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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stone wall in farmhouse in Mount Joy, PA (photo by Nick Nichols)
Stone wall in Mount Joy, PA farmhouse
(Photo by Nick Nichols)

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"A Haven Of Grace"

"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12,13).

Mountjoy shipWe enjoy the name of our town, Mount Joy, which might seem to have a spiritual background but this is not the case.  Mount Joy is often included in lists of "delightfully-named towns" in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Also included are Intercourse, Blue Ball, Lititz, Bareville, Bird-in-Hand and Paradise. The name is often shortened to Mt. Joy but this is incorrect, since the "Mount" in Mount Joy does not refer to a mountain. The town's name Mountjoy, named after an Irish ship, was brought to the colonies by settlers from Ireland.

Havre De Grace MDLet's consider another interesting name for a town. Havre de Grace is a city in Maryland about 55 miles south of us situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once Le Havre de Grāce. This is French for "Haven of Grace".

In our daily Scripture text the Apostle Paul is reminding the Ephesian believers where they came from before they entered their spiritual haven of grace.
"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."

One commentator makes this observation: The Gentiles are characterized spiritually by five "less" attributes:
  • Christ-less,
  • Country-less,
  • Covenant-less,
  • Hope-less and
  • God-less! 
Due to our fallen human nature that's where we all came from. Interestingly the phrase "without God" translates the Greek word "atheo" which is the foundation for the English words "atheist" or "atheism" and this is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament.

GRACEA major theme in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is grace. A helpful acrostic explaining grace is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense". Thank God that we can point people without hope in the direction of a haven of grace! "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."

Consider our inheritance as a believer in Christ in the spiritual realm which is a result of God's grace. Our past is forgiven, our present is abundant life in Christ, and our future is heaven, forever with Him. What could be greater than those blessings in addition to the fact. And grace upon grace is the fact that it's available to everyone including those whose lives are wrecked! 

Haven of GraceNow let's all spread the good news of our caring, loving God to a broken, hurting world and tell them of this haven of grace! There is no vessel too broken that God's healing touch can't restore. That which is impossible with man is possible with God!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we limit our faith when we pray and then expect You to provide for our needs in the natural human way. But when we read the Scriptures we're reminded me that You are Omnipotent and You work in supernatural ways to restore broken lives and mend broken hearts. You do extraordinary things in ordinary lives who've plunged into desperate messes of their own making. We place our loved ones in Your hands and ask You to reveal Your immeasurable, not for sale grace to their lives, even as You have shown to us. Thank You for grace, God's riches at Christ's expense. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

In Monday's message we considered the blessing of brothers and I listed times in the Bible when brothers are mentioned. I had forgotten to include the two brothers in the story of the Prodigal son.

"A Place Called Grace"  Video  A powerful retelling of the Prodigal Son

"When God Ran"  Video  

"The Prodigal Son" Video  
Keith Green

Nick Nichols 7/27/11
Yesterday I was looking for some photos of Mount Joy and I noticed a name came up that I recognized; a Lancaster County friend named Bernard "Nick" Nichols. He has a lot of photos posted on the web including the Mount Joy farmhouse photo we used in our lead picture and he gave me permission to use them. This photo above was taken at the Bird In Hand Farmer's Market a couple of years ago when Nick was showing me the features of his Iphone. He would be a good salesman for Apple! Here's an interesting collection of his photos.

Browser logosThese are articles we come across in the course of studying for these messages or just poking around the vast Internet. In most cases they are not necessarily related to the daily message but may be of interest to our readers. These articles will only be posted once and there will be new ones each post, assuming we come across material that we feel may be of interest. (To see previous links use the archive version.)

"Ex-Christians: Ways to Bring Back the Leavers" An interesting article by Steve Cable on the Probe Ministries website.

Despite Iran’s Lies, American Pastor Saeed Not Forgotten  See Hebrews 13:3

"Counseling and the Church"  David Penley asserts that "Counseling takes place in the church all the time. In Sunday School classes, in worship services, in hallways. The church is where it should take place." We really believe this such as in our worship service Sunday when a man who will soon turn 90 stood up during the testimony time and began by stating, "I'm on the home stretch" prior to dispensing some wisdom for all ages.

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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