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"Purify My Heart!"
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).
Last night we started up our coal stove. It's an annual ritual in our home since it signifies the need for lasting heat, not just a boost we can get from a small electric heater. Our coal stove burns continuously all winter, although there are some adjustments we can make as to how much heat it puts out. However it's not practical to turn it on and off based upon the day to day fluctuation of outside temperatures.
Perhaps our visit yesterday to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a small mountain community right in the heart of Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region, also put us in the mood to get the coal stove up and running. Jim Thorpe is the County seat of Carbon County in northeast Pennsylvania. In the photo Brooksyne is standing in front of a single chunk of Anthracite coal that weighs nearly 8 tons which would be enough to heat our home for over two years! The small plaque at the bottom states that this big chunk of coal is black diamond and is 99% pure carbon. Although a genuine diamond is 100% pure carbon.
God calls us as His children to be pure. I am so blessed by the daily Scripture portion. "When He (Christ) appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." Do you have the kind of hope that the Apostle John is speaking of, for this is the blessed hope of the Christian. The death of a loved one serves to crystallize such hope. The prospect of a glorious reunion with those who have gone before us makes us closely examine this type of hope and indeed can make it even more certain in our hearts.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this hope in the glorious phrase that has brought assurance and comfort to millions throughout the ages: "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
This securely founded expectation of total transformation has practical implications now. Those who have this hope "purify" themselves. "Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." The word for purify is derived from the same Greek word we get "holy" from. Our God is absolutely pure and holy and His children who have the hope of seeing Him will continuously purify themselves. (The Greek is very clear in the tense here).
Jesus Christ is not only the pattern, but also the motivation and means for this purity. Today the world will seek to conform you into its image.
But we are called to be transformed into the image of Christ. Our God calls us to a life of purity even as we live in an impure world. Let us indeed cry out today as His children, "Purify My Heart!"
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, like the Psalmist, I pray that You will teach me Your way and that I will walk in Your truth. Give me a pure, undivided heart that I may fear Your name. When I'm tempted to compromise my faith help me to remember that You want a pure heart, one that is not trying to serve both God and man. I want Your favor more than the approval of others, so help me to stay true to Your principles and reject that which contradicts or lessens the full meaning of Your spoken truths. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
God has always called His people to a life of faith where trusting Him is foundational to our relationship with Him. As we face the days ahead let's rejoice in what we do know found in the passage of 1 John 3:1-3. John includes these five simple truths:
1) God has lavished His love.
2) We are the children of God.
3) He shall appear.
4) We shall be like Him.
5) Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Let us rejoice and act in obedience to the truths that have already been revealed to us. May we trust our ever-loving, ever-dependable Father in regard to that which has not yet been revealed!
This weekend I had the opportunity to share with this group of men at a retreat in New Jersey. Thank God for their receptivity to the challenges from the Word of God! Our theme song was "Rise Up O Men Of God", which we sang several times over two days. A number of the men were unfamiliar with this hymn so on Friday it sounded pretty awful, but by the time we finished on Saturday it sounded great! The men gave testimony in their church on Sunday morning and sang the song for the entire congregation.
Quoits, which is similar to horseshoes, is a favorite sport among many of the men in the church. Eric (left) and Rick won the Quoit tournament and were pleased to pose for a photo. Rick had also coordinated the retreat as the men's leader in his church. After the photo was taken Rick gave me his trophy as a reminder of the retreat!
Sunday afternoon we drove up to the Lehigh Valley (about 100 miles from our home) to visit my brother Pat and his family. His son, Patrick, made his first CD and launched it in a concert that evening where he and his band played several of the songs on the CD. Ester was pleased to get a photo along with her own personal autograph from Patrick! Here's a sample of his music in a song he wrote titled, "Come Like You Promised" (mp3).
Indian athlete from Oklahoma who had never even been to the town now bearing his name, but that's another interesting story. Here are many photos of the community of Jim Thorpe posted by a travel photographer. Here's a close-up photo of the plaque next to the piece of black diamond Brooksyne is standing in front of in the photo above.
photos of the train. And also here. I really like train photos!
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.)
"Rise Up O Men Of God" Video This is the hymn we sang on our men's retreat, although we only used the first verse. This song was written by William P. Merrill in the early part of the last century for the brotherhood movement, a men's movement similar to the promisekeepers movement of our time. In some circles the hymn has been criticized and some hymnals even changed "Men" to "Saints" or "Church". Merrill's notion was not to discriminate against women but to specifically challenge men to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
Rise up O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.
Info about Quoits
Note: Due to our trip to Jim Thorpe yesterday we did not prepare a daily encouragement message for Monday, October 12.
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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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