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Tuesday, April 4, 2006
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I am visiting with a long-time friend going back to first grade here in Springfield, Missouri. David was the best man in my wedding and we've stayed in contact all through the years. He accepted the Lord as a young adult and has sought to live his life faithfully for Christ. He's been married to his wife Sandy now for over 20 years and they have two children.
Ten years ago they had one of those twists in life that you just don't expect or think will ever happen to you. Sandy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. They've been able to manage her disease very well and David is extremely devoted in giving fully of his love, attention and care. Sandy is active in ministry and last night had a Bible Study around the dining room table.
As I took the above photo Sandy was quoting sustaining Scriptures that have been a source of assurance to her. She showed me a journal of Scriptures that she has memorized, including the portions in our daily text above. There was an astounding sense of spiritual warmth and realization of God's sufficient grace that permeated the room as we shared together.
The Apostle Paul writes in the second daily verse about the tremendous assurance he received after a time of prayer that seemed to go unanswered. He is dealing with his "thorn in the flesh." Much speculation has been made regarding the nature of this thorn, with a variety of interpretations offered. However Paul simply does not give us the details, although it's probable that his original readers would have known due to their personal acquaintance with Paul. More than likely he had referred to it in a time of face-to-face ministry to them.
This verse of assurance has brought comfort to countless believers throughout the church age. Several years ago my dad read this verse prior to having open heart surgery and felt that this passage spoke directly to him. We generally interpret the "thorn" as representing the trial we are facing at the time of our reading and application of this Scripture passage.
I believe the vagueness by Paul regarding the nature of his thorn to be a part of God's design. For our trials come to us in many and varied forms and God's grace is sufficient for each of them!
Are you going through a trial today? Do you have a "thorn in the flesh"? God's grace is sufficient. Paul kept the faith and so can you. In fact you will be stronger as a result of this trial and God will be glorified through your life.
When the questions of life go unanswered,
When there's none that respond to your plea,
There's an echo that keeps on resounding,
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
Let us offer our praises to Jesus
Till in heaven His presence we see.
Never failing to trust in the promise,
"My grace is sufficient for thee."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, the only way that I do not lose heart when undergoing trial is when my heart is aligned with Your's. By keeping my heart fixed on the joyous blessings You bring in the midst of my need and applying Your all-sufficient grace to my circumstance I am made stronger and find the power to overcome the enemy. It is not in myself that I can boast of this strength, for it comes from the renewal of my spirit each day as I immerse myself in Your Word that brings encouragement, strength, and the resolve to trust You for all that I have need of. Though Satan tempts me to bring out the worst in me, God tests me to bring out the best in me. Through Your glorious grace I will pass the test and be better for it.
(Brooksyne is not with me on this trip but I am emailing the message back to her each morning and she is reviewing my message and sharing a prayer from her heart. It's an interesting way to have long distance collaboration in our ministy!)
Another memory: Last night Dave and I were watching the NCAA Championship game. Here in Missouri they recently had a severe storm with hail and an auto dealership ran an ad for hail damaged vehicles with the slogan, "A hail of a sale." David was raised in a home with devout parents and once we were walking to school in about third grade and it looked stormy and I said, "It looks like hail." David insisted, "You shouldn't say that!" I just couldn't convince him that I was using an appropriate word. He thought I was saying something that my parents also would have disapproved of and now I, as a parent, would disapprove!
David and Sandy's Church They were founding members. I was so blessed by the service this last Sunday.
David and a group of businessmen in Springfield established a ministry to Nicaragua called Project Hope.
"My Grace Is Sufficient For Thee" Joe E. Parks, © 1992 Singspiration Music (ASCAP) ARR UBP of Benson Music Group, Inc. (365 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN) CCLI License No. 2005306
As I finished preparing this message today I want to share a great song of blessing and assurance of God's care titled, "He Knows My Name" Audio and video links are to the Willingdon Church in Burnaby BC Canada.
I've had a great visit back to my home state of Missouri and have a lot of memories I haven't shared. Last Friday I stopped by, along with my two brothers Mike and Pat, to visit Pauline, who has been a friend of my Mom's for nearly 60 years. It was a very blessed visit and as we left she looked up at the three Weber boys, wept and said, "I'm just so glad you came." Pauline is 93 years old, still lives by herself and drives. Her husband passed away several years ago. He was my 7th and 8th grade Sunday School teacher and put up with me as a pre-Christian rascal. Several years ago I wrote an encouragement message about Joe harding and will share it here for any who would care to read it.
"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
My Sunday School teacher in 7th and 8th grades was an older man by the name of Joe Harding. At this time in my life I had no desire to serve God and don't recall paying much attention in Sunday School. In fact, I was a "problem" student. I'm absolutely certain at that time I never expressed any appreciation whatsoever to Mr. Harding for his labors. In retrospect I recall his love for the Lord and his students. He surely must have gotten discouraged at kids like me.
A couple of years later during my high school years I accepted the Lord. After high school I went into training for the ministry and then into ministry itself. When Ray Boltz' song "Thank You" became popular, I was prompted to contact Mr. Harding and thank him for his faithfulness to God and his impact on my life (over 20 years after he had taught me).
I did reach him (he was in his 80's) and I must say my expression of gratitude made his day! He went to be with the Lord a few years after this. I understand there was reference made at his funeral to one of his students being in the ministry. I am sure there are many other students that were impacted by his teaching and Mr. Harding fully knows now that his work in the Lord was not in vain.
I often quote our daily verse. I suppose I would have to say it's my life verse. Consider just the phrase "because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Warren Wiersbe observes "Christians can be steadfast and immovable, because they know that if their worst enemy (death) has been overcome, they need fear no other enemy. They can abound in Christian service, for that work will count for eternity."
Don't forget that. Ministry in any form can be discouraging at times. Consider how often discouragement is based on the sense of futility. But the apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us it's "not in vain." Keep pressing on. Serving, loving and showing the light of Christ to a dark, often unreceptive world. Your work counts for eternity!
Two practical thoughts for you today:
1) We all have several people like Joe Harding in our life. Why don't you brighten their day by personally thanking them?
2) Some of you are serving as Joe Harding did when I was in 7th grade. You are seeking to share God's truth with a bunch of rascals and it sure doesn't seem like anyone's paying a bit of attention. Stay faithful, stay faithful, stay faithful. Serving God is never a waste! You will find out the rest of the story later (perhaps in this life, perhaps in heaven).
Due to early travel back to Pennsylvania tomorrow I don't expect to prepare an encouragement message. I hope to resume the series this Thursday and get back to my desktop. I have a hard time with these little laptops.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I 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 please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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