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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive between Sedona and Flagstaff Arizona

"Our Greatest Longing"

Message Summary: Paul looked forward earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings. The healthy state for the believer is to "long for" His appearing. That's our greatest longing. Let's keep our focus on that today!

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"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).

For a number of years here in Lancaster County the Women and Babies Hospital was right next to the Hospice Center of Lancaster.* The two buildings are quite a contrast; one primarily for the transition into this life (birth), the other for the inevitable transition out (death). In the course of our ministry we have made many visits to both the Women and Babies Hospital and to the Hospice Center, on occasion our visits coincided on the same day. That's just part of seeking to provide good chaplaincy and pastoral care.

Pierce family
It's a special joy to visit with the excited parents of a new baby. The photo to the left was taken the day David Pierce made his entrance into the world. David, who just turned 9, is now in Brooksyne's Sunday School class. She especially enjoys his desire to learn his weekly memory verses, and he does so regularly, with the helpful support of his mom and dad. Seth and Bethany, who came along after David, complete this delightful family who seek to honor the Lord

Hospice visits are very different. When Brooksyne's mom passed on some 15 years ago hospice proved to be a great support medically and emotionally. We have a number of friends serving as hospice chaplains including Mark Pulliam, who was my supervisor many years ago, and Lou Guiliano who was recognized as the New Jersey hospice chaplain of the year.

Both the Women and Babies Hospital and Hospice deal with expectations. But an entirely different form of expectation takes place in each. In the one we have those excited about the beginning cycle of new life. In hospice there is an entirely different expectation, as families hesitantly face the end cycle of one's life. For some it's a sense of fear and dread, but for others it's a glorious expectation of their pending transfer to heaven. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ it is a lifetime longing and preparation finally being fulfilled after their fierce mental, physical, and emotional battle. Finally their perishable body goes to the grave, while their spirit takes on the imperishable state.

Today we are all "longing for" something. There are many secondary longings that come and go in the course of a lifetime. Consider what we longed for as children, teens, young adults. There are good temporal longings as well as harmful and destructive ones in which we seek deliverance. But all we who love Christ should have a deep, abiding desire for the appearing of our Lord. This should be our greatest longing that is unfleeting, unwavering and exceeds any of our temporal longings.

Paul in our daily verse has come to the closing days of his life on this earth. In the previous verses he solemnly acknowledged that "the time has come for my departure" (v.6) and stated, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (v.7). He supremely looked forward to receiving "the crown of righteousness" that had been stored up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him on the appointed day.

Since Paul's remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road he had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years passed since that time and Paul had stayed the course. I sense such a confidence and peace in his words, even as he faced a martyr's death. Earlier in this very letter he expressed his absolute assurance, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day" (1:12).

There's something else in the verse that I like. Just five little words but they speak volumes to those of us who, like Paul, who strive to stay on course with Christ in this decadent age. 

"And not only to me."

Paul gives us a great word here that you and I can cling to today. He doesn't go on to say "and for you also Timothy", to whom he was writing.  Instead he writes to each reader, "but also to all who have longed for His appearing." Paul looked forward earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings.  The healthy state for the believer is to "long for" His appearing. That's our greatest longing. Let's keep our focus on that today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our desires on the life yet to come. May all that we say, think and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below. Since we don't know the day nor the hour we can live in anticipation each day because this could be the day for our glorious transfer into Your divine presence. Nothing in this life compares with the joy that awaits those of us who long for Your magnificent appearing!  Amen.

* The Lancaster County hospice is now near Mount Joy which makes it convenient for us when we need to provide care.

Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon

All this week I am sharing photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix and some sightseeing prior to the meeting.

Today's photos feature Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Driving up from the desert in Phoenix to Flagstaff where I met my brother, I got off the interstate to view an area recommended to me.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
And began to see green, a stark contrast to the sandy desert look of Phoenix.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
This area has deep canyons

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
And beautiful red rock bluffs

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
This bridge is high above the canyon!

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive is about a 14 mile drive along Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. It has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Most Scenic Drives in America by Rand McNally. Oak Creek Canyon is a breathtaking stretch of beauty on a winding road that climbs 4,500 feet from Sedona to the top of the Mogollon Rim. (From Trip Advisor)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Knowing You"  Video

"What A Day That Will Be"  Video  Brian Free & Assurance

"What A Day That Will Be"  Video  The Gospel Plowboys  A real downhome presentation that includes the plan of salvation.

More photos of Sedona area and Oak Creek Canyon (Google)

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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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