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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steam engine on the Strasburg Railroad, Lancaster County, PA
The steam engine on the Strasburg rail line in Lancaster County PA.

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"All Aboard For Paradise!"

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7). "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36).

The Strasburg Railroad is a historic rail line that has now been converted into a tourist attraction, with a train powered by a restored steam engine. It travels through the beautiful Amish countryside in eastern Lancaster County from Strasburg to Paradise, PA. We have Amish friends who live near the line who are accustomed to hearing the distinct sound of the steam whistle.

As the train departs the conductor calls out with a loud drawn out announcement, "All aboard for Paradise."  Throughout the short trip a narrator makes colorful comments regarding the history of the area and the railroad. We've ridden the train several times but I recall once when we arrived at the end of the line he announced our arrival at the station "Paradise".  He paused and then injected,  "Pennsylvania that is, which is the closest to the real Paradise some of us will ever get to."

I'm sure he intended humor but he also speaks truth and perhaps was even trying to get in a witness for Truth, at least in the sense of giving the riders something to think about in the eternal realm.

Our first daily Scripture verse is a wonderful promise given by Christ to the church in Ephesus and through the written Scriptures it is directed to all of us.  "The paradise of God" is a description of what we commonly call heaven.

Our Lord's words in our
second daily Scripture ought to be written on the tablets of our hearts and in the recesses of our minds.  Jesus very pointedly asks a rather simple question. "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" He doesn't answer it, for the answer is obvious.  Many are giving their time, attention, and money as they seek to gain the temporal world, all the while giving no attention to their eternal soul. 

Sadly, many who are reckoned as successful by this world's standards ignore their soul to their eternal damnation. All they attained on this side, whether wealth or fame, are a pittance from the eternal perspective. Comparatively it means nothing to be able to "gain the whole world" and yet forfeit one's soul.

I recall the old spiritual that declares, "This train is bound for glory." Let us all keep this eternal perspective before us as we consider that we are indeed bound for the true paradise of God, which is an eternally glorious destination (exceedingly greater than Paradise, PA)!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, it is far too easy to become earthbound with our affections, aspirations, and accumulations. Yet, as we place our faith in You and follow the Scriptures, we learn that our hope is not fully realized through our earthly pilgrimage and certainly the best awaits us on the other side. Help us to find the joy of living here below as we store up our true lasting treasures in heaven where we will fully experience the eternal, unbounded blessings that await us as we enter Paradise.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Personal update: We are thankful for the compassionate notes we received in emails regarding Ester's new chapter in life. We shared honestly about this in yesterday's message (footnote).  We appreciate our regular readers prayers of support on her behalf. A number shared that they've had similar experiences with their children and though it was not overnight, God brought them through to the side of victory.
We also heard from several presently going through similar battles. So, we pray for you even as you lift us up in prayer.

We appreciate the song "Come People Of The Risen King" by Keith and Kristyn Getty that has these thoughtful lines expressing the current realities in the Body Of Christ.

Come, those whose joy is morning sun,
And those weeping through the night;
Come, those who tell of battles won,
And those struggling in the fight.
For His perfect love will never change,
And His mercies never cease,
But follow us through all our days
With the certain hope of peace.

Regarding our van we are waiting to hear from the insurance company regarding whether it will be repaired or totaled.

Thomas the tank engine
 Thomas the Tank engine makes his appearance several times a year always causing a big stir and traffic jams from tourists and locals!

Me and Mom (September 2005)
This photo is dear to me. We took my mom on a ride on the Strasburg railroad shortly before she passed away in 2005.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come People Of The Risen King"  Video  Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

"I Am Bound For The Promised Land"
 Video  Jars Of Clay

"This Train Is Bound For Glory"  Video  Lew Dite

"Rock Of Ages"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

Strasburg Railroad

Yes, there really is a Paradise, PA!  Google map

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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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