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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Poe Valley Lake, Centre County, PA (photo by Greg Schneider)
Poe Valley Lake in Centre County PA
Photo by Greg Schneider
"What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
James 4:14

"The Helpful Bible Man"

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"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1 Peter 3:15,16).

We often listen to our local talk radio station on Saturday mornings as we work outdoors during the summer months.  Brooksyne especially enjoys a program at 9:00 AM called "The Plant Doctor" where the host deals with questions about plants and flowers. I enjoy one called "The Helpful Hardware Man" with Bill Hornung who runs a local hardware store. Bill has a chemical engineering background and is knowledgeable in all types of home improvement and maintenance matters. Callers ask questions and he always seems to have a satisfactory answer. We also enjoy his emphasis on missions in many of the programs as Bill finds a way to tastefully express his faith.

This reminds me of a radio program in Kansas City I heard many years ago with George Westlake, a local pastor who had a Call-In Show on Sunday evenings. Listeners could ask questions about the Bible and he would do his best to answer them. I suppose this was before the quick access you now have by using a computer. Yet Pastor Westlake had a deep knowledge of God's Word and was ready to give an answer based upon Scripture.

Today's Scripture text from 1 Peter is a word much needed by followers of Christ who in their "hearts set apart Christ as Lord". This is a moral imperative that holds priority over all other decisions in life. This foundational choice begets and controls all subsequent choices. Is He really the Lord of my life?

"Always be prepared to give an answer." This Scripture teaches that we are to always be prepared with our witness for Christ.  Our witness is not something we should be able to turn on or turn off.  Paul wrote that we are to be "be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5). The fact is you're witnessing everyday, whether effectively or not. Paul wrote of the Corinthian believers "you yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody  (2 Corinthians 3:2). What are people "reading" in your life?

The word "answer" is the Greek word "apologia" from which we get the English word apology but it doesn't mean that it is something we are sorry for! We also get the word apologetics, which is the defense of our faith against all false systems of belief.  In fact several versions use the word defense in this passage and this is what we are doing.  We need to be always be prepared to defend our faith.

Although having a knowledge of the Bible and theology is important, the primary reason for defending our faith according to this passage is "to give the reason for the hope that you have."
  This world needs the hope we have in Christ. Do you know the reason for the hope that you have? "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!"

This is a big and growing responsibility with the dominance of secular humanism along with the preponderance of scores of competing religious systems vying for converts. Today know what you believe and why you believe it and stand unashamedly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Your life can be a message of hope for a world that is searching.

When Christ rules in our heart, our feet will walk in His ways.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Webe

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we set You apart in our heart from everything that is common, we begin to lay hold of Your holiness, Your power and goodness, justice and truth which also gives us an even greater reason for the hope that we have in You. The basis of our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, who conquered the enemy of our soul. We defend our faith with gentleness and respect lest we espouse a superior attitude or reveal any attitude that is inconsistent with Your compassionate and just nature. May Your indwelling Spirit guide us in love and truth as we seek to reach others with the message of hope and forgiveness through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Further study:

Bible teacher Ken Boa has an interesting outline and notes for the passage today:

"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts." In other words, be certain Jesus is Lord of your life and affirm your utter dependence upon Him. Remember that when you are talking with someone embracing another worldview, this is a spiritual battle. Your task is to be faithful in proclaiming the truth. It is God's business to change the person.

"Always being ready." Know God's Word and know how and when to use it. In doing so, you will be prepared to correct misconceptions about biblical Christianity.

"To make a defense." Always keep the discussion focused on Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Stay away from minor issues and do your best to prevent the other person from focusing on his or her misconceptions. Stay focused in a friendly, God-honoring manner, and do not be sidetracked by the other person's unique claims or errors.

"To everyone who asks you." Pray that God will give you opportunities to share your faith in this pluralistic culture. Above all, be a good listener and ask for permission to express your view in the discussion. Do not be pushy or arrogant.

"To give an account for the hope that is in you." It is your personal relationship with the living God that is the source of your power and strength. Do not be afraid to recount your personal experiences of all that God has done for you. He is your hope and strength.

"Yet with gentleness and reverence." Show patience, respect, and love as you talk. Always look for common ground and seek to develop a relationship of trust and confidence that God can use to bring that person to Himself. (From James P Eckman, The Truth About Worldviews)

I found this note from about fifteen years ago, one of the early replies to Daily Encouragement Net. Laifong, who is a molecular biologist, along with her husband Nigel, were the first recipients of a daily message in October 1996.

I have a story to share with you about the unexpected ways in which God works: Yesterday afternoon, I was doing a routine molecular biology procedure called 'running a gel' to visualize some DNA.  I had done it countless times in the past but for the first time, I forgot to add a chemical which was required for the DNA to be seen. That led me to seek the advice of Scott, a graduate student in my lab, and in the course of 'salvaging' my experiment, we ended up having a long discussion on morality.  It was an opportunity for me to get to know his views better, and I even voiced my belief that there can be no morality apart from God, and that the inherent conscience that human beings have (for something like murder) is due to the fact that we were created by God and so reflect some of His image.  I'd been praying that God will give me more of a burden to pray for my colleagues and what happened yesterday is one way He has answered.  I was thinking and praying for Scott on my way home from work.  It was good to be reminded that although my work is secular work, God can use it for spiritual purposes.

Roadside produce stand, Lancaster County, PA 8/20/13
Yesterday afternoon we passed this roadside produce stand on Grandview Road.

Tomatoes at roadside produce stand, Lancaster County, PA 8/21/13
Bright red plum tomatoes ready for canning at the
Simply Delicious Produce Stand up the road from us.

The Jigger Shop at Mount Gretna, PA 8/20/13
Yesterday we met up with friends that go back about ten years ago when Brooksyne homeschooled Ester. We reconnected at the Jigger Shop in Mount Gretna, a small community about 20 miles from us just across the Lebanon County Line. In the 1890's, the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Society founded Mt. Gretna, attracted by the region's natural beauty and it continues to be an "artsy" sort of place. Notice how the awning is built around the tree trunks!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"My Hope is in You "  Video  Aaron Shust

"My Hope Is In The Lord"  Video  Congregational singing

"My Hope Is In The Lord"  Video  Tommy Coomes Band

"My Hope Is In The LORD"  Video 
The Talleys

"The Solid Rock"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"It Is Well With My Soul"  Video 
The Isaacs  This week we will feature a song by the Isaacs since we hope to go to an Isaacs concert this coming Sunday evening in Lebanon PA. See here for info.

"The Helpful Hardware Man"

Podcast sample of "Helpful Hardware Man" with mission appeal.

The Plant Doctor (also a call-in question and answer show)

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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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