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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Fall foliage in Clinton County PA
Fall foliage in Clinton County, Pennsylvania

Today's audio podcast reading features the background song, "In Christ Alone"
(click here to listen to this message on your audio player.)

"Bitter or Better?"

"He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again" (Genesis 42:24a).  "See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).

I recently prayed with a friend over a troubling situation.  As I concluded my prayer I noticed he was weeping and somewhat trying to hide it.  (We men tend to feel apologetic when we express our emotions.) This man has incurred a deep hurt that surely shakes his faith.  He will battle the question we all deal with in regard to life's inevitable hurts. "Will I grow bitter or better as a result of this?"

Joseph is an interesting Bible character.  In his book "Gleanings in Genesis" A.W. Pink notes 101 parallels between Joseph and Christ.  Obviously I won't list them all here!  One of the interesting characteristics of Joseph is his freely expressed emotions.  In the Genesis story we find him weeping on eight different occasions. 

Today's Scripture portion records an event that took place during his first encounter with his brothers after a separation of 20 years.  The last time he had seen them was from the back of a caravan while he was being hauled off as a slave to Egypt, thanks to their devious plot.  During these years he had many occasions when bitterness could have set in.

However, God had worked on his heart all through this time and we are constantly reminded that "the Lord was with him".

Have others hurt you?  Of course they have!  Oswald Chambers has observed that "it is nonsense to say that suffering makes saints; it makes some people devils".  Joseph's heart could have hardened after the long years of hurt and separation from his family.  If anybody had ever been mistreated it was he.  Consider all the years he had to "nurse his pain".  Even in Egypt he had experienced several serious, disappointing setbacks before his eventual promotion. 

Yet he didn't grow bitter.  And on the occasion in today's text, while Joseph was in a position of authority over his brothers, he saw their deep consternation and was emotionally overwhelmed.

Are the hard experiences of life, including hurts from others, going to make you bitter or better? Joseph expresses one of the great principles of life he has personally realized from this very difficult experience; "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives"  (Genesis 50:20). 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, when we are hurt we naturally turn away from the source of our pain.  But then we're inclined to carry that pain inwardly where it can easily spread and damage our emotions, distort our outlook, and strain our relations with others.  If we don't surrender our bruised emotions to You the growing root of bitterness begins to squeeze out the stored up blessings we receive from You day after day.  The by-products of bitterness such as anger, rage, self-pity and other destructive attitudes become the order of the day, paving the way back to our old nature.

 But You have ordered us to rid ourselves of all such things that violate the new self as we are being renewed in the image of our Creator.  We can only do this as we clothe ourselves daily with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Help us to bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we have against one another.  We can only do this as we carry out the same kind of forgiveness that You, our Lord and Savior, demonstrate toward us.  You are the supreme example of One who embraced enemies who mocked You and friends who betrayed You. Help us, in as much as it is possible, to live at peace even with those who inflict wounds.  By Your grace and our surrendered will we choose to cut off the root of bitterness and grow the fruit of the spirit in our lives.  Amen.

*The second paragraph of today's prayer I paraphrased from selected portions of Colossians 3.

Today's podcast uses an intrumental version of "In Christ Alone" in the background.  Here's a vocal version from the worship service in a Canadian church.

Barn Sing-along - everyone welcome! Daily Encouragement Net readers are invited to a Praise and Worship service on this Saturday, October 14, at 6 PM at our Amish neighbor's barn. Before the worship service, from 4:30-5:45, another neighbor will be hauling children and adults on a hayride with his tractor and wagon. Refreshments will follow the Worship Service. If you would like to come the directions to our home are here. The farm is located at 690 Kraybill Church Road around the corner from Kraybill Mennonite School and just up the road from our house. The hay ride prior to the service will be with a large John Deere tractor and wagon. It would be great to have it horse powered, but we're grateful for the John Deere as well!

Photo of AGAPE kidsThis last weekend we had the great joy of sharing God's Word and our internet chaplaincy ministry in the church in upstate Pennsylvania we established and pastored from 1977-1993. What a joy to see many of our long-time friends and see kids who had grown up in the church who are faithfully serving the Lord as young adults. Four of the "kids" in the photo grew up in the church from infancy and I had the privilege of dedicating them to the Lord!

Photo of Howie Many years ago I challenged Howie as a young man to serve the Lord and stay faithful. As I climbed the hill from our motel up to the church Sunday morning, Howie pulled up beside me in his truck, rolled down the window and shouted, "Are you staying faithful?"  I sure am and I'm so thankful that he is. In a duet with Sharon he sang a powerful song, "Praise You In This Storm", by "Casting Crowns". Here's an audio mp3 version I found online.

Sherry with BiblePhoto of Sherry with Bible (close-up)Sherry served as our secretary in that church and we gave her a Bible after we left in 1993. She has a practice of saving notes, devotional booklets, etc. in her Bible and it is now 4 or 5 times thicker than the original. I am amazed the binding holds up!


Photo of Church foliage
The church sits on 7.7 acres on the side of a hill and
this is the fall foliage scene as you enter the parking lot!

Tomorrow I will share about our Sunday evening service.

Note: Due to our trip to Northern Pennsylvania we were unable to prepare an encouragement message this last Monday since we visited with our long time friends prior to our long drive back to Lancaster County. Yesterday (Tuesday) we were working on our message  intending to send one out when my Uncle and Aunt from Missouri surprised us with a visit. We knew they were traveling up this way but weren't sure when they would stop by here.  Uncle Don is the only one of my Dad's six brothers who is still living. He and Aunt Mary have been a tremendous blessing to our family and we were so honored to have them visit.
Photo of my Uncle Don and Aunt Mary

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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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