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Friday, May 3, 2013

Backyard sunrise 5/3/13
Early morning sunrise view of our backyard through our bedroom window.

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"Faithful In The Midst Of Testing"

“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:1). "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).

We had a very special Easter five Sundays back on March 31st with our Russian friends, Yelena and Peter. They both sing in their church choir and Yelena directs the orchestra made up mostly of young people. Though the sermons and songs were interpreted for us, the musical instruments spoke in a universal language needing no interpretation. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and the sound preaching from the pulpit on Resurrection Sunday. (We hare a link to the message we wrote at that time below)

Following the service we enjoyed the brunch Yelena had prepared in their new home. Over the meal, among other things, we talked about how different it would be when the twins arrive (Yelena was five months along in her pregnancy.) It was a joy-filled time.

None of us could foresee that within days they would learn that the twins were going through some difficulty. Yelena and Peter's large network of Christian friends went to prayer on their behalf and we continued to pray for Yelena as she underwent surgery in Philadelphia in an attempt to correct the problem. The surgery was successful and we all rejoiced, but late that evening Yelena gave premature birth to twin girls. Their appearance was very short lived and they soon went to be with the Lord.

On April 15th I (Brooksyne) stood with Peter and Yelena's grieving friends at the graveside funeral service for their babies, Lina and Angelina. My heart was broken as were those who stood with them in loving support as they endured inexplicable grief for the all too brief time they had with their girls. (We share their heartrending story with their permission.)

What a blessing to be in communication with Yelena and to hear of their overcoming faith in the midst of such deep sorrow and monumental loss. I've been reading a book by Randy Alcorn, "If God Is Good" which deals with evil and suffering that both believers and non-believers face. He intersperses his teaching with true stories of people like you and me who've dealt with intense suffering, chronic pain or massive loss. As I read these stories they bring to mind people I know personally such as Yelena and Peter.

When we look to the Scriptures we find many examples of those faithfully living for Jesus, even carrying out His work, who face "many dangers, toils, and snares" as they go about their daily work. One such example is Hezekiah who became king when the nation was in great apostasy, having fallen away from God's teachings.  His evil father, Ahaz, “had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD” (2 Chronicles 28:19). Yet in spite of his father's evil influence Hezekiah chose to follow in the ways of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 29-31 records the major reforms made during Hezekiah’s time of leadership, ending with this statement: “This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD His God.  In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:20,21). That's a neat summary but the text doesn't stop there.

The statement in our daily verse immediately follows this and illustrates a powerful spiritual principle: “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” 

The principle is this: A time of greater testing often follows obedience and blessing. The remainder of chapter 32 records Hezekiah’s response to this invasion.

We prefer to live our lives with a clear, sensible cause and effect relationship regarding the challenges we face.  But it doesn’t always work that way, does it?  Hezekiah was faithfully serving God at the time of the enemy’s attack.

Today many of you are dealing with difficult situations in your life. You’ve sought to honor God and faithfully serve Him and you too may wonder, “Why this, when I've been faithful to Your leading?”

Many of these questions will not be fully or satisfactorily answered till we get to the other side but here's a Scripture easily memorized that can bring peace to one's soul, ”He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).  He is with us in the midst of our struggle and provides soothing medicine for our wounded hearts through His Holy Scriptures.  Rejoice in God’s faithfulness and steadfast love in the midst of a painful situation!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You guide us through the many dangers, toils, and snares that we face while journeying here below. In these major challenges we desire to give You glory in what we say, what we do and in the way we process our emotions as we prayerfully respond to the challenges set before us. We want to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer as we overcome life's struggles. We find healing for our soul when we rely on You, our tender and loving Father, who heals our broken heart and binds up our wounds. You are ever faithful and ever interceding for us, your children. And we thank You for it in the name of Jesus. Amen.

More On Ahaz' wickedness: "Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and also made idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree" (2 Chronicles 28:1-4).

This entire chapter describes Ahaz. A very interesting verse states, "In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord" 2 Chronicles 28:22).

Amish traffic 5/2/13
Yesterday we passed a lot of Amish open buggy traffic on a beautiful spring day. We stopped by Lancaster Bible College for the National Day of Prayer event here in Lancaster County. On the way we were blessed to see a large group of employees gathered in a circle praying in front of a cabinet making company and then passed a group from the Christian Motorcyclists Association who were gathered in a parking lot for prayer. Our pastor sent us an email this morning and reported that he had the opportunity to join a group reading through the Bible on the steps of the nation's capitol. What a beautiful thing to see and hear of prayer going up for our nation all around the country!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

This week we have shared music on prayer adding to the list day by day with recently added songs at the top.

(Four new songs today very related to our message)

"Tears Are A Language"  Video  Amy Lambert  Video (with lyrics) Booth Brothers  This was one of the first songs Brooksyne sang as "a special" back in our young days in ministry in the seventies. It has a powerful message especially the line, "When grief has left you low, it causes tears to flow. When things have not turned out the way that you had planned."

"Faithful God"  Video  Shannon Wexelberg  This is a 28 minute worship experience with Shannon ministering in song regarding life's struggles that threaten to shatter our hopes and dreams. The moving song, "Faithful God", is in the latter part of the presentation. This video moved me to tears and touched my spirit as I listened and read the reviews.

Shannon's blog post "Don't Forget Your Pain" reveals that Shannon doesn't just sing or write songs about life's struggles but she experiences them just like us. Her blog is very revealing and it will minister to your heart or someone else the Lord may lay on your heart.

Here is the message we shared about visiting Peter and Yelena's church on Easter Sunday along with photos.

Yelena & Peter's daughter's graveside service The congregation sang several songs during the graveside service and at least two of them had to do with children going to heaven. I was so touched by the message as Yelena's brother interpreted those of us who knew only English. He graciously translated the words and Yelena sent them to me along with a link so that you can hear it sung in their native language.

"He Will Carry Me"  Video  Mark Schultz  Tonight Brooksyne and Ester will serve with the staff at a Mark Schultz concert at Lancaster Bible College.

Children's song in Russian audio

Around the throne, before the Creator
Is a very big choir of children
With faces glowing of happiness,
They sing to the King of Kings

Over yonder, over yonder
With faces glowing of happiness
Over yonder, over yonder
They sing to the King of Kings

Who gathered all these children here
Who brought them into Heaven
Who united all the baby voices
Into a wonderful song?

Lord Jesus suffered for us all,
He dearly loves the children
And He gave them the right to be in Heaven
Among the holy angels

They loved the Lord
In their days on earth
And so their love could be stronger
He took them from the earth

More prayer songs previously posted this week:

"Turn the Tide - A Prayer for America"  Video  Abigail Miller (Outstanding!)

"Heal Our Land"  Video  Wayne Watson

"Heal Our Land"  Video  Planetshakers

"How Long Has It Been?"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"Waiting Here For You
"  Video  Passion Worship Music

"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"  Video  Fernando Ortega

"Hear Our Prayer"  Video  Don Moen

"Hear Our Prayers"  Video  The Glorious Unseen

"You Said"  Video  Hillsong

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video  The Grace Thrillers

National Day Of Prayer website

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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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