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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Red maple

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"Jesus Is Still The Answer"
"But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5).
Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter for a business publication concerning faith in the workplace.  One of the questions he threw my way was "What are companies doing to make the workplace more inclusive?"  I told him, "In my view, a major problem of the present business environment is that certain groups are easily offended and use this as a wedge to advance their own agenda. After all everybody has something they can be offended about."
Several years ago I saw a t-shirt at a company picnic that stated, "Jesus is my final answer." Now that would be offensive to many, but Jesus is still the answer for our deepest need.
In our daily Scripture reference the apostle Peter is writing to a group of first century believers undergoing persecution.  This passage (1 Peter 4:1-5) was very meaningful to me as a new Christian in the seventies. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, but for over a year I lived with nominal commitment to His cause.  I still wanted to have my associations with the world as I continued to "walk the fence."  What a miserable way to live!  I was a senior in Truman High School in Independence, MO at the time.  A committed fellow student who must have been observing my dual walk sat me down and  boldly shared this passage.  As a result the Holy Spirit did a wonderful work of enlightening and convicting my heart.  From that point I chose to walk only in the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
Peter forthrightly tells his initial readers and all that will heed the sacred words of Scripture, "You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do" (v.3).  He goes on to make a list of sinful behavior that sounds very familiar to what pagans still choose to do in our day.  The pagans, in observing the transformed life of the believer, "think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you" (v.4).  (The words "heap abuse" translated from the Greek is to "blaspheme.")  Indeed the early believers encountered abuse and so do we.  This abuse may be verbal ridicule from a fellow worker, the writings of a pagan "intellectual" or for many of our brethren physical torture and even death.
Peter makes the solemn statement found in the daily text.  "But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5). This statement remains true and is an earnest reminder. This account will be the final answer and by far it is the most important.

Have you dealt with it yet?  The apostle Paul wrote, "At the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10,11).  Greatly rejoice today if you have taken care of this accounting and join me in boldly declaring, "Jesus is my final answer." 

If you have not made this decision I urge you, please delay no longer. Here is a sample prayer that expresses belief and commitment to Jesus Christ: "Jesus, thank you for loving me.  I confess that I am a sinner. I believe You are the promised Messiah who came to die for my sins.  Please forgive me of my sin and come into my life. I receive You as my Savior and will follow You as my Lord. Thank You for hearing my prayer.  Amen".
Jesus is the answer, for the world today.
Above Him there's no other, Jesus is the way.
If you have some questions, in the corners of your mind.
Traces of discouragement, and peace you cannot find.
Reflections of your past, seem to face you everyday.
But this one thing I do know, Jesus is the way. *
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer:   Father, You've appointed us to live in this decadent age where the hearts of men are turned away from the true living God and they live instead by natural instinct.  But we who have the indwelling Holy Spirit must continue to build our lives on the foundation of our holy faith as we spread the gospel message, "Jesus is the first and final answer to all of life's problems."   We seek to be directed by Your Spirit and live in such a way that we will honor You as we respond to scoffers. Help us to show mercy to those whose faith is wavering and to rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment.  In the process of daily living, as we reach out to the lost and dying, help us not to stumble so that on Your appointed day we will be brought into Your glorious presence innocent of sin. Amen. (Inspired by the writings of Jude)

Some additional perspective on today's topic of "being offended."

Early this morning I was listening to the news and it reported about a college student in Maryland who was wearing a t-shirt that said, "I Stand up for Israel" which offended someone and they refused to serve her. See article.

For our anniversary meal Brooksyne and I went out to "Longwood Manor."  Actually it may sound like an exclusive restaurant but it's a very beautiful assisted care facility where we hold services and Brooksyne leads a monthly hymn sing. They hosted a delicious volunteer luncheon and presented us with a little booklet commonly distributed to volunteer services in this kind of setting. The quotations in the booklet expressed the value of volunteers. It was essentially a selection of quotes including Chinese proverbs, the dali lama, exhortations to do yoga, words from media stars, and statements from liberal icons. Amazingly though there was not a single quote or citation from the Holy Scriptures! I can think of some great things the Lord Jesus said that would have fit well.  I am quite confident that the vast majority of both residents and the volunteers being honored come out of a Christian tradition.

Note: Brooksyne insists that I point out that this is not a reflection of the local management of the assisted living center. Indeed I doubt if anyone there even noted the same observation we had. However I firmly believe the failure to include a single Scripture reference was quite intentional by the compilers.

It's now politically incorrect to pray
specifically in the Name of Jesus. Someone might be offended. But by God's grace I want to boldly and unapologetically declare that glorious Name.  Several times in the last several days I have had the opportunity to offer public prayers and you can be sure that I prayed, as is my custom, "in the Name of Jesus."  I am far more interested in being Biblically correct than being politically correct!

* "Jesus Is The Answer" Crouch, Andrae / Crouch, Sandra
Here's an online audio of this song I found that sure brings back some wonderful memories! It takes me back to a concert hall packed with enthusiastic college students in Springfield Missouri in the mid-seventies.

Today's Scripture portion in context. 1 Peter 4:1-5

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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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