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Monday, July 27
, 2009

Orange sunflower
Orange sunflower
On the way back from our trip to DC Friday we stopped right across the Pennsylvania border at a rest stop and they had scores of various colored sunflowers.

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"Reserved In Heaven"

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5). 

Yesterday I preached on heaven.  Have you contemplated the subject of heaven much lately? Brooksyne recalls a lot more teaching and preaching on this subject in her childhood years. But here in America it seems the focus of the contemporary church seems to have changed somewhat. Oh sure, we still believe in heaven and certainly find it great comfort when a loved one dies in Christ. But how much do we really contemplate heaven while going about our daily routine?  Has the material prosperity we've experienced in our lifetime clouded the vision of our future home?

I'm very thankful for the inheritance I received from my parents.  They were by no means wealthy; my dad was a pipefitter, my mom a homemaker.  Yet through the years they had accumulated some assets and passed them on equally to their four children. However I am much more thankful for the intangible love and faith they passed onto me than the tangible assets I received.

Peter begins his first letter with a beautiful exclamation of praise to Almighty God: "
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead He then lists two blessings from God that are rich gifts to every believer.  Both of these blessings are a result of His great mercy toward us.

1) Our present blessings: "A
ccording to His great mercy [God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."  We are "born again to a living hope."  That's our present standing, brothers and sisters!  Peter wrote the letter to encourage believers who were undergoing trials and persecution under Emperor Nero.  This reminder of their present standing with God provided much needed perspective and must have been encouraging to these persecuted believers. It should encourage us as well.

2) Our future blessings: "
An inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you."  In the same sentence Peter reminds these dedicated believers of a future blessing yet to be rewarded.  The Jews looked forward to an inheritance in the promised land of Canaan.  But Peter reminds believers they could now anticipate a family inheritance untainted by sin in the eternal city of God.  This eternal inheritance is "imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" which indicates permanence and continuance. What a glorious blessing this inheritance is for every believer in every generation.

This inheritance is "reserved in heaven for you." The word used for reserved has the sense "to guard by keeping the eye upon."  We can rest assured that our future inheritance is in good hands and cannot be tampered with.  For many years an insurance company has had the slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate." I once saw a church sign that stated, "God is like Allstate, you're in good hands with Him!"  Now, brothers and sisters, I chuckled when I saw that message and certainly caught the connection, but of course I'd rather rely on the assurance that God gives than the insurance that Allstate offers.

Today, being mindful of both our present and future blessings in Christ, let us "prepare our minds for action; be self-controlled; setting our hope fully on the grace to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:13).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we thank You for making us joint heirs together with the family of believers in this wonderful eternal inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade kept in heaven for us.  We gratefully claim this inheritance and await the appointed date when we will experience in full the blessings it provides.   Troubles in this life diminish our hope, but rejoicing in the life yet to be revealed gives us a living hope!  Help us to fix our present hope on the future return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in whose name we pray.  Amen.

The four major points to yesterday's message dealt with the concept of our reservation in heaven:
1) Reservations are required; Unlike many restaurants and hotels where we can walk in unprepared we must prepare for heaven and get our reservations before we die!
2)  Reservations are available to all who will call upon the name of the Lord.
3)  Reservations are paid in full through Christ's atonement.
4)  Reservations are confirmed when we surrender our lives to Christ.

A Scripture Reference Quiz

Last Friday's message prompted a quiz regarding well-known Scripture verses that I wondered how many might be able to identify simply by the numeric reference even without the book title. The answer key is posted below but I will repeat the quiz for any who missed Friday's message.

Just as 3:16 brings to mind John 3:16 what well-known verses do the following numeric references go with?
  1. _____________ 8:28
  2. _____________ 2:8,9
  3. _____________ 29:11
  4. _____________ 1:1
  5. _____________ 6:33
  6. _____________ 1:8
  7. _____________ 16:31
  8. _____________ 10:10
  9. _____________ 3:23
  10. _____________ 40:31
  11. _____________ 13:1
  12. _____________ 11:6
  13. _____________ 23:1
  14. _____________ 6:8
  15. _____________ 119:105
The answer key is below

Ester with Studebaker pickup 7/25/09
Ester and I enjoy antique car shows. On Saturday afternoon we attended a large show along Main Street in Mount Joy. Ester is standing by a beautifully restored Studebaker pickup.  Ester's car show interest was prompted many years ago by her friendship with Eric Larrimore, a young man who grew up in the church we served in New England. He would have enjoyed this show! Eric recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and Ester called him in Hawaii Saturday to tell him all about the show.

Antique car at Mount Joy car show 7/25/09
Many of the cars were beautifully restored and repainted with stunning colors that were certainly not original!

Rick & Rachel Caldwell 7/25/09
Rick & Rachel Caldwell
Saturday evening we joined our friends Rick and Rachel for dinner at their home in York, PA. We serve as chaplains in Rick's company, White Oak Display, which makes sales displays for many major companies including Home Depot and Lowes. Rick and Rachel are faithful followers of Christ and seek to serve Him in all they do. You may have observed that one of Rachel's interests is collecting Yankee Candles!  Her dad, an outstanding craftsman, built her her own Yankee Candle Display Cabinet.

Don & Pat Kreider 7/26/09
Don & Pat Kreider
Pat and Don Kreider visited our church service yesterday. Don will speak to our congregation when I'm on vacation in several weeks. For many years he taught school in Texas following his graduation from Letourneau  University. Upon retirement he moved back to his native Lancaster County and became a corporate chaplain. 

Orange sunflower
Translucent sunflower
I apparently took this photo while looking up to the bright sky and it gives the upper petals a stunning translucent appearance.

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.)

Today we would like to share links to several songs that remind us of our eternal home.

"If You Could See Me Now"  Audio  I used this song in a video tribute at my Mom's memorial service in November 2005.

"I Can Only Imagine"  Video  MercyMe  
Not very many songs are now being written (or at least popularized) that reflect on heaven, but this is one of them.

"When We All Get To Heaven"  Video  Smokey Mountain instrumental
We sang this song in our service yesterday!

"My Savior First Of All"  Video  Haven of Rest Quartet
We closed our service with this grand old Fanny Crosby hymn yesterday and Brooksyne shared a brief background:

Brooksyne's Note:  The hymn, "My Savior First of All" became especially dear to me following Stephen's mother's unexpected death in 2005.  Written by the famous blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), the four verses speak repeatedly of the glorious anticipation of seeing "my Savior first of all when I reach the other side."

As I selected this hymn yesterday in keeping with the theme of heaven, I considered how a blind person gets to know people by hearing their voice, their walk, or by touching them.  Through touch they become familiar with their distinct facial features and their hands.  I wonder if this in part inspired Crosby to write, "I shall know Him by the prints in His hands."

A well-intentioned minister once remarked to Fanny Crosby:  "I think it is a great pity that the Master, when He showered so many gifts upon you, did not give you sight."  "Do you know," replied Fanny, "if at birth I had been able to make one petition to my Creator, it would have been that I should be born blind."  Taken back by her comment the surprised minister asked her, "Why?"  "Because when I get to heaven, the first sight that shall ever gladden my eyes will be that of my Savior."

The attitude that Fanny expressed to the minister is poetically described in V. 2:  "O the soul thrilling rapture when I VIEW His blessed face and the luster of His kindly beaming eye; How my full heart will praise Him for His mercy, love and grace that prepare for me a mansion in the sky.  I shall know Him, I shall know Him, And redeemed by His side I shall stand.  I shall know Him, I shall know Him by the prints of the nails in His hands."  I hope you'll take time to sit back, close your eyes, and listen to this inspiring hymn about seeing Jesus face to face.

79422: HeavenHeaven  By Randy Alcorn / Tyndale House
As the years pass and we watch more and more of our family, friends and mentors pass away, it is only natural to ask questions about heaven. However, our understanding of heaven is often limited to a few half-forgotten Sunday school lessons and the insubstantial images provided by popular movies and T.V. Fortunately, in Heaven Randy Alcorn provides us with a thoroughly researched and biblically definitiv description of heaven. As Alcorn addresses our most serious questions about heaven, including the nature of judgment, and answers a few of our less serious questions as well, including the accessibility of cafe mochas the sweet by and by, we will develop a deeper understanding of our eternal destination and will find the courage to strive for heaven while were living on earth.

Answer Key
Scripture Reference Quiz

Please note these are the verses that I associate the numbers with. Obviously as long as there is such a reference there is not an incorrect answer and in several cases respondents provided answers of verses that are also quite well-known such as Romans 10:10.

Linked to Bible Gateway
  1. Romans 8:28
  2. Ephesians 2:8,9
  3. Jeremiah 29:11
  4. Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1 (I think of both when I consider 1:1)
  5. Matthew 6:33
  6. Acts 1:8
  7. Acts 16:31
  8. John 10:10
  9. Romans 3:23
  10. Isaiah 40:31
  11. 1 Corinthians 13:1
  12. Hebrews 11:6
  13. Psalm 23:1
  14. Micah 6:8 (This was probably the most obscure verse)
  15. Psalm 119:105 (This is the only 119:105 in the Bible!)
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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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