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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Red geraniums in barrel
Red geraniums on Amish farm in eastern Lancaster County

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"Every Opportunity"

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5).

A friend shared a story that reminds us of the many opportunities we have to share our faith in Christ and at the same time express concern for others. He was having breakfast with a friend and as the waitress took their order his friend said to her, "We're going to pray in a few minutes and wonder if you might have anything you'd like for us to pray about?" The waitress, quite surprised at his invitation, shared a need with the men.  After she brought the men their food they bowed to pray and included the specific request the woman had shared. When they finished praying they opened their eyes only to find that she had been kneeling beside the table during their entire prayer!

This story illustrates today's verse which has two instructions for earnest followers of Christ:

1) "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders."  Outsiders in this context are those who are not followers of Christ.  Today virtually all of us who venture out of our homes will encounter those outside the family of believers in Christ. Wisdom is greatly needed in our manner of dealing with them, both in our words and in our actions. We need imparted wisdom so that we present a clear, unambiguous testimony, especially since confusion abounds regarding what constitutes genuine Christianity.

Let me illustrate by using a negative example. An ad in a local paper advertises a service that grooms dogs. I'm not sure what type of spiritual understanding the owners have but the ad ends with this statement, "Remember, Dog spelled backwards says God." If they are intending this as a witness of their faith I sure question their wisdom. If it's intended to put dog-owners on a guilt trip if they're not paying for grooming services by pointing out that the same letters spelling God are also used in spelling dog, this is certainly unwise thinking. Any attempt to make this kind of analogy to Almighty God is quite demeaning and borders on blasphemy!

2) "Make the most of every opportunity." There is a tendency to compartmentalize our service for the Lord. We may feel our "ministry" is pastoring a church, teaching a discipleship class or many other expressions of service for the Lord. Surely these are all ways we serve the Lord but I want to have an attitude that recognizes that it is the will of God that I seek to bring glory to the Lord and witness to others in all that I do. The Scripture says, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Today we all need to make the most of every opportunity. The Amplified Version translates this phrase, "making the most of the time and seizing the opportunity." Let us seek creative ways that we can get in a wise witness for the Lord and share His love with others thus bringing glory to God.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Lord, we enlist Your help to make our conversation full of grace seasoned, as it were, with salt so that we might give an effective witness to those who live without hope. We pray that the mystery of the Gospel will be revealed through our lives as You richly indwell us.  We make it our goal to point others toward You, the life giving source, of which we partake daily.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  Since I've been committed to following Christ for nearly forty years I've had countless opportunities to give a witness for Christ when undercharged for items in a retail store. When I go to the service desk to correct the mistake and pay for that which I was not charged, but actually owe, I often hear, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  Many people would not do so."  In fact this happened several days ago when I when I forgot to tell the cashier I had a watermelon in the bottom of my cart.  Surprisingly he didn't see it and I forgot about it until I got to the car.  Of course, many of you have had these same kinds of opportunities as well.  I always respond when the employee appears to be surprised at my honesty, "As a Christian I want to be honest in all my ways.  I want to pay that which I owe when I am undercharged the same as when I let you know if I'm overcharged."  Several years ago I added the latter thought so that I don't sound like a boastful Christian, but simply an honest individual who wants to honor Christ in my finances.

Plaque on stone buildingYesterday I showed a plaque that was on an old stone building in Lancaster Pennsylvania. Several readers correctly pointed out that it was a fire mark. (F.I.Co. = Fire Insurance Company.) The fire insurance companies placed these on buildings of which they insured so that the fire companies knew that they should extinguish the fire at that building. Otherwise the resident who pointed this out told us they would let the building burn down! The spiritual application I had in mind was the passover symbol.

Here's another photo quiz.
Do any readers know what this is and what it is used for?

Old swimming holeOn a hot summer afternoon there's nothing like a cool dip in a farm pond. At 52 I'm still ready for the plunge so yesterday I went down the slide!  Temperatures were soaring yesterday so after I took my friend Jesse home from work we, along with his children, cooled off in the pond on his farm.  When I told my farm girl wife she told me next time she wanted to go also! (She grew up swimming in farm ponds in Oklahoma.)

Yesterday I shared about a song I recalled that had the theme "Seventy Times Seven." An alert reader, likely from my generation, recalls that it was by a group called "Whiteheart". The full name of the song was "How Many Times? (Seventy times seven)"  Here's a full length song called "I'll Meet You There" from this group available as a free mp3 from their website.

As we prepared the podcast for today's message an old song came to mind that reinforces our theme. "Make Me A Blessing!" (instrumental)

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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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