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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Monkey tree near Smithsonian 3/25/16
"Monkey Tree" outside Smithsonian Castle

"Our Living Hope"

Message Summary: All of us who trust in Christ have this living hope. As we live out our lives we have many of the same problems as others. But our perspective differs based on an empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope is alive and our eternal future awaits us, no matter the present circumstances.

"He's Still Risen"  Video  Ken, a friend from one of our companies where we serve as chaplains sent us this short video with a fresh perspective of the Living Hope of the resurrection. Each day may God help us to understand and live with a living hope!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

Brooksyne and I often pray before breakfast and consider the present state of our lives and then those of so many others, especially the oppressed and persecuted. We thank God and count our blessings including peace, plentiful provisions, a night of safety and another day of freedom. But we realize how quickly this may change and how many have never known the kind of life we have lived.

But the message of the gospel is Good News regardless of wherever one lives and under what conditions we may live under. It is a message of "living hope", for the beleaguered believers in Pakistan where Islamic Taliban terrorists murdered many this last weekend or the believers in northeast Nigeria who suffer ongoing
unimaginable horror at the depraved savagery of the Islamic Boko Haram terrorists. Perhaps you've read of the recent slaughter of children burned alive. And sadly there is no shortage of other examples we could write about from all over the world.

In our own country a heavy cloud of darkness seems to be descending. The sexual anarchists are taking a jackhammer to any remaining common sense and decency. At our age we just scratch our heads and say, "How in the world has it come to this???" (The answer is that this is the consequence of spiritual lawlessness which will continue to increase as man's rebellion against God intensifies. See 2 Thessalonians 2)

Today let us receive timeless encouragement from two common little words in the daily text, "living hope". Our "living hope" is a result of God's great mercy and the new birth He has given us, which is grounded in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The apostle Peter wrote these words to encourage believers undergoing various trials and persecution. Some thirty years after the resurrection the church entered a time of horrific persecution during Nero's reign. It was shortly after this that Peter was likely martyred for his faith. Tradition asserts he was crucified upside down. (Then once again I consider Tom Uzhunnalil, the Catholic priest crucified in Yemen on Good Friday by the ISIS barbarians.)

What a tremendous encouragement this reminder of their present standing with God must have been to Peter and these early believers and we hope to Tom Uzhunnalil and so many others besieged by evil! Peter's initial readers, like us, had come to faith on the basis of the testimony of Peter and other eyewitnesses to the resurrection. They and everyone since are among those spoken of by Jesus when He said to Thomas. "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

Today we all need a firm grasp of our living hope. F.B. Meyer calls the living hope "the link between our present and future." The writer of Hebrews spoke of this hope as "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (6:19). Some of you are facing very difficult circumstances in your life today. Hopelessness and despair can so easily take a grip can't they?

Horatio Spafford, who wrote "It Is Well With My Soul", describes this hopelessness and despair well in these words, "When sorrows like sea billows roll."

Isaac Watts wrote, "despair tells us that difficulty is unsurmountable". Consider this perspective, when John Newton (best known for writing "Amazing Grace") was 82 he said, "My memory is nearly gone but I remember two things-that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

The daily Scripture provides a rich assurance to all believers and reminds us that the source of our authentic hope is founded in Christ. The apostle Peter opens his epistle with a content-filled praise to God and I am genuinely blessed by the simple phrase "a living hope."  This phrase has become a popular name for churches and ministries although this is the only place in the Bible it is used.

All of us who trust in Christ have this living hope. As we live out our lives we have many of the same problems as others. But our perspective differs based on an empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope is alive and our eternal future awaits us, no matter the present circumstances. Billy Graham characteristically states it so simply, "As a Christian I have hope not just for this life but for Heaven and the life to come."

We encourage you this day to keep the presence of our living hope ever before you! We promise you, in doing so you will be encouraged!

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help me not to waste my time and energy in futile or wishful thinking. Instead I want to fix my thoughts upon the living hope I have in Jesus Christ my Lord. I anchor my soul in the bedrock of Your Holy Word so that when other viewpoints counter the truths prescribed in Your Word my anchor remains firm. When difficulties appear insurmountable remind me that I serve an extraordinary God who does not rely on natural solutions but works in the supernatural realm to meet each one of my needs. Your solutions to my problems are not subject to my scrutiny but rather I conform to Your leading and accept Your plan for my life. In doing so I am not tossed to and fro by wishful thinking but I am firmly grounded in the living hope of our resurrected Lord and Savior. It is in His name that we pray, Amen.

Some more scenes from our trip to Washington DC to view the Cherry Blossoms last Friday.

WW 2 Memorial 3/25/16
The majestic fountains at the World War 2 memorial

Washington Martin Luther King memorial 3/25/16
The Martin Luther King Memorial

Martin Luther King quote 3/25/16
The Martin Luther King memorial included a selection of his quotes.

Washington street musician 3/25/16
We saw a lot of street musicians and we appreciated this young man's knack for repurposing.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Sweet Jesus
"  Video  Mount Pleasant Easter Choir directed by Brooksyne

"I Will Rise"  Video  Chris Tomlin

"He's Still Risen"  Video  Ken, a friend from one of our companies we serve as chaplain sent us this video with a fresh perspective of the Living Hope of the resurrection.

Yesterday we shared a photo of some severely pruned trees and Sheila, a reader from Florida, informed us they are Crepe Myrtles.

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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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