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Monday, May 5, 2014

Cactus flower
Cactus blossom on the King Ranch
Kingsville, TX

"The Depth Of The Riches!

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"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33).

King Ranch brandOn Saturday afternoon we visited the King Ranch south of San Antonio, one of the largest ranches in the world. It's land area of 825,000 acres is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. The fence on the ranch, if laid out in a straight line, would go from the ranch all the way to Boston, over 2,000 miles. Richard King initially purchased land in 1853 at 2 cents an acre. He began life as a poor Irish immigrant's child and died a very rich man.

After our tour, as we drove up to San Antonio, we saw a For Sale sign posted near the highway for 190 acres of land. Brooksyne, doing some quick math in her head at 2 cents an acre said, "Let's stop and see if we could buy it for $3.80." I suggested we offer the owner a whopping
$10.00! Of course, we were having some fun at the preposterous idea based upon Richard King's land purchase many years ago.

An old gospel song comes to mind that begins,

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

As we consider the subject of wealth today, you may want to go back to Friday's message when we considered the riches of God's grace.

How rich are you today? When it comes to worldly wealth our readers differ considerably, since these messages are delivered all over the world to followers of Christ in a variety of circumstances.

How we perceive our worldly wealth is quite relative. I just read a list of the Forbes 400 richest, all of them billionaires. Most of us would consider our income a pittance compared to that. But we might also be surprised to learn that most of us are in the top 5% of the wealthiest people on earth. An interesting website (I'll share the link below) allows you to type in your annual income or total assets and see just how you rate in comparison to the rest of the world.

The Forbes list reveals the tendency to gage just how rich we are by looking upwards at those who have more of this world's goods which can make us feel poor. Rather we should look around and consider the many who have far, far less than us for a proper perspective on just how wealthy we really are.

But today we want to share a message focused on the greatest source of wealth available to us regardless of where we live, the language we speak, our ethnic background or the degree of our earthly material wealth.

Riches can describe wealth, money, possessions, or abundance. "Many today chase the false rabbits of success: status, luxury, reputation and material possessions. In the quest to 'have it all,' our lives often lack real meaning and purpose" (Alexander White).

Paul is obviously not speaking of worldly riches in our daily text but rather he is speaking of spiritual riches similar to the sentiment he expressed in Ephesians 1:7, "In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us." Worldly riches are visible to others while spiritual riches are embedded in the believing human heart and there may be no correlation between the two. 

The first eleven chapters of Romans is steeped with deep theological teaching that Paul has recorded as a foundation for understanding our life in Christ. He then moves from the theological to the practical in the next section (Romans 12) as he gives guidelines for living as a redeemed people in a sin-filled world.

But before he closes the theological section he seems to step back and examine God's work and makes the powerful acclamation in our daily verse, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Many commentators consider this verse and the next three a Doxology (an expression of praise often sung to God). In my personal study I try to read it aloud as Paul might well have expressed it, particularly in light of the material that precedes it.

William MacDonald sums up Paul's concluding doxology as looking back over the entire Epistle and the divine wonders that have been revealed. Paul has expounded the marvelous plan of salvation by which a just God can save ungodly sinners and still be just in doing so. He has shown how Christ’s work brought more glory to God and more blessing to men than Adam lost through his sin. He has explained how grace produces holy living in a way that law could never do. He has traced the unbreakable chain of God’s purpose from foreknowledge to eventual glorification setting forth the doctrine of sovereign election and the companion doctrine of human responsibility. Paul has also traced the justice and harmony of God’s dispensational dealings with Israel and the nations. After contemplating these infinite truths what could be more appropriate than to burst forth in a hymn of praise and worship!

We will close our message today with this prayer of praise to God for the wisdom and foreknowledge of His incomprehensible plan for our lives. He governs the universe and our lives in His perfect wisdom and vast knowledge. We cannot fully understand but we can fully trust His plan and provision for our lives each day. To do so is to experience true wealth!

I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, I am in awe of the depth of Your riches, both of wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are Your judgments and unfathomable Your ways! For who has known Your mind, Lord, or who has been Your counselor? Or who has ever given to You, Father, that You should repay him? For from You and through You and to You are all things.  It is to You, our loving and eternal Father, that we give praise and glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36 slightly adapted for prayer)

Personal note: Today we are in New Braunfels Texas visiting again with Brooksyne's sister. Tomorrow we head back to Pennsylvania. We hope to post our next message on Wednesday!

Here are some more photos of our Texas trip.

Gulf coast in Corpus Christi, TX 5/2/14
Friday afternoon we drove out to Padre Island along the Gulf Coast where you are allowed to drive right on the beach! Some were swimming and others fishing or picnicking.

On Corpus Christi shrimp boat with Smurf 5/2/14
Friday evening we met up with a couple of very interesting and friendly characters on the Corpus Christi Marina. Here I am standing on the shrimp boat with 53 year old "Smurf", who has quite a story to tell. After 20 years of prison and years of alcoholism he had an encounter with God through his experience with a benevolent missionary. I wish we'd had more time with these guys as they were quite engaging. They slept in their vehicle in preparation for their 4:30 AM departure for the shrimp boat.

Corpus Christi shrimp boat Smurf and Poggy 5/2/14
Smurf with his shrimper buddy, Poggy who has been in the landscaping business for 30 years.

Corpus Christi shrimp boat fleet 5/2/14
The Corpus Christi shrimp fleet. 

Kingsville, TX 5/3/14
Main Street in Kingsville Texas. A nostalgic view reminding us of what Main Street looked like in many towns from our childhood years. Most of the stores don't look like they've changed much in fifty years!

Truck in Kingsville, TX 5/3/14
We saw this this truck parked on Main Street in Kingsville Texas. It is used to take people hunting. It can be driven from either the truck cab or the left seat in the back with the steering wheel. When we spotted this vehicle the first thing Brooksyne thought of was "The Beverly Hillbilly" vehicle. But the rocking chair was missing, Granny too!

On Wednesday we will share more photos from our visit to the King Ranch.

Sermon in a flash
Yesterday we attended Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, what we suppose would be called a mega church, something that we are not at accustomed to. But it provided us the opportunity to hear one of our longtime favorite authors, Max Lucado, who is one of the pastors at this church. He had the same warm engaging speaking style in person as he does on audios we've heard! In the huge foyer they had this instant download machine for the message just preached. My, how things have changed since we began ministry when "must have" new and cool contraption was the overhead projector!

David and Sabra Penley 5/4/14
What a joy to visit with our friends David and Sabra Penley this weekend, who came down from Fort Worth to meet us in San Antonio. David is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He came across our ministry several years ago while looking for photos in Pennsylvania and somehow stumbled onto our site. In early 2011 they were visiting our area and I heard him preach from Hebrews in a local church in Elizabethtown, PA. (Here's an audio of a sermon from Hebrews 12:1-3 in his home church.) This happens to be the same text as the first sermon I ever preached. We also met for fellowship and visited our Amish friends at that time. Last year the Penleys endured a severe trial we will share about in a coming message. Yesterday, as we were departing, we had a prayer with them in a restaurant parking lot and I considered the words from an old hymn.

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.

Recently Sabra started blogging and David has joined her on occasion at simplyablogoflife.com. As we prepare for Mother's Day this coming weekend here is a thoughtful message by Dave titled, "An Excellent Wife – A Man’s Perspective"

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'm Amazed"  Video   Jason Crabb and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"Like A River Glorious"  Video  Not specified

King Ranch  (We'll share more photos of our tour of the King Ranch on Wednesday.)

"Grace" (a short video message by Max Lucado illustrating his preaching style. He is a master storyteller.)

Forbes 400 list   See how many friends you have on this list!

Global Rich List  See how you compare!

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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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