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Friday, January 7, 2011

Ester with Dr. Mark Cohen (1/6/11)
Ester enjoys visiting with Dr. Mark Cohen, her pediatric cardiologist, who first saw her when she was 3 months old and continues to care for her as an adult since her heart condition is congenital!

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"Divine Pacemaker"

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance" (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

Yesterday afternoon I took Ester in to see her heart doctor. (Regular readers may recall that Ester was born with heart disease.) Over the last several days she’s had some respiratory problems along with an increased heart rate. After an in-home EKG transmitted via telephone the doctor called asking that Ester come into the clinic for an adjustment to her pacemaker. Normally Brooksyne makes these trips but I took a turn yesterday and learned a bit.

The clinic (Hershey Children's Heart Group) has a special room to monitor and adjust the pacemakers.  Ester has been living with a pacemaker for about eight years now. When I entered the room I was introduced to Jeff, a representative of Medtronics, which is the maker of Ester’s pacemaker.  The clinic technician was also there who has been giving care to Ester all along.

While Ester laid on her back on the exam bed they placed a device that looks like a computer mouse over her pacemaker which is implanted in her upper abdomen. This device sends signals to the monitor so they can both analyze her pacemaker and heart and also direct the pacemaker to change, such as slowing down her heart rate or speeding it up.

Most of us with healthy hearts have God-given internal controls to direct our hearts in this manner, which we probably take for granted. When we’re physically active our heart rate speeds up to give us needed energy.  When we’re in a resting or inactive mode our heart rate automatically slows down. We don't even think about it!

I often look for spiritual truths nestled in the ordinary experiences of life and today I want to consider how God directs our hearts. The daily verse is an appeal from the Apostle Paul for the Thessalonian believers: "May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance."

Now certainly Paul wasn't writing of the electrical signals that physically direct the heart regarding rate and so forth. He's writing about a spiritual directing, one that we all need just as vitally as the physical. We may consider it like a divine pacemaker!

So today we will make our encouragement to you twofold based upon this Scripture. We will purposefully change the pronoun from "your" to "our" to assist us in applying this truth.

1) "May the Lord direct our hearts into God’s love."  Of course one of the most essential themes weaved throughout the whole of Scriptures is God's love.  An assurance of God's love is vital for living the overcoming life.  Many verses come to mind with this theme, however, for our thoughts today let us consider a prayer by Paul for the Ephesians: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).
We need our hearts directed into God's love.

2) "May the Lord direct our hearts into Christ's perseverance." Paul uses Christ as the supreme example of One who endured great affliction; in His suffering, His betrayal, His wilderness temptation.  He was reviled and yet He did not retaliate and the list goes on and on. We are to "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:3).
The early church was in the midst of great persecution and would need a great deal of perseverance to endure ongoing affliction as they waited for the Lord’s return or their call to heaven.  Today we consider our brethren undergoing persecution and those of you undergoing specific times of testing and trial.  We need our hearts directed into Christ’s perseverance.

As we invite the Lord to direct our hearts into His love and perseverance we will find His strength and peace altogether sufficient!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, when we direct our hearts into Your love and Christ's perseverance we are encouraged and emboldened; encouraged as we're reminded of Your persistent love for us and emboldened as we read of Christ's perseverance in the worst of circumstances. Continue to show us the many ways that You love us and fortify us in the struggles we face daily. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Many of our newer readers are unfamiliar with Ester's overcomings due to her heart disease. Perhaps you would like to read the story of how she was born in Guatemala with barely a chance for survival due to many factors. Her story of overcoming major obstacles can be found here.

Matthew Henry comments regarding today's passage:  “If the law of Christ is written in our hearts, and the love of Christ is shed abroad there, then Christ dwells there. Where His Spirit dwells, there He dwells… How powerfully the apostle speaks of the love of Christ! The breadth shows its extent to all nations and ranks; the length, that it continues from everlasting to everlasting; the depth, its saving those who are sunk into the depths of sin and misery; the height, its raising them up to heavenly happiness and glory. Those who receive grace for grace from Christ's fullness, may be said to be filled with the fullness of God. Should not this satisfy man? Must he needs fill himself with a thousand trifles, fancying thereby to complete his happiness?”

Personal note: We had a light snow today which made the roads somewhat treacherous on our way to several chaplain visits earlier this morning. In fact at one point we slid through a stop sign and intersection, thankful that no one else was coming through! Later this morning as we complete the message and prepare to publish we have a bright blue sky and light snow sticking on the ground.
Cardinal in snow
The Cardinal, Brooksyne's favorite bird.
She took this photo right in front of our home off
ice window.

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 Love Of God"  Video  MercyMe

"Create In me A Clean Heart"
 Video  Keith Green

"Purify My Heart  Video  Brian Doerksen

"Oh, How He Loves Us"  Video  David Chowder Band

"Before The Throne of God Above"  Video  Selah

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863

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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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