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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Strasburg Pike pond 6/19/13
We've had several days of rainy, dreary weather so today's bright clear morning was especially noticeable. After an early chaplain visit we passed this farm pond along the Strasburg Pike.

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"Holding Firmly"

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples" (John 8:31). "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter"
(2 Thessalonians 2:15). "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess" (Hebrews 4:14).

Commuter airplaneThis evening we are expecting a guest who's driving down from Maine and stopping here before going onto Indianapolis for a church conference. A reader of Daily Encouragement for many years, it will be nice to finally meet Ken Wish, who also serves in chaplaincy ministry. Our opening illustration also originated in Maine though its drama began in the air not on the road.

It was September 4, 1987 on a flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston that 46 year old pilot Henry Dempsey, heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small commuter aircraft. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check it out.

As he reached the tail section the plane hit an air pocket and Dempsey was tossed against the rear door. He quickly discovered the source of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to takeoff, and it flew open. He was instantly sucked out of the plane.

The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated an open door, radioed the nearest airport, requesting permission to make an emergency landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane and requested a helicopter search of that area of the ocean.

After the plane landed to their amazement they found Henry Dempsey holding on upside down to the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder, held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet, and then, at landing, kept his head from hitting the runway, which was a mere twelve inches away. It took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey's fingers from the ladder.

Things in life may be turbulent, and you may not feel like holding on. But have you considered the alternative?
The aircraft ladder became Dempsey's lifeline in the midst of his gargantuan resistance against the tornado like winds.

Open Bible with notes
Likewise our faith in Christ and the Bible is our lifeline as we hold firm to His teachings. This enables us to resist the onslaught of enemy attacks we face daily. Matthew tells us that lawlessness will increase in the last days, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.

We all deal with different temptations and issues in life as we seek to hold firmly to our faith in God. In His teaching on the sower Jesus spoke of "the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth" as conditions that would choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

The believers addressed in Hebrews were facing persecution and were tempted to go back to their old way of life. That always remains a temptation for all who follow Christ in varying degrees and for different reasons. 

It may be the busyness of life, affluence, the pressure of secular teaching, the barrage of media influence, major family conflict and many other issues we confront daily that lull us into complacency or may pull us back into the world. We must be very careful that our first love for the Lord does not diminish. (Revelation 2:4)  One snare that we have long observed is the heavy load many people bear as they overcome the consequences of disobedience to God prior to getting on the right path. It may have been the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, immorality, wasteful spending or any other destructive attitude or behavior that once controlled our lives. 

Holding on to faithTurning to Christ does not immediately negate the long-term consequences of these past bad choices. In reality some of them will remain a recurring issue throughout life. The enemy of our soul may whisper, "What's the use?" and the temptation is great to just throw in the towel and give up.  And sadly we know those who have done just that. 

The latter part of our third daily verse emphasizes perseverance, a major theme throughout Hebrews. "Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."  It's a short Scripture portion that ought to be memorized. The word translated "hold firmly" is in the present active and conveys the ongoing need to actively participate in this "holding on" to our faith.

Later in Hebrews there is a great promise for those who persevere. I have often been blessed by it: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded" (Hebrews 10:35).  Ponder that descriptive phrase "richly rewarded"; hide it deep in your heart today as you hold firmly to your faith in God!  May the promise of God's future reward be stimulus for obedience today as you hold firm and persevere in your Christian faith. 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we rest in what you have done for us in the past. We trust You for what You are doing presently in our lives and for what You are going to do in the future as we place our full confidence in You.  We have no confidence in the flesh because our weaknesses quickly sabotage our good intentions.  As we hold tightly to the hope we have in You we may feel the turbulent winds of adversity but they will not overcome us. You will keep us on course for You who promised are faithful. We hold tightly to Your teachings that upholds us even when we stumble, keeping us from being cast down. We thank You for Jesus who keeps a firm grip on us allowing no enemy to snatch us out of His hand. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hold On"  Video  Selah

"Hold On"  Video  by 33 MILES

"When Trials Come"  Video  Keith and Kristyn Getty

"Holding On"  Video  Jamie Grace

"Hold On To Jesus"  Video  Steven Curtis Chapman

"Just Hold On"  Video  Rhonda Lee

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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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