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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In front of our home office we are often entertained and sometimes distracted by our frequent and colorful visitors. The squirrel is quite perplexed that he can't manage to get into our bird feeder, though we welcome him to clean up the fallen sunflower seeds which he usually does. The pansies provide the delicate pastels of springtime in our planter.

"Time After Time"

Due to an early morning meeting today we will be unable to prepare an audio version

"In your compassion you delivered them time after time" (Nehemiah 9:28).

Hotel Viking, Newport RI
This past Sunday Stan, our Sunday School teacher, asked class members to share of special instances in their lives where God, in His great compassion provided for them during a very difficult situation. Several members of the class spoke out and shared personal testimonies. Today we want to share one such experience stored permanently in our own memory bank from about 18 years ago.

Ester had a winter vacation day from school so we went to Hotel Viking in Newport, RI, for a little getaway which was only an hour from our home at the time. The Hotel Viking is a historic hotel that at one time had been the main guest lodging on the famous island where the rich and famous stayed. We enjoyed a nice dinner and the next morning we spent some time by the pool.

Hotel Viking pool, Newport RI
Ester, who couldn't swim at the time, slowly made her way around the large pool by moving her right hand along the side of the pool and holding onto a round inflatable raft with her left hand. She'd done this many times before so we were comfortable with the arrangement. Brooksyne and I were fully dressed having no plans to swim that cold January day. I was relaxing in a lounge chair, half asleep while Brooksyne stood guard beside the pool reading an article in the newspaper. After a bit she looked for Ester but couldn't find her and screamed for all to hear, "STEPHEN, STEPHEN". I immediately looked for Ester's whereabouts in the pool but couldn't spot her, only the inflatable raft she'd been holding onto.

It's amazing how quickly the body can react when alarm is sounded and the adrenaline kicks in. My Red Cross lifesaving course taken 25 years earlier suddenly came over me.  I dove into the pool fully clothed, glasses, hiking boots and wallet included, and swam underwater toward the raft. Thankfully an older man was also reaching into the pool from the other side as I lifted her up to him.* She had lost her grip of the side of the pool and instead of the raft saving her it flipped over on top of her and no one noticed what had happened. Though she tried to scream for help the water filled her lungs as the weight of the raft plunged her beneath the water. 

Ester was extremely frightened and dealt with severe stomach cramps and for several hours she threw up the ingested water but, thanks be to God, she fully recovered from this potentially tragic incident.  My wallet was soaked and ruined. The house maid arranged for us to use a dryer so I could dry out my soaked pair of pants, shirt and underclothes. My sopping wet hiking boots were a bit stiff and cold that I wore home later that day. But so what!

Today we encourage you to consider the many times God has delivered you out of a hard spot in life. At times these are situations outside of our control. At other times we get there due to our own foolishness or disobedience. Just consider the countless times we've been delivered from situations that could have been devastating. Truly, as the daily text states, God, in His compassion, has delivered us time after time. I'm convinced that many times we are spared devastation and aren't even aware of it.

Nehemiah 9 is a great portion chronicling God's help to the children of Israel. He lived after the exile and ministered to the returning people. In this case the "time after time" goes back hundreds of years. Nehemiah is speaking to the new generation of returning exiles and encouraging them to faithfully follow the Lord. In chapter 8 he had read the Book of the Law, likely Deuteronomy in our Bibles, but perhaps the entire books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy). This led to great conviction and a confession of sin. It's a powerful portion of Scripture that can speak to the individual, family, local church and the church at large. This verse jumps out, "In your compassion you delivered them time after time" (Nehemiah 9:28).

However as we prepare this we also consider those who didn't experience the same kind of deliverance we wrote about regarding Ester's near drowning. And yet God's grace is still at work, whether He delivers us from our trouble or He takes us through it. We say Amen to Job's declaration, "Blessed be the name of the Lord who gives and takes away! For our Redeemer lives and in the end He will stand upon the earth."

Brothers and sisters, today, let us rejoice in the many mercies of our Lord as indeed we can testify of God's compassion in delivering us time after time!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, Your steadfast love never ceases and Your mercies are renewed daily. You deliver, heal, restore, and sustain us. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. In Your compassion You delivered the Israelites time after time and You do the same for us. We've grown to expect it and therefore we often take for granted Your kind provisions, Your delivering power and Your sustaining grace that guides us through each step of our journey. We can walk in confidence because we walk in step with Your Spirit, for Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We need not fear the future but trust You for everything we have need of. It is in Christ's name that we pray. Amen.

In yesterday's message we shared a quote from an atheist that I had read in the comments sections of an newspaper article. "There IS NO argument. I don't have to ever wrestle with myself if I'm following 'the right path' by believing in science. I know that when I die I will go back to the void from which I came, and I'm not worried about it in the least."

Sean, a thoughtful reader responded, "The atheist doesn't realize it but he gave me a template for my personal mission statement; 'there's NO argument, I don't have to wrestle with myself if I'm following the right path by believing in JESUS. I know when I die I will "win the prize for which God has called me heavenward" and I'm not worried in the least!'"

Note from Brooksyne: Ester still has the ruined wallet that Stephen had in his back pocket when he pulled her from the deep water. It continues to serve as a reminder of God's protection and His deliverance, perhaps similar to the twelve stones the Israelites set up after crossing the Jordan. The wallet has served Ester as a memorial over the years of God's mighty hand of protection. When we asked her if she still had it this morning she knew right where it was as she brought it out and reflected on that very frightening experience. * Ester can still describe the older man who pulled her out of the pool and even recalls what he was wearing.

Yesterday John Keefer, our pastor and I went to Harrisburg, our state capitol, for a meeting sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute. This is an organization that seeks to stand for Biblical values. We had a guided tour of the Capitol, in part by a godly state representative. We'll share several photos here as well as in the next couple of days. One of the interesting things about our Capitol is the stunning amount of Scripture verses that are used throughout, which surely must infuriate those who want to scrub our land of spiritual influence. But today we'll share few photos from the journey!

Amtrak train at Mount Joy station
We took the train into Harrisburg from the Mount Joy commuter station. Along the Keystone line running from Harrisburg to New York City the trains may run what seems to be backwards with the engine in the back. This train is approaching us.

Old plane at end of Harrisburg airport runway
The train tracks run right beside
the Harrisburg International Airport. I would like to know the story behind this old plane at the end of the runway! The huge cooling towers of Three Mile Island are visible in the background.

John Keefer and Stephen C. Weber at PA state Capitol 4/8/14
Here's a photo of John and I at the state capitol in front of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Tomorrow we will share some photos of the Scriptures that are used throughout the capitol.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Pennsylvania Family Institute

"Blessings"  Video  Laura Story

Brooksyne's note: This Sunday I will have the privilege of leading our congregation in worship and prepared a dramatic Palm Sunday Scripture reading that we share with our readers who may be able to use it. (pdf)  We will also be singing the song, "The Power of The Cross"  Video   Kristyn Getty.   This version includes the moving lyrics that  tell of the crucifixion story and the tremendous sacrifice Christ made on our behalf to provide for us His glorious redemption. Well worth your listen (at least once)!

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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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