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Monday, September 23, 2013

Country Barn Market, Lancaster County, PA 9/15/13
The Country Barn Market on Donerville Road, Lancaster County, PA

"Overcoming Evil With Good"

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"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

Do you sometimes wonder at the various ways God is trying to get something through to you? Yesterday in our church Brooksyne taught a Sunday School class, then our pastor preached, and in the afternoon I preached a message at a personal care center, all on the same topic expressed in today's Scripture verse. So it seems this might be a good topic to explore in a daily encouragement message, and we prayerfully submit that this might be a personalized Scripture message related to your circumstances this very day!

Years ago we often listened to a children's CD by singer Steve Green that had a selection of Bible verses set to song. I think Brooksyne still has it somewhere as she usually holds onto any tapes or CD's that have Scripture songs. We have always found that Bible verses are easier and more permanently memorized when they're set to a tune. Among the songs on the tape is the verse from Romans 12:21: "Overcome Evil With Good" written by Betsy and Frank Hernandez. Yesterday this song sprung right up from my memory bank in consideration of the daily text. (
Link to song on Youtube below.)

It's a verse that could just as easily be thought of as a Christian proverb with its pithy message and it is expressed in two contrasting commands:

1) "Do not be overcome by evil." We are all confronted with evil on a daily basis. It may be a news item on the international level such as the horrendous Islamic terrorist attack in Kenya or the suicide attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan that killed at least 78 people on Sunday and wounded more than 100 including 37 children.  As you well know there are so many other events that we may not read or hear about that take place everyday. Christian persecution is on the rise all over the world. We have readers that communicate with us from both Kenya and Pakistan so we feel a connection to their present grief, fear, and despair.

Evil abounds in our own land with the practically wholesale abandonment of God's moral standards. Even in our relatively small county hardly a day goes by without news of some type of evil. For instance I opened today's newspaper and read about a 57-year-old Marietta man who was critically injured when he was set on fire during an altercation Sunday in East Donegal Township (only a few miles from our home).

But today let us focus on the personal level in which we may be experiencing evil. It can come to us in so many different ways, from hateful words to harmful actions. No reader has escaped the personal pain that comes from evil. When we are overcome by evil it will be evidenced by
rage, depression, despair, fear, bitterness, revengeful attitude and so forth.

ut overcome evil with good." Overcoming evil can be expressed in different ways such as acts of kindness, prayer for the offender, continuing to do good and so forth. All over the world today many of our fellow believers are overcoming evil with good. I grow weary of those who seek to portray Christians as mean and hateful. Certainly I make no pretense that Christians are perfect, nor do they always treat others in the way we're taught in Scripture. But overwhelmingly, our experience in the Family of God has been good, and we have personally encountered many who seek to overcome evil with good.

Many years ago we read an article in Reader's Digest about a couple whose son was killed by a drunk driver.  Although initially angry (who wouldn't be), they eventually forgave this man, led him to faith in Christ and visited him regularly in prison.  He was eventually released and this couple began to have a relationship with him much like that of parents to a son. Just recalling the facts of this story makes my natural man chafe. I frankly can't imagine being able to do that, apart from a special impartation of God's grace of forgiveness.*

Mathew Henry has this to say “The line of our duty is clearly marked out, and if our enemies are not melted by persevering kindness, we are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed by the fiery wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth not about them, it's about you, and the kind of person you want to be.”

As we take up the command to “Overcome evil with good” we follow the example of Christ. Our Scripturally assigned antidote to evil is the overflowing goodness that comes from our relationship with Christ. Practice kindness at every opportunity!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we make it our goal to please You, and thereby take up the command to overcome evil with good. If we don't, we will be overcome by evil and it will lead to our undoing. We will lose ground in our Christian walk and our testimony of faith will weaken and likely dissolve. Being struck by evil does not require us to respond to the evil, but to Your continued guidance in our lives as You have a much greater purpose in using the evil we're dealt. Just as Jesus used evil for good when He didn't give up His mission though rejected by those He came to save. "He became obedient to death, even death on a cross" so that we might have forgiveness of sins and that You, Father, might be glorified. Help us to always look for the ways in which we can glorify You when faced with evil. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* We have elderly friends in our church who had a similar experience many years ago. Their son, who was preparing for ministry, was killed by a drunk driver. They sought to express Christian forgiveness but the man outright rejected their act of kindness.

The following thought is also posted on our Clear Minded blog (which we rarely publish to) and will likely be expanded as time and additional thoughts allow.

The following has nothing to do with today's encouragement but it is a fitting time to express a concern/annoyance we have. We try to avoid matters like this in our daily encouragement teachings since there are many issues which earnest Christians may see differently. After all we see through a glass darkly (that is, we do not have the full picture).

One issue is Bible translation preferences. Some of our readers prefer the KJV, others prefer versions like the NASV or ESV. Many have primarily used the NIV (New International Version).

Shortly after our Bible College years the New International Version was published in the NT and then the entire Bible translation. We have read, studied and memorized from this version all through our ministry. I still use an early edition leather bound Thompson Chain reference Bible that Brooksyne gave me for Christmas in 1983. Through the years it was usually the first version used in preparing my sermons and then these messages. We have not only memorized many verses from it but due to years of reading and study may recal
l specific key words or phrases.

Specifically I was studying this weekend and recalled a phrase "a continual lust for more" in relationship to a topic I was studying. I went to an online Bible I often use (Bible Gateway) and searched to find a verse with this phrase in it but was unable to find it
. I was frustrated since I knew I had partially memorized a verse like this but didn't recall the reference. So I used another search method in this case through the daily encouragement archives and sure enough it is Ephesians 4:19.

As many know the NIV was revised in 2011 and the wording in many verses was slightly changed (they would say updated). I suppose that's inevitable. What is frustrating is that I noticed some time back that the old NIV was no longer on Bible Gateway. This last weekend I did some study on this matter and came across a number of articles indicating I was not the only one frustrated (see below for links to several articles).

For some reason the publishers of the "new" NIV felt it necessary to remove entirely the "old" NIV from the market including internet editions!

But I do have some questions for the publishers such as:
1) Since the new version is substantially different why didn't you just give it a new name and leave the old NIV alone? For many it had an established good reputation and as noted above removing it from online access and from publication creates many problems for longtime users.
2) Why did you remove the old NIV from the market as long as there is a demand for it? This demand will probably last through my lifetime and then some at least (should Christ tarry)

Others have explored this issue and no use writing what has already been written. Here's what others are saying on this matter:

Have mercy on those who memorized the classic NIV

The NIV 2011 Forces a Choice

The Death of The NIV 1984 Bible (1984-2012)

Biblica kills online TNIV and NIV-1984

For those who may still prefer the "old" NIV or like me may be searching for a phrase you recall reading in it I was able to locate one online Bible that still has it http://www.biblestudytools.com

Caladiums growing on barn siding, Lancaster County, PA 9/15/13
We took this photo of shade loving Caladiums growing in planters on an old barn

Romans 12 Sunday School poster
Romans 12 Sunday School Poster Brooksyne taped to the closet mirror located in our office.

Pickled peppers 9/23/13
This Saturday Brooksyne made a huge batch (17 pints) of hot pickled peppers to preserve for the winter months. It's got a kickin' taste that's great alone or accessorizes other foods such as the omelet we enjoyed this morning.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Overcome Evil With Good"  Video  Steve Green

"Make Me A Servant"  Video  Maranatha Singers

News story concerning the Pakistani church

New story about man critically burned in our area.

Country Barn Market, Lancaster County, PA  (Where our lead photo was taken)

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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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