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Friday, February 11, 2011

Red barns in snow on Harvest Road, Lancaster County, PA
Yesterday we passed these bright red barns on Harvest Road in northern Lancaster County.

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"I Know Whom I Have Believed"

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Daily Encouragement on FacebookFor the last several weeks I have been spending time on Facebook. I actually set up an account sometime back but never paid much attention to it. Brooksyne and Ester on the other hand have enjoyed Facebook for quite awhile now.

One of the options I like is finding people I may know from the past using a feature that suggests names associated with those whom you have already befriended titled, "People you may know". Well I don't know many of the suggested names but some are long lost acquaintances and Facebook gives me a chance to see what they are doing and even what they look like (and, yes, they've aged just like me).

Jim Mazurek with a Chilian studentFor instance it's a joy to read of old Bible College friends like Jim Mazurek who is still actively serving the Lord. Upon graduation we dispersed all around the country and throughout the world. We lost contact with most except our closest circle of friends. Using Facebook I can befriend these people and once they "friend" me I learn more about them and can even contact them. Jim has been serving as a missionary in Chile since 1985. We weren’t necessarily close buddies in college but I do recall a time when he prayed with me around the altar during a very significant time in my life.

But (at the risk of offending people who really like Facebook) there's a tendency to dramatically lessen the meaning of two words; "know" and "friend". In some cases I may know who they are but have never met them personally. In other cases I have never been their friend in the usual sense of the word or they’re a complete stranger to me. This is particularly true for many interested in reading our Daily Encouragement messages through Facebook. Certainly we welcome this format and have found it interesting to learn more about our readers through Facebook.

That leads us to our message today where we will examine the next phrase in 2 Timothy 1:12, where Paul avows, “For I know whom I have believed.” He didn’t just hear about Jesus from others or simply read about Him. He surrendered his heart and life to follow after Christ and thereby came to know Him very personally.

Let's consider three key words in this phrase; know, whom, and believed. C.H. Spurgeon writes, "The text is wholly taken up with three things; namely, with knowing, with believing, and with the Person who is known and believed; and upon both the knowing and the believing Paul is very decided. He puts in no ‘if,’ no word of change; he does not say, ‘I hope so,’ or ‘I trust so,’ but ‘I know whom I have believed.’

Let’s break it down further:

1) "For I Know”: “Know” is a Greek verb that signifies absolute, beyond a doubt, knowledge. This knowledge is not personal knowledge gained by study or experience, but the knowledge of a Person whom Paul had found absolutely dependable in any circumstance. His personal knowledge of Jesus as the One in Whom he had learned to trust, imparted the absolute assurance of His unfailing faithfulness.

We tend to use the word "know" in the sense of learning about something or someone, however minimal that may be.
Today, in the technological sense Facebook has contributed to this. But Paul is speaking of a knowledge of a Person, Christ. He expressed the supreme value of this personal knowledge in Philippians 3:8: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

2) "Whom": He doesn’t say "I know what I have believed,” though that would be true and knowing what we believe in our doctrine is very important. He also doesn’t say, “I know how much I have believed,” even though that is also true since it's important to have a growing faith (Luke 17:5). And he doesn’t say, “I know when I believed,” which he certainly could have said due to his dramatic conversion experience.

John MacArthur writes. "This confidence did not come from a creed or a theological system or a denomination or an ordination. It came solely from a close, unbroken relationship with God, to whom he unreservedly gave his life, going about his divine mission with no concern for his own welfare, safety, or life.”

3) "I have believed": Believed means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. Using the perfect tense Paul is saying "I first trusted Jesus on the Damascus Road and I continue to trust Him with my present life and eternal future."

Paul had permanently put his trust and confidence in Christ Jesus even as the shadow of death loomed over him. This speaks of Paul's trust as permanent, abiding, and more powerful than any evil force the devil hurls his way, including that of death.

Today we urge all our readers to unreservedly place their faith in Christ and, like Paul, declare, "I know whom I have believed"!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for sending Jesus and clothing Him in the garment of flesh. As He walked on earth so much was revealed about You, our Father, through the person of Your Son. To read the passage, “God is love” is doctrinal in nature, but to see Christ’s miracles and His compassion toward sinners we also see Your love in action. Certainly those who walked the earth during Christ’s ministry on earth are the only ones who personally knew Him. But we, along with the apostle Paul, know Him in whom we believe through surrendering our hearts, embracing the truths Jesus espoused, following His commands, producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and by faithfully devoting ourselves to prayer as we learn to trust You wholeheartedly. Amen

We will continue our exposition of this verse next week but will have a special message on love on Monday.

A few more recent reconnections through Facebook!

Mark Ryder
Another (of several) long lost friends found recently on Facebook is Mark Ryder, who had the privilege of sharing the sermon at our graduation in 1977 and I still recall that it was an excellent exposition from Joshua 1. Mark served on the mission field but is now pastoring in Ohio. He was and apparently still is a serious student of the Word.

Brian and Briana Matangelo and family
Our very first friends when we moved to Saint Marys PA to plant a church in 1977 were Mike and Kathy Matangelo who happened to be in the very first service. We've stayed in contact with Mike and Kathy, who now live in the Hickory NC area but recently reconnected with their oldest son Brian through Facebook. Brian now lives in California, along with his wife Briana and their three children. Here's a photo of Brian (in red sweatshirt) and his brother Doug at our very first baptismal service!  I was preparing to baptize their father who is testifying of his faith in Christ. In the photo the boys don't appear to be paying much attention! But how heartening that Brian and Bryana are serving the Lord.

Marvin and his wife in Guatemalan church
Over twenty years ago we cared for Marvin, a little boy from Guatemala, who had come to the states for an operation. The facebook photo above was just posted by Marvin and shows him and his wife in a church service.  Here's a photo of Marvin when he was with us as a child along with Shawna and Sharon, two of the girls in the church. What a joy to a pastor that all three of them are serving the Lord! Here's a newspaper article about Marvin when he was treated in Erie, Pennsylvania being held by a much younger Brooksyne.

When Marvin was six or seven we had dinner at his house in a small barrio outside Guatemala City.  His mother prepared a great feast for us.  

My favorite memory of Marvin illustrates the power of our example. Marvin had just come to the states, a very scared little five year old who could hardly breathe and of course we were unable to communicate. We took him for his initial doctor's appointment in Erie PA and I had taken him to the restroom (quite unlike the shared communal latrine outside his home.)

Whenever I use a public restroom I wash and then use the paper towel to dry my hands and then also use the towel to open the door upon exiting.  Little Marvin was carefully watching me and dutifully grabbed a paper towel before he left the bathroom and opened the door with it as well.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"Knowing You"
 Video  A song written by Graham Kendrick, this singer unknown.

"Not Too Far From Here"
 Video  Kim Boyce  We heard this song yesterday in the course of our travels and it really touched our hearts.

"I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  A song I have been blessed by since coming to Christ in the early seventies.

We will leave the following musical resources up throughout our series on 2 Timothy 1:12

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"
 Video  This is set to a newer tune but maintains the same wonderful words.  It is beautifully sung by a worship team in a local church.

Here's a beautiful piano version of the same song using the tune we are familiar with. Audio
All through our series of messages on 2 Timothy 1:12 we will be using this song as a background to our daily podcast.

If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and EvilIf God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
By Randy Alcorn / Random House, Inc
Difficult times beg questions about God's goodness and power. Offering compelling true stories, fresh answers, and biblical insights, Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief and reveals the big picture of who God is and what he's doing in the world---equipping you to share your faith clearly with those experiencing pain and fear. 432 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

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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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