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Friday, December 2, 2016

Sheerlund Forest tree farm (photo by Mike Martin)
Sheerlund Forest Christmas tree farm near Reading, PA
(Photo by our friend Mike Martin)

"Strengthened, Faithful, Serving"

Message Summary:
As we look back over 45 years of serving Christ we find great blessing in reflecting upon these three graces as well. When Paul experienced salvation on the Damascus Road he was given strength for a long record of faithful service to God. And thanks be to God for His outpouring of grace upon us, this is our testimony as well! And that is God's promise for each reader. What a great joy to be appointed to His service!

Note: Due to an early morning chaplain visit and long day of chaplaincy service we were unable to prepare a podcast for this message.

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service" (1 Timothy 1:12).

In the course of our life's journey we've met a lot of interesting people. Although the focus of our daily encouragement messages is spiritual we are blessed by people who live life faithfully and steadily. This last Wednesday I conducted a funeral service for Lavere, a man who was nearing 60 years of marriage and had worked his entire career of 45 years for the same company, both increasingly rare milestones. Today we will attend a retirement luncheon for a Jerry, a man who is retiring at 70. We will sure miss visiting with him in his office as he warmly welcomed our weekly visits.

It's a joy to see people serving the Lord in a wide variety of ways. When we think of this service we may tend to consider those who have larger or famous ministries. Perhaps they pastor a large church, wrote best-selling books, have a television ministry and so forth. I could mention names here that many readers would immediately recognize.

Or we may consider those who have remarkable testimonies of deliverance from the ravages of sin and now live for the Risen Savior. I have met many from this walk of life and indeed we rejoice that God saves to the uttermost and will use all who submit to Him.

But the vast majority of Christ's servants fit into neither of these categories. Of course all believers are redeemed from sin but a great majority have testimonies of preserving grace that restrained them from entering into a life of sin. They turned to Christ at an early age, usually due to the influence of godly parents, grandparents, and others in their life such as Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and so forth.

Oren and Naomi HofstetterMost of you reading this don't know Oren and Naomi Hofstetter. They are an active ministry couple in our local church who serve the Lord in a variety of ways. Yesterday I am pretty sure I saw Oren passing me in his car and I just assumed he was probably out assisting someone in need. That's the kind of people they are.

Oren and Naomi both turned to the Lord at an early age. They have a servant's heart, much like Priscilla and Aquila, and demonstrate compassion in the way they care for hurting people.

As I observe the body of Christ whether in my present local church, churches that I have pastored, or churches that we visit we have been blessed by so many people like Oren and Naomi. Growing up I recall Joe and Pauline. In the early years of our pastoral ministry in northern Pennsylvania there were several families that greatly encouraged us as we planted a church in a community nearly 1000 miles from where we grew up. Sixteen years later in New England, an older couple, Bill and Veda, along with other good people were supportive and encouraging in our pastorate. And of course there are many, many others who come to mind as well.

What a blessing these folks are. I greatly appreciate pastors and other church leaders. I also appreciate the role the more famous members of Christ's body have. I am grateful for those who have dramatic testimonies of great deliverance from sin.

But the backbone of our churches and in our daily lives are people like Oren and Naomi. We want you to consider your own church and community. You have folks like this and perhaps you might even blush to realize you may be numbered among them by your fellow brothers and sisters! We sure hope so.

Over the Thanksgiving season we especially emphasize an attitude of thankfulness and today's Scripture expresses the highest form of thanksgiving; thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  In this text Paul specifies three graces he is thankful to Christ for:
1) He was given strength.
2) He was considered faithful.
3) He was appointed to service.

As we look back over 45 years of serving Christ we find great blessing in reflecting upon these three graces as well. When Paul experienced salvation on the Damascus Road he was given strength for a long record of faithful service to God. And thanks be to God for His outpouring of grace upon us, this is our testimony as well! And that is God's promise for each reader. What a great joy to be appointed to His service!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Your marvelous grace that was poured out in the sacrificial death of Your Son and is made available to all for salvation from sin. You want all men and women to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. We're grateful for those You raise up to be arms of compassion and instruments of blessing to others in the body of Christ and to those who walk in the ways of the world. Whether we were protected from the ravages of sin or we are experiencing Your restoring grace we thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given us strength; that He considered us faithful, appointing us to be His servants for the furtherance of the Gospel. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  Christ For The Nations

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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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