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Monday, February 4, 2008

Deer and cat
Hold on!

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"Hold On!"
"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).
Last Friday we shared a message about "Pressing On", which is a vital spiritual concept based on Philippians 3:14.  I'm sure many watched the big game last night, a defensive battle between two champion football teams with the New York Giants prevailing in the end. 

As with most sports, football has the physical elements of pressing on (offense) and holding on (defense).  Strategic planning must be carried out if your team is to win the game.  This is true in the spiritual life of the Christian life as well.  We must press on daily in our walk with the Lord and we must hold on to His truths if we are to be victorious.
Today we consider the spiritual concept of "holding on."  We often hear this expressed in the phrase, "I'm hanging in there."  In some instances it can be a very trite saying but at other times, when talking to one who is going through a very difficult trial, I am blessed to hear them repeat these words.
Our daily verse is a command from Christ to the church in Philadelphia (ancient Philadelphia of course).  This is an actual city in present day Turkey presently named Alasehir. At the time this church had remained faithful to the Lord during a time of persecution, and received this wonderful commendation from the Lord, "I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." He goes on to state, concerning these ancient Christians, "you have kept my command to endure patiently" (v. 10).

The direct command from Christ to these faithful Philadelphian believers was,
"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown."  We do well to write this verse down and place it where we see it frequently throughout the day. Memorize these powerful words and, by faith, may you even hear the voice of the Lord Jesus speaking this loving command to your heart.  Though specifically directed to the Philadelphian believers it is also a message to every believer of every generation.

A brief stanza of a famous poem written in 1844 by James Russell Lowell reminds us that in the ensuing conflicts of life we can "hold on" because God is watching over us:

The Present Crisis

Truth forever on the scaffold,
   Wrong forever on the throne –
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
   And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
   keeping watch above His own.

Remain steadfast as you maintain your faith in God.  God is strategically planning a future date when conflict will be vanquished, righteousness will prevail, and the everlasting crown will be awarded to those who have patiently held on to His commands.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to contend with those seeming obstacles that are a part of our strict training so that we will receive an everlasting crown.  May we patiently endure and prayerfully endear to our hearts the important truths You teach us in our spiritual training.  We want to hold on to Your unchanging hand as we build our hopes, not on the shifting sands of time, but on that which will never perish! Amen.

Some photos from our weekend

Photo of Mike StillmanYesterday our friend Mike Stillman shared his testimony and a challenging message in a church we attended near Greencastle PA. Mike played on the Penn State football team back in the eighties, excelling as a longsnapper. Here's Mike's testimony.

Burns family 2008
Yesterday after the church service we had dinner with our friends, Jason and Becky Oberholser, who live in the Chambersburg area about 90 miles from our home. Becky's parents, Greg and Linda Burns and their four other children were visiting from Northern Pennsylvania. The Burns' family  attended our church in northern Pennsylvania. Greg is a school teacher and an avid farmer and has now written two books about sustainable farming. For many years he was the agricutural extension agent in our area. Linda is a home school mother, schooling all five of her children. When Tim, their third grader graduates, she will have home-schooled her children continuously for 29 years! (Becky is at the head of the table; Jason took the picture.)

Burns family 1986Here's Greg and Linda holding their oldest son Daniel with Becky looking on at a groundbreaking in 1986. It's nice to stay connected after so many years.

Milk barn Chambersburg, PA
Jason is the herd manager on a large dairy farm that milks 500 cows daily.  The milking operation is very automated and extensively uses computerized equipment.

Timothy Burns with bull calfA note of encouragement to pastors and parents: I had a very encouraging reminder yesterday of our longterm impact in ministry.  In the mid-eighties when the Burns family attended the church I developed a list of 66 verses, one from each book of the Bible, that carried the theme of that book.  I laid these verses out in such a way that the people in our church could memorize all 66 verses in one year.  The Burns family participated in this spiritual discipline and Becky, about five years old at the time, recited the verses one by one during a visit to their home. Yesterday as we sat around the table Linda said she still had the memory cards and was presently using them with their youngest son Timothy.  She asked him to quote Exodus 15:13 and he promptly quoted: "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." What  a blessing!!

Squirting milk!
A non-automated milking operation! (I did not take this photo.)

Today's lead photo, the frog hanging on the flower bloom, was sent to me by my sister in a collection of interesting photos.  I have no idea who took it or frankly whether it's photoshopped, as I suspect several in this collection are. It still makes the illustrative point of holding on!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Man After Your Own Heart"  (Audio)  Kristian Walker

"He Lives"  (Audio)  Selah

"Behold I Stand At The Door"  (Audio)  Debby Kerner

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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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