The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017
"Not Without Hope"
Note: Stephen is slowly recovering from his cold but his voice remains very weak! We're grateful for your prayers.
Message summary: Let's all spread the good news of our caring, loving God to a broken, hurting world and tell them of this hope!
Listen to our message on your audio player. (Brooksyne only)
"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
The First Sunday of Advent has a theme of hope so this week we are considering the wonderful blessing of hope. Regardless of where we live we encounter people that need to hear a message of hope. We all need a message of hope! The body of Christ is strategically distributed to share this message of hope everywhere they go.
Brooksyne had an interesting visit in the course of our chaplaincy ministry. We visit worksites and briefly interact with the employees as we look for opportunities to express interest and care in their personal lives, hopefully leading to a witness for Christ.
We have learned that often an effective discussion starter is to inquire about one's family. Brooksyne met a visibly troubled woman in her early 30's who was newly hired in a plastics plant that she visited in Lancaster a few years back.
"I could see that the new employee was very troubled by her sad countenance. Knowing that she was hired as a temp I realized it might be my only opportunity to reach out to her since she would likely be gone next week. I felt the urgency in my spirit to find out where she stood with the Lord and what brought on such sadness.
I asked about her family life and she didn't answer right away except to tell me that she had no husband. After a long pause she lowered her head and told me softly, 'I did have four children.' I picked up on the word 'did' and wrongly concluded that she had lost custody of her children and was broken up about not being able to care for them. She kept her head low and said nothing for a little while. I eventually asked her if her children were in their father's care and she shook her head.
"No," she said in almost a whisper, "they're all dead." They had all died in a fire and she was carrying tremendous guilt since it was intentionally set by her feuding ex-boyfriend in a messy love triangle. In addition to the tremendous loss she felt from her children's deaths her family had completely disowned her so she now had no one.
In my mind I immediately recalled this high profile story from the newspapers and media months earlier. I also remember reading that she collapsed as the caskets bearing her children, ages 4 to 11, were loaded into the hearse. No wonder this woman was so terribly troubled and seemingly without hope. She'd lost her own children and she'd also lost the family of her youth. I was able to pray for her and give her a hug along with the assurance that Jesus still loved her. It was the only time I saw her as she was gone the next week and I was unable to make contact with her again."
We live in a world where so many face varying degrees of hopelessness. But today let us consider a context in Scripture that refers to universal hopelessness.
In our daily Scripture text the Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesian believers where they came from. As we read it two thousand years later it describes where we all came from apart from Christ. One commentator makes this observation: characterized spiritually by five "less attributes" - Christ-less, country-less, covenant-less, hope-less and god-less!
And due to our fallen human nature that's where we all came from. Interestingly the phrase "without God" translates the Greek word "atheo" which is the foundation for the English words "atheist" or "atheism" and this is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament.
But today let us just consider two words "without hope". That is a most pitiable state to be in. Earlier in chapter 2 Paul wrote, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Ephesians 2:1-3).
But a major theme in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is grace. The terrible prognosis of Ephesians 2:1-3 is followed by this glorious truth "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." (Ephesians 2:4). That's a verse I like to personalize.
Consider our inheritance as a believer in God in the spiritual realm as a result of God's grace. Our past is forgiven, our present is abundant life in Christ, and our future is heaven, forever with Him. What could be greater than those blessings in addition to the fact that it's available to everyone including those whose lives are wrecked! That is hope!
So this advent season let's all spread the good news of our caring, loving God to a broken, hurting world and tell them of this hope! There is no vessel too broken that God's healing touch can't restore. That which is impossible with man is possible with God!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, at times my cynicism limits my prayer of faith. I find myself expecting You to work in circumstances in the natural human way I work things out. But then You remind me that You are Omnipotent so You work in supernatural ways to restore broken lives, mend broken hearts, and turn hopelessness into hope eternal. You do extraordinary things in those who've plunged into hopelessness due to the desperate messes of their own making. I place my loved one in Your hands again and ask You to reveal Your immeasurable, not for sale grace to his or her life, to restore hope and instill faith to believe just as You have shown me the way to forgiveness and freedom through faith. Through Christ we can learn to be "joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12). Amen.
Special Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Like many ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.
Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.
If you would consider making a donation to our ministry see here for more information.
To donate directly online here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376
Please Note: We also provide this familiar option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax deductible receipt. Click here to send an offering using PayPal. This will open to a page that states "Brooksyne Weber"
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Sow Mercy" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"Hope For The Hopeless" Video Jeff & Sheri Easter
"Hope For The Hopeless" Video Sheila Walsh (A song suggested by a reader)
"Worth" Video Jason Crabb
Story of baby Hope referred to in yesterday's message. I suggest you watch the embedded video. I am also gripped by the extremely sad state of the drug addicted mother who at least in the video states she has given up. “I did give up, I just decided that this was going to be my life.” We hope that she finds deliverance and hope in Christ and freedom from her chains. We have worked with these kinds of addiction in the course of our chaplaincy, and though many remain drug dependent, there are others who finally find freedom from addiction.
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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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