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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Red barns in snow on Harvest Road, Lancaster County, PA
Yesterday I passed these bright red barns on Harvest Road in northern Lancaster County.

"The True Higher Power"

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"Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols" (Acts 17:16).  “So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you" (Acts 17:22,23).

Joe is a friend of ours who works as a Marcom specialist* for Val-Co, a company that designs and manufactures equipment for agriculture. Early this month he went to Atlanta for a huge Poultry Trade Show where his company was demonstrating their products. Buyers came from all over the world and, if you have ever been to these types of shows, you know that many vendors offer free stuff so you will remember their brand and hopefully call upon their services.

Val-Co stress reducer
Joe came up with a neat idea; an egg-shaped hand held stress reliever with the company name on one side and "The Higher Power In Egg Production" printed on the other.

I called Joe to clarify what the device was called (I had initially used "squishy toy") we chuckled as we discussed the desire that these stress reducers are now on desks all over the world regularly utilized by potential buyers to reduce stress.

Val-Co stress reducerBut I also think the phrase "The Higher Power In Egg Production" is interesting. This company makes products for egg production in many countries all over the world and very likely many of you have eaten an egg that was produced in a facility that uses this company's equipment. Their promotional device explicitly states Val-Co to be the "Higher Power" in egg production.

But sadly there is often a vagueness about the higher power as the phrase was originally used. Higher Power is a term coined in the 1930s in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and is used in other twelve-step programs as well. Perhaps they originated that term so they can address a broad group of people who have different spiritual leadings and thus no one is offended.

But the Scriptures are very clear regarding the specific identity of the true higher power.

In Acts 17 Paul preached to the Athenians, the intellectually elite of that age. An interesting parenthetical description in verse 21 states, "Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new." (It seems to me that's what a lot of intellectual elites do to this day!)

Altar to unknown god Paul sought to connect to his listeners by appealing to an altar he had seen with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Apparently the Athenians wanted to make sure they had all the bases covered so they erected a generic altar for a god they didn’t know. This is similar to the generic "higher power".

Paul used the situation to his advantage and proclaimed this God in one of the great sermons of the New Testament, “Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” We know through the immediate context as well as the entire record of Paul's sermons and writings the One whom he proclaimed. In Athens and every place he visited, "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18).

Today we appeal to a world where so many do not know Jesus personally. God created within our inmost being the need to follow after One greater than ourselves. Of course He desires that we worship Him not in ignorance, but in Spirit and in Truth. And the way we follow the one True God is to open His Word to our hearts making it a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path and a light for others to see. Don't be an undercover Christian, Proclaim the true higher power!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for those who make known the "unknown God" to the people of a foreign land or right here in our own homeland. More and more we hear of those who pray or look to a "higher power" for help in their day to day struggles. How unfortunate for them if they do not know You personally, Father God, to be the Highest Power available to all creation. From the very beginning You created a hunger within our hearts to serve you, but far too many misfeed that hunger and rather look to "gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill". Instead we are to feed our spiritual hunger by serving You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. As we draw near to You, You promise to draw near to us. Thank You for making Yourself known to us in Your Word as we immerse ourselves in Your truths. Amen.

Here is what Paul proclaimed following our daily text: “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:29-31).

Brooksyne's Note: I wonder if the Israelites would have been released sooner if Moses had approached Pharaoh by saying, "A Higher Power has sent me" or "The Man Upstairs has sent me." On a more serious note, it was Moses' concern as to how he would approach the Israelites to persuade them that God had sent him. The Egyptians had many gods by many different names called upon for many different reasons. Moses wanted no confusion and he needed authority. God's response to him from the burning bush was, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I AM has sent me to you." God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, the Lord, the God of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob- has sent me to you." This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation" (Exodus 3:14, 15). No subtleties or guess work here!

Yesterday I had a follow-up note concerning the matter concerning Muslim-dominated countries and freedom of religion addressed in our message Monday. A reader wrote and suggested that Malaysia is a Muslim-dominated country where Christ-followers are able to practice their Christian convictions safely and unhindered.

Yesterday we received this observation is from a longtime friend who was raised in Malaysia, "I wanted to comment on your comment about Malaysia. Christians in Malaysia definitely do not have complete freedom to be Christians. As noted in the report you shared, Christians cannot legally share the gospel with muslim people. The government is actually increasing restrictions on Christians and non-muslims, such as banning them from using certain 'religious' words that the muslim majority claims are reserved for muslims. This is like if we in the U.S. were to create a law that says non-Christians cannot use words such as God, prophet, faith, or Bible! The 2014 Open Doors list of the top 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian has Malaysia at 37.

* Marcom (sometimes spelled "marcomm") is an abbreviation for "marketing communications." Marcom is targeted interaction with customers and prospects using one or more media, such as direct mail, newspapers and magazines, television, radio, billboards, telemarketing, and the Internet. A marketing communications campaign may use a single approach, but more frequently combines several.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"There's a Higher Power"  Video  Praise Grass Band  Pure bluegrass!

"There's A Higher Power"  Video   Buddy Miller   Same song, different rendition

"Lord I Believe In You"  Video  Lauren Talley

"No Other Name"  Video  

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell  A very powerful song!

Here's info about the photo of the altar used in our message today

Yesterday we shared a link to an unusual photo and asked what it was. Kudos to several who provided the correct answer which is

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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