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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lancaster County farm snowscape
Lancaster County farm
I took this photo today while out on a long farmfield walk with our dog Roxie.
The packed snow is great to walk on athough it's icy in spots!

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"Every Spiritual Blessing"

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

Do you have an attitude of entitlement or an attitude of blessing? The “attitude of entitlement” is rampant in our world today and results in whining and a sense of victimization. The “attitude of blessing” is expressed far less often yet it results in joy and peace.  Which attitude would you rather be exposed to?

Yesterday Brooksyne and I made a hospital visit to two elderly women who had been in a very serious traffic accident a week ago Sunday. They both sustained serious injuries. The brother of one of the women was driving the car and tragically died in the accident.   Her youngest brother died only one month earlier.  Interestingly, it was this woman who shared a perspective of blessing that is quite instructive and inspirational.

After we had shared the 23rd Psalm together and prayed for her recovery Brooksyne gave her usual parting words, “Now make sure you cooperate with the doctors and nurses so you can get out of here as soon as possible.”  A nurse had stepped into the room as she was giving this loving reminder and he quickly chimed in, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about her.  She’s an excellent patient.”  The patient then said, “Well, the way I see it is this; if I can be lifted out of the bed and seated on this chair I’m able to do something that a lot of people can’t do so I have a lot to be thankful for.”  The Proverb, “He who refreshes others is himself refreshed” came to mind and lifted our spirits as we left her hospital room.

"How are you today?"  In response to this question we may  either provide the polite "I'm fine, thank you" without really giving it much thought, or we may immediately begin to consider our present physical condition or material provisions.  At this we may  realize how blessed we are or we may consider negative aspects to our present circumstances such as our health, a family concern, finances or world instability.

But there is a constant blessing that we do well to focus on, even though we do not experience it with our physical senses. Notice the phrase in the daily text speaking of the Father "who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  The apostle Paul wrote this from prison.* He surely was experiencing little of what we so easily characterize as "blessings" today.  But his focus was on the spiritual blessings originating from the heavenly realms.  These blessings, though unseen, are absolutely real.  In the next several verses Paul rejoices in them and so can we no matter what our external circumstances may be.  It is a daily choice we make.

Come, thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Jesus, You have poured out Your abundance on me from the heavenly realms in all manner of blessings. You forgave my sins by dying in my place. You broke the chains that once enslaved me. You brought fulfillment in my life as You gave me a sense of purpose. You gave me a roadmap through the Holy Scriptures that leads ultimately to heaven.  You’ve promised me eternal life.  I experience peace that surpasses human understanding and the list is unending.  For this and so much more I am eternally grateful.  I deserve none of Your blessings and yet I receive them all, not only in this life but I lay hold of future blessings in the life to come.   Prompt me to focus on my blessings since they far outweigh my troubles. Even when shadows darken the view of my blessings may they visibly surface as the indwelling Holy Spirit brings them to my remembrance.  It is my heart's desire to refresh others whom I meet from day to day.  Amen.

Note from Brooksyne:  As we were quoting Psalm 23 with the injured patient yesterday and we came to the verse, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” it struck me that this woman not only experienced it through the loss of her brother but also in her very serious accident that could have claimed her life.  The word “shadow” stayed with me even through this morning as a song, “Standing Somewhere In the Shadows” came to mind.  I haven’t heard it since I was a child but the words take on new meaning as an adult; “Standing somewhere in the shadows you'll find Jesus.  He's the One who really cares and understands.  Standing somewhere in the shadows you will find Him and you’ll know Him by the nail prints in His hands.” May those walking in the shadow of loneliness, or whatever else is overshadowing your life, reach out to the nail scarred hand of Jesus in the midst of the shadows.  He will light Your way and walk you out of the shadow of despair.

*We will feature a dynamic testimony tomorrow of a man imprisoned in Saudi Arabia because  of his faith in Christ. Donnie Lama contacted us via Daily Encouragement and shared his story with us.  It will inspire and challenge you as well.

Digging a little deeper: I urge you to take a moment and reflect upon one little phrase in our daily text.  Notice the words "every spiritual blessing".  Paul reminds the dear believers in Ephesus and us that this is how we've been blessed.   Today, as you go about a routine workday, it will be so tempting to look upon the physical realms, whether it will be "blessings" or "headaches".  When this happens get your focus back on the heavenly realms and your spiritual blessings in Christ:  His forgiveness, His care and His discipline.  These are but a few of our spiritual blessings in Christ.  In the verses that follow Paul elaborates on these spiritual blessings one after the other:
  • "He chose us in Him"
  • "In love He predestined us to be adopted as His  sons through Jesus Christ"
  • "In Him we have redemption through His blood"
  • "He made known to us the mystery of His will."
And on and on the list goes!

Today's music: In our message we ended with a line from a classic hymn titled "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing".  Here's an audio version available on line with a bit of an upbeat.  It's from this site where other sample music is available.

Squirrel on snow pile
The snow piled from plowing our driveway brings our subjects up much closer for a photo!

Finally here's another photo from our retreat this weekend. Ted and Tammy have a vibrant expression of faith and joy in the Lord and blessed us musically.  They serve a chapel at a truckstop in Columbia, South Carolina.
Ted and Tammy Keller

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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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