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Monday, November 2, 2015
Ester took this photo while on break in the course of her work as a bagger at Darrenkamps. Local businesses are accustomed to providing a hitching post in their parking lot!
Listen to this message on your audio player. Note: At time content was published audio upload website is still not working properly. I will leave link in hope this matter will be resolved soon.
"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?' Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 'Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.' So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him” (Esther 4:13-17). "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!" (2 Timothy 3:10,11)
When I became a Christian in 1971 some of my earliest teaching was with Campus Crusade For Christ which had a ministry on our high school campus (Truman High School in Independence, MO). We were taught how to share our faith using a little booklet many of you have heard of called "The Four Spiritual Laws". I recall an emphasis on learning these laws by memory so you could share them with others spontaneously.
The first spiritual law is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." I never weary of the wonderful truth that God loves me but today I want to focus on the second part of the law; God has a wonderful plan for my life.
Yesterday I spoke to residents at Longwood Manor and quipped that in some settings, since Brooksyne and I are now both in our early sixties, we are numbered with the seniors! I learned the first "spiritual law" as a teenager and then sought to find out what God's purpose was for my life. Over 40 years have passed since high school when I came to believe God's plan for my life included vocational ministry. I enrolled in Bible college to prepare for ministry, followed by 25 years of pastoral service, and now fifteen years of chaplaincy. Brooksyne and I received the same calling from God, in His purpose for our lives, and we have served alongside each other all these years. Now here we are on November 2, 2015 still plugging along living by God's purpose till we transition from this earthly life and then fulfill His greater purpose for us in heaven. I shared with the seniors that I believe all we who follow Christ have a purpose regardless of age or infirmity.
Sometimes that purpose is very distinct. Friday evening we joined a group of friends in Hershey at a banquet for the Pennsylvania Family Institute. The speaker was Eric Mataxes who has written an outstanding book on William Wilberforce. The theme of this year’s banquet was “Our Wilberforce Moment,” recognizing the critical opportunities that have arisen for us to boldly stand, as William Wilberforce did in his generation. (Note: Observant readers will recognize that this paragraph was adapted from Friday's message!)
William Wilberforce was a dedicated Christian who is best known for his efforts in abolishing the slave trade in the Britain empire. Actually he had other interests as well motivated by his faith. All of us will have "Wilberforce Moments" in our lives although some are more distinct than others.
"Esther moments" are those special times when God's purpose for our life is especially apparent. This concept is based on the daily text when Mordecai encouraged Esther to take a stand. The Jews faced annihilation, as they so often have throughout history, and Esther was in a position to act for their preservation by appealing to the king.
Esther's uncle Mordecai* was confident that, in one way or another, the deliverance of the Jews would come about through Esther's mediation, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place." Amazingly in the bigger picture God's grand purposes are always fulfilled with or without our cooperation. However Mordecai challenged Esther to be the agent of God's deliverance as expressed in the daily text, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Scripture records that Esther did listen to Mordecai and heeded his challenge to present herself to the king, even if it meant death. I like the resolute attitude she expressed when she made up her mind to be the mediator for her people: "If I perish, I perish." When we're weighing various options there's a point that we've got to make up our mind and act upon that decision, regardless of consequences, and Esther nobly did just that.
Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. Surely that was the case with Esther and many, many others such as William Wilberforce. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual endeavors. May the Lord grant us such "Esther moments" when we powerfully sense our purpose in fulfilling God's plan.
Our obedience to God may not bring front page news, make us famous in history or even be known by more than a few. We might not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings personal blessing and it also blesses God as we go about spreading His light in this darkened world. Let us stay faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, often times I am apprehensive when You speak to my heart like you did Esther, through Mordecai Your messenger. When I'm to do or say something that's not within my comfort zone, my heart feels like it could explode and I become an emotional cripple because fear overtakes me. It prevents me from stepping out in faith and following through with an obedient heart. Would You remind me that there is great blessing when I follow Your leading. Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is not my responsibility. I need to leave that in Your hands. Thank You for Your enlisting me to be a part of your grand purpose in sharing the good news of salvation with the lost, strengthening the weak, and encouraging those whose hope has faded. I can't do it within my own abilities but I can trust the Holy Spirit to equip me to be an uncompromising believer and bold witness for You through Christ Jesus our Lord, no matter the times or circumstances that surround me. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Amen.
* Some versions indicate that Mordecai is Esther's cousin.
Over 900 attended the Pennsylvania Family Institute banquet Friday evening and were challenged to find "Our Wilberforce Moment". Kelvin Cochran had an outstanding message essentially sharing his testimony. (see below for video links)
We were invited to attend the PFI banquet by Ron and Bonnie Hoover. Ron has a mentoring ministry to business leaders here in south central Pennsylvania. We enjoyed visiting these two young couples, (L to R, Colby & Joey, Zach & Laurel). We are good friends with Colby and Laurel's parents, Don and Kathy Eaton, so it was a nice opportunity for us to become further acquainted with them. The Banquet room at the Hershey Lodge was filled with many young people seeking to make a positive difference as they live out their lives for Jesus.
Saturday Larry and Tina Kester spent the day with us. They are longtime members of the church my brother pastors in the Lehigh Valley.
Ester took this photo after church yesterday. Seven year old Adoree carried her Lord's Prayer plate all over the church that she earned after memorizing the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) last Sunday. Her mom says she has found the perfect safe place to display her "trophy" at home. Given the challenge and incentive children are usually excited about memorizing many passages of Scripture and it's delightful to hear them recite, and even better to see them live out the Christian life.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Follow Me" Video Larry Ford
Kelvin Chocran testimony Video here or here
"Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce and the Gospel": An Evening With Eric Metaxas Video
Many have seen the entire movie "Amazing Grace" but here is a powerful clip they showed at the banquet the other night. Video
"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" Video Chris Tomlin
"Glorious Freedom" Video GVB We sang this great song yesterday in our church and at one point the worship leader had the instrumentalists all back off and it seemed as though our voices practically took the roof off our small country church! Today Brooksyne wrote a radio message that may also be developed into a full daily encouragement. (Our radio spots are only 1 minute!)
The Glorious Emancipator
We attended the Pennsylvania Family Institute banquet on Friday night where Eric Metaxas spoke. The banquet's theme was "A Wilberforce Moment" and the challenge was issued that we stand for righteousness in an age of godlessness, like Wilberforce who led the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.
The first great emancipator was Moses who insisted on the Israelites release from slavery in Egypt. In the 1800's President Lincoln became the great emancipator of slavery in the U.S. These were great and noble men.
But the glorious Emancipator is Jesus Christ who "broke our fetters in twain" as Haldor Lillenas wrote in his hymn, "Glorious Freedom". The emancipators worked hard to free men and women from the physical bondage of slavery in this life. Jesus, the glorious Emancipator, freed us from the spiritual bondage to sin for all eternity. Now and forever He shall be mine. For more encouragement visit dailyencouragement.net. Listen here
We never know what might come rolling down our rural lane. We heard some noise and looked out our driveway on Saturday and saw this Amish farmer hauling what appeared to be a very dead cow. (Stephen wanted to post this, as he says it's a reality most people never see. Well, now you see it!) Moments later I saw a more pleasant view of a deer in the field behind the wagon but it was gone in a flash.
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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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