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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Colorful Flower Box Ferris Wheel with the big ferris wheel in the background at Knoebels Park near Elysburg, Pennsylvania. The park abounds in flowers!
"Seated With Jesus"
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"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).
We had a very long, but fun day yesterday when we took our Amish friends on what the kids excitedly called "vacation". Since Amish don't drive vehicles they rely on others transporting them on longer trips. Several months ago I told the kids I would take them out for a day during the summer. They could pick the place they'd like to go. After thinking about the offer they informed me they would like to visit a cave and a coal mine. I couldn't find a cave and coal mine in close proximity here in Pennsylvania but did find that a tourist coal mine and amusement park were close so they chose that. They had saved up money all summer by selling horseshoes and chicken feed. (They clean, sand, and paint the used horseshoes and sell handfuls of chicken feed so tourists can feed the chickens while visiting their authentic Amish dairy farm.)
We headed out in a rented 15 passenger van about 8 in the morning from their place and had a long, full day after dropping them off after midnight, After returning the rental van we didn't get back home till nearly 1:00 AM this morning.
Our day included a tour of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine, then a drive through the ghost town of Centralia (abandoned due to a continuous underground coal fire) and of course the amusement park (Knoebels).
The kids had a great time all day although they didn't really understand our drive through Centralia and by that point really just wanted to get to Knoebels! We were at the park from about noon to 9:30 so they had lots of rides but always wanted just one more. Just before we departed, Jesse, with his oldest five and Ester got on the Ferris Wheel for the final ride. Brooksyne and I watched from below with Anna Ruth and the baby. By that time we older adults (Brooksyne and me, that is) were ready to crawl up and fall asleep on a bench.
But the children had an exhilarating ride and were among the last to get off. At one point their car on the Ferris Wheel stopped at the very top, which thrilled all the children, as other riders were let off at the bottom. They looked out over the brightly lit park and Elizabeth, the youngest in the group who just turned 4, excitedly informed the group, "We're all up here with Jesus!"
Actually, based upon His promise in Matthew 28:20, "Lo, I am with you always... " Jesus was indeed with them as they sat on the Ferris Wheel high in the sky over the park. But that got me thinking about another sense in which we are seated with Jesus!
Today's entire selection (a single verse in most English translations) is so incredibly rich in meaning. In fact we urge you to slowly and emphatically read it several times aloud if you are able. It was initially written to the Ephesian believers but through Holy Scripture to all believers of all times in all places.
Today let us just consider these glorious truths that God has "seated us with Him (Christ) in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Christ being "seated" in the heavenly places indicates that He has already done the work needed for us to receive salvation, since "sitting" is an image of one's resting. We know that Christ's life on earth certainly was not a picture of one sitting but rather toiling in spiritual labor and sacrificial death on our behalf. Our being "seated with Him" indicates that we cannot add to our salvation, but rather bear spiritual fruit as a result of our being connected to the Vine through our redemption.
Since our life and identity is in Christ, as He sits in the heavenly places, so do we. And even though we are not yet in possession of all the inheritance God has for us in Christ, to be seated in the heavenly places our heart, soul, and mind are in God’s domain instead of Satan’s.
Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe shares this illustration: "While attending a convention in Washington, D.C., I watched a Senate committee hearing over television. I believe they were considering a new ambassador to the United Nations. The late Senator Hubert Humphrey was making a comment as I turned on the television set: “You must remember that in politics, how you stand depends on where you sit.” He was referring, of course, to the political party seating arrangement in the Senate, but I immediately applied it to my position in Christ. How I stand—and walk—depends on where I sit; and I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, for us to sit in the heavenlies with Christ is not obtained through our good works, nor can it be purchased with our wealth. We can't get there because our grandpa was a godly man nor can we be seated in the heavenlies because we went to church every Sunday and memorized many Scriptures. It is because of the great sacrifice Christ made for us that You made us alive together with Him and raised us up with Him, seating us with Him in the heavenly places so that in the ages to come You might show us the surpassing riches of Your grace. We're undeserving of Your favor but You're unsurpassed in Your grace and we are the eternal beneficiaries. Thank You, thank You, thank You! Amen.
Pastor John Piper has some interesting thoughts on what "seated with Him in heavenly places" means writing...
Now what does that mean? We are all right here in this room, aren't we. Or are we? What did Tony Bennett mean twenty years ago when he sang, "I left my heart in San Francisco"? Well, he meant that San Francisco still holds his affections. San Francisco is always pulling him back. San Francisco governs his tastes. He may look like he is in Chicago. But Chicago has no claim on his affections. It's a foreign land. He is not interested in being like the natives of the windy city. That is the way it is with us when we are converted. God takes our heart and puts it in heaven with Christ. Colossians 3:3 says, "For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." So just like it is with Tony Bennett and San Francisco, so it is with us and heaven. It's heaven that holds our affections. It's heaven that's always pulling us upwards, its heaven that governs our tastes. We may look like we are in the world. But the world has no claim on our affections. It's a foreign land. We are exiles and aliens.
In a word, when we are converted God frees us from the spirit of the age and the god of the age. It's as though we had been kidnapped and brainwashed and made to think we were really citizens of the enemy territory. And then the king's intelligence finds you and shocks you out of your stupor, and you suddenly realize that what the enemy has to offer would never satisfy the deepest longings of your heart. Your heart is in the homeland. But the king says stay for now, and, though it may be dangerous, live like an alien in love with the homeland, and when you come home bring as many with you as you can. Don't you really want to be FREE from the spirit of the age. Why would anybody want to be jelly fish carried around by currents in the sea of secularism? You can be a dolphin, and swim against the currents and against the tide. Jelly fish aren't free. Dolphins are free. (Full sermon Ephesians 2:4 "But God...")
Photos of our Vacation Day
A tram took us deep into the old coal mine where a guide (a former miner) gave us a colorful tour. It was cold and I had forgotten to take a jacket!
The children are refreshingly inquisitive and enjoyed looking at these large lumps of coal and other artifacts at the mine site. Like us they heat their home with anthracite coal.
We usually use about 4 tons of coal each winter.
Church in Centralia, PA, an abandoned town
This church is located outside of the designated "impact zone" and was allowed to remain in Centralia and apparently still has services. It is one of only a few structures remaining in the town. Most of the town is just empty lots with little evidence of previous habitation except for the roads and sidewalks. Back in the eighties we drove through this town before it was evacuated and you could see smoke coming up through cracks in the ground.
Finally we arrived at Knoebels, an old-fashioned type park that is free to get in and you can still buy rides using tickets as well as a daily pass. However they do have some thrilling rides. It is set in a wooded rural area far from any large population areas but still manages to attract many thousands of people
Brooksyne and I rode the tamer rides like the sky lift and got a good view looking down on the park. Knoebels is an old fashioned type of park that is way off the beaten path.
The children were able to blow the whistle on the train.
Some very weary children and adults as we departed the park. Of course the children slept practically all the way home!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Settled At The Cross" Video The Nelons
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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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