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messages · Archive edition
Friday, December 6, 2013
Darrenkamps, our local supermarket, had this
colorful John Deere Christmas Tree on display a few years ago.
Listen to this message on
your audio player.
"Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it" (Genesis
28:16). But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy
faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God,
waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal
life" (Jude 1:20-21).
During the holiday season Brooksyne prepares small loaves of "Keeping Cake". It's a
combination of cranberries, brown sugar, glazed pecans, etc. She
tries to make it early since the fruit mellows and blends over time (it will keep up to 3 months in a dry, cool place). However
in our home it doesn't improve over time since we tend to eat
it too quickly. We don't always practice the "keeping" but rather apply
the "eating" aspect of this cake! But the recipe name does prompt a
spiritual thought we'd like to consider today, keeping grace.
I have several friends on my heart as I prepare this message. Ken is
remembering a significant loss that happened at this very time one year
David has had a very challenging year regarding his health. Several
young men are battling off the temptations their age group is
prone to. This morning Mike called and shared concerning the
difficulty he and his wife face as their elder parents are requiring a
greater degree of care. And we just read from our email church
prayer chain of John who is undergoing surgery today for new leads to
his pacemaker (one that we can currently relate to through Ester's
One of the great
joys in ministry is encouraging others based primarily upon the
Scriptures, God's most certain Word. But we can also draw from our own
experiences in life where we are personal witnesses to God's provision
I recall a very specific time of deep discouragement after stepping out
in obedience to God's call way back in 1977. We had just moved 1,000 miles from
the little home we had lived in our first year of marriage near
Springfield MO to northern Pennsylvania where we felt God's leading to plant a
church. But initially all doors seemed to close and I wondered if I
had missed God's voice.*
were sitting in our little blue Datsun pickup and discussing our
dilemma (we had no house at the time so the Datsun felt like "home"). Brooksyne saw my despair and shared a simple spiritual truth that gave me a powerful uplift and has many times since. She
leaned toward me as she took my hand, her voice broken at the time, and said these words, "God will never lead us, where His grace cannot keep us."
we had dated for over two years and had been married for over a
year at this point, it was the first time I had ever heard this
reassuring expression. In the providence of God He had stored that
timeless message in Brooksyne's heart for such a time as this.
We joined hands in prayer and again committed ourselves to God's
leading and a wonderful sense of God's awesome presence filled our
hearts in that
little Datsun pickup.
As I look back over my life it seems that God's voice tends to be
clearest in the tough times. Likely that's because I
am most sensitive to the Spirit's leading in these situations. Although we want to avoid
the tough times, I believe God providentially allows us to go through
them so that He can instruct us and guide our lives. That's
why I so often pray for myself and others that God would give us grace
and maturity to actually rejoice during hard time and when the doors seem closed.
The first daily text is from a story involving Jacob, who had just fled
from his parent's home. He had deceived his father, Isaac, in
obtaining the blessing that should have gone to his firstborn
son, Esau. Jacob was surely not seeking any spiritual encounter that
night. He was fleeing in fear from his angry brother Esau, who
had vowed to kill him. Traveling till the sun had set he laid down to
sleep using a cold, hard, stone as a pillow. Ouch! These are not
normally the conditions conducive to hearing from God.
But at this very time God spoke to Jacob in a vision, essentially
assuring him of His plan for his life and the fulfillment of His
promises to his grandfather, Abraham. When Jacob awoke Scripture
declares that he made the observation in our daily text, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." The part of the passage that particularly intrigues me is the phrase, "I was not aware of it." May we always be aware of the Lord's presence!
God is still speaking and meeting with His people today; not only in
churches but wherever, whenever, and however He wants to get our
attention. We have a much fuller revelation of God's promises than Jacob had and know
His Word declares some great assurances. David spoke of God's
presence in his most famous Psalm, "Thou art with me." Jesus assured His disciples before returning to heaven, "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Finally consider the simple word from Jude in our second daily text, "keep yourselves in the love of God." God is always faithful to do His part.
Today, receive these great promises with joy, fellow believer! Whatever
your circumstances, however difficult or even hopeless they may seem;
remember, the LORD is always with us. May we always be aware of
His presence and keeping grace!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Prayer: Father, I am very grateful for Your continual guidance
in my life and for Your steadying hand when the foundations are
shaken. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe
refuge. In Your presence I find renewed hope, resurging strength and
safety beneath the shelter of Your wings! Your unfailing love will
uphold me and Your sovereign presence will never leave me nor forsake
me. What joyous blessings these promises unfold in my life day by
day as You will never lead me where Your grace cannot keep me. Thank You for Jesus in whose name we pray! Amen.
* Our church planting experience:
Now much planning usually goes into church plants, often years of
preparation, budget raising and developing a core group. We didn't know
anything about that. In our early twenties we moved to Pennsylvania
with $500.00, which at that time seemed
like a lot of money and no financial support from others to a community
where we knew absolutely no one
and certainly didn't have a core group. We rented an apartment and had
the first service several weeks after we moved. We just sort of plodded
along steadily and slowly saw the
church grow from a handful of people to a thriving congregation (not
large by many of today's churches but a good size for a small town).
The congregation purchased a large piece of land right off the main
highway coming into town and constructed a church building. We stayed
there nearly 16 years moving on in 1993. The congregation is still
meeting. Most of those people stay in touch with us through Daily
Encouragement and Facebook.
Brooksyne's Note: I read this quote "God will never lead you,
where His grace cannot keep you" on a plaque in a Christian Bookstore
several months before the experience Stephen describes above. I
purposely memorized and stored it in my heart since we couldn't afford
to buy the plaque at the time. It as though the Spirit was forewarning me that
we would question His leading once we left our homeland and this
proverb would bring us encouragement and steadfastness in our calling. Of course this thought-provoking quote is quite
famous by now, and has been a source of encouragement to believers for
many years. It has been mistakenly thought of as a Scripture.
While it's not a Scripture in the Bible it certainly is Biblical in
In the photo we share of us standing beside our Datsun pickup Brooksyne is
holding "Coon" a kitten we received when we first got married. We called him
that because he looked like a raccoon! Here he peeks out of a hole in a
propane tank cover.
have had pets in our home for most of our
married life including Mollie, our youngest pet, a very active border
collie. The poor dogs have been enduring Ester's recovery time as she
dresses them up for silly pictures. Amazingly, Mollie was a good sport
for this photo - I especially like the brown ears on the otherwise
black and white dog.
Suggested Music and
"He Leadeth Me" Video Marshall Hall
"Surely The Presence Of The Lord" Video Daywind Studio Musicians
"Awesome In This Place" Video Kent Henry
"God's Keeping Grace" Video Redeeming Grace
As many of you know Brooksyne enjoys hymn backgrounds. "He Leadeth Me"
was written by Joseph H. Gilmore and I found this interesting
background information and testimony:
As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University
and Newton Theological Institution, I was supplying for a couple of
Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia
[Pennsylvania]. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I
set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm,
which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I
did not get further than the words "He Leadeth Me." Those words took
hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a
significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.
It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that
fact—that is, I don't think I did—but it may subconsciously have led me
to realize that God's leadership is the one significant fact in human
experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we
are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.
At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good
Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had
emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which
I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at
the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it.
She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston,
where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had
been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester [New
York] to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going
into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see
what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, "He Leadeth Me."
Here's more about the "Keeping Cake" I make
these small loaves for food gifts at Christmas. One year, after baking and
washing the rectangular ceramic dishes, I asked Stephen to put them away
in the highest cabinet shelf to save me the extra time it takes to get
a stool. He willingly agreed and as he did so I heard this loud,
crashing sound that just seemed to go on and on. Imagining the
worst I turned to see him using his hands as a shield to protect his
face as the dishes tumbled forward onto him and then the ceramic tile
floor. The next thing you know Ester races into the kitchen with
camera in hand flashing pictures of Stephen and the mess he had just
made (she's learned "quick camera action" from her dad.) It became a
very laughable experience. Fortunately only two out of five
dishes broke, probably because he became the padded buffer.
Keeping Cake (Single Recipe)
1 pkg. (12 oz. or 3 ½ C.) cranberries, separated – (6 oz. chopped)
¾ C. Granulated Sugar
½ teaspoon orange peel
½ C. (1 stick) butter or margarine
2 ½ C. All-Purpose flour
2 C. brown Sugar
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ C. Sour Cream
1 C. pecans, coarsely chopped
Crystal Like Sugar (optional)
Prepare loaf pans by spraying with Pam. In large saucepan combine
6 oz (1/2 pkg.) of cranberries, ¾ C. sugar and ½ tsp. orange
peel. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until berries pop and
mixture thickens. Remove. Add 1 stick butter to melt
and other 6 oz. of cranberries, chopped. Cool.
Combine in large bowl 2 ½ C. flour, 2 C. brown sugar, spices, 2 tsp.
soda and 1 tsp. salt. Stir in 2 eggs with ¾ C. sour cream.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Stir in cranberry mixture and
1 C. pecans (glazed are excellent if you can find them. (Diamond
brand makes them.)
This will make about seven very small loaves or two large loaves.
Bake at 350 for about one hour or till done (less time for small
loaves). Cool in pans for ten minutes before removing from pan and
inverting on cake rack. Wrap cakes in foil at least one week to
age in cool, dry place.
I sprinkle raw sugar or better yet large sugar crystals inside the
sprayed loaf pan before pouring batter in pans and on top of the batter
after filling the loaf pans. Keeps up to three months in cool,
From Leisure Arts, "Gifts of Good Taste", P. 29. No Mixer needed for this recipe. I usually serve
this more as a sweet bread with soft cream cheese than I do a
cake. When I give this as gifts at Christmas it comes up a
to Stephen &
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am created by God to bring
Him glory. Through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, I have been
redeemed and I make it my life’s goal to honor God through my
faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for
the weak things in the world,
That no flesh will glory
in His presence."
securely today anchored
God's solid foundation"