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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Grace Card
The Grace Card

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"Extending Mercy"

"Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh" (Jude 1:22,23). "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37).

The photo above shows "The Grace Card" which is the basis of the movie by the same name. It is currently playing in theaters and is an example of a newer method seeking to impact culture for the cause of Christ. Similar to the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany Georgia which produced "Fireproof" and "Facing The Giants", this is an evangelism effort of Calvary Church of the Nazarene. It's a local church in Cordova, Tennessee where screenwriter Howard Klausner explains, "We look at this project as Fireproof 2.0. The Sherwood Baptist guys have opened up a door for all of us, proving that faith-based features can stand up in the marketplace... Maybe it’s just because so few films coming out of Hollywood reflect the values we [Christians] hold dear."

The main premise of the film is that believers need to extend grace, mercy, forgiveness and love to others no matter how hard that may be. The "Grace Card"
is a play on the words "race card" (amazingly it took Brooksyne and me till the end of the film to realize this.) It plays a central role in the film and is a wonderful expression of sharing God's love with others, including those who have hurt us deeply. We won't tell you the story but it's a good one!

Extending mercy is one of the most powerful ways we demonstrate the character of Christ to our world. God's nature is to extend mercy not just for a one-time event such as His crucifixion, but His mercies are ceaseless; they're new everyday.  Paul writes that He is "rich in mercy" (Ephesians 2:4). His mercy is not for a select few but we are all recipients of "His great mercy" (1 Peter 1:3).

Twice in our first daily Scripture portion Jude calls us to extend mercy. As recipients of His great mercy we are to in turn extend that mercy to others. Surely each of us can easily recall a time when we have been a recipient of mercy extended by another. I hope that we can just as easily recall times that we have done the extending!

Good Samaritan
Jesus ended His teaching lesson of the "Good Samaritan" with our second daily Scripture portion.  A man had been robbed and severely beaten and Jesus told of three responses to human need when three people passed by. Two of them, a priest and a Levite, who would have been expected to extend mercy, did not. The final one, a despised Samaritan, did so and is forever memorialized as "The Good Samaritan." Jesus ends the story, "Go and do likewise."

That's our call today. Who around you needs to experience a merciful act? Who needs a lifting hand, a word of appreciation, a hug, perhaps a meal?  "Go and do likewise" Jesus said.

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, one of the most merciful acts we can carry out  is that of forgiving one who has intentionally harmed us. It's as much for their benefit as it is ours, since it keeps the root of bitterness from growing weeds in our heart.  There are so many opportunities you give us to reach out in mercy to those who have less, those who lack abilities that we take for granted, those whose spirit is broken and we are called to be part of that mending. Merciful Father, show us a way that we can be Your hand extended to those most especially needing it today.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Several years ago I received a call from Jeff, a friend asking me if I knew where in the Bible it said "had mercy on". I enjoy opportunities to look up and answer a Bible question and, not recalling specifically where this phrase was, I prepared to do a search. That used to mean going through the large Strong's Concordance my dad gave me when I went to Bible College and examining each occasion a word was used to find the phrase. With three common words like "had mercy on" that would be quite a chore. Now I can find it in a matter of seconds on the computer! (BTW, the phrase is found three times in the NASV: Matthew 18:33, Mark 5:19, and Philippians 2:27)

Well, as it turned out Jeff felt sorry for me and invited me over to join his family for dinner because he and his wife had mercy on me!  Brooksyne and Ester were out of town at the time and I was bach-ing it.  I am living proof of God's first observation concerning Adam.  "It is not good for man to be alone." I joined my friend and his family for dinner and was a recipient of their extension of mercy!  The lesson here is that extending mercy is generally just doing little things that incrementally make a big difference.

John 3:16 Kember print
Yesterday we shared about Shawn Couturier who converted to Christ in the last several years after a long road. In fact we posted a video of his testimony. When his testimony was introduced by Chaplain Dennis (Bunny) O'Hare a Powerpoint slide show was used and I saw a photo that touched my heart. Bunny, who prayed with Shawn at the time of his conversion, presented Shawn with a framed certificate acknowledging his personal commitment to Christ (see here although the photo is grainy). I think that's a neat idea!

Below the framed certificate was a framed Scripture verse of John 3:16 that has quite a story.  It represents the diligent efforts of one man to get the Scriptures out. I shared this story several years ago but seeing the framed print on Shawn's wall prompts a repeat:

Walter Kember was a Canadian who prepared prints of Scripture verses, had them framed and distributed them all over the world. I am quite sure some of our readers have seen these prints. I have several of them on my wall and have seen them in churches and businesses wherever I have been. They are framed in simple pine with this stamped inscription on a piece of cardboard from a salvaged box on the back.  (In fact this inscription proves their authenticity!)

Kember print inscription

Walter Kember saw it as his ministry to freely prepare and distribute them as a witness and blessing to others.  Several years ago I received an email from his grandson with this very interesting note: "He made over 4 million of those Bible verse texts, they are still available today. I am working on writing a paper on his ministry. The amount of glass panes he used for the texts is 3.9 million Square Feet! Equivalent to the area of 80 football fields! The amount of framing wood he used stretches over 3,000 miles!"

As of this morning I am unable to find any reference to this story on the web. I did find this note in an article on the history of Gospel Preaching in Canada. "A weekly Gospel meeting has been held in the home of one of the believers for the past twelve years until now. "Kember texts" are being assembled there. This great work has been used of God to spread the message through many parts of the world and the brethren in Neguac had the privilege to be part of that work which began with our late brother, Mr. Walter Kember from Sarnia, Ontario."

Mark 8:36 Kember print
This Kember print has hung in my office practically since I began my ministry in the seventies.
What a solemn reminder from our Lord!

Acts 4:12 Kember print
This "Kember print" hangs in my brother's office in the Lehigh Valley.

Do you have a Kember print?  If so I would appreciate your sending me a photo of it similar to the photos above. I would like to develop a photo montage in honor of Walter Kember.

Please send an email to this address with the photo as a jpg attachment. In subject line put "Kember print" and specify where you are from and if you want to tell the story behind it or how it has been meaningful to you.

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading plan Beginning Sunday, April 3, 2011 we are encouraging Daily Encouragement Net readers to read/listen through the entire New Testament in 40 days. This will take about 30 minutes per day. We will provide a direct link to the Scripture portion to be read and listened to each day (and several links for the weekend daily readings).

The daily encouragement message for each weekday during the forty day period will be based on a portion of the text in the Bible reading for that day.

See Bible.is for an online Bible with audio player and additional apps that you may find useful.
For international readers there may be a version available in your native language. Just click on the ESV tab to access all languages available.

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading planDaily Encouragement on Facebook Join our Daily Encouragement Bible reading group on Facebook. You can read and listen to the material directly on Facebook.

A schedule for the entire reading period along with discussion questions is here.

Here is what the daily reading reminder will look like from daily encouragement beginning this Friday:
For Sunday, April 3 read Matthew 1-7 beginning

This Bible reading plan is a partnership of Daily Encouragement Net and Faith Comes By Hearing, a ministry which provides Bible listening resources all over the world. We will share more about this ministry in future messages.

Here's an overview of the plan I have prepared with practical tips (pdf)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Mercy Saw Me"  Video  Faith Church Choir, Sherman, Texas

"Wonderful, Merciful Savior"  Video   Selah

"Grace Alone"  Video  

"The Grace Card"

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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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