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Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox victory celebration
Victory Celebration

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"We're All Winners!"
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 15:57). "In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
Did your team win last night? (I realize I am writing for only a segment of readers, most who live here in the US and follow baseball.) The final game in a world series demonstrates "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." Having lived in New England for 7½ years Brooksyne, Ester and I were rooting for Boston.  Ester was so excited about "our" team going to the World Series she decorated our family room in Red Sox colors and invited friends over to watch the game.  The winning score turned out to be in our favor, but we have also felt the agonizing emotions that result from a defeat similar to what the players and fans must  presently be feeling in Colorado.
As we prepare these encouragement messages each weekday morning we want them to touch and "connect" with readers all around the world. Sometimes that's quite a challenge! I hesitate to use illustrations that may not be familiar or of any interest to a number of readers, but today allow me to express my interest in sports, both as a participant in my younger days and now primarily as a spectator. I particularly appeal to the sport of baseball, but what I write would apply to most any sport and certainly applies to this great spiritual contest of which we are all participants.
One of the great sports scenes I've enjoyed since my childhood is when a winning team gathers on the field to celebrate after winning a championship game. Of course it's all the more meaningful if it's "my" team but I can even get into the emotion when it's not. Today's photo (which I didn't take of course) shows the joyous celebration after the Red Sox victory very early this morning.
I'm glad the Bible declares that those of us who serve Christ are all winners.  Your role in service for God may be quite visible or you may work quietly behind the scenes as you utilize your gifts for God.  No matter what position you serve in the body of Christ you will face the inevitable moments of discouragement and disappointment.  Hold onto this extremely important truth Paul writes about in Romans 8 that "we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Whether we are a sports fan or not, those of us who are in Christ have a future celebration that makes any earthly celebration miniscule in comparison.  Imagine with me the scene of our future reunion in heaven; when we see the Lord, our loved ones, and believers from every region of the globe and from every generation. No longer will language or age differences be a barrier to our communicating with one another from other lands or historical settings.  I expect that to be quite an emotional time!
Georgia Mae WeberI just can't envision catching the first sight of my mom, who went to be with the Lord two years ago, and merely greeting her with a detached, "Well, it's nice to see you again, Mom."  No, I think my mom and I will have quite a time of ecstatic rejoicing. It might be a little like the celebration on a field following an athletic victory.  But among the major differences is that our spiritual victory is not just for one season but for all eternity and our defeat over sin is much more significant than a sporting contest.

The two daily verses compliment each other. Both have a similar underlying Greek word that is very familiar to those who enjoy sports. That word is "nikos." The popular sports shoe company, Nike, is based on this word.
EsterIn the first daily text the word is simply translated "victory." In the second verse it's a part of the wonderful Greek compound word "hupernikomen" which means "to be more than a conqueror, to gain a surpassing victory." Many of you who know us personally may recall that I taught Ester to use this word to describe herself in the overcomings she has experienced as a heart patient. Even as a small girl I would invite her to come to the front of the church and ask, "Ester, what are you?" Without hesitation she would say in a rather grown up way, "I'm a hupernikomen!" Of course no one in the congregation had any idea what she said until I would then ask, "What does that mean?"  She would respond, with a big smile, "I'm an overcomer!" 
I'm sure glad to be on God's team today. Yes, there are setbacks and apparent losses in this great spiritual contest. Some of you reading this today are in the midst of such a situation. You may be discouraged, overwhelmed, or you may even feel defeated.

But God's Word says, "He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" and "in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."  Let this truth bless you today as you consider our ultimate lasting victory!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Jesus, none of the celebrations we've attended compare with the overwhelming joy we'll feel at the ultimate victory party in heaven.  We'll rejoice with the saints from all generations telling of the marvelous saving and sustaining power of Christ. We look forward to sharing stories about the times we faced trouble, hardship, persecution or danger and the special way that You ministered to us through those difficulties.  We'll celebrate the overwhelming victory You gave us over all the difficult circumstances of our lives. We're not there yet, so help us to keep on keeping on, until that glorious day!  It is in Your matchless name, Jesus, that we pray, Amen.

Amish Dinner
Saturday night a friend invited us to a dinner with his Sunday School class at an Amish farm. It was a wonderful experience with a great meal and fellowship with many whom we had never met before, several who read this message daily. Interestingly we sat by two other couples who were married in 1976 as we were. The Amish home of Abner and Mary Stoltsfuz can seat up to 60 for a dinner. How many of you can do that in your house!  

Amish farm scene
We liked this scene with the dairy barn in the background.

Coon on propane tank
I was visiting with a friend who drives a propane truck, which I also did way back in my college years in the Springfield Missouri area.  I snapped this photo of our cat "Coon" peering out of a hole in the cover of a propane tank!

Today's suggested music:
"Victory In Jesus" (Audio) Nice local church medley!
"Ancient Words" (Video) Actually I am not sure how this song necessarily relates to today's message but we sang it yesterday in church and it really ministered to me.
"Ancient Words" (Audio) A local church version.

Yesterday prior to Sunday School our pastor asked Brooksyne to say a prayer for church leadership. I watched through Sunday School and early in the service as she wrote out the prayer on the back of a bulletin. I was blessed as she shared it following the pastor's sermon and feel you may be as well. Some may be able to use it as a model for a similar prayer in your church.

Prayer for Church Leadership

Father, I lift up to You these servant leaders who serve our congregation.  They have impacted our lives in great measure by their instruction, example, and testimony.

You have called these servant leaders to come alongside our pastor and support him in prayer and service as they also serve our family of believers, much like You spoke to Aaron and Hur to hold up Moses' arms during Israel's battle with the Amalekites.

Paul writes, "Now it is written that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful."  Micah writes about the requirements You make of each one of us "to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God."

We pray that You would encourage, affirm, and strengthen our leaders who give freely of their time, resources, and gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ and specifically our congregation.

Help us to do our part in praying for them and implementing our gifts to help strengthen the body.  May we be quick to pray and slow to criticize so that we remain united with the major purpose of the expanding the Gospel.

For those who have been inflicted by the wounds of others grant them resilience as they bury themselves in Your Holy Word that gives healing, godly instruction, and spiritual strengthening.

Help our leaders to remain strong in times of temptation and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this evil age.

As they seek You above all, help them to model Christian commitment and godly virtue in their homes, the church, and their circle of influence.


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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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