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Friday, July 10, 2009

Scripture sign in Lancaster County PA
This large sign is along 340 east of Bird-In-Hand PA

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"Your Very Great Reward"

"After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward'" (Genesis 15:1). "Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me" (Revelation 22:12).

Among the small talk clichés we often exchange upon greeting another person is, "What do you know today?" Well, I don't suspect in many cases the inquirer really wants to know what I know. It's similar to other banal social phrases such as "Have a good one" or in response to the question, "How are you today?" we commonly respond "I'm good" even if our world seems shattered at the moment. 

When I hear the inquiry, "What do you know today?", rather than respond with the typical, "Not much", I really wish I had the presence of mind (and boldness) to quote these thoughtful words from a pastor who had given deep thought to the question, "What do you know?"

Ask ye what great thing I know,
That delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Who's the Name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified!

I wonder what kind of verbal response or expression the aquaintance might give me who asked me the question expecting the signature response!

We live in a reward-crazed culture: sweepstakes, lotteries, game shows, virtual reality shows, all promising great rewards.  These rewards are appealing because they are very specific and immediate.  For so many these days the attitude is, why wait for some unknown "pie in the sky" reward? Thus the allure of gambling that has entrapped and destroyed so many.

The concept of reward is found in the Scriptures from Genesis to the final chapter of Revelation.  Most of the teaching I find in the Bible regarding rewards presents them as future and having very little specific detail as to what they involve.  They are presented as being great and certain, but just what they will be and when we receive them is not fully known.  This is at the heart of the life of faith we are called to live. 

One of the great verses that many of us have committed to memory is a statement in Hebrews 11, often called the Faith Chapter. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (11:6).

Abraham never physically saw his descendents as "numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore."  However by faith Abraham "considered Him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11).

Moses died on the east side of the Jordan after 40 difficult years of leading a stubborn people.  He never physically entered Canaan, the land promised to Abraham's descendents.  His future reward in heaven motivated him in the midst of an ungrateful people and harsh conditions:  "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:26). 

Stephen, the great expositor of Scripture had a promising ministry but faced a hail of rocks.  He would have been a very good pastor to the early church yet his future reward was of more importance than potential opportunities for here and now.

People of faith understand this reward is coming in God's time. It is a most certain reward. So hold on to His promises today.  Some of these rewards are experienced in this life, but I'm convinced that whatever good we experience on this side is but a glimpse of our total future rewards.  By far the best is yet to come!  "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded" (Hebrews 10:35).

This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
faith in Him who died to save,
His who triumphed o’er the grave:
Jesus Christ, the crucified!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we hold onto the confidence we have in You, knowing that in Your appointed time we will receive the full range of rewards that comes to those who remain steadfast in their walk with You.  We have already received the reward of peace that comes from knowing our sins are forgiven.  We are rewarded with Your daily presence that guides us into all truth.  But we only see in part the rewards in this life that You grant to the believer, for we know You have much stored up for us to enjoy in heaven where sin cannot taint or corrupt those rewards.  Help us to hold on, not give up, and to greatly anticipate our future reward of eternity with You.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

"Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know" is actually a hymn sung with the same tune as "Take My Life and Let It Be"

Stephen's note: The other day I was checking out at a supermarket and as I left the young man who was the bagger said, "Have a good one".  I looked right at him and asked "Have a good what?" It threw him off and he was a bit flabbergasted by my response!

Yesterday's Travels

Yesterday the course of our chaplain work took us through eastern Lancaster County, an area heavily populated with Amish and old-order Mennonites.  We'll share several photos with you today.

Amish farm in Lancaster County PA
This typical Amish farm is lush and green this time of year.

Open buggie in Lancaster County PA
We came up behind this family travelling
in an open buggie north of Intercourse PA.
Looks like they have some flowers to plant when they get home!

Old order Mennonite girl on bike in Lancaster County PA
One branch of old order Mennonites get around by riding bikes
and the roads are often teeming with bikes ridden by all ages,
hauling almost anything that can be hauled by a bike.
This young lady is pulling behind some freshly picked sweet corn!

Yesterday we drove through Bird-In-Hand, Intercourse, New Holland, and Ephrata. Here's some info about the Amish and other plain groups in our area.

Speaking of "Bird In Hand" last night our cat Dottie caught a small bird she had trapped in the shed. We were able to rescue it, nurse it back to health and set it free!  It upset Brooksyne because she's been watching this bird fly daily with worms to feed her (or his) nest full of babies. I'm sure the fledglings were quite happy to see their missing parent return last night.  We think this is a sparrow but are unsure of what kind.
Bird in hand

Tomorrow we expect to travel to a neighboring county for an Amish benefit sale for a one room school in Perry County. We went several years ago and it's quite an interesting experience! Perry County also has lots of covered bridges.  For many years Perry County did not have a single traffic light, although I read that they got their first light this year. Some are probably quite excited about it and others not so.

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.)

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Audio  An acapella version of a great hymn with great harmony.

"I Know My Redeemer Lives" Video 

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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