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Monday, August 28, 2017

Rafts on Lehigh River from train 8/26/17
Rafters on Lehigh River from Railroad Bridge.

"I Will Stand"

Message summary: Let us determine to stand firm by God’s strength!

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"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).

Last night we attended an outdoor Gospel concert in Lebanon, PA where we heard the southern gospel group, "Gold City". It was a beautiful evening as we sat with our friends, in the midst of several thousand others who heard music that edified.

The group's leader, Daniel Riley, shared how that in his small town in Alabama, they had, as long as he could remember, a nativity scene on display. One person was "offended" by it and an outside group called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" demanded its removal. Like so many small towns they complied rather than pay the legal fees to fight such an outrageous demand.

He also shared a story that I initially found unbelievable. The same evil, Satan-inspired group is demanding a town remove a sign often seen in smaller towns all across America. "The Churches Of ______ Welcome You". Now how in the world could that be offensive to anybody? When we drive by a sign or billboard with a message offensive to our faith we either disregard it or at times it prompts us to pray.

When I served a church in northern Pennsylvania I led a group of other pastors to have Community Churches Welcome signs made for our town. After the concert last night when I came home I checked out Daniel's story and, sadly, I found it to be true. *

Daniel's comments were used to introduce a newer song titled, "I Will Stand". (Ester took a nice video of the song which we feature below.) The powerful song begins with these words:

I see a nation on the brink
I see a people prone to think
That truth is like an ocean wave
Changing with the tide.
But for me there has to be
An absolute, a center line
And it's the Word of God eternal
The cornerstone of Christ

When standing for a just and righteous cause against a tide of evil we may wonder, "What's the use?" This is true at all levels so we hope today's message will be a special source of encouragement to those who are weary of Satan's battles and might be saying to themselves, "What's the use?".

"Put on the full armor of God." In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul urges Christ's followers to "put on the full armor of God." Putting on the full armor of God is a daily exercise for believers in every generation. It is never optional for the Christian who desires to be effective in their Christian witness and to live in victory over the enemy.

"So that when the day of evil comes." We all face the day of evil and people have done so in every generation. Yet our young people face degrees of evil that our generation was never exposed to. Of course our parents could say the same thing to us, but it seems that the outflow and depth of sin has greatly accelerated in our lifetime. I recently read an article about the extent of sexual perversion that is actually being taught and affirmed as "good" in schools and of course this evil is spreading.

"The day of evil" is something that believers of all ages, beginning with the original recipients of Ephesus, could identify with. However Paul may also have had in mind a specific day of evil that sure seems to describe our age with confusion abounding concerning fundamental elements to God's created order; life, marriage, and now gender anarchy. This confusion is unique to our age. Indeed there have always been perversions but now it is asserted that these perversions are good and opposing them is bad or even hateful. Oh, may God send a revival, a worldwide revival! It's our only hope for turning the evil tide that has swept through our land and around the world.

Here's another verse from the song:

So when the battle lines are drawn
And the winds of change are strong
And when the voices of this world
They keep on saying wrong is right
In the face of unbelief
Of those who mock and criticize
I will not back down or waver
No, I will be alive!

"You may be able to stand your ground." Godly parents, students and ministers who seek to take a stand against evil are reviled by the powers that be. But the Word of God calls us to  stand our ground. Good is called evil and evil is called good. I really wonder if we are entering the period known as the great apostasy (see 2 Thessalonians 2).

"And after you have done everything, to stand." For many years I have been intrigued by the final phrase in our daily text, "and having done everything, to stand." We must, by God's grace and the appropriation of His appointed armor, stand firm and unwavering in the midst of false teaching resulting in sinful behavior. We will most certainly encounter adversity and it will increase as more and more people reject God.

The Life Application Bible notes speak to this: "With false teaching and loose morals comes a particularly destructive disease - the loss of true love for God and others. Sin cools your love for God and others by turning your focus on yourself. You cannot truly love if you think only of yourself." Aren't we seeing more and more people who live only for their own desires and don't care about the temporal or life long pain they inflict on others!

Today we pray for each of you, however old you are or wherever you may live, to have a holy boldness in appropriately standing up for truth and for your faith. It's especially hard when you're dealing with those in your own family who come against you in your stand for righteous living. Yet there is depth of wisdom in this popular quote, "Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything." Indeed, let us all courageously stand up for Jesus and remember His sobering words, "He who stands firm to the end will be saved."

The chorus of the song has this powerful message that speaks of the believer's resolve to stand firm no matter what we encounter because Jesus is our Rock; He is our firm foundation.

I will stand upon the truth of Jesus
He's the reason I'm alive
So how can I not live to make Him known
I will give my all to make it count
With no shadow of a doubt
Who He is, Who I am
I will stand!

And I will not be shaken, He's the Rock of Ages.
My strength and my foundation.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I want to be vigilant in equipping myself today as I battle the spiritual forces of evil. Though I wage war in this present and evil generation I have a body guard in the presence of the Holy Spirit who gives me power over the enemy of my soul. Today, I stand against the devil's schemes because I take on the full armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  As I prayerfully cover my vulnerable self with godly armor I am fully equipped with the necessary provisions to overcome discouragement, disappointment and seeming defeat. Instead I am an enduring conqueror who stands triumphant by Your grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name I pray and by whose name I will stand!  Amen.

Gold City concert

Gold concert 8/27/17
Gold City singing "I Will Stand"

Gold concert 8/27/17
A portion of the crowd last night. For local friends can you find the following people who attended the concert with us: (L to R) John, Faithe, Fran, Ruthie, Ester and Brooksyne?

Lehigh Gorge

Saturday we again enjoyed what has become our favorite bike ride, the bike train that starts in Jim Thorpe and travels some 25 miles up the Lehigh Gorge. You then ride your bikes along an abandoned rail line back to Jim Thorpe.
Lehigh Gorge bike train 8/26/17
The train in Jim Thorpe before we loaded our bikes

Lehigh Gorge bike train 8/26/17
We sat toward the back of the train to get full train views around the many curves along the river. The two gondola cars at the front carried our bikes.

White Haven Savings Bank (now Boro Building) 8/26/17
The train unloads at the little Pocono town of White Haven where we enjoyed a meal at the White Haven Diner before our return bike ride to Jim Thorpe.

Buttermilk Falls 8/26/17
Buttermilk Falls is the most prominent of the many waterfalls we see along the bike path.

Lehigh Gorge bike ride 8/26/17
We were very tired toward the end but Brooksyne managed to smile and wave. With a short excursion on the trail above White Haven we ended up riding 30 miles.

Lehigh River near Jim Thorpe, PA 8/26/17
Another view of the Lehigh River before entering into Jim Thorpe

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Will Stand"  Video  Gold City  Ester recorded this at the concert last night. We were only several rows from the front and had a good view of the stage. She did a pretty good job holding the phone still for that long since she didn't have tripod. We share this in addition to the studio version below since it conveys the enthusiam in which the group sings. We also think Thomas Nalley, the tenor who leads out in this song, bears a striking resemblance to our long-time friend Mark Pulliam!

"I Will Stand"  Video  Gold City A studio version of the song with clearer sound quality.

"What Children Believe"  Video  Gold City This is another song that goes well with today's theme which is one of Brooksyne's favorite songs. It certainly takes us back to our childhood mindset and the values with which we were taught.

Buttermilk Falls waterfall and Lehigh River rafters A short video taken by Brooksyne last Saturday during our Lehigh Gorge bike ride.

* Group cites Constitution, demands removal of church signs in Oconomowoc

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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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