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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tree growing on abandoned bridge support on Susquehanna River
I took this photo when I was on a boat with a friend on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA. I was intrigued by this lone tree, which has managed to grow on a long abandoned bridge pier; an example of perseverance!

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"Perseverance In Witness"

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'"  Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains" (Acts 26:28,29).

Cracker Barrel country fried steak
I met with a group of chaplains in a Cracker Barrel restaurant and we were discussing our work together. One chaplain shared about a ministry opportunity he had immediately following our meeting.  For some time he had sought to be an influence to a particular person but the man had been extremely resistant to any kind of Christian witness. But he had developed cancer that was determined to be terminal. My friend had felt led to call him that morning and see if they could get together. The man agreed and stated that he himself had actually intended to call the chaplain!

Before we went our separate ways we prayed around the table that the Lord would give this man an openness to receive the Lord. We requested a call from the chaplain with a report back about how the meeting went. We had a long drive and when we were almost back we received word that the man had been receptive to the gospel message and had received the Lord as his Savior!

We all have long term, "hard" cases don't we?  These are the people (often family members and friends) whom we have witnessed to for years; those whom we earnestly long to see come to Christ. So many are resistant and hardened, so much so, that at times we just feel like giving up. But we must not. We must persevere!

Paul before AgrippaThe daily Scripture portion is an account of a personal witnessing opportunity that the Apostle Paul had. Paul had faithfully shared his testimony and sought to challenge Agrippa (and others listening) to believe and become a Christian. Agrippa's response is a reminder of how many people respond to the Gospel, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"

"Almost Persuaded," is a hymn written in 1871 by Philip P. Bliss which was inspired by a sermon he heard.  During the sermon the evangelist quoted Acts 26:28 and declared, "He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost!"

Agrippa properly recognized that Paul was seeking to persuade him to be a Christian. That's significant. It wasn't a sneaky, back door approach that Paul used. Agrippa knew just what Paul was doing.

That is our mission as we seek to impact others for Christ and His Kingdom. His Kingdom is never to be advanced by physical force, but rather by persuasion, as we demonstrate His love and care to a fallen world and present, as Paul did, the Gospel. Paul's missionary heart is so evident in the verse that follows: "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

Agrippa is never again mentioned in Scripture following this account. But what type of seed did Paul plant? How did this seed impact Agrippa in the days, months and years that followed? Who else had an opportunity to persuade him?
Did he eventually become a Christian? What about others who were listening to Paul that day?  

We'll have to wait till heaven to hear the rest of this story.  And that's really the way it is with so much of our attempted impact for Christ. So let us persevere in our efforts to persuade people to follow our Lord!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:
 Lord, help us as we share our testimony and Your message with the world around us.  We find so many who are like Agrippa; uninterested, unpersuaded, and often times hardened. Help us to persevere and not give up or become discouraged.  We pray that you would soften the hearts of those we seek to reach for You. Just like You did for Lydia open their hearts to receive our message of hope and salvation.  In Jesus' name.  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.)

"Almost Persuaded"  Audio and lyrics  

"Come To Jesus"  Video  Chris Rice

"Come Just As You Are"  Video  

Cracker Barrel wallThose who regularly read this series know I enjoy both photography and old stuff.  Part of the reason I like Cracker Barrel Restaurants (along with the country fried steak) is the old stuff hanging on the walls. Well, I found this special page on their website with photos of the stuff, along with an explanation of what it is. For those, like me, who are terminally curious see here.

Finally today:  Yesterday Brooksyne wrote about a humorous gaffe she made and Lou, a chaplain friend from New Jersey, sent this story:

Not too long ago I called Home Depot and inquired about a special part I needed for a ceiling fan. I spoke with a man named John and he stated that he thinks he had what I was looking for and when I came to the store, I ask for him. I went to the store that afternoon and said to the greeter at the door, "Is there a John that works here?" She pointed me to aisle six and said "go straight to the back." When I got there is was the rest room. :) It's funny how what we say is not exactly what we mean.

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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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