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Monday, September 18, 2006

"God's Constant Goodness and Care"

"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7).

Ali Mustaf Maka'il, a 22-year-old college student and cloth merchant who converted from Islam to Christianity 11 months ago, was shot and killed September 7 in the Manabolyo quarter of Mogadishu.  He refused to join a crowd of Muslims chanting Quran verses in honor of the lunar eclipse. I periodically refer to the persecution of our fellow Christians but reading a story like this puts a face on it.*

"God is good all the time, and all the time God is good."  This has practically become a modern creedal statement used by many the last several years. At times, due to repetitiveness it seems to be an almost trite statement, but it does express a wonderful theological truth.  I'm writing this from the comfort of my home office on a beautiful late summer day looking out over peaceful rural scenery. I feel so inadequate and undeserving as I prepare this message and I consider the persecution so many of my Christian brethren are enduring this very day all around the world.

What a wonderful truth the prophet Nahum expresses in the daily text.  "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble."  God's goodness is among His immutable (unchanging) attributes, a constant, unwavering goodness.  There are no brief glitches in His goodness, no temporary freeze-ups.  Any apparent deficiency is never in His goodness but rather in our very limited comprehension of how it is sometimes expressed or the varying circumstances in which we may experience it.

"He cares for those who trust in Him."  This also is a constant, ongoing care that never ceases.  The apostle Peter reminded the early believers of this care in his simple statement "He cares for you."

But cynics scoff and as earnest believers we surely wonder, "What happened to His goodness and care for people such as Ali Mustaf Maka'il?"  This very question was surely on the hearts of the early Christians when my namesake Stephen became the very first recorded Christian martyr in Acts 7. A wonderful but easily overlooked snippet is that "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2).  I wonder how this event shook their faith?

In regard to these matters we'll simply have to practice unwavering faith and wait for the answer to these questions.  In the meanwhile let us stay true and faithful as we join Joshua in declaring again this day, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Prayer: Father, I want to faithfully serve You in the good times, in the bad times and in the waiting periods of my earthly journey.   When trouble is all about me You are a welcome refuge in the midst all my troubles.  Help me to remember that no enemy can defeat Your intended purpose for my life.  Even if my physical body is slain, my Spirit lives forever in Your presence.  I want to trust You no matter the circumstances and rejoice in Your abundant goodness to me.  Amen.

* The story of Christian martyr Ali Mustaf Maka'il

Here's an audio version of the song that prompted the popularity of the phrase, "God is good all the time, all the time God is good"
(Please note: I find these audio songs on the web and they work for some users but not others. )

Mike Matangelo
We had a visit this weekend with long-time friends who now live in North Carolina. Mike and Kathy attended the very first service we had in the church we established in northern Pennsylvania way back in the 70's and have been dear friends ever since.  They faithfully serve the Lord and are involved in a number of different ministries.

I received an email this weekend from my former church secretary in New England, an incredible lady who has served in a variety of capacities in that very same church since the 1940's and she continues to serve faithfully! She sent me a message her son, who is a minister, had sent to her.  It's sure got a thought provoking message. Turn your volume up!  Are you ready?

Finally today, I took this photo of a friend on a men's retreat last weekend and it reminded me of what a future event might be like!
This photo is not doctored, apart from the addition of the Scripture text. Any idea how I did this?

Darrel Martin
(Click on image to enlarge)

Technical note: Last week the dailyencouragement.net website was moved to a new server and eveything seems to be working fine.  Brad Parks is a Canadian I have never met but has a burden to assist this ministry. He assists and provides server space for both the website and podcast. What a blessing!

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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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