The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Many birds feed at the feeder directly in front of our home office but we find ourselves preferring the colorful ones, such as this goldfinch! Brooksyne took this photo through the window, being careful not to disturb the bird. We just hung a hummingbird feeder about 1 foot from the window so we hope to see our hummingbirds return this season and get some good photos.
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"The God Of All Grace"
"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 5:10,11).
According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith in Christ. Barrett, Johnson, and Crossing, in their 2009 report, in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1:32) estimate that approximately 176,000 Christians will have been martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009. This, according to the authors, compares to 160,000 martyrs in mid-2000 and 34,400 at the beginning of the 20th century. If current trends continue, they estimate that by 2025, an average of 210,000 Christians will be martyred annually. That's about 575 martyrdoms per day!
Most of this happens below the radar and receives little attention here in the US. Many of us give little thought to the plight of our brethren undergoing this persecution. I hope today’s message will reach some of you who live in areas of persecution and will be a source of encouragement to you. We also hope it is a reminder to all to "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" (Hebrews 13:3).
Peter is writing to the persecuted church of his time; a church very familiar with suffering that surely faced discouragement. According to reliable church tradition Peter was crucified under Emperor Nero, the cross being upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus Christ.
Let us consider the phrase, "the God of all grace" found in the daily text. A wonderful aspect of God's character alongside His comforting assurance to the believer is found in this tiny clause. We may often think of grace as pertaining only to our salvation, but the God of all grace is constantly bestowing His unmerited favor on His needy people.
What are you facing today? As mentioned early on we certainly want to consider those being persecuted. But what situation has your attention and is causing you stress and worry? Personally, we have been in prayer for grieving friends who lost a son to cancer this past Saturday. For others it's dealing with a severe medical condition, in some cases an ongoing, chronic struggle. For some couples it's an aging parent facing a major living arrangement transition. And yet others are nervous about their job security. Many carry a heavy burden for children and other loved ones who aren't walking in the truth. The list goes on and on.
Whatever situation weighs heavy on your hearts this day, let's consider from our daily verse several blessings from the God of all grace:
1) He has called us to His eternal glory in Christ. This should prompt us to keep an eternal perspective.
2) Our suffering is very real but is only for "a little while", a reminder of the temporary nature of our time on this earth!
3) He will restore. A promise of future restoration. What we see or are presently enduring is not the final picture. Even the most vivid imagination cannot envision the blessed future restoration God has for those who remain obedient and faithful to Him.
4) He will make us strong, firm and steadfast. Staying faithful and true by God’s grace regardless of what we may face is a result of His work in us. Turn over your weakness to Him, confess your doubts and fears, and invite Him to do the work needed to make you strong, firm, and steadfast.
Remember this important truth: Suffering is for a little while, but sharing in His glory is for all eternity!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we see the greatest example of temporal suffering in the person of Jesus Christ. By giving His all to pay the full ransom for our sins He underwent inhumane persecution to the fullest extent of giving His life through death that we might live. What seemed a hopeless cause turned into a victory above all other victories when His resurrected body made it possible for us, as His followers, to join in His eternal glory. It's just a little longer that we must wait before we enter through the pearly gates. May we be found faithful along the way! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Most all who feed birds do not welcome squirrels at the feeder. However they are welcomed in our yard as they feed on the dropped seeds like this one who is joined by a neighborhood bunny! Brooksyne would rather the bunny eat the dropped seed than munch on the growing lettuce in our back yard.
Our cat Dottie celebrates her 11th birthday today - she was our first pet after moving to Mount Joy from Massachusetts 11 years ago. A wild barn cat dropped off a litter of four on May 15, 2001, and she's the beauty we kept. First time we've ever been able to keep a cat for more than a couple years before they wandered off. Dottie seems quite content with us even though the dogs get most of the attention. Here she is..... sunning on the barn door ledge.
After two days of showers we have much to enjoy as a result. This lupine is one of the beauties we have been growing in our garden. Brooksyne says it is "elegant"! And, though I have a non-flowery vocabulary, I would have to agree with her assessment.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Still My Soul" Video Keith and Kristyn Getty
"What Grace Is Mine" Video Keith and Kristyn Getty tune of "Londonderry Air"
"Grace Alone" Video Maranatha Singers
"Follow Me" Video Kelly Willard This is among my many favorite old hymns written by Ira Stanphill.
"Just A Little While" Video Statesmen Quartet Brooksyne's Note: As I was writing the prayer today, out of the blue, the lyrics to this old quartet hymn "Just a Little While" came to mind, stanza by stanza. It's in such moments I'm reminded that reinforcement of Scripture and doctrine is stored in our memory banks through music. Stephen found an old recording of the Statesmen quartet that may bring back sweet memories for those who listened way back then. I'm sure that the Homecoming Series would have a little more up to date version, but you might just enjoy this one and its excellent lyrics thanks to songwriter Eugene Bartlett who also penned, "Victory in Jesus".
Just a little while to stay here
Just a little while to wait
Just a little while to labor
In the path that's always straight
Just a little more of sorrow
In this low and sinful state
Then we'll enter Heaven's Portals
Sweeping through the Pearly Gates.
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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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