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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Morning glory collage
Morning glory collage

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"Whatever Happens"

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you" (Philippians 1:27,28).

Once again I awaken to another beautiful day and as I prepare today's message I expect this to be a typical day for me and my family with continued peace in our specific area of the world. I really do not have a worry concerning being persecuted for my faith on this day as many do.  On my heart however is a report of current crucifixions of Christians taking place in the Middle East. The report indicates, not at all surprisingly, that this persecution is at the hands of Muslim militants and directed primarily to those who have converted to Christianity.

Bill Bright wrote prior to his death, "The most important moment in anyone's life as a believer is the last breath because the next breath is in heaven.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  A Christian can't lose, if we live, we go on serving Him. That's an adventure. If we die, we're in heaven with Him, and that's incredible."

I memorized the first part of the daily Scripture portion many years ago.  Paul directs us to resolve in our hearts that we will stay faithful to Christ. "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."

Today I am especially drawn to the phrase "Whatever happens..."  I have always considered the "whatever" to mean whatever happens to me (Stephen Weber or any reader of the passage.)  That is, whether I am having a good day or a bad day, whether things are going well or I'm going down a rough road; whatever happens to me I am to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Now that is certainly a valid outlook in life and I will continue to see the passage this way, yet I am not sure that's exactly what the Apostle Paul meant when he initially wrote these words.   As I carefully study the context, both the verses before and after, I consider another sense or meaning.

Just prior to this verse Paul had written concerning his own realization that would either continue to live for Christ or he might die for Him (martyrdom).  Here's that passage.

When Paul originally wrote this passage, I believe he was instructing his fellow believers, that "Whatever happens to me (Paul) you are to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."

He goes on to write, "Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence..." Now what really intrigues me is that Paul had every intention of going to see the Philippian believers if it was God's will that he remain alive.

However it was also his firm expectation that should this not be the case, I will "hear about you in my absence."  The "absence" in this context would be his departure to be with the Lord (his death).  This is similar to his statement in 2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."

He is confident that if that were the case (his being with the Lord) he would still hear the good report that the Philippians were "standing firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you."

Our service for the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal consequences. When we, in our divinely appointed time, are absent from the body and at home with the Lord, like Paul, we will still hear the good report concerning the ongoing results of our ministry! Let us stay faithful to our call whatever happens!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we praise You and give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy and most especially the freedom to worship You.  But we know that there are many regions in our world where Christians are persecuted and suffer martyrdom at the hands of those who are enemies of the cross.  We lift them up to You in prayer and ask that You will give them supernatural strength and resolute resolve to stand up for You in the face of evil surroundings.  Though wicked men may destroy the flesh, they cannot rob the soul of inner peace and the uncompromising determination to "stand firm unto the end."  Sustain those who have endured the painful loss of loved ones as well as those whose family members are being held captive and are presently enduring persecution.  May You be glorified in the midst of these horribly adverse circumstances and may souls be saved.

Here's the report concerning persecution of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Middle East.  Of course I can't verify the accuracy of this particular story but there is no question that believers in Christ all through the Middle East are suffering for their faith.

In response to requests concerning freezing corn (based upon the photo yesterday):  Drop shucked ears of corn in boiling water.  Submerge for 5 minutes.  Remove ears of corn and submerge in ice water for 5 minutes. (This is called blanching.) Cut the corn off the cob and package for freezing. Enjoy fresh tasting corn all through the year!  See here for more info.

Today's suggested music:
"I can only imagine"
Vocal version
Instrumental version
Vocal 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.
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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