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Thursday November 20, 2008

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As we prepare to send this out we are getting light snow flurries but nothing sticking.

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"The Great Chasm"

"And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us"  (Luke 16:26). "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:17,18).

Amish cemeteryRight up the road from us is an old country cemetery. It is well maintained and still receiving earthly remains. Often the line of cars coming to a burial service comes right in front of our house giving us pause for consideration of another one "for whom the bell has tolled".

Last week we learned of a young girl our daughter's age who died unexpectedly. We were especially prayerful as we saw the long line of cars pass our home headed toward the cemetery this past week. Having lost our parents, other loved ones, and a number of friends we consider one emotion in particular that many experience; the sense of finality and a desire that in some way we could communicate with the departed.  But of course we cannot.

In considering the Scriptures the first daily text comes to mind. It is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. It is a powerful portion from the very words of Jesus and much can be gleaned from the conversation. (A link to the entire passage is noted below.) 

However I am especially intrigued by the phrase, "a great chasm has been fixed."  Now this is specifically referring to the chasm between the rich man in hell and those who remained on earth whom he desperately wanted to warn.

However, clearly this same chasm exists between heaven and earth as well for it is equally true that, "Those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."  We just can't willingly pass back and forth between heaven and earth. Once we die this chasm is indeed fixed, that is until the appointed time.

That's what we experience at the death of a loved one with this great chasm. The two way communication we may have been so accustomed to is suddenly completely curtailed. This is so hard!

But the second daily verse has a wonderful promise. It's the great "rapture" passage and the entire context is linked to below. It's a promise concerning the coming of the Lord and expressly addresses a concern the Thessalonian believers had regarding their deceased loved ones. Paul assured them that actually the dead would rise first, then those living will be caught up together with them. That will be a glad reunion day (sounds like an old hymn, doesn't it). "We will be with the Lord forever."  Think about it, we will be with our loved ones who lived for Christ and the Lord forever!

Paul wanted them to "encourage each other with these words." The word encourage is also translated comfort.  The basis of this encouragement and comfort is that they would once again be together with their loved ones, no longer deceased and separated but very much alive and reunited. This is a Biblical truth so we also have the very same promise.

Let us be filled with anticipation for this future heavenly reunion. I pray that each reader will find similar encouragement and comfort in this wonderful truth!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we know that living in the light of eternity gives us an unending hope that surpasses our journey here below.  It takes our spirit to heights that soar beyond the brutish world we live in and motivates us to lay up our treasures in heaven where greed and corruption do not exist.  It gives us a deep, settled peace that our loved one who walked with You on earth now worships You in heaven.  We anxiously await that wondrous day when we will be joined with our loved ones in giving praise, glory and honor to our everlasting King of Kings around the heavenly throne.  Our hearts are encouraged and our spirit is strengthened as we meditate on these wonderful future events.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Stephen's note: I remember, as a child, the custom in Missouri was to pull over when a funeral was in procession - out of respect for the deceased whether you knew them or not.  Several weeks ago I was mowing our front lawn when a long line of cars passed on the way to the cemetery. I stopped the mower and paused, bowing my head till the group passed.  Later Brooksyne ran into one of our local readers who had observed this and considered it a thoughtful gesture.  It was a reminder to me that we are being observed whether we realize it or not!

Brooksyne's Note:  The custom Stephen speaks of is also observed in the state of Oklahoma.  I remember while preparing to take my driver's exam in Oklahoma that we were quizzed on the appropriate protocol for a driver during a funeral procession.  I also remember a few times being a little on the late side in getting to work. It seemed that I'd end up getting caught in a long funeral procession on those days and I wasn't always as patient and respectful as I should have been. Now many, many years later I certainly have a more respectful and appreciative perspective.

Today's Scripture passages:
Luke 16:19-31
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Today's suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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"What A Day It Will Be"  Audio 
  A powerful persepctive!

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

Yesterday I shared about our mice problem (I caught two more last night) and received several comments of those with similar issues.

Nancy writes: We have an old glass greenhouse which we  heat with 2 coal stoves.  Before it got cold this fall the squirrels ran in and out and buried hundreds of kernels of corn in the beds.  Now that it is all closed up and the stoves are lit the squirrels can't get in to retrieve their stash but the mice are taking advantage of the situation and being a real nuisance by tunneling under the plants to get the kernels.  I've trapped 8 in the last 3 days and think I feel as much satisfaction as any big game hunter.

Kathy writes:
We have a mouse problem here where I work (we are in cubes in a trailer in a parking lot).  We had a trap set for the past week or so and can’t seem to catch the mouse – he is enjoying my candy stash though.  This morning when I came in someone had put a plastic mouse in the trap as a joke.  We also ‘caught’ one last week that fell into our paper recycle container and couldn’t get out.

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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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