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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sunrise 2/4/14
 Ester took this sunrise photo from the back dock of one of our companies near Strasburg, PA early yesterday morning.

"Trial's Full Effect"

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"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Oak tree bowed due to ice storm 2/5/14 We are having a significant ice storm in our region with lots of closures. Thankfully we can adjust our schedule and work from home though we lost power for awhile this morning while preparing this message. But thankfully we are now working in the light again and replacing words that we lost (due to Brooksyne's back-up battery system not working.)

Two large oaks in front of our house are bowing low to the ground due to their added layers of snow and ice. We feel inclined to go out and shake off the snow and ice from the trees within reach to "help" lift the extra wintery load they carry today. But we will resist that idea since, in doing so, we will likely cause more damage. The tension we add by shaking the branches may very well snap the limbs, resulting in the very thing we are trying to prevent. We'll just hold steady till the temperatures rise and the ice slowly melts. It's likely that the majority, if not all our trees, will be fine once the storm lifts. (We will report in several days when we have a melt!)

Although not a perfect analogy there is a parallel here in regard to the trials in our lives. We want to avoid trials as much as possible. I've often stated that we can't choose the kind of trials we have or schedule them. Now certainly, in some situations, there are solutions that can alleviate the pain of the trial but we must be careful not to take shortcuts that may short circuit God's overall plan. Shortcuts might cut down the time required for our destination, but we might miss some very important information along the way.

Our daily Scripture provides a familiar but much needed perspective on life and trials: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Today some of you are going through an extended trial.  The Greek word for "trial" that James uses is very interesting. "Peirasmos" conveys a "putting to proof" or by implication, "adversity". These times of testing are difficult but necessary in proving our faith in God to be genuine and effective.

James tells us to "consider it all joy". You may be thinking, "Experiencing joy and enduring a trial is like mixing oil and water." Brooksyne often makes homemade salad dressings that call for olive oil, vinegar and water. They initially separate, but when she shakes the mixture vigorously the result is a very pleasing and tasty blend that coats the greens and pleases the palate.

Man praying at altarEven as mixing oil and vinegar may be an unnatural mix, the blend of joy and trials sounds like juxtaposition. Take the shortcut and focus only on the pain involved and you'll miss God's perspective on this subject. He has much to teach us in the midst of a trial; He has much to model for us in the Scriptures; He wants to prove His love is present as we endure and He wants us to learn the blessing of endurance, a cousin to longsuffering that's listed among the nine fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22,23. One more thing: He wants us to model a Biblical response to trials so that we are an example to others and most especially our own family.

Our desire to "help" the trees will likely have a detrimental effect. This is also true when we take an unbiblical shortcut to alleviate the trial God has foreordained. We must consider this truth as well when we want to alleviate the suffering our children and other loved ones may need to endure as God is working in their lives. Sometimes we find that scenario to be even more painful than our own trial. We must let the trial and its lesson of endurance take full effect in our lives.

We encounter various trials
    that test our faith.
        which produces endurance.
               endurance has its perfect result (full effect, complete work),
                    so that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

So today we urge you to endure and sing along with us,

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we pray that You will help us to grow in Your grace and knowledge, that we will continue to mature in our Christian walk.  Scripture, repeatedly, indicates that spiritual maturity is a result of enduring trials of various kinds.  In the midst of these trials Your soft prompting or guidance through Scripture, through other believers, and through the circumstances we face can easily be ignored when self gets in the way. Today we make every effort to add to our faith those characteristics that will sustain and grow us in our Christian walk. In doing so we will be effective and productive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, during times of ease but even more so during times of difficulty. Keep us faithful and keep us growing, in the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Todd at Smucker & Sons Company 2/4/14
Here's a colorful and unusual scene. I am visiting with Todd who is making a part for a gutter system using copper. The bright sheen from copper always gets my attention including that of a shiny new penny!

Cardinal in snowy tree 2/4/14
We'd like to post a sharper photo but we needed some zoom to take this photo of our resident cardinal who habitually occupies our neighbor's lilac tree. This morning we spotted three bright red male cardinals nesting. Females were likely present too but we were unable to spot their less vibrant red. Perhaps Mr. Cardinal considers it his tree and invited relatives to take shelter today in the midst of the ice storm!

Squirrel feeding in snow 2/5/14
Our "trial" of piled up snow over two feet high at the front of our shed is a "blessing" to this happy squirrel who used it as a platform to easily reach the corn I hung up back in November.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Like A River Glorious"  Video  Jeff Hardin

"I Can Just Be Me"  Video  Laura Story

"When Trials Come"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

Finally today, a liitle humor:

Big pants at thrift store 2/4/14
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 is to never fill the britches I'm holding up to my waist. I came across these size 70 jeans as we visited the Jubilee Store in Palmyra after a chaplaincy visit yesterday. I promised Brooksyne she will never have to look for a pair of jeans this size for me. She took my picture so she has my word backed up by this photo!

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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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