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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mailbox with sedum flower roof
Here's an interesting idea for a rural mailbox.
Plant groundcovering on the roof!
(notice the paradox of ground and roof)
Sedum groundcovering is shown in photo

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Raising My Ebenezer"

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Most of you have sung the lyrics posted above but may not immediately recall the song. Many probably have never considered the meaning of the words, "Here I raise my Ebenezer". They are from the second verse to the hymn, "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing" penned in
1757 by Robert Robinson who was just 22 years old at the time.

Today is my spiritual birthday and each year on this day I like to give testimony to God's redeeming work in my life. Forty-one years ago I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

I was raised in a home where we attended church weekly. In fact I remember my long string of "Sunday School perfect attendance" pins. But it wasn't until I was in High School that I recall being specifically challenged by Christ's claims upon my life and the need to personally repent of my sin and seriously follow Christ. Like many, I assumed I was a Christian based upon my church background or being "good" in comparison to those I perceived as "bad."

After a clear presentation of the Gospel I knew better. After hearing the salvation message, I didn't accept Christ initially but continued to live in rebellion for awhile. During this period of time I was very aware that I had not submitted my heart to Christ. 

As I was wrestling with spiritual matters God used a song, popular at the time, titled "I Wish We'd All Been Ready". Each time I heard the words it brought conviction to my heart. I knew I wasn't ready. Many of you "old-timers" have probably heard the song and I place a link to a video clip below.

On August 22, 1971 I was persuaded to attend a large convention in Kansas City, Missouri where an evangelist by the name of Lowell Lundstrom spoke. In the service that evening I was convicted of my sin and convinced of my need for Christ. I walked forward and placed my faith in Christ.

My testimony in one sense can be summed up by the simple phrase in the daily text, "Thus far has the LORD helped me."

Samuel served God some 3,100 years ago as the last leader during the period of the Judges. In fact he anointed both Saul and David as kings. Samuel served his generation faithfully, overcoming dangers from without and apostasy  from within
(falling away from the faith).

In today's text he made a tangible memorial to God's faithfulness to himself and the people.  He set up a stone and named it Ebenezer (which means "stone of help"), and stated, "Thus far has the Lord helped us." That must have been a wonderful moment and it's my testimony today. I raise my Ebenezer and personally proclaim, 
Thus far has the LORD helped me.

Robert Robinson wrote the line "Here I raise my Ebenezer; here by Thy great help I’ve come" he was surely referring to this Scripture text and declaring his faith and resolve in serving the Lord.

Whether you know the date of your spiritual birthday or not (and I realize many do not), have you placed your faith in Christ? Are you faithfully serving Him today?
I sure hope so! I encourage you to raise your Ebenezer and join Samuel and me in proclaiming, "Thus far has the Lord helped us!"

My goal in serving Christ is further realized since I have now walked with Him for 41 years. But the completion of my goal, to follow Him all the days of my life, will be fully realized only when my time of transition comes, "safely to arrive at home."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for Your wonderful salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You created in my body a thirst and hunger for physical food just as You created in my soul a hunger and thirst for spiritual food.  My soul thirsts for You, the living God. As I drink from Your living water my soul's desires are satisfied. I am refreshed as I taste and see that You are good and Your mercies are everlasting and very personal. As I partake of the Living Water and the Bread of Life I am led by Your hand. I am no longer my own, for I have been bought with a tremendous price – Your Son, Your only Son, who gave His life that I might experience forgiveness for sin. Thank You for forgiving me and leading me in the paths of righteousness where I find love, joy and peace forevermore. My heart and my flesh, they may fail, but You are my strength and my portion for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Many have sought to condense the gospel message into a simple presentation followed by a sinner's "prayer" such as "The Four Spiritual Laws", "Steps to Peace With God" and more recently the "Need Him" website. These formulas can be very helpful but in my view can also have some detriments:

1) They
essentially present the claims of the gospel but since they vary a bit people can stumble as to there being one right formula and more specifically the way to say the "sinner's prayer". i.e. "Did I say it just right", "Did I cover everything" etc.
2) Some place their faith in having heard the formula and saying the prayer. I've seen more than a few give little thought to following God after this. In fact I suppose if everyone who ever went through one of these formulas or responded to an altar call at some point in their lives were totaled we would refer to the vast majority of people in America as "Christian"!

A Christian is one who
believes in Christ, has repented of sin, who follows Him, and applies the Scripture to his or her life. Tomorrow I will share a message about a gospel presentation Jesus used: "Then He said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me'" (Luke 9:23).

Lowell Lundstrom
Evangelist Lowell Lundstrom, who preached the Gospel the night I got saved passed away July 20th of this year (obituary). His wife Connie passed in December 2011. He remained faithful as an evangelist till his death. On several occasions I saw Lowell since the time of my conversion and was pleased to share of his impact on my life and he was equally pleased to hear it. The last time I saw him was in 1998 when he had a connecting flight at the KC airport following my dad's death.  He provided some comfort and perspective in sharing that my dad was taking an early flight.

He had a long faithful ministry and a reader sent me these links:

1) Lowell preaching the Gospel as a young man similar in age as the time he preached when I was converted in 1971. Video segment

2) He shared his testimony in this message in 2010  Video

Penn State trial garden sign
Today's photo of the mailbox was taken at the Penn State trial gardens near Mount Joy. It includes an "idea garden" with creative ways to use plants. We enjoyed our walk through this free tourist attraction that is probably rarely visited since it's off the beaten path.

Penn State trial garden

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resource

"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"  Video  Chris Rice  This is the song that has the verse mentioned in today's message.

"My Tribute"
 Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

"Praise To The Lord, The Almighty"
 Video  Passion Band

"I Wish We'd All Been Ready"
 Video  Interestingly I spoke in a church in York County several weeks ago and a lady sang this song. I hadn't heard it sung in church for many years. Larry Norman, who wrote the song, passed away in 2008. He dictated a message to a friend just before his death. "I feel like a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up, I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home."

Photo of Ebenezer barn in Arkansas with devotional thought by photographer.

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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