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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Photo of path
"You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

Path near Donegal Springs
(about a mile from our home)

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"Divine Preservation"

"Preserve me O God, for in You I put my trust" (Psalm 16:1).

In our Sunday School class this week we studied Psalm 16, a short Psalm that can be read in a few minutes, and a great source of Scriptural comfort.  As is often the case the Lord has used this portion of Scripture in my life this week as I have ministered to others.

Toast with jam

Among Brooksyne's many homemaking tasks one she especially enjoys is making jams and preserves. My favorite jam  is her strawberry rhubarb recipe which she preserves during the summer months so that we can enjoy it throughout the year. In fact as I prepare today's message I am having a piece of toasted sour dough bread topped with her delicious preserves! (She made it look like a June Cleaver table setting for the photo.)

Some 3,000 years ago the Psalmist spoke of another type of preservation.  I wonder how many believers down through the ages have identified with it and found comfort in their time of need?  This Psalm, unlike several others written by David, gives no background regarding the source of his distress.  I find comfort in this general, non-specific description since our distresses vary greatly, yet the prayer we find here is applicable to any need.

David experienced many days when despair would grip his heart.  This would blur his vision of a loving and faithful God who provides deliverance from the troublesome circumstances of life.  But as he began to meditate on the Scriptures his hope would be renewed and his faith preserved.

"Preserve me O God, for in You I put my trust." We all need divine preservation don't we?  Joseph is a tremendous example that most all readers are familiar with (Genesis 37-50).  Some of our readers are going through a "Joseph" type trial and are at the point where Joseph was thrown into the pit. Unable to pull himself out Joseph could overhear his brothers plotting for his death.  God preserved his life, in spite of those who plotted his death, but He certainly put him through the pressure cooker of injustice and godless authority.

In severe times of testing the enemy thoroughly enjoys playing mind games with us where we second guess our every thought or action. We become fearful allowing uncertainty to replace our confidence. Sometimes the God-ordained circumstances of life make the appeal for divine preservation all the more urgent and heartfelt.  The word "preserved" translates a very descriptive Hebrew word that literally means, "to hedge about." 

Psalm 16 ends with this wonderful testimony of assurance, a direct result of steadfast trust: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  Friends, you may especially need this reassuring Scripture today.  Certainly we all do.  Our responsibility is to place our confidence in the One who changes not which will deepen our trust in Him.

Bible teacher James Montgomery Boice observes:  “The God of the Bible is not weak; He is strong. He is all mighty.  Nothing happens without His permission or apart from His purposes, even evil. Nothing disturbs or puzzles Him. His purposes are always accomplished.  Therefore those who know Him rightly act with boldness, assured that God is with them to accomplish His own desirable purposes in their lives.”

Blaine Allen shares this perspective:  "Tuck this thought away: Never in eternity will we want to walk up to Jesus and say, 'I surely wish you had answered my prayer differently'."  Deep in my spirit I believe that to be true.  A hymn writer expressed it another way when he wrote: "We'll understand it all by and by."

We may not understand the current pain, nor may we always see the end purpose on this side, but let's keep trusting!  "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as You call us to walk the narrow path the vast majority rejects, we thank You for the godly examples who have gone before us and shown us the way.  Such giants of the faith as Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Paul and countless others throughout the generations have shown us the way to be faithful even in the midst of adversity.  They made great sacrifices in their lifetime to gain an eternal inheritance in heaven.  Their sacrifice was temporal and short in duration compared to the eternal pleasures they now enjoy.  Help us not to resent the struggles that lead us to seek You in a deeper more intimate relationship.  May we, like Job, learn from our trials and declare: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You” (Job 42:2,5).

Brooksyne’s Note: When undergoing trial I often reread the story of Joseph and observe the tremendous character that God developed in his life as he went through the refining process of trusting God in the midst of evil and injustice.  Like Joseph, we will go through many difficult testings to prove that we are truly of the faith.  I know that I have passed the test when I believe and apply to my heart the words that poured out of Joseph’s heart:  “What you intended for evil God meant for good.”  Even evil must submit to the overall plan God has for our lives.  Nothing from Satan’s hand can thwart God’s purpose for our lives!  Remembering that important truth should give us an absolute peace when the fiery darts that Satan is aiming are directed at us!

Here are two books we especially recommend in regard to today's topic.

JosephJoseph  By Charles Swindoll / Thomas Nelson - Every day it seems another so-called "hero" falls from grace, but in his Great Lives from God's Word series, Chuck Swindoll introduces you to heroes who stand the test of time. In his third volume, Joseph, Swindoll challenges Christians to aspire to the virtues of obedience, mercy, and courage---all of which characterized the life of this richly blessed child of God. Click here for more information or to order through CBD.  Brooksyne's Note:  When I have gone through hard times this book has offered great encouragement and understanding of how God works good even in the midst of those who intend harm; at times this might include our own brothers and sisters in the faith who see things differently than we do. This can lead to some very ungodly actions which can really break your heart.   I like to read the Scripture right alongside the book and find hidden insights that God, along with the gifted writer, Swindoll impress upon my heart. God can pour the salve of His Holy Spirit in your wounded spirit as you study and apply His Scripture.

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?  By R.C. Sproul / P & R Publishing - In a world steeped in anguish and evil, how can God be in control? Do all things really work for good? With head-on honesty and biblical insight, Sproul examines the difficult doctrine of divine providence. Discover how your Lord lovingly guides the events of your life without creating human wickedness or destroying human freedom. 224 pages, softcover from P & R.  Click here for more information or to order through CBD.


Yesterday I looked out toward our front yard and saw a downy woodpecker at work on a small lilac bush. I had to take the photo through the glass and the bird was about 15 feet away so it doesn't measure up to the better bird photos we are accustomed to such as here.

One of my favorite nature sounds is the hammering of a woodpecker.
(That and a mourning dove.)

We are having an interesting experience at that same window. For over a week now a robin has been persistently pecking the window, apparently confused by it's own reflection. This will go on
constantly hour after hour though we tried hanging a colorful fabric from the inside of the house to break the reflection!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today's musical selections are all by Kristian and Shannon Walker, a ministry couple from southcentral Pennsylvania.

"God Is In Control"  Audio  This song has powerful lyrics and a rich theological perspective.  I especially dedicate it to a friend who is going through a hard trial and is bearing such a heavy burden.

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"  Audio

"I Need You More"  Audio

"What A Friend We Have In Jesus"  Audio

"In The Waiting"  Audio

"Psalm 16"  Audio Reading  Text

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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