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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sunset over Lancaster County 1/1/18
Sunset from our front porch on January 1, 2018.
We've had bitterly cold temps with the low of -5° yesterday AM!

"Firm And Secure"

Message summary: In 2018 let us rest in our hope in Christ "as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure".

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"And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years" (Genesis 1:14). "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).

2018 fireworks
There are many customs all over the world to mark the important turn of the calendar page from one year to the next. However it seems most of them involve fireworks. Throughout the evening on New Year's Eve we watched as they showed the massive celebrations in various cities all around the globe. It especially surprised me that even in the brutal dictatorship of North Korea they celebrated in the capital city of Pyongyang.

There's a time for celebration (see Luke 15:22-24) and New Year's Eve we joined many in celebration thanking God for His hand in our lives. But the transition of one year to the next is also a good time for reflection upon the faithfulness of God to us personally and in the cosmic realm as we embark upon another year of seeking to fulfill God's purpose for our lives.

We desire that this first message of 2018 brings rich assurance that can be applied immediately and also placed in reserve for the inevitable challenges ahead. We also want to encourage our readers by examining an aspect of God's incredible steadfastness and faithfulness so fitting to ponder today.

From the very beginning of creation God ordained the year as a time unit. Along with days and seasons these are the three time units ordained at creation. All three are related to the creative work of God on the fourth day. Interestingly the first reference to the month as a unit of time happened at the time of the flood (Genesis 7:11).

The annual unit represents the precise time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun a single time. This, along with its rotation marking days and its movement on its axis, which marks seasons has been absolutely fixed since the fourth day of Creation. What an incredible statement to express God's faithfulness! Indeed the hymn writer summed it up,

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

As the new year of 2018 begins each of us deal with vacillating circumstances. This should remind us of our fundamental need to place our trust in God who is the "Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

He who has fixed the "sun, moon and stars in their courses above" loves and cares deeply for us today. All may change, but Jesus never, glory to His Name! Rest in this promise: "But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him" (Psalm 103:17). In 2018 let us rest in this assurance of an unchangeable God and have "
hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure".

You have overcome
You have overcome
Jesus, You have overcome the world

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Yesterday, today, and forever You are the faithful, changeless One, Father. Your works in the past are testimony to Your majesty, power, and provision for our lives today. Your presence today steadies our walk as You lead us in the paths of righteousness while we forge ahead in 2018. Your future blessings are waiting to be unfolded in our lives as we faithfully yield to You our heart, our soul, and our mind. We look to You for everything we need for life and godliness in this present age as we await Your soon return. Come, Lord Jesus, come!  Amen.

In keeping with the two messages we ended with in 2017 let us consider three more truths concerning the hope we have in Christ:

1) Our hope in Christ is a fixed hope. "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2,3).

2) Our hope in Christ is an overflowing hope. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

3) Our hope in Christ is a living hope. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

2018 New Year's meal with Ncubes 1/1/18
Our neighbors Notsen, Tho, Nathan and Neville Ncube joined us for our New Year's meal yesterday. A good southern meal of cornbread and beans, rather than the usual pork and sauerkraut most common here due to the German influence. If Brooksyne had just prepared cornbread the boys would be happy as it is a favorite food item when they eat with us!

New Year's moon 12/31/17 (Photo by Ester)
Ester took a photo of the moon New Year's Eve and made it the "0" in 2018.
We thought it pretty clever.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Victor's Crown"  Video  This is one of our favorite songs that the choir sings at Calvary Church, a choir Brooksyne joined this past September.

"Be Enthroned"  Video 
Shane & Shane Another worship song we've come to appreciate in recent months.

Finally today:

Jack Brown, a reader from Michigan, sent us an interesting study he had done on God's promises that we feel will bless our readers as they face 2018.

God's Promises For The New Year
  • He will be with us. (Genesis 3:12)
  • He will never leave us nor ever forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • He will equip us with everything good for doing His will and work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:21)
  • He will provide fresh mercy and grace every day for each day's need. (Lamentations 3:22)
  • He will accept our worship as we treat those in need with benevolence and live lives dedicated to integrity and purity. (James 1:27)
  • He will be reliable and trustworthy. (James 1:17)
  • He will give us wisdom generously when we ask Him for it consistently. (James 1:5-6)
  • He will grant us grace and lift us up when we choose to live humbly. (James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:6)
  • He will give us new beginnings in Christ. (1 Peter 1:3)
  • He will restore, strengthen and steady us. (1 Peter 5:10)
  • He will care for us if we will give our cares to Him.. (1 Peter 1:7)
  • He will forgive all our sins if we will acknowledge them, turn from them and dedicate ourselves to stay away from them. (1 John 1:9)
  • He will produce the character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in us by His Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • He will love us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • He will bless us, forgive all our sins, heal all our diseases, redeem our lives from destruction, crown our lives with love and compassion and satisfy the needs of our lives. (Psalm 103:2-3)
  • He will give us courage, strength and grace to redemptively deal with all we face. (Philippians 4:13; Psalm 31:2)
  • He will grant us success as we take in and live out His Word. (Joshua 1:8)
  • He will be our light, protection and salvation. (Psalm 27:1-2)
  • He will hear and respond to our prayers. (Psalm 17:6)
  • He will transform us by continually renewing our minds so we can think and live in His ways. (Romans 12:1 and following)
  • He will bring further along to completion what He has begun in us. (Philippians 1:6)
  • He will keep working into us His will and purpose so that we will do and want to do His will and purposes. (Philippians 2:13)
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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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