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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amish hay wagon in Lancaster County PA
Filled Hay wagon on Echo Valley Road, Lancaster County, PA

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"Doing Something Ordinary For God"

"God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them" (Hebrews 6:10). (This is the same text used in yesterday's message but today we will especially consider the latter part of the verse.)

It seems that every generation of young people really wants to make a difference in their world. When I was in my youth and just beginning my Christian walk I recall being challenged many times to "do something great for God". In response to that challenge and God's call upon my life I entered Bible College and embarked upon ministry. There I met Brooksyne who also was preparing for ministry. We, along with many of our peers, had an earnest desire to "do something great for God."

That was some 35 years ago and life is transitioning by. I don't imagine any objective analysis of my life up to this point would warrant a claim that I've done anything great. I've never pastored a large or nationally known local church. I never gained fame as a worldwide evangelist such as Billy Graham or D.L. Moody. I knew from the beginning that I didn't have the gift of music (my wife and others confirmed this early on)!  As a writer I find satisfaction in preparing these daily messages and have reason to believe they touch lives but certainly I make no claim to greatness.

FaithfulThe aspiration to do something great is commendable. Yet a sense of unworthiness can sweep over a person, who, after an honest assessment of their giftings or lack thereof, realize they're simply unable to accomplish anything reckoned as great by others. Many have dropped the baton of service when that great aspiration never fully materialized.

I propose another aspiration that may initially seem uninspiring: "do something ordinary for God!" All of us can do that and faithfulness in the ordinary really does matter. In my view the vast, vast majority of work being done for God is done by ordinary people doing ordinary things faithfully. Now, praise God, sometimes the ordinary does become great, such as the young boy with the fish and bread that Jesus multiplied to feed the crowd. He simply offered what He had, Jesus performed the miracle, and we never hear of the boy again.  He went on to live an ordinary life, hopefully in faithful service to Christ.  Our aspiration should be to glorify God in our obedience and service to Him, not to make anything great of ourselves.

Photo of Sister Howard and me (March 2006)I want to tell you about someone only a few of our readers will know. I accepted Christ when I was a teenager and attended a small church in Independence, Missouri. Since that time I have kept up with my first pastor and his wife although Pastor Howard died about ten years ago. I last visited with Sister Howard in 2006 along with my brother. She insisted on taking us out for ice cream, which gave us an opportunity to thank her for the impact she and her husband had on our lives. They were great examples as they demonstrated Christ's love and total dedication to the flock. Here's a photo of Sister Howard and me taken during that visit. She and her husband are a vital part of my spiritual heritage.

I hadn't talked to her for awhile, so I tried to call her yesterday but got a recorded message that her phone had been disconnected.  I had a sense that she may have moved on to her eternal destination. On a hunch I typed her name and "obituary" into the search engine and sure enough she passed away last month. She was 91. Her obituary had this descriptive statement, "As a minister for over fifty years, a published author and a teacher, she devoted her life to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others."

Early in their marriage they faced a loss that required significant overcoming. While they were pastoring a church in Iowa their eleven year old son, while delivering newspapers, was killed by a drunk driver.  As we visited her in 2006 she wept as she told us the details of her heartbreaking story, some 50 years earlier. Both she and her husband understandably had a very difficult time but by God's grace they overcame and touched many for Christ.

In yesterday's message I shared from the daily verse, particularly highlighting the first two phrases and the assurance they bring to counter discouragement in our service for Christ. God is not unjust and He will not forget our work!

Today, let us receive further encouragement with the latter part of the verse.  How do we show our love for God?  Surely through our praises, thankfulness, obedience and in many other ways.  But this verse specifies a way that goes to the very heart of ministry and it's generally demonstrated in ordinary ways. 

Notice the phrase, "the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people."  Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).  In some wonderful way as we help and serve God's people, we are actually helping and serving God.

The writer of Hebrews was confident that this help was active and ongoing, as he finished the sentence with this phrase, "and continue to help them."  Are you in active service for God and His people today?  If so, keep it up.  What a great blessing long-term, faithful, dependable workers are in the kingdom of God. He rewards in this life but His greater reward will be given in the life to come!  Today do something ordinary for God so that He will use it for extraordinary purposes.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as You call us You also equip us to do that which You lay upon our hearts.  May we respond to those in need in whatever capacity we can help.  Certainly we can pray, we may need to write or call, and then there are the times we are to go and accomplish that which is within our ability to do.  Our little becomes much when we place it in the Master's hand, so we offer ourselves to You today.  Amen.

Carrie and Francisco's weddingYesterday I shared an illustration from a mission trip I took over twenty years ago to Colombia. I mentioned Jack, a longtime friend who traveled with me. I received this note from his son-in-law: "Very much enjoyed reading today's edition remembering the trip to Colombia with my father in law, Jack. I am Francisco, married to Carrie and it is amazing to see how God used you guys back then. This message is very encouraging and appropriate as I, God willing, will embark on a trip to Colombia in September to translate for a pastor from our church here in VA.

Greetings to you and your wife.

Francisco Afanador (for Carrie, Sebastian, Sylvia and Cecilia)

Note:  Carrie attended the church I pastored in northern Pennsylvania and went on to do mission's service in Colombia where she met Francisco. I had the privilege of conducting their wedding in 2003.  They now have three children and continue to serve the Lord.

Rhubarb Harvest

Last week we stopped by an Amish friend's house and Brooksyne picked a large mess of rhubarb. Enough to make some jam and lots to freeze for rhubarb recipes, especially rhubarb punch which is delicious.  Below are some photos of the process and descriptions by Brooksyne as well as the finished product.

Freshly cut rhubarb
I piled these beautiful red rhubarb stalks on the picnic table on our deck to cut off the leaves. The leaves are poisonous to pets so we got rid of them fast, especially if you have a puppy like our Mollie who manages to get into everything!

Freshly cut rhubarb stalks
The long colorful stalks on our dining room table.

Chopped rhubarb
Next I washed them and then chopped about 10 stalks at a time into small pieces

For the jam recipe I poured the sugar on the rhubarb overnight so that the next morning the sugar is dissolved.  I then heated the rhubarb and sugar until it boiled about 20 minutes, added my strawberry jello and then poured into jars before putting them into a water bath.

Freshly canned strawberry/rhubarb jam
I made about 27 cups for gifts at an upcoming special occasion.  Frozen rhubarb can be made into jam in the same way as fresh.  Just make sure you chop it before freezing!

Stawberry-rhubarb jam on bisquits
MMM good!

Interesting rhubarb trivia:  Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction in taxes paid!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When It's All Been Said And Done"  Video  Robin Mark

"Finally Home"  Video  MercyMe

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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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