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Monday, January 11, 2010

Open buggie on Colebrook Road 1-10-10
We have had a long spate of real cold weather here in our region. It has been in the teens ealy in the morning and has not been getting above freezing during the day. Yesterday after our church service we came behind this Amish open buggie on N. Colebrook Road.
Sure makes you appreciate your heater!
Yesterday afternoon we visited with our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth, who joined us for a service at a local nursing home. When I picked them up I inquired about all the open buggies I saw along the way and they told me it was young people going to youth meeting. So that's why we saw several snuggled up real close!

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"All I Need"

"I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself" (Genesis 33:9). "God has been gracious to me and I have all I need" (Genesis 33:11).  "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

In one sense life is a continual transition since change is inevitable as we age and have experiences familiar to that growth period. But there are specific times such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, a health crisis, a broken relationship or other unsettling life experiences when this is especially the case. Today we consider those going through difficult transitions and pray this message will be a source of encouragement to you.

Life's transitions usually include a time of testing, growth, and acceptance. During these junctures in life we are often more receptive to the Scriptures as we look for guidance and seek assurance of God's care. A sermon, an inspirational article, or the words of a friend may speak to our critical need and "hit the spot" in our particular circumstance.  When we are truly seeking, God's Word is like fresh manna falling from heaven, "For the word of God is alive and powerful" (Hebrews 4:12a).  Each morsel of truth and light is filled with just enough direction for the day before us.

Jacob had experienced many transitions and experiences. In Genesis 33 he had a long dreaded encounter with his estranged twin brother Esau where he expected severe retribution due to his deceptive trickery years earlier. Jacob's lasting remembrance of Esau was their extremely difficult parting over 20 years earlier.   After all, Esau had declared, "I will kill my brother" so Jacob fled his wrath. Scripture tells us that Jacob dealt with fear and distress over the matter, and certainly he lived with years of regret.

Reconciliation of Jacob and EsauAll the while Jacob was thinking of various ways to pacify his brother's anger God was working in the background invisible to Jacob's view.  He had prospered Esau and softened his heart over the years.  So often we try to work out our difficulties in the natural, while God wants us to trust Him for the supernatural.  He works invisibly within the heart of man, whereas we like to work in the visible realm – we want to see immediate results.  God calls us to pray, but instead we like to plan!

Reconciliation of Jacob and EsauWhen they finally met, Esau received Jacob favorably with one of the most touching reconciliation stories recorded in Scripture: "Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept" (Genesis 33:4).

Jacob sought favor from Esau or perhaps he was trying to give back the "blessing" he had stolen by giving him gifts but Esau refused them. Our first daily text reveals Esau's response, "I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself."

But Jacob insisted in our second daily text with one of the great faith perspectives of Scripture: "God has been gracious to me and I have all I need" (Genesis 33:11)

Finally today let us consider a great verse from Romans:  "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"   God "did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all."  This alone should prompt our deepest eternal gratitude.  If this was all God did for us it would be far more than enough and infinitely more than we deserve.

But the apostle Paul goes on to declare, "How will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"  The clearly expected answer to this rhetorical question is, He will!  He will fulfill His eternal purpose for our lives and that which brings Him glory.  Peter puts it this way, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).

Let us live with the assurance today that God is working.  If we believe that with all our hearts then we are trusting.  Trusting God in our transition will bring about a triumphant testimony of God sovereignly working in our lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we rely upon Your divine power to give us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of You, who called us by Your own glory and goodness.  As we gain knowledge from Your Word and apply it to our lives, we will not waver when the transitions of life seek to knock us off balance. Keep us steadfast and trusting.  Amen.

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.)

Several years ago Jim Gambini, who was my pastor at the time, preached a message titled "Transition and Transformation". With his permission I have edited a selection from it which I find especially encouraging. Perhaps there are readers who will likewise be blessed!

A great song of assurance: We sang a new song yesterday in our church service (new to us and much of the congregation anyway!) But actually it was written over 100 years ago!

Following a prayer meeting last Wednesday night Jesse Dourte, a retired pastor who now attends our church, suggested it, pulling out an old worn hymnbook to show Brooksyne. Brooksyne was unfamiliar with the hymn so she set it to the more familiar tune of another song by the same hymn writer, Frances Ridley Havergal. Notice especially how it is filled with Holy Scripture!

"Standing At the Portal"
(Sung to tune of "Like A River Glorious")

1) Standing at the portal, of the opening year
Words of comfort meet us, hushing ev'ry fear
Spoken through the silence, by our Father's voice
Tender, strong, and faithful, making us rejoice

Refrain: Onward then and fear not, children of the day
For His word shall never, never pass away

2) "I the Lord am with thee, Be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen, Be thou not dismayed.
Yea, I will uphold thee, with My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen, in my sight to stand."
Repeat Refrain

3) For the year before us, O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy, living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful, shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble, perfect strength be found.
Repeat Refrain

4)  He will never fail us, He will not forsake.
His eternal covenant, He will never break.
Resting on His promise, what have we to fear?
God is all-sufficient, for the coming year.
Repeat Refrain

I was unable to find an online version of this song but here's a nice online version of "Like A River Glorious"  Video

"He's Been Faithful To Me"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir  This has been one of Brooksyne's favorite songs for many years.

"He's Always Been Faithful To Me"  Video  Sara Groves

"More Than Enough"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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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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