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Friday, March 14, 2014

Amish children playing baseball at one room schoolhouse

In the course of our travel through rural Lancaster County we pass many one room Amish and Mennonite schoolhouses. We never get tired of seeing the children having a great time being outside
including the winter season just like the good ol' days when we went to grade school and enjoyed outdoor recess! Brooksyne managed to roll down the window and take this photo of these Amish children playing baseball during recess in a warmer season. The girls were playing infield while the boys (not seen) were laying outfield.

"For Those Who Are In Christ Jesus"

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"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1-4).

No condemnation now I dread;
I am my Lord's and He is mine!
Alive in Him my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

For several messages we have been studying a hard part of Romans dealing with the condemnation of humankind due to their sinful state. But the good news, the Gospel, is that Christ died for our sins and took that condemnation upon Himself. He redeems those who call on His Name and experience the wonderful act of reconciliation and transformation.

The daily verses should cause us to stand back in awe of the love our heavenly Father has for each of us. In all the events of life that concern us today, from our distinct personal problems to international situations, let us, above all, see with spiritual eyes the supreme demonstration of our Father's own love for us.
The underlying Greek word that is translated "demonstrate" in the first daily text is "sunistasin" which is in the present, indicative active. This connotes a sense that God's demonstration of love is an ever present event, although Christ's literal death on the cross was a "once for all" atoning sacrifice, "Christ died for us".  Thus the demonstration of the Father's love is ever present and continual, but the sacrificial death of Christ His Son is final and complete, never to be repeated again. We now look to "Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever" (Revelation 4:9).

The Apostle Paul in our daily text tells us there is now "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  The word "condemnation" from the original Greek means "an adverse sentence." Because of Christ's death on the cross we who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ are no longer objects of God's wrath, but are His beloved children.

When we come to God with a contrite heart He does not turn us away but instead delights to show mercy: "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our iniquities under foot.  Yes, You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19).

Once our sins are buried into the depths of the sea we need to envision a "No Fishing" sign on the shore. If God does not hold our sins against us we should not go fishing for troubling memories that place us under self-condemnation and guilt once again.

Peter boldly proclaimed, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Due to the resurrection we have also been raised with Christ (Philippians 3:1) to newness of life.  Hallelujah!!!

Do you believe? Accept the forgiveness of sin that Christ freely offers, rejoice, and live for Him today. The normative result of genuine conversion will be that we
"walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, in Your compassion You crush our sins under Your feet and throw them in the depths of the ocean, to be remembered no more.  And yet there are times when we have great difficulty letting go of past sins to the extent of dwelling on them and getting weighed down by guilt and self-condemnation.  Help us to let go of that which You have forgiven.  If we are to remember anything of our past, let it be that which brings glory to You as we share with others that which You have forgiven and delivered us from.  May the contrast of our former lives not bring up condemnation which You have freed us from, but instead provide witness that there is nothing beyond Your merciful pardon.  To God be the glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mike and Joanne Gardner wedding
Wedding ceremony for Mike and JoAnna Gardner
March 12, 2005

Mike and JoAnna had an uncommon sacrament that I had never seen in a wedding before I conducted theirs nine years ago. They washed each other's feet! It was a touching scene and very illustrative of servanthood.  Brooksyne and I shared Communion at our wedding, like many of you, which is also a meaningful witness of Christ's sacrifice for us. As they prepared for their footwashing I explained that it is a wonderful symbol of humility and servanthood. Those are two qualities required for a lasting marriage and all relationships, for that matter. See photo here.

Mike and Joanna Gardner and family 3/13/14
Last night we watched their three children so they could go out for an anniversary meal. Things have changed a bit in nine years including these wonderful additions; Nolan, Adoree, and Zane.

For ministers and those considering a wedding service here is an outline for their ceremony: A Wedding Service – This service has elements from several different sources. Many ministers appreciate using a service book for these formal services and the basic outline is taken from a traditional service. I choose to maintain a dignity and formal approach rather than the casual that is now so popular. It has a clear introduction concerning God's ordaining and definition of marriage and family. A Christian marriage service provides good opportunity to reinforce biblical teaching regarding God's design for husband and wife. I have often received comments of appreciation from those who have discernment concerning the times.

Zane Jeremiah Gardner 4/22/10 (along with his Mom & Dad)The Gardners have quite a story regarding the birth of their second child, Zane. The baby was eager to arrive, like his 2 year old sister, Adoree who was several weeks early.

Two weeks earlier than his due date Zane Jeremiah made his debut into the Gardner family at their residence rather than the hospital. In the early morning hours JoAnna realized that the time had fully come, but Mike felt they had a few hours.  He made a cup of hot tea preparing for the countdown of labor pains but JoAnna warned him that she felt the arrival was more imminent than the previous pregnancy.  Sure enough, she was right.  Mike the father took over as Mike the doctor and caught the baby as he was being born.  He weighed in at a healthy 6lb 15oz. The ambulance drove JoAnna and Zane to the hospital. We visited them at the hospital and had the honor of praying a dedicatory prayer over Zane that day.

Stink bug"A time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Be serious at the wedding but have fun too! Last night we fed the kids and Stephen managed to tease them that we were putting stink bugs on their pizza to flavor it. I have a feeling their parents are going to hear about that for awhile!

Stink bug trivia: This last weekend we were in the Lehigh Valley visiting my brother and his family. This is where the stink bug was first reported. "The brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced into the United States from China or Japan. It is believed to have hitched a ride as a stowaway in packing crates. The first documented specimen was collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September 1998. Several Muhlenberg College students were reported to have seen these bugs as early as August of that same year." (Wikipedia article)

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"I Stand Amazed In The Presence"
Video  Gaither Homecoming Singers

"And Can It Be That I Should Gain"
  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"No Condemnation"  Video  Kent Henry  Today's Scripture verse set to music.

"Here I Am To Worship" Video An interesting instrumental presentation with various Scriptures.  Very inspirational.

"Think About His Love"  Video 
Don Moen

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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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