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Monday, September 24, 2007
Our long-time friend Tom with his grand-daughter Kylee and "Andy".
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"A Joyful Heart"
"A joyful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).
I have learned that among the greatest sources of encouragement in ministry are those who remain faithful and fruitful for the Lord many years after we have ministered to them.
Over twenty-five years ago Tom and Marsha, a young couple, came into a coffeehouse type ministry we had at our church in northern Pennsylvania and made a serious commitment to the Lord. They went on to become a part of our church and are remain very active in Christian Service to this day. We still stay in touch, although separated by many miles.
All three of their daughters are now married and serving the Lord as well. They have been blessed with three grandchildren in recent years. About seven years ago Marsha had a very serious auto accident and had a long, difficult recovery. She shared the following perspective with me, a testimony of the Lord's work in her life and marriage as well. It's instructive for both long-term marriage and long-term commitment to the Lord.
"God is so faithful and our walk with Him is stronger, as well as our relationship together. Well, it's like cement, you pour it and then have so much time to work with it before it 'sets'...then it's a matter of waiting until it's 'cured'...that is solid and strong. It gets better with time. So many people never get to this point in a relationship--they give up on each other (or the Lord) way too soon."
I am encouraged by this thoughtful illustration. I am encouraged at this evidence of fruit that has lasted. This morning Brooksyne and I talked to Marsha and got an update concerning the Lord's work in her's and Tom's lives.
Some of you reading this are discouraged today. You have served God faithfully but have had some setbacks and disappointments. You might be a discouraged pastor who feels like your ministry is making no difference and going nowhere. Or you might be a dedicated Sunday School teacher dealing with some very stubborn resistance or unfaithful students. And I know there are more than a few parents with wayward children reading this.
Today will you consider some people that you have ministered to in the past? You will surely recall some that are doing well in their walk of faith. I hope you've stayed in touch. (That's vitally important.) What great joy it will bring to your treasured memories as you consider the part you've had (however large or small) in their lives. And now they're going on, staying faithful to God and bearing fruit. That's so encouraging isn't it? You can declare, along with the apostle John that you have no greater joy than to hear that they are walking in the truth.
For those of you who are praying for loved ones who've taken a turn off the right way, entrust them to the Lord who is ever watchful of their every step even in the midst of their disobedience. Pray for God's Spirit to woo them back to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.
We shared in our opening story about Marsha and Tom's three daughters serving the Lord, but what we didn't share is that their youngest chose to live in disobedience for a number of years. We remember well the heavy burden her parents carried for her during this time and the fervent prayers spoken on her behalf before she returned to her childhood faith. She recently married and Marsha gave her a prayer journal she had kept over the years for her (including the "wandering" years.) Once a week she'd write a prayer for her and now her daughter can continue this spiritual discipline on behalf of her husband and future children as they go through life together.
Let us always pray with joy, even as Paul did in his address to the Philippian believers:
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:6).
Be encouraged today
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
We had a wonderful service yesterday and I left the church with a joyful heart. Pastor spoke on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As the service concluded he invited any who might want to share to do so. Several expressed the way the Spirit was working in their lives and one in particular touched my heart and brought me joy that I still have this morning.
Florence is an elderly lady who has come to our church for many years. In fact she and her husband John were married in the church nearly 50 years ago. She shared of her burden for a family in our church who lost their dad several years ago leaving behind his wife and two sons. She tearfully said, "and one of those boys is here today."
As the service was dismissed I walked back to depart and noticed that the 20 year old son and Florence were hugging each other, both with tears in their eyes. Afterwards I greeted him, placed my hands on his shoulders and told him to treasure people like Florence. I know he does and increasingly will. This young man struggled alot following his father's death and I'm sure it is the prayers of faithful people like his mom, Florence, and others in the church that wooed him back to the heart of God. I sure hope you have some people like Florence in your life!
Is there a former spiritual mentor such as a parent, pastor, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, etc. that you can contact today and tell them how God is working in your life?
New blog: I want to invite daily encouragement readers to visit my new blog titled "A Little Foolishness", which will be a collection of humorous and satirical stories drawn mostly from our years of ministry as well as my sometimes fertile imagination. We also welcome submissions from readers. The first post is a parody of using the nasal strip for ministry purposes.
This Saturday our church had a neighborhood barbecue with various activities, including some animals. This one especially makes me smile!
The photo we have been using on this site for the past year was taken at last year's church hay ride so we felt it was time for an update. (Ester was off with her friends.)
Today's suggested music:
"He who began a good work" (Audio)
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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.
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