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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pin oak in our front lawn 11/3/15
The large oaks in front of our home transition to beautiful scarlet leaves each Autumn.

"Others Are Listening and Watching"

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"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25). "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Costco service deskIn the midst of our chaplain visits yesterday we stopped by Costco to make a return. When Brooksyne was in line at the Customer Service counter she witnessed an interesting exchange:

Next to me a customer had a large box he set on the counter and said to the cashier, "I want to pay for this item" as he handed the cashier his receipt. The cashier went to the computer to look the item up, glanced awhile at the receipt, and then said to the customer, "I can't find the item on your receipt". The cashier then came over to pick up the box so he could scan the code #.  He commented in surprise, "The box is empty!" The man nodded his head and said, "Yeah, I have the item at home." The cashier was befuddled, went to the computer again and finally, with an incredulous look,  blurted out, "You were never charged for the item!" "Right! I wasn't and I came to pay for it before I have to pay a higher price."

This customer made a choice that had a high cost. His item was surely over $100.00. Though I had no opportunity to visit with the customer for clarification, we consider his comment "pay a higher price"  to be a guilty conscience before God. That would be a higher price to pay than the store price for the item he had meant to purchase days earlier. He didn't allow the cashier's mistake to be used to his advantage, though he might even have considered doing so, before returning to the store and making right his complete purchase from the week earlier.

Today let's explore the reality that others are watching and listening as we go about the course of life and how that can be a witness hopefully for good!

When do you sing praises to God?  At church in concert with the fellow redeemed, with your headphones on during a "praise walk", or on your commute to work?  The daily text records the very first instance of singing praise to God in the early church following Christ's death and resurrection.

Paul and Silas being flogged In our text today the apostle Paul, and his ministry associate Silas, are in a Philippian jailhouse. Having just been stripped and severely beaten they were awaiting further sentencing.  Yet at a time when we might picture them at best in a fitful sleep, or more likely worrying their heads off, they are praying and singing hymns to God!  The part that really intrigues me is the phrase "and the other prisoners were listening to them." Of course, they had little choice since it is unlikely they could file a complaint, "The two new prisoners are disturbing the peace".

Paul and Silas in prisonWhat a strange sight this must have been - two men thrown into a carefully guarded cell with thieves, murderers and such; their flesh torn and bleeding after being dragged, severely flogged, and stripped of their clothing; their feet bound by stocks. Yet they are wide awake at the midnight hour praying and singing hymns to God! Since others were listening it's obvious that Paul and Silas were praying aloud and exalting the Lord in exuberant song. Perhaps they called out the names of the prisoners and guards in prayer which would certainly get their attention, and even pierce their hard hearts.

Do you find it hard to witness?  Most of us do!  What a wonderful example we see in these faithful men. Humiliated, beaten and bloodied, they still demonstrated their faith in God by their prayers and hymns of praise even as the other prisoners looked and listened on. Though the officials in town sought to put a stop to spreading the gospel message they actually provided a captive audience by throwing these preachers in jail with the very people who needed to hear the salvation message! We often hear marvelous stories of believers today, persecuted for their faith, who evangelize in the prison cell. Many come to faith through their attitude, witness, and hardship.

Regardless of whatever circumstances you're dealing with, you may witness by your dependence on God and joyful songs to Him, although some may choose to hum, whistle, or listen to songs of faith.  I've always assumed that the Philippian jailer was among those who had listened. (Read the rest of the story in Acts 16.)

Others are listening and watching your life.  In what way are you singing His praises and letting your light shine today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, we are challenged in Scripture to be filled with the Spirit speaking to ourselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  This heavenly language brings Scripture to our hearts and makes us one with You even in the midst of our busy schedule.  It is from the abundance of being filled with Your spirit that we overflow with heavenly music and psalm, even in the midst of hard and unfair situations in our lives. May praise and thanksgiving be the resounding theme from our hearts on this day and everyday!  In Your name, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Note from Brooksyne:  I'm reminded of an experience I had when I was 16 or 17 years old working my first job as a waitress in a Walgreens Restaurant at Southland Mall in Tulsa, OK. The restaurant had quite a few employees who were very rough in their speech and worldly habits.  The manager was at the top of the list for swearing in just about every sentence he uttered.  But somehow God set my heart on the reason I was there (to save money for Bible College) and I did my work as for the Lord and tried to overlook the atmosphere I was exposed to daily.

The songs I enjoyed in church choir were always on my heart and I hummed their melody or sang under my breath their lyrics as I would clean tables, sweep floors, etc.  I had been working for nearly a year and must admit the atmosphere was starting to get to me.  I began to dread work and started to lose the joy that I started out with. One day the manager, with the filthy language, called me aside and asked, "Brooksyne, what happened to the music you were always singing?  And your pretty smile seems to have disappeared."  What a wake-up call that was for me and also a reminder that some of the people who look on are the ones we least expect.  My song quickly returned as I worked for the restaurant for the next two years, as I realized it was part of my witness. It also improved my attitude, for how can a person be sad while singing?  Only eternity will reveal any lasting impact my Christian witness was in that workplace.

Today We Share Some Photos Around Our Home

Front view of our home 11/3/15
A view of the front of our home.

Front view of our home 11/3/15
This might be the last full week of autumn colors before all the leaves come down.

Mum in chair 11/3/15
Here's an interesting repurposing of a chair with a bad seat.
Just put a flower in it, as we did, next to our side door!

Backyard cleanup 11/5/15
Perhaps your yard looks a little like our back yard. The vegetable garden now just dirt and leaves falling everywhere; the wheel barrow being loaded and emptied many times over!

Hydranga tree 11/5/15
One stubborn hydrangea bloom in its summer color, refusing to blend in with the other autumn blooms, at least for now.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Praise The Lord"  Video  The Imperials

"Give Me Jesus"  Video   Fernando Ortega  (Ruth Graham Tribute)

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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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