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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Forry's Mill Covered Bridge Lancaster County PA 6/8/16
Yesterday morning our travels took us through the Forry's Mill Covered Bridge.

"It's No Easy Road"

Message Summary: We must remember the timeless message to the early believers in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Like the Apostle Paul, we seek to provide teaching to Christ's followers in our own generation by encouraging you to remain true to the faith, as "we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."

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"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:24).
"They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said" (Acts 14:21,22).

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

Easy Road Cumberland County PA 6/7/16
Tuesday evening we drove through a beautiful rural section of Cumberland County, about fifty miles away from our home. At one point we drove down "Easy Road", which we both realized would be a good illustration for a message. Easy Road is found here (google map) and has several homes on it. Can you imagine when these people are asked where they live they respond, "We live on Easy Road."

We live in a time when "easy" is valued, expected or even considered an entitlement to many. Most of us strive to do whatever is needed to make life easier, whether it’s the way we carry out our chores, perform our jobs, build our relationships, or go about our physical exercise; that which takes physical, mental, or emotional exertion on our part.

This mentality can spill over into our spiritual state of mind as well. Rather than considering the harder demands of Biblical discipleship many tend to look for the easy way out. When facing a leading from the Spirit that may be hard, require great sacrifice, or move us out of our comfort zone we may choose an easier solution. Perhaps the writer of Hebrews was addressing such an attitude when he admonished the Hebrew believers, "You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food" (Hebrews 5:12).

Easy ButtonDo you recall the easy button sales pitch by Staples? Push the easy button and a voice emphatically states, "That was easy." (Click here to hear it.) Of course the intent of the button is to show us how much easier our lives will be if we just remember to shop at Staples although I have not found shopping there really makes my life any easier.

Is there an "easy button" in the Christian life?  Many of us would say, "If so, I sure want to find it." Through our forty years of ministry we have seen many presentations that claim to make the spiritual life easy. But as the words to the famed hymn state,

Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come.
T'was grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.

"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" This first text is a short, rather hard fact of discipleship; probably a verse few have memorized. This follows the time the rich young ruler had approached Jesus with a question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" but went away sad, refusing to accept Christ's terms for discipleship. This prompted a teaching from Christ to His disciples with this candid statement,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" 

In the second text Paul and Barnabas are on their first missionary journey and are returning to some of the cities where they had earlier established churches. Their basic message to these young churches is summed up in this phrase: "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith" (Acts 14:22a).

But Luke sums up the essence of their verbal message in a single phrase, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b).  This portion bears careful attention in an age when the call to follow Christ is often presented to unbelievers as “simple" or “easy.” We might be hesitant in sharing the above verse with those we are seeking to lead to Christ!

Notice the part, "you must go through." This hard reality seems to be an acknowledgement that there is no easy button in life or "Easy Road". Testings of all kinds are present from our childhood to the final breath we draw in this life. Thankfully, during our times of hardship, we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

I am sure some of you today are wondering how the particular matter you are going through is going to work out.  You sure would like to find that "easy button" or how to set up your earthly residency on "Easy Road".

We must remember the timeless message to the early believers in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Like the Apostle Paul, we seek to provide teaching to Christ's followers in our own generation by encouraging you to remain true to the faith as, "we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, though I am called to go through many hardships, there isn’t one that I face alone. For in my weakness You are made strong, in my folly You are the God of infinite wisdom, and in my fear I take hold of the hope You offer to me which is firm and secure. You will not abandon the work of Your hands but fulfill Your purpose for me as You strengthen, sustain, and instruct me during times of testing. I do not want to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Keep me faithful to the end. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.

Cavalry Road in Cumberland County PA 6/7/16
Near Carlisle we passed another road that also seems fitting for a message considering where the Lord died but observe the spelling carefully!  (See below*)

Horse in pasture Lancaster County PA 6/8/16
A grazing horse checking out the passengers in the car pulled over for a photo of the handsome horse, fence, and barn. Or was it the noise he heard from the loud driver trying to get his attention, "Sooey! Sooey! Sooey!" I finally corrected Stephen and reminded him, "You're trying to get his attention with a pig call, not a horse call." You can take the boy out of the suburb but you can't take the suburb out of the boy!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Through It All
"  Video  The Booth Brothers

Stephen's note: I have shared this story before in this series but feel it's a good time to do so again. It is in regard to a very specific time in my life when the song, "Through it all" meant a great deal to me.  Early in our ministry we hit some major obstacles and closed doors. Following Bible College we had moved to Pennsylvania to start a church and although I felt I had been led by the Lord, all the doors seemed to be closed and I wondered if I had made a huge mistake and was leading my bride of one year into our first major heartache.  She was 21 and I was 22 at the time.

Three of us were sitting in a little blue Datsun pickup and my memory is still so vivid that I remember precisely where it happened, at the junction of Routes 255 and 948 near Kersey PA.  Brooksyne was sitting in the middle and a college friend named Larry, who had come up from Pittsburgh to encourage us in our new venture, was sitting on the passenger side. I was so intensely discouraged about the doors that kept closing that tears involuntarily began to flow down my cheeks. I sure didn't want Brooksyne or Larry to see me, so I angled my face toward the left of the window as I drove. Now that old pickup sure didn't have a tape player built in (that was a real luxury at the time) but we had a small tape player affixed to the dashboard.  Just then the song, "Through It All" began to play and God used it to renew my assurance that He would see me through that time of hardship as well as the prayer that Larry prayed over us as he sensed my discouragement.  That was in 1977 and by God's grace we went on to see a strong church established in that area and are still in contact with many of the congregational members to this day. God is faithful!

"Takin' The Easy Way"  Video  2nd Chapter of Acts  As we drove on Easy Road Tuesday evening Brooksyne recalled this song from our younger years.

"Press On"  Video  Selah  This is the song quoted throughout the message today.

"Far Side Banks Of Jordan"  Video 
Jimmy Fortune

* "At Calvary" (not Cavalry as on the road sign!)  Video  The Collingsworth Family (Traditional version)

"At Calvary"  Video  Casting Crowns

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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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