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Friday, June 4, 2010

Guatemalan rainbow
Guatemalan Rainbow
Our friend Marvin sent us this photo when we inquired concerning the volcano and flooding in his country recently. Marvin lived in our home over 20 years ago while receiving treatment for a medical condition. He is now married and has a son. This young family is faithfully serving the Lord!

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"God Rewards Faithfulness"

"He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again" (Genesis 42:24a).  "See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).

Joseph's coat of many colorsYesterday we went to see a dramatic presentation of Joseph at the Sight and Sound Millineum Theater here in Lancaster County. As we have come to expect it was outstanding and several times moved us to tears. In fact, at the ticket office, the woman who processed the tickets provided tissues since we didn't have any. She said, "You'll need these." And indeed all three of the Webers shed tears in various scenes.

Joseph is a most intriguing Bible character. In his book "Gleanings in Genesis" A.W. Pink notes 101 parallels between Joseph and Christ. Obviously I won't list them all here! One of the more interesting characteristics of Joseph is his freely expressed emotions. In the Genesis account we find him weeping on eight different occasions.

Today's Scripture portion records an event that took place during his first encounter with the ten brothers after a separation of 20 years. The last time he had seen his jealous brothers was from the back of a caravan while he was being hauled off as a slave to Egypt, thanks to their devious plot to be rid of him once and for all. During these 20 years in Egypt he had many occasions when bitterness could have consumed him. But in doing so it would have overpowered the sensitive, charitable, and loving spirit that God was developing in Joseph.

Interestingly, Joseph's dreams as a young boy revealed that he was going to be a man of great authority but didn't disclose the extremely painful process leading up to his exalted position in Egypt. His place of great honor was acquired by great humility. God had worked on his heart through the numerous and enduring trials. Scripture assures us that God's hand was upon Joseph's life. Repeatedly, in the midst of every major setback, the Bible declares, "The Lord was with him."

One of the most compelling themes presented in the dramatic presentation was the fact that "God Rewards Faithfulness." Remember, Joseph was but a boy of only 17 years when he came to this foreign godless nation. He experienced great hurt, fought bitterness and rejection, and deeply longed to see his family and homeland. Yet he remained faithful to the God of his childhood in a land of idolatry, without the encouragement of other believers, no Christian retreats or Men's Conventions, and no written Scripture to sustain him. Yes, indeed, "the Lord was with him."

Have others hurt you? Of course they have! Oswald Chambers has observed that "it is nonsense to say that suffering makes saints; it makes some people devils." Joseph's heart could have hardened after the long years of hurt and separation from his family. If anybody had ever been mistreated it was he. Consider all the years he had to nurse his pain thereby feeding it and keeping it at the forefront. Even in Egypt he had experienced several serious, disappointing setbacks before his eventual promotion.

Yet he didn't grow bitter. And on the occasion in today's text, while Joseph was in a position of authority over his brothers, he saw their deep consternation and was emotionally overwhelmed.

Are the hard experiences of life, including hurts from others, going to make you bitter or better? Joseph expresses one of the great principles of life he had personally realized from this very difficult experience; "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). May we too look for the bigger picture of God's overall plan and remain faithful no matter the personally painful circumstance of our lives, for the greater good of those whom God has called us to influence.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, when we are hurt we naturally turn away from the source of our pain. But then we're inclined to carry that pain inwardly where it can easily spread and damage our emotions, distort our outlook, and strain our relations with others. If we don't surrender our bruised emotions to You the growing root of bitterness begins to squeeze out the stored up blessings we receive from You day after day. The by-products of bitterness such as anger, rage, self-pity and other destructive attitudes become the order of the day, paving the way back to our old nature.

But You have commanded us to rid ourselves of all such things that violate the new self as we are being renewed in the image of our Creator. We can only do this as we clothe ourselves daily with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Help us to bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we have against another. We can only do this as we carry out the same kind of forgiveness that You, our Lord and Savior, demonstrate toward us. You are the supreme example of One who embraced enemies who mocked You and friends who betrayed You. Help us, in as much as it is possible, to live at peace even with those who inflict wounds. By Your grace and our surrendered will we choose to cut off the root of bitterness so that the fruit of the spirit has ample room to grow in our lives. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: It was Ester who first grabbed a pen during the Joseph presentation and wrote down a quote so that she could share it with her Facebook friends.  Perhaps you too can appreciate a few of the notes we took during the presentation:

During Joseph's long imprisonment he was mockingly asked, "What happened to Joseph the great one?"  His response:  "It's not about me being the great one.   It's about serving God who is the Great One."

"Humility is like a precious gem so rarely worn by men."

"They are grave robbers bringing back what I buried." (Joseph referring to the brothers' arrival in Egypt which stirred up old troubled emotions he had finally buried through forgiveness.)

"Father, when will you ever trust us?" the brothers asked their father, Jacob.  "When you prove that I can" was Jacob's response.

When Joseph could not emotionally deal with his brothers his wife reminded him, "You may judge over man's lives but not their souls."

A Slice Of Life In Lancaster County, PA

Old order bikes, Lancaster Country PA
One of the old order Mennonite groups here in Lancaster County often use bikes. We see them all the time along route 322 east of Ephrata. Yesterday we came up behind this group who had apparently just been shopping at the Walmart and the men had loaded their boxes for the trip home.

Old order bikes, Lancaster Country PA
The lady was pulling a nice cart!

Kitchen Kettle Village Singers
Banjo Jimmy
Yesterday in the course of our chaplain visits throughout eastern Lancaster County we stopped by "The Kitchen Kettle Village" in Intercourse, PA during the lunch hour. This is a busy tourist destination in the heart of Amish country. We enjoy listening to these skilled local musicians, who have been playing and singing at the Village for many, many years. We also had a snacking lunch by walking through "The Canning Kitchen" munching on a wide variety of delicious samples!  Brooksyne was thrilled to buy a rhubarb book there with 200 recipes using rhubarb.

Amish milk barn
I stopped by to see my Amish friend Jesse later yesterday afternoon and he had quite a story. Several times we have mentioned the storm that came through our area Monday. Jesse told me that as he was milking Monday evening lightning struck and immediately killed a cow right behind the one he was milking some 10 feet from him!

Jimmy Carr & Ester 6/3/10Last night as we drove back through Mount Joy, our friend Jimmy Carr was sitting out on his porch as he often does.  We always stop and greet him and Ester shouts, "What are you, Jimmy?" and he responds "An Overcomer". Ester jumps out and always extends a warm hug. Jimmy has a number of health afflictions including Tourette's but always expresses victorious overcoming.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord"  Video  

JosephJoseph  By Charles Swindoll / Thomas Nelson - Every day it seems another so-called "hero" falls from grace, but in his Great Lives from God's Word series, Chuck Swindoll introduces you to heroes who stand the test of time. In his third volume, Joseph, Swindoll challenges Christians to aspire to the virtues of obedience, mercy, and courage---all of which characterized the life of this richly blessed child of God. Click here for more information or to order through CBD.

Brooksyne's Note:  When I have gone through hard times this book has offered great encouragement and understanding of how God works good even in the midst of those who intend harm; at times this might include our own brothers and sisters in the faith who see things differently than we do. This can lead to some very ungodly actions which can really break one's heart.   I like to read the Scripture right alongside the book and find hidden insights that God, along with the gifted writer, Swindoll impresses upon my heart. God can rub the salve of His Holy Spirit into your wounded spirit as you study and apply His Scripture.  

Sight & Sound theater entranceSight and Sound Theater
This is Lancaster's main tourist attraction and is well worth the trip and expense.  Joseph was three years in the making bringing the biblical story to life "in such a profound way that minds and hearts will be branded by the powerful message of forgiveness."   As of last year the Sight and Sound in Branson opened and is featuring the delightful presentation of Noah.

"Gleanings in Genesis"  You can read this book online and the parallels between Joseph and Jesus begins in chapter 40.

"The Rewards Of Faithfulness" An excellent sermon (text only) on Joseph by Bruce Tippit, a pastor in Arkansas. I read a sermon like this and consider my many pastoral peers faithfully preaching God's Word in relative obscurity.

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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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