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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wisconsin field (Photo by Georgia)
A verdant Wisconsin farm field
(Photo by my cousin Georgia)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Note: Due to a busier than expected day a message was not posted yesterday.

"Something Like Scales"

"And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight" (Acts 9:18).
"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:17,18).

Yesterday I spoke to Hank, a friend of ours, and as we began our conversation I asked the socially polite question, "How are you doing?" He answered, "I have nothing to complain about...at least legitimately". We went on to discuss how we all have something to complain about if we choose but a perspective is always in order.

I saw this photo yesterday with no attribution. (It was in one of those viral tweets.) It is a camp for displaced Christian refugees in Iraq (Click to enlarge). Note the English on the center tent proclaiming in a very dark place, "Jesus Is The Light Of The World". Indeed this day and every day there are many Christians like Paul expressing that "Jesus Is The Light Of The World" and seeking to open the eyes of the spiritually blinded and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.

Displaced Christian refugees in Iraq (Click to enlarge)

"I once was blind but now I see" (Amazing Grace)

Have you ever talked to someone about spiritual things and frustratingly realize "they just don't get it"? I am sure any of us who have shared a verbal witness for Christ have experienced this. Yesterday Brooksyne sought to provide a dose of truth to a morally confused individual but it was clear that his view reflected the kingdom of this world rather than the kingdom of heaven.

The man we speak of walks about in spiritual blindness and today we want to write on that subject as well as the miracle of spiritual enlightenment. One of the great aspects of our conversion is the reality of being spiritually enlightened when our eyes are miraculously opened.

Acts 26:17,18

Spiritual blindness is a tragic condition for the unbeliever that only genuine conversion can reveal and provide a cure. The apostle Paul wrote, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). That's why salvation is a miracle. Apart from the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit we "cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ".

However the unbeliever does not sense in any way that they are blinded. On the contrary they may actually believe they are the ones enlightened. Those who hold an entirely different worldview and faith outlook speak of being "enlightened". A favorite attack theme of the secular humanist is that earnest Bible believers are anti-intellectual and anti-science. In fact many see those of us who contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered as backward, ignorant and unenlightened. So the issue is not whether we have been enlightened but rather what we've been enlightened to and who is our source for enlightenment!

Paul's conversion
Today's first verse describes a physical phenomenon at Saul's conversion that surely has rich spiritual symbolism. He was blinded on the Road to Damascus but when Ananias prayed for him, "immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight." I believe Luke is speaking literally regarding these scales. But we also consider the scales that blind spiritually. C.H. Spurgeon, in his sermon, "Scales Taken From The Eyes" lists the scales of self, ignorance, prejudice, unbelief, habit and worldliness. We consider adding pride, and religious blindness. What are some scales you can identify that keep people from seeing the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ"?

When Paul shared his testimony with King Agrippa in Acts 26 he told him that he received a call to ministry directly from the Lord after
his dramatic conversion, "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:17,18). This is really a powerful mission statement expression of what ministry for Christ is for all His followers.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart;
I want to see You, I want to see You.
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart;
I want to see You, I want to see You.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, Your creation has unlimited visual stimuli that is seen by our eyes today, but according to Scripture even our heart and our mind can see. Many philosophies and principles come to us through our mind, but we want the eyes of our heart to embrace only that which will keep our hearts pure, that sorts truth from error, good from bad.  May the eyes of our heart reject teachings that are inconsistent with our spiritual enlightenment. Help us to sharpen and narrow our heart's vision to escape the broad way that leads to destruction. Keep our eyes open to the good things You want to reveal and shut our eyes to the "god of this age" whose goal it is to lead us to spiritual poverty and death.  In Your name, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Here's Brooksyne's story we alluded to in our message:

The discussion centered around marriage with a middle aged man expressing it this way, "I was with my partner for 13 years before we married five years ago. I did it for her but if it were up to me I wouldn't have done it since it didn't make me feel any different toward her and it cost lots of money (speaking of ceremony and reception)." Further conversation ensued before I suggested, "You honored your wife by choosing to marry her and that's a very important reason. In addition, a marriage license is not that expensive. The wedding ceremony and reception are optional."

He went on to say, "Yeah, but if it doesn't work out I'm out a lot of money where before I married her we'd just go our separate ways." I added that his point is well taken but it is God's plan that they stay married. He retorted, "I guess I'm just old-fashioned. In the old days if you were together seven years you were considered married." I countered, "Yes, the law termed it 'common law marriage'. But I guess I'm even more old-fashioned than you since I take my view from the Bible that goes way back before common law marriage." We ended our conversation on a friendly note. I hope that I will have more opportunity to shed light on the truth that comes from God's Word not just about marriage but about living for Jesus, in general.

Peach picking 9/3/14
Yesterday morning following some chaplain visitation we stopped by to see Nelson Heisey, a friend from our church, who grows and operates a large orchard. I had the opportunity to help him pick a few peaches.

Apple washing 9/3/14
This contraption washes apples!

Nelson Heisey goats 9/3/14
These playful goats were intrigued by our presence.

Fred Halbleib at Messiks 9/3/14
Fred Halbleib works for a farm implement company and blesses us all by repairing farm equipment. He's very busy now with harvest.

Corn harvest in front of home 9/3/14
Late yesterday afternoon the harvest crews came in for the corn harvest across the road from our home. Our view changes drastically! We watched the harvest work along with our neighbors. Marvin Nissley, a seasoned farmer brought out a lawn chair. It's always a great sight with lots of noisy equipment.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart Lord "  Video 

"Here I Am To Worship"
  Video  "Light of the world you stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see."

"Carry The Light"
  Video  Mark Harris

Over the mountains
Into the valleys
Crossing the ocean
And through the darkness
To all the hopeless
For all the broken
I'll carry the light

"Scales Taken From The Eyes"
A sermon by CH Spurgeon

"Harvest Time"  Luke Bryan, Pennsylvania corn harvest with a little country and great video (Note: This is a combine, last night they chopped corn for silage. The grain harvest comes later after the corn dries.

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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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