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Friday, May 11, 2007
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"Our Heavenly Citizenship"
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
Finally, after almost ten years of red tape, our 18 year old daughter, Ester, will become a citizen of the United States at noon today. She has been in our care since she was three months old when she first came to us from Guatemala. But due to an important document that was missing from her passport upon her arrival in the U.S we have had major, major hassles getting her citizenship.
To say we're delighted to go to Philadelphia to pick up her Certificate of Citizenship is an understatement. Ester has been so excited because now that she is old enough to be applying for jobs related to her school lessons she's found out the importance of being a citizen. Being the only one in her class in this situation she's felt the sting of being different. Another blessing we'll enjoy is now being able to visit our friends in Canada (we haven't crossed the border for 18 years!)
Readers of Daily Encouragement are citizens of a variety of different countries all over the world and there is a healthy sense of national pride we all may have. But each of us who follow Christ has an infinitely greater citizenship of eternal significance. Paul, writing from a prison to the believers in the Roman colony of Philippi, declares a citizenship we all share and can rejoice in today; "Our citizenship is in heaven." Although he found his Roman citizenship a helpful defense in a time of trial, he undoubtedly considered his heavenly citizenship of incomparably greater value. And so should we!
Our heavenly citizenship is one of those powerful truths we all need to keep before us. When we hold on to this perspective we find the reality of God's promised peace. An ongoing faith struggle for the believer is to remember where our primary citizenship really is. I believe that is particularly true in places where life has been very good.
However, when we focus on our earthly citizenship we find ourselves experiencing anxiety and at times even despair. I find that in my life the source of agitation and anxiety often comes from placing too much emphasis in this present life or failing to realize where my primary and ultimate citizenship lies.
What issues are you facing today? What has the potential of robbing you of the blessing of God's peace and promised abundant life?
Today remember Paul's words to the Philippian believers. "Our citizenship is in heaven." Chained and imprisoned he nevertheless was able to express and encourage joy more in this short epistle than in any other. He wrote, "So you too should be glad and rejoice with me" (Philippians 2:18). It just seems like he's bubbling over with the joy of the Lord. If he experienced joy in his imprisoned condition we too can have joy. Regardless of our temporal earth-bound circumstances let's focus on the future benefits of our heavenly citizenship and rejoice in the goodness of the Lord!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, at one time we were alienated and excluded from heavenly citizenship. We were foreigners to the covenant of eternal promise, hopeless and destined to perish. But You, in Your great mercy, redeemed us through Your precious blood. We received forgiveness for our sins and the Holy Spirit which is a down payment guaranteeing our inheritance. Help us to endure sickness, pain, disappointments, poverty, and all the ills confined to this present age which are insignificant when compared to the blessing, privileges and glory yet to be revealed in the age to come. Fix our attention on our heavenly citizenship in the midst of our trials on earth so that we do not lose heart. As our focus is heavenward we are filled with renewed hope and an enduring spirit.
Ester’s testimony - "Jesus Never Fails"
Earlier this week on the occasion of both our 31st wedding anniversary and the 28th anniversary of my ministry ordination I shared a revised ministry update.
Yesterday I had a chaplain visit to make and as I drove through town I saw Jimmy, a friend of mine, sitting out in his customary spot on his front porch. I rolled down the window and invited him to join me for the ride into Lancaster. Jimmy has a genetic neurological disorder known as Tourette Syndrome, a nervous condition that causes twitching and other involuntary muscle movements. He's had it all his life and is only a few years younger than me. He sure enjoyed getting out and afterwards we stopped by our house as well where I took this photo of him with Ester. I ask Jimmy what he is and without hesitation he will declare, "I'm an overcomer." Jimmy has known a lot of rejection in life but told me his favorite song is "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."
Phil Cochrane, a longtime friend of ours emailed us following yesterday's message. He was pretty sure he knew what we were going to do today when I mentioned in a footnote that we had a special trip to Philadelphia. He and his wife, Edith, who are both from Great Britain, will be getting their American citizenship in another location today at the very same time! Edith just turned eighty years old so this is quite an accomplishment. For many years they served as missionaries in the Congo and we met them back in the eighties when we pastored in northern Pennsylvania and they pastored in a neighboring community. They are stout-hearted servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and are still very active in our Lord's service. Phil serves as chairman of the missions board in their church in State College PA and Edith is active on the prayer team and in a mentoring program. It's a blessing to know godly folks like this!
Today's suggested music:
"When We All Get To heaven" This hand-clapping hymn was a favorite of Brooksyne's father. Weeks before his eventual death Ester, along with others in Brooksyne's family, gathered around his hospital bed and sang this hymn often. Now it is a favorite hymn of Ester's. We dedicate it to her today on her very special day!
Traditional version from a small local church in Carthage, Tennessee
A more updated version from "Worship Today"
A toe-tapping instrumental version
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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.
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