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Friday, January 29, 2016

Blue bird at Maxwells
His Eye Is On The Sparrow Bluebird
This bluebird is a regular visitor at our neighbor's house, a welcome colorful sight on a cold winter's day. Hopefully it will soon visit our birdfeeder.

"The Blessing of Being Steadfast"

Message Summary:
We will face bumps along the road of life. Christians are certainly not immune to having these bumps and regardless of how big or small, they can be discouraging. Consider how often discouragement is based on the sense of futility in life and in our service for the Lord. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us it's "not in vain". But do you know that? I hope so. Keep pressing on. Serving. Loving. Showing the light of Christ to a dark, often unreceptive world. Your work counts for all eternity!

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"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

In the course of our chaplain work we visit a lot of people seeking to provide encouragement, personal interest, and when there is receptivity we offer spiritual guidance. This week I visited with a man I have known for several years. As I greeted him at his desk I detected something was troubling him. He informed me his son was in rehab again. We have been following him in this up and down journey for several years now. For about 18 months he had been giving us good reports as his son seemed to be putting his life back together. But he had a setback.

As we discussed the matter he shared that his son's girlfriend broke up with him which seemed to precipitate the setback. He then shared something that I have been pondering for several days. With a heavy heart he disclosed, "My son just has a hard time managing the inevitable bumps along the road of life."

That's an insightful concept. Everyone hits bumps in the road, sooner or later, and admittedly some have a much bumpier ride through life than others. Consider the blessing there is in learning how to hold steady, learning how to really depend upon and trust God, and learning a few things in the process that will serve us well during the next bump that is certain to come. Certainly, my heart goes out to those who struggle when they hit a bumpy patch, whether due to circumstances beyond their control or, as is often the case, because of their own poor choices.

As the Apostle Paul concluded his first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15 dealing with the doctrine of the resurrection one study Bible notes, "Doctrinal declarations should always lead to dutiful directives. Stated another way, our sure future hope (resurrection/glorification) should serve to animate and energize our present ethical behavior." *

Photo of farewell plaque
He ends the chapter with a verse that I suppose is my singular life's verse. In fact, the church that Brooksyne and I established and pastored for nearly 16 years in northern Pennsylvania, gave me a clock with I Corinthians 15:58 inscribed on it. It hangs in our office to this day where we see it daily.

Today let us consider just two words from the text, "steadfast, immovable". These two characteristics are much needed today. Warren Wiersbe observes: "Christians can be steadfast and immovable, because they know that if their worst enemy (death) has been overcome, they need fear no other enemy. They can abound in Christian service, for that work will count for eternity."

Don't forget that. We will indeed face bumps along the road of life. Christians are certainly not immune to having these bumps and regardless of how big or small, they can be discouraging. Consider how often discouragement is based on the sense of futility in life and in our service for the Lord. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us it's "not in vain". But do you know that? I hope so. Keep pressing on. Serving. Loving. Showing the light of Christ to a dark, often unreceptive world. Your work counts for all eternity!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to be steadfast, immovable always abounding in Your work. There are always things to be done, someone to see, goals to be met, places to be, and on and on the list goes. Then we hit a bump in the road and it seems like all comes crashing down around us and there is nothing we can do - we're stuck. Yet Your Word tells us to remain steadfast. So even in the bumps of life we can remain steadfast in our Christian witness, prayerful in all matters, faithful in our example to others, and in trusting You to guide us over the bumps so that we are once again on a level plain. Keep us steady we pray, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Sometimes the most challenging bump in the road is when you're stuck, can't go anywhere or do anything. You just have to hold on, remain steady in your temperament and responsibilities, and wait. For those who've sung in a choir or ensemble at times you have a stanza that requires you to sing the same note over and over, maybe six or more times, particularly when it's harmony. It can be quite boring singing the same note over and over. In fact it's very difficult to do since we're so accustomed to singing our music to a melody that has us going up and down an octave on the keyboard. Often the singer will get off pitch because it's hard to remain steady by singing the same exact note repeatedly. It's analogous to us remaining steady, holding on, and trusting God when we hit the bump. We're very, very tempted to work things out in our own way trying to force change when it's the bump God is allowing in our life so that He can get our attention and teach us about trusting Him in all things, as well as giving us proper guidance in His time and in His way.

C.H. Spurgeon in his sermon "Stand Fast" writes that: "The battle does not end when by a desperate rush a man has come to Christ. In many it assumes a new form; the enemy now attempts to drag the trembler from his refuge, and eject him from his stronghold. It is difficult to get at the hope of the gospel; but quite as difficult to keep it so as not to be moved away from it. If Satan spends great power in keeping us from the hope, he uses equal force in endeavoring to drag us away from it, and equal cunning in endeavoring to allure us from it. Hence the apostle tells us not to be moved away from the hope of the gospel: the exhortation is needful in presence of an imminent danger.

Do not think that in the moment when you believe in Christ the conflict is over, or you will be bitterly disappointed. It is then that the battle renews itself, and every inch of the road swarms with foemen. Between here and heaven you will always have to fight more or less, and frequently the severest struggle will be at a time when you are least prepared for it. There may be smooth passages in your career, and you may for a while be like your Savior in the wilderness, of Whom it is said, “Then the devil departed from Him, and angels came and ministered unto Him”; but you may not therefore cry, “My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved”; for fair weather may not outlast a single day. Do not grow secure, or carnally presumptuous. There is but a short space between one battle and another in this world. It is a series of skirmishes even when it does not assume the form of a pitched battle. He that would win heaven must fight for it. He that would take the new Jerusalem must scale it, and if he has the wit to take Jacob’s ladder and set it against the wall and climb up that way, he will win the city. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” At this time our subject is not the winning, but the wearing; not the taking but the holding of the fort: “Be not moved away,” you that have come to it, “Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"All The Way My Savior Leads Me"   Video   Chris Tomlin  Dedicated today to all who struggle with life's bumps and those who encourage them. I especially dedicate it to the friend mentioned in the opening paragraph.

"All the Way My Savior Leads Me"  Video  The Haven Quartet  A more traditional rendering

"His Eye Is On The Sparrow"  Video  Selah

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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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