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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coast Guard lighthouse on Lake Superior (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Coast Guard Lighthouse Station on Lake Superior
Marquette, Michigan

Photo by Howard Blichfeldt

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"The Hope Offered To Us"

"We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:18b, 19a).

As we prepare this message we have had some "weary ways" in our home.  Although I am recovering from my surgery last week and each day feel a little stronger the going seems much slower than I anticipated. Ester's unexpected admission to the hospital over the past couple of days has added to the mix of emotional weariness. (Brooksyne will explain in a footnote below.)

Another year and decade is passing and we can't help but wonder, "What will the year 2010 hold?"  We simply don't know the specifics whether in regard to the world situation or in our own lives. A verse from "I Know Whom I Have Believed" comes to mind, "I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me, of weary ways or golden days, before His face I see."

Whatever happens, the daily Scripture is a great source of assurance and encouragement for every believer.  Read it again slowly and thoughtfully and allow its powerful words to impact your life.  Perhaps you will choose to memorize it. "We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:18b, 19a).

I recall an insight shared by one of my Bible College professors many years ago.  Hope, as used in the Bible he explained, is not a wishful thought but a confident expectation of absolute certainty. The Holman Bible Dictionary offers this; "Hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future." 

This hope is what the believer has "fled to take hold of."  We flee from the worldly sources of temporal or falsely placed hope to the only true and lasting source of hope. This Hebrews phrase gives the sense of one fleeing a shipwreck who has finally reached safety, or one who is caught in a pelting hailstorm but flees to a dry, impenetrable fortress finally safe from the assault. Once we firmly take hold of this hope which is graciously offered to us we are indeed "greatly encouraged," and declare along with the Psalmist, "God is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

In describing this hope the writer of Hebrews uses the wonderful expression, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul."  What an incredibly powerful metaphor!  I need and want my life to be anchored solidly in the hope God offers.  When I place all my hope in temporal circumstances I am certain to be disappointed, emotionally unstable or even led astray.

Jeremy Taylor wrote a simple faith statement over 350 years ago which fully embraces the timetable of the Gospel journey and is a great focus for the believer:  "Faith is the Christian's foundation, hope is his anchor, death is his harbor, Christ is his pilot, and heaven is his country."

There are many circumstances that bring fear, despair or hopelessness. Scores of people are presently dealing with these emotions. And realistically I expect to have occasions in the coming year when I will battle with these emotions.

When I do so, I pray that God will bring today's Scripture text to mind reminding me of the hope I have in Christ which is firm and secure.  This day as we experience the transition to another year let us continue to place our hope in our ever-faithful, ever-dependable God!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, as we are tossed about in the tempest sea of life, we will stay afloat as we hold onto the hope secured through Your promises in the Holy Scriptures.  When doubts and fears begin to consume our thoughts help us to cling tightly to our soul's anchor, Jesus Christ, who keeps us from being swept into the crashing waves that seek to drown us.  When all around my soul gives way, You are indeed my hope and stay.  We are thankful for the year past and look forward to the year ahead as we walk step by step with You.  Amen.

Personal note: We have much to be thankful for since we were able to bring Ester home today after two days and nights of treatment, observation, and testing.  On the 19th of December we had a heavy snow storm and unfortunately Ester was scheduled to work.  When she arrived she fell in the parking lot hitting her head.  She worked that day with a bump on the back of her head and a low grade headache.  The headache finally went away the next day.  We thought nothing more about it until she got a severe headache on Dec. 24th and it refused to go away.  After four aching days I took her to the doctor. A cat scan was ordered and they found she had bleeding on the brain, in part due to the coumadin (a blood thinner) she's been on for about three or four years due to her atrial flutter issues.  The doctors reversed her coumadin (making her blood thicken) which took a full day and did another cat scan.  They felt that the location had stabilized as a result of their intervention.  She must be careful for the next three months about any head injury and is also on an anti-seizure medication, commonly prescribed for those who've had bleeding on the brain.  She will probably have a headache for a couple more weeks, but we're grateful the situation was not worse and that she's back home. 

I was reminded of how blessed we were when her cardiologist came by to see her.  Though not on duty Dr. Cohen came to see her when he learned of her situation.  He commented as he gave her a warm hug, "I said to myself, Oh, no, not Ester.  She's done so well this year."  And she has - this was her first overnight hospital stay this entire year.  Interestingly, Dr. Cohen was Ester's first doctor who diagnosed her heart problem after her arrival in the U.S. at 3 months of age. Five heart operations and four years later we moved to New England and lost track of him for nearly eight years.  But then when we moved to Lancaster County nearly 9 years ago we met up with him again as he had moved his practice to Hershey.  His presence is a steady comfort when Ester goes through her medical difficulties. He also said he thought about the movie actress who had the skiing accident in Canada this past year who died from head trauma.  So we all gave thanks that this was caught and contained.  How fortunate we are to enjoy such good, dependable health care and caring health professionals!

Special Thanks: At the close of this day we'll turn the calendar page not to just another month, but another year.  We're thankful for our new readers over the past year - some in just the past month or so. We're also very thankful for our steady readers over the years who take a few minutes with us each day as we share a message God has laid on our hearts.  We also give thanks for those who share with us in prayer for Daily Encouargement and for those who give generously to help support our ministry. Your vote of confidence in us is truly humbling as we desire to honor God in all we do.

Fresh snowfall 12/31/09
We had a beautiful snowfall overnight and Brooksyne took this photo this morning in the back yard while taking care of one of my customary weekly duties; hauling our trash out to the roadside for pickup!

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.)

We Have An Anchor

"We Have An Anchor"  Video  I am so very blessed by this grand old hymn and this is an especially beautiful version musically. (I only regret this version only has one verse).  Here are the words to the entire hymn:

Verse 1
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

Verse 2
It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Savior's hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, thro' strength divine.

Verse 3
It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Tho' the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o'erflow.

Verse 4
When our eyes behold thro' the gath'ring night
The city of gold, our harbor bright,
We shall anchor fast by the heav'nly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Video

"It Is Well With My Soul"  Video

Today's outstanding photo of the lighthouse station on Lake Superior was taken by our friend, Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard desires to honor the Lord through his photography.

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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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