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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lancaster County farm scene (Click to enlarge)
Lancaster County Preserved Farm
Grandview Road near Mount Joy
Click on photo for larger view

"Ready, Expectant and Faithful"

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"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near" (James 5:7,8). But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).

Dogs waiting for ownerOur friend Rick shared this photo of his two dogs with their eyes peeled to the glass door as they eagerly awaited the first sighting of their owner's return.  Their anticipation was so intense Rick said their muscles were twitching like a wound-up spring ready to jump up for their master's greeting.

Dog owners know the excitement dogs express when they return after being gone awhile, whether it's ten minutes or ten hours. Numerous times we've driven to the end of our farm road only to realize we've forgotten a particular item. We return to the house where we're eagerly greeted by our two very excited dogs acting as though we'd been gone all day.

But we do notice their heightened excitement after we've taken a trip of several days. When we get home they practically go wild with excitement and Mollie, our younger dog, is so excited her bladder leaks! Interestingly, God has given dogs some of the same character and emotional traits as humans like excitement, hunger, loyalty, fear, discontent, etc. Some dogs even exercise the fruit of the spirit as they patiently wait for hours to hear, "Do you want to go for a walk?" You sure don't have to repeat that question with our dogs! OK! Enough about the canine world!

More importantly, God's people must practice patience everyday on so many fronts. Our first daily text speaks of an important and specific type of patience: "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord." So today let us consider patience in light of the "coming of the Lord".

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East and focus on Israel is of great interest to many believers. Of course we should be concerned in the sense of having compassion for hurting people. But there is also a prophetic interest in what is happening in that part of the world.

For the vast majority of the church's history there was no nation of Israel as a separate political entity. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world. Bible prophecies concerning the nation of Israel were very difficult to understand since there was no nation of Israel. For nearly 1900 years the Jewish people, though scattered around the world, amazingly maintained their distinct religious identity and continue to do so today.  And of course since 1948 they have once again become a distinct political entity.

The Bible teaches that believers in each generation are to be ready for the great climax to the present age, which will be the promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the early believers in Philippi of eagerly awaiting our Savior from heaven (Philippians 3:20). Beginning with these New Testament believers and in each generation since, believers have died in their faith and now await this great event from a different perspective. (The Apostle Paul acknowledged this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)

Those of us living at this present time keep our faith, expectancy, and wonder since we just might be that generation living at the second coming of the Lord.  Some would prefer I be more emphatic and say "We are that generation", but my knowledge of the Bible and history indicates that there have been many earnest believers from the past who also felt they were "that generation", yet they died a natural, physical death.

Two extremes in Biblical prophecy need to be guarded against: one is the "whatever will be, will be" position that hardly expresses the expectant outlook seen in the early believers.  The other is an outlook that seeks to find some prophetic significance to every event, which I believe can lead to "expectation burnout".  At any given time in my Christian life it seems that someone has supposedly unlocked some Bible mystery and made a very specific prediction regarding the return of the Lord, yet here we remain expectantly on November 19, 2015.

Like Paul and the Philippian believers we declare, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).  Perhaps today! Let us stay ready, expectant, and faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father
, we look forward with tremendous anticipation to the day You appear in the clouds with power and great glory; as You come to claim Your chosen Bride,  the redeemed and purified. The dead in Christ will arise and be caught up to meet You in the skies as we together exalt and glorify You, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Help us to be faithful and true and to live in glad and patient expectancy of Your appearing as signs of Your coming multiply revealing to the redeemed that the glorious event is drawing closer.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Wait On The Lord"  Video  The Martins

"He's Coming Soon"  Video  Local church in Arkansas (Reminds me of how church singing was when we first started our journey!)

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave them up through Thanksgiving.

We appreciate singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not hear this season.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

"In Everything Give Him Thanks"
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Togather, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns"
(printable web page).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (web page) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"Come We Thankful People Come"  Video  
Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart"  Video  Don Moen

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

"Worthy Is The Lamb Crown Him .. Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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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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