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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amish buggy from hot air balloon
Amish country photo taken from a hot air balloon!
Photo by Debra Zimmerman (Used by permission)

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"Love Covers"

"Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers a multitude of sins."
(1 Peter 4:8)

Lynne, a friend of ours, called the other night seeking advice concerning a nephew who is struggling with his faith in God and is now leaning toward an atheistic belief system.  She had had a role in raising the boy and is deeply burdened for the state of his soul.

Last night I reconnected with Paul, a friend I hadn't seen for many years. He told me his oldest son, although very successful in terms of worldly education and success, had drifted from his spiritual moorings established from infancy by his godly parents.

Today's message is intended to bring hope to those burdened for a wayward loved one.

Many years ago I heard a remarkable testimony from a veteran pastor who served in the 2nd World War. He went to Nagasaki, Japan shortly after the A-bomb was dropped. Interestingly, his mission that took place shortly after the Japanese surrendered, was to provide care to the Japanese by going from house to house, checking on them and getting them out for medical care. He was not serving the Lord at the time and was consumed with hateful feelings, especially toward the Japanese.

Over many years his godly mother had been diligently praying that he would turn to Christ before it was eternally too late. She had given him a Bible before he left home which he never read. But the Lord was working on his heart and one Sunday, prompted by the Spirit, he decided to attend a small Japanese church. The angry soldier sat in the back with a sneering countenance and begrudging attitude. 

Can you imagine the mutual hatred and raw emotion that would have been present in that church service? Being a Japanese believer and seeing an American serviceman shortly after the A-bomb was dropped on your city or being an American who had seen his own service buddies die before his very eyes at the hands of the Japanese. 

Yet through the joint realization of the power of the blood of Christ, an overcoming aspect of love was demonstrated in that small church in 1945. When the Communion elements were being distributed they did not pass him up, but they served him as well, and the process of healing and reconciliation in his life began. 

Let us consider today's verse. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."  The Apostle Peter's call was initially issued to persecuted believers whom he had called "God's elect, strangers in the world" in the very first verse of the epistle. Now, through the Holy Scriptures, we believers of all time read:

"Above all, love each other deeply."  Oh, how this command is greatly neglected but wholly needed in every avenue of life; in marriages, families, churches, communities, nations and of course all over the world.

"Because love covers a multitude of sins."  Love still covers and always will. Foundationally the love of God expressed in Christ's death on the cross covers our sin.

And in some remarkable way the power of God's love was at work in that Japanese church covering sin right after the horrors of World War 2. Thirty years later the bitter soldier, who was now a redeemed minister of the Gospel, was invited back to Nagasaki to share his testimony and the power of God's love to transform. 

That same power is not diminished one bit and is being expressed all over the world. May God help each of us to live in the power of God's love today and generously communicate that love to others!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we bow in prayer before You today, and ask that You, in Your great glory give us the power to be strong inwardly through Your Spirit.  We pray that Christ will live in our hearts by faith and that our lives will be strong in love and be built on love.  And we pray that we will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.  We pray for our loved ones who are struggling in their faith, that they would be able to experience Your inexhaustible love, that they might be filled with Your fullness, Father.  With Your power working in and through us, You can do much, much more than anything we can ever ask or even imagine. So we thank You in advance for hearing our heart's cry and for answered prayer.  Amen.
Prayer adapted from Ephesians 3

Additional Note:
In today's message I referred to a friend who had sought my advice concerning her nephew. It's an interesting story. She had sent out a prayer to a family
email group list which included him. He replied to her and shared that he had read a book by Richard Dawkin's, a very vocal atheist and had found it persuading.  Essentially it seems he shared this to inform her and was perhaps crying out for help as well. Just that day I had heard a news report referring to a book written by a former atheist turned Christian pastor.  I recalled that he shared how it was so important to win people over by love.  I told Lynne about the book (as well as some others) and shared that rather than getting into argumentive dialogue with him she express her love and that she recommend he read these books. Last night she wrote back and told me she had done so and he had written back and told her he would look into the book!

Here are two of the books I recommended to Lynne and they may also be of value to others dealing with the same type of issue.

Not The Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat AtheistNot The Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist  By David Schmelzer / Tyndale House
Finding faith in our secular, postmodern world can be difficult. Especially when it appears that the two are mutually exclusive. That's what Dave Schmelzer thought when he was an atheist. However, he did come to faith and now leads a large church in Boston, MA. In the tradition of C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity", "Not the Religious Type" explores the reality of faith in a postmodern world, and suggests a new, unexpected way of seeing the world and our place it.

The End of Reason: A Response to the New AtheistsThe End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists
By Ravi Zacharias / Zondervan
Ravi Zacharias has been defending the Gospel for many years, and with the rise of 'new atheism' he faces off against what some have termed 'big science' - the atheistic community's ham-fisted attempt to silence any dissent to naturalist evolution. The anti-Christian movement, promoting a sort of 'pop atheism' that usually attacks Christians themselves rather than the scientific theories of creationists, has many vocal proponents. Sam Harris, author of 'Letter to a Christian Nation', is specifically addressed in Ravi's book, with others dealt with obliquely, each taken to task for their errors. But this is not simply a reverse-attack on Harris or the others; Zacharias cuts to the core of the atheist problem and presents a case for truth resolving itself in a presentation of God in the person of Jesus Christ as the intelligence behind the universe, and the end (the culmination, not the cessation) of reason.

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

"The Power Of Your Love"  Video

"The Love Of God"  Video  Audio

"Before The Throne Of God Above" Video

Amish from the airToday's photo of the Amish horse and buggy was take by Debra Zimmerman, daughter of our friends Cerwin and Doris High. She has a layout and design business here in Lancaster County and had the opportunity to take photos from a hot air balloon over eastern Lancaster County's Amish country. More of her balloon photos are on Doris High's photoblog site here and here.

Eternity: Reclaiming a Passion for What EnduresEternity: Reclaiming a Passion for What Endures
By Joseph M. Stowell / Discovery House Publishers
If you've ever wondered, "Isn't there more to life than this?" or felt the despair that perhaps you've "missed" something, then Eternity is for you---literally! Dr. Stowell, past president of Moody Bible Institute, helps you see that your true calling is in eternity. "Built for eternity," you are a citizen of two other worlds: the world to come and the world Christ has placed within your heart. With heaven as your point of reference, you can learn to live a satisfying, balanced, and victorious life, even in a fallen world. Stowell shows you how to develop a passion for the eternal kingdom, providing fresh alternatives to a world filled with hollow pursuits.

Brooksyne's Note:   I am presently reading this insightful and inspiring book alongside my devotions.  We would like to offer this book to our readers.  We have a limited supply we purchased for distribution. For your financial gift of support toward our ministry we will send you a copy of this book until our supply is exhausted. Click here to make a donation, then email this address to inform us that you would like a book.

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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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