Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Click here to listen to us read this message on your audio player.
This interesting close-up photo of a snowy branch was taken by Doris High,
a fellow Lancaster Countian
(Click on photo for stunning full-sized photo)
“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:3,4).
Last night we had a small group Bible Study in our home. As we officially opened our time together in prayer Ken, a member of the group, thanked God that we did not need to draw the curtains to hide our activity, ask special permission to gather, or fear the authorities. At this time in our country we are still free to gather together with other believers, share our faith, and study the Bible. But for many of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world this is not the case.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of this online ministry is the ability to share God’s Word of encouragement with these brethren in Christ. We enjoy all the feedback we receive and draw strength to continue in this ministry, but it’s extra special when we hear from those in closed countries who deal with persecution.
Several months ago we heard from Donnie Lama, a reader in a very closed Middle Eastern country. One day while going through a discouraging situation he googled in the word “encouragement” and the Lord directed him to our ministry. In fact many of you have found our site by doing the very same thing so we are especially grateful for the search engine that opens a door for us. Donnie began to receive our messages and then sent us his testimony and gave us permission to share it with others over the web. It’s an outstanding reminder of what many deal with in these types of countries. (See below for a link to the testimony.)
The book of Hebrews was written to encourage the early believers (Hebrew Christians) to remain faithful as they faced growing persecution. At the time the book was written, some had already been imprisoned and others had faced the confiscation of their property (10:34). Others had faced unspecified mistreatment (13:3).
But at the time the book was written none among the original recipients had yet faced the point of shedding their own blood (martyrdom). In the previous verse we read, “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3).
As I study the daily passage the two words “not yet” seem to leap out at me and I try to place myself as an early reader. Now at that time in the broader context of the church some had already shed blood for the Lord, namely Stephen and James, whose martyrdoms are recorded in Acts 7 and 12.
As they read this they were surely aware of these and other martyrs throughout the early church. But it had not yet happened in their specific setting.
Today most reading this still live in peace and freedom. Indeed last night there was no need to draw the blinds in our home as we had Bible Study. We are not yet facing persecution, at least in the classical sense, as shared in our featured testimony today. But I believe there are many signs that we may increasingly pay a price for standing up for God’s truth and righteousness. I pray that all of us, regardless of our present conditions, “will not grow weary and lose heart” but that we will “remain faithful to Jesus.”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, You are my light and my salvation so why should I be afraid? You protect me from danger so why should I be nervous? When evil people seek to destroy me; when my enemies attack me, they will stumble and fall at Your command. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will be steadfast. Even if they attack me, I remain confident that You are watching over me. My heart’s desire is to be in Your presence where I praise You by meditating on Your truths. I find comfort in Your merciful provisions. In the day of trouble You will keep me safe. You will hide me in the shelter of Your tabernacle and set me upon a rock. Then I will hold my head high, above my enemies who surround me. Through it all I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord. Help me to wait for You, Lord, to be strong and take heart, as I wait for You. Amen.
Prayer inspired as I read through Psalm 27.
Brooksyne’s Note: I was blessed many times as I read through Donnie’s testimony. In my attempt to more clearly translate his story I asked God to help me not to change Donnie’s thoughts as I didn’t want to change the original message he shares with readers. Through our correspondence Donnie was very affirming of my edited version of his story and is pleased to get this testimony to others. His experience is riveting and a modern day story of how God takes care of His own. Our Lord is sovereign and the outcome for some believers is different than others. He desires that we stay true to Him and trust Him regarding His plan for our lives, no matter what the circumstances. As Paul writes, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
Donnie Lama's testimony
You might call Donnie Lama’s testimony a Daily Encouragement Condensed Book in the sense that it is equivalent to several pages. In fact you’ll need to set aside extra time to read it. It was too packed with significant events to condense it into the usual brief format Daily Encouragement readers are accustomed to. We also found this information and booklet available online through Open Doors. Please keep Donnie and his family in prayer. Any responses to his testimony from other Daily Encouragement Net readers will be compiled and forwarded to him and would certainly be of great encouragement to him.
Today's musical challenge is a song I had never heard, before searching based on today's theme. It's titled, "Lay Aside Your Passing Pleasures." Here's an audio version. The lyrics are very thought-provoking and convicting.
Finally today, how's this for using your head and common sense skills when dealing with a need? Last week we shared a photo and showed how someone had run into our mailbox post and cracked it (before the big snowfall.) I managed to use bungy cords to temporarily hold the post up until I can either repair it or replace it. Well, here's another creative solution to a mailbox that had been destroyed by the snow plow during last week's storm. Cerwin High came up with this ingenuitive, temporary fix!
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