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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coast Guard lighthouse on Lake Superior (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Marquette Harbor Light
Coast Guard Lighthouse Station, Lake Superior - Marquette, Michigan
Photo by Howard Blichfeldt (used by permission)

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"My Refuge Is God"

"On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God" (Psalm 62:7). "So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 6:17-19).

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

Delaware Harbor of Refuge LighthouseBrooksyne and I both enjoy visiting lighthouses. We have visited many different kinds of lighthouses up and down the Atlantic coast through the years. To the left is one we saw this last fall off the coast of Delaware with the delightful name, "Harbor Of Refuge" lighthouse.

As we share our final message in 2013 we ask you to consider a truth that all who have placed their trust in God can declare, right along with the Psalmist: "My refuge is God."

Another year is passing and we can't help but wonder, "What will the year 2014 hold?" We simply don't know the specifics whether in regard to the world situation or in our own lives. A verse from an old hymn comes to mind, "I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me, of weary ways or golden days, before His face I see."

Whatever happens, the daily Scripture portions are a great source of assurance and encouragement for every believer.

Throughout the Old Testament there are many verses dealing with the image of the refuge as a source of assurance especially in the Psalms (half the references). Today we share just one of them. "On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God" (Psalm 62:7).

Christ is our refuge lighthouse But in the New Testament our second daily text is the only  reference to refuge. "We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 6:18b, 19a). Read it again slowly and thoughtfully and allow its powerful words to impact your life. Perhaps you will choose to memorize it.*

Hope, as used in the Bible, is not a wishful thought but a confident expectation of absolute certainty. The Holman Bible Dictionary offers this: "Hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future." 

God is my refuge"We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us." We have fled for refuge from the worldly sources of temporal or falsely placed hope to the only true and lasting source of hope. This Hebrews phrase gives the sense of one fleeing a shipwreck who has finally reached safety, or one who is caught in a pelting hailstorm but flees to a dry, impenetrable fortress finally safe from the assault. Once we firmly take hold of this hope which is graciously offered to us we  indeed "have strong encouragement" and declare along with the Psalmist, "On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God" (Psalm 62:7).

Anchor In describing this hope the writer of Hebrews uses the wonderful expression, "We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul." What a powerful, powerful metaphor!  I need and want my life to be anchored solidly in the hope God offers as a refuge. When I place my hope in the temporal circumstances I am certain to be disappointed, emotionally unstable or even led astray. 

There are many circumstances that bring fear, despair or hopelessness. Scores of people are presently dealing with these emotions including many of our readers. And realistically I expect to have occasions in the coming year when I will battle with these emotions.

When I do so, I pray that God will bring today's Scripture text to my spirit reminding me of the hope I have in Christ which is steadfast and sure.  This day as we experience the transition to a new year let us continue to place our hope in our faithful, ever-dependable God who is our present and eternal refuge!

In the course of preparing this message I came across a verse for the great hymn "How Firm A Foundation" that is not in most hymnals. Carefully view these words and, if you know the song, sing them aloud:

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, or the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, as we are tossed about in the tempest sea of life, we will stay afloat as we hold onto the hope secured through Your promises in the Holy Scriptures. When doubts and fears begin to consume our thoughts help us to cling tightly to our soul's anchor, Jesus Christ, who keeps us from being swept into the crashing waves that seek to drown us. He is our eternal refuge, our hope and our stay. We are thankful for the year past and look forward to the new year as walk step by step with You.  Amen.

DonateWe want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

J. Clayton SheridanI received word several days ago that J. Clayton Sheridan passed away on Saturday evening December 28. He was our district home missions director for several years when we planted a church in northern Pennsylvania beginning in the late seventies. We warmly recall his personal interest and spiritual encouragement when he came up to meet us and visit our church in its infancy. Thankfully I had the opportunity several years ago to express to him my appreciation for his ministry specifically recalling his visit some 30+ years ago.

He blogged right up to his transition with his final post titled, "Taking Inventory" which he posted at 7:13 AM on the day he died. Now that's staying active right up to the end!

* Earl Martin, a godly man who passed away in 2003, chose a theme verse for his life at the beginning of each year. We recall when he stood up and shared his verse for 2003 with our congregation the first week of January prior to his death the following summer. That verse was, "The joy of the Lord is my strength" from Nehemiah 8:10. As a matter of fact this verse was a backdrop for the theme of his funeral which, in addition to the inspiration of the written Holy Word, added special personal meaning.

Perhaps Earl's example of selecting a theme verse for the year might be something you'd like to consider.

Brooksyne's medical update on Ester (repeated from yesterday): Ester is scheduled for a heart catheterization today at 1 PM. Dr. Weber (not her dad, thank goodness) will be performing a coil embolization (unless other surprise findings redirect his skills). About ten years ago Ester went through this procedure and received seven coils, as I recall. Before all her other health issues surfaced following her pacemaker replacement on Sept. 24th, this procedure was planned so that her oxygen would increase.  Since many of you inquire and seem to want to know the details the following info is about the possible procedure:

Coil embolization is a catheter-based procedure that allows precise closure of abnormal blood flow in a blood vessel. A catheter with a metallic occluding coil is inserted into an artery, usually in the groin (the femoral artery). It is then advanced to the abnormal blood vessel. Once properly positioned, the metal coil is released, springing into position within the vessel. It remains firmly in place by the expansion of the metal coils. A blood clot will form on the coil, completely obstructing the abnormal blood flow beyond the coil. Eventually a scar will form, creating a permanent seal.

Many of you, our readers, have been so generous with your prayers on her behalf as well as ours, and so we thank you in advance for your uplifting us in prayer again. We'll update you in our next message regarding the outcome. It's been a testing time in Ester's life but we've also seen it as a growing time in her spiritual life for which we thank God and rejoice.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"All Is Well"  Video  Robin Mark  This morning as we were concluding our message this song played on WDAC, our local Christian radio station and Brooksyne felt it went well with our message! May our Lord grant each of us this assurance!

"How Firm a Foundation"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"You Are My Refuge"  Video 
Shannon Wexelberg

"God Is My Refuge"  Video 
Janet Paschal

"You Are My Refuge"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"Thou Art My Hiding Place"  Video  The Maranatha Singers

"Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul"  Video  Written by Anne Steele, who was the daughter of William Steele, a timber merchant who was also a lay preacher at the Baptist church in Broughton, United Kingdom. She lost her mother at age 3. At age 19, a severe hip injury made her a lifelong invalid. At age 21, her fiancé drowned the day before they were to be married. From this ser­ies of tragedies rose 144 hymns and 34 ver­si­fied Psalms. She died in 1778.

"Another Year Is Dawning"  Video  (Instrumental)  This my favorite New Year's hymn.

Further study on the topic of Christ as our refuge from the Preecept Austin Bible study site:

Finally today:

Giant Hershey kiss
Today, while in Hershey for Ester's surgery, we will drive by the giant 300 pound Hershey Kiss replica they will raise up tonight!

Here in central Pennsylvania many communities bring in the New Year by dropping something related to the town's heritage. In Lebanon they drop an edible, 12-foot-long, 100-pound roll of Lebanon balogna. In Palmyra they drop a six foot shoe in recognition of the borough’s once-booming shoe manufacturing industry. (We serve as a chaplain in a company that is housed in one of those former shoe factories.) A giant M&M is dropped at midnight in Elizabethtown near where we live. This changed to a Dove chocolate bar in 2012-13; both Dove and M&M's are manufactured in Elizabethtown.

Wikipedia's list of objects dropped on New Year's Eve. Notice how many are here in central PA.

Howard Blichfeldt
The photo of the Marquette Harbor Light was taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt.  He is a professional photographer with outstanding nature photos along with correlating Scripture passages. Last summer he was in our area for a large art show in Mount Gretna and we met him for lunch and snapped his photo besides two of his framed photos. Here's a portion of his mission statement: "A greater reward comes from knowing that my experience and love of nature has drawn me closer to the God who created it. If through my artwork I can aid others in accomplishing the same, then in some small way, maybe I will have made a difference." His website. Here's some interesting information about the Marquette Harbor Light.

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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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