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Thursday, December 6, 2007
Photo of snowy field in Virginia
A snowy pasture in Virginia

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"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

I suppose we all have different scenes or experiences that we would describe as being peaceful. For me it's sitting next to a warm fireplace as I watch the snow fall outside. It's also bundling up and taking a long walk along a snow-covered trail. We awoke this morning to partially snow-covered landscaping and I experienced both, although the cabin where we are staying in Virginia does not have a fireplace!

For some of you my description is quite chilling as you would rather consider a peaceful scene of walking along a sandy beach kicking back the splashing waves as the sunrays beam their warmth upon your shoulders.  I have a good friend who feels a great deal of peace when the rain is pouring down.  He feels more energetic and has a brighter countenance whereas others might feel drained and be miserable (especially after several days of rain.)

In the early eighties it was very popular in churches to learn Scripture verses set to music. Today's text is a verse I learned this way and I am quite certain that many who were in the church I pastored at that time can still recite the verse based on its accompanying tune. We still hear from people in our former congregations share how easily they recall  Scripture verses that Brooksyne and other worship leaders taught them using  musical tunes.  So do we and I'm sure many of you do as well!

I am so thankful for the words of our Lord Jesus in this passage! "These things I have spoken unto you."  He is giving His final teaching to His disciples prior to the cross.  He knows what their lot would be as His followers.  Our Lord readily acknowledged and prepared His disciples for tribulation (trouble, trials) in His matter of fact declaration, "In the world you will have tribulation."

This may seem a strange thought, but have you ever considered that the presence of tribulation in your life is an evidence of Christ's truthfulness and faithfulness? Have you ever met a believer going through a hard trial who in faith joyfully declares to others, "God is keeping His promise" in regard to the very presence of the trial?

But the great promise included an underlying peace: "in Me ye might have peace."  Christ's desire is that His followers have this peace, surely meaning in this case the sense of emotional and spiritual rest and much needed assurance that can only come through a fervent relationship with the Peacemaker Himself.  The apostle Paul wrote, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:8). 

We know some of you are facing trouble today. We know and speak to some of you personally and we hear from others via email.  It may be concerning your health, a family matter, a financial issue or a work-related problem. For some it's undergoing persecution as a result of living for the Lord, which I believe is certainly what Jesus foundationally had in mind when he first uttered these prophetic words, "In the world ye shall have tribulation."

Hear the assuring words of our Lord, "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!"  I've added the exclamation point because I believe that's the tone of how Christ spoke these encouraging words.

He said it with absolute confidence even before His agony in Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross at Calvary.  He knew His Father had everything under control.  And our Father still has everything under control. He always does! Let us experience this wonderful peace of God today as we commit ourselves to His unfailing love.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Jesus, Prince of Peace, thank You for calming the raging storm in my soul when You took up residency within my heart, as You removed my sins and replaced them with Your righteousness.  This eternal exchange has brought me countless joy, abiding peace, and a home in heaven. It is once and for all established in the heavens and serves as an anchor to provide unwavering hope even while the torrential waves of world tragedies, wars, fears, strife, and personal difficulties attempt to shatter my peaceful state of mind.  You have promised to keep me in perfect peace when my mind and heart are fixed upon You* rather than the besetting problems that confront me daily.  Help me to wholeheartedly seek You and rely on Your Holy Word so that I will experience perfect peace.  It is in this spiritual attitude that I will fully trust You to work out the problems that greatly concern me and it will help me not to take matters into my own hands which only leads to more trouble.  You have overcome the world and You will also help me to overcome my troubles.  Amen.

*"Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because He trusteth in Thee, O Lord" (Isaiah 26:3).   (Another of those golden texts from Scripture set to music in the 70's that has freed me from the weariness of worry many, many times.  As I sing these words from Scripture I find strength, courage, and redirect my focus from worry to trust.)

In Monday's message I shared a photo of a "John Deere yellow" Christmas tree in a local supermarket that was decorated with many green John Deere ornaments. Alvin Worthley, is my national chaplaincy supervisor and also an avid "farm boy" who grew up in rural Minnesota.  He made the following observation after seeing the photo: "The tree in your devotional, which certainly is good advertising for John Deere, would look better with some red, blue, and orange.  Just think of the variety -- Farmall, Case, Ford, New Holland, International, Oliver, Minneapolis Moline, etc.  As we reach out to the 'red and yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight' I trust our mission will be to harvest the “whosoever will.” Amen to that and I would add an Allis Chalmers as well, the tractor I grew familiar with on my Uncle Gentry's farm in southern Missouri when I was a boy! 

We don't have any special music again today since we do not have an internet connection in the cabin where we are preparing the message. (We use the internet and a search engine to find online music files to share that we feel relate to the message or would otherwise be a blessing.)  We are able to prepare the message offline and we expect to find a Panara Bread or similar place with wireless internet access to send the message out as we travel back to Pennsylvania later this morning from our brief getaway here in Virginia.

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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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