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Monday, January 26, 2009

Mastersonville PA landscape
Our church is set in the rolling hills of northwestern Lancaster County.
This is the view out the front door.

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Hartzler family
Hartzler family

"Open Doors, Closed Doors"

"So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias" (Acts 1:23). 

Dan and Judy are friends we met shortly after moving to Lancaster County eight years ago. They were our neighbors during the first year we lived in a rental farmhouse on Mount Pleasant Road.   We enjoyed meals in each other's homes and have appreciated their earnest faith in the Lord as they raise their family to love and honor Christ. Though we've both moved on from our homes on Mount Pleasant Road we still keep in touch with each other.

Several years ago Dan invited me to an ordination service in which a decision was being made regarding the selection of a pastor. His church has a selection process I had never witnessed before.  From among the congregation two men's names were proposed, one being Dan's. The congregation was in fervent prayer during this time that the will of God would preside over the will of man.

In the ordination service the bishop solemnly placed a card in one of two identical Bibles. Each man was then instructed to choose a Bible.  The one who chose the Bible with the card was determined to be the man of God's own choosing.  I was very impressed by the service and this earnest means of determining God's will in a spiritual matter. As I was introduced to this pastoral selection process I recalled some of the petty politicizing I've seen over the years that can easily infect many other selection processes.

I knew Dan was excited about this potential opportunity to serve. It's hard to be willing without being excited. Yet Dan was not chosen. What a touching moment to see the brother who was chosen and Dan hugging each other following the process.  Dan was OK, because he and his family, along with the other believers, had been praying about the outcome and had placed the matter in the Lord's hands.

Today I want to consider a man I suppose most have given little thought to.  Joseph is a man whose name appears in the first chapter of Acts and then disappears. This is the only reference to this particular Joseph, a disciple who had been with the Lord from the beginning of His ministry and a witness of the resurrection.  These are pretty astounding credentials. 

Now he, along with Matthias, was being considered for a very important job.  Actually, the opportunity of a lifetime.  The disciples had an opening to fill among the Twelve and he and Matthias were up for it.  Here's the Scripture reference, "So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias."  After an earnest prayer and a selection procedure similar to what I witnessed at Dan's church, Matthias was chosen.

I wonder what happened to Joseph? Did he get bitter or resentful?  Was he envious of Matthias?  Did he question the selection procedure?  Did he stew that it just wasn't fair.

Or did he go on, like millions have since his time, and faithfully serve the Lord the remainder of his life in relative obscurity?  I really expect this to be the case. 

I believe there are a lot of people like Joseph, really, all of us in one way or another. We've all had disappointments haven't we?  The job offer that fell through, that rejection that still stings, that election or promotion that went to the "other guy". 

How we handle it is what really matters.  Ultimately it's God who opens and closes doors.  What peace that brings!  I am quite certain that is the attitude that Dan has held over the years. Let us all keep serving God in whatever door He opens and trust that He knows best when a door is closed.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we desire to have You lead us in the paths of righteousness in the way everlasting.  Sometimes the next step we take is clearly visible and other times it is a step of faith as darkness seems to veil Your leading.  As we earnestly pray we can trust You who stilled the tempest and turned darkness into light.  We pray for discernment and a willing spirit to follow Your leading in all matters.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  Disappointments are often His appointments.  God uses circumstances, sometimes disappointing ones, to divert us to other opportunities He has for us.  In the beautiful classic hymn "Have Thine Own Way" God moved upon Adelaide Pollard's heart to write a prayer of consecration.  Born in Iowa during the Civil War in 1862 Adelaide committed her life to Jesus at a young age and became involved in ministry.  She felt God calling her to Africa as a missionary, but to her intense disappointment, she was unable to raise her needed financial support.  She was in her forties at the time and attended a small prayer meeting where an elderly woman prayed, "It doesn't matter what You bring into our lives, Lord.  Just have Your own way with us."

Following the prayer meeting Adelaide went home that evening with that phrase shaping words in her heart. She opened her Bible to the story of "The potter and the clay" in Jeremiah 18 and before she retired that night she had written out the prayer, "Have Thine Own Way."

This hymn has ministered to my heart so many times when I'm in the doorway of uncertainty – the kind of door that swings both ways and I'm not sure which way God wants me to push.  Sometimes it's the waiting He calls me to do and other times it's the walk that He wants me to pursue.  But always I want to be filled with His "Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me."
Have Thine own way, Lord!  Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Brooksyne's second note: I called Judy this morning and shared that we were going to share this story and photo.  We do so with her blessing. Judy is also a homeschooling mother with one graduate and seven to go. Over the years we've seen their family outgrow the minivan and for several years have driven a 12 passenger van!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"The Potter's Hand"   Audio   Video  

"One Pure And Holy Passion"  Audio

Cerwin and Doris High"Don't Try To Figure Everyting Out In Your Life"  A photo lesson from Doris High.

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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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