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Monday, August 26, 2013
We passed this church sign in Lancaster County last evening on the way to a gospel concert in Lebanon, PA. It prompted the title to today's message.
"Looking To The Unchanging God"
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"I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Last night we attended a concert with the Isaacs, a popular family gospel bluegrass group. It was held in an outdoor park in Lebanon PA about 25 miles from us. It was ideal weather which brought out many including a few friends we met up with before the concert. There were many wonderful songs but I suppose my favorite was an old Ira Stanphill song, "I Know Who Holds My Hand". Consider the words of the chorus:
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Stanphill's words are timeless, since every generation from the beginning of time has had questions about their "tomorrow" as it relates to their health, provisions, relationships, and spiritual matters. Unanswered questions often turn into worry. And, strangely, what we can't see in the future often haunts us in the present. I believe that's one of the main reasons that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible to guide us in these areas of uncertainty even as they caution us about future events.
The writer of Hebrews warned his readers of future apostasy, which is a falling away from the faith. Are we are approaching, or even now living, at the time the Apostle Paul wrote of concerning the great apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3? "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction."
Last night the Isaacs sang a song called "Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ole Days". It has this line, "Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy." I wonder if you can relate to that line like we do?
Yet it calms my spirit when I quote and contemplate on the passage from Hebrews 13:8: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Since the verse brings comfort and reassurance all by itself it's easy to overlook the context. Stephen taught from this portion in a Sunday School class yesterday. (Notes below)
One interpretation is that it follows the thought from the passage, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (v.7). As such it has the sense of calling the reader to examine the faithfulness of leaders who have taught us the Word of God. Many times I have learned to deal with life's undesirable surprises by watching an older saint or more mature believer walk through the crisis in a way that is a positive example to others and also honors God.
The Hebrews writer then guides us to the supreme example of faithfulness, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever. The strong winds of change that alter people's views and affect their behavior is not evidenced in the personhood of the Lord Jesus Christ, not then, not ever. As an old song states, "All may change but Jesus never." Just because in the descent of humankind into sin has now declared egregious behaviors legal in the courts of our land does not make it acceptable practice in the eyes of an unchanging God.
The other interpretation is that it goes with the verse that follows, "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings" (v.9). I suppose every age has had strange teachings but now the means of distributing and spreading strange teachings have increased greatly. We need to anchor our faith in the solid time-honored and time-tested truths of Holy Scripture.
Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament and probably one of the lesser considered among the Scriptures, features this magnificent statement, "I the Lord do not change" (3:6). What a joy to realize that this is just as true today as it was some 2,400 years ago when God went on record concerning what theologians call His immutability.
A.W. Pink writes concerning this characteristic of God, "Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His word is sure. Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises."
We encourage our readers today with this truth. We may feel like we are living on an ever slippery slope, but today let us fix our hope on the anchor for our soul which is firm and secure, no matter the tidal waves of change in our world.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the sweet glorious message that simple faith claims; that yesterday, today and forever Jesus is still the same. For still He loves to save the sinful, heal the sick and lame. He cheers the mourner and stills the tempest, we give glory to His name. Yesterday, today and forever Jesus is the same. Everything else changes but Jesus never, glory to His name! Be magnified in our lives we pray. Amen.
Prayer adapted from the hymn, "Yesterday, Today, Forever" by A.B. Simpson
Pictorial scenes from our weekend!
Doug and Barb Miller, a missionary couple to Africa shared about their ministry in our church yesterday. They have a wonderful story of overcoming that we have shared previously in a daily encouragement message. *
Tim and Liz Morrison joined us for a cookout after our church service. We visit Tim in the course of our chaplaincy and met Liz for the first time. Tim has a ministry training and background and is active in his home church. They met at Practical Bible Training when Woodrow Kroll was the president. Yesterday afternoon he preached a fiery sermon on Jonah to the residents of Longwood Manor which was very well received. It's interesting when you know someone only in the context of their daily work how much more there is to their personality and giftings when you see them apart from the workplace.
Pedro and part of his "tribe" joined us at the concert last night. We also see Pedro in the course of our chaplaincy, a diligent man with a good, solid work ethic.
(Nice looking folks in the background as well.)
The Isaacs are a family group started by their mother (2nd from left) who is a Jewish Christian and whose parents were holocaust survivors. She spoke of how her parents would talk about the American liberators, which would have included one of my uncles who actually witnessed the horrors of the concentration camps as one of the first in American liberation forces.
The family harmonies were amazing as well as the variety of instruments they played including a washboard. The songs we feature are from their most recent CD are their arrangements of popular and meaningful songs written in the past 50 years or so.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow" Video Gaither Homecoming Singers (We couldn't find a YouTube version by the Isaacs)
"Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ole Days" Video The Isaacs
"The Isaacs: Up Close & Personal" Here's a great sampling of their music from a promotional video
"The Living Years" Video The Isaacs A powerful reminder to express our love and appreciation to our parents and all those who have gone before us while they are living. "Say it loud, say it clear!"
"Three Bells" Video Tells a story of how fast life goes by.
* We shared a message about Doug and Barb Miller here.
Note: Pardon the ads (sometimes obnoxious) on Youtube video
Seven Calls To The Persevering Christian
8/25/13 at Mount Pleasant Sunday School
Stephen C. Weber
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the [a]result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Hebrews 13:1-9) (NASV)
1. A call to brotherly love. Let love of the brethren continue.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
2. A call to hospitality. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
3. A call to empathy. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
4. A call to marital and moral/sexual purity. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5. A call to contentment, financial responsibility and restraint. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
6. A call to esteeming the godly leadership who have gone before us. Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
7. A call to doctrinal faithfulness and stability. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Saturday afternoon we attended a picnic at my brother Pat's church in the Lehigh Valley and played a sport quite popular in that area called quoits. The photo above shows our friends Larry and Tina Kester who are competing against each other. Tina's team went on to win the annual church quoit tournament!
Quoits are similar to horseshoes but as you can see in Larry's hand they are small round disks. This game uses two one-pound rubber quoits per player, which are pitched at a short metal pin mounted on a heavy 24x24x1 inch slab of slate 18 feet feet apart.
Players take turns throwing a quoit at the pin. The quoit nearest the pin gets one point. If one player has two quoits nearer the pin than either of his opponent's quoits, he gets two points. A quoit that encircles the pin (called a ringer) gets three points. If all four quoits are ringers, the player who threw the last ringer wins the game; otherwise, the first player to make 21 points wins the game.
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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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