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Monday, November 4, 2013
On the way to church yesterday we drove by John and Sylvia's house, our Amish neighbors, who live up the road from us here on Kraybill Church Road. They were gathering for a church service in their small home. A wagon was loaded with hay for the horses to munch as they waited during the three hour service. As the horses partook of the hay outside, the parishioners partook of the Bread of Life inside.
(Click on photo for a larger image)
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
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"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2).
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth,
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Yesterday we sang a hymn in church that's not sung so much anymore, at least in the circles we are in. It has a special memory for me (Stephen) since it was the very first song I ever led in, back in 1973. I was a new freshman in Bible College and had been elected to a class office. The daily chapel service usually included all grades but this was a freshman chapel service and being a class officer I was asked to lead in a song.
I had absolutely no training and I really don't have a good voice for singing but I was clueless at the time. Eager with enthusiasm and a willing heart I agreed to lead the song.
I observed others who led songs by directing the congregation with their hands so I chose to do likewise. Closing my eyes to the worshipful words of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" I began to move my hands like I had seen others do (or so I thought). But it must have appeared more like I was simply flailing my long uncoordinated arms. I had no idea the time signature in the song was key to my hand movements (maybe some of you don't either).
When I noticed the singing was quieter than usual I opened my eyes and immediately noticed a number of fellow students covering their mouths attempting to muffle their laughter at my feeble but sincere attempt at song leading. I got razzed a lot that year and decided to take a class with a music teacher the second semester (though it did little good). The next best thing is to find a life partner who knows a little more about music which is just what happened when I met Brooksyne!
I may not have the gifting to direct music but I certainly enjoy music; the joy it brings to my heart and the lyrical message it brings to my soul. Regular readers can easily observe that we frequently include lyrics to our daily messages and today is no exception.
We usually awaken at 5 A.M. and turn the coffee pot on. I often check the news headlines; murders, violence, terrorism, sexual perversions pretty much are the headliners. This combination can cause some disjointedness in my spirit. But if I look hard enough I'll find an article that speaks joy and peace to me. Of course when I open the Bible I find the inspiration not to despair over the bad news, but recognize that God is sovereign and He works in the midst of good and bad.
Today as I was pondering the fallen condition of our world, I listened to a beautiful instrumental rendition of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and it began to lift my "weary and troubled" spirit. It redirected my focus which also changed my perspective. I am sure many of you face some disjointedness in life even as I confess to you that I do at times. We know where the pockets of peace are, but we can't necessarily stay there. We must live and interface with the world as we go about the daily grind of working and living and hearing of that which is happening around us. But songwriter, Helen Lemmel, who wrote the song, gives sound spiritual counsel and also a remedy to weary and troubled souls in her lyrics.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus." The word translated "fix" is a very powerful word that means, "to look away from one thing and to concentrate on another." It's in the present active indicating a call to continue ongoing and actively taking a part. The Amplified Bible words it this way, "looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus." We need to keep an eternal, spiritual focus in life and we do so by looking unto Jesus.
The Greek verb aphorao pictures a runner who is virtually oblivious to the thousands of onlookers, even as his attention is diverted from every consideration except that of running the best possible race. We've all seen runners and other top athletes who are "practicing focusing" prior to the race or event. Their attention is concentrated upon one thing to the total exclusion of everything else. . In a race if the runner turns his or her head even slightly toward their spectators or opponents, their speed will lessen. (Brooksyne's note: Stephen pictured on right running cross country in high school.)
Today I declare along with the writer of Hebrews, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!" The world seeks to divert and destroy our faith. But the troubles of this world will diminish as the light of God's glory and grace increase. Let us look to Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Be encouraged today!
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, since we have been raised to new life with Christ Jesus, we set our sights on the joyous realities of our future home up in heaven. Focusing our attention and affection there cushions the painful realities we experience or see in other lives down here. We do not lose heart or allow sin to have dominion over us if we fix our eyes on Jesus, His promises, and our future home in heaven. We do not divert our attention to the world but devote our heart to You, dear Father, so that all will be well with our soul, even when trouble surrounds us. Many need that same hope today, so we must go to this world that is dying and tell of Your salvation to all who will hear this glorious message. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Here's another photo as we approached the Amish church service along our road yesterday.
(Click on photo for a larger image)
We enjoyed a nice weekend visit with longtime friends, Mike and Kathy Matangelo, along with their daughter Tina. They were on their way to see Mike's family in Rhode Island.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" Video Michael W. Smith (begins with outstanding violin solo - the song we refer to in our message)
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" Video Selah (Acapella)
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" Video Randy Overstreet (a bit more of a country sound)
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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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