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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunset on the Susquehanna
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"Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it, 'But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You'" (Psalm 39:6,7). "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope" (Lamentations 3:21). "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Today we commemorate the anniversary of the attacks of September 11. Evil has gone on unabated since the fall of the human race, but some calamitous days are noteworthy reminders. Most all of us remember very graphically the lasting impact of 9/11.
I was in a meeting in neighboring York County that morning. I first heard of the events when I walked into an office and saw the live coverage as a secretary wept uncontrollably. Initially, as I watched the Trade Center burning, my mind refused to believe this to be reality since we're accustomed to dramatic graphic fiction on the television screen. But of course it was real.
We had a chaplain staff meeting but our attention was so diverted and everyone wanted to gather with their families so our supervisor cancelled it. I then drove home and as I crossed the Susquehanna River I began to wonder if freedom and the "good life", as most of us had known it up to that point, was over. Most of us recall sitting in shock and disbelief in front of our TV's the rest of that day and the days that followed.
The next morning I sent out a message on hope and several days ago a long-time reader requested that I revise that message and resend it.* It indeed is still appropriate and always will be. So today I studied through the Bible using the key word "hope" and pondered on the verses as I proceeded.
Hope is an essential spiritual and emotional component of life. Without it we live in despair. In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah is living through the times of Judah's final destruction and impending captivity. In the portion that precedes the second daily verse he describes the horrible, despicable events that accompanied this time and Jeremiah seems to be teetering on despair.
But it is at this very point we have one of the greatest transition verses in all of Scripture. In the midst of this terrific despair Jeremiah writes, "This I call to mind and therefore I have hope." What Jeremiah called to mind brought hope from despair and today some 2,600 years later, it will do so for us as we reflect on these immutable attributes of God.
Hope endures. The nature of the hope we have is foundationally a spiritual hope. The "good life" (peace and prosperity), as many of us have known it or desire it to be on this earth, is not guaranteed by God. So many, many of the heroes of the faith in the past and those in the present testify to this (read Hebrews 11).
The hope that endures is the assurance that ultimately "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8;28). This is an enduring hope in which we can all be absolutely confident.
Have this hope today and spread it to others,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we solemnly consider the catastrophic impact that terrorists have permanently etched in our painful memories from events of 9/11/01. Though we witnessed mayhem and saw evil at its worst, mercifully, we also witnessed acts of goodness at their best. We are not without hope, for we know that You are a God of hope that fills believers with all joy and peace as they trust in You, so that they may overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to spread the overflowing, enduring hope that does not diminish in the midst of evil, but instead it transports our hearts to a picture of our future holy city, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem where Your presence is with Your people. Where You will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone, for You will make all things new. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
(See Romans 15:13, Revelation 21:1-5)
* Here's the original archived message from 9/12/01
Today's suggested music:
Brooksyne's Note: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is my all time favorite hymn since first hearing it in Bible College. Over the past year God has been speaking to my heart about preparing hymn stories that have a similar theme of overcoming in the midst of loss, chronic illness, or ongoing trial. With the exception of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" all the hymns will have an original historical story that originally inspired the songwriter to write the hymn text. I will also weave devotional thoughts based on the hymn, include Scripture. and will often include a prayer. Amber and Lauren are playing the instrumental version of the hymn in the background as I share about the hymn. There are a total of twelve hymns and the final project is still in the making since we want to make a CD recording. Our desire is to distribute these in settings where people will find comfort, instruction, and deepened faith as a result of hearing these hymn stories.
Audio reading Text of reading
"Great Is Thy faithfulness" Instrumental only by our friends Amber Martin and Lauren Gingrich (Audio)
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" A local church version of the hymn sung congregationally. (Audio)
9/11 Memorial Flower Arrangement
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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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