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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sheep on Echo Valley Road 1/3/10
"All of us, like sheep, have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6).
We came upon these sheep who had clearly gone astray on Echo Valley Road here in Lancaster County PA on our way home from a church service. 
(They appear to be licking the freezing road surface, but they were likely licking salt that had been spread due to icy conditions.  I'm surprised their tongue didn't get stuck!)

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"A Solemn Warning"

"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).

In about two weeks we will approach the milestone of living here in Lancaster County ten years. That brings a recollection of one of my final sermons I preached at our church in Massachusetts. I used a rather unusual method of preaching that I've never used before or since then.

On our last Sunday evening church service, in January 2001, I slowly walked through the aisles of the sanctuary. Pew by pew, with all the solemnity I could muster, I respectfully placed a hand on each person’s shoulder and looked them in the eye with great earnest. I then proceeded to quote the daily verse: "See to it, brother, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." (Although I don't recall specifically I suppose I adapted "sister" when I gave this biblical charge to the women.)

Corey was a young man in that church service. For several years after we left that area he went through some difficult times and, sadly, began to "dabble in Egypt"*, like so many older teenagers and young adults often do.

But eventually he recommitted his life to the living God. He told us years later that he especially remembered that sermon when I repeated the verse to each individual. God used that very verse to help him return to his spiritual roots. Of course God also used other believers and Scriptural promptings to bring Corey back into right relationship with the Savior as well. Corey is presently attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary preparing for ministry.

The daily verse is a truth that is so straightforward it requires little exposition. It's a simple but very precise warning. Children can understand it as well as senior adults. It speaks to believers today just as it surely did to the congregations who first heard that charge read to them some 2000 years ago. It doesn't matter where you live, it doesn't matter how long you've walked with God, and it doesn't matter the kind of family you were brought up in. We all know our heart's propensity to behave in a sinful manner, and when sin goes unchecked for a period of time; it turns our hearts away from God.

Because sin and righteousness do not peacefully co-exist, we will either turn away from the living God or turn away from the destructive sin. We all know people who have turned away from the Truth, but on the other hand, we’ve also seen some of those people repent of their sins and return to the living God. Our human nature hasn't changed a bit in 2000 years, in that, it is prone to wandering into dangerous waters where it can easily be pulled under by the deadly currents of sin and unbelief.

Going back to my opening illustration, when I quoted Hebrews 3:12 to every individual it took quite a while. Certainly I didn't know how it would be received but I sensed the Lord leading me to do it. When I finished moving throughout the congregation giving what amounted to a personal message repeated over and over I asked afterward if any would voluntarily share the verse aloud. (Repetition is a great key to memorization.) Many were able and willing to do so.

And then Andy, a good friend and deacon in the church, looked straight at me and said, "I'd like to direct this verse to you." As he looked right at me he unhesitatingly quoted our verse. Yes, I need the reminder as well.

Warnings are good. Let me share our verse one final time with each reader. I am not able to place my hand on your shoulder and I can't look you directly in the eye and yet I am solemnly quoting this verse even as I type this biblical charge and warning. Receive it and I encourage you to memorize it. "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, as we walk by faith and not by sight, grant us grace that none of us will have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from You, the living God. Rather may we hate what is evil and cling to what is good. May we be devoted to one another in brotherly love and honor one another above ourselves. May we never be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord, being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Prayer adapted from Romans 12:9-13.

* "Dabble in Egypt" - an expression used for those who return to the ways of the world. It's derived from the book of Exodus when the Israelites, who were freed from slavery in Egypt, wanted to return after the going got tough in their journey to the Promised Land.

Staying connected is great. Both Andy and Corey are a part of my active contact list.

We had a beautiful snowfall overnight and it's just beautiful this morning!  Due to an early appointment we are limited in time but we hope to post more photos tomorrow.

Dottie watching birds
Our cat Dottie will spend hour after hour sitting in front of our living room picture window watching the birds, squirrels and other critters at the feeders. She doesn't meow but makes a clicking sound with her mouth.

Dottie watching birds
When she realized I was behind her she stood up and stretched out,
apparently realizing her longing for capturing the wildlife was futile!

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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.)

"When God Ran"  Video  Phillips, Craig and Dean   Today if you are away from the living God He is waiting for your return.  This song is based on the return of the Prodigal.

"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"
 Video  Chris Rice

I chose this song due to recalling this verse:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

"I Have Returned"  Video  Homecoming series

"My Eyes Are Dry"
 Video  Keith Green

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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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