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Friday, May 2, 2014

Corpus Christi Marina 4/30/14
View of Corpus Christi Bay and Marina from our hotel balcony.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"The Riches Of God's Grace!"

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"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:3-8).

Readers of Daily Encouragement have a variety of the "world's riches." Some have a lot, others very little. Walking through a city you generally see plenty of evidence of those who have much and those with little. I suppose we judge solely by outward appearance in these circumstances but one's attire, demeanor, and behavior speaks louder than words. We are staying in Corpus Christi in a room overlooking the marina shown above. As we walked along the bay walk yesterday and in the evening we observed many boats that surely cost a pretty penny but we also came across several needy and homeless people.

But we who place our faith in Jesus Christ have the greatest type of riches, "the riches of God's grace lavished on us"! The word "lavish" means to "superabound." His grace is indeed always more than sufficient.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

"Wonderful, the Matchless Grace of Jesus" is a hymn that attempts to quantify the magnificent grace of Jesus by using depth and dimension to describe the countless riches of His grace. We might do that as well when we try to describe to others how wealthy a person might be, either through what they own, their prosperous lifestyle or their associations with powerful people. But the words of this hymn makes the description of one's accumulations and associations on earth pale in significance to the wealth of God's grace given to us through Christ Jesus!

After I write these messages each morning Brooksyne edits and sharpens my writing. She often includes additional reflection that compliments the theme of the message and writes the prayer. One thing she frequently does is break down my long run-on sentences to make them more reader friendly.

In the original Greek, in which the Apostle Paul wrote, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one single sentence! English translations typically break this down since grammatically it is very difficult to read as a single sentence.* I recall when Jim Gambini, a pastor friend likened this powerful portion of Scripture to a multifaceted gem such as the Hope diamond, with the facets summed up in a single powerful phrase, "God's glorious grace."

This is a powerful reminder of why life is worth the living no matter what circumstances we face. Paul, writing here from a Roman prison, could have consumed his time and energy with legalities that would free him from his confined status. But instead he focused on God's matchless grace and powerfully expressed this truth to others. By God's glorious grace he rose above his dire circumstances and gave selflessly as he wrote of the grace and blessing which God poured into Him right in the midst of his external troubles. The authorities thought they were rendering Paul powerless by keeping him in confinement, but God had much bigger plans. In the midst of his captivity he was inspired to write life-changing truths that could only be revealed by the Holy Spirit that would release the prison doors for those held captive by the prince of darkness at that time and now for nearly 2,000 years as a part of the Holy Scriptures.

As we consider the deplorable, cramped surroundings from which these life changing words were written it is a further testimony to God's unleashed power when a transformed life is sensitive and obedient to God's leading. God's power is not limited by our lack of finances, a physical affliction, limited education, or any other external circumstance. Nothing is lacking when we fully depend upon God's grace.

Today let us consider but one phrase in the daily Scripture text, "the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us." I want to personally deeply appropriate this truth in my life today. "The riches of God's grace." What greater type of riches can there possibly be?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, Your grace exceeds our greatest sin and reaches our deepest need. When we read the first chapter of Ephesians we are taken back by just how privileged we are to be chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, to be predestined and adopted as Your child through Him. Some of the richest and most tender portions of Scripture that disclose the extent of Your love are revealed to us from deplorable and unjust situations. What a wonderful reminder that Your work is not limited to ideal circumstances but You do an inward work within our heart no matter where we are or what difficulty we face. Because You lavish Your love on us we cannot contain it but must share it with those around us. Help us to do so freely and generously through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

* The American Standard Version of the Bible translates Ephesians 1:3-14 as one sentence, although it used many colons and semi-colons!

Personal note: Today we are in Corpus Christi Texas along the Gulf. We plan to drive out to the Padre Island National Seashore today. Tomorrow we will head back to San Antonio where we will join our friends David and Sabra Penley for a time of fellowship. We hope to post our next message on Monday.

We would like to share several more photos from our visit to San Antonio that we took after our message was posted on Wednesday as we walked along the Riverwalk again.

Riverwalk Cypress 4/30/14
This three hundred year old Cypress was growing along the river before the area was settled. One of the attractive features of the Riverwalk are the large, mature trees lining the walk. Their branches spread far and wide, many of them at eye level making them even more interesting.

Riverwalk hungry duck 4/30/14
The ducks along the Riverwalk are quite comfortable with people. I, Brooksyne, took this photo of a hungry duck who appeared to be begging for a morsel as we had lunch right along the river on Wednesday. It's not unusual to have a seagull beg for food but this is the first time we had two visiting mallards patiently sitting on standby just in case we drop a morsel of food. (OK, I admit dropping a few morsels "accidentally" because they reminded me of our dogs we left at home who love their treats. Just don't tell the restaurant owner.)

Riverwalk lock 4/30/14
We walked up the river to a lock and dam. In fact we did a lot of walking, about 12 miles, altogether. It's a very clean, designed for pedestrians, city with many friendly people we met along each route we took.

Now, some photos from Corpus Christi:

Corpus Christi Bay Bridge 5/1/14
We walked over from our hotel in downtown Corpus Christi to visit the USS Lexington. We heard it was a long walk but that was OK with us. However once we started walking up the single file walk lane and experienced the heavy traffic buzzing about four to five feet away we found it was not a very pleasant walk! You can see how high the road goes and at the top it was very windy.

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
View of the USS Lexington and Texas Aquarium from the top of Corpus Christi Bay Bridge.

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
The USS Lexington with the Corpus Christi skyline in the background.

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
An older plane on the hanger deck

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
The deck was huge and had an assortment of planes that had been used throughout the Aircraft Carriers' 50 years of active commission.

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
As we walked through the ship we looked for evidence of faith in God. Here is the chapel. They had a nice display that honored each of the chaplains who had served aboard the ship. Here is a photo of a plaque on the wall in this room that explains the history of military chaplaincy in the US.

Lexington Aircraft Carrier 5/1/14
A Gideon New Testament given to the troops during WW2.

I have a Gideon's New Testament given to my uncle during World War 2 with this inscription from President Roosevelt, "As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul." Now there is a relentless push by the godless to remove the Bible's influence from every sphere of life with a special focus on the military. We read of an officer reprimanded for merely having a Bible on his desk and more recently Air Force Academy cadets in trouble for expressing their faith on a white board in front of their rooms. Satan is using godless, hate-filled groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Military Religious Freedom Foundation to seek to purge expressions of faith in God, especially the Christian faith from our culture.

Mesquite grilled steak 05-01-14Mesquite grilled steak 05-01-14We had considered visiting both the Aircraft Carrier and the Aquarium yesterday but after walking across the bridge and trudging through the huge ship, especially the multitude of steep steps between decks, for four hours we were pretty tired and decided to take the trolley back to our hotel. Later in the evening we shared a steak meal together. They cooked the steak right over a mesquite wood fire and it was very tasty! Since our arrival on Saturday we have experienced such warm Southern hospitality that it makes our vacation almost feel like we're home.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Wonderful Grace Of Jesus"  Video  Ernie Haas and Signature Sound

"Glorious Freedom"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

The USS Lexington

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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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