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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Amish Woman Working the Field
(Photo by Nick Nichols)
Yesterday as we passed the Amish and old-order Mennonite farms in eastern Lancaster County we saw an increase of farming activity and field work as the days get warmer. We are told we have several days of warm weather coming and we are delighted!
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"Serving The Living And True God"
"You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10).
We often visit a blog that chronicles the persecution scores of Christians presently face, especially in the Muslim countries. It keeps before us the reality of hardship that many live with as they hold on to their Christian faith. It's a powerful antidote to keep us from whining about those matters which are often rather miniscule problems and also provides perspective about the importance of religious freedom.
The Thessalonian believers had "turned to God from idols." Likely the idols that Paul referred to are our stereotype image of idols; figures fashioned with wood, metal or stone. But in turning to God the Thessalonian believers turned from worthless, lifeless and powerless idols "to serve a living and true God". That's the healthy norm in genuine conversion!
Essentially an idol is an object of worship, or that which we attribute worth to. Worship is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something.
The Apostle John ended his first epistle by calling on his readers to "keep yourselves from idols." Today in our modern western world idols may be fashioned differently than the idols mentioned in the Bible but they're still very much present. We have them in abundance and in such variety that, should I begin to list them, it would result in too lengthy a message. In addition, an object that might be an idol to me may not be so for you, and vice versa.
An article on worship states: "In modern society and sociology, some writers have commented on the ways that people no longer simply worship organized religions, but many now also worship consumer brands, sports teams, and other people (celebrities)."* (I would add; some worship political figures.)
Genuine conversion involves turning away from any idol that competes with or robs our heart's affections from the one true and living God. We make this turn "to serve the living and true God." Everybody is serving someone or something. Genuine conversion involves devoting ourselves fully to the living and true God consistently and faithfully. Are you doing so?
"And to wait for His Son from heaven." Clearly at the heart of Paul's preaching was a reminder that, as we serve God during our earthly journey, we wait expectantly for the return of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Precept commentary states, "To wait for the Lord's return is a sure characteristic of a true believer. The present tense can be rendered 'keep on waiting'. Waiting for the return of their Lord and King was their lifestyle, the habit of their life, the truth that colored all their daily activities and afflictions."
"Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus." In our daily encouragement messages this week we are studying texts that reference the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A careful reading of the entire New Testament following Christ's resurrection reveals how often the Scripture writers refer to the resurrection thus teaching and reinforcing it. On the whole we may not consider the focus of our daily Scripture portion to be on the resurrection but it certainly is foundational.
"Who rescues us from the wrath to come" I am giving a lot of consideration to this phrase "the wrath to come". Some commentators feel it is the general wrath in the sense of eternal punishment, others consider it a specific period of wrath in the tribulation period. As I watch events taking place right before my eyes I really wonder if we are entering into a period known as the Great Apostasy as expressed in 2 Thessalonians 2. There is such a rapid hastening in discarding time honored Biblical teaching.
Genuine conversion involves expectant waiting for Christ's return as our heart's affections are heightened to things above instead of being bound to things below. Are you looking up expectantly as you live out your Christian life down here below?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're reminded through the writings of the Apostle Paul that our lives are observed by those who see us day in and day out. What a wonderful change comes into our lives as we surrender our hearts to You, the living and true God. And yet we must be on guard so that worthless idols do not win our affections; otherwise the light of Your Son Jesus will be diminished in our hearts and thereby, our witness. No person or object is of greater worth than that of Your Holy Spirit Who resides in our hearts and prompts us to lift our eyes toward our heavenly redemption that is drawing closer every hour. Thank You for saving us from the coming wrath when Your judgment is poured out on those who do not believe. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Some additional study notes:
Harry Ironside writes, "I'm fully convinced in my own mind that the doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles today. I hope and pray that God will awaken many of His servants to the importance of seeking so to present His truth as to bring men to the only place where He can meet them in blessing. That place is the recognition of their own demerit and absolute unworthiness of His least mercies and a new conception of His saving power for all who come to Christ as lost sinners, resting alone upon His redemptive work for salvation, and depending upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to make them victorious over sin's power in daily life.
Vernon C. Grounds writes, "Two kinds of religion exist in our world: Religion A and Religion B. The first is "faith" in name only (2 Timothy 3:5). It's the outward practice of Christianity without genuine faith in the living Lord.
Religion B, on the other hand, is a life-transforming, destiny-changing experience. It's a definite commitment to the crucified and risen Savior, which establishes an ongoing personal relationship between a forgiven sinner and a gracious God.
Are you bogged down in the empty ritual of Religion A? If so, you must receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then make sure your relationship with Christ is growing deeper and more vital every day."
Last night Justin Eberly and Ashley Weiler joined us for dinner. They will be getting married next Saturday and I'm honored to share a message in their wedding ceremony. Brooksyne considers Ashley to be her "daughter in the faith" much like Paul refers to Timothy as his "son in the faith". Ashley was a devoted worker in a church we pastored and she faithfully served on the praise team alongside Brooksyne for over three years.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"My Name is Jesus" Video Mark Bishop and friends This songs shares the perspective of Christ's resurrection from different Bible characters. Powerful!
"Come People of The Risen King" Video Keith and Kristyn Getty
"Rejoice The Lord Is King" Video Tommy Walker
"All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name/Crown Him" Video Tommy Walker
"I Am Persuaded" Video Travis Cottrell
* See here
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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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