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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stone farmhouse, Lancaster Country PA
Yesterday we walked past this old stone farmhouse on our favorite walking trail along Donegal Creek. For many years it had been a Bed & Breakfast but was recently purchased as a single family home. I thought the bales made an interesting foreground.

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"Proclaiming King Jesus"

"They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus" (Acts 17:7).

Today believers all around the world are in various ways defying Caesar (who represents the world system) and proclaiming another king, one called Jesus. I hope that includes you.  But I especially want to consider those who are paying a heavy price for it. Today some will suffer for that stand, others will be imprisoned and tortured and yes, some will die.

Omar Khalafe, a 69-year-old Somali Christian was shot dead on September 15 by the Muslim group “al Shabaab”.  Omar Khalafe was killed at a checkpoint near the city of Merca, when the militants discovered 25 Somali Bibles in one of the bags on the bus in which he was riding. Khalafe was hoping to deliver the Bibles to an underground fellowship. The Somali martyr had been a Christian for 45 years, active in sharing the Good News and baptizing converts from Islam.

A cutting phrase in Hebrews regarding those who have suffered for their faith declares, "The world is not worthy of them" (Hebrews 11:38). Here in America there is such an increase in opposition to those who boldly proclaim Jesus and the teachings of the Scripture. In doing so the decrees of Caesar may very well be defied, for in many ways taking a stand for Christ and Biblical standards defies the decrees of the modern Caesar.  This is especially true concerning a number of "hot button" issues such as our origins, sexual morality and abortion.

The daily text is a summary of the charges against the young believers in Thessalonica after the church was established in their city.  Paul and his associates, Silas and Timothy, had faithfully preached the Word of God, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead and that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 17:3). Although some believed, others opposed them.  This led to persecution and Paul's expulsion from the city.  But the little church survived and the New Testament has two letters written to these believers, 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

"Caesar's decrees" in today's text were initially specific decrees made by the Roman emperor, but I feel they represent all of man's decrees. The first recorded instance of this defiance in the early church was when Peter and John were seized for preaching Christ and they gave a model for godly defiance when they stated, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29). Defying Caesar's decrees wherever they violate God's decrees remains the call to the faithful church.

"There is another king, one called Jesus" must remain the unashamed, unambiguous proclamation of earnest Christians.  The Greek word used for "another" is interesting.  The word "heteros" means "another of a different kind." Indeed, Jesus said, "I am not of this world" (John 17:16).  And He says of His followers, "They are not of the world" (John 17:16).  Paul reminded the Philippians and I remind you today that "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20).

Today let us, with renewed resolve, praise and live for this King Jesus.  If you have not already acknowledged that Jesus is King do so today.  If you, like me, are a servant of King Jesus, let us together serve Him faithfully and when necessary let us be willing to defy Caesar's decrees to avoid compromising God's truth.

All hail, King Jesus! All hail, Emmanuel!
King of kings, Lord of lords, Bright Morning Star.
And through all eternity I'm going to praise Him
And forevermore, I will reign with Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, You've called us to be light in a world full of darkness.  You've also called us to be peacemakers in as much as it is possible.  Sometimes when we take a stand for righteousness it does not bring peaceful resolution, but instead further conflict arises.  Then we go through a surge of emotions and doubts begin to arise regarding our stand.  Would You help us to be diligent in our study, prayerful about our stand, and immersed in Your Holy Word.  Lord, as we take a position against the evil tide of our land help us to unapologetic in our stand and very consistent in our Christian walk.  May we, by example and word, say to the fallen world that we serve not the god of this age, but we serve a King who is ageless and eternal.  We lift up our persecuted brothers and sisters and their families who are paying a heavy price for their stand both physically and emotionally.  May their spirits be strengthened as they continue to lift up their soul to You for infilling from Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note: As I took these photos yesterday I considered those who read our daily encouragements from a bed due to their bedridden physical constraints. I also thought of those whose walking is limited to the perimeters of their home and perhaps only their front or back porch. There are also those who don't have access to the country setting or the four seasons that we enjoy in our part of the world.  I hope that by viewing these variegated golds, browns, and crimson leaves you will, through our photo shoot, imagine the scent of the autumn air as you visualize the remaining leaves on the trees in the outdoors. These photos were taken along our neighborhood trail and Hershey.

Autumn leaves, Lancaster Country PA

Autumn leaves, Lancaster Country PA

Autumn leaves, Lancaster Country PA

Autumn leaves, Lancaster Country PA
I liked this one the best so Stephen made a large version suitable for a desktop background!

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.)

"All Hail King Jesus" Video

"All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name"  Video

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We'll be posting these resources through Thanksgiving.)

"Thankful For The Thorns":
A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thankgiving Table (printable webpage) The Thanksgiving celebration includes family coming together along with the turkey and trimmings. Often there's a lot of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in the link below.  
A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal. (pdf) Perhaps you could just use it as a discussion guide to provide stimulus for other's reflections.

A Thankgiving prayer: (written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago.)  Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony: This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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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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