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Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday we took a long walk along Donegal Creek and enjoyed seeing a duck family swiming together in the cold water.
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"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:24). "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b).
We have a fun time in our home with the easy button. Push the easy button and a voice emphatically states, "That was easy." (Click here to hear it.) Most of you know that this is a popular ad campaign run by the super office store, Staples. Of course the intent of the button is to show us how much easier our lives will be if we remember to shop at Staples.
I have considered using this button in my preaching. When I conclude a point that I feel listeners should have grasped I could merely push the easy button. In order to experience a more interactive participation I could distribute an easy button to each attendee and they could all push it simultaneously, sort of an affirming response to my message similar to collectively saying "Amen!" Wouldn't that make an interesting church service! (It might be a bit distracting as well.)
Of course I am teasing but the easy button has got me to pondering. We live in a time when easy is valued, expected and even an entitlement to many. We strive to do whatever is needed to make life easier, whether it’s our chores, our jobs, our relationships, or physical exercise; in other words whatever takes physical, mental, or emotional exertion on our part. This mentality can spill over into the spiritual as well and rather than considering the harder demands of Biblical discipleship we may tend to look for the easy way. When facing a call that may be hard or require great sacrifice we may choose an easier solution.
John and Esther Spurrier have served as missionaries in Zambia, Africa since the mid-seventies. John is a medical doctor who serves at Macha hospital in Zambia where he seeks to compassionately minister to the sick and needy. Yesterday he and Esther shared about their ministry in Zambia during our worship service. The power point presentation gripped our hearts as they featured photos of the sick, weak and dying they minister to daily. They issued a strong and convicting challenge to the congregation to respond to the voice of the Lord who says, “Whom shall I send and who shall go for us?” Like Isaiah, our response should be, "Here am I. Send me."
Is there an "easy button" in the Christian life? Many of us would say, "If so, I sure want to find it."
In the first daily text are the very words of Jesus, but a portion I really doubt if too many have memorized. He's teaching His disciples: "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!"
In the second text Paul and Barnabas are on their first missionary journey and are returning to some of the cities where they had earlier established churches. Their basic message to these young churches is summed up in this phrase: "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith" (Acts 14:22a).
But Luke sums up the essence of their verbal message in a single phrase, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b). This portion bears careful attention in an age when the call to follow Christ is often presented to unbelievers as “simple" or “easy.” We might not be too comfortable sharing the above verse with those we are seeking to lead to Christ!
Notice the part "you must go through." This hard reality seems to be an acknowledgement that there is no easy button in life. Testings of all kinds are present from our childhood to the final breath we draw in this life. Thankfully, during our times of hardships, we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
I am sure some of you today are "going through many hardships." You wonder how the particular matter you are dealing with is going to work out. You sure would like to find that "easy button."
My fellow believer, let me encourage you today. God is faithful! He will make a way. It may not be the way we would prefer, and it may not be easy, but we have a promise of entry into the kingdom of God and His promises are absolutely sure. Let this truth encourage you today.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, though I am called to go through many hardships, there isn’t one that I face alone. For in my weakness You are made strong, in my folly You are the God of infinite wisdom, and in my fear I take hold of the hope You offer to me which is firm and secure. You will not abandon the work of Your hands but fulfill Your purpose for me as You strengthen, sustain, and instruct me during times of testing. I do not want to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Keep me faithful to the end. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.
See Hebrews 6:12,19
Chris Bert and John Dommel are two friends who each have recently been through some severe testing. Yesterday I saw them encouraging one another and asked if I could take their photo.
Saturday morning Lyndon Risser and his daughter Natalie stopped by our house for a brief visit. Lyndon is a friend from CBMC, (an association of Christian businessmen).
What's this? A turkey taking a pony ride! Maybe the turkey doesn't like walking in the wet snow. We watched for a few minutes as the pony slowly walked along the fence and the turkey just rode along appearing to enjoy the ride.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
But as I moved in a bit closer off he flew!
A final smile (perhaps even a chuckle): Yesterday afternoon we took a long country walk and of course our dog Roxie accompanied us, freely dashing through the snowy fields. When we got back we knew our boots were muddy and took them off as we entered our home As we did so we detected a doggie waste type smell on them. Brooksyne then became suspicious that it wasn't us, but Roxie. Upon examination it turned out to be true that Roxie picked up some farm fertilizer. She looked at Roxie and said, "You are going to take a bath." Roxie knows the word "bath" and instantly she ran into the utility room. To make matters worse she tried to hide by laying down in Dottie's litter box and refused to get out. What a pitiful sight that was! Finally Brooksyne's demanding voice convinced her she had no choice in the matter so she trotted up to the bathroom and jumped in the tub. She smells so much nicer (to us, anyway.) She's lying in her little bed this morning beside the computer nice and clean.
Friday we mentioned an extended table and had inquiry about where to get these.
John Z. Horning Tables
164 N. Shirk Road,
New Holland, PA 17557
Today's Suggested Music and
"Be Unto Your Name" (audio) Yesterday we ended our worship service with this song. What a great song to end a service with!
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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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