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Monday, October 26, 2015

Boxer pup 10/23/15
We saw this adorable Boxer puppy last Friday when we visited our Amish neighbors. He was playing with his six siblings on this straw bale with a cut out pumpkin and appears to be posing for a portrait photo. Brooksyne wanted to bring him home but our better senses ruled as two dogs are enough for any household. We need no more!

"Called According To His Purpose"

to this message on your audio player.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This Is My Father's WorldStillwater is a small city in Oklahoma and home to Oklahoma State University. I have a cousin who lives there and another who attends the university. This last Saturday a drunk driver plowed into a crowd at a homecoming parade. Four were killed and many more injured, some critically. We can imagine the grief and dismay among so many and once again the piercing words from the line in our daily hymn comes to mind, "that though the wrong seems oft so strong". We consider the spiritual leaders who are ministering to those who have experienced loss at this time and their words of comfort. One verse that will likely be quoted is Romans 8:28, though in some circumstances, this verse provides more comfort and reassurance in hindsight rather than during the trial at hand.

Romans 8:28 with lake scene
Middle Creek Wildlife Area in northern Lancaster County PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

How often believers through the ages have drawn strength and assurance from the wonderful promise in this verse. It was one of the first verses we memorized as young Christians and we have often obtained assurance by meditating on it. It is also a great truth to share with others in the course of ministering comfort during a time of loss or trial.

In our reading of Romans 8:28 we tend to focus on the first part and particularly the phrase "works for the good". But today let us consider the final phrase, "called according to His purpose".

His purpose is always good, whether expressed toward the individual or to the cosmos. In Ephesians 3:11 Paul writes of God's "eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord".

Summing up God's purpose in a single thought or phrase is bound to be deficient but theologian J.I. Packer attempts to do so with this thought: "God's purpose, here and hereafter, is to keep expressing His love in Christ to us." Or, as Oswald Chambers observes, "I thought God's purpose was to make me full of happiness and joy. It is, but it is happiness and joy from God's standpoint, not from mine." Amen, and that's the rub; we must be continually seeking to understand God's viewpoint.

Romans 8:28
Today God has called us according to His purpose. His peace prevails when we realize that His almighty purpose cannot be thwarted. In a rather obscure verse from the prophet Isaiah we read, "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:27). The answer to both questions is an absolute resounding "NO ONE!"

When Professor E.C. Caldwell ended his lecture, “Tomorrow,” he said to his class of seminary students, “I will be teaching on Romans 8. So tonight, as you study, pay special attention to verse 28. Notice what this verse truly says, and what it doesn’t say.” Then he added, “One final word before I dismiss you—whatever happens in all the years to come, remember: Romans 8:28 will always hold true.”

That same day Dr. Caldwell and his wife met with a tragic car-train accident. She was killed instantly and he was crippled permanently. Months later, Professor Caldwell returned to his students, who clearly remembered his last words. The room was hushed as he began his lecture. “Romans 8:28,” he said, “still holds true. One day we shall see God’s good, even in this.*

This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, what tremendous comfort the Scriptures bring when I consider the uncertainties of life. About the time I get comfortable or think I've figured out what the future holds I am thrown a ringer. I'm so grateful for passages of reassurance such as Romans 8:28 that reminds me You're working on my behalf even though evil is prevalent and I'm often affected by its presence. As a blood-bought child of Yours, You have called me to work Your purpose and will for my life. What You have purposed for me cannot be thwarted though the enemy may stalk me or make me his target. After all, since You are for us, who can be against us. Help me to receive Your deep abiding peace even in the midst of difficult and perplexing situations, because I know that You use even those circumstances for our long-range good. May our trusting response to these undesirable sufferings prove to believers and unbelievers alike that we are becoming more and more like Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Pastor Appreciation Day 2015
Yesterday we had a Pastor Appreciation Day at our church and they acknowledged all pastors in attendance. Our small church had five couples! Our current Pastor John Keefer and his wife Faithe are in the center. To their right are two retired couples; Jesse and Wilma Dourte in their 90's and Jim and Eva Ketner in their 80's. To their left are Knotsen and Toby Ncube from Zimbabwe (Knotsen is in the states for further study) and yours truly acknowledged due to our former pastoral role.

Brooksyne blowing out her 60th birthday cake 10/25/15
Last night Ester, with help from several of the ladies in our church, arranged a small gathering for Brooksyne's 60th birthday, and asked her to blow out only two candles. She declared the cake "Spit-free" - that's the kind of cake I want to eat. Had there been a whopping 60 candles that might not have been true!

We have been doing some repairs on our home and a friend from one of our companies has been assisting me on Saturdays. Lou is an ex con who, like many, bulked up while he was in prison. We shared a story about him in a message last June titled "I'm Not Going Back!"

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* From "Our Daily Bread"

For further study: An outstanding reservoir of notes concerning Romans 8:28.

"This Is My Father's World"  Video  Fernando Ortega

"If My God is For Me - Romans 8:28-38    Video  David Delgado

Lord's Prayer on plate

Finally a note from Brooksyne today: Remember the days, those of us who are older, when we recited the Lord's Prayer in public school each morning. Of course schools no longer do that, but I want my Sunday School students (grades 2-4) to know and quote the KJV Lord's Prayer. We've recited it several times in recent weeks but I hadn't issued the challenge to memorize it until yesterday morning. I distributed the prayer and gave them this challenge: The first one to quote by memory the prayer and get back to me in person or by phone will receive this Lord's Prayer plaque. I had picked it up at the local thrift store on Saturday for a quarter and covered West Virginia with "Middler Sunday School". Much to my delight I got a voicemail from one of my 2nd grade students at 7:46 A.M. and Adoree' quoted it. I can hardly express the joy in my heart since I learned she worked on it all day and night yesterday, one who is just now learning to memorize her verses. She was taken by the "beautiful" plaque with the flowers and gold scallop. But more importantly she is also experiencing the joy of learning a key passage of Scripture and I thought you just might enjoy hearing her quote it to me so we have the audio below. JoAnna has given us permission to share. Adoree called before she left for school since she was worried that another student might call me while she was at school and she'd miss out on the plaque. She must have been thinking of her "competition" who is a home schooler. (Of course, a good teacher has back up plans for any other child who memorizes it as well.) Listen 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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