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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Horse barn on E-town Road Lancaster County PA
We often pass this barn along E-town Road here in Lancaster County. We have been told that this is actually a painting of the horse that lives on the farm!

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"The Victory"

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Larry is a friend of mine from Bible College. He turned to Christ as a young adult having already earned a degree in accounting and then he worked for Westinghouse. As a young convert his faith was vibrant both in Christian and non-Christian settings. Thus he was given an interesting name at work before he left to begin his preparations for ministry.  His fellow workers nicknamed him Vic, not because his name was Victor (which it wasn't) but because he constantly sang the hymn, "Victory in Jesus."

Larry was with Brooksyne and me one day during a time of deep discouragement after we had moved to Pennsylvania in 1977 to plant a church. His very presence was a source of encouragement.

My heart strings are really pulled when I hear someone express, "I'm really discouraged."  I know how spiritually crippling discouragement can be. It seems in all of our lives there are certain critical issues that can easily prompt discouragement. Keeping the right focus can be a real challenge. Thus what I am sharing today is not merely academic.

I am so glad the Word is written not only to inspire, instruct, and strengthen but also to encourage! The daily verse is a powerful truth that we do well to hide deep in our hearts. The apostle Paul is completing a great portion asserting the foundation of the resurrection. He has powerfully made his point and as he finished he pulls it all together with an exclamation of praise, "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

This verse is so powerful in itself but an additional thought from a commentary especially blesses me. The word for "gives" is in the present tense and this is used to emphasize the certainty of the victory.  It wasn't just for that point in time, but it is a present ongoing victory that we have right here and now, tomorrow, the next day and so forth.

Certainly we will have apparent setbacks and disappointments in life. But the promise is that "He gives us the victory." Today let this truth flood your soul.  It will fill you with spiritual fervor and encourage your heart. I regularly search for worship music as Brooksyne and I prepare these encouragements attempting to supplement our message with a supporting thought in a particular song(s). Today we consider a song with a recurring line that reminds me and all who need uplifting of where our focus must be. "Forever You will be the Lamb upon the throne! I'll gladly bend my knee and worship You alone."  Indeed the Lamb is on the throne and I choose to worship Him!  We live in victory when our eyes are off of self and fixed on the Lamb!

Today's Scripture is followed by a portion that I have often described as my "life verse". "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."  I very specifically recall the time I was being examined for my ordination which was 30 years ago this month.  Only 24 years old at the time, I was sitting at a massive conference table with the elders who had served in ministry for many years. This was the final step in my approval for ordination.  These tried and proven elders asked various questions concerning my call to ministry, Bible knowledge, doctrinal understanding and so forth. It was very stressful and wearying.

As the meeting came to a close I recall one of the elders, Edward Menaldino, a very distinguished Italian minister who pastored a large church on Philadelphia's south side, standing up, pausing, and making direct eye contact with me. He then solemnly and slowly quoted this Scripture portion from memory with the Spirit's anointing.  Perhaps that's why this passage has stood out over the years as it has been my constant guide through our many years of Christian service.  Only God would know that the church we were planting at the time would have many ups and downs, difficulties would abound. I would need the Spirit's prompting to never shrink back, but "always give myself fully to the work of the Lord knowing that my labor in the Lord is not in vain."  As I kept my hand to the plow the blessings did unfold as God firmly established His work in that spiritually needy community.

That's a word for you as well, dear friend.  No matter what God has called you to do, give yourself fully to it, and know that your work is not in vain.  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  You may not see the fruit of that victory at the present, but trust God that He will reveal it to you in due time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we give thanks to You that we can walk in victory because of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Once we were held captive by sin and its enslavement, but we have been set free through the redemptive work of Jesus and His glorious resurrection.  Each day brings new challenges, but we overcome them through the blood of the Lamb.  Help us to stand firm in our faith and immovable in Your truths, as we daily serve You.  We are encouraged to know that nothing we do for You is in vain though we may not see immediate results.  Keep us obedient and trusting. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Note: Ed Menaldino is now 84 and is still in service for Christ. Yesterday I found his number and called him.  I reminisced about the ordination testing and how his quotation of Scripture was such an encouragement to me at the time. He told me several times how heartened he was by my phone call. He has been married over 60 years now and his wife is having severe health problems. I was able to reciprocate his encouragement to me years earlier by praying with him yesterday over the phone for his wife's frail health.

It also occurs to me that I am now the very same age (54) that he would have been when he gave the Scriptural charge. He seemed way up in years at the time (that's certainly the age perspective of a 24 year old.)

Yellow pansy
These beautiful spring flowers sure bring a cheery smile to our face!

Amish Limo
"New for prom season rental in Lancaster!"
In Tuesday's message I posted a photo of an Amish horse and buggy. This prompted Ron, a friend who lives in the area, to send me this "photo" and caption.
I have not seen the Amish limo yet but have seen many of these.  
Any idea what they are?  
Here's another sight you won't often see and also this one.

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.

"All Heaven Declares"  Video  "Forever You Will Be The Lamb Upon The Throne"

"It's Gonna Be Worth It"  Video

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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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