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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Waterfall in Lehigh Gorge, PA
Waterfall in Lehigh Gorge

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"Staying On Guard"

"The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray" (Galatians 2:13).  "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).

I have on my heart this morning a friend from long ago. We went through Bible College together, preparing for a life of service for Christ. We went our separate ways and for several years stayed nominally in touch. However he progressively moved away from sound doctrine and godly living and the last I heard he was living in an apostate condition. We reconnected several years ago but from our conversation I could tell we were not at all on the same page when it came to spiritual matters.

Our first daily verse is set in the context of Paul's encounter with the Judaizers, a false religious group that insisted on the keeping of ceremonial aspects of the Jewish law as a condition to salvation.  The "him" in the verse is the mighty Peter, who had also been affected by this doctrine and at least for a time appeared to have embraced it. But the part of the verse that grips my attention is the phrase, "even Barnabas was led astray."

Barnabas is among my favorite Bible characters.  He first appears in Acts 4:36 as "Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus."  But the apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas which means "son of encouragement" and that's what he is known as through the rest of the Scriptures.

He was an early encourager to Paul (Saul at the time) and they developed a long-time relationship.  Barnabas had stood up for him when nobody believed the persecutor Saul could really be saved. Later they went on a missionary journey together.  They had argued and parted company over a onetime deserter, John Mark, but later reconciled.

Paul seemed surprised that the Judaizers had influenced Barnabas, even more so than he was at Peter's involvement.  What lesson might we find in this?  Thankfully, we can conclude from the balance of Scripture, that both Peter and Barnabas came to recognize their error and  went on to have faithful ministry for our Lord.  Praise God for that. 

But I consider that if two great leaders of the early church could be affected by error, how on guard we should be.  I am astounded at the many false doctrines and practices that are impacting the church in our day.  Paul encouraged Timothy to "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).  We need to stay on our toes and more in the Word than ever before, like the Berean believers in Acts 17!

Each generation has a responsibility in guarding the good deposit of faith passed on by the preceding generation and in turn passing it on to the succeeding one.  That's at the very heart of what Biblical Christian faith is all about. 

In fact Paul set forth the pattern to Timothy, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2).  In a sense I am both receiving the torch and passing it on simultaneously.  As I study the Bible and godly material from previous generations I'm still reaching back and receiving from many believers in the past who have guarded the good deposit.  And now I'm passing it on to those in our present generation who will also affect future generations.  How about you?  Let us stay on our guard.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we seek to guard the truths and commandments entrusted to us through the Holy Scriptures.  We don’t want to be swayed by man's opinions and will not be if we are firmly anchored to the Rock which can't be moved. We stand firm and strong when we, by conviction of Your Holy Spirit, embrace Your teachings and refute that which conflicts.  Help us to be sober and vigilant as our adversary the devil seeks to divide believers and destroy their faith.  By the grace of God we will be strong, stand united, and overcome his attacks.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Several photos of the Lehigh Gorge

Lehigh Gorge Fall Foliage
We visited this area on Monday and it was slightly overcast but the fall foliage was still beautiful!

Lehigh River near Jim Thorpe, PA
The Lehigh River forms a quiet pool at this point although through much of the gorge it is rapids.

Lehigh Gorge railway tunnel (abandoned) near Jim Thorpe, PA
This long abandoned railway tunnel was cut in the 1,800's.

Ester & Stephen at Lehigh Railway

Lehigh Railway
The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway train
I suppose my only disappointment was that it wasn't a steam engine. Here in Lancaster County we have the Strasburg Railroad with an authentic steam engine! Or see this photo.

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.)

"Find Us Faithful"  Video

"Resist him"
1 Peter 5:8,9 from the Integrity Scripture Memory series. Audio (Open this page and click on the play button)  This entire album goes well with today's theme.

Yesterday we were all very blessed by the "In The Beginning" presentation at the Sight and Sound Theatre here in Lancaster County.  It is an outstanding depiction of the Creation story.  As is true in every presentation we have seen in this theatre, it ends with a powerful proclamation of the Gospel.

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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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