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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Amish team in barn
All suited up for their Workday

"Grace Be With You"

Note: Due to Ester's hospitalization (see below for update) a podcast was not prepared for this message.

"Grace be with you" (2 Timothy 4:22).

Many of you perhaps, especially in America, have heard the popular advertisement that asks, "How do you spell relief?" We'll just let you think about that question if the expected answer doesn't immediately come to your mind and we'll provide the answer below. It seems years ago that I preached a sermon asking this question and then presented it as an acrostic with spiritual truths for each letter.

Today we ask you, How do you say or write goodby? Of course we often say "goodby" but we have many other forms of closing our communication such as "See ya later", "Have a good one", or "Take care". We may make it more spiritual with a phrase such as "God bless you" or just "blessings". Many are aware that I will often put forth a challenge with my farewell such as, "Stay faithful".

The apostle Paul wrote thirteen books in the New Testament specifically identifying himself as the writer (sometimes with others). Many also consider him the author of the book of Hebrews though the author is not internally identified. Each of these books has a common closing phrase also known as a valediction where Paul expresses a desire that grace be upon his readers. Check this out!

Forty-one years ago in August 1973 we both began our Bible School education and we are so thankful for the teachers that gave us a love for God's Word. They stressed the plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures. The word "plenary" means "full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified." Our college education had a very heavy emphasis upon the Bible itself and I frankly grieve at the direction many former Bible Schools have gone with a lesser emphasis on the Holy Scriptures. In fact, this past year, my Bible College has closed.

I still recall a lesson from an enthusiastic professor sharing that in the Greek language (which the New Testament was originally written in) there are two distinct words for the English word "you". singular (su) and plural (humon).* As I recall this lesson came during a study of the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). The professor was emphasizing that although these letters were initially written very personally to these two individuals the use of the second person plural pronoun in the valediction indicated that the Apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) used the plural pronoun to indicate that he actually had a wider readership in mind than merely Timothy or Titus. Indeed we all read these words this morning nearly 2000 years after they were written!

The daily text is believed by most to be the very final words written by the apostle Paul which are recorded in the Scriptures. He concluded with the brief benediction used in various forms at the conclusion of each of his epistles.

"Grace be with you." Now again, although the letter is clearly addressed to Timothy, the pronoun here is plural and I include myself in the recipients and pass the blessing on to each reader and urge you to keep passing it along to others. Indeed, grace be with you. And that's altogether sufficient for everyone of us and every situation we face today!

Grace alone which God supplies,
Strength unknown He will provide;
Christ in us, our Cornerstone,
We will go forth in grace alone.

Every promise we can make, every prayer and step of faith,
Every difference we can make, is only by His grace.
Every mountain we will climb, every ray of hope we shine,
Every blessing left behind, is only by His grace.

Every soul we long to reach, every heart we hope to teach,
Everywhere we share His peace, is only by His grace.
Every loving word we say, every tear we wipe away,
Every sorrow left behind, is only by His grace.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, it is by grace that we are saved, not of works lest we boast of the power we have to save ourselves. Instead we boast only in the privilege of knowing You and the power of Your resurrection. You exercise  lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth and Your grace knows no bounds. We are grateful recipients of Your boundless grace and merciful kindness. May it spur us on to exercise mercy and grace to those around us. In the gracious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* Here in Pennsylvania (especially up north) there's an interesting attempt at adapting for the plural "you" by just adding an s at the end such as, "You's have a nice day."  However, yous ain't in the dictionary. (In fact my spell checker has a squiggly red line under yous as well as "ain't"). In English the same word does double duty for the singular or plural second person pronoun.

Ester Update:  Ester's digoxin level is now within an appropriate level as of this morning. If everything checks out well today Ester will come home. Her Uncle Michael who is visiting from California came to the hospital in the late afternoon yesterday and stayed with her through the evening giving me an opportunity to come home earlier than usual. Thank you, readers, for your kind prayers and reassuring words concerning Ester's ongoing health matters.

I took my brother Mike for a stroll through "Root's Market", an old-fashioned produce type market here in Lancaster County which also sells about anything.

Root's Market checker game 8/12/14
A game of checkers being played with much contemplation

Root's Market golf balls 8/12/14
An enterprising stand owner sells these used golf balls (likely collected out of water hazards) in egg cartons!

Root's Market popcorn on cob 8/12/14
How about some popcorn freshly popped while attached to the cob?

Twin summer squash from Jesse 8/10/14
At the beginning of Sunday School this past week our friend Jesse Dourte excitedly pulled from his plastic bag, twin yellow squash, that he wanted to show the class. Though he and Wilma are now in their 90's they still grow a large garden and Wilma (pictured) still mows their lawn. She is a twin and the Dourtes have three sets of twins as great grandchildren. It was only right that they would also grow a set of twin vegetables or as Jesse presented them, "Siamese twins" since they are actually attached in the middle. They presented Stephen and me the "double blessing" so we took them home and decided that we would separate the twins and enjoy them for dinner on Monday evening (photo and recipe below).

Summer squash casserole 8/10/14
Summer Squash Bake topped with chopped pecans (always a southerner at heart)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Grace Alone"  Video   Maranatha Singers

"How Do You Spell Relief?" was a popular ad slogan for Rolaids, an antacid! Here's a newer ad (Video) and one from 1976, the year we got married (Video)

Summer Squash Bake I took this recipe from my Taste of Home Quick Cooking 2001 annual recipe book which is also provided at the link. (The corn in photo looks like twins but not siamese). We're enjoying sweet and juicy summer corn from our neighbor's produce stand.

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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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