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Monday, November 27, 2006

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"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6).

Yesterday following our church service we made a pastoral visit to an older man in our church who has been in the hospital for some time.  Brooksyne and I enjoy making hospital visits together and have found some of our most spiritually fulfilling ministry in hospital visitation.

I wrote about Bob two weeks ago. He came to the Lord at 70 years of age.  Prior to that Bob had virtually no spiritual interest or training. So for the last twelve years he has been learning the songs and Scripture verses that many of us who grew up in church have known from early childhood.

Brooksyne sang the time honored hymn, "'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" following our time of sharing.  Right after she sang the last line, "Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more" Bob looked at her with a quizzical look on his face.   He then earnestly asked her "How do you memorize all that?" Of course in most cases she has done so through familiarity and repetition rather than a purposeful attempt to commit a song to memory. That's the way it is with a lot of music.

We then began to recite the 23rd Psalm intending to simply quote this endearing and comforting passage of Scripture for Bob's hearing. But as we spoke the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd" Bob voluntarily repeated the words.  We then quoted "I shall not want" and Bob again repeated this phrase.  To the very end of this Psalm Bob joined us by repeating phrase by phrase the 23rd Psalm. When we got to the last line, "and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord…" Brooksyne and I both paused, confident that Bob would know the last word of this Psalm.  What a joyous blessing to see his eyes brighten and the smile cross his face as he confidently proclaimed the final word "FOREVER" even before we could say it!

"Forever" is the final word throughout this Psalm, but it is all throughout Scripture and written often throughout Revelation, when describing praise toward God throughout eternity.  John describes two heavenly scenes where the Lamb of God is receiving never ending praise. 

The first vision is God's creatures in heaven and on earth joining their voices in a mighty chorus as they sang:  "Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever" (Rev. 5:13).  Another vision John writes about is when the angels, elders and four living beings fell face down before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thankgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever.   Amen!" (Rev. 7:12).

Be encouraged today, as we worship forever the living God,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, what a glorious blessing it is that goodness and mercy are not a one time bestowment from Your generous hand.  But You continually impart these undeserved blessings to me as You guide me along the right path.  Even in the midst of dark valleys and treacherous storms Your Hand stays me as You turn destruction and ruin to restoration and renewed hope.  Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

"Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" was the song we sang yesterday with Bob. Here's a beautiful online version by a group called the Grace Bridge band .

Brooksyne's Note:  I've included a background story about Louisa Stead who wrote "Tis So Sweet..."  It is a very sad story that took place in her early marriage, but is also a testimony of how tragedy turns into triumph as we follow the Lord in His paths of righteousness.  

"'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus" was written by Louisa Stead in 1882.  Mrs. Stead and her husband were enjoying an afternoon at the beach along with their young daughter.  Suddenly a desperate cry for help came from a young boy calling out in the deep water. Mr. Stead immediately went to his rescue, but the frightened boy pulled him under the water in a panic. Mrs. Stead and her daughter could only watch helplessly from the beach as the young boy and her husband drowned.

Louisa Stead was a poor woman barely able to provide for her daughter. One day when it seemed that all of their resources were gone, she found a gift of food and money left on her doorstep. It was on that day that she sat and wrote the text "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus". May we learn to trust Jesus even as Louisa Stead did and long for the grace to trust Him even more.  And, as the unknown person who provided food and money for Mrs. Stead, may we be the instruments that put trust into action.

Louisa Stead remarried and served as a missionary with her daughter for twenty five years in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.  After her death missionary co-workers in S. Rhodesia wrote, "Her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing her hymn in their native language."

Recommended Resource:
0214351: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
By Phillip Keller / Zondervan Corp.
Walk the green pastures of faith and drink from the still waters of peace hidden in Psalm 23! Drawing from his experience as a professional sheep rancher, Keller leads you verse by verse through this beloved portion of Scripture, offering unique insights into the love our Good Shepherd bestows upon us, the sheep of his pasture. 142 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

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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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