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Monday, July 16, 2007

Perry County one room schoolhouse
Perry County one room schoolhouse.

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"Our Greatest Longing"

"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).

This weekend our friends, Ken and Nila, had their first baby. They have both been so excited but I don't believe I have ever seen an expectant father as excited as Ken.  Since they announced Nila's expectant condition Ken has longed to hold this baby in his arms! He frequently asked us to pray in our care group that he would measure up as a godly father and be able to meet the challenges of raising his child from infancy into adulthood.

David Lee was born Saturday morning and what a joy to receive Ken's call with the good news!  Today they expect to bring the baby home and that will be another exciting time for them. Brooksyne's taking supper over to the celebrating family this evening.

Here in Lancaster County the Women and Babies Hospital is built right next to the Hospice Center, where the temporary residents are at the end stages of life. The two buildings are quite a contrast; one primarily for the transition into this life (birth), the other for the inevitable transition out (death).  In the course of our ministry we have made numerous visits to the hospice and when Brooksyne's mom passed on five years ago hospice played a vital medical role as well as a personal comforting role. Lou Guiliano, a minister friend, has served as a hospice chaplain for a number of years and was recognized as the New Jersey Hospice Chaplain of the Year in 2006. He's involved in a very needed and critically important form of ministry.

Both the Women and Babies Hospital and the Hospice Center deal with expectations. But an entirely different form of expectation takes place in hospice. For some it's a sense of fear and dread, but for others it's an expectation of their pending transfer to heaven. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ it is a lifetime longing finally being fulfilled following the fierce battle that rages between life and death.

Today we are all "longing for" something. There are many secondary longings that come and go in the course of a lifetime. There are good temporal longings as well as undesirable ones that we seek to be rid of. But all we that love Christ should have a deep, abiding desire for the appearing of our Lord. This should be our greatest longing that is not fleeting and is supremely secondary to any of our temporal longings.

Paul in our daily verse has come to the closing days of his life on this earth.  In the previous verses he solemnly acknowledged that "the time has come for my departure" (v.6) and stated, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (v.7).  With great anticipation he looked forward to receiving "the crown of righteousness" that was stored up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him on the appointed day.

Since Paul's remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road he had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years had passed since that time and Paul had stayed the course.  I sense such a confidence and peace in his words, even as he faced a martyr's death. Earlier in this very letter he expressed his assurance, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day" (1:12).

There's something else in the verse that captures my attention.  Just five little words but they speak volumes to those of us who, like Paul, strive to stay on course with Christ in this decadent age. 

"And not only to me."

Paul gives us a great word here.  You and I must cling to it today.  His words are not intended exclusively for Timothy to whom he was writing.  Instead he directs them to each reader, "but also to all who have longed for His appearing."  Paul looked forward earnestly to that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings.  The healthy state for the believer is to "long for" His appearing.  That's our greatest longing.  Let's keep our focus on that today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our eyes on the life yet to come.  May all that we say, think, and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below.  Since we don't know the day nor the hour we can live in eager anticipation each day because this could be the day for our glorious transfer into Your divine presence.  Nothing in this life compares with the joy that awaits those who long for Your magnificent appearing!  Amen.

Some of our weekend experiences

Perry County view
Saturday we went to a benefit auction at an Amish one room schoolhouse in Perry County about an hour northwest of us. Perry County is a very rural area and is mostly in a lush valley between two mountain ridges. I've read there's not a single traffic light in the entire county.

Horse-powered ice cream
Here's a sight I suppose most of you haven't seen. The horse ride for the children also powered the crank for the home-made ice cream.
See here for detail.

Cannonball Dan
Saturday evening we went to a picnic at Ester's youth leader's home and the kids went swimming and boating in the pond. Dan, one of her leaders, is doing the cannonball splash and Ester is ready.

Jay with bbq chicken
Jay prepared the barbecue chicken. It was delicious!

Ester with praise team
Sunday evening Ester (far right) joined the youth praise team as we enjoyed a neighborhood ice cream social at our church.

Pierce family
The Pierce family and their long awaited arrival, David Lee.

Suggested music for today's theme: (listen to audio)
"This is my desire"
'I Know Whom I Have Believed" (piano 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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