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Friday, January 25, 2008

Oren and Naomi Hostetter
Oren & Naomi Hostetter

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"Genuine Christians"
"Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ" (Romans 16:9)
Over the past year I've had it on my heart to write today's message to fellow believers.  All too frequently some nationally prominent Christian personality is exposed for being a fraud. In most cases when this happens I had serious reservations about their ministry all along and the reports were not surprising to me.  But I consider the damage this leaves behind for people whom we seek to influence, especially those who are inclined to believe this represents genuine Christians.
But then I consider the ordinary people in each church I have served or attended and those I have worked with in various ministries.  Most of you would not know of them since they serve in relative obscurity, as have the vast majority of genuine Christians all through this two thousand year church age.
Tracy and Beulah SutherlandWe go back to our first little country church in southern Missouri and fondly recall Tracy and Beulah Sutherland, a dear godly couple who essentially lived as sustenance farmers off the small farm they owned. I don't suppose you  ever heard of them unless you were in a church I served or  read about them in a previous encouragement message. They were genuine Christians who left a lasting impact on our lives though we only fellowshipped with them for about 15 months.
Another couple we have come to greatly appreciate over the past seven years is Oren and Naomi Hostetter who lead an interesting ministry. They, along with several helpers, host a monthly luncheon called Golden Nuggets for the elderly in our area, most of whom are widowed and deal with serious health issues.  Yesterday Brooksyne and I spoke to the group and shared our eagle story from Monday's encouragement message.

Oren and Naomi have a compassionate heart for those in need. Besides serving others in our own congregation they're very involved in Love INC, a compassionate helps ministry very active in Lancaster County.  (Love INC stands for "Love in the Name of Christ.") Yet outside of our area very few  have ever heard of them.  Yet isn't it neat that most of you, wherever you may live, know people just like them!  Genuine Christians giving genuine testimony to God's work in their lives as they reach out to the hurting among them.   God's grace turns out men and women, just like Oren and Naomi, with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ.
I doubt that too many Bible readers have paid much attention to today's text even though it's in one of the most familiar books of the Bible. I will admit that I never preached on it. I know a man named Urban from northern Pennsylvania but I don’t know whether he was named after Urbanus.  I doubt that it's listed in the book of popular names for babies!
Paul endeared himself to many people following his earth-shaking spiritual conversion on the Damascus Road.  Several years ago I did a study of proper names associated with Paul beginning at his conversion in Acts and referenced in each of his epistles. Over 100 separate names are listed from the familiar, such as Timothy, to the more obscure like Urbanus.   Actually the majority are obscure and we know virtually nothing about them except that they were faithful believers who had impacted Paul's life.  Several of his epistles, like Romans, end with greetings to these dear friends.
Urbanus is mentioned only once in the entire Scriptures. He wasn't one of the "major players" like Paul and other famous Bible characters.  Most readers, even those who faithfully read the Bible, have probably never paused to consider his role at all. But Paul calls him a "fellow worker" which is the sum total of biographical data we have on him.
Today consider genuine Christians you know (or have known) who have walk the road less traveled.  Their heart's desire is to devote their lives to Jesus and make a difference for Him in the lives of those around them.   Thank God for the many people they touched, including your own!
Be encouraged today.
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, there are those living among us who are "white-washed Christians." Outwardly they appear to be believers by their conversation and Christian-like lifestyle. They look like gentle sheep but they are really dangerous like wolves dressed in sheep's clothing.  These deceivers will be exposed at Your appointed hour since nothing is hidden from You.  But we also joyfully consider born-again believers whose hearts are genuinely devoted to You.  Their spirit is obedient to You even when tested by fire.  They live the noble life of a modern day disciple and show us the way through the narrow gate.  The vast majority reject this road, but we know that is it the divine road that leads to internal peace and eternal life.  May we, as true believers, extend our hands to others and walk them through this narrow gate that leads to life everlasting.

Brooksyne's Note:  An old chorus comes to mind that I've sung many times around an altar with fellow believers who desired to be used of God in reaching others for the sake of the Gospel.  If you know this chorus why don't you sing these words of consecration:  "O to be His hand extended, reaching out to the oppressed.  Let me touch Him, let me touch Jesus, so that others may know and be blessed."  If you don't know the tune, make it your heartfelt prayer today: "Father, I want to be Your hand extended reaching out to the oppressed.  Let me touch You, let me touch You Jesus, so that others may know and be blessed."

Golden Nuggets
Golden Nuggets
Yesterday we sat next to Agnes who had a very colorful personallty. Someone ask her how old she was and she replied, "I'm as old as my big toe but older than my teeth."

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"A Servant's Heart"  (Audio)

"If We Are The Body"  (Audio)

"We Are An Offering"  (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.
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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