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Friday, February 27, 2009

British Columbia, Canada (photo by Doris High) 
British Columbia, Canada.  
Our friends Cerwin and Doris High are visiting out that way and Doris took this photo on Vancouver Island.

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Pauline Harding
Pauline Harding is now 94 years old.  
Several years ago when we held my mom's memorial service I stopped by, along with my two brothers Mike and Pat, to visit Pauline Harding, who had been a friend of my mom's for nearly 60 years. It was a warm sentimental visit. As we left she looked up at the three Weber boys, started to cry and said, "I'm just so glad you came by." (The photo above was taken at that time.) Last night I called Pauline and, although she is now in a nursing home and her memory is frail, she still knew me. We talked a while and she told me, "I'm so glad you called." Today I want to share a message about her husband, Joe, who passed away many years ago.

"Mr. Harding"

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain"   (1 Corinthians 15:58).

My Sunday School teacher in 7th and 8th grade was an older man by the name of Joe Harding.  (Since I was raised to respectfully call all adults Mr. or Mrs. I still think of him as Mr. Harding.)

At that time in my life I had no desire to serve God and don't recall paying much attention in Sunday School.  In fact, I was a problem student.  Thinking I was doing him a favor just showing up on Sundays, I never expressed any appreciation whatsoever to Mr. Harding for his labors.  In retrospect I recall his love for the Lord and for his students.  He was a kind, soft-spoken man and so earnest in his desire to share the Bible with us. He surely must have gotten very discouraged with brash kids like me.

A couple of years later during my high school years I accepted the Lord as my Savior.  After high school I went to Central Bible College and prepared for the ministry and went immediately into pastoring.  Many years after this I was prompted by the Spirit to contact Mr. Harding and thank him for his faithfulness to God and for his impact on my life (over 20 years after he had taught me).

I did reach him (he was in his 80's at the time) and I must say my expression of gratitude made his day!  He went to be with the Lord a few years after this. There was mention at his funeral that one of his students from Sunday School went into the ministry.  I am sure there are many other students who were impacted by his teaching and Mr. Harding fully knows now that his labor in the Lord was not in vain, as he week after week endured uninterested and often interrupting Junior High kids like me.

Photo of farewell plaqueI often quote our daily verse in this series.  I suppose I would have to say it's my life verse. In fact the church Brooksyne and I planted and served for nearly sixteen years in northern Pennsylvania had a clock made for me with this verse on it as a gift when we moved on.

Consider just the phrase "because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  Warren Wiersbe observes, "Christians can be steadfast and immovable, because they know that if their worst enemy (death) has been overcome, they need fear no other enemy. They can abound in Christian service, for that work will count for eternity."

Don't forget that important truth.  Ministry in any form can be discouraging at times.  Consider how often discouragement is based on the sense of futility.  But the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us "our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
"  Keep pressing on; serving, loving and showing the light of Christ to a dark, often unreceptive world or even just one rascally student.  

Two practical thoughts for each reader today:

1) We all have several people like Mr. Harding in our lives.  They've invested in us. Why don't you brighten their day by personally thanking them? Perhaps you can meet with them. If possible write them a note or even a tribute.  Invest a little time and a lot of heart in return for the investment they made in your life.

2) Some of you are serving the Lord with kids as Mr. Harding did when I was in 7th grade.  You are seeking to share God's truth with some rascals and it sure doesn't seem like anyone's paying a bit of attention.  Stay faithful, stay faithful, stay faithful.  Serving God is never a waste of time! It's never in vain!  God is doing a work in you and growing the fruit of love, patience, goodness and faithfulness as you carry on His work.  He's also doing a work in those you pour your life into.  You will find out the rest of the story later (perhaps in this life, perhaps in heaven).  "Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:
Father, there are many good things that beckon my attention, time, and energy.  But as You place on my heart a ministry or service that  brings eternal significance to others give me strength, endurance and desire to press on zealously, no matter the difficulty or seeming ineffectiveness.  As I obey You I  find reward and fulfillment in my spiritual walk and am investing in that which does not perish, spoil or fade.  Keep me firm and immovable always abounding in Your work because I want to make an eternal difference and am confident that my work for You is never in vain.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
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In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"It's Gonna Be Worth It"  Video

Bill Shibilo with EsterI often issue a challenge to readers to write a tribute to their parents. But such a  practice can also be meaningful for others who have had an impact on your life as well.

Here's a tribute I wrote many years ago for Bill Shibilo, a faithful member of the church we served in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Here's the tribute I wrote for my parents.

Here are some tips on preparing a written tribute.

"The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents" is an excellent detailed guide for preparing a meaningful and lasting tribute.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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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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