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Monday, August 13, 2007

Mules in barn
Saturday I pulled up beside a barn, rolled down the car window and took this photo.

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"I Have Hope!"
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope" (Lamentations 3:21).
Last night I laid down on a padded swinging porch bench behind our house and gazed into the heavens. I've enjoyed doing this since I was a child, though I usually lie in the grass.  I looked up to the very same starry sky that David did 3,000 years ago and his words came to mind, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3,4).

I seem to experience a special receptiveness to God's truth when I spend time in spiritual meditation but it seems the Lord will "call to mind" His truths in all sorts of situations.  A phrase I heard yesterday in Sunday School challenged me to "gaze upon God and glance at your circumstances."  You might just want to write this thought down in a note and post it at your computer or behind your kitchen sink to remind you of this important truth!  Of course for many of us the tendency is to "gaze upon our circumstances and glance at God!"

Yesterday I preached from the passage that contains the brief portion in the daily text. I challenge you to remember just three powerful words from the daily text. "I have hope."  These are three of the most assuring words in the entire Bible. You can easily memorize them and hide them deep in your heart today so that you can recall them during a time of adversity and despair.

Jeremiah uttered these words while in the very midst of one of the most horrendous scenes in human history at the fall of the kingdom, the burning of Jerusalem and the forced exile into Babylon. Just prior to this verse he sums up his despair with these words, "My soul is downcast within me." He surely was experiencing tremendous adversity and despair.

But Jeremiah recalled the immutable character of God "Yet this I call to mind" and declared "therefore I have hope."  Although his immediate circumstances didn't improve. Actually they even got a lot worse but his focus went from trying to fix the circumstances in his own wisdom and power.  Instead he redirected his focus which brought renewed hope in God's steadfast care.

In the verses that follow he identifies the immutable character of God as the source of this hope highlighting three specific attributes.

1) The Lord's great love.
2) The Lord's unfailing compassions that are new every morning.

3) The Lord's great faithfulness.

Today in whatever situation we are encountering we all, like Jeremiah, can declare, "I have hope!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, I have hope because I've anchored my faith in Your Holy Word and the unchanging character of who You are.  It is not the circumstances of my day that will determine my eternal future, but it is the hope I have in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of my soul, that overrides the temporal and potentially discouraging matters that lie before me.  I have a hope that is firm and secure in Christ who speaks to You, Father, on my behalf. Thank You for hearing and responding to all that concerns me this day.  Amen.

Today's message brought to mind a photo with Scripture I took several years ago in Plymouth Massachusetts. (Click on the photo to enlarge or to save as your desktop.)

Anchor at Plymouth harbor

The Scripture reading I prepared for yesterday's message.

Chet and
Yesterday we shared at a church in York County PA and, following the service, joined Chet and Cindy for dinner. They are typical of scores of faithful people who serve in local churches all over the world.  She is the church secretary and he serves on the board and teaches the teen class.

As we talked to them they demonstrated an important quality that I don't always see in ministry that I call a non-contextualized interest in people.  I have met far too many people in ministry that seem to express interest only in the context of who is presently in their church, class or group.  I recall a Sunday School teacher, who as far as I could observe, showed interest only in the immediate classroom situation. Although I believe she was a good teacher in regard to preparation and sharing content in the class time itself she (in my observation over several years) showed no interest in her students apart from the class, let alone after the students had left her class.

The people who have made the biggest impact on my life are those who have an ongoing interest and care for me on a personal level. Chet shared over the dinner table about a former student who was in a school musical group that was playing in Carnegie Hall in New York. He and Cindy drove all the way to New York City to surprise her and what a surprise and blessing they were.

The setting was a rural church outside of Dover PA.  Dover was famous several years ago in regard to the intelligent design issue. The pastor of the church, where I filled his pulpit yesterday, was on the schoolboard at the time. The perspective of the local people concerning the controversial issue was sure different than presented by the national media.

Today's suggested music:
"I Look To You And You Are Love" (listen)
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" (listen)
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (listen)

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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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"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"