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Monday, August 19, 2013
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"Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket" (Acts 9:25). "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands" (2 Corinthians 11:30-33).
Yesterday we helped our friend, Harold Blichfeldt, take down his booth at the 39th Annual Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show. As we walked by the 260 artist displays we saw a wide variety of art. There are many ways people create art, some which we find appealing and others not so much. For some it's quite apparent that great skill is needed, for others less so, at least to us! Some artists use their skills in creating intricate, fancy baskets such as Joyce Schaum who is a nationally acclaimed basket maker.
Several years ago we visited Longaberger Village in Ohio where Brooksyne and Ester both made a basket (featured above) under the tutelage of an experienced Longaberger basket maker. They found that making an attractive, functional basket does require skill and careful attention to detail.
Today we want to consider another kind of basket; a very large with strong one, likely with a wooden base since it could hold the weight of a person. Luke wrote about this life-saving basket in the book of Acts!
When William Carey, the Father of Modern Missions, was leaving for India as a missionary, he told a group of interested friends, "Saving souls can be likened to a man drowning in a deep well and a volunteer can do nothing unless there are people who will hold the rope for him to be lowered till he reaches the drowning man, and then pull them up to safety." Carey adds, "I will go to India as a volunteer to seek sinners drowning in the well of SIN. But I can't do it alone. I need rope-holders. Will you be my rope-holders?"
William Carey was considering a rather obscure event
recorded in the Bible when he told this story. Acts 9 records the story
of Saul's conversion where he had gone to Damascus, "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples."
But God upset his plans and Paul was dramatically converted. After spending several days with the disciples in Damascus "he began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God" (Acts 9:23).
This resulted in Paul being pursued by his former partners in persecution of which he had once been a zealous participant. They conspired to kill him. Interestingly, the very ones he had come to persecute days earlier were now essential in his daring nighttime escape. (Talk about a turnaround of loyalties in both the Christian's and Persecutor's camps.) Paul learned early on that he was part of God's team. Can you mentally picture these disciples tightly holding the ropes as they carefully lowered him down the city wall in a basket. Of course they were also putting their own lives in danger.
This is one of the most vital lessons we need to apply in our service for Christ. When Saul was converted God could have directly intervened and removed the blinding scales from his eyes, but instead His healing power was released through the obedient hands of Ananias.
Now several unnamed disciples were instrumental in helping Saul out of town in the midst of persecution that was aimed directly at him. They, along with Ananias, (who perhaps was among them) became the first of many, many ministry associates to Saul, whom of course we now know as the apostle Paul.
These disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. Saul experienced divine protection in the midst of persecution, but he would also learn that God's deliverance often comes in cooperation with other people.
We are thankful for the scores of godly people through the years whom we have teamed with to advance God's cause. Many of you receiving this message are a part of that team.
Today consider your life and ministry for Christ. There are surely those who have held the ropes for you. They've given a word fitly spoken, interceded in prayer for you, helped you out of a jam, lovingly rebuked you when you needed it (but didn't really want it), etc.
Consider also those you've reached out to and held the ropes for. It may have been hard, inconvenient or even dangerous (as it was for the original rope-holders). But aren't you thankful these disciples did it? Keep hold of the ropes for fellow believers, for those in missionary service, for your spiritual leaders and for loved ones who've not yet submitted their hearts to God!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're thankful for the rope-holders who bear our burdens and encourage us in times of weakness and difficulty. You work through such human vessels to convey Your strength, comfort, protection, and challenge as we walk together in faith. Help us to be faithful in doing our part to encourage, pray, and offer support to those You lay on our hearts that we may be united and strengthened in our Christian journey. Amen.
Today we shared about persecution. We join many in praying for those who are being persecuted, especially the horrors that are taking place to our brothers and sisters in Egypt at the hands of the terrorist group known as "the Muslim Brotherhood". Also in Syria and so many other places and then for the milder form of persecution here in America as we see our dominant culture even government growing increasing hostile to people of historic Christian faith.
Some scenes from our weekend.
The Tin Man Thinker at the Mount Gretna Art Show
This artist creates his art from old pieces of industrial equipment!
Howard joined us for dinner Saturday evening after a busy day at the show.
Brooksyne visiting with Pam Herzog, a friend she came to know through our chaplaincy. Pam serves as one of about 200 volunteers at the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"The Servant Song" Video The Maranatha Singers This song is dedicated to all rope-holders!
"Heroes" Video The Isaacs We expect we will be attending a concert with the Isaacs this coming Sunday evening in Lebanon PA. See here for info
"My Hope is in You " Video Aaron Shust
Joyce Schaum Basketry
Speaking of art: Today I am doing some work around my shop including painting a garden cart we found along the road for free several years ago. I am painting the sides for appearance and protection. I don't consider myself an artist.
Here is an example of "art" that every grain of common sense in me says. "What, you've got to be kidding me!!!" It's a piece in the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City simply titled "Blue Panel". I wonder if they would hang a red piece of plywood I painted up in the museum?
original garden way cart made in Vermont and it's great for lawn work as well as a decorative feature. Free's good especially when it costs $345.95 new! Here's a video.
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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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