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Monday, January 8, 2007

2007 Pennsylvania Farm Show display
Display at Pennsylvania Farm Show
Restored 1950 Oliver Row Crop 66 tractor
with a colorful bounty of locally grown produce.

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Background music is "He Leadeth Me".

"Compelled by the Spirit"

"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me" (Acts 20:22,23).

We are again entering a time of transition in our lives as we await direction from the Lord. The church we've been serving as interim pastor since August has selected a pastor and in February our assignment will end. We seek the Lord for His direction in regard to a similar leadership role or whatever else the Lord may will for our lives. Since income from our interim pastoral role provides about 40% of our family needs we are trusting the Lord in this matter.  These familiar and reassuring words have been musically playing in my mind, "Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him.  How I've proved Him o'er and o'er.  Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more." *

Yesterday I preached a message on dealing with transition, in part to instruct and encourage our particular local church during this transition stage, but also to encourage individuals who are presently going through personal transition or will face it in the New Year. 

Today's verse was written when the Apostle Paul was concluding his third missionary journey.  He is preaching what I believe to be one of his greatest sermons; his instructional and heartfelt farewell to the Ephesian elders.  Following my resignation in previous churches I pastored, this passage has served as a model to me and I've preached from it in my final farewell. 

Paul tells these Ephesian elders the reason for his departure.  He is "compelled by the Spirit."  I am sure many of you personally know what this means, although it is difficult to explain to someone who has not experienced it, particularly a non-believer.  Being compelled means experiencing an irresistible inner leading prompted by the Holy Spirit as He directs our lives.

This leading does not always make sense to the natural man.  Paul acknowledged that he did not know what would happen to him.  He had been warned in every city by the Holy Spirit that he was to face prison and hardships.  Later in his journey the disciples at Tyre through the Spirit urged him not to go (Acts 21:4) and still later a prophet at Caesarea named Agabus, with great drama, accurately prophesied Paul's experience and again pleaded with Paul not to go.  Interestingly the text reads, "We and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem."  Even Luke, the writer of Acts who was traveling with Paul, joined in the pleading.

But the Spirit compelled Paul and he obediently followed the leading of the Spirit.  He indeed faced prison and hardships as the remaining chapters of Acts record.  Not only did he use each opportunity to witness for the Lord, but most of the New Testament epistles were written after this point.  His greatest legacy is in his writings that are read as part of the Holy Scriptures by hundreds of millions throughout the church age. Paul summarized his response to the compelling work of the Holy Spirit;  "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace"  (Acts 20:24).

Is the Spirit compelling you today?  Are you open to following God's will for your life and stepping out of a comfort zone at His leading?  The apostle Paul provides a positive example of a life lived well.  In his final epistle to Timothy he is able to write, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  Today may we be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we walk in obedience to Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Today's Prayer: Father, I pray for listening ears to hear the voice of Your Spirit.  Help me to understand the meaning of Your leading as You walk with me along the path of Your commands.  That is where I find contentment, peace and connectedness to You, my Lord and Master.  Turn my heart away from those things that lead me to wander or detract me from pursuing Your purpose for my life.  I desire to be in the center of Your will.  Amen.

Today's photo was taken at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The next several days I expect to share more photos I took at this year's show which I attended Saturday.

Darryl Eyler with daughters
When I was at the Farm Show I visited for a few minutes with a long-time friend and his two daughters, who I saw amongst the tens of thousands who were at the Show. Several years ago we served as chaplains in some of the same companies. Darryl is an overcomer, having lost his wife over a year ago to cancer and is now raising his two daughters as a single parent. He continues to work as a chaplain, faithfully serving the Lord.

Today's supplemental music is a song reminding us of God's steadfast love that is ever present in the time of life's transitions.  "Your Love O Lord" (mp3 audio)

*Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus by Louisa Stead

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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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