to walk in God’s grace!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, hear our earnest prayer this day. May You, the supreme example of persevering love, help us to daily nurture our love and loyalty in human relationships. May we be loyal to our partners, looking after their interests above our own. May Your grace help us to live above the fall-out that comes from inevitable trials. Enable us to overcome daily temptations as we rely on You. As we genuinely seek You we are confident that You will grant understanding, forbearance, and a persevering love that will last a lifetime until You call us to our eternal home where we will be richly and eternally rewarded. Amen.

Note: We are aware that some of our readers have experienced or are even now experiencing the terrible pain of disloyalty and broken promises, particularly in marriage, but also in work relationships, church matters, and on and on it goes. May God bring His healing touch and quiet peace to your hearts. Others of you have yourself been grievously disloyal at some point in your past. Thank God for His forgiveness and I urge you to see this message as a challenge to demonstrate loyalty, seek forgiveness and persevere in love from this point forward.


Here is an outline of our projected messages this week:


A plump male cardinal in leafless tree (Photo by Randy Martens)When you spot a small red color in a dull leafless tree far in the distance do you watch carefully to see if it’s a cardinal? What is it about cardinals that grab and hold our attention. Brooksyne would say it’s the bright red that stands out amidst the dull winter colors and you would probably agree. This plump male cardinal certainly stands out on this leafless tree.
Photo taken by our friend Randy Martens

This prompts another memory of Bob and Joan, who we mentioned in today’s message. Bob was especially colorful and I think at times embarrassed his wife a bit! He was a little on the heavyset side and told a story about walking into donut shop and seeing a big box of donuts set aside marked “Free”. He picked them up preparing to leave the store and the clerk said, “Excuse me sir, those are for the pigs” (the box was set aside for a pig farmer to pick up). Bob replied, That’s OK, I’m a pig!”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Love Never Fails”  Video  Brandon Heath

“When I Say I Do”  Video  Matthew West

“I Will Be Here”  Video  Steven Curtis Chapman

“Love Will Be Enough For Us”  Video  Brandon Heath

“A Page Is Turned”  Video   Bebo Norman  Many years ago I conducted the wedding service for a couple who used this song in their ceremony. It has a line, “And all this time, they’re sharing with the One that holds them up when they come undone”. If you know of a couple(s) whose marriage has come “undone” pray for a miraculous restoration and loving reconciliation, even as we are praying for several couples regarding this matter.

“Together”  Video  Steven Curtis Chapman

“Broken Together”  Video  Casting Crowns

“Restored”  Video  Matthew West

“My Only Love”  Video  Dailey & Vincent

“Beyond Romance”  Video  Jimmy Fortune  A very thoughtful song!

Finally today:

Loveless Cafe biscuits 2/14/18This morning Brooksyne lovingly made me biscuits with a mix from the Loveless Cafe near Nashville Tennessee! We ate there several years ago with Brooksyne’s sister and she sent us a gift assortment from the Cafe for a Christmas present. She knows I like to read about little known facts about stuff and that’s exactly the title of the book she got me.

“Family Love”

February 13, 2018

Birds 2/7/18  (Photo by Doug Maxwell)
Our neighbor Doug has quite an eye for photography and calls his photo collection God’s Eyes Photography! I believe these are blue birds.
(Photo by Doug Maxwell)

 

“Family Love”

Note: Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday so this week we are preparing a series of messages on love.

 

Message summary: Today we consider the blessings of family love.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

 

The other day I was giving some “loving” to our dog Mollie which means briskly rubbing the back side of her ears and stroking her which prompts her to suddenly drop to the floor for a belly rub. Many of you petowners know just what I’m talking about since most pets are very receptive to human love. We enjoy each of our dogs and cat but Mollie is the most affectionate. It occurred to me that many pets receive more attention and love than humans. That’s why we need to let our lights shine which includes demonstrating love. Sadly so many come from homes  where little love is demonstrated, and some are in living in that kind of home even now.

There’s a song that’s been playing on a southern gospel station we often listen to (enLighten). It’s called “The Little Girl” that tells the sad story of a little girl in a home with an alcoholic father and drug-addicted mother. She would hide behind the couch while her parents fought. The song gets even sadder but does have a happy ending. (Link below)

Last week we found an assortment of old-fashioned soda drinks in nostalgic bottles at a discount store. We like the taste of these non-brand name sodas and bought several to enjoy. Growing up during a time when people were careful with their money, buying a soda pop was a real treat. We rarely had soft drinks in either of our homes. If we were going to drink anything but milk or water and occasionally juice (from concentrate) it was Kool-Aid. Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and Coke were commonly purchased by those who had plenty of money or that’s the way we looked at it.

Cream soda and peanutsThe other night we opened a bottle of orange cream soda to share and poured some peanuts in. This prompted a memory from Brooksyne which she shares:

Growing up in Oklahoma, when we visited my grandparents in Arkansas we would travel 180 miles which was a long, long way for us children. With a family of seven we couldn’t afford to stop and eat but Mom would always bring along a jar of cheez whiz and box of Ritz crackers. She couldn’t spread the cheese quick enough before another set of little hands popped up reaching for the next cheese covered cracker Mom would pass to the back seat.

If we’d keep our fussing to a minimum (which meant we could still make ugly faces, quietly elbow or pinch each other in the back seat) Daddy would pull into a gas station in Sallisaw Oklahoma which was about halfway. He’d pull the change out of his pockets and hold out his big truck driving hands so each of us could pick out a dime to buy a bottle of pop and a nickel to buy salted peanuts. We always tore open the package of peanuts and dumped them into our orange pop. The mixture of the sweet soda and the salty taste of the peanuts tasted so good together.

Since moving to the Northeast over 40 years ago I’ve never seen anyone mix soda and peanuts, but every time I see a grape or orange soda pop my memories go back to our trips when we’d stop for pop and peanuts. Once in a great while I still mix the drink and nuts and when I do so it still makes me remember how when Daddy did that I feltl loved. Daddy’s been in heaven for 18 years now, but if he were still living, I sure would enjoy taking him an orange or grape soda pop with a bag of peanuts poured in the bottle.

What a blessing to have memories like this and an assurance of love within our families. In this category of love we consider:

  • The love of parents for their children
  • The love of children for their parents.
  • Love among siblings.
  • Love among extended family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles,  cousins, even household pets.

Can you consider Biblical examples for each of these?

Jacob and Esau's reconciliationToday’s text chronicles a warm reunion between two warring brothers who had been estranged for many years; Jacob and Esau. Jacob had deceived his brother Esau many years earlier and had left home after Esau threatened to kill him. The narrative focuses on Jacob after their reconciliation but it is clear that God had also worked on Esau’s heart over the years of estrangement from his brother.

Their reunion is one of the great examples of love and reconciliation in the Bible. “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Is there a family member that needs your love and a warm embrace from you today? Be sure to reach out, extend yourself, forgive that matter which may be separating you, and thank God for your family.

Be encouraged today.

 

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the Psalms tell us that You set the lonely in families. We’re thankful for a setting where we are loved, protected and provided for by those you ordained to be our blood family. All too often we take them for granted, grumble about our differences in habits and opinions, and speak hurtful words that wound their spirit. Remind us through the example of Esau and Jacob that we lose a great deal when we bicker and go our separate ways from those we should love the most. We pray for our readers today, if there is a need for reconciliation, that they will make the call, send the card, or pay a visit and lovingly embrace their loved one. We never know how much time we have on this side or our loved one for that matter, so we must make the most of every opportunity to be there for those who matter most. Amen.


Here is an outline of our projected messages this week:

  • Brotherly love
  • Family love
  • Marital love
  • Our love to God
  • God’s love for us

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Little Girl”  Video  John Micheal Montgomery

“Family Tree”  Video  Matthew West

“Lead Me”  Video  Sanctus Real

“Family Chain”  Video  The Nelons

“Save My Family, Save My Friends”  Video  Tribute Quartet

“What Children Believe”  Video   Gold City

Finally today:
Yesterday two new calves were born on the Old Windmill Farm and Farmer Jesse sent over a video with the sights and sounds of the barnyard!

“Brotherly Love”

February 12, 2018

Eagle's parade 2/7/18  (Photo by Chris Leaman)
Eagle’s super bowl victory parade in Philadelphia, “The City Of Brotherly Love”
(Photo by Chris Leaman)

“Brotherly Love

Note: Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday so this week we will prepare a series of messages on love.

Message summary: Today, let us indeed love one another which will also reveal our genuine discipleship!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Center City Philadelphia is just under 75 miles east of us as the crow flies (assuming the crow is flying straight). However you can’t drive there in a straight stretch so with driving on roads it’s about 85 miles. Last week a Super Bowl victory parade took place in Philadelphia, home of The Eagles Football team. The crowd was massive on a very long parade route. Winning sport’s teams are like modern day Gladiators. We came across several that went to the parade including our friend, Chris Leaman.

Many are aware that Philadelphia is known as “The City Of Brotherly Love” but most are probably unaware that “Philadelphia” is from a Greek word in the first daily text. “Let brotherly love continue” (brotherly love translates philadelphia, φιλαδελφία, see here). As far as I know it’s the only major US city to have this characteristic in its name. (An international city that’s also based on a Greek word, “anchor” is Ankara Turkey.)

But today we consider the Biblical command to express our love to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the love spoken of by our Lord Jesus in the second text. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Our world needs to see Christians demonstrating this mark of genuine discipleship at a time when the expression “I love you” in our day has become less meaningful. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God” (1 John 4:7a).

Christianity is often maligned and ridiculed in many parts of our world and increasingly here in our own country. The secular media and arts often mock our faith in Jesus Christ. Blaspheme the Lord, call it “art”, and you might get a huge government grant.  Interestingly many of these same “artists” would never dare insult the founder of the Islamic religion!

Sadly, many of the programs on the “Christian” TV stations don’t truly represent what we believe or practice as a follower of Christ. But millions of genuine disciples of Christ are planted all over the world today living out their faith in relative obscurity, usually seen only by God and those in their small area of influence.

Expressions of love and acts of compassion are continually happening as we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Genuine disciples are lovingly serving others in the name of Jesus Christ as modeled in the Bible and carried out in the lives of believers day after day. In many cases these are brothers and sisters who reach out to others in Christian compassion through their praying and giving without personally meeting the recipients of their kind acts or generous gifts.

Before Jesus went to the cross he gave a lengthy teaching recorded in John’s gospel. In our second text He teaches a distinguishing mark of the true disciple: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Coming out of Bible College this verse and a small booklet titled “The Mark Of The Christian” by Francis Schaeffer heavily influenced our understanding of Christianity.

As many believers already know, the word “love” in this verse comes from the Greek word “agapé” which speaks of an “in spite of” type of love.  Brooksyne and I were so impressed with this Greek word that we named the church we established in St. Marys, Pennsylvania “AGAPE” in 1977. It took a few years for the community to learn that the name of our church was not speaking of agapé as in “mouth open” but as in “the love of Christ”!

The third daily text somewhat intrigues us for surely there is an appropriate use for verbally expressing love. We believe John is saying, “Let us not love with words or tongue” only, for there is plenty of talk about love and merely saying “I love you” is not enough. Genuine disciples expressing genuine love need to back their verbal expressions with loving actions in accordance to God’s Word. Today, let us indeed love one another which will also reveal our genuine discipleship!

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, may we be people who are quick to notice the ways in which we can be of special blessing to others. It seems quite easy when it comes to those whom we befriend. We often recognize their need before they express it and find genuine fulfillment in being Your hand extended to them. But You challenge us to go even further in making ourselves available to our enemies with whom it is not natural to provide for their needs. In expressing agapé to those around us we love in spite of what we see or have experienced. May all that we do on behalf of others be an expression of Your heavenly touch extended through Christian human service. It is in Your strength and compassion that we can do that which is unnatural to our human flesh, but natural to our redeemed spirit. Amen.

Here is an outline of our projected messages this week:

  • Brotherly love
  • Family love
  • Marital love
  • Our love to God
  • God’s love for us

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Blest Be The Tie That Binds”  Video  Homecoming Singers

“Beloved, Let Us Love One Another”  Video  Maranatha Kids

“Hold Us Together”  Video   Matt Maher

“How Beautiful”  Video Twila Paris

“Open Up The Heavens”  Video  Calvary Church

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