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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Row homes in Jim Thorpe, PA
Row homes in Jim Thorpe, PA

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"Recorded In Heaven"

"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven" (Luke 10:20).

What fills your heart with joy?  It may be a new purchase, a vacation trip, a wonderful family moment, the fulfillment of making a spiritual impact upon another, a special day in your life.  All of these and more have brought me some measure of joy and I feel all of these can be God's gifts to brighten our otherwise ordinary days.

We also have days when the events of life fill our hearts with sadness. This may be a loss of some type or a disappointing outcome of something we had expected to work out. Solomon wisely wrote that there is, "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

But today I want to focus on a source of joy that is constant and unchanging. By the authority of the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ I can present this promise to every child of God regardless of where you live, however much or little you possess of this world's goods. All who have placed their faith in Christ and have an assurance that their names are "recorded in heaven" should have this joy regardless of visible circumstances.

In the daily Scripture portion the disciples had returned from a mission trip "with joy" and exuberantly reported their victories in the authority of Christ's Name.  I have had ministry experiences that bring similar emotions of joy.

Jesus responded to their joy with affirmation and a powerful perspective on how we are to reckon our blessings.  Although it was truly wonderful (the events that had taken place on their mission trip) He reminded them that the primary source of their rejoicing should be, "that your names are recorded in heaven."  May we always rejoice in this wonderful constant reality amidst the twists and turns, the ups and downs of our earthly journey!

This fixed truth is a spiritual reality versus a transient material appearance. Ultimately all that we see around us is transient: "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17). Our tendency is to focus on the visible physical things because they're subject to our five senses, and that's what loudly clamors for our attention.

The passage goes on to reveal the heart of our Lord in an amazing way: "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.' Then he turned to His disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'"

Today, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2) and let us greatly rejoice that our name is recorded in heaven!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, we place our hope in You knowing that You direct our paths this day.  There is much on our hearts that we are praying about and believing that You will answer.  But our faith and joy do not depend only upon Your answering our prayers, but rather the marvelous work that You have done and are doing in our lives. You've forgiven us our sins and You've written our names in the Lamb's book of life.  May we be joyful in You and the ongoing work You are doing in the spiritual realm, invisible to our eyes and the eyes of others, but very much alive in our spirit. As we allow You to do Your inner work the outflowing fruit in our lives will reveal the changes You make within us.  We thank You for it in Jesus' name, Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  Regarding the variable visible circumstances of life we deal with, I read a letter from a young missionary couple from Thailand just a few minutes before I read through the Daily Encouragement message today.  Their very difficult situation reflects the message today and I thought I'd share a couple paragraphs from their newsletter.  The husband, Lynn Myer, was diagnosed with a terminal illness over a year ago and so the family is home on medical leave.  His body continues to weaken and his breathing is now at 25% capacity of his lungs.  The doctors give him 3-6 months to live.  He and Amy are parents to four young children with one on the way.  But this is their spiritual outlook:

This is where the rubber meets the road.  What happens to our faith when we are faced with a physical reality that is contrary to biblical truth?  Does our faith rise to the occasion and rest in God's promises or do we get lost in the physical reality of our situation?  This is one of the many things God has been teaching us. Hebrews 11:6 says that "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  We have become a people who resemble the faith of Thomas.  Unless we see it or experience it we don't believe it.  I for one have had to repent of this kind of faith because actually this isn't faith at all.  Hebrews 11:1 says that "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Before Abraham became the Father of many nations "Abraham believed what God had promised him (before he saw it with his eyes) and it was credited to him as righteousness."  "He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed - the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17b). This is what we are holding onto and declaring over Lynn.  We cannot tell you the peace that God has given us despite the physical signs and doctors reports.  This is definitely a God thing.

We stand with the three Jewish exiles who told King Nebuchadnezzar:  "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us.  But even if he does not we want you to know that it doesn't change our faith in God."  Of course "His thoughts are not our thoughts and neither are my ways his ways.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are God's ways higher than my ways and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts."

As I was typing the Meyers' message I considered how much of it was based on Scripture.  It is the only way we can be victorious and overcome the major obstacles in our lives and also spur others on in the midst of their critical circumstances.  I'm sure they would appreciate your prayers on their behalf for Lynn's health and the challenges this young family is facing.

Today's passage in context: Luke 10:1-24

Today we would like to share some more photos taken in Jim Thorpe, PA
during our visit on Monday.

Broadway in Jim Thorpe, PA
Broadway in Jim Thorpe, PA.  
The town (originally called Mauch Chunk) developed along a narrow ravine between two mountains leading up from the Lehigh River.

Jim Thorpe, PA
I like this view from a hill. The highway entering into town is seen in the photo along the mountain.

Asa Packer mansion in Jim Thorpe, PA
Asa Packer mansion
Asa Packer was a politician, philanthropist, railroad magnate, and the founder of Lehigh University.

Harry Packer mansion in Jim Thorpe, PA
Harry Packer mansion
Harry Packer was the son of Asa Packer who died when he was only 34 years old.

Alley view in Jim Thorpe, PA
This alleyway illustrates how the homes and businesses were built along the steep hillside.

Brick home in Jim Thorpe, PA
Since the town is tourist-oriented many of the homes are decorated.

Fall decorations in Jim Thorpe, PA
We both liked this fall decoration!

Family in Jim Thorpe, PA
We took Roxie along on our trip and she was allowed to ride the train as well!  (It was her first train ride.)

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.)

A song that comes to mind related to today's message is an old gospel tune I haven't heard or sung for years titled, "A New Name in Glory"

The chorus goes:
There's a new name written down in glory,
And it's mine, O yes, it's mine!
And the white robed angels sing the story,
"A sinner has come home."
For there's a new name written down in glory,
And it's mine, O yes, it's mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven,
Never more to roam.

Asa Packer Mansion

Brooksyne's 2nd note: Stephen's name was added to the Lamb's Book of Life about 38 years ago and the Hospital Nursery in Kansas City, MO 55 years ago today!  Happy Birthday from Brooksyne and Ester!  Today Ester is treating us all to the Sight and Sound Theatre to see "In The Beginning" and then to the Shady Maple for his "free" birthday meal.

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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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