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Monday, October 31, 2011

First seasonal snow 10/29/11
We had an early seasonal snow this last Saturday and, although it's clear and cold early this Monday morning, it's still on the ground outside our office window. The above photo was taken Saturday as the snow began to cover. Some parts of our region got nearly 10 inches and broke all records for the date and month! However we only got a few inches.  

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Note: This message uses a sports illustration. I realize using a sport analogy will not connect with everyone and may even annoy some. If so scroll down to “Biblical exposition”

"Lessons From Comebacks"

"But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him" (Acts 2:24).

I'm a baseball fan, particularly in the postseason. In the recent World Series I really had no favorite team although, growing up in Missouri and having a Grandpa who was an avid Cards fan, I suppose I leaned a bit toward the St. Louis team winning. However I have three older cousins who are Texas fans who attended World Series games in Texas while their younger brother attended game six in Saint Louis!

Well, as sport’s fans know, it was a great series going to a final deciding game seven. Game six was certainly the most suspenseful game I've ever watched. Twice the Texas team was one strike away from victory but Saint Louis kept coming back. The Saint Louis team demonstrated an important character trait throughout the season, series and in individual games, especially game six. The ability to comeback.

“Comeback" is used in sports to describe an athlete or team that's behind and comes back to victory. These comebacks can be encouraging to sport's fans everywhere (except for those cheering for the team that lost!)  Comebacks remind us that it really isn't over till it's over.  But of course I see a spiritual application as well.

“Biblical exposition”

In our daily verse Peter is preaching to the curious crowd on the day of Pentecost. Fifty days earlier he was among the first witnesses of the greatest event in history. Apostolic preaching emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was and ever will be at the very heart of the Gospel. A faithful witness will always, "earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).

Peter, who infamously denied the Lord at His trial, had made a great comeback and now is preaching on the day of Pentecost.  He makes a great statement of faith concerning Christ: "God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death." Jesus had experienced the agony of death and apparent defeat. His lifeless body was placed in a tomb and sealed. To His enemies a comeback now was an impossibility.

But Peter declared, "It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."  Peter surely recalled the teaching of Jesus he had heard time after time.  Early in His ministry Jesus had said "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (John 2:19). After Peter had made his great confession of faith, Jesus clearly taught that He would "suffer many things, be killed, and be raised again the third day."  Even his enemies were aware of the claim and had made provision for a guard at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).

But no paltry Roman guard was going to stop this Comeback!  Death had forever lost its sting. Jesus Christ mounted the greatest comeback ever and today we serve a risen Savior.  Let us rejoice in this truth and live for the One who once died and now lives forevermore. It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him!  It is for this truth that we must earnestly and continually contend!

Now let me address another type of comeback. Many years ago I spoke to a group of supervisors at a meeting in a large lumber mill. This company gives the chaplains a brief opportunity each week to share a devotional at this meeting.  I find sports are a great way to connect with men and I shared an illustration about a baseball comeback at that time.

We also have comebacks in our own lives. It might be a comeback from a reckless lifestyle, an accident, or a spiritual failure. I acknowledged that many of these men likely had issues they overcame in life or would need to overcome.  I could see the men were listening intently.

After the meeting a man came up to me and told me how significant this message was to his own life. He lifted up his hand which had been seriously injured in an industrial accident. He was missing his fingers and part of his hand. He testified how he had comeback from the injury and was now holding down a productive job.

Peter weepingPeter's denial had a potentially deadly spiritual failure. His deep remorse is expressed in the phrase, "He went outside and wept bitterly." Peter was down but he didn't stay there. His “comeback” is one of the great stories of the Bible. He came back to be a leader in the early church and wrote two letters that are in the Bible.

Today I'd like you to consider comebacks in your life; issues that seemed so insurmountable but you dealt with them and with God's help overcame (or you're presently overcoming). That's part of your testimony. If you are dealing with circumstances right now that seem hopeless, always keep the faith! God is ready to forgive, restore, and guide You in the way You should go. If Peter could come back after his disgraceful fall you can as well.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily Prayer: Father, You proved that death could not keep its hold on our Lord Jesus Christ, when You raised Him from the dead. The resurrected power that You gave Jesus also dwells in us, the redeemed. It gives us the power to overcome the most impossible situations where Satan has had influence over us.   At times You miraculously intervene and other times You provide us with the strength to hold up when we experience trouble upon trouble. When we lose our way You lovingly, gently, and persistently nudge us back to the Great Shepherd of our souls. Thank You for specializing in things thought impossible and for doing what no other power can do!  Amen.

First snow storm of the season!
Saturday as forecast we received snow, a rare occasion in this area for October.

First seasonal snow in backyard 10/29/11
One of the unusual aspects of getting a snow storm this early is that the leaves are still on many of the trees. We were concerned for our oaks which were sagging under the weight of the snow but this morning as the snow has melted they are just fine.  However the weight and felled trees did cause damage all through our region and there were (are) many power outages.

First seasonal snow in front yard 10/29/11
Thankfully our only damage is the flattening of the pampa grass near our driveway. We cut it down each fall anyway. Of course the heavy frost also finished off our summer plantings but we expect that by this time.

First seasonal snow driveway view 10/29/11
We normally leave our fall decorations up through Thanksgiving but these pumpkins may not last that long after the heavy freeze.

The blessing of having friends who know how to fix things!

Chris Bert sharpening lawn mower blades 10/28/11
I had trouble with my old riding lawn mower so Chris Bert, who has an amazing range of mechanical proficiencies, stopped by Friday afternoon to fix it for me.  He also sharpened the blades as you can see in the above photo. Chris has an interesting "comeback" testimony.

Chris Bert mowing lawn 10/28/11
After the repair Chris helped me mow the lawn as Brooksyne and I prepared for the storm. This old mower has an interesting history that involves another mechanically proficient friend (see here)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Arise My Love"  Video  Newsong

"The Champion"  Video  Carman

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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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