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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, PA (Photo from their Facebook page)
Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, PA
(Photo from their Facebook page)

"One Brick At A Time"

Message Summary:
Active faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family. I urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

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"But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat" (Nehemiah 4:9).

Mike GardnerMike is a friend of ours who teaches Masonry Construction Technology at the Stevens College Of Technology in Lancaster. I visited with him after church this last Lord's Day and encouraged him in his work. He would like to see more young people interested in his program and the attrition rate of students dropping out is higher than he would like. We discussed the need for young people to learn a trade and work hard. As a business chaplain I observe this is a growing problem. Young people need to recognize the dignity of work and the blessing of working hard and living responsibly.

Bricklaying We recall sharing Scriptural principles with Mike and JoAnna around our dining room table 11 years ago during their pre-marital counseling. At that time I drew an analogy from his trade as a stonemason and bricklayer to that of building a strong, lifelong marriage one brick at a time. Over the years those single bricks become solid layers with the Lord Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone. Today's Scripture verse suggests a cooperative arrangement of faith and action that applies not only to marriage but many issues of life. In fact there's an application for each reader.

The setting for the book of Nehemiah takes place during the rebuilding of the long neglected walls of Jerusalem after the return from the Exile, "which had been broken down, and its gates which had been destroyed by fire" (Nehemiah 2:13b,14). These walls were vital for security reasons. They had been destroyed by the Babylonians some 150 years earlier.

As with any major endeavor those with a heart to move forward in obeying God usually face opposition. Are you facing any opposition today? If so, you're in good company with many other believers who are engaged in conflict with the spiritual forces of evil.

The specific opposition in today's passage was led by an "interesting" character by the name of Sanballat. This pesky fellow was persistent and creative in opposing the advancement of God's work! Perhaps he earned the unenviable title of "Mr. Discouragement."  It seems that he gained many followers in his attempt to foil God's plan of rebuilding the ruined walls. Unfortunately some of his descendants remain to this day such as Danny Defeatist, Helen Hindrance, Oliver Obstacle, Patty Pessimist, Fanny Fatalist (you get the picture). We mingle with them regularly and we must be on guard or we will join their ranks.

In the immediate context of today's verse the opposition was threatening a physical attack, but there are many ways we will be opposed; if not in the physical, the spiritual. Paul reminds us that there is much unseen by the naked eye, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12,13).

Trust and obey Nehemiah writes about his God-given vision that included faith, prayer, sacrifice, hard work, tenacity and common sense. "We prayed to our God AND posted a guard..."  Nehemiah led the people in both spiritual action (prayer) and practical action (posting a guard). I place a high value on common sense which there seems to be a great lack of these days. As followers of Christ I believe God can help us develop Biblically informed common sense measures in our daily lives when confronting the many challenges we deal with regularly. It's not "unspiritual" to use this sense given to us by God.

Our Christian walk, ministry, marriage, vocation, childrearing and many other vital issues of life are much like building a firm foundation one brick at a time. This building project will continue all through life until we are called home. (Chuck Swindoll wrote a book based on this theme titled, "Hand Me Another Brick.")

Active faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family. I urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that You have promised to be our faithful Shepherd leading us in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. We are guided, not by our own strength or wisdom lest it be inadequate or faulty, but in the knowledge and wisdom of our all-knowing, all-powerful God. It is not by might, nor by power but by Your Spirit that we can stand against the tactics of the enemy. Like Nehemiah, may our first impulse be that that of prayer and our second impulse be that of obedience. In the name of Jesus we ask these things.  Amen.

Yesterday we had a beautiful snowfall of about 4 inches which actually resulted in prettier scenery than the big storm we had two weeks ago that included a lot of wind. Yesterday afternoon I drove Ester to work and took in some nice sights on the way home. All of the winter scenery photos below will enlarge by clicking on them.

Home along Rt 772, Mount Joy, PA 2/9/16 (Click to enlarge)
Due to the snowy scenery you can barely see this stone home along PA Rt 772.

Donegal Mill, Mount Joy, PA 2/9/16 (Click to enlarge)
The Donegal Mill along Donegal Creek was built in 1775.

Donegal Mill Plantation, Mount Joy, PA 2/9/16 (Click to enlarge)
The stately Donegal Mills Mansion was built before 1790.

Trout Run Road home, Mount Joy, PA 2/9/16 (Click to enlarge)
An old stone farmhouse along Trout Run Road.

Gardner family at Donegal Springs (Photo by Ester Weber)
Eleven years after their pre-marital counseling referred to in today's message here's the Gardner family. Ester took this photo last summer at Donegal Springs, a place we frequent on our neighborhood walks during warmer temps.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Together"  Video   Steven Curtis Chapman  With Valentine's Day coming up and a focus on marital love we devote this song to each couple reading this. Why don't you take a few minutes and listen to this thoughtful song together?

"Together (About The Song)"  Video 
Steven Curtis Chapman

Here we stand, here we are
With all our wounds and battle scars
From all the storms and all the wars we’ve weathered together
We had no way of knowing when
We started way back there and then
How the road would twist and turn and bend
We just knew we belonged together

And if it wasn’t for God’s mercy and His grace
There’s no way we would be standing in this place
But because He has been faithful
Every step along the way
Here we are together

We’ve climbed up mountains higher than
Were ever in our hopes and plans
We’ve held onto each other’s hands
Watched miracles unfold together
And we’ve crawled on our hands and knees
Through valleys cold and dark and deep
Sometimes not even sure if we could make it out alive together

Thaddeus Stevens College Of Technology

Donegal Mills Plantation

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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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