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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snowy plant
We are pleased to have some snow cover which makes for wonderful photos. Michelle, a friend of ours sent us this interesting photo taken by her friend Lindsay. The finely crystallized snow looks like cotton!

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"A Dead Dog"

"David asked, 'Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'" (2 Samuel 9:1). 
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" (2 Samuel 9:8). "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40).

Brooksyne with nursing home residentFor many years Brooksyne has led hymn sings in area nursing centers. As expected, most of the residents are elderly but these centers sometimes have severely disabled people who make the center their home though they are not necessarily elderly.

In one particular setting she became acquainted with Bill* who regularly attended the hymn sings. Bill has a horribly disfigured face due to a congenital birth defect. He has a severe form of Sturge-Weber's syndrome, named for the two doctors who discovered the disfiguring disease. His head is nearly double the normal size, his face blotched with deep red pigmentation as though he has been through a fire. His facial and hand features are so out of proportion that he deals with curiously immature people who point and stare at him in revulsion when he is in public settings.

It seems to me people like Bill might fit in the category of those whom Jesus refers to as "the least of these" (as people rate one another’s value). Mephibosheth might be among them as well. He is among my favorite "lesser known" Bible characters. Dropped as a very small child he was "lame in both feet". His story is told in 2 Samuel 9 and, if you're not familiar with his life, you may need to read this entire chapter and some study material about him. Today's message is a summary.

He had a lot more than his share of problems and was now the sole surviving member of Saul's family with David as the king. His personal esteem couldn’t sink any lower as he saw the importance of his life to be no more than that of a "dead dog". Since dogs were not valued by the Hebrew culture (in the sense we do as pets) this self-description packs a double whammy, kind of like me referring to myself as "a dead skunk".

But David models the love of God when he sought Mephibosheth out and made a place at the King's table for him, "like one of the king's sons", not just for the evening but for the rest of his life. He gave him land and appointed servants that provided for his needs. This is an excellent illustration of generosity and grace exhibited in the Old Testament.

Some of you reading this may not be able to identify with Mephibosheth at all. Life for you has been pretty good. Most importantly you have an assurance of God's love and a network of caring people around you.

We encourage you to consider others who may need a lift today by your expression of personal interest or your gesture of kindness. David so powerfully illustrates God's grace in the fact that he didn't wait for Mephibosheth to cross his path, but actually made the necessary effort to locate him and then chose to personally bless him. How can you demonstrate that grace today to one who might be regarded as among “the least of these”?

Others reading this readily identify with Mephibosheth. Life's always been hard and you’ve wondered when and if things will ever work out. It's been one hard blow after another and you could reckon the value of your own life as that of a "dead dog". You question in your mind, ”Does anyone love me? Does anyone really care?” And here you are reading this message. God has brought you to this message and wants you to receive His love and care. He wants you to hold onto this unchanging truth that is filled with eternal hope:

God loves you and He cares about you.

The fact is, apart from the love and mercy of God every one of us are as "dead dogs". John
Newton put it this way, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" We might despair if we look only to this life, so we must be mindful daily of the way God has set up His kingdom.

He calls us to endure the temporal difficulties in our life on earth, but He’s invited us to enjoy the eternal delights in our life in heaven. He has saved the best for last, but that’s OK because that’s where we’ll be forever and always, long after the troubles of this life have faded from view! I'm sure glad it's not the other way around, though, for those who choose not to enter the kingdom of God, it surely is!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, there is much that we don’t understand on this side; why some go through life seemingly with ease and little trouble, and others seem to be born with trouble that never goes away. It is not for us to understand Your ways for You are a God of mystery with greater purpose than we can comprehend, and yet You have made clear to us through Scripture that which we are to understand. Some of the very trouble we seek to avoid is what brings us to faith and causes us to live a life that is honoring to You and purposeful to others. Keep our hearts sensitive and compassionate toward those who are undervalued by the world’s standards. When we put ourselves in their place, we identify with their struggles and feel the deep hurt they experience when looked down upon and rejected by others. May we be Your tender arm of compassion and Your gentle voice of acceptance and unconditional love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Context of today's passage: 2 Samuel 9

* Brooksyne's note: Bill is a fictional name used for privacy reasons. An interesting coincidence is that he's the first person I've ever met who was born on the very same day and year as I. When I learned this fact you might imagine that it got me thinking hard and long, “Why him and not me?” At the time, he was thought to be the oldest person living with this disorder, as most born with Sturge-Weber's Syndrome have a shortened life span. Info about Sturge-Weber's Syndrome

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Carried To The Table"  Video  Leeland  A song based upon the story of Mephibosheth and applying to our redemption in Christ!

"Mephibosheth"  Video  Sound Doctrine  The story of Mephibosheth set to music!

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"  Video  Selah
We sure appreciate this song.  It is an example of rich, sound theology in a contemporary song.

"Lame"  Video  An interesting presentation of the Mephibosheth story. (5:54 minutes)

Here are some helpful booklets for those who may identify with Mephibosheth (you can either order these booklets or view them online as a pdf).
"When Life is Unfair"
"Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering?"  
Anchors In The Storm

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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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