“Stockpiling Grace”

September 13, 2018

Mascot Roller Mill, Lancaster County 9/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

We enjoy driving by the Mascot Roller Mill property on Stumptown Road in rural Lancaster County.
(Click to enlarge)
“Stockpiling Grace”
Message summary: Keeping our focus on the Throne Of Grace remains a difficult task for many of us. We want to stockpile grace. “Lord, help us to keep approaching your throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Jim and Wendy GambiniMany years ago Jim Gambini, our pastor at the time, shared a memorable point concerning God’s grace when he was preaching on the subject of worry. When we find ourselves worrying we get ahead of God’s actual plan and try to figure out how our troubling scenario will play out. This gets us worked up about how we will respond which leads to even more worry.

But God’s grace is always available in abundant supply during our time of need, but not ahead of the need. Jim pointed out that we cannot “stockpile grace”. He shared this thought, “For the Christian our focus is not to be on the need or even the provision for the need but we are to focus on the Provider.”

In the Old Testament God provided manna, enough for a daily portion except for a double portion to be gathered the day before the Sabbath. If they tried to double their daily allotment or stockpile manna it would spoil!

Throne of graceThe writer of Hebrews implores us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” This is the only reference in the Bible to the “throne of grace” and is a quite literal translation found in all standard translations. What a comforting description of this approachable place where we find mercy and grace!

We approach this throne “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The Amplified Bible makes this distinction between mercy and grace in this context,

1) “mercy [for our failures]”
2) “grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”
“Let us then fearlessly, confidently, and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to sinners)”.
His grace is dispensed “in our time of need”.
I am glad for God’s presence in my time of need. I have received His mercy and regularly experience His grace. Admittedly His grace is not always dispersed in the way that I have prayed or want, but as God in His providence has scheduled and apportioned it.

Keeping our focus on the Throne Of Grace remains a challenging spiritual discipline for many of us. We have more of a tendency to stockpile grace. “Lord, help us to keep approaching Your throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is often a challenge to focus our attention on the Throne of Grace when we are surrounded by earthly thrones and man-made solutions for those things that trouble us. But You want us to look to You in time of need and fully believe that You will supply our need right on time and in proportion to that which is best for us. We cannot stockpile grace so we eagerly approach Your throne with confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We thank You for it! Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Here At The Throne Of Grace”  Video   Sovereign Grace Music

“Throne of Grace”  Video  Highlands Worship

“Before The Throne Of God Above”  Video  Selah

“The Cross Is All The Proof I Need”  Video  Triumphant Quartet

Linden Grove school, Lancaster County 9/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

Last week we passed these children playing outside a one room Mennonite school near New Holland, PA
(Click to enlarge)

“The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”: Love
Message summary: The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love”; what we are describing as the “The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”. Today we consider the greatest of these which is love.

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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16).

SuspendersFor many years I (Stephen) have worn suspenders which, apart from men in the old order groups like Amish and Mennonite, is rather unusual. We attend a large church and sometimes I may be the only one wearing suspenders. When I do see one with suspenders I am inclined to engage in a conversation; I suppose feeling a sense of kinship with him.

There was an individual who sat in front of Brooksyne and me a couple Sundays ago who was wearing suspenders. He was quite a bit bigger than me and perhaps it was hard for him to get his suspenders aligned properly. I held back, or perhaps Brooksyne held me back, but I really wanted to untwist his suspenders in the back since it was right in view throughout the service. In my mind I figured he’d be more comfortable once they were aligned properly.

Several years ago a little boy with wide eyed curiosity eyed my suspenders, pointed to them and asked, “What are those?” I told him “suspenders” and then asked “What do you suppose they’re for?” At first he didn’t know but then ventured correctly, “To hold your pants up?”

Indeed I do use suspenders as reinforcement to my belt. With my present configuration a belt alone may not do the job, but with suspenders both are sufficient to the task! Some people use accessories for style reasons. Who knows, someday suspenders may make a style comeback and I will be on the leading edge of being “cool”. But for now my suspenders serve a mere functional purpose. In fact I rely on them.

If you stop and think about it, there are lots of things we rely on day in and day out. Relying on things is one thing but reliance on our emotions is even more prevalent. Paul wrote, “The greatest of these [faith, hope, and love] is love”. Love is the most powerful and positive emotion a human being can experience.

The dictionary defines reliability as “dependability or trustworthiness”. The reliable object consistently functions as designed. The reliable person can be depended upon because he is trustworthy.

Being a reliable person includes dependability, consistency and faithfulness. When something or someone is reliable we generally take that quality for granted but when dealing with unreliability that faulty trait quickly rises to the surface. In our interface with both people and machines reliability is necessary and is a genuine blessing.

Today’s second Scripture text is a wonderful verse to memorize and hide deep in our hearts: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” The Amplified Bible elaborates, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us.”

What a tremendous blessing that we can know and rely on God’s love. Sometimes His love is very evident; other times it is an invisible expression. I will confess that there have been times when I’ve actually questioned His love for me. Sometimes I would like to see Him do things differently and there are times I even give Him ideas on how to do it. But I do find deep abiding assurance as I have come to regularly rely upon His steadfast, unconditional love.

IcebergMany of you have seen the photo (or computer designed graphic) of a huge iceberg. Only the tip is showing above the water. That’s a good illustration of the love of God. When we choose to follow Christ and come to more fully know God’s love we realize it is so immense that it is beyond measure. However I suspect we still just see the “tip” of His love!  Even though there is so much about God’s love I see and may even think I understand, there is a whole, whole lot I fail to see or comprehend.

Do you know God’s love today? Are you relying (trusting, believing) on that love? A.W. Tozer wrote: “God’s love is measureless. It is more: it is boundless. It has no bounds because it is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God. His love is something He is, and because He is infinite, that love can enfold the whole created world in itself and have room for ten thousand times ten thousand worlds beside.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen”. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Note: On Monday we began this 3 part teaching prompted in part by Brooksyne hearing the word “trifecta” related to a weather report. At the time she couldn’t recall or didn’t actually hear the fuller story about how they were using the word. Now we think it’s related to the hurricanes coming, three in a row! We continue to have rainy dreary weather in our parts even today. But, of course, our attention and prayers are turned toward North and South Carolina where residents over a 500 mile spread could potentially be affected or devastated by Hurricane Florence.

Over the years I’ve had a number of humorous moments related to my suspenders. In 2007 we were at the INS in Philadelphia where Ester attained her American citizenship. Due to security we were searched upon entering the building and had to do the usual emptying of pockets, removing watches, and laying items on the conveyor belt for inspection. When I went through security the magnetic detector beeped so I was sent through again, this time without my suspenders, which had metal clips. At the time I had taken off about fifteen pounds so the suspenders were pretty important. I passed the inspection the second time through and quickly picked up my suspenders with the intention of securing them to my pants.

Due to the orders being incessantly shouted by the security, “Stay to the right, Keep the line moving, Sir, move over here, don’t hold up the line,” I got quite flustered as I was being pushed through the crowded line and was unable to get them back on. In the maddening process my pants started to fall down!  With one hand on my suspenders and the other holding up my britches I was having big time troubles.

Brooksyne, who was already through the line at this time, caught sight of me and rather than being a compassionate wife she burst into uncontrollable laughter. She tells me my face was beet red as I was trying to work through my dilemma. I explained my situation to the security man and he responded with a dry smile, “I sure hope this doesn’t make me have to do my job” (referring to arresting me for “indecent exposure.”) Well, I eventually was able to get out of the line and put myself back together. But Brooksyne had quite a time getting control of herself as she kept replaying that scene in her mind while we sat in the large room with about 100 others waiting during the immigration process. This humorous incident brought some distraction and lightheartedness to an intense setting where there is so much security, rules, and regulations.

Stephen with curious horse on the Old Windmill Farm 4/1/18
This farm horse was interested in checking out my suspenders. He would pull at the elastic suspenders till they snapped. This startled the horse, but he quickly got over it, and would repeat it until I finally decided this horse had had enough horsing around at my expense! Perhaps it was the first experience he had with straps that stretch and he got a kick out of it, quite unlike the straps of a bridle. (Brooksyne’s note:  Better that kind of kick from a horse than a literal one which I’ve had more than once as a child when we owned several horses.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”  Video  Joy Williams
“Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)”  Video  Casting Crowns
“Love Was in the Room”  Video  The Booth Brothers

“I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band
Lancaster County Amish farm 9/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

Lancaster County Amish farm
(Click to enlarge)

“The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”: Hope
Message summary: The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love”, what we are describing as the “The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”. Today we consider the blessing of hope.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). “Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it, ‘But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you’” (Psalm 39:6,7). “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (Lamentations 3:21). “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3,4).

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Today marks 17 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. If you live in the USA and are old enough to remember you will recall that day. Most of us remember very graphically the events of that day and we all live with the lasting impact, some certainly more than others.

Evil has gone on unabated since the fall of the human race, but some calamitous days, like 9/11 are noteworthy reminders.

Hope is one of the most necessary spiritual and emotional components oflife. Without it we live in despair. It has been said, “Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eightminutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” *

In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah is living through the period of Judah’s final conquest. In the portion that precedes the third daily verse he describes the horrible, despicable events that accompanied this time and Jeremiah seems to be teetering on despair.

But in this text we have one of the greatest transition verses in all of Scripture. In the midst of this terrific despair Jeremiah writes, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope”. What Jeremiah called to mind brought hope from despair and today some 2,600 years later, it will do so for us as we reflect on the immutable attributes of God such as His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence (simply put, He is all powerful, all knowing and all present).

The kingdoms of this world are all temporary, self-serving, and polluted by the wiles of Satan’s strategies to steal, kill and destroy. It is headed for total destruction. But, as believers, we follow after Christ who brings abundant life and an inheritance kept in heaven for us. Let us renounce the world and enter into His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. Though the world may crumble around us, our hope remains fixed on the eternal kingdom not seen with human eyes. Such anticipation fills us with inexpressible and glorious joy as we await the day that Jesus Christ is revealed in all His glory, splendor and holiness.

The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love”, what we are describing as the “The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”.

Hope remains. The nature of the hope we have is foundationally a spiritual hope. The “good life” (peace and prosperity), as many of us have known it or desire it to be on this earth, is not guaranteed by God. So many, many of the heroes of the faith of the past and present testify to this. (Read Hebrews 11.)

The hope that remains is the assurance that ultimately “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is an enduring hope in which we can all be absolutely confident.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we solemnly consider the catastrophic impact that demonic Muslim terrorists have permanently etched in our painful memories from the horrific events of 9/11/01. Though we witnessed mayhem and saw evil at its worst, mercifully, we also witnessed acts of goodness at their best. We are not without hope, for we know that You are a God of hope that fills believers with all joy and peace as they trust in You, so that they may overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to spread the overflowing, enduring hope that does not diminish in the midst of evil, but  focuses our hearts on the holy city, the New Jerusalem; the New Jerusalem where Your presence is with Your people; where You will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone, for You will make all things new. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Living Hope”Video  Phil Wickham

“Hope for The Nations”Video  Karen Peck & New River

“Prisoner of Hope”Video  Gaither Vocal Band

* Often attributed to Hal Lindsey

Here’s the longest people have survived without air, food, water, sunshine, or sleep

We often mention our friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth and their seven children at the Old Windmill Farm. It’s nice when the farm tour guests help them market the farm experience such as this traveling family who made a video which includes some beautiful drone footage.

Sunset 9/5/18 (photo by Ester)
Lancaster County Sunset
Photo taken by Ester
Click on photo for larger view without Scripture text

“The Ever-Enduring Trifecta”: Faith

Message summary:  Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ and are you keeping it there?

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

I’m undone by the mercy of Jesus
I’m undone by the goodness of the Lord
I’m restored and made right
He got a hold of my life
I’ve got Jesus
How could I want more

We had another very rainy weekend here in rural Pennsylvania and it continues to rain even this morning. On Saturday morning Brooksyne left for choir practice and faced a flooded Donegal Springs Road. She took this photo and wisely turned around to another route.

According to our home rain gauge as of 8:00 AM Monday morning we have accumulated 8″ inches through the weekend and it looks like another rainy day today!

Brooksyne heard an interesting description of the weather pattern as a “trifecta” although she didn’t hear what the meteorologist meant in this case! In regards to weather we see the term trifecta meaning various things depending on the season. In the summer we often hear “hot, hazy, and humid’ and in winter “cold, rainy, and windy”.

Trifecta is a relatively recent addition to the English language. It first appeared in the early 1970s as a term for a horse-racing bet in which the first, second, and third place finishers are chosen in the correct order.

The word has since broadened in meaning: it can now refer to a group of three, usually desirable, things (such as “the trifecta of curing cancer, ending hunger, and putting an end to war”).

Trifecta combines the prefix tri- (meaning “three”) with the last element in perfecta, a word of American Spanish origin. My most memorable time of ever hearing the word “perfecta” was when I preached 25 years ago in a church in Fusagasugá Colombia using a translator. When I finished the national pastor of the church stood up and said “perfecta” which was pretty encouraging, though I’m sure the message was far from perfect!

Last year we wrote a message about “Christ’s Glorious Trifecta”; His death, burial and resurrection. Let us consider for the next three days another trifecta in Scripture based on a fairly familiar passage from 1 Corinthians 13, often referred to as The Love Chapter. The chapter concludes with the first daily text, which describes an ever-enduring trifecta; “faith, hope and love”.

Over the next three days let’s consider each of these three words which are foundational to Christianity beginning with faith in today’s message.

Faith and belief are essentially synonymous when used in the Bible (both use the same root Greek word). In John 3:16 “believe” is translated from “pisteuōn” and in Hebrews 11:6 “faith” is translated from “pisteōs”.

The first reference to faith/belief in the Bible is our second daily text. “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness”. Other versions render “Abram believed the Lord”, or “Abram trusted the Lord”. Years ago I recall hearing a teaching by the late theologian RC Sproul asserting that this is a foundational verse for all of Scripture and our understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament. “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer” (Galatians 3:6-9).*

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines faith as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s life. Nelson also says belief is to place one’s trust in God’s truth. A person who believes or has faith is one who takes God at His Word and trusts in Him for salvation.

Perhaps the best known New Testament verse on faith is Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God”.

Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ and are you keeping it there?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, we place our faith in You because we believe Your Word to be true and because the Holy Spirit has drawn us to Yourself, convicting us of our sins. We are made right through repentance and placing our faith in You. We want to persevere like the saints of old and keep Your commandments as a testimony of our new life that began when we forsook our old nature and took on the nature of Christ. We seek to please You and to do so we must be people of faith, for without faith it is impossible to please You. Amen.

*Genesis 15:6 is also quoted in Romans 4:3 and James 2:23

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“I Got Saved”  Video  Selah

“Jesus Messiah”  Video   Gaither Vocal Band

“This Is Amazing Grace”  Video   Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers

“I Won’t Go Back!”

September 7, 2018

Foggy Lancaster County morning 9/6/18

We had a foggy morning yesterday here in Lancaster County but another very hot, humid day.

“I Won’t Go Back!”

Message summary: As you examine your own heart won’t you join us in reaffirming your desire to serve the Lord and with confidence join us in proclaiming, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved”.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).

I won’t go back, can’t go back, to the way it used to be
Before Your presence came and changed me

Today we specifically have a burden for those who have shrunk back or appear to be in the process of doing so. Surely you are aware of people like this or perhaps in your own heart you may be struggling to press on in the faith.

There are those who join the family of believers and seem earnest in their new found faith. Yet over time, in some cases only a couple of months or over the years, the world again gets a grip on them and they shrink back from their life of faith and commitment to Christ. Let us resolve; I won’t go back!

J. Vernon McGeeWe recall listening to J. Vernon McGee as young Christians back in the seventies. He went to be with the Lord 30 years ago in 1988, though his radio messages can still be heard in some areas. I don’t know when he wrote the following quote but it still speaks for today in 2018!

He used the French Huguenots as an example of faithfulness: “They were persecuted, and they were betrayed. When France destroyed them, it destroyed the best of French manhood and womanhood. The French Huguenots went into battle, knowing they were facing certain death, and their motto was: ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ The nation of France has never since been the nation it was before it destroyed these people.”

“We believers today need a motto like the Huguenots. There is a lot of boo-hooing today among Christians. There is a lot of complaining and criticizing. There are a bunch of cry-babies and babies that need to be burped. Oh, my Christian friend, the whole tenor of this marvelous epistle (Hebrews) is ‘Let us go on.’ So let us go on for God!”

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). Our text begins with the conjunction “but” which marks a stark contrast with those who briefly “flicker” but in the end “fizzle out” (like sparklers on July 4th). Those individuals make the catastrophic, volitional choice to “shrink back” and turn away from the living Christ.

Today we want to stress the importance of being grounded firmly in our faith. Let us just consider the two word phrase “shrink back” as typically translated in many common versions. Other versions use “draw back” or “pull back”.

We have a specific burden for those who have shrunk back and concern for those who are presently struggling to press on. They initially begin their journey of faith very earnestly, yet over the passage of time the allurement of the world begins to influence them once again or life’s ongoing troubles diminish their hope and joy. Before long they shrink back from the things of the Lord. As you carefully examine you own spirit you may realize that you have been shrinking back.

Today we are writing to encourage you and quite honestly we are encouraged and spurred on ourselves from this passage of Scripture. We know God’s Word is true and many years ago memorized the daily verse, reciting it over and over, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved”.

As you examine your own heart won’t you join us in reaffirming your desire to serve the Lord and with confidence join us in proclaiming, I won’t go back!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You indicate in Scripture that the righteous live by faith; and if he shrinks back, You will take no pleasure in him.* When we live by faith we find inner joy and lasting hope from Your promises, not only those already fulfilled but those yet to come. At the end of our earthly existence You promise to end our sufferings and to receive us unto Yourself, commending our faithfulness by giving to us a crown of life. We must press on, ever persevering, to win the prize of the high calling which we have received through Christ Jesus our Lord. With the prize clear before our eyes, Lord, we find the strength to press on and not shrink back. Amen.

* See Hebrews 10:38

Smucker Laser grinding 9/6/18
One of our newest workers at Smucker Laser busy at work before 7 am in the morning.
Val-Co Haitians 9/6/18

Michael (left) having some fun during this photo of him with his co-worker who is also his Uncle Ron at Val-Co.

Rick Steudler at service day 9/6/18
Val-Co is volunteering in the community, but this year they are splitting up into smaller groups. Today about 20 of the employees moved the food pantry from Cross Net Ministries in Leola to its new location. They also did some painting, cleaning and fixing up at their other buildings including this Youth Center. Initially we spotted the janitor sweeping until we looked closer and saw that it was Rick Steudler, one of the owners of Val-Co. Rick always has a great smile even in the midst of his work!

Twin goats on the Old Windmill Farm 9/6/18
“I want to take a goat home!” Brooksyne always says that every time we see baby goats. We stopped at Old Windmill Farm this morning and spotted 3 sets of twin goats only one week old. Moses gathered these two for Brooksyne to hold so we could get a good close-up photo. The one on the left started licking Brooksyne’s cheek just like a pup! Sarah Beth, the Lapp’s 3 year old daughter, named one of the goats Zebra! They are raising it as a pet so they bottle feed it and it will follow them just like a pup as it grows up. Notice they still have the remnant of their umbilical cords attached.
Old Windmill Farm goats 9/6/18
Mama with one of her twins. (It sure seems like the mama shouldn’t have a beard!)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“I Won’t Go Back”  Video   Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers

“Never, No Never”  Video  Joseph Habedank
“Take Me Back”  Video  Andrae Crouch & The Disciples
“Too Much to Gain”  Video  Mark Trammell Quartet

“Praise Him In The Hallway”

Message summary: Today are you in a hallway waiting for a door to open? Continue to praise God and look for opportunities He provides in the hallway!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“For a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). “Pray at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned” (Colossians 4:3).

We enjoy photography and artwork with an inspirational theme. Tuesday morning during our visit to Audrey’s, a wholesale gift and home decor company we serve as chaplains in Lebanon County PA, we saw the plaque shown above with these words, “Until God Opens The Next Door, Praise Him In The Hallway”.
The concept of open doors comes from the Bible as demonstrated in the three verses quoted as our daily texts. Today we often hear the term “open door” used in regard to a job or ministry opportunity. During a time of transition we have all at some point waited for a door to open and perhaps you can relate even as you read this.
The illustrative plaque calls this wait during a transition the “hallway”. The hallway can be a difficult time as often the wait time is uncertain and the outcome is yet to be seen or experienced.
A hallway experience in my life was in 2004 when I left a full-time job with a national chaplain service company (Marketplace Chaplains USA) having a vision but no clear direction. I knew I wanted to develop this Daily Encouragement ministry and also continue with workplace chaplaincy.  During 2005 I primarily focused on the Daily Encouragement ministry (this was also my Mom’s final year on this earth and we were caring for her many needs at the time while I also served as interim pastor in York County). During the following years we have added companies to the workplace chaplaincy part of our ministry one by one till we have reached our present load of ten.
While waiting in the hallway we should have a heart of praise and service since wherever we are we should seek to bloom and God has providentially placed us in that hallway!
Let’s glean several lessons from our daily texts:

  • In the first text Paul colorfully speaks of “a wide door for effective service”. What a blessing these times of ministry are. We hope you have all experienced seasons like this in your service for Christ.
  • But “there are many adversaries”. This will virtually always be the case when we’re in the Lord’s work. “For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe” (from the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”). If the way is too smooth you may need to question how effective your work is!
  • “That God will open up to us a door for the word.” Paul was committed to preaching the Word of God. In the first recorded mission service in Acts 13 after being sent out from Antioch we read, “When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (Acts 13:5). Regardless of what type of ministry we are in we are all to proclaim the Word of God.
Today are you in the hallway waiting for a door to open? Continue to praise God and look for the opportunities He provides (or dare I say providentially appoints) in the hallway!
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, whether our waiting for a door to open feels hard, confusing or endless You give us opportunity to learn that You that You are working for our good in Your time and in Your way. Help us to praise You in the wait, singing songs of thanksgiving that bring gladness and gratitude to our heart while drawing us closer to You. May You find us faithful in the wait, serving You in the midst of the delay, and growing more bold and confident in our faith as we see You working on our behalf. Amen.

Farm scene in Lancaster County, PA
We always enjoy this rural setting near Manheim, PA where the big cow peeks out over the tall corn.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“While I’m Waiting”  Video  John Waller
“Amazing Love/Word Of God Speak”  Video  Guy Penrod
Manor Township barnManor Township Barn
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“Not Condemnation, But Celebration”

Message summary: When we return to our Father rather than condemnation there is celebration!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1,2).

There is no condemnation
Just a Father who’s been waiting to put His arms around you
Oh, the anticipation, the great celebration
For you were lost but now He’s found you
There is only rejoicing and a tender kindness shown
When the prodigal comes home

Traveling through Lebanon County yesterday on our way to a chaplain visit we heard a song that touched our hearts (link to song below). It tells the story of the prodigal (lost) son, a parable from the
Bible that illustrates the forgiving character of God. The entire story is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. We consider today those of you who have a prodigal in your life or any of you who might be living as a prodigal.

When the lost son who had wasted his life finally came to his senses he returned to his Father reasoning that being a hired man back home would be better than perishing in a wasteland. He had rehearsed his speech in his head before heading home and once he arrived he put all his cards out on the table, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21).

Just consider the shame in those words, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” In one sense the statement is correct. He had blown it big time; he was no longer worthy. But the father in the story, illustrating our heavenly Father, seemed oblivious to this petition.

The text continues, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24). Rather than condemnation there was celebration!

The Apostle Paul in our second daily text tells us there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. The word “condemnation” from the original Greek means “an adverse sentence.” Because of Christ’s death on the cross we are no longer objects of God’s wrath, but we are His beloved children. The verdict for those who are in Christ Jesus is “No condemnation!” Could there be a sweeter sentencing for those who at one time were objects of God’s wrath and certainly “no longer worthy”?

Like the prodigal son when we come to God with a contrite heart He does not turn us away but instead delights to show mercy: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

Once our sins are buried into the depths of the sea it is there that we need to envision a posting of “No Fishing” as a reminder; if God does not hold our sins against us we should not go fishing for troubling memories that place us under condemnation and guilt once again.

Peter boldly proclaimed, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  Due to the resurrection we have also been raised with Christ (Philippians 3:1) to newness of life.  Hallelujah!!!

Do you believe? Accept the forgiveness of sin that Christ freely offers; rejoice and live for Him today.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You softly and tenderly call us back to Yourself  after we walk away from Your truth and live in defiance of all that we once held dear. You do not shame us by scoldingly point Your righteous finger in our face but instead You embrace us and cast our sins into the depths of the ocean, to be remembered no more. If we are to remember anything of our past, let it be that which brings glory to You when we share with others that which You have forgiven. May the contrast of our former lives not bring up condemnation which You have freed us from, but celebration in that there is no sin beyond Your merciful pardon. To God be the glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

283 flooded 8/31/18 (photo by Richard)
Yesterday was our first day making chaplain visits since the heavy storm last Friday and we sure heard some interesting stories. Richard sent us this photo he had taken on the entrance ramp to Rt 283, the busy 4 lane freeway that runs from Harrisburg to Lancaster. It was flooded under the Rt 772 bridge and the car seen was stuck in the water. Richard, a project manager at White Oak Display, showed us the photo when we visited him and then sent it over in an email. I thanked him and he wittingly replied, “My pleasure, Stephen – that picture brings back a flood of memories.”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“When The Prodigal Comes Home”  Video  Tribute Quartet (the song that prompted today’s message) Thoughtful lyrics. In addition to the chorus quoted above the verses are:

In the mud and mire behind the fences
When you finally came to your senses
You said, “Even the servants in my father’s house
Are better off than I am now”
You didn’t think he’d take you in
Much less call you son again
Instead you found a mercy so beautiful and wild
That it looks beyond the foolishness to seek a wayward child

Rehearsing words to beg him for forgiveness
Then down the road you saw him in the distance
As he ran to meet you face to face
And wrapped you in his strong embrace
The acceptance in his eyes
Made you finally realize
He will always love you, you will always be his son
No matter where you’ve wandered, no matter what you’ve done

And to every child of God
Who’s somehow lost their way
Even now He’s longing for you
Can you hear Him say… (repeat chorus)

“And Can It Be”  Video   Sovereign Grace Music  (Second song quoted today)
“How Can It Be”  Video  Lauren Daigle
“No Longer A Slave”  Video  Voices of Lee
“Grace Greater Than All Our Sin”  Video  Calvary Church (the song that closed our service this last Lord’s Day)
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