The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Our backyard Azalea is in full bloom!
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"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there" (Acts 20:22).
On a daily basis we receive comments from readers or podcast listeners which we find most encouraging in regard to the time and labor we put into this ministry. But we also get a sense of what is happening in the lives of fellow travelers when one of our messages prompts a response from a reader who bears their soul to us. Although we're not always able to respond, we certainly read over the emails, talk together about the needs, pray for the individual(s), and when possible try to send a personal encouraging word or personalized prayer.
Several weighty needs came to us yesterday that really touched our hearts. Let me share just one from an international reader: "I live with a recovering addict and heavy drinker who gets violent with me every now and then. He is my son. I love him. He just hit me again because he did not get his own way. Your devotion really helped. Please pray for me and my wife." (We have prayed for this man and am sure some of our readers will as well.)
Many of us will testify that the Lord deals with us in unusual ways in the midst of trials. Trials tend to shake us out of complacency and, although undesirable and unpleasant at the time, they can draw us closer to the Lord helping us to focus on that which really matters. A spiritual truth I've learned in regard to trials is that you don't pick your trials nor do you schedule them! If we could schedule them we'd likely put them on Feb. 29 so we'd only encounter them once every four years and hope that all would be over by the end of the day, for at least another four years. (For a 76 year old that would mean they'd have only 19 days of trials over their lifetime!)
We begin the spiritual journey when we place our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord. This journey is a long, marathon-like race. It will certainly include many "dangers, toils and snares." The single, summarizing quote of an early sermon by Paul was, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). We all know what it is to have hardships but some deal with extensive trials all through their pilgrimage. Recently Brooksyne sat at the bedside and read to a 60 year old woman who has never been able to read. In addition her speech is extremely difficult to understand, discernable only to a few. She wears braces on both legs. She has been this way all her life. Imagine trying to live your entire life with those limitations.
There is a lot we can know about our spiritual journey. We have many wonderful assurances in Scripture concerning the overall plan and the final outcome. But there are many specifics along the way that are not revealed to us. Today I consider two phrases the Apostle Paul uses in the daily text:
"And now, compelled by the Spirit." This has the sense of being strongly urged or constrained by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The KJV states "bound by the Spirit." Like Paul we need to seek the Holy Spirit's strong leading in life.
"Not knowing what will happen to me there." Although Paul was confident in the Spirit's leading him, he didn't know what awaited him. In the following verse he indicates that he had been forewarned that this will be a very trying time, but was not given foreknowledge about how the trials would "flesh out."
In this technological age we often say, TMI (too much information). I would say that Paul was given TLI (too little information), just enough to make one quite reluctant about making such a trip. Surely he could come up with plenty of excuses to delay this trip until the Spirit led him elsewhere, where people would welcome his visit, care for his every need. But Paul was a man of prayer and he was more interested in being obedient than being comfortable.
Not knowing all the details of how things will work out is the way we test our faith. Is it rooted and grounded in Christ or is it based on whether we get exactly what we want when we want it. Brooksyne often quotes Warren Wiersbe, "Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted." So how is the testing going for you? Can you trust your faith? Many of you reading this are in the very midst of a fiery trial. I sure hope you have the blessed assurance of the Romans 8:28 perspective. (If you haven't memorized that verse you sure should.)
As you're enduring the trial you may wonder how in the world God is ever going to work this situation out. As a preacher of the Gospel I have often ministered to people in deep trials; for many the most anguishing part is the "not knowing." This is true for Brooksyne and me as well. We want a detailed plan for each step and a specific date for the return of "normalcy."
But we don't get that. Instead we are called to trust. And those who trust Him fully find Him wholly true!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is in the testing of our faith that we prove the worth of our Christian walk. Help us to endure the test and trust You for the outcome, for we know that faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted. O for grace to trust You more and more. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Let me share another note we received today from Ghana, West Africa:
I am an ardent listener of your daily encouragement devotional for barely a year now. This is just a note to let you know how much of a blessing your ministry has been to me and a couple of friends of mine in my office. We listen in every afternoon during break-time and I must say that I truly enjoy the beautiful pictures, music and anecdotes used to “spice” up each devotion.
One such devotion that I has made a huge impact in my life has been the 24th March, 2010 edition on “A Godly Legacy” to our children and generations after us. This has led me to begin daily devotions with my children at home before they go to school every morning and I want to say that this has been a real blessing to us.
Please keep up the good work and may God bless you richly.
Special regards to Ester, my prayers are with her and wish her well.
Note: Our message on "A Godly Legacy" is here.
We are blessed to have readers (and listeners) from all over the world and this is a very heartening aspect of our ministry. Several weeks ago I installed a program that registers unique visitors to the main daily encouragement website and arranges them by countries on a map. This gives us a sense of where our readers are from. If you receive this message by email, RSS feed or podcast please check this map out and if your country is not included please visit our main site to register a visit from your country!
Another note: We will not be preparing a daily encouragement message tomorrow. My brother Pat is coming in for a visit today and tomorrow we have chaplain visits as well as a visit to an Amish school where we will be preparing and serving 24 children lunch!
National Day Of Prayer: Tomorrow is a National Day Of Prayer here in the USA. Wherever you are we encourage you to pray for your country. Here is the website for the USA site.
Here is the prayer written by Franklin Graham:
We are thankful for the abundant blessings You have bestowed on America. Our forefathers looked to You as Protector, Provider, and the Promise of hope. But we have wandered far from that firm foundation. May we repent for turning our backs on Your faithfulness.
We pray that this great nation will be restored by Your forgiveness.
From bondage, You grant freedom.
Through Your own sacrifice, You offer salvation.
From the state of despair, You offer peace.
From the bounties of Heaven, You have blessed – not because of our goodness – but by Your grace.
You have given us freedom to worship You in spirit and in truth as Your holy Word instructs. May our lives honor You in word and deed. May our nation acknowledge that all good things come from the Father above.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that our nation should set apart a day for national prayer to confess our sins and transgressions in sorrow, “yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon… announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
“We have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our own hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us! It behooves us then… to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Help us to pray earnestly for our president and leaders who govern, that they will humble themselves and seek Your guidance so that everything we do will shine the light of Your glory in a darkened world.
May our prayers as a people and a nation be heard and blessed for such a time as this. We make this plea in faith, believing in the mighty name of Jesus our Lord.
Not only our Azalea busy but many other plants in our yard are blooming.
This is a ground cover known as Yellow Archangel Lamium.
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.)
"Through It All" Video Andre Crouch
"Lead Me Lord" Video Gary Valenciano
"Lead Me Lord, I Will Follow" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir This has the lyrics posted as well. A wonderful song appealing for the Lord's leading.
"God Will Make A Way" Video Don Moen
"Amazing Grace" Video An acapella version
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
"The Story of Amazing Grace" Video Includes song as well as descriptive text explaining the story of the song.
A short teaching on Romans 8:28 with an interesting perspective. Video
I hope this curious cat photo will give you a smile! It was taken by Georgia, my cousin's wife, who lives in Wisconsin.
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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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New feature: I am not much for publishing website statistics but sure enjoy geography. When I saw this widget that counts visitors by nation and state I thought it would be interesting to some of our readers. I installed the international widget 4/16/10 and the state widget 4/19/10 (thus the disparity in US state totals). This widget only counts visits to the main page and daily archive.
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