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Friday, May 29, 2015

Fawn with groundhog (Photo by Doris High))
Young fawn and groundhog
(Photo by Doris High)

"The Victory That Overcomes The World"

Note: Today we in the Pocono Mountains and plan to ride bikes on a trail along the Delaware Water Gap and on Saturday we will be taking the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a train ride up the gorge and we will ride our bikes 25 miles back down the gorge. We also plan to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail (or as I often tell people "walk the entire width")

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"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:57,58). "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4)

Recently I met a man in our chaplain work named Victor, which prompted telling him a story which I also hope was a witness to him.

Larry is a friend of ours from Bible College. He turned to Christ as a young adult having already earned a degree in accounting and worked for Westinghouse. As a young convert his faith was vibrant both in Christian and non-Christian settings. Thus he was given an interesting nickname at work before he left to begin his preparations for ministry. His fellow workers called him Vic, not because his name was Victor (which it wasn't) but because he constantly sang "Victory in Jesus."

Larry was with Brooksyne and me one day during a time of deep discouragement after we had moved to Pennsylvania in 1977 to plant a church. His very presence was a source of encouragement. But we recall how a popular song at that time reassured us. We had a little portable tape player with the Andre Crouch song "Through It All".

My heart strings are really pulled when I hear someone express "I'm really discouraged." I know how spiritually crippling discouragement can be. It seems in all of our lives there are certain issues that can easily prompt discouragement. Keeping the right focus can be a real challenge. Thus what I am sharing today is not merely academic.

I am so glad the Word is written to inspire, instruct, strengthen and also to encourage! The daily verse is a powerful truth that we do well to hide deep in our hearts. The apostle Paul is completing a great portion asserting the foundation of the resurrection. He has powerfully made his point and as he finished he draws it all together with an exclamation of praise. "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

This verse is so powerful in itself but an additional thought from a commentary especially blesses me. The word for "gives" is in the present tense and this is used to emphasize the certainty of the victory. It wasn't just for that point in time, but it is a present ongoing victory that we have right here and now, and for tomorrow and the next and so forth.

Certainly we will have apparent setbacks and disappointments in life. But the promise is that "He gives us the victory." Today let this truth flood your soul.  It will fill you with spiritual fervor and encourage your heart.

Today's Scripture is followed by a portion that I have often described as my "life verse". "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  I very specifically recall the time I was being examined for my ordination which was 36
years ago this month.  Only 24 years of age, I was sitting at a massive conference table for an interview with the presbyters (elders) who had served in ministry for many years. This was the final step in my approval for ordination.  The tried and proven elders asked various questions concerning my call to ministry, Bible knowledge, doctrinal understanding and so forth. It was very stressful and wearying.

As the meeting came to a close I recall one of the presbyters, Edward 
Menaldino, a very distinguished Italian minister who pastored a large church on Philadelphia's south side, standing up, pausing, and deliberately making direct eye contact with me. He then solemnly and slowly quoted this Scripture portion from memory with the Spirit's anointing.  Perhaps that's why this passage has stood out over the years as it has been my constant guide through our years of Christian service.  Only God would know that the church we were planting at the time would have many ups and downs, difficulties would abound. I would need the Spirit's prompting to never shrink back, but "always give myself fully to the work of the Lord knowing that my labor in the Lord is not in vain."  As I kept my hand to the plow the blessings did unfold as God firmly established His work in that needy community.

That's a word for you as well, dear friend. No matter what God has called you to do, give yourself fully to it, and know that your work is not in vain.  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  You may not see the fruit of that victory at the present, but trust God that He will reveal it to you in due time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we give thanks to You that we can walk in victory because of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Once we were held captive by sin and its enslavement, but we have been set free through the redemptive work of Jesus and His glorious resurrection.  Each day brings new challenges, but we overcome them through the blood of the Lamb.  Help us to stand firm in our faith and immovable in Your Truths, as we daily serve You.  We are encouraged to know that nothing we do for You is in vain though we may not see immediate results.  Keep us obedient and trusting. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Note: Edward Menaldino passed away several years ago. I called him before he died and he was still actively serving Christ in his mid-eighties.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Through It AllVideo  Homecoming singers

"Victory In Jesus"  Video  David Ring  A heartfelt version by a true overcomer!

"Victory in Jesus/Power of the Blood Bluegrass medley"  Video  Shane and Shane with Bethany Dillon

"Through"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Where No One Stands Alone"  Video  
Gaither Vocal Band

Cerwin and Doris High are local friends I met through Transport For Christ. She is a prolific photographer and shares many, many photos here.

Finally today:

The Holstein cow is the most common type of dairy cow, distinguished by its white coat with black markings. They abound in this area with our many dairy farms. What do you make of this photo?
Holstein cow
Send comments here.

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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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