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Monday, July 25, 2016

Petunias in Silverton, CO 7/8/16
Petunias in Silverton, Colorado

"Clinging To Worthless Idols"

Personal note:  I (Stephen) continue to have severe lower back pain. Walking, sitting, standing, or turning over, are temporarily huge mobility issues that I once took for granted. With Brooksyne's assistance we are endeavoring to send out this devotional message today. Thanks to the many who are uplifting me in prayer until this affliction passes.

Message Summary: Good works are an outflow of God's amazing grace, not a replacement! Accept God's generous grace today and proclaim with the Palmist, "But with You there is forgiveness" (Psalm 130:4).

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"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8).

The verb, "cling" is used in a number of different contexts. During this time of year when fresh fruit is readily available it's used to describe peaches which are "cling-stone" vs. those that are "free-stone". With free-stone the pulp doesn't stubbornly cling to the pit making the peach easier and quicker to eat (or cut up for a peach cobbler, should Brooksyne be so inclined). The cling-stone peach has a pit that clings stubbornly to the pulp.

Cling is normally not a desirable quality. Dryer sheets are used to keep clothes from clinging to one another. Even in human relationships the word "cling" has a rather negative connotation as we don't want someone clinging to us unless it is our needy infant or toddler which they tend to when they are not feeling well.

We see the word "cling" used in yet another context today from the brief four chapter book of Jonah. It is part of the prayer Jonah prayed inside the whale prior to his "deliverance" in chapter 2:10.  He makes a powerful theological point using the word concerning, "Those who cling to worthless idols."

What were the "worthless idols" Jonah was referring to in the daily text? Likely he meant the objects of worship that we normally associate with idolatry in the Bible. Bible commentator Albert Barne's considers worthless idols as, "All people's idols, idols of the flesh, idols of intellect, idols of ambition, idols of pride, idols of self and self-will. People 'observe' them, as gods, watch them, hang upon them, never lose sight of them, guard them as though they could keep them. But what are they? 'lying vanities,' breath and wind, which none can grasp or detain, vanishing like air into air."

However in light of the current political season here in America, regardless of party, candidate or
ideological position, many it seems place their hope in a person to make things right. I sure see, more so this year than I can ever recall in both parties, a tendency for many people to idolize their candidate. The first part of the verse is very descriptive, "Those who cling to worthless idols."

But today we consider the verse in its context. There are those who grew up in church and in religious homes and yet have an inferior understanding of grace. They may be extra hard on themselves and judgmental toward others. They may have difficulty accepting God's forgiveness or His assurance of their personal salvation that leads to peace and the abundant life.

Trying to attain righteousness with God through good works is a "worthless idol" that many cling to and thereby "forfeit the grace that could be theirs." The clear New Testament teaching on this matter states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). This leads to truly resting in the all sufficient grace of Jesus and having a lasting and peaceful assurance of our salvation!

The Bill Gaither Vocal Band sings a great song, "Child, You're Forgiven" which has a powerful expression in it: "I've traded performance for amazing grace.  What a relief, I can't earn my way." Do you identify with the expression, "What a relief, I can't earn my way?"

The late Jerry Bridges notes, "God's grace does not supplement our good works. Instead His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins." Erwin Lutzer observes, "When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God's generous grace."

Good works are an outflow of God's amazing grace, not a replacement! Accept God's generous grace today and proclaim with the Palmist, "But with You there is forgiveness" (Psalm 130:4).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, as we experience amazing grace through Your forgiveness of our sins it compels us to show compassion to others who have not yet applied Your grace to their lives. As Jude writes, we are to "Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." In reaching out to others who are still living in sin help us to be discerning, wise, and cautious, always loving the sinner but never embracing or justifying the sin. May our redeemed lives be living examples of the freedom we enjoy in this life after we forsake worthless idols in exchange for the grace that is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose Name we pray. Amen.

Musser and Dourte 7/3/16
During our years of living in New England people got excited about clam bakes, but here in Lancaster County people get excited about corn roasts. I, Brooksyne, took  Jesse and Wilma Dourte (front row) to a corn roast given in honor of Carole Musser's birthday who's standing next to her husband, Don, who happens to be Jesse' nephew. What a great evening with lots and lots of delicious corn. Jesse, who's a small man & 92 years of age, put away 3 ears of corn in a matter of minutes. I limited myself to two but could have enjoyed more. It was a lovely evening.

Flagstaff, Durango and Silverton

Today I will share the final set of photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix two weeks ago.

Flagstaff Weatherford Hotel 7/5/16
  Weatherford Hotel in

Flagstaff Monte Vista Hotel 7/5/16
Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff

Flagstaff train display 7/5/16
Train displays in Flagstaff.

Flagstaff train display 7/5/16

Mike with stage coach in Durango, CO 7/8/16
My brother Mike standing in front of a stage coach in Durango.

Flower wagon in Silverton, CO 7/8/16
A children's wagon flower display in Silverton, Colorado.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Child, You're Forgiven"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

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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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