Devotional

“Lessons From A Blank Page”

Galatians 4:4

 
“Lessons From A Blank Page


Message summary: God has fulfilled the biggest promise. Let us wait with faith and assurance that “in His time” He will also take care of the scores of other matters we all deal with. He is faithful!

ListenListen  to this message on your audio player.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4).
 
Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent when we especially give attention to the first advent (coming) of Christ.
 
Blank page in BibleThere’s a page in each of our Bibles we don’t read and probably have never given any consideration to. It’s the blank page found in many Bibles separating the Old and New Testaments. Now to be sure there may be another reason printers use this blank page and as more and more people read their Bibles on devices the concept of this blank page may not be apparent.

On the photo to the left you can see the blank page in my Bible with the final page of the Old Testament barely bleeding through. On the next page it states simply “The New Testament”.

Today let us consider this wordless blank page and what it represents. There was a 400 year period that separated the final record in the Old Testament (Malachi) from the events in the New Testament beginning with Matthew’s Gospel. In secular history this was when Alexander the Great lived during the Greek Empire and the ascent of the Roman Empire. There are also some extra-Biblical records during this period recorded in the Apocrypha.

The blank page represents several things I can think of such as silence, hope and waiting, which we will consider today.
 
Do you have a hard time waiting? Are delays difficult to deal with causing you stress and anxiety? For most of us the answer is “yes.” God had first promised the Messiah after Adam and Eve’s transgression in the garden. Over the next several millenniums there was a growing body of Messianic promises that the Jewish people were given. But they waited and waited and waited.

At the time of Christ’s birth two elderly Jewish people are mentioned in Luke who had waited for the Messiah’s coming. Simeon had been “waiting for the consolation of Israel”, and Anna “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem”.

In the daily text the Apostle Paul is reflecting on the events of Christ’s incarnation. He uses an intriguing phrase “But when the fullness of the time came” to describe that wonderful moment in space and time when God acted on our behalf in sending His Son for our redemption. The long wait was over. The faith of devout people like Simeon and Anna and others like them was now reality. God kept His promise.

And God still keeps His promises. He always will. He’ll keep everyone of them. We have the perspective of looking back and seeing the fulfillment of the greatest of God’s promises when “God sent forth His Son”. This occurred after a long wait and not until “the fullness of the time came”.

We must recognize that it’s the fullness of God’s time, not ours. Many of us are waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives. The wait is very trying. Many are living with an ongoing burden for spiritually wayward family members, others have a long-standing physical ailment in their lives or in someone they love. And on my heart this morning are so many of our dear brothers and sisters living in very oppressive conditions. And we all wait for that next great cosmic event when Jesus again keeps His last word to us when He declared, “Yes, I am coming soon”.

God has fulfilled the biggest promise. Let us wait with faith and assurance that “in His time” He will also take care of the scores of other matters we all deal with. He is faithful!

In His time, in His time;
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day
As You’re teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say in Your time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we know that Your time table is pre-ordained in the events that make an eternal difference in our lives. Thank you that when the fullness of the time came, You sent forth Your Son in the first advent. In this age help us to patiently wait for Your will to be fulfilled in our personal lives, in the lives of our loved ones, and in the world around us. May we be found steadfast, sober, expectant and alert awaiting the day of your second advent, your promised return. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“In His Time”  Video   Maranatha! Music
 
“Here Comes Heaven”  Video  Calvary Church worship team and congregation from yesterday’s service.
 
Finally today:

Last Friday we shared a message about a word scramble game we used around our table on Thanksgiving. We also posted the scrambled words for any who wanted to try to unscramble them. Below are the answers:
 
1.    Lalf     fall
2.    ggniivknhaTs    Thanksgiving
3.    mlPas 010    Psalm 100
4.    seevla      leaves
5.    socnra    acorns
6.    rracrynbe    cranberry
7.    onrc    corn
8.    gimrlpi        pilgrim
9.    stehvra        harvest
10.  tfololab    football
11.  mPlyhotu    Plymouth
12.  ekar    rake
13.  ingrghtae    gathering
14.  ertkyu    turkey
15.  ffutsngi    stuffing
16.  ppnimuk    pumpkin
17.  kstcimrud    drumstick
18.  revca    carve
19.  tfsae    feast
20.  mha    ham
Devotional

“What Are You Craving Today?”

Psalm 27:4

 
What Are You Craving Today?”


Message summary: So, what are you craving for today?

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.
 
We had a nice Thanksgiving Day with our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt and Jesse and Anna Lapp along with six of their seven children, totaling 13 around our big dinner table. Of course we had plenty to eat, more than we needed for sure.
 
Prior to our gathering Brooksyne prepared some word games for us to enjoy after the big meal. One game was a word scramble that related to the Thanksgiving/fall season. (We’ll post the list of mixed up words below.)
 
One of the scrambled words was revca which unscrambled was intended to be “carve”, of course related to carving the turkey.
 
When Brooksyne revealed the answers, Jesse spoke up that he had written “crave” instead, which is how many of us look forward to our big meal thus “crave” fit nicely into the Thanksgiving theme!
 
“Crave” is also a descriptive word for the day after Thanksgiving in America; a very, very busy shopping day for those who “crave” a bargain. Many of the big stores had already opened at 6 pm on Thanksgiving and the parking lots were filled as we took our friends home around 8:30 pm last night.  But today is the biggest day in retailing, known as “Black Friday” because it’s the day that gets the store in the black financially. Retailers work very hard to get people craving today’s deals. Have you noticed the increase in sales fliers, web ads and emails coming your way? Here’s a subject line from an email this morning: BLACK FRIDAY SALE: Shop Huge Savings TODAY! (of course it was in bold)
 
What are you craving for? Today many crave for that great deal. But in the bigger picture there are many pursuits people crave such as wealth, fame, beauty, prestige, youthful vitality, and many other objectives that appeal to our base instincts.
 
A sad observation on craving is found in Psalm 78:29: “They ate till they were gorged—He had given them what they craved.”
 
The apostle John describes craving with the following summary in 1 John 2:16: “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.”  But none of these meet our deepest and greatest need.
 
On the other hand, craving can also have a positive aspect: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

David sums up what life’s highest craving (aspiration) should be in Psalm 27:4: “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.” To gaze or meditate upon the beauty of the Lord brings peace and assurance as one who has been forgiven and placed in right relationship with God.
 
So, what are you craving for today?



Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, as Your children we need to regularly examine our hearts to see if there are things, pursuits, or attitudes that are drawing us away from Your heart and thrusting us once again into the mindset of the world. Our heart’s examinations are not intended to condemn us but to rid us of impurities and distractions, to refresh our spirit, and to remind us of our godly heritage. Like newborn babies help us to crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it we may grow up in your salvation, remaining steadfast in our walk all the days of our life. Amen.
 
Here’s the game that Brooksyne prepared. Unscramble the following words that are descriptive of the Thanksgiving season.

  1. lalf               
  2. ggniivknhaTs
  3. mlPas 010
  4. seevla
  5. socnra
  6. rracrynbe
  7. onrc
  8. gimrlpi
  9. stehvra
  10. tfololab
  11. mPlyhotu
  12. ekar
  13. ingrghtae
  14. ertkyu
  15. ffutsngi
  16. ppnimuk
  17. kstcimrud
  18. revca
  19. tfsae
  20. mha

When we unscrambled these words last night, both children and adults got stuck on a few of them, but Brooksyne gave us little hints that got us unstuck! Since you don’t have that advantage we’ll provide the answers in Monday’s Daily Encouragement.


 
Brooksyne’s Note:  I’ve been teasing that we had a rowdy bunch yesterday. When you mix active children with boisterous men and chatty women and throw in three excited pets you get a loud, rowdy household. Once we were settled around the table again, following our meal, we individually shared at least one thing we were thankful for though we didn’t get all the way around because much discussion followed each time a child or adult mentioned what they were thankful for.

Each of the children offered that they were thankful to be raised in a Christian home. Neither Jim or Dorothy had that experience which gave them an opportunity to share their remarkable salvation story. They also told us about their Christian doctor in Lancaster who often prays for them in his office.  Dr. I* who is very popular in our area grew up in Iran and never heard the word, Bible, before he was twenty years old. He came to Baltimore to study medicine and was invited to a Bible Study, which he had no idea what it even meant. He eventually came to know Christ and has a remarkable story of salvation.

After hearing his story I was especially thankful for the Bible along with the accessibility to hear the word of truth and read it anytime I want.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“I’d Rather Have Jesus”  Video  Selah

“Yes, I Will”  Video  Calvary Church worship team with strings.
 
Autumn wagon, Lancaster Country PAFall Harvest Wagon
Devotional

“Thanksgiving Memories”

The Steincross farmThis farm in southern Missouri was in the Steincross family for over 100 years.

(click to enlarge)

Thanksgiving Memories”


Message summary:
Today let us join the truly wise and “heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord” and “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”.
 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43).

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. Hopefully, like us, you have some warm childhood memories of this day. We’ll share some of ours hoping to stimulate you into your own reminiscence.


Brooksyne: I recall the long trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Mountain Top, Arkansas. Unfortunately the 180 mile trip always meant I would deal with car sickness, both coming and going from our home in Tulsa, Oklahoma but the visit made it worth it. They lived way up on a mountain and we traveled dirt or often muddy roads for about 25 miles to reach their place. Grandpa had a 200 acre farm with plenty of animals so there were gates to open as we approached. Once we reached the first gate Daddy started honking his horn and would honk it all the way to their house – that way they knew their oldest son, Brooklyn Sherrell and his family of seven, had arrived for Thanksgiving. I can still feel a little of the excitement and anticipation once Daddy started honking because I knew Grandma and Grandpa would hear it and head out to their front yard waving to us as our car approached their house – and then the hugs and kisses began!
 
Stephen: I recall the annual Thanksgiving meal at his Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora’s farm outside of tiny Harwood, Missouri (photo above). All the women in the kitchen chatting together as they prepared the huge feast. Playing outside with cousins in the barn until the sound of the dinner bell. Afterwards the men watched a football game on the huge 19 inch B&W TV as the women cleaned up. For the kids it was back outside for more play. Clark often brought his guns for some target shooting across the road and Bob may have taken us on a ride in his airplane.
 
For both of us it’s a day when food brings back many pleasant memories. Ham and/or the traditional turkey. A huge bowl of real mashed potatoes with butter melting on the top and a big gravy boat that will be refilled several times. Sweet potatoes, dressing (stuffing) and other yummy vegetable dishes. The tempting aroma of baked bread. The finishing touch will be the pumpkin and pecan pies!

Roles changes as we got older and we began to host the meals. Now a knock on the door signals the arrival of family members and friends – maybe from near, maybe from a distance. It’s a day of bear hugs, broad smiles, parades and football games, childish antics, happy tears, exchanging family news and gossip and many stories of “remember when”.

We look around and see the room filled with family members and realize this is neither our grandparent’s home nor our parent’s. It is ours, and we realize that then has become now – those yesterdays have become today.

We are the adults; indeed we are the elders. Where did the time go, when did all of this happen? It took place so gradually, so quietly, we never realized it. We still visit our parent’s and grandparents’ homes during holidays such as this – but in memories only.* We are now the parents and grandparents (and even great-grandparents). We hope those who come behind us have memories as good as ours!

Ecclesiastes 1:4 states, “Generations come and generations go”.

Thank God for the timeless, inter-generational teachings of the Word of God. Some three thousand years ago the Psalmist wrote our daily Scripture portion.

The Psalm begins with “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”.

  • A command: “Give thanks to the Lord”
  • A reason:“for He is good”
  • A promise:“His love endures forever”
The Psalm ends with, “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord”.

Today we implore the truly wise to “heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord”.

Be encouraged today and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, in thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise with grateful hearts. Whether in seasons of prosperity or in seasons of want we find Your grace sufficient to meet each one of our needs. Thank you for our many memories over the years with friends and family of many generations. Help us to pass on the truth of your goodness to all who come behind us. You guide us, protect us, and You provide for us as we journey here below. Every good and perfect gift comes from Your hand. Thank You, faithful Father! Amen.
 

 
Weber Thanksgiving 1988Thanksgiving with family at our home in Saint Marys, PA in 1988.
 
Thanksgiving table 2019
This morning that same 9′ table is being prepared for another set of guests, not blood-related, but just like family due to our very treasured long-time friendship! Four generations will gather, read Scripture, sing the doxology, play some Thanksgiving games and just enjoy each other’s company. Ages 2 through 85 years of age.
 
Thanksgiving dessert table 2019
Brooksyne set up the desserts but one very important dessert is missing – you may have noticed – no pumpkin pie! That’s because Anna Ruth is bring Pumpkin pie to add to our desserts of Pumpkin Cranberry Nut bread, Cherry Pie, Macadamia White Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pecan Pie and Ginger Snap Cookies.
 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Be Unto Your Name”Video  Robin Mark  This song reminds us of just how fleeting life is but that our security is in the eternal God.

* Brooksyne found the idea of reflections regarding the passing of time and memories over the years in her collection of writings but was unable to identify the author(s).


Special Thanksgiving Resources


We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf)We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

Possible Discussion around the table:  July 22, 1620 – The pilgrims set sail for the new world and the setting is described by William Bradford in his journal: “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirit and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took leave of one another, which proved to the last leave to many of them.”  How would you feel if you were boarding the ship? How would you feel if you were saying good-bye to your loved one?

Suggestions for Present Day Thanksgiving: Preparations for Thanksgiving is time consuming but you might have extra time over the Thanksgiving weekend to enhance your celebration, especially if you have children present, by including some historical foods and activities present on the Mayflower or in Plimouth in the fall of 1621:

Games played by the children during the first harvest festival
– Arm wrestling, broad jump, racing competition, bow and arrow competition. The girls spent most of their time helping moms with food preparation during the three day gathering. If you have a mortar and pestle the girls can mash dried herbs and spices in preparation for seasoning veggies and such.

Food Samples – Some of the food on board the Mayflower was hardtack (ship’s biscuits), dried beef, and hard cheese.

Devotional

“Walking In Thankfulness”

Three pelicans (photo by Doug Maxwell)

Our neighbor, Doug, took this photo of three pelicans flying over the Atlantic Ocean near Kitty Hawk, NC.
“Walking In Thankfulness


Message summary:
Let our walk include a grateful heart and a thankful outlook toward God and toward life in general.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23). “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17). “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Yesterday as we approached a company from a distance we saw a lady walking into the entrance. We were unable to see who it was but because of the way she walked we could both tell who she was. Brooksyne said that “You just know some people by their walk”. I quipped back that the Bible said “You will know them by their fruit”! (which is true – see Matthew 7:16)

But we are in fact also known by our walk, both physically and spiritually. A simple to understand but lifelong challenge is in Jeremiah 7:23, “Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.”

Today let us consider thankfulness as an aspect of our walk. After all, God has commanded us to give thanks, “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of celebrating family and plenty of food in comfortable surroundings, make sure you are walking in thankfulness and offering to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

Scripture teaches that our praise glorifies God and we express our contentedness and thankfulness when we earnestly enter into praise. When we praise the Lord we enter into His presence, acknowledge Him as Lord, and give thanks for His steadfast love and care.

Many have wondered, “What is the distinction between praise and thanksgiving?” Though they are often used interchangeably, there is some distinction. Praise (worship) is acknowledging who God is by recognizing His many attributes (characteristics).

 
Thanksgiving on the other hand, is acknowledging what God has done based upon the ways in which His attributes impact our lives. However we encourage you not to get hung-up on these distinctions as we both praise and thank God! He is worthy of both because in His mercy He saved us when we were lost and without hope.

In our Scripture text we repeatedly see the words; sacrifice, thanksgiving, and praise. A sacrifice is something that is not forced upon us, but we offer from our own free will. The Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as “surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something even more desirable.” How does that definition fit into your sacrifice of praise?

The writer of Hebrews ended his letter with a call to praise the Lord. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

We encourage you to rest in the arms of our loving God and express your love to Him as you recall the ancient words of the Psalmist, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Let us, as His children, offer up our praise and thanksgiving to Him today and every day. Let our walk include a grateful heart and a thankful outlook toward God and toward life in general.

Be encouraged today and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we give praise to You we are offering our heartfelt thanks for who You are and all that You do on our behalf. As we mature in our Christian walk we realize that there are many occasions when we must offer a sacrifice of praise since it doesn’t always come easily nor often enough. It is in those circumstances that we willfully choose to praise You out of obedient hearts desirous of pleasing You and glorifying Your name. May our words be fruitful and our thoughts praiseworthy in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Lancaster County farm 11/26/19Early yesterday morning we passed this Lancaster County farm on Snyder Road. It’s likely that the family in this farmhouse will experience multi-generational blessings tomorrow. The setting reminds me of the Willard farm near Higginsville, MO, friends of my folks when I was growing up. They lived down a long lane like this but it was probably a dirt lane.
Seyfert's fruit barn window 11/26/19
Yesterday we stopped by Seyfert’s Orchards fruit barn in Lebanon County to buy some apples. I thought I would take a photo through a window and surprise Brooksyne, but after seeing it I was the one surprised by my reflection!.
Thankful people poster in Sunset Outlet store, Lebanon, PA 11/26/19

Yesterday we saw this poster in a store near Lebanon, PA
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“We Bring The Sacrifice Of Praise”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
 
“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall
 
“Giving Thanks Is More Than A Holiday” A thought-provoking video
 


Special Thanksgiving Resources


We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the USA (November 28).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

Possible Discussion around the table:  July 22, 1620 – The pilgrims set sail for the new world and the setting is described by William Bradford in his journal: “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirit and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took leave of one another, which proved to the last leave to many of them.”  How would you feel if you were boarding the ship? How would you feel if you were saying good-bye to your loved one?

Suggestions for Present Day Thanksgiving: Preparations for Thanksgiving is time consuming but you might have extra time over the Thanksgiving weekend to enhance your celebration, especially if you have children present, by including some historical foods and activities present on the Mayflower or in Plimouth in the fall of 1621:

Games played by the children during the first harvest festival
– Arm wrestling, broad jump, racing competition, bow and arrow competition. The girls spent most of their time helping moms with food preparation during the three day gathering. If you have a mortar and pestle the girls can mash dried herbs and spices in preparation for seasoning veggies and such.

Food Samples – Some of the food on board the Mayflower was hardtack (ship’s biscuits), dried beef, and hard cheese.

Devotional

“The Danger Of Satisfaction”

Farm in Blue Ridge mountains (Click to enlarge)This Virginia farm is nestled near the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Click to enlarge
“The Danger Of Satisfaction”


Message summary:
Today remember the Lord. And learn the real joy of satisfaction as we secure our hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. The right response to satisfaction is always praise to God!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10). “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6).

Satisfaction is a good thing but it can be dangerous. Jesus warned of the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Matthew 13:22). Paul commands “those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). We do well to heed these warnings.

Moses knew that praise to the Lord was the proper follow up to satisfaction.  As we praise God we look to the source of everything that brings satisfaction. He specifies “the good land that He has given you”. Today and everyday be sure that praise and thankfulness is your response to God’s blessings.

Consider the progression in our second daily verse. “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Fed, satisfied, proud, forgot God. I ask myself, where am I as an individual in this progression? May it always be, When God meets my needs I am satisfied and give thanks to God and always remember His blessings.

Surely we’ve been fed.  Plenty of food for most of us and lots and lots of other material stuff as well. This leads to satisfaction, which is a blessing. But then we have to be on guard against our pride swelling which leads to forgetting God. Ironically this increases dissatisfaction. Instead of being satisfied and content there’s just never enough.

Moses warned the people of God some 600 years before the prophet Hosea lived: “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

Today remember the Lord. And learn the real joy of satisfaction as we place our hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our sustenance and enjoyment. The right response to satisfaction is always praise to God!

Be encouraged and be spiritually satisfied and thankful today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we go about the day to day living of eating, building, moving, buying, growing our families and earning a living we must be vigilant to keep You at the center of all our activity. Living for You is to be our main objective so that everything else falls into proper place. As these daily essentials are met we give thanks to You acknowledging that every single blessing comes from Your Hand. The vast majority place their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but we put our hope in You who richly provides us with everything for our sustenance and enjoyment. We are satisfied and give You thanks through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Never Once”  Video  The Acappella Company 
Devotional

“A Consideration Of Thanklessness”

Peak of Autumn“Peak Of Autumn”
Photo taken by my cousin Georgia at the Madison Wisconsin Arboretum
 
“A Consideration Of Thanklessness”


Message summary: Will we be like the one who returned to give “Thanks” or like the nine who did not? Are you expressing thankfulness to God and to others? We sure hope you’re living on Thankful Lane!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Neither were they thankful” (Romans 1:21). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Thankless LaneOur local Christian radio station, WDAC occasionally announces the temperature of Rising Sun, a small town in Maryland just south of the Pennsylvania state line. We’ve driven through the town a few times and just east of the little hamlet is a road sign that catches our attention every time we drive through. It is Thankless Lane.

How did they ever come up with such a negative name? We began to speculate: Was there a grumpy old farmer that lived on this lane who had a reputation for being unthankful? Perhaps a good deed was done for someone and the kindness was spurned by ingratitude.

Whatever the basis of the name, there are a few folks who must state their address as “Thankless Lane.” Can you imagine the conversation?  “Where do you live in Rising Sun?” “I live on Thankless Lane.” “What was the street name again?” At least I know that’s how the conversation would go if I were asking the question. I would wonder if I was hearing the street name properly. (For the terminally curious Thankless Lane is located here on a Google map)

We have determined that this is a road we wouldn’t want to live on either literally or spiritually. This week we will consider the subject of thankfulness in our messages but we begin by considering an outlook in life similar to living on Thankless Lane.

There are people who, by their outlook in life, seem to live on Thankless Lane. Ingratitude is one of the most dominant and universal sins in the human race. The Apostle Paul in his sweeping, panoramic view of human depravity in Romans 1 makes this dismal statement, “They neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him”. Later in his final epistle Paul lists some of the characteristics evident in the perilous last days. Among them we read that men will be “unthankful”.

Being thankful is an often overlooked fruit of the maturing follower of Christ. Un-thankfulness on the other hand is a mark of man’s depravity. And in this age of entitlements unthankfulness is ever increasing! I can recall several occasions in my life when the lack of gratitude was deafening as it was replaced by a grumbling, complaining outlook. The focus moves from “I’ve been blessed” to “I’m not getting what I deserve.” It’s a good thing we don’t get what we deserve, but instead we receive God’s abundant mercy and lovingkindness!

Jesus often asked questions to get his hearers to think, although He obviously knew the answer. In Luke 17:11-19 we read where He had healed ten lepers but only one returned to offer thanks and praise. We’ve often wondered what excuses the other nine had in failing to return and give Jesus thanks?

Three great truths concerning the importance of thankfulness can be derived from the leper who returned to give thanks:

  • Thankfulness is an act of the will. The healed leper chose to return and give thanks. He did so very publicly and expressively. He “came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.”
  • Thankfulness matters to God. Jesus was disturbed that the others did not return with thankfulness to give Him thanks: “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?'”
  • Thankfulness is an excellent testimony. Others observed this and the story became part of the Scriptural record.

Will we be like the one who returned to give “Thanks!” or like the other nine who did not? Are you expressing thankfulness to God and to others? If I’m permitted to name a lane in heaven, where I live out my eternal dwelling, I’d sure be pleased to choose, Thankful Lane!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, each of us make our dwelling on Thankful Lane when we daily attribute thanksgiving to You who provides for all our needs. You give us shelter from the harsh elements, food on our tables, clothing for our bodies and people who love and care for us. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, both physically and spiritually as You provided for our greatest need; salvation through Christ. Worthy is the Lamb who died on the cross for our sins. We will eternally praise You for Your goodness to us. Amen.


Wagon load of Brussels Sprouts
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Thank You God for Saving Me”  Video  Chris Tomlin

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Calvary Church  (We sang this song in our church service yesterday)

We received a very heartening feedback message this last weekend from a reader:

“I came to Christ in China and your daily readings really grounded me when I had no one else natively speaking English to teach me. We moved to the States 3 years ago and now I study ministry.”


Finally today:

Last Friday, November 22 we had an Extraordinary Give event here in Lancaster County. Over $10,500,000 was raised from 28,745 donors for over 500 non-profit organizations of every type. It was heartening to see the strong support for the many Christian organizations represented although giving options were available for many causes including some we would never support. For instance you could give to several pro-life pregnancy assistance centers (which we did) or to pro-abortion Planned Parenthood.

We chose to give to a number of organizations we value. When giving you could also write a short note of appreciation and encouragement to the organization which I did for each one. It’s not just financial support that ministries need, but it’s also encouraging words that remind you that your labor in the Lord is a blessing.

The following is instructive of a tragic direction our country is headed. After donating to the site  I went back on the giving site to see if my donation had registered and made a sad observation concerning someone who had come to the site after me.


Incredibly, on a day of joyous giving an anonymous troll who gave nothing to this ministry was using the giving site to disparage those who were giving! I suppose it’s because thankfully LBC has not caved on Biblical morality concerning marriage and gender which now makes someone anti-lgbtq and “the worst”. I informed the LBC giving site immediately; they were unaware and appreciated the alert, but frankly I am very disappointed they still have not removed the hateful comment. Just for the record regarding consistency, there were a couple of giving options for this “cause” the troll could have given to (and perhaps they did). I would also consider it very rude and hateful if someone made similar comments on their giving page concerning those who chose to give.



Special Thanksgiving Resources


We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the USA (November 28).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

Possible Discussion around the table:  July 22, 1620 – The pilgrims set sail for the new world and the setting is described by William Bradford in his journal: “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirit and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took leave of one another, which proved to the last leave to many of them.”  How would you feel if you were boarding the ship? How would you feel if you were saying good-bye to your loved one?

Suggestions for Present Day Thanksgiving: Preparations for Thanksgiving is time consuming but you might have extra time over the Thanksgiving weekend to enhance your celebration, especially if you have children present, by including some historical foods and activities present on the Mayflower or in Plimouth in the fall of 1621:

Games played by the children during the first harvest festival
– Arm wrestling, broad jump, racing competition, bow and arrow competition. The girls spent most of their time helping moms with food preparation during the three day gathering. If you have a mortar and pestle the girls can mash dried herbs and spices in preparation for seasoning veggies and such.

Food Samples – Some of the food on board the Mayflower was hardtack (ship’s biscuits), dried beef, and hard cheese.

Devotional

“A Future Exchange”

Psalm 33:5 with Lancaster County rural scene (Click  for larger view)A colorful autumn landscape in Lancaster County
Click to enlarge
 
“A Future Exchange”


Message summary:
Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God’s eternal kingdom up there!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

This week death visited our neighborhood with a longtime neighbor passing away Wednesday evening. Last night we noted the many cars gathered at the home and considered what that family is going through.

One of the hardest but necessary and fulfilling times of ministry is at the time of death. Serving together in ministry for over 45 years now, since we worked together even while dating prior to our marriage in 1976, we have walked with many through the valley of the shadow of death. Brooksyne especially has a real ministry touch in that regard and would be a good hospice or hospital chaplain.

Sorrow and grief at the passing of a loved one are a healthy and inevitable aspect of love but we are not to grieve in the same way as those who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

As followers of Christ we do have hope so we want to consider a number of exchanges made at the time of death:

We exchange our natural body for a spiritual body. Some die young or are even murdered while in the womb. Some die in the prime of life, and we see that number increased due to various causes these days. Others have the broken, worn-out earthly body due to increased age. Some have lived with a lifelong disability due to birth abnormality or injury.

We exchange homes. We live in various settings on this side of eternity. Some, like us and many reading this, have had a pretty good life with freedom and relative prosperity. Others have had it to various degrees a very hard life, whether living in austere poverty or in a place of persecution. But we exchange our temporal homes for our eternal abode which now includes not just the Spirit of God but His very presence. It also includes believers who preceded us when they received their eternal inheritance. (The older you get the more this aspect becomes part of heaven’s appeal.)

We exchange our sorrows for a place where there will be no sorrows. Although we have the blessing of peace and joy on this side, sorrow of one kind or another is always present or just around the corner. Revelation 21:4 has a great glimpse of eternity: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

“If You Could See Me Now” is a song written from the perspective of a believer who now dwells in heaven. His or her view of life is so much brighter and absent of any sadness or trace of sorrow as seen in verse three:

My light and temporary trials
Have worked out for my good
To know it brought Him glory
When I misunderstood
Though we’ve had our sorrows
They can never compare
To what Jesus has in store for us
No language can share
(A link to a video is posted below).


These promises bring such blessed assurance for those who remain on this side especially during a time of loss. Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God’s eternal kingdom up there!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, Your Word instructs us to daily clothe ourselves in protective Christian armor so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. The indescribable blessing that comes to those of us who clothe ourselves in godly attire prepare us for the ultimate final blessing of shedding our perishable, mortal, broken, and deficient bodies for heavenly attire. Our heavenly bodies, supernaturally clothed, will live eternally without fear of death. No mourning, crying or pain will clothe these bodies because the old order of things will have passed away. Clothe us today in the spiritual clothing that will prepare us to receive the imperishable clothing that comes when we pass from this life to eternal life. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.



Death is a common topic in our chaplaincy ministry. Visiting 400-500 people each week we often hear stories and provide comfort concerning the death of a loved one. This morning we heard an especially grievous story concerning the uncle of a project manager we see weekly. His uncle was a kind man who reached out to others, especially troubled youth. A young man he had worked with showed up at his welding shop asking for money for drugs. His uncle said “no” so the young man took his keys attempting to steal his truck. The uncle reached in the window trying to take the keys out and the troubled youth, high on meth, rolled up the window and drug the man around till he was unconscious and was killed due to blunt force head injuries.

 
The employee was at his uncle’s viewing so we were unable to connect this morning, but will do so soon. What could one say to comfort those who remain except to let him know of our interest and assure him of our prayers for his family. As I often say, when talking about such tragic events here on earth, “This is not a conversation we will have in heaven” as the former things will pass away – all those things that resulted from the original sin. Think about it for just a few minutes and you’ll realize that every day we are affected by the effects of sin, whether it’s death, sickness, pain, suffering, etc.
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“If You Could See Me Now”  Video  The Integrity Worship Singers
 
“Almost Home”  Video  MercyMe
 
“I’ll Have A New Life”  Video  Altar of Praise Chorale
 
“Safely Home”  Video  Steve Green
 
Finally today:

We have an interesting community giving event today here in Lancaster County known as Extraordinary Give. For a 24 hour period beginning at midnight November 22 this event allows giving online to a wide variety of non-profits in our County including many that honor Christ and maintain Biblical standards. Many companies get involved with matching gifts as well and yesterday I spoke to Stephen, who is enthusiastically leading the effort for his company, which matches employees’ gifts and then an anonymous donor will add an additional match. He told me that our Extraordinary Give Day was the second largest similar type community giving day in the entire country after Houston TX, which is pretty remarkable considering Lancaster County has a relatively small population of 550,000 compared to the Houston TX which as a metro population of 7 million.

Stephen for Extraordinary Give, Lancaster County, PA on 11/22/19
Stephen Linde


Special Thanksgiving Resources


We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the USA (November 28).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!