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Friday, April 12, 2013
Willow Valley Chapel
Our area is rapidly greening and we expect, with the nice rains, we are having today we will see the transformation from winter colors to spring really speed up the next several days!
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"To Be Like Jesus"
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps" (I Peter 2:21).
I was visiting with Rick, a friend of ours, in the course of a chaplain visit this week. He shared a story that he had read that touched his heart. (* I post the version he emailed me below). In essence a man stopped to help a soul in distress who turned out to be blind. She asked him, "Are you Jesus?", because she had been praying for Jesus to help her!
Rick told me it really prompted him to consider what being like Jesus was all about and that indeed is a thought we should all keep before us.
When we went to Bible School in the mid-seventies we regularly had times of consecration around the altar. Every Friday evening we had a mission service which generally ended with times of prayer and consecration. A chorus we both recall singing in those services that we don't hear much anymore went like this.
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus
All I ask is to be like Him
All through life's journey
From earth to glory
All I ask is to be like Him.
A lifelong aspiration for any earnest Christian is to be like Jesus, to follow His example.
Let's consider two verses that speak to this matter:
The first is a record of what took place following the healing of the crippled man in Acts 3. Peter and John had been brought before the religious authorities to explain the miraculous healing and their insistence on preaching of the Gospel. These religious authorities soon found out that putting Jesus to death, in fact, did not end their problem with Him!
Notice four observations these religious authorities made concerning Peter and John that should be the goal for all Christians:
1) They observed their "confidence" (boldness). These men were not ashamed of the Gospel (see Romans 1:16). Although they had just been placed in jail their conviction concerning the reality of the resurrection of Christ, along with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, had turned once cowering Peter into a courageous and bold witness!
2) They "understood that they were uneducated and untrained men." The religious leaders prided themselves in their education and training. Peter and John had been fishermen and then had several years with their Master. In the view of the religious leaders they were certainly not properly trained or educated. While seeing value in a good solid Bible education the greatest education is time with the Master.
3) They "were amazed." Tragically, their hearts remained hard and they continued to harass the early church as the verses that follow demonstrate.
4) They "began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." This is a powerful and intriguing phrase. When I read it I wonder if this was something the religious leaders recognized or perhaps Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, was providing a spiritual explanation. Either way what a great testimony of the living Christ within us. Do people see me and recognize that I have been with Jesus?
The second daily text was written by Peter, who early on had learned that he would suffer for Christ. He wrote to the early believers "To this (suffering) you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps" (I Peter 2:21).
This verse prompted Charles Sheldon to write the classic book "In His Steps". Jesus gave us an example of how to live not only in regard to suffering but in every area of life. We should all aspire to "follow in His steps".
Last Sunday our pastor preached a message on faithfully following Christ and during his message just started singing "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus". The congregation joined along in a beautiful Acapella expression of our desire to follow Jesus. May the Lord grant us all the resolve today and every day to be like Jesus!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, Your Word tells us that Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we might also suffer indignity and injustice just as the disciples did, many of them giving their lives for the Gospel. But when we consider all that You have set before us; redemption, forgiveness, a clear conscience, a pure heart, a satisfied mind, virtuous gifts that increase over a lifetime, unconditional love, grace beyond measure and a home prepared for me in heaven, things suffered in this life pale in comparison. May the lives we live, the words we speak, and the love we generously pour out to others "amaze" those who see it so that they might declare, "We recognize them as having been with Jesus." In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Yesterday early in the morning in the course of our travels we drove through an area south of Lancaster called "Willow Valley". We would like to share some photos we took on another bright sunny day as well as a few of the people we met in the course of life's journey.
Another view of the Willow Valley Chapel
An old stone farmhouse at Willow Valley
We were visiting in a company when I saw Gene bringing in some Dunkin Donuts. He told me "Today's my birthday" and he was bringing in the donuts to share with his friends at work. That's pretty neat but especially interesting is that Gene is celebrating his 89th birthday! That smile you see is real and typical of his sunny disposition. He works each workday and just loves to come to work.
We had two hospital calls at Lancaster General and while I was waiting for Brooksyne to finish her visit I ran into Mike Ranson whom we met about six years ago when we spoke at a retreat for chaplains at Transport for Christ. Mike has stayed connected through Daily Encouragement Net and it was a blessing to share our faith together in the waiting area. He was at the hospital supporting an older member of his church who was in for surgery. It's great to see Christians and churches doing what Jesus said to do. (See Matthew 25:34-40)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"I Have Decided To Follow Jesus" Video Selah
"Lord, I Want To Be Like Jesus" Video Fernando Ortega
"I Want To Be More Like Jesus" Video Keith Green
"I Want to Be More Like Jesus Every Day" Video Homecoming singers
"Oh, I Want To Be Like Jesus" Video Heritage Singers
"Love Them Like Jesus" Video Casting Crowns
"I Am Resolved" Video Dailey and Vincent
"In His Steps" free ebook This was practically required reading when we were younger Christians. It was written over 100 years ago but still has a freshness about it. Wikipedia states "First published in 1897, the book has sold more than 30,000,000 copies, and ranks as one of the best-selling book of all time. The full title of the book is "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?".
* Here's the fuller version of the story Rick shared with me:
A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago .. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding...
ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.
He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.
He was glad he did. The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
He stopped in mid-stride .... and he wondered. He gently went back and said, "No, I am nothing like Jesus - He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have bumped into your display in the first place.
"The girl gently nodded: "I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me, so you are like Him - only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister."
Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"
Do people mistake you for Jesus?
That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.
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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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