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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tufted titmouse (Photo by Doris High)
Tufted Titmouse
(Photo by Doris High)

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"Other Allies"
"Master", said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."  "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:49,50).
An aspect Brooksyne and I enjoy about our present ministry is the way we observe God using a variety of people, ministries, and churches to accomplish His purpose.  We not only hear from people all over the world but from those who voluntarily express their identity with a particular denomination. At times we are surprised by the wide array of readers from different denominational backgrounds!  There seems to be a leveling of commonality in a writing ministry like this.  Hopefully these daily encouragement messages express Biblical truth that all we who love the Lord hold in common.
John was puzzled in our daily verse.  This was not John the Baptist but the apostle John who would later write the gospel bearing his name along with three short epistles (letters) and finally a revelation of the end times.  But he reveals an interesting character quality in today's text which brought about a reprimand from the Lord followed by a word of instruction.  The attitude John displayed is common to our day and I am sure all through church history.
"Master", said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."  John (and probably the other disciples) had a hard time with someone working for God that wasn't in their "group".  Notice the phrase "not one of us."  I assume by this phrase he meant not one of the twelve disciples, who certainly were a distinct group of Christ's followers. However, even during the ministry of Christ on earth we have a record of others in service for Him such as the Seventy he sent out.
I am sure John expected Jesus to commend him for his effort to stop this uncommissioned outsider. Something to the effect of "Way to go John, you men are to keep this service exclusively in our circle."
But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you."
I've often wondered who this man was who was driving out demons in Christ's name.  Had he been a disciple of John the Baptist?  Perhaps he was associated with the Seventy. We just don't know.
But Jesus instructed: "Do not stop him."  Is there a lesson for us here?  I believe so.  God is working today and not always in ways we fully understand. We must be careful that we don't misplace our focus. We might have an attitude similar to John and wonder why God seems to be working through groups or individuals who might differ from our views in their technique or giftings, or who may vary in their interpretation of the "gray" areas of Scripture.

Let me be very clear that we must be in agreement regarding the black and white teachings of Scripture, which are non-negotiable. These doctrines are the basis of which we build a common Christian foundation, no matter the name of our denomination. But those who might be smug or sanctimonious about their religious affiliations may very well need to hear the voice of the Master say: "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you." 
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we join our spirits with Your spirit so that the whole world will know that we are one in You.  We unite in purpose and oneness of heart as we go into the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every region and every race.  A people that is divided against itself will surely fall, but a people united by a common foundation, motivated by the same purpose, will be strengthened. We look to You, as our Head, to impassion us with the desire to work together in rescuing the perishing as we trample down the forces of evil.  Your redemptive love binds our hearts together in perfect unity.

Brooksyne's Note:  Today's message stirs up some painful memories as I think back to my immature faith as a teen.  I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the majority of students in my junior and senior high school years were either Baptist or Pentecostal.  We seemed to focus so much on our few differences that we failed to realize we were both serving the same Lord! I joined in these occasional discussions that were held before school or during the lunch hour and I can never remember either group winning a convert to their way of thinking.  We were sincere in our walk with the Lord and wanted to see others come to faith in our school, but we were so divided in the distinctives of our denominational backgrounds that it fragmented our goal to reach friends who needed to surrender their lives to Christ.  I believe if we had been united in the things upon which we agreed, which was far more than that which we disagreed upon, we would have seen greater numbers come to faith.  Sadly, our discussions were actually an echo of what we heard at home or among church members.

Howling winds! Yesterday morning I was happily preparing the daily encouragement message while the cold wind howled outside.  I was coming along pretty good and seemed to be on a creative roll when the power went out and I stared at a black screen.  I hadn't been saving the work as I went along so guess what...

By the time the power came back on we had left for some chaplain visitation and it was too late when we got home to prepare a message, although thankfully the power was back on!

Let me tell you about a friend's encouragement and spiritual perspective. Bunny is a fellow chaplain whom I had called yesterday morning to inform that our power was out and we wouldn't be able to send out our daily encouragement message. He must have detected some discouragement in my voice so he returned a voice mail and reminded me:  "Although the electric power is out there's always power in the blood!"


The sun arose this morning
And God is on His throne
No need to fret or worry
The Father loves His own.

So bid farewell to doubting
And welcome trust anew
Rest in the truth of Scripture...
The Father cares for YOU!

~ David W. Fisher
January 29th, 2008

David Fisher wrote this poem after viewing Tuesday's message, inspired by the sunrise photo.  David is a long-time internet friend of ours who lives near Toronto Canada. He is a sport's chaplain and for many years was the chaplain for the Toronto Blue Jays. He has a wide encouraging influence that demonstrates the nature of internet encouragement. A reader wrote us from Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia Canada , which is at the start of the Alaska Highway. He has read our material for many years, initially referred by David! BTW if you think it's cold where you live he told me it was 30 below zero with about 45 below wind chill in Dawson Creek!

David blogs prolifically at Pilgrim Scribblings

Farewell Tony

Tony ColagiovanniTuesday evening I had the priviledge of conductiing the local memorial service for my friend, Tony Colagiovanni, whom I worked with for several years when I served as a chaplain at a local company. Tony was a vibrant, loving man who lived his life well. The CEO of his company, Ron Carkoski, gave a moving tribute to Tony, testifying to his work ethic and integrity. He was a man who lit up any room he entered with his big smile and enthusiastic signature response, "I'm doing just great" to those who asked "How are you?"  Tony believed in Christ and I believe if his voice could reach us today he might say, "I told you I was doing just great [on earth], but I'm thriving beyond description here in heaven. "

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

In my musical search today I discovered this song I had never heard before with a great message!  "Just Stand"  (Audio)  I have been listening to it over and over.  Here are the lyrics.  We commend this song today to those who are going through a hard trial.

"He Reigns"  (Audio)  This song declares God's work among all His people all over the world, that He reigns!

"If We Are The Body"  (Video)

"I Love Thy Kingdom Lord"  (Audio)  Traditional version

"I Love Thy Kingdom Lord"  (Audio)  New version

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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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