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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Neizmik barn
Tom and Marsha are long-time friends who enjoy this beautiful view of their farm land in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.  We awakened to this scene on Monday morning and enjoyed Marsha's homemade belgian waffles before heading home.

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"Continual Service"
"When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?'" (Daniel 6:20).

When I preach from Daniel I like to ask the congregation the names of the three Hebrew men who withstood the fiery furnace test. A few will always raise their hands and correctly say; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, likely the result of childhood Bible stories and training. I then ask them what their Hebrew names were and that's a question that usually stumps any congregation. But in chapter 1 of Daniel we are told their names are Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The names we primarily know them by were the names given to them when they moved to Babylon.
Many years ago we were studying the Faith Chapter in Hebrews 11.  Wanting to get the congregation involved I asked, "What Old Testament situation was the writer likely referring to when he wrote, 'quenched the fury of the flames?'"  An eager child correctly answered, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." 
Having some Bible College students and graduates in attendance I asked, "And what were their Hebrew names?"  Without hesitation a young boy named Garrison excitedly raised his hand and with a big self-assured grin he belted out, "Rach, Shak and Bennie."  Now if you have children or grandchildren you're probably laughing right now as you might recognize these are their nicknames on a popular Veggie Tales tape. I can understand why a child (or anyone) might assume these were the Hebrews names!
Now I have a question for Daily Encouragement readers: What was Daniel's Hebrew name? (Think about it and then see below.)
The daily text is a remarkable testimony from the lips of an observant secular king!  Daniel had spent his entire adult life in the service of a series of secular kings and had acted with absolute integrity.  His enemies were unable to bring a charge of any dereliction of duties for "They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent" (6:4). They finally found a way to trap him in regard to his religious convictions and he faithfully withstood the test.  He faced a hungry den of lions rather than compromise his lifelong, steadfast walk with God.
Today I want to especially note the phrase "Your God, whom you serve continually."  Daniel had been faithful to the king in regard to his employment. But the king noticed something else. Daniel had demonstrated his faith in God with continual service. This was toward the end of Daniel's long life, after being removed from his homeland during the Babylonian exile and his conscription into the service, first for King Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar of Babylon.  He later demonstrated faithful service at the changing of the kingdom, under Darius, king of Persia.  His early resolve not to defile himself with the king's food established a pattern of lifelong, uncompromising obedience to God's commands (1:8).
What do those around you observe in your life?  Are you steadfast in your walk?  Is your testimony consistent with your lifestyle or do you resemble the chameleon trying to blend into every setting.  By the grace of God and with a resolute heart we will be faithful to His cause even when we're in the minority.  After all it's been that way throughout the generations, so why should it be different for us today.   In agreement with the Psalmist I pray in earnest, "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!"  (119:5). 
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, though there are many ups and downs, highs and lows one thing I want others to observe about my life is that I am continually serving my Lord and Savior no matter what.  May I never sell out to appease others or due to fear of taking a public stand for You.  More important than what is spoken here are the words I long to hear You say in the hereafter, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of heaven…" 

Here's a song that should express our desire to continually serve the Lord. It's titled "When I Face You, Lord"  Lyrics  Play audio

Here are some more photos and reflections concerning our trip to northern Pennsylvania this last weekend. We lived in this area from 1977 - 1993.

Mosebarger familyThis last weekend we visited with the Mosebarger family. They welcome you at the door with a doormat that proclaims, "As For Me And My House We Will Serve The Lord." The last marriage I conducted in Pennsylvania prior to our move to Massachusetts was for Bill and Lucy and it was a very memorable wedding with a strong testimony of faith in the Lord. They're blessed with three growing children and are raising them in the ways of the Lord. (If you look closely you'll notice the bed they're sitting on is off the floor hanging by the hooks on the wall.  Lucy, very crafty, designed this along with the other twin bed across the room to make more room for storage under the beds.)

Christine, Tom and familyIn last Friday's message I mentioned that we would be travelling to northern Pennsylvania for two church services. I received an email from Christine, a foster child we had over 25 years ago asking where we would be. Much to our delight, Tom and Christine and their family visited both churches where I preached. They are following the Lord and it was great to see her again and the boys for the first time.

In the evening service we were at a church that bought a former state police barracks and the church nursery is in the former jail. The above photo shows the interrogation window in the background! The church has constructed a beautiful new sancuary next to the former barracks as well.

Christmas photo of the Weber familyChristine came into our home when she was five years old and we kept her for two and a half years. Here's a photo of Christine, along with us, from a Christmas card in the early eighties.

Finally, for many years we have passed this home being built in central Pennsylvania. (It seems like we even recall passing it when we lived in PA prior to our move to New England in the early nineties!) Apparently it's someone's "dream house" that never fully got built! I just wouldn't be surprised if some of our Pennsylvania readers have passed this house as well!
Photo of someone's "dream house"

Today's quiz:
Daniel's Hebrew name was Daniel!
In Babylon he was given the name Belteshazzar (1:7).

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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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