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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Farm scene 2/6/10
This is a view of the Espenshade farm at the end of our road following the storm this last weekend.  I have photos of this same scene in the spring, summer and autumn.

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"Daily Pressures"

"Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28).

We had a major snow storm of some 20 inches this last weekend and tonight we are supposed to get another one. We enjoy the snow and it sure is beautiful as we look outside. It's especially beautiful now that the clouds are lifted and the sun is making the white snow appear dazzling.

Snow load on house roof 2/6/10
However I do have a concern. Since the temps have remained low since the last storm the snow has hardly melted at all. We thus have a lot of heavy snow on our roof. (I know it's heavy because I've been reaching up over the porch roof with a long-handled tool and scraping it off!). The next storm could be as much as 12 inches so that will be a lot more snow stacked on the roof of our home.

There are two ways weight on the roof is measured. Dead load refers to the weight of the roofing materials and remains constant. Live load varies and includes the weight of the snow and/or ice build-up.  I am of course concerned with the live load aspect of all this snow!

I believe there is a parallel in life. There are the daily ongoing burdens and cares we all deal with. These remain somewhat constant and are similar among individuals, regardless of who we are or where we live.  Then there are the acute, short-term trials that come and go that are very specific to each of us. These are like the "live load" on a roof.

Today's verse has often intrigued me, especially as a pastor.  "Apart from such external things" points back to the context referring to Paul's many physical sufferings for Christ. In this passage he is reluctantly, due to criticism, asserting his many trials as an apostle. He calls these "external things".

But then he writes "of the daily pressure on me".  After writing very specifically about his sufferings for Christ he includes the inward pressure of bearing the burden for the churches he had served and for specific individuals in them.  A caring pastor always has some element of the work of God on his heart and in his mind.  Notice Paul writes that he had "concern for all the churches".  He is not referring to one church but to several he had started and overseen.  I understand that since Brooksyne and I continue to be interested in people from our former congregations.  We continue to pray for them regularly and for their specific needs when we're made aware of them.
  • Surely Paul might have had in mind an individual struggling through an illness such as Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30).  He clearly knew and loved people as individuals. 
  • Paul might have been distressed by doctrinal error that is always at the door which divides a church and scatters the flock such as that which hit the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:6ff). 
  • Possibly Paul had in mind division in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10ff). 
  • Perhaps it was some argumentative sisters such as Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2). 
  • Or it might have been a backslidden fellow-worker such as Demas or a destructive Alexander (2 Timothy 4:10 & 14).
An expression used in the news to describe an unsettled matter or constantly changing details in a news story is referred to as "a moving story". Certainly you can relate to the physical and emotional struggle one feels when concerned about a circumstance that changes from day to day regarding a matter, other people, or ourselves.  Our Scripture reference specifically pertains to the load Paul carried as he was "concerned for all the churches".

Some of the recipients of this devotional are in pastoral ministry.  I'm confident that you will readily acknowledge their need for ongoing prayer.  Pastoral ministry is spiritually rewarding but can be emotionally draining in the ongoing "moving story" of the congregation in addition to one's own family needs.  Let us pray for our pastor(s) and fellow workers in Christ today.  Perhaps you could call and offer to pray.  For some it is more convenient to email a note of encouragement, or a personalized prayer (perhaps a text message if you and your pastor do that sort of thing).  Or how about an old-fashioned and yet very viable, up to date method of correspondence: send a letter of encouragement. It will be like a treasure amidst the stack of bills and junk mail.  Why not be a burden bearer and help carry the load of those who labor for your soul today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, since the church is a living organism it brings about many changes, both positive and negative, from day to day, year to year.  The account of the Israelites proves there's a continual moving story as they respond, often unfavorably, to the various challenging circumstances in their wanderings in the desert and later in Canaan.  We think of the leaders, some very strong in their faith, and others who weakened during times of temptation and testing.  Father God, thank you raising up the Aarons and Hurs in our churches who hold up the feeble arms of our pastors during times of spiritual battle.  Help us to walk together heart to heart and hand in hand.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

More photos of the storm

Chiques Creek 2/6/10
Chiques Creek

Snowy trees 2/6/10
Trees in our front lawn

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.)

"My Yoke Is Easy"  Video   Dennis Jernigan

"Grace Alone"  Video   Maranatha Singers

"Your Name"  Video  Paul Baloche

"Lay Your Burdens Down"  Video

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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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