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Monday, May 8, 2017

Sunset 5/7/17 (Photo by Ester)
Yesterday's Sunset
Photo by Ester

"Aquila and Priscilla"

Message summary: Most of you can probably think of ministry couples like Aquila and Priscilla who have impacted your life for Christ. Brooksyne and I thank God for the ministry couples who have enriched both our marriage and ministry. Some people come to mind as a couple rather than individual, and when we speak of them we tend to refer to them both rather than as individuals.

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"After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them" (Acts 18:1-3).

Today is a special day in our home as we celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. We had both committed our lives to Jesus in our teens and have sought to serve the Lord together in ministry since meeting in Bible College. In fact, apart from some of our childhood friends, there are few who know us apart from being a couple. During our years of pastoring local churches we worked together and since 2001 have worked as chaplains together. These messages are a joint effort and Brooksyne would likely say the writing wouldn't be as colorful without her editorial input! And I would be the first to agree.

So today let us consider the most famous ministry couple in the New Testament. Actually they are the only couple in the NT associated with ministry together.

Today's text introduces them. In this portion of Acts the narrative focuses on Paul but there are many whom he encounters. Paul had left Athens after his stirring sermon on Mar's Hill and went to Corinth. Athens was the intellectual center of Greece while Corinth was a very rough commercialized city.

Aquila and Priscilla
He met Aquila and Priscilla. They had relocated to Corinth after Claudius had ordered the Jews to leave Rome. Surely being forcefully relocated was not a pleasant experience. In life we will face circumstances beyond our control but need to ultimately see them as God's providential dealings.

"Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them." This is the only time we are told Paul was a tentmaker. However, Paul's native province of Cilicia was noted for its goats' hair cloth which was exported under the name of cilicium and was used largely for tentmaking.

We wonder if this was a letdown for Paul after addressing the intellectual elites in Athens. When I was in Bible College I had a job delivering propane to a tannery where they treated animal hides to make leather. This didn't have the pleasant odor we usually associate with leather but a horrific stench! I wonder if Paul grumbled as he worked? I don't think so!

If it was a let-down for Paul there is no indication of such. He saw ministry opportunities not just in preaching to a large gathering but in working with individuals while making tents.

The text does not specify whether Aquila and Priscilla were Christians when they met Paul. But Paul "worked with them". Whether he led them to faith in Christ or merely discipled them is not clear but later in the chapter they accompanied Paul when he departed Corinth to travel to Syria. At that point they stayed in Ephesus where they met  a young firebrand named Apollos whom "they invited to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately" (Acts 18:26). The discipling they had received from Paul while making tents was now passed on to Apollos.

This couple is mentioned three more times in the Epistles including Paul's final letter (2 Timothy). In Romans 16:3 Paul spoke of Priscilla and Aquila warmly as he referred to them as his "coworkers".

Most of you can probably think of ministry couples like Aquila and Priscilla who have impacted your life for Christ. Brooksyne and I thank God for the ministry couples who have enriched both our marriage and ministry. Some people come to mind as a couple rather than individual, and when we speak of them we tend to refer to them both rather than as individuals.

Take a moment to thank God and pray for these couples today. As you have opportunity let them know of the blessing they have been to you! Sometimes the very people who inspire us along the way lose their spiritual focus or become wearied by life's struggles and need a fresh touch from the Lord. Is Christ asking you to be His messenger of encouragement today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, what a joy it is to walk along life's pathway with a loving companion who is present during times of celebration and times of disappointment. It seems that You make him strong when I am weak, and when he is weak You make me strong. You blend our strengths and weaknesses to make us an effective spiritual team and a genuinely committed family. Thank you for your countless blessings that far outnumber the difficulties and heartaches of our lives. I pray that you would encourage our readers who are presently going through marital strife. Remind them that they will experience future blessing as they endure and work through their present difficulties. When we cut short the permanency intended in a marital relationship we miss so much of the blessing that comes years later after many of the earlier struggles are but a memory. Thank you for the spouse of my youth who remains my constant companion as we grow old together. What a marvelous blessing for which we are thankful! Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Years ago I was commending a couple for their valuable service in our church; "You are such a precious couple. You remind me of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament." I took my seat and about 30 minutes later during the service my mind drifted back to what I had said to the couple. "ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA!" What was I thinking!! Of course I meant Priscilla and Aquila, the devoted co-workers of Paul; not Ananias and Sapphira, the couple who lied to the Holy Spirit and fell down and breathed their last. Since there are very few couples mentioned in the Bible I occasionally get confused with these two couples. Of course I apologized immediately following the service, wishing for the sermon to be short on this day, when my mind was consumed with my ridiculous mistake. The wife kindly received my apology and admitted afterwards, "You needn't have apologized since I didn't know the difference."

There are far too many ministry couples to mention but these are just a few of the names that come to mind that we have met through our course of life:

Brother and Sister Howard: They were my first pastoral couple following my conversion to Christ. They seemed so old at that time, but that only brought out greater respect from me, just a young'un at the time. Now I realize I am older than they were when I first knew them and I'm not old at all!

Bill and Veda Shibilo: An outstanding older couple from our church in New England. Bill is now with the Lord.

Oren and Naomi Hostetter: A quiet, faithful couple in their local church going wherever and doing whatever is needed, representative of millions of dedicated couples serving the Lord while also serving others.

David and Sabra Penley: We met the Penleys through Daily Encouragement about 10 years ago. David served as a seminary professor for many years but has had some health problems in recent years. His ministry focus has changed to blogging with an outstanding series on marriage called "Simply One In Marriage". David is the writer but Sabra does the technical and graphic design portion.

Richard and Elnora Dresselhaus: I met them just last fall during a visit to California. He writes a daily message titled "One for the Road" which is consistently thought-provoking. Richard writes but Elnora handles the tech stuff, pretty amazing for a couple in their 80's!  Brief but packs a punch
How about this thought from today's message:

Hiding places.  They are many – because a troubled conscience is incredibly creative.

People hide in places of denial – refusing to face the realities of life.  They hide in addictive lifestyles – hoping to drown their pain.  They hide in all kinds of intellectual pursuits – hoping to find answers.

Adam and Eve tried.  After they sinned…they hid.  But God knew: “Where art thou?”

From then until now…the search for hiding places has been relentless.

But the gospel calls…inviting all to come out of hiding and enter into the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Then…the blessed promise: “You are hidden with Christ in God.”

That’s the right place to hide.

Mike Diehl with granddaughters 5/7/17
Yesterday we witnessed the baptism of Mike's son-in-law who also gave his testimony prior to his baptism
. Mike, our friend from chaplaincy visitation, is holding his two granddaughters who vie for their granddaddy's attention. The only way to solve that problem is to hold one in each arm which makes for a great photo of the proud grandpa! Or is it the little cousins that makes this photo so cute!

Brad Hoopes 5/7/17
We also spotted friendly Brad Hoopes whom we see in yet another company on a weekly basis.

Here are several photos taken by Ester at Donegal Springs

Donegal Springs 5/4/17 (Photo by Ester Weber)

Tulips at Donegal Springs 5/4/17 (Photo by Ester Weber)

Allium at Donegal Springs 5/4/17 (Photo by Ester Weber)

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

For any who may be interested here is a post we shared several years ago on our anniversary that includes some photos of our wedding.

"Because He Lives"  Video  Matt Maher  Last night we attended a concert at a local Lancaster County church and heard this song we both enjoy.

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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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