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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Purple Finch
Purple Finch feeding in front of our office

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"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet"  (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Today I will use myself as an example since I have given myself permission to tell this story, as unflattering as it may be.  For many years now (since my mid-thirties) I have struggled with my weight. I used to be so skinny my family worried about me but certainly that is not the case anymore.  I guess you might say, "He's pleasantly plump and then some." I especially carry weight in my stomach area, sort of like a beer belly, although I don't drink beer.  There were many ways I wanted to be just like my dad, but the "belly thing" was not one of them.

We have a neighbor who just had a baby and I recently heard a thought-provoking assessment made about me by Moses, a young child of three.  It seems that when his mother was carrying the baby in her womb and was "starting to show" she would tell him that she was carrying "Junior."  Following one of their many discussions about "Junior" Moses shook his head to reveal that he understood and thoughtfully asked her, "Does Steve-eber have a Junior?"  (Moses likes to run my first and last name together as though they're one name.)

The above candid illustration reveals that I make no pretense in trying to make you think I have it all together! This is a battle I admittedly fight and haven't yet obtained victory. Brooksyne and I come from families that struggle with their weight and we are trying (again) to get this under control.

Today's verse is a powerful reminder of how self-control is one of our responsibilities as believers, since "we belong to the day." Earlier in the chapter Paul had contrasted the day with the night and darkness (v. 5).  As God's children we now live in the light of God's truth and His revelation. We no longer reside in the domain of darkness. 

We are to live self-controlled lives. Self-control is the ninth Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 and is one of the most deficient virtues found in the lives of believers in this present generation.  We can fall into a lax state of self-control and thus the call to self-control is repeated all through the New Testament.

I am aware in my own life of the need to keep this discipline ever before me.  In our hearts we likely can identify areas where we lack self-control.  It may be in our eating, use of time, finances, spiritual disciplines, our temperament or in a host of other areas. Some struggle to overcome destructive habits while others may need to apply self-control in their attitudes toward anger, worry, jealousy, or any other ungodly way of thinking.

What are the areas in your life today in which you need to exercise self-control?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as children of the light, we no longer desire the attitudes or behavior we practiced when we lived in darkness.  When we die to ourselves You take up residence and equip us with the necessary tools to battle our struggle against sin.  Help us to throw off everything that hinders and entangles us with the enemy.  Your discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in Your holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it is quite painful.  But afterward we will have a wonderful harvest of right living when we practice self-denial. Not only will it benefit us personally, but it will result in a testimony of thanksgiving to You and be an example to those we seek to influence.

(Inspired by Hebrews 12:2,10 & 11)

Stephen's additional note: In recent years I've battled this unhealthy weight issue so I share several perspectives:
1) My dad was a large man and also carried his weight similar to what I describe above (a large potbelly), so I am likely genetically disposed to this problem. However I don't feel it honors God for me to use this as an excuse. Virtually everyone has some issue(s) in life they struggle to overcome.  For many it's a lifelong battle.  I have a feeling for me it will be.
2) I have sympathy and can identify with those who have addictions of various types. When I have an open bag of chips with dip and "just can't stop eating" I am sure I must be sensing a similar type of compulsion as those who have addictive behaviors. There's no place for pride. Ever. "But for the grace of God, there go I."
I have some additional points I would like to make here but am out of time for today.  Stay tuned.

Brooksyne's personal note: We were told the story about Stephen's "Junior" in a setting where friends were gathered.  We roared in laughter about Moses' analysis of Stephen's protruding stomach.  Poor Moses didn't know what to think as we were continuing to make jokes about the matter.  I have to admire Stephen for putting this out for others to read.  I would be way too humiliated, but one of the things that attracted me to him in our dating days is that he was always honest with himself and others.  He never has tried to appear to be someone he isn't or put on airs in front of others.  So now you get the real story!  There are probably others who will identify with our straightforward message today.

Today's suggested music resource is a song called "Complete". This version is from the worship service of a Canadian church.
(mp3 audio)   Video

New  2006 Annual Daily Encouragement Net ministry report  Brooksyne and I thank God for another year of service for Him through our internet ministry and welcome readers to view our 2006 ministry report.

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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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