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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Day Message

Martin farmpond
Martin farmpond in Lancaster County
Our friend Nancy Martin sent us this photo she took of their farm pond after a beautiful snowfall.  
Click here to see a larger desktop-sized photo.
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"Crowned With Goodness,
Dripping With Abundance"

"You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side" (Psalm 65:11,12).
Today is the dawning of a New Year. Last night Brooksyne asked me; "Do you know what year our 50th anniversary will be?"  She had been thinking about it earlier in the day. After a bit of mental math calculation, and after she reminded me of the year that we repeated our vows, I responded "the year 2026."  "Do you realize how funny that sounds?" she quipped as we both knowingly shook our heads. Then I told her, "not nearly as funny as 2008 sounded 30 years ago!"
The years pass with an ever increasing pace, which admittedly is a characteristic of aging.  Even though astronomically each year is exactly the same length, based upon our perception, time goes quicker each year and then the birthday rolls around all too quickly.  We dealt with the extra candle on our birthday cake in 2007 and here we are about to do it all over again in 2008! As sure as we've bought new calendars acknowledging another year has passed we will all too soon turn the January calendar page and think to ourselves; "Wow, where did this past month go?"  The days, weeks, months and years quickly come and just as quickly speed by.
What a joy to seek an eternal and spiritual perspective as we begin a new year. David wrote today's Psalm portion some 3,000 years ago; "You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance."
Today I use this verse both in retrospect and in prospect. Although I have experienced both physical and material blessings I feel the verse is primarily applicable in a spiritual sense. I am aware that there are some reading this who did not find 2007 to be a "good year" in the way we typically mean it. You lost a loved one or endured a great trial that left you lingering in intense pain. Yesterday Brooksyne wrote in her prayer: "You have ordained the trials, the victories, the losses, the gains and all the paths laid for us even before we were conceived in our mother's womb."
We do not know what this New Year will bring, either on the personal or international level. I read yesterday that an estimated 16,000 Christians are martyred annually. The writer, an Indian evangelist, was commenting how unprepared Christians are in America and elsewhere in the West for persecution. Would today's Scripture verse be true under these circumstances?
The answer is a resounding "Yes", from an eternal and spiritual perspective. The apostle Paul, who knew little of this world's richness (particularly as we reckon it), who suffered much for his faith and who died a martyr's death wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
Be encouraged today and have a blessed New Year!
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have crowned our year with Your goodness that flourishes within our hearts, in our relationships, in our provisions, and it is evident throughout the universe.  In a world that is filled with evil intent and short-sided vision we cling to Your goodness and seek the eternal perspective in all that we experience in this new year of 2008.  Spiritual blessings come from You in the midst of Satan's attacks and because of this essential truth we know that if You are for us, who can be against us! There is no formidable foe that cannot be conquered as the power of Your Holy Spirit enables us to remain faithful and ever growing in our devotion to You. 

Remind us that as we share in Your sufferings we also share in Your glory.  In all areas of trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, and danger we are more than conquerors through You who loves us abundantly.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor anything else in all of Your creation will be able to separate us from Your love that has been revealed to us through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  We rejoice with our family of believers and with all of Your creation in the paths of abundance You lay out before us and walk hand in hand with us.  Amen.

Don and Mary Weber
This morning I was blessed by a call from my Uncle Don, my Dad's younger and only living brother. He and my Aunt Mary live in Missouri where we visited them in August. Although my dad passed away 10 years ago it's great to still stay in contact.  He had a great love for his younger brother, Don, which makes him all the more special to me as well.

Marvin with Shawna and SharonThis morning we also got a call from Marvin, a young man from Guatemala, whom we hosted about 18 years ago when he was about 5. He came to the states for surgery in Erie, PA in 1989 for a severe throat condition that restricted his ability to breathe. We were a  host family during his two visits to America and we also visited him and his family in Guatemala City in 1991. He is shown here in his Sunday best with two young sisters in our church who had befriended him. Several months ago we also met with Shawna and Sharon, who of course are now grown and have children of their own. Here's a current photo of them.

Marvin with familyThis last fall Marvin found us on the internet and we are now in contact although we do have a language barrier. When he calls he tries very hard to communicate in his limited English. He is now married and has a young son and works for the forestry department in Guatemala. Marvin testifies to a faithful walk with the Lord and desire to lead his family as a Christian husband and father.

Today's Suggested Music

"Another Year Is Dawning"  (Lyrics)

"My Jesus I Love Thee"  (Audio)

"Blessed Assurance"  (Audio)

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"  (Audio)

Marvin sent us some instrumental music from Guatemala and we use it as a background on today's podcast.

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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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