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Thursday, November 2, 2006

Photo of farm in early morning light

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"Called According To His Purpose"

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose"  (Romans 8:28).

In our daily encouragement yesterday we mentioned that the notes and prayers of many daily encouragement readers, written to the Amish following the schoolhouse slayings last month, had been delivered. I am quite sure these messages will be a blessing.

But we also were personally blessed as we read and compiled the thoughts, prayers and expressions of condolences from readers all over the world. For several the slayings brought memories of their own hurts in life and one that especially touched me was from a friend whom I had worked with several years ago.  She shared of a situation in her life that I was not aware of.

Thirty years ago her two week old son died as a result of a heart catheterization that punctured his heart causing him to bleed to death.  She wrote about the intense pain and loss she endured and how this tragic experience helped her to relate to others whose children die.   But she testified of her assurance that God was in control even in that tragedy, although she could not see it then but only believed it to be true, claiming our daily verse.

A situation like this always puts us at a crossroads.  We can grow bitter or we can trust the Lord in the midst of the ensuing pain in what are, at times, His incomprehensible ways.   

What a wonderful testimony she shares: "Shortly after our son died, my husband and I became involved in a Bible Study for children and eventually conducted the study in our own home and had nearly 50 different children learning God's Word.  We never had done anything like that before, and had we been caring for a new baby plus our two other children, we would never have been involved in that ministry.  Over a period of about 11 years we had the opportunity to lead about 25 of those children to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Today those children are grown and have children and some of them teach Sunday School and have led their own children to the Lord.  They tell me that the teaching in our home and the enjoyment of having their neighborhood friends all gathering together at our house to learn about God's Word was the incentive that led them to their belief and desire to serve today. 

So a loving message to all those Amish families connected to this terrible happening, I pray that you believe, even though you cannot imagine good to come out of this... Romans 8:28 (I claimed this verse when my son died and continue today). Good does come out of God's plan especially when you believe it long before you see it.  God loves you dear people and will help you through this day by day."

How often believers through the ages have drawn strength and assurance from the wonderful promise of the daily Scripture verse.  It was one of the first verses I memorized as a young Christian and I have often obtained assurance by meditating on it. In our reading of Romans 8:28 we tend to focus on the first part and particularly the phrase "works for the good."  Today let us consider the final phrase, "called according to His purpose."

His purpose is always good, whether expressed toward the individual or to the cosmos.  In Ephesians 3:11 Paul writes of God's "eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Summing up God's purpose in a single thought or phrase is bound to be deficient but theologian J.I. Packer attempts. "God's purpose, here and hereafter, is to keep expressing His love in Christ to us."  Or as Oswald Chambers observes, "I thought God's purpose was to make me full of happiness and joy.  It is, but it is happiness and joy from God's standpoint, not from mine."  Amen, and that's the rub; we must be continually seeking to understand God's viewpoint.

Today God has called us according to His purpose. His peace prevails when we realize that His almighty purpose cannot be thwarted.  In a rather obscure verse from the prophet Isaiah we read, "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back" (Isaiah 14:27). The answer to both questions is an absolute, resounding "NO ONE!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, what tremendous comfort the Scriptures bring when I consider the uncertainties of life.  About the time I get comfortable or think I've figured out what the future holds I get thrown a ringer. I'm so grateful for passages of reassurance such as Romans 8:28 that reminds me You're working on my behalf even though evil is prevalent and I'm often affected by its presence.  As a blood-bought child of Yours, You have called me to work Your purpose and will for my life.  What You have purposed for me cannot be thwarted though the enemy may stalk me or make me his target.  After all, since You are for us, who can be against us.   Help me to receive Your deep abiding peace even in the midst of difficult and perplexing situations, because I know that You use even those circumstances for our long-range good.  May our trusting response to these undesirable sufferings prove to believers and unbelievers that we are becoming more and more like Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Here's the choir of the First Baptist Church in Durham NC with a song that I really enjoy called "Trust His Heart"

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