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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lancaster County Amish farm in snow 1/29/16
Here is one of our favorite Lancaster County farm scenes along Rt 896 east of Strasburg PA. (Click to enlarge) Here's a photo of the same farm in the late summer. For many years this very farm scene was used in our local paper illustrating quintessential Lancaster County.

"The Other Judas"

Message Summary:
Are you willing to take risks when God leads? I find this a probing question that I'm very uncomfortable with!  I'm really not sure that I always am.  (I would stumble over the thought, "Is this REALLY God leading?")  If you were approached by a former ISIS member, newly converted to Christ, who needed a place to stay, would you open your home to him?

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying" (Acts 9:11).

Have you ever considered or done a study of the "bad" people in the Bible? Brooksyne used to have a book called "Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them".

Probably near the top of any list of "bad" people would be Judas Iscariot who betrayed the Lord. That may tend to give the name Judas a bad ring. It's certainly not a common name in English although there are many other Bible-based names commonly used such as David, Paul, John, Peter and my own, Stephen!

But there are several other men in the NT period named Judas and today we want to consider the most obscure. In fact it wouldn't be surprising if he may be someone most of our readers have never even considered.

If we were to ask you to name the first named person Saul (who became Paul) met after his dramatic conversion experience you would probably say Ananias who had the special call to pray for Saul.

Well, as you can see from the text, the correct answer is a fellow by the name of Judas.
"The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying." Immediately following his conversion it appears that Saul stayed in Judas' house. This must have been a strange call to Judas to provide hospitality to Saul. We have no idea how Saul got to his house or what state of faith Judas had.

We are also not told how the message of Christ initially reached Damascus, but clearly God had a people in this city and Saul's goal, when he journeyed there on the road to Damascus, had been to wipe them out.  Perhaps "the Way", as Christ's followers were then called, was a result of returning pilgrims who had been among those saved on the day of Pentecost. Or perhaps it was a result of the scattering of the believers following Stephen's martyrdom (Acts 7,8).

Damascus is to this day the capital of Syria and, since the time of the New Testament, there has been a remnant of Christians in Damascus and throughout Syria as well as neighboring countries in the Middle East. Based on my understanding of history; Christians, Jews, Muslims and various other groups such as the Yasidi have lived in relative harmony up to the present time.

But with the rise of militant Islam in the last 50 years this has changed. In our own day ISIS is attempting to complete the mission of persecuting and destroying followers of Christ that Saul abandoned in exchange for "preaching Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20) to the utter amazement of those who heard him. They responded, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" (9:21).

However, reports are coming out of situations similar to Saul's conversion such as an ISIS member BEING converted to Christianity due to having dreams of a man who appeared to him in white Who said, "You are killing my people." Remarkably similar to the message that Saul heard!!! (Acts 9:4). (See below for link to this story.)

Interestingly, God had a special job for this Judas and, although the Biblical record gives us little information about him, we can be thankful for his willingness to let Saul into his home; to partake of his food, to lodge in his sleeping quarters, and to be among his own family members.

Are you willing to take risks when God leads? I find this a probing question that I'm very uncomfortable with!  I'm really not sure that I always am.  (I would stumble over the thought, "Is this REALLY God leading?")

Later, the writer of Hebrews reminds us: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2).  So, let's put it this way to have some sense of what Judas' choice to welcome Saul into his home was like. If you were approached by a former ISIS member, newly converted to Christ, who needed a place to stay, would you open your home to him?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have a work for all of us to do, we, who claim to be Your followers. Sometimes it's going, sometimes it's doing, and sometimes it's just making ourselves available to Your leading. However You choose to use us, it requires our faith and trust to be firmly rooted in who You are, in Your commands, and in our hearing Your voice, most especially in uncharted territory when we are asked to step out of our comfort zone. Help us to be among those with whom You could say to Your Son, Jesus, "This is my child with whom I am very pleased." Your commendation is our incentive to be listening, obeying and trusting in You as we journey here below. Amen.

The other Judas: Actually there are several other men named Judas in the New Testament:
1) “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?"  (Matthew 13:55).
2) "Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” (John 14:22) This apparently was Judas, son of James (see Acts 1:13)
3) Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. (Acts 15:2). This may have been the same Judas as referenced in Matthew 13:55.

Amish farm in snow 1/29/16
Friday morning we passed this farm spread with the long clothesline.
Brooksyne's note: I remember well hanging wet clothes out on the clothesline in the cold winter months in Oklahoma since our family of seven had no money for a dryer. Our fingers froze and in many cases our clothing froze as well. I preferred hanging them on a wooden clothes dryer over our furnace vent which we did during the coldest freezes, but there's rarely a day in Amish country (with the EXCEPTION of Sundays) that we don't see the clothes out on the line which keeps these mothers very busy along with their children who are not afraid of work but are more than happy to do their chores (something that we English could learn).

Amish buggie at BB's 1/29/16
We shopped at BB's an Amish grocery store near Quarryville, PA, last Friday. The very cheap bargains make it a  fun store to shop along with the staff being mostly Amish or old order Mennonite.

Children sledding in snow 1/29/16
Children sledding down big hill.

Sleigh ride in snow 1/29/16
Jesse took me on a wild sleigh ride in the fields.

Animal kingdom drama 2/2/16
This morning we watched some animal kingdom drama from our office window. Our border collie Mollie has been after squirrels since she was a pup but we don't think she's ever caught one. Today she had one "treed" on our fence with no where to go. But alas after awhile the squirrel took a flying leap off the fence and dashed to a nearby tree just ahead of bounding Mollie.

Animal kingdom drama 2/2/16
Now she's been focused like a laser on the tree for over an hour!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Follow Me"   Video  Kelly Willard

"Jesus Use Me" Video 
Happy Goodmans  A song we sang in Bible College

Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them

Report of ISIS member converting to Christianity

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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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