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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Neizmik barn
Tom and Marsha are long-time friends who live in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.  They enjoy this beautiful view of their rustic bank barn from their kitchen window.  Here's another view.

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"A Place Called Grace"

"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).

Today if you have meaningful conversation with other people you are almost certainly going to encounter someone who is hurting. I believe the body of Christ is strategically distributed throughout the world to share the healing, redeeming love of God everywhere they go.

One aspect of our ministry takes us out into the business world to express personal care as chaplains. The nature of our work is to visit various worksites and briefly interact with the employees as we look for opportunities to express interest and care in their personal lives.

An effective discussion starter is to inquire about one's family life. Several years ago Brooksyne met a troubled woman in her early 30's who was newly hired in a factory she visited in Lancaster.  She came home late that afternoon and told me the following story:

"I could see that the new employee was very troubled by her sad countenance.  Knowing that she was hired as a temp I realized it might be my only opportunity to reach out to her since she could be gone next week.  I felt the urgency in my spirit to find out where she stood with the Lord and what brought on such sadness.

Hurting womanI asked about her family life and she didn't answer right away except to tell me that she wasn't married.  After a long pause she lowered her head and told me softly, 'I did have four children.' I picked up on the word did and wrongly concluded that she had lost custody of her children and was broken up about not being able to care for them.  She kept her head low and said nothing for a little while.  I eventually asked, "Are your chidren in their father's care?" She shook her head.

"No," she said in almost a whisper, "they're all dead." They had all died in a fire and she was carrying excruciating guilt since it was intentionally set by her feuding ex-boyfriend in a messy love triangle.  In addition to the tremendous loss she felt from her children's deaths her family had completely disowned her so she now had no one.

In my mind I immediately recalled this high profile story from the newspapers and other media months earlier.  I also remember reading that she collapsed as the caskets bearing her children, ages 4 to 11, were loaded into the hearse.  No wonder this woman was so terribly troubled and seemingly without hope.  She'd lost her own children and she'd also lost the family of her youth.  I was able to pray for her and give her a hug along with the assurance that Jesus still loved her.  It was the only time I saw her as she was gone the next week and I was unable to make contact with her again."

Consider the statement in our daily Scripture text made by the Apostle Paul reminding the Ephesians where they came from. One commentator makes this observation: "The Gentiles are characterized spiritually by five 'less' attributes - Christ-less, country-less, covenant-less, hope-less and god-less!"

And due to our fallen human nature that's where we all came from. Interestingly the phrase "without God" translates the Greek word "atheo" (
ἄθεοι) which is the foundation for the English words "atheist" or "atheism" and this is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament.

But a major theme in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is grace.  A helpful acrostic explaining grace is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense".  Thank God that we can point people without hope in the direction of a place called grace!

Consider our inheritance as a believer in God in the spiritual realm as a result of God's grace. Our past is forgiven, our present is abundant life in Christ, and our future is heaven, forever with Him.  What could be greater than those blessings in addition to the fact that it's available to everyone including those whose lives are wrecked!  Now let's all spread the good news of our caring, loving God to a broken, hurting world and tell them of this place called grace!  There is no vessel too broken that God's healing touch can't restore.  That which is impossible with man is possible with God!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, often my cynicism limits my prayer of faith.  I find myself expecting You to work in circumstances in the natural human way I work things out.  But then You remind me that You are Omnipotent and You work in supernatural ways to restore broken lives and mend broken hearts.  You do extraordinary things in ordinary lives who've plunged into desperate messes of their own making.  I place my loved one in Your hands and ask You to reveal Your immeasurable, not for sale grace to his life, even as You have shown me.  Thank You for grace, God's riches at Christ's expense.  Amen.

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.)

"A Place Called Grace"  Video
Stirring words that remind us of the place called grace where God's life-changing mercy is extended to all who go there.

"A Man Fell Into A Hole"  Video
  An interesting modern day parable of the redemption story and what makes Christianity unique.  An excellent illustration of God's remarkable grace to those who plunge deep into sin.

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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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