The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We often feature this trail that begins across the street from our home. Now that the corn is harvested and the leaves have fallen we have much more to view. Another section of this same trail was shown in yesterday's photo.
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"Those We Long To See"
"Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy" (2 Timothy 1:14). "Do your best to come to me quickly" (2 Timothy 4:9). "Do your best to get here before winter" (2 Timothy 4:21).
These next several days will be among the busiest travel days here in America as many people will be driving or flying long distances to visit loved ones over the Thanksgiving holidays. We're staying home this year but having guests over for this special day of giving thanks. We'll enjoy a variety of foods typically prepared and served during the Thanksgiving Feast such as turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, corn and green beans.
After we've let the Thanksgiving dinner digest for an hour or so we'll enjoy the sweet ending of Pumpkin, Fruit, or Pecan Pie. I hope you also have a blessed time of giving thanks to God as you consider His blessings in Christ and in the fellowship of those He has ordained to be a part of your life. (You can do this even if it's not officially "Thanksgiving Day" in your country!)
Last night I called a friend I haven't seen in several years. He continues to endure various setbacks in life. He lost a long-time job earlier this year and he has been the faithful caregiver to his wife who's suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for many years. Yet he demonstrates an overcoming, faith-filled outlook, realizing like Joseph, that God is with him in the midst of it all.
As we go through life we accumulate friends and many of us seek to stay connected. Hopefully we also stay closely connected to our families. For the last several years we've had a different family dynamic since both sets of parents have gone on to their reward. Our siblings, nieces, and nephews live at a distance but we purposefully try to stay in contact and get together whenever possible.
Technology sure has done a lot to help us stay connected since Paul's time. It likely took considerable time for his letter to reach Timothy. Now we have so many means of instant communication that we have much less excuse for not staying in touch.
For today's text I chose three separate verses from Paul's second letter to Timothy. They indicate the longing that Paul had to see his young fellow minister. Paul wrote these touching words in his final and most personal letter. Apparently when he and Timothy last had fellowship their meeting ended with a powerful display of emotion, as Paul writes, "recalling your tears". (See Acts 20:36-38 for a similar parting.)
I hope you have people like Timothy in your life; those you long to see. Treasure them for they are a great source of joy. And when you next see them give them a big hug and tell them specifically how important they are to your life. Maybe you can tell them about an incident they'd forgotten about or you'd never mentioned before regarding something they said or did that endeared them to your heart.
Though this epistle was specifically written to Timothy it has, in the providence of God, come down to us and is in the body of inspired Scripture. Many spiritual and practical insights have been gleaned from this gem-filled letter. It is especially encouraging to those of us in pastoral ministry.
Today ponder with me this short but meaningful phrase, "I long to see you." Paul is sitting in a cold, damp Roman prison. If he is discouraged he chooses not to focus on it. Perhaps he finds special consolation when he writes meaningful letters to his brothers and sisters of the faith. He, unapologetically, directs Timothy to hurry up, in his letter. Several reasons for the urgency of his appeal can be found in the text:
Can you identify with Paul's intense need for fellowship with Timothy? Are there people who have walked with you in the valleys and mountain top experiences of life? They've seen you in your weaknesses and strengths. They've loved you when it seemed no one else did. They wrapped their arm around your shoulder, uplifted you in prayer during your losses, and rejoiced with you in your victories and overcomings of life.
Paul had a spiritual kinship with Timothy which is evident in this passage, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured" (II Timothy 3:10,11). Timothy was truly like a son to Paul. His very presence brought comfort and assurance.
Consider those who, like Paul, have discipled and nurtured you in the faith but who are now in a place of need. Perhaps it's your parents, a Sunday School teacher, a youth leader, a pastor or another believing friend. They're not in prison (I hope!), but they might be in a nursing home. Sometimes those whom we think are very much "altogether" have a need deep within their hearts to hear words of encouragement and assurance or loving instruction from a caring and thoughtful friend. Why don't you make your presence known to them today – in a letter, a visit, a phone call or an email? Some day you may very likely be where they are!
Do you have some folks you long to see? I sure hope so. It is my prayer that you will see them soon.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, our journey here below is extremely difficult without the friendships, prayers, and assistance of our brothers and sisters who share our precious faith. We thank you for those who sacrificially give of themselves to come alongside us; who walk with us in the ups and downs of this tempest life; who pray for us and help guide us when we can't see what lies ahead. Their interest in our welfare and their continued presence brings reassurance that Your hand is extended to us through their kind and loving friendship. Help us to carefully nurture our friendships so that we build one another up and bring refreshing to our conversation and in our times of fellowship.
(See Ephesians 4:29-31 for an excellent guide in building wholesome relationships.)
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.)
"Blessed Be The Tie That Binds" Video I sure like the earnestness and clarity in the voices but have no idea what the background video has to do with it!
"We Are One In The Bond Of Love" Video
"We Will Stand" Video Nice background photos!
Sunday afternoon we had a Thanksgiving Fellowhip meal in our church after which Brooksyne, dressed as a Pilgrim, gave a history lesson concerning the Mayflower Voyage and the devout faith of the early settlers.
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 Thanksgiving 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 Thanksgiving 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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