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Friday, December 28, 2012

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Winter scene in rural Michigan
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

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"He Knows What Is Ahead"

"Be joyful in hope" (Romans 12:12). "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2,3).

I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray.

When Brooksyne and I got married in 1976 we lived near a small village named Pleasant Hope about twenty-five miles north of Springfield. In fact our very first joint checking account was opened at the Bank of Pleasant Hope. I don't know the basis of this name but the names of many geographical locations have a religious significance, as they were settled by devout people of faith.

Wouldn’t it be great if all problems from 2012 disappeared as we turned the calendar page from December 2012 to January 2013?  Well, you and I know it doesn’t work that way. Some things will improve; others will worsen.

I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

An interesting village name here in Lancaster County is Mount Hope.
Since devoted religious immigrants settled this area in the 18th century it likely represents an expression of faith. Hymn writer Ira Stanphill, who at one time was a pastor here in Lancaster County, wrote the great gospel classic, "I know who holds tomorrow." The entire song is an expression of the fixed hope we have in Christ and throughout our message today we want to share the lyrics.

I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.

Hope is one of the greatest of God's blessings. Our relationship with God always involves faith, and active faith in Him always leads to hope. When our faith in God is weak, inactive or even non-existent we have either no hope or a misplaced hope.

We have a fixed hope that is the heritage of all true followers of Christ. We are included in the "beloved" that John writes to who are "Now (present tense) the children of God."

As children of God there's a lot about our future, both the immediate and distant, which is very unclear to us, much of which we don't understand. I believe this in part is the sense of the expression from our text, "it has not appeared as yet what we will be."

But the aged apostle John writes with much certainty about the future, "We know that when He appears..." His future appearance, although mocked and scorned by the world, is a fixed reality.

At that time "We will be like Him, and we will see Him just as He is!" Elsewhere the Scriptures refer to the return of Christ as the "Blessed Hope" and it truly is.

As we prepare for a new year I am so blessed and challenged by the latter phrase in our daily text, "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." This hope is not a mere wish but an absolute certainty and leads to an unshakable confidence concerning the future promise of God.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.

As a result of this we, as God's children, will purify ourselves because our Lord is absolutely pure. A commentary notes, "The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ. This process will not be complete until we see Christ face to face, but knowing that this is our ultimate destiny should motivate us to purify ourselves. To purify means to keep morally straight, free from the corruption of sin. God also purifies us, but there is action we must take to remain morally fit."

This action, I believe, is staying true to the pure doctrine of Scripture, not just reading it but living it. We must be vigilant in keeping God's standards as our rule book, rather than the ever changing standards of this world that reflect people's human nature rather than the spiritual nature that has been redeemed and refined by the inerrant Holy Word of God.

Genuine Christ-directed faith leads to a real hope and that leads to an amazing, unexplainable ability to rejoice whatever the circumstances. Surely some of you are facing very trying circumstances as you read this. Today I encourage you to focus on the hope we have in Christ and I end with a thought-provoking saying I really like: "Man's way leads to a hopeless end, but God's way leads to an endless hope."  Amen!!!

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we share the sentiment Paul expressed when he wrote, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." Our hope is not limited to this earthly existence, but rather it flourishes and yields growing anticipation as we contemplate the blessed future event of our Lord's soon return.  Being aware of our unworthiness and inclination to sin gives us all the more motivation to fix our hope on You. We want to set our affections on things above, not on things of this earth, for we are dead to the world and our life is hidden with Christ through You, Father. Purify our thoughts, actions, and conversation as we with renewed determination fix our hope on the Everlasting One. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Strasburg Railroad train 12/28/12
Today my brother Pat and I drove through Lancaster County and were momentarily delayed by a train on the Strasbug Railroad. It's a pleasant sight to watch the steam engine pass by!

We also stopped by to visit an Amish friend. Pat was curious about a new show he had heard about called the Amish Mafia and wanted a perspective regarding the show from a genuine Lancaster Amishman.  We asked Jesse if he knew "L
ebanon Levi", one of the main characters in the show, and indeed he did. Years earlier he had ran around with him. He is no longer Amish and apparently has turned to acting. However as we described the show Jesse verified what I had also read in local reports that the show was overall fiction and the Amish really don't appreciate the way it portrays their lifestyle.

Christmas Newsletter

We welcome our daily encouragement readers to read our 2012 Weber family Christmas letter

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video  Alison Kraus

"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video  Homecoming Singers

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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