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Friday, July 29, 2016

Amish horse auction (photo by Lee Smucker)
Our friend Lee Smucker sent us this interesting photo he took at an Amish horse auction here in Lancaster County. These auctions are not only practical but major social events in the Amish culture. Some buy horses as a sign of prestige much like the automobile in the non-Amish culture.

"Steadfast Obedience"

Personal note: Today I continue to feel a bit better regarding my painful back I've had the last couple of weeks. I am less hunched over when I walk and hopefully the tightness will soon depart and a can walk fully upright. Beginning Sunday evening we have a family reunion in Wisconsin and will be travelling out that way.

Message Summary: Today we call each reader to a steadfast and enduring walk with the Lord wholly committed to obeying His decrees.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying Your decrees!" (Psalm 119:5).

The Babylon Bee"The Babylon Bee", is a satire blog* that has some thought-provoking posts humorously illustrating conditions in the modern world and church. Satire is a writing style that some won't get or appreciate but I find it not only humorous but often quite insightful. For instance a recent post headline read,  "Megachurch Apologizes After Statement Of Faith Found On Its Website".

I read an interesting title
on the blog the other day that speaks to the rapidly eroding moral landscape. "Progressive Suddenly Realizes Some Of Her Current Beliefs Might Render Her An Intolerant Bigot Ten Years From Now". Think of common and historically held moral beliefs just ten years ago (let alone fifty years ago) that have now been determined by many to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful. It's all the more reason we must be steadfast in obeying God's decrees. We must be discerning and call out examples where that which was once thought evil is now called good and that which was good is now called evil (see Isaiah 5:20).

Steadfast Steadfastness is such a greatly needed character trait among those who follow Christ today! We increasingly appreciate steadfastness in the lives of people that we minister to and, in turn, those who minister to me. We appreciate the calls and emails I have received due to my back problem. That is such a source of encouragement and strength! Many are also examples of steadfastness in overcoming and dealing with adversity such as David, Chuck, Jim and many others. Larry, a longtime friend, called and had prayer with me. He and his wife Tina demonstrate steadfastness in their home, church and community.

Psalm 119:5 In the daily text the Psalmist makes a petition that we also need to make: "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!." Other versions read, "Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!" "I pray that my ways may become firmly established so that I can obey your laws."  "Oh, that my ways may be established to observe and keep Your statutes [obediently accepting and honoring them]!"

Let's examine this short verse phrase by phrase:

"Oh, that my ways were steadfast."  In making this more personal I state in a present tense petition to God, "Oh, that my ways are steadfast." There is no vacillation with our God. He is eternally steadfast and He calls His followers to a steadfast walk. Steadfast is defined as being "resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering." Notice the very personal petition, "my ways". We think of the old song, "Standin' in the Need of Prayer" that pleads, "Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer." The words of this old spiritual may be seen as a selfish petition since the author is appealing to God on his own behalf rather than his brother or sister, "It's me, O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer". We all do well to plea for God's help to remain steadfast, courageous and obedient as our world continues to turn a deaf ear to timeless truths and principles established since the beginning of time.

"In obeying your decrees!" Although the author of Psalm 119 is unnamed many believe it was David. If so he certainly knew the evil that can be lodged in one's heart and the ongoing struggle of remaining faithful and steadfast to God, wholly committed to His Word. After all, the Scripture is clear and very frank regarding a time when he failed to remain steadfast in obeying God's decrees (see 2 Samuel 11). Men and women of God in any age need to petition for steadfastness. But in our own age when wrong is called right and right is called wrong and the understanding of what is right and wrong is constantly shifting, steadfastness in obeying God's decrees is especially important.

The writers of some of the great hymns of the Church acknowledge this struggle to remain steadfast in the words of their hymns. We appreciate their honesty. Can you identify the hymns these words are found in? 
  • "O how the world to evil allures me, O how my heart is tempted to sin!"
  • "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love."
  • "The arm of flesh will fail you; you dare not trust your own."
  • "Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul; take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole."
  • "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."
Today we call each reader to a steadfast and enduring walk with the Lord, wholly committed to obeying His decrees.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we desire that all our ways would be steadfast in obeying Your decrees. In a day's time there are many things to be done, people to see, goals to meet, places to go, and on and on the list goes. It's easy to lose sight of our stated goal of obeying You in all matters since we're daily exposed to ungodly philosophies, lifestyles, and trends that stand in direct opposition to teachings from Scripture. Yet Your Word tells us to remain steadfast in our Christian witness, prayerful in all matters, faithful in our example to others, and obedient to the teachings of Scripture. With the help of the Holy Spirit we will be obedient to Your decrees even as we pray for others to see the Light that shines out of this darkened world. Amen.

MichaelOur ministry as workplace chaplains takes us through various workplaces where we meet a lot of people. Between us we might see some four to five hundred people each week, a representative slice of working Americans. We see all ages from high school to way past retirement age, many races and many ethnic backgrounds, various religions including professed atheists. We see all types of work from service to manufacturing, those working on machines and those at desks. We are there to express interest and care and if the door opens a witness for the Lord. In the photo I stand with Michael, who is originally from Haiti.

It is a special blessing to receive encouragement from other Christians that we meet in the course of our work. One day I (Stephen) visited a manufacturing facility that hires Teen Challenge students. Teen Challenge is a ministry started by David Wilkerson that evangelizes and disciples those from all ages caught in life's addictions of many kinds, but particularly drugs and alcohol.

A large man once greeted me with a big smile with one of those, "It's sure great to meet you" handshakes. I asked if he was with Teen Challenge, since I had greeted several of the students while visiting the factory that day. He told me that although he wasn't presently in the program he had graduated 20 years earlier and he made a point to inform me that he was remaining true to the Lord. Along with his family he is active in his church. I was so blessed by his example of steadfastness after overcoming adversity.

Today we will share several photos taken by Ester

Amish contraption (photo by Ester)
Yesterday our Amish neighbor was using some type of steam contraption in his field.

Inside a covered bridge (photo by Ester)
The view from inside a covered bridge

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Standing In The Need Of Prayer"  Video  Some type of Gaither women's gathering.

"Ancient Words"  Video  Michael W. Smith

"My Eyes Are Dry"  Video  Keith Green

* The Babylon Bee is a satire blog that really nails it on many points. The writer tends to come up with a wide variety of material potentially offending about anyone at some point!  Satire is defined as "the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues." In this case the writer also uses satire to address conditions in the modern church.

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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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