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Monday, August 15, 2016

Hummingbird (photo by Robyn Waugh) (Click to enlarge)
Robyn Waugh shared this photo with us of a hummingbird feeding. Now those of us who feed hummingbirds know that ants also enjoy the syrupy sweetness. In this photo the tiny hummingbird has an ant on her beak! You can also see the tip of the hummingbird's tongue. (Click on photo to enlarge)

"Getting A Good Night's Sleep"

Message Summary:
Today God is in control in your life and in mine. Real peace and assurance is a result of a deep, abiding knowledge of His control. Are you going through a storm or are you enduring a "trial"?  Are you experiencing sleepless nights due to worries? Remember God is in control.

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"It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance " (Acts 12:1-6).

Sometimes through the shadows it's hard for us to see
But be bold and courageous and follow where He leads
Greater is the One who's in us than he that's in the world
So, child of God, remember the battle is the Lord's

Sleeping baby
We serve at two companies where several men come to work in the early morning hours. Their eyes are bloodshot and their eye lids a little puffy because their newborn woke them through the night more than once. We tease them, "That's why God gives newborns to young parents. It would be way too hard on us older folks." Of course when babies sleep it appears to be the epitome of restfulness as we often hear the phrase considering a good night's sleep, "I slept just like a baby."

But in fact we periodically have a hard time getting a good night's sleep, ourselves, for very different reasons. We're told it comes with the aging process. Based upon all the advertisements for mattresses, sleeping aids and other sleep related items we are not alone.
According to a report on "CBS This Morning" people are increasingly digging into their pockets for help sleeping. In the past year (2015), Americans have spent an estimated $41 billion on sleeping aids and remedies - a number that is expected to jump to $52 billion by 2020.

A deluge of research has been done on this subject. Studies are conducted daily in hospital clinics for the sleep-deprived in our society. Many reading our message today will identify.

In considering reasons for one long, sleepless night, Peter certainly had one. His fellow disciple and friend James had just been beheaded and the next morning he was to stand trial before Herod Agrippa, the persecutor of the Christian church. Now at this time humanly speaking, Herod's likely action was pretty evident.  His poll ratings among the Jewish majority had shot up dramatically at James' death.  You might say he was in the mood to persecute. 

Surely Peter would be mentally preparing for his defense through the long night. That's something that will keep you from sleeping.  In addition to awaiting the trial he was bound to two soldiers with two chains. Additional soldiers were guarding the entrance in his maximum security prison cell. We really don't suppose Peter was given a nice soft bed with clean sheets and a pillow; a given for most of us who expect a good night's sleep.  And Tylenol PM was "light years" from making its debut among the sleepless population at this time! 

Yet Peter was sleeping.
"The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance."

Sleeping Jesus
Perhaps our Lord's convicting words many years earlier on the lake had really sunk in. At that time Jesus, along with the disciples, was crossing the Sea of Galilee when a great storm arose. The terrified disciples awoke Jesus, who Himself had been sleeping on a cushion, with this question, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" After rebuking the storm Jesus asked this probing question, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?"  (Mark 4:40). 

Peter had learned from this experience and from other miraculous interventions he witnessed that God is in control. Isn't that true for all who have placed their trust in Christ? The longer we live the more we see God intervene for His children. The church prayed earnestly for Peter's release. The same prison entrance that bound Peter with chains became a miraculous exit to his freedom in the middle of the night.

A very important Biblical issue we must face head on is this: In ways we simply do not understand, God was no less in control at the beheading of James than in Peter's miraculous deliverance recorded in Acts 12. It's also true today when one is miraculously delivered or healed and their life is extended a short season, while another, equally precious in God's sight, is not spared.

"What do we have that won't ever wear out, break, die, go out of style, or need repair? Only our Lord. We can rejoice and give thanks, because our life and our future are tied to the Eternal Father, the creator of the heavens and maker of our world. Not only is God good; He is good to us. But more than just being good, He is loving too, and His love will never wear out, grow old, fade away, or need repair." John Burns

Today God is in control in your life and in mine. Real peace and assurance is a result of a deep, abiding knowledge of His control. Are you going through a storm or are you enduring a "trial"?  Are you experiencing sleepless nights due to worries, busy schedules, or physical infirmities? Remember God is in control.

If there's anybody here who's found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He's able
Say, Amen
Anybody here found joy in the midst of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And you've seen it time and time again
Just say. Amen

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, just as You sent an angel to rescue Peter from Herod's wrath You rescue us from the dangers, toils, and snares that overwhelm us.  In the darkness of Peter's cell the sudden appearance of an angel radiated light from heaven showing him the way to freedom. Help us to look to the light of Your Holy Word that releases us from the hopelessness of our circumstance. Thank You for the messengers of light You commission who encourage us or release us from our fears, whether they be angels from heaven or your servants on earth.  Amen.

Monarch Butterfly (photo by Robyn Waugh)
Another photo from Robyn, this time of a beautiful monarch butterfly enjoying sugar water.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Say Amen"  Video  Brian Free & Assurance

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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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