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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Golden leaves
Golden bronzed leaves

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"I'm Not Going Back!"

"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66).  "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:35,36).

I heard a challenging sermon dealing with integrity and faithfulness using the text, "David shepherded them with integrity of heart."  The preacher then challenged the congregation to renew their commitment to "our high calling in Christ Jesus."  We concluded with a chorus that challenges and motivates me to persevere each time I sing it; "cause I never want to go back to my old life."

Surely our first daily text is one of the saddest expressions in the Bible.  This was the response by many who upon hearing the teachings of Jesus said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"  (John 6:60). This remains the reaction of many when confronted with His teaching.  Some of His teaching indeed seems so hard to understand. Some issues make sense to us, others we accept by faith. (And I have learned that there are many previously hard teachings that become easier to grasp after a period of growth and experience as a Christian.)

After many of His disciples walked away, "Jesus then said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'” (v.67).

Peter spoke up and uttered one of the greatest faith statements in the entire Bible: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (vv.68,69).

The early Hebrew Christians were enduring persecution and were tempted to return to their old way of life.  However, every generation of believers has this call to persevere. Every individual follower of Christ has this call as well.  The letter to the Hebrews laboriously teaches the superiority of the way of Christ over the old religious system the initial readers had come out of.  Of course His way is infinitely superior to any system devised by man.

A key purpose of the entire letter to the Hebrews can be summed up in the exhortation and promise of the second daily verse:  "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."

The exhortation – "Do not throw away your confidence." This is the confidence or assurance believers have in Christ. We are not to throw it away or cast it aside.

The promise – "it will be richly rewarded."  Notice the certainty of this promise "it will be", not might be or should be.  Praise God, it will be richly rewarded.  "How and when will this happen?" our hearts cry out, especially as we are undergoing trial?  But I particularly consider this with those being persecuted.

This answer and date is not given, but the writer goes on to say, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Hebrews 10:36).  Keep trusting in Him today, fellow believer.  Your confidence in Christ will be richly rewarded!

But some throw it away. May we have a persevering heart to do the will of God regardless of luring temptations or formidable obstacles we encounter. 

Today, may we all, like Peter, consecrate ourselves to God and continue as His follower.  "A faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me." By the grace of God I'm not going back to my old life!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, there is no one or no thing that is worthy of our complete allegiance, but You, our Lord, who has the words of eternal life.  Though others may refuse to listen or turn away from the message of salvation we choose to persevere.  We persevere in trial and in victory, in the ups and downs and in the in-betweens of everyday circumstances.  We seek to do Your will in all things so that we will be richly rewarded at the end of this life.  In the name of Jesus we persevere.   Amen.

PS: It's interesting that the first daily verse is the only 6:66 reference in the entire New Testament! "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Brooksyne's Note:  I find it interesting that Peter, who eventually denied Christ, is the named disciple who, previous to this tragic experience, spoke up as as others walked away from Christ, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."  Though Peter allowed raging fear to wipe out the remembrance of his powerful statement of faith, surely this is also what caused him to realize that after having denied Jesus, there truly was no one to whom he could go who has the words of eternal life.  This caused such deep sorrow that he wept bitterly after his outright denial.  Surely this deep seated conviction is also what drove him back to the loving, forgiving arms of our Savior upon his repentance.  When we have allowed fear or foolishness to drive us away from our Lord, may we also humbly draw near to Him and find forgiveness and acceptance once again.

Double Gerber Daisy bloom
Among Brooksyne's final freshcut flowers of the season is this interesting double gerber daisy bloom. (Two blooms from the same stem.)

Double Gerber Daisy bloom
Here's the stem from the back.

Mike and Michelle Stillman
Yesterday we had lunch with our friends Mike and Michelle Stillman. I met Mike a couple of weeks after moving to Lancaster County in early 2001 and we now share our chaplaincy service in several companies he is affiliated with. Mike and Michelle just celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary and are seeking to raise their six children for the Lord and let their light shine for Christ. Mike has an interesting testimony. He played football for Penn State when they won a national championship and played as a longsnapper! His personal testimony is here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play)

"Grace Alone"  Video  This powerful song was written by Scott Wesley Brown and is a reminder of the source of our persevering power in going forth in grace alone.  May God help each one of us.

"Press On!"  Video  by Selah.  This is such a well-written song!

"When The Tears Fall"  Video by the Newsboys.  A great song of overcoming faith in the face of adversity.

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Audio  from Wholehearted Hymns

"By What Death Will You Glorify God?"  A brief article by John Piper concerning Christ's final words to Peter.

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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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