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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autumn decorations at the Weber house 2010
We enjoy decorating our home during the fall.
This colorful display is in front of our barn doors.

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"Devoted To Ministry"

"Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:15).

Brooksyne at Statue of LibertyThis evening we are gathering in a home  for prayer, a special home dedication for an older couple who recently relocated and desire that their home be a place where God is honored and lives are touched for Christ.

I spoke to Jesse yesterday and he told me that he and Wilma want their home to be characterized like the famous inscription on an inner wall in the  Statue of Liberty. It states, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  His sentiment expressed a desire to see hurting people come into their home and experience the love and forgiveness of our Lord.

Pastor Jesse & Wilma Dourte 1/29/10Now that's inspiring to me. You see, Jesse and Wilma are in their mid-eighties! They both accepted the Lord at an early age and farmed for many years but Jesse sensed the call to ministry and also pastored churches for many years. He is officially "retired" but they stay very active reaching out to others!

Jesse and Wima have a household commitment to the Lord that relates to our daily Scripture text.

Paul begins with the phrase, "Now I urge you."  That's a strong persuasive call to action.  We do well some 2,000 years later to consider this urging ourselves!

Paul refers to a Stephanas and his household whom we otherwise know very little about. I never gave much consideration to this verse though I should have with the name Stephanas!

But this household was well known to the Corinthian believers with the distinction of being the first converts in Achaia (the region that included Corinth). In fact the only other reference to Stephanas is a statement concerning baptism when Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:16 that he baptized them, an interesting point in regard to them being the first converts!

But it's that final phrase in the verse I really want to consider, "They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints."  I see three essential qualities here that we urge you to follow:

1) A Commitment To Endurance I wonder how many years earlier this household had converted to Christ?  It is obvious that they had a genuine conversion experience. It transformed their lives. Over the years I've heard many great conversion testimonies but some just don’t last.  Praise God for those who endure such as the household of Stephanas as well as many whom we have met in the course of our ministry.

2) A Commitment To Teamwork Notice that Paul emphasizes the "household of Stephanas." In fact that is how it is worded in 1 Corinthians 1:16 regarding their baptism as well. It is "they" (plural) that Paul is commending. What a blessing to see a household; the whole family serving the Lord together. What power and influence is found in  a household that works together!

3) A Commitment To Ministry They "devoted themselves to the service of the saints."  The KJV uses an interesting word to describe the intensity of this devotion, "They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints."  The Amplified Bible states "They have consecrated and devoted themselves to the service of the saints (God's people)."  That description of Christian workers is quite a contrast to our times where many churches struggle to get needed workers for ministry opportunities.

The "ministry (service) of the saints" is the very essence of a vital component in God's call for each of us.  Those who have a key role in a church may be referred to as "pillars of the church."  Are we all doing our part to uphold the ministry of the saints in our household of faith?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we want to be used of You in the ministry of the saints.  Help us to be open to that which You call us to do as You enable us to serve others.  Keep us committed in our Christian walk, in working with others, and in our calling to minister to the needs of those You lay on our hearts.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Many of us are following the remarkable mine rescue in Chile that is ongoing as we prepare our message today. In fact the news is running in our family room and we sneak a peak her
e and there to catch the latest rescue. What an excellent example of teamwork and persistence among people from various field specialties. It's quite a rarity to see the whole world come together in an unparalleled rescue such as this!

Autumn decorations at the Weber house 2010
Here's another view of the front of our home as we are at the peak of autumn beauty. Several weeks ago we were driving home from church and spotted this garden cart alongside the road with a "Free" sign.  Just to make sure the cart was really free since we considered that perhaps there was free produce and it had all been taken, Brooksyne went to the door and asked if they were giving the nice cart away! The answer was yes.  The owner even came out and helped us load it into our van. Turns out it's an original garden way cart made in Vermont and it's great for lawn work as well as a decorative feature.

Fisher's Harness Shop, Lancaster County, PA
In our area there are a lot of "Amish" shops catering to tourists but we got off the main road and stopped by Fisher's Harness Shop, a business catering mainly to the Amish. These wagons are very wellmade and popular on Amish farms not just as a toy but a practical tool.  Notice the scooters hanging in the background.  The Amish use these rather than bikes.

Tom & Marsha at Fisher's Harness Shop, Lancaster County, PA
Our friends Tom and Marsha are grandparents and Tom just turned 50, but they are still fit and Tom managed to get on this Amish trike.

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.)

"The Family Prayer Song"  Video  Maranatha Singers
"Household Of Faith"  Video
 Steve and Marijean Green
"Statue Of Liberty"  Video  Ivan Parker, Dean and Kim Hopper

Last winter we shared a message titled
"Given A Trust, Proven Faithful" about Jesse and Wilma Dourte.

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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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