“The B-I-B-L-E”

February 9, 2018

Iron Valley snow tubing course
The Iron Valley snow tubing course in Lebanon County

“The B-I-B-L-E

Message summary: Today, there are indeed many ways that seem right. The vital question of life we all must consider and answer for ourselves is, “Am I going His way?” “Am I on the Bible way?”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The B-I-B-L-E
Yes that’s the book for me.
I stand upon the Word of God
The B-I-B-L-E.

Earlier this week we were in a Walmart store and I engaged in a conversation with a young man who had a table set up selling memberships to a warehouse store (Sam’s Club). We talked for a few minutes and I commended him for his enthusiasm in making the sales pitch to me although I was not interested. It’s nice to see people take their work seriously.

I noticed he had a small booklet on the table with a title “Finding God’s Will For Your Life” (although I can’t recall the precise title). I commented on it and he immediately apologized, explaining he was not supposed to have that out. I think he might have wondered if I was some kind of literature policeman. I assured him I was a chaplain and just a shopper. I was pleased to see his choice for reading material.

He went on to tell me a story that shows how crazy our country has become. He told me at a previous job during his break periods he would read the Bible. A supervisor told him this was not permitted. All kinds of other literature were permitted, using as an example the Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition! But not the Bible!

I have heard similar stories for a number of years as the secularists are bound and determined to stamp out the Christian influence in our land. In some cases a teacher has a Bible on his or her desk and it was “determined” to be a violation of the “separation of church and state” which is one of the most abused phrases in the English language.

This month we will celebrate “President’s Day” although growing up it was a time to especially remember two presidents (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln). Before leaving office George Washington spoke of the importance of religion to political prosperity in his farewell speech. He stated, “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

An interesting aspect of our first daily verse is that it’s repeated twice verbatim in the book of Proverbs. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” It seems that the Holy Spirit wants to make doubly sure that we absolutely get this one!  It’s a clear and straightforward saying with a timeless truth.  Indeed there are many ways that seem right to man. Our world is full of these “ways.”

Many are on the “New Age way”.  Others are walking the “naturalism way”. Still others are traveling the “psychic way”, essentially placing faith in the world of demons. And sadly there are many church members trusting in the “religious way.”  But if they don’t follow Christ who said, “I am the way”, such membership is another “way” that will lead to death.

It’s interesting to me that the early church was known as “The Way” (see Acts 9:2). I am sure this was based on a statement of Christ that many of you have memorized. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

The second daily verse is a tremendous text concerning the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures. During our forty years of ministry many children (most of whom are now adults) will recall Brooksyne’s knack for putting Scriptures to music and teaching using it  as a memory aid. There are a lot of Scripture verses I memorized this way as well including this one!

Today, there are indeed many ways that seem right. The vital question of life we all must consider and answer for ourselves is, “Am I going His way?” “Am I on the Bible way?”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, I am thankful for the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures that provides an objective and accurate guide for every season of my life. The Bible is a lamp unto my feet and a light for the path that lies before me. It teaches, convicts, corrects, and trains me in the ways of godliness. Though many will choose other authorities to guide their lives, I choose Your Holy Book to equip me for the works You’ve called me to do in Your name. I rely on its inspired texts to sustain me in my lifetime commitment to walk in Your ways, for Jesus Himself declared, “I am the Way.” Amen.


Amish Farm on Rockvale Road 2/8/18
The laundry freezes on the line on a cold winter day at this farm we passed yesterday along Rockvale Road.

Sheep at Silverstone Farm 2/8/18
Yesterday morning we passed these sheep grazing next to the Barn at Silverstone.

Iron Valley snow tubing course 2/8/18
Last night I took our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth and the children over to the Iron Valley snowtubing course in Lebanon County. It seems they had a great time and due to the ice the course was very fast.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Still”  Video   Legacy Five

George Washington on the Importance of Religion to Political Prosperity in His Farewell Speech

Washington affirmed God’s active involvement in the world, the value of prayer, and the Bible as God’s revelation. (See this article)

Finally today: For a little more variety and additional Scripture truths when singing The B-i-b-l-e add these two verses:

The B-L-O-O-D that Jesus shed for me; Christ paid the price, our sacrifice, the B-L-O-O-D.

I’m S-A-V-E-D, by G-R-A-C-E; I’m saved by grace, the Scripture says The B-I-B-L-E!

Advertisements

“Fear Is A Liar”

February 8, 2018

Winter cabin (photo by Greg Schneider)This winter cabin in the northern Pennsylvania mountains sure looks welcoming!
(Photo by Greg Schneider)

“Fear Is A Liar

Message summary: As we mature in our love for God (and others), we come to comprehend that we have nothing to fear, for our Father has everything under control. We need to see the fear driven out and that’s what God’s perfect love will do.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3). “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love” (1 John 4:18).

We have funny experiences in life and marriage that we give each other permission to share. The other day I was in another room in our house when I heard a very distinctive scream. It was Brooksyne and I knew right away what it was. I went in to examine and she was pointing to an area where we store our dog’s feed. She thought she had seen a mouse! It turns out it was one of those black zip wrappers that closes the dog feed bag that was nestled behind the dogfood storage container. When she moved the container the black “zipper” moved around behind the containers and startled her. I comforted her and then disposed of the “scary” zipper, which if I really, really imagine hard does sort of look like a mouse.

I reminded Brooksyne of a verse she memorized and sang to music many years ago. “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

Last year we came across Zach Williams, a new musician (to us anyway) and his outstanding song “Chain Breaker”. In December Brooksyne was in a choir that sang this song, backing up the Gaither Vocal Band. To use a rather southern expression, “it will bless your socks off.”

Tuesday morning we were out driving toward our company to pay a visit and heard another Zach Williams song that really gripped our hearts. Normally at our age we tend to prefer more traditional Christian music such as heard on WDAC, our local station, or enLighten, the southern gospel station on our vehicle radios. But I had tuned into the Message, which tends to be a bit more contemporary, some of it we enjoy very much and others not as much.

The song has the interesting title “Fear Is A Liar”. When I got home I looked to see if I could find the song on YouTube and sure enough there it was, including a version that uses actors to convey the message of the song (link to video below). As I watched these real life situations of fear and desperation it occurred to me these are typical of the experiences of so many. We consider those whom we presently seek to encourage and uplift who are in a grip of fear due to the uncertainties of life.

Today’s text is one that we encourage memorization. You can draw on it during times of fear and find peace and assurance. The Amplified Bible has a rather colorful way of rendering the verse, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].”

As we grow in the love of God,
we cease to be fearful of what He will do.

Pastor Steven Cole observes, “that you cannot draw near to God in love and run from Him out of fear of judgment at the same time. God wants His children to know that ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1)”.

As we mature in our love for God (and others), we come to comprehend that we have nothing to fear, for our Father has everything under control. We need to see the fear driven out and that’s what God’s perfect love will do.

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear, he is a liar

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we learn in Scripture that perfect love casts out fear. Since we’re born into an imperfect world and surrounded by sinful consequences from the fall it’s hard to acquire and remain in perfect love. We find fear ever beckoning and perfect love seemingly far off. But the Word tells us not to fear since it involves expected divine punishment and we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Dreadful fear comes from the enemy but perfect love comes from heaven above. We cast fear into the fire and receive the perfect love that You give so generously, as seen in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Yesterday I had a routine medical diagnostic procedure and afterwards the physician informed me it was “boring”, which was good news. I don’t need to have another procedure of this type for ten years. We thank God for a good medical report!


Yesterday our message began with an observation that in some cases a numeric date format may prompt us to consider a familiar Bible verse. Yesterday’s date 2/7 caused me to consider Colossians 2:7 for the message. Of course there are many references that these dates represent but I want to share this list and ask you to consider what verses they may prompt you to recall. Of course you must replace the month name with the numeric equivalent such as February 7 is 2/7 (2:7).

  • January 1
  • February 8
  • March 16
  • April 19
  • May 8
  • June 10
  • July 7
  • August 28
  • September 9
  • October 10
  • November 6
  • December 1

Some of these are verses many of you have memorized or at least considered but the reference isn’t as familiar but there are several that I expect you will get such as March 16! Several of them are the first in a series of verses we tend to memorize. I wonder how many of us will have the same verse? The verses that I considered are posted below. In most cases I indeed recalled the verse by the numeric reference but in several cases I had to find a familiar one to match!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Fear Is a Liar”  Video  Zach Williams (version with actors)

“Fear Is a Liar”  Video  Zach Williams (version with lyrics)

“Perfect Love”  Video  Jeremy Camp

“Chain Breaker”  Video  Zach Williams

“The Love of God”  Video  Armond Morales, Robbie Hiner, Dave Will, Rick Evans

Further study: Notes on 1 John 4:18 from Precept Austin online commentary

Here are the verses I considered based upon the numeric date (January 1 is 1/1 or 1:1)

“2:7”

February 7, 2018

Lancaster County sunrise 2/6/18
Winter sunrise in Lancaster County, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“2:7”

Message summary: Thank God for His ever-abundant supply of spiritual nutrition that provides a foundation “rooted” in the living Christ!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6,7).

After many years of Bible Study and familiarization we know many verses by their reference. In our teaching through the years we emphasized Bible memorization, always including the Bible reference, like the verses we post at the beginning of each encouragement message. It’s important that readers know where Scripture is found in the Bible and practice the discernment of the Bereans, who “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things (what Paul was teaching) were so” (Acts 17:11).

We often shorten a date by using just the numerals such as today, February 7, would be 2/7. As I was considering messages for this week I noticed 2-7 and today’s verse came to mind just on that basis! Today for those interested I have a little quiz below the message to see how you may do in recognizing a famous verse solely by using the numeric date system!

Today’s text from Colossians 2:7, “rooted and built up in Him…”, is the basis of a two year discipleship program the Navigators developed simply called 2:7. We used this course in a church we pastored many years ago and have friends who testify of the blessing and spiritual growth they experienced while participating in 2:7. So now whenever I hear 2/7 I think of this verse!

Notice the elements of a fruitful relationship that should follow our conversion to Christ expressed in the phrase “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,

  • continue to live your lives in Him,
  • rooted and
  • built up in Him,
  • strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and
  • overflowing with thankfulness”

Colossians 2:6,7Today let us consider just the word “rooted” from this text. Paul is likely drawing here on a familiar agricultural analogy. Perhaps he had in mind the teaching of our Lord, who warned of the deadly spiritual condition of rootlessness in the Parable of the Sower. Jesus said of the seed that fell on rocky places, “but since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away” (Matthew 13:21).

Roots are a vital part of the believer’s life. Our daily verse tells us we are to be “rooted and built up in Him.” The Greek word for root is “rhizoo” and suggests stability, nourishment and life derived from contact with Christ (“in Him”). As a plant’s roots sink deep into the rich soil for long term stability and nourishment, so too we should root our faith deep into sound Biblical doctrine and solid spiritual food that comes from knowing Christ. These well-nourished roots will keep us strong forever.

In our growing walk with Christ we find life-giving soil and a sustaining foundation. However, we have the responsibility to implement the means of grace that God has ordained for our “rooting.” We all need a good, solid, ever-growing root system that reaches deep into the spiritual soil for our nourishment and stability that God graciously provides. This will render us both faithful and fruitful.

Developing and maintaining a solid spiritual root system includes an active, lifelong pursuit of reading, studying, meditating and memorizing God’s Word; regular communion with God through prayer; sharing with others of the good things of God; influencing others to come to faith and helping them to grow in their faith. As we grow in Him there is more and more that Christ reveals to us through the Bible, His Spirit, spiritual leaders, everyday experiences, trials, and life’s circumstances. One of the greatest ways we deepen our roots is by our Christian service and obedience to Christ’s teachings.

Are you rooted in Him? Are your spiritual roots growing deeper and spreading like the roots of a tree? Thank God for His ever-abundant supply of spiritual nutrition that provides a foundation “rooted” in the living Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we are so very grateful that our family roots are not the sole source of who we are nor does it dictate what we can accomplish. Our spiritual roots, because of our well-grounded faith in You, goes much deeper and spreads much broader. We are able to accomplish the impossible and overcome life’s difficulties because our roots are connected to the Miracle Worker. May the living water flowing from Your Spirit quench our thirst and the spiritual food from Your inspired Holy Word satisfy our hunger causing us to grow in spiritual maturity so that we remain safe and secure, firmly rooted in You. Father, though the winds and storms may shake us from time to time, it is in You that we live and move and have our being! Amen.


Our message began today by an observation that in some cases a numeric date format may prompt one to consider a familiar Bible verse such today’s date 2/7 caused me to consider Colossians 2:7 for today’s message. Of course there are many references that these dates represent but I want to share this list and ask you to consider which verses they may prompt you to recall. Of course you must replace the month name with the numeric equivalent such as February 7 is 2/7 (2:7).

  • January 1
  • February 8
  • March 16
  • April 19
  • May 8
  • June 10
  • July 7
  • August 28
  • September 9
  • October 10
  • November 6
  • December 1

Some of these are verses many of you have memorized or at least considered but the reference isn’t as familiar. There are several that I expect you will get quickly such as March 16! Several of them are the first in a series of verses we tend to memorize. I wonder how many of us will come up with the same verse? I’ll share my list tomorrow.


Lee family 6/14/16

This morning I (Stephen) have one of those medical diagnostic procedures as part of preventive medicine. It is interesting to consider the brilliance and hard work of those who have the knowledge and skills to work in these fields. Of course we may consider our own physician and other we actually see but there are also many working behind the scenes. This morning I received an update from my LinkedIn page with this announcement. Dr. Nigel Lee, is the Chief Algorithmic Officer of Corista, a company delivers the industry’s most extensive array of workflow, analytical and collaborative tools for pathology. Dr. Lee is presenting “Deep Learning Workflow Design for Next-Generation Digital Pathology” on Tuesday, Feb. 13. He will discuss the implementation and workflow design of an automated system designed to detect glomeruli in kidney tissue images quickly and accurately for working pathologists. Nigel, along with his wife Laifong, happen to be the very first recipients of a Daily Encouragement back in 1996 when they attended the church I pastored in Massachusetts. They remain friends and two years ago we had dinner with them when we were visiting the Boston area.


A beautiful sunrise in Lancaster County!

Lancaster County sunrise 2/6/18
Yesterday as we headed out to our first chaplain call in Lebanon County we had a beautiful sunrise as reflected in our photos today. This spacious farm was across Hossler Road from our lead photo today.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Lancaster County sunrise 2/6/18
The Martin’s farm off Mount Pleasant Road
(Click on photo to enlarge)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“God of All My Days”  Video  Casting Crowns

“More About Jesus”  Video  The Blackwood Brothers  (I sure miss singing old hymns like this that are so rich with meaning and spiritual challenge!)

“Colossians 2:6-7”   Video   Jack Gilbert

“My Faith Still Holds”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

The 2:7 Series

Digging deeper: Additional teaching on Colossians 2:6,7

Finally today:

Statue of Liberty tax man 2/6/18 Lebanon, PA
Surely one of the strangest advertising gimmicks is the Statue of Liberty tax man that you begin to see all over this tax prep season in our region. We passed this man driving through Lebanon PA yesterday morning. You must give credit to those who will robe up like the statue to make a living! Many times you’ll see the “statue” doing a dance to get the attention of passersby. This particular “statue” simply waved and smiled.

“The Trial Shot”

February 6, 2018

Squirrel feeding at squirrel-proof feeder! 2/5/18  (Photo by Ester Weber)
One could hardly shoo away a squirrel with this innocent face.
(Photo by Ester Weber)

“The Trial Shot

Message summary: James does not say “if” but “when” referring not to the possibility but to inevitability of trials! Trials are not an elective, but a required course in the “school of Christian faith”! Trials then are an expected/guaranteed element of the normal Christian life.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Flu shot At this time of year a common question posed by medical people is, “Have you had your flu shot yet?” Well, as a matter of fact all three of us in the Weber household have had our flu shots and presumably are well protected.

The flu shot is somewhat misnamed although we are so used to it we probably don’t think about it. It’s really a flu prevention shot. We don’t get the shot so we can get the flu but rather to prevent it.

I was talking to Jeannette, a human resource director we work with, about having our flu shots and we considered the question of what if there was a “trial shot”; that is, a shot we could get to prevent us from ever having trials. Now that would sure be popular but Jeannette pointed out that we would need a lot of booster shots!

Of course there is not a “trial shot” and a maturing view of God’s ways recognizes that trials are ultimately a part of God’s plan in our lives. May the Lord give us the perspective of James who wrote, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Note carefully James does not say “if” but “when” referring not to the possibility but to inevitability of trials! Trials are not an elective, but a required course in the “school of Christian faith”! Trials then are an expected/guaranteed element of the normal Christian life.

Warren Wiersbe Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe writes, “Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy!’ If we live only for the present and forget about the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better. We must keep in mind that all God plans and performs here is preparation for what He has in store for us in heaven. He is preparing us for the life and service yet to come. Nobody yet knows all that is in store for us in heaven, but we do know that life on earth is a school in which God trains us for our future ministry in eternity. This explains the presence of trials in our lives for they are some of God’s tools and textbooks in the school of Christian experience.”

Committing and trusting is God’s will at all times but especially during times of trial and transition. All of us will experience this numerous times over our lifetime. One who awaits the results of a series of medical tests; a friend waiting for the “Yes” (or “no”) in regard to an exciting career opportunity; a loving grandma praying for a rebellious grandchild; a spouse praying for reconciliation, and you can add your own trying situation as well.

In the New Testament the word translated “commit” has a very interesting background, meaning to “deposit as a trust or for protection”. I find it necessary for this to be a present tense type of experience as I have a tendency to withdraw the deposit with my own hands! That’s why trusting is so important as we look to the One who is ever trustworthy. Let us commit our way to the Lord and trust in Him this day. May we also experience His peace as we realize He will indeed bring His perfect will to pass in our lives.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we want to place our full confidence in Your sovereign plan for our lives. We recognize that trials are included in the school of faith helping us to grow and mature. It also helps us to feel the pain of others who will undergo similar trials prompting us to undergird them with prayer. When we overcome trials in life we also provide positive example to the godly as well as the ungodly. So, Father, we pray for the joy that comes with knowing that You are working Your purpose in our lives through not only the blessings we enjoy from day to day but also the trials we endure from time to time. We thank You for Jesus who helps us to endure and overcome. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Like A River Glorious”  Video  The Smucker Family

“There is Nothing Greater Than the Grace of Jesus”  Video   Marshall Hall

Finally today:

Mollie in snow 2/5/18  (Photo by Ester Weber)
Mollie is watching the squirrel carefully. But she is surely frustrated as the squirrel is protected by the fence that divides them.

“And Not Only To Me”

February 5, 2018

Soaring eagle along the Susquehanna

Soaring eagle along the Susquehanna River

“And Not Only To Me

Message summary: Just five little words speak volumes to those who, like Paul, also strive to stay on course with Christ in this ever-increasing wicked age.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Some are very happy with last night’s Super Bowl outcome, especially those in our region of the country, who for many years have longed to see their team win a Super Bowl. But others, especially in New England, not so much including those die hard Patriots fans (one present in our household). That’s the nature of sports where there are winners and losers.

We may tend to see it that way in life as well as we’ve all heard the derisive term, “What a loser”. But to take the words from a song we enjoy, “In heaven’s eyes there are no losers”. The redemptive power of God is able to reach to the uttermost and redeem any the world may call a loser!

Super bowl ringThe personal token of a Super Bowl victory is a ring, what every professional football player longs for. Many years ago we had Lou Rousen over to our place for dinner when he was in our area giving inspirational speeches at schools. Lou has two super bowl championship rings from when he played for the New York Giants back in the 1980’s. He was pleased to show off his rings, although they didn’t look comfortable to wear. Likely they’re saved for special occasions. But today we want to consider something infinitely more valuable than a Super Bowl championship ring.

In our daily verse Paul is coming to the end of his life. He knows it. He testified in the previous verse that “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). What a peace-filled resolve these words reveal. We pray for grace that we might also face our inevitable death in such a way.

He looked forward to receiving “the crown of righteousness” that had been stored up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him. We don’t know much about this “crown of righteousness” but it was sure something that Paul looked forward to receiving!

Since his remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road Paul had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years had passed since that time and he had stayed the course, though he was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, shipwrecked, often perplexed, and continuously dealt with a thorn in the flesh.

Consider the confidence and peace in his words, even as he faced a martyr’s death as part of his sufferings for Christ. Earlier in this very letter he expressed his assurance, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (1:12).

William Borden summed it up this way; “No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.” *

There’s something else in the verse that especially speaks to me and I pray that it speaks to you as well, especially to any who may feel like they’re a loser in life. Just five little words but they speak volumes to those who also strive to stay on course with Christ in this ever-increasing wicked age.

“And not only to me only.”

Paul gives us tremendous incentive in these five words. Let’s cling to it today. This crown is not for him exclusively. Nor does he go on to say “and for you also Timothy”, to whom he was writing.

No, instead he informs his readers that this crown of righteousness is laid up, “unto all them also that love His appearing.” This is a promise spanning the church age and is applicable to those of us reading with Paul’s belief in our own day. Paul looked earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings. The healthy state for the believer is to “love” or “long for” His appearing. That’s our greatest longing. Let’s keep our focus on that today as we faithfully serve Christ and steadfastly wait for “that Day”!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our eyes on the life yet to come. May that which we say, think and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below. We anxiously await that day when we receive the crown of righteousness reserved for those who have fought the good fight, finished the race, remained true to the faith, and whose greatest longing is for the glorious appearing of Christ. Amen.


“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves… the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in.'” (C.S. Lewis)


The Bible mentions seven crowns and here’s my homiletic attempt to identify them:

1. The crown for those who love His appearance. “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

2. The crown for those who compete according to the rules. “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).

3. The crown for enduring trials. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

4. The crown for those willing to feed the flock. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;  not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

5. The crown for those who are faithful unto death.  “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

6. The crown for those who win souls. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you?”  (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

7. The crown for those who master the old nature. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24,25).


Lee with EsterLee Rouson was in our area years ago holding services and school assemblies with Sportsworld Ministries. He was a running back for the New York Giants and played on two winning Super Bowl games. He joined us for dinner and Ester enjoyed teaming up with him while he visited.

Most importantly he is a committed follower of Jesus Christ, serving as an associate pastor in New York City and sharing his testimony everywhere he can. In the body of the message I show a picture of his hand with one of his two World Champ rings (the one on his ring finger).

When people meet him and see his size, perhaps noting his rings, they often ask, “Who are you?” His answer, “I’m a child of the King!”


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* “No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets” The story of William Borden from a previous Daily Encouragement message.

“No Regrets”  Video  A brief video snippet concerning William Borden.

Here’s a written account concerning William Borden. Here’s another one from Randy Alcorn’s blog.

Yesterday’s medley from the Calvary Church choir that Brooksyne sings in.  Video  One of the songs fits with our message today in a line many will recognize, “Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.”

“Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Congregational singing with an unidentified female lead singer.  Sacred music at its best.

“Robe And Crown”  Video  Vocal Union  Outstanding acapella.  See here for more of their songs on video. We especially enjoy “He Gave His Life”.

“Marching On In The Light Of God”  Video  Joyful Singers at Calvary Tengah BP Church.  An oldie that came to mind due to the phrase, “a crown of gold”.  I don’t suppose we’ve heard this hymn for 40 years! But there are some others who will remember it.

A robe of white, a crown of gold,
A harp, a home, a mansion fair,
A victor’s palm, a joy untold,
Are mine when I get there.

Finally today:

Pastor Beau EckertOur pastor has a wry sense of humor. He is a former college quarterback and is a longtime Green Bay Packer fan in spite of living in our area, which of course is made up mostly of Philadelphia Eagle fans. Yesterday he referenced the game in an interesting way and encouraged the congregation to keep a perspective regardless of the outcome. (Short video clip) I suppose some inside football knowledge would be required here to get the point!

Finally today (2): Last night the camera showed a ninety-nine year old Eagles fan who had followed the team since they started in the thirties. The Eagles have been known to let their fans down through the years so one fan requested in his obituary to have 8 Philadelphia Eagles as pall bearers so the Eagles can let him down one last time.

“The Greatest Contest”

February 2, 2018

Rise up o men of God
“The Greatest Contest
Message summary: Today let us stay faithful and keep in this greatest contest with perseverance!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

I hesitate to use a Super Bowl illustration to begin today’s message. After all, many of our readers are international and even here in the states many have no interest at all in football. What’s more many of us are rather disappointed at the direction of NFL football.

Football But for football fans here in America this is the BIG weekend, and I guess many around the world will also be watching. In fact it’s called Super Bowl weekend. Some have proposed making the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday! In our case we have an interest in both teams, having lived in New England during the nineties and of course most in the area we now live in are big fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I enjoy various sports, in my younger years as a participant and now as a spectator, although I still enjoy riding a bike, playing yard games, and throwing a Frisbee over and over for our border collie Mollie to fetch. But I’m way past having any ability or interest in contact sports!

Based on the illustrations he uses, I believe that the Apostle Paul enjoyed sports. And the writer of Hebrews (whom many consider to be Paul) uses running a race in our daily text. If he were writing today I think he might use the Super Bowl as an illustration to “connect” with his readers.

All of us who follow Jesus Christ are also participating in a great contest. The writer of Hebrews alludes to this in our daily text reminding us that, “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” These witnesses are the men and women of faith chronicled in chapter 11. I believe they are those who have gone on before us after a life of serving the Lord.

We are to take this event seriously and are instructed to “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

This contest is specifically likened to a race, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” This race is most analogous to a marathon, which begins the moment we accept Christ and continues through our lives until we either meet the Lord at our death or in the rapture. It’s a lifelong race!

A great character quality essential in any athletic contest, but certainly a long distance race, is expressed in the phrase “Run with perseverance.” All great athletes are characterized by perseverance. They overcome pain, rejection and all kinds of setbacks to achieve their goal.

Likewise strong, persevering followers of Christ just keep pressing on in spite of the hardship; looking unto Jesus our greatest example, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Today let us stay faithful and keep in this greatest contest with perseverance!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Jesus, the race You’ve marked out for us doesn’t require nearly as much physical stamina as it does spiritual endurance. Those who are physically weak due to disease, illness, and aging are just as qualified to run as those who have young athletic bodies. It’s a spiritual race where You call us to perseverance as we discard anything that would trip us up or lead us on a disastrous detour. The great cloud of witnesses spur us on; those from the Biblical period, throughout history and from our own generation. But above all I thank You, Jesus, that You endured the cross and all the suffering that accompanied it being spurred on by the joy You knew would be Yours on the other side of the cross. You cheer us on by Your own example and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit when we become weary in our struggle against sin as we participate in this greatest of contests. Keep us faithful, Lord. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Too Much to Gain to Lose”  Video   Mark Trammell Quartet

“The Super Bowl, the Bible, and a Winning Marriage” Our friend David Penley’s article with some spiritual marriage lessons from the Super Bowl!

Christian convert in Uganda loses everything for his faith in Christ

“Famous Or Faithful?”

February 1, 2018

Foggy Wisconsin morning (Photo by GM)
Foggy Wisconsin morning
(Photo by my cousin Georgia) 

“Famous Or Faithful?”

Message summary: The greatest approbation we will ever receive is when we hear the words from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Today we live in a world where so many strive for fame. Some will do outrageous and often dangerous stunts to create a video they hope will become viral and be immensely popular on the internet.

Last year a couple from Minnesota found out these stunts can be truly deadly. Monalisa Perez, 19, and her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz, 22, wanted to be famous on YouTube. She fired a Desert Eagle handgun from close range, as he held an encyclopedia in front of his chest. He had experimented previously and thought the thick book would protect him by stopping the bullet, but the couple’s three-year-old child and nearly 30 onlookers watched as she fired a fatal bullet.*

As God’s children let us focus not on fame but faithfulness. For many years we have been blessed by this statement we saw many years ago on a church sign: “Better to be faithful than famous”. Although there are some famous people who are also faithful, it occurred to me how often those whom so many recognize as “famous” are certainly not faithful. Merely consider famous names in sports, entertainment, and politics. Sadly this is also true for some who are famous in ministry for Christ.

Many of life’s lessons are ingrained in our memories that have helped shape our values. I recall a lesson from my childhood.

I was staying with my mom’s parents, MaMa and PaPa (as we called our grandparents), in tiny Harwood, Missouri one summer. PaPa was a farmer and the president of the local community bank. He was well known and had a great reputation throughout that rural area.

During my visit he called a local farmer to get permission for me to fish in his farm pond and made it clear to me that the permission was for fishing only. I verbally agreed to that plan, but what do you suppose a bored fourteen-year-old teen does after the fish aren’t biting? I looked up toward the farmhouse where I saw no one, so I jumped in the pond and went swimming.

Well, it turned out the farmer who had permitted me to fish but ruled out swimming was watching. He called my grandfather and when I got back did I ever get chewed out! PaPa emphasized that he had trusted me and I had violated that trust. I still remember that lesson to this day. Knowing how much I had disappointed PaPa bothered me a great deal. I’m sure it led to some deep soul searching in my young yet untamed teen heart. As a youngster I wouldn’t have thought about the danger of one who is out swimming in a deep pond by himself. Likely that farmer made that rule to protect me from danger. (And certainly in our own day from lawsuits.)

As followers of Christ we’ve all been given a trust. The apostle Paul wrote, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). We are stewards of God’s truth and it is required that we be faithful. This is fundamentally expressed spiritually but in reality spiritual faithfulness is expressed in practical even the mundane ways as well.

Let us ask ourselves: Do we act in an irresponsible way when we think no one is looking? (Like I did in swimming in the farm pond!) Are we faithful to our spouse and family? Are we faithful to our church and ministry responsibilities? What about our work related duties and financial commitments?

Each of us have been given a trust and it is required by God that we prove faithful with that trust. The lies, deceit, and broken promises that characterize unfaithfulness has darkened our society and fragmented the family unit. Countless lives have been crushed due to those who have not been faithful to the trust given them.

Business owners, political figures, spiritual leaders, teachers, parents, on and on the list goes for each of us who are given a trust and we must prove ourselves faithful. We start out by being faithful in the small things whether or not someone is looking over our shoulder. Then we are entrusted with greater responsibility.

The greatest approbation we will ever receive is when we hear the words from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we have been given a trust and desire to prove ourselves faithful in all areas of our lives as evidenced in our responsibilities carried out here on earth. Being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us involves sacrifice, humbleness, repentance, and obedience which does not come easily, but is nevertheless required. As we walk steadily with You and prayerfully apply Scriptural principles we will be found faithful. We look to You in prayer and come to You through Jesus Christ our Lord in whose name we pray. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Find us Faithful”  Video  Steve Green

“Finish Well”  Video  Karen Peck and New River

“Still”  Video   Legacy Five

“Still”  Video  Greater Vision  (Same title but different song!)

* Going viral: When YouTube stunts turn deadly

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: