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Friday, January 5, 2018

Hay in snow 1/4/18
Hay bales sprinkled in snow on Centerville Road in eastern Lancaster County.

"Giving Honor To God"

Message summary: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Am I honoring the God who holds in His hand my life and all my ways?

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"Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from His temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways" (Daniel 5:23). "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17).

Times Square ballMany ushered in another year by hosting or attending a New Year's Eve party. Many "party" by standing out in the extreme cold at Times Square in New York City where they expected 1,000,000+ to watch the famous ball drop. Fireworks, festivities, and a lot of fizzle filled the night into the early morning hours.

I'm part of the 22 percent of Americans who fall asleep before midnight.
We are not much into parties, and certainly not the carousing type parties, but today let us pull back the curtains and look in on a wild, carousing party that was held over 2,500 years ago.

Belshazzar was the final king of the Babylonian Empire. His reign ended with a unique and mysterious bang, you might say. Daniel 5 begins with a drunken party where the proud king is desecrating the holy things of God by bringing out the gold and silver goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem. He and his thousand nobles, wives and concubines were drinking wine as they exalted "the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone." They must have thought themselves clever as they foolishly mocked the God of the Universe.  But there comes a time when it seems God says, "Enough is enough"; something our generation would do well to consider and will most certainly one day experience.

"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin"God sent a message to Belshazzar through the fingers of a human hand writing a short phrase on the wall. "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin".

Since he didn't initially understand the meaning of the words we can conclude it was the manner which the Lord communicated that greatly distressed and terrified the king. "His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way." I wish we had a video to see the king's nobles hurriedly come to his rescue as he fell to the ground after his knees gave way (not a pretty sight for a reigning king who usually sat high on his royal throne looking down upon his inferior subjects.)

The king couldn't interpret this mysterious phrase nor could his own "wise men".  But wise and faithful Daniel was still around and finally he was called in after the king's wife feared for he
husband's fear-stricken life. The party attendees had gleefully praised six different gods but found these gods to be powerless in helping the king solve the throbbing mystery. 

As is often the case, when all else fails we call off the games and begin to seek Truth.  The queen eventually sent for "Daniel, whom the king found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems" (5:12). Daniel said he would explain the meaning but he had a message for Belshazzar first. And what a bold message it is for decadent, God-dishonoring leadership of all ages! 

Daniel 5:23b He ends with the phrase in our daily text, "But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways." Belshazzar had not honored God and the interpretation of the writing indicated that his time was up.  That very night he was slain.

Let's consider Daniel's stern rebuke to Belshazzar and apply it to our own life by rephrasing it into a personal question: "Am I honoring the God who holds in His hand my life and all my ways?"

Now that's a thought provoking question and one that requires some soul searching. It's an essential truth and reminder of our purpose here on earth. It will require that we think less about ourselves and more about the God whom we seek to honor. I want to ask myself when confronted with daily choices, "Does this honor God?" Honoring God is my heart's desire and I trust that it is yours as well.

The second daily verse is a powerful expression of praise by the Apostle Paul, a benediction-like prayer found early in the epistle to Timothy as he concludes his testimony of God's grace in his life, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we live in an age similar to Daniel's where people mock and ridicule the one and only true God of the universe. So many worship music gods, technology gods, beauty gods, media gods, body building gods, intellectual gods, government gods and countless others. They render You powerless, but we who have exchanged a life enslaved to sin for a life that is forgiven and wholly saved know that they have not had a personal encounter with a holy God. Only You can turn beauty into ashes, our weapons into plowshares, our selfishness into selflessness. Only You can take a meaningless life and establish purpose in our hearts. Only You can replace the fear in our hearts with an eternal hope. Because of Your infinite love and care for us I want to honor You in all that I do, for I love You with all my heart.  Amen.

Today we are having a blast of cold arctic-like temperatures that has fallen upon our region. Farther east they are calling it a condition I had never heard of before, a "bomb cyclone", which sounds rather ominous. I guess we are not technically getting a "bomb cyclone" but it's very cold and windy and loud.

Late yesterday afternoon I managed to take our trash and recyclables out to the road (although the recycle bin blew over so I'll have some cleanup when it warms up some.) The blasting winds felt like 30 below zero! Early this morning it was in the single digits w/o factoring in the wind chill. What a blessing to have good, working heat sources, a heat pump and coal stove which are both cranking out the heat. I have the coal stove up as much as it will go, cranking out some 85,000 BTU's! However we also awoke to a frozen water pipe, which has altered our schedule for today! Usually we leave by 6:45 a.m. but I had to turn on space heaters attempting to thaw the pipe. Thankfully, after delaying our usual departure about three hours the line has finally thawed and it appears the pipe is working OK. If the line cracked we would have a flood when the line thaws! We experienced that about three winters ago when we had a mess and also a significant expense in repairing the damage. Thankfully at about 9:00AM the line thawed and evidence of leaks!

I often say, especially when encouraging people in the work force, "Life works because people work". This is not in any way a disparagement of God but in His design He has ordained that humans work. We especially consider today those who mine the coal and work in the natural gas operations, those who transport, those who make parts that go into the equipment such as we saw yesterday at a company that makes precision machined parts that go into nuclear reactors. We consider the power company employees and how brutally cold the conditions are in which they work to repair the power lines. Then we consider some folks we will see today at JK Mechanical who install and service heating equipment!

We also consider the people who pick up our trash and recyclables!

Now that our pipes are working we will be getting out to make some chaplain visits so we can commiserate with those in the workplace!

It was cold and snowy yesterday but we were out for chaplain visitation and saw some interesting scenes in the white landscapes of eastern Lancaster County.

Amish farm in snow 1/4/18
This big Amish farm is north of Intercourse PA on Centerville Road.

Horse and buggy in snow 1/4/18
The horse and buggy traffic was out! Just like vehicles the wheels of this carriage were having difficulty getting traction from the snow covered road.

Mennonite girls ice skating 1/4/18
On Gristmill Road north of New Holland  Mennonite girls were skating on a frozen pond.

Mennonite girls ice skating 1/4/18
Look like fun? If is, if you're young, have friends to play with, and a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting for you in the house when the cold becomes more intense than the fun.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"This Is My Desire To Honor You"  Video 

"Give Me Jesus"  Video 
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound This song includes recently-discovered lyrics (over 100 years old) written by the late Fanny J. Crosby. Ernie, along with friends Joel Lindsey & Wayne Haun, finished what Ms. Crosby started by adding original music to complete the song.

"On the Other Side"  Video  Dailey & Vincent Dedicated to a friend of ours of over thirty years who recently passed away to the other side.

New Year’s Eve in numbers: Fun facts about the Times Square ball drop (Site where I got the statistics used in the first part of today's message.)

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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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