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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Shenk's Mill covered bridge in snow 2/18/18 (Click to enlarge)
Shenk's Mill covered bridge in snow
(Click to enlarge)

"Seeking The Lost"

Message summary:
Today's verse is from the first in a series of parables dealing with lostness; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. In each case Christ teaches the effort made to seek and save the lost with a clear message about the value of the lost soul and the immeasurable love of the Savior.

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"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4).

Mollie sleeping with stuffed animals 2/18/18 (Photo by Ester)
We often refer to our two dogs, Roxie and Mollie, in this series and like many appreciate the joy that pets bring to our lives. (We also have a cat who is nearly seventeen years old.) But they can get in trouble at times requiring some human intervention. They learned early on to be wary of electric fences. Twice our older dog Roxie got caught in a fox trap, a rather terrifying experience. They've also had skunk encounters, not only consequential to them but us as well. The most frightening experience Mollie encountered is when a neighbor dog clenched her teeth on Mollie's neck and held her bound for probably ten minutes. That was a challenge that took three of us adults working to get the neighbor dog to finally let go. Amazingly, there were no physical consequences to Mollie, but she was quite shaken as were we!

Ester took the photo to the right last night after Mollie fell asleep following a busy day of chasing squirrels and catching frisbees. She snuggles with her furry animal friends as she falls asleep in her bed.

We heard a heartbreaking story on the news yesterday about a 67 year old California man who fell to his death off a 500' cliff while trying to rescue his dog. They were walking together when the dog got away from him and fell part way down a cliff. The dog was stuck on the lower cliff so the pet owner tried to rescue him but slipped and fell to his death, right in view of his beloved pet. Sadly, it was the dog who looked on as his master's body was recovered from his fatal fall. The rescue team successfully pulled the dog to safety.

Although any attempt at drawing an analogy from a contemporary event with a Bible story may fall short the man's action in seeking to save his dog brings to mind a great parable that Jesus told in Luke 15:3-7 concerning the lost sheep. The loving shepherd is willing to "leave the 99 in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it." It's the first in a series of parables dealing with lostness; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. In each case Christ teaches the effort made to seek and save the lost with a clear message about the value of the lost soul and the immeasurable love of the Savior.

Considering the number 99 mentioned in the story of the loving shepherd, we also consider the 99 year old evangelist shepherd, Billy Graham, who died this morning.  A giant in the faith, who preached the simple message of salvation to live audiences of 215 million people in 185 countries, now resides with the saints in heaven.

During the breaking news a close preacher friend was asked, “What do you think Billy Graham would say to us today if he could?” Without pausing the preacher answered, “I know exactly what he’d say. Before each crusade when he was asked to test his microphone. Instead of saying, ‘testing 1,2,3’ Billy would always quote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

He never strayed from that message nor should we, for it is the central theme of the Gospel.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the mission of the Gospel was explained by Jesus Himself, in answer to Nicodemus, who wanted to know what it means to be born again. Jesus made it clear that He did not come to earth to condemn Your creation but rather to convert sinners. We, as followers of Christ, declare this same message to a fallen world as well, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus extended the greatest invitation that we'll ever receive providing the greatest deliverance we will ever need resulting in the greatest possession we'll ever claim; eternal life in heaven. To think that You could love a sinner such as I, how wonderful is redemptive love like this! I gladly receive it and share this wondrous love with others. Amen.

Shenk's Mill covered bridge in snow 2/18/18 (Click to enlarge)
Another view of Shenk's Mill covered bridge after the snow on Sunday morning.
All the snow is now melted and we are projected to have temperatures today in the mid-seventies!
(Click to enlarge)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

News story about California man who died trying to save his dog

"Just As I Am"  Video  George Beverly Shea As most of our readers know George Bev Shea, who lived to be 103, was the songleader and soloist for the Billy Graham crusades. At the end of each crusade he would lead out in the invitation song, "Just As I Am".

"Just As I Am (I Come Broken to Be Mended...)"  Video  Travis Cottrell (An abridged and slightly different arrangement.)

Stephen's note: I first went to a Billy Graham Crusade as a child in the mid-sixties in Kansas City, Missouri. Later, while in college I went to one in Saint Louis in the seventies and finally in the nineties in Philadelphia. Of course I appreciated his persuasive preaching but was impressed at how well everything was organized. I first heard the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at the Philadelphia crusade. He certainly ran and finished the race well! He was an asset to the planet and the Kingdom of God. (future message)

"The Ninety and Nine"  Video  Guy Penrod and The Nelons   This is a hymn tune by Ira Sankey, written in 1868, as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. He sung it before a live audience even as he was writing it, during a D.L. Moody crusade in Glasgow, Scotland. Cliff Barrows served on the evangelistic team for the Graham crusades much like Ira Sankey served on the evangelistic team for the late D.L. Moody crusades. (See below for Sankey's telling of this remarkable experience and the origin of the words.)

Hymn background: The Ninety and Nine (by Robert Morgan "Then Sings my Soul" Vol. I) based on Luke 15:4.

In 1874, Moody and Sankey had just finished a series of meetings in Glasgow. At the station en route to Edinburgh, Sankey picked up a penny newspaper, hoping for news from America. Aboard the train, he perused the paper, finding in it a poem by a woman named Elizabeth C. Clephane.

Sankey wrote:

I called Mr. Moody's attention to it, and he asked me to read it to him. This I proceeded to do with all the vim and energy at my command. After I finished I looked at Moody to see what the effect had been, only to discover he had not heard a word, so absorbed was he in a letter he had received. I cut out the poem and placed it in my musical scrapbook.

At the meeting on the second day, the subject was the Good Shepherd. At the conclusion Moody turned to me with the question: 'Have you a solo appropriate for this subject with which to close?' I was troubled to know what to do. At this moment I seemed to hear a voice saying: 'Sing the hymn [poem] you found on the train!' But I thought this impossible as no music had been written for it. Placing the newspaper slip on the organ, I lifted my heart in prayer, struck the key of A flat, and began to sing.

Note by note the tune was given, which has not been changed from that day to this. Mr. Moody was greatly moved. He came to where I was seated and said 'Sankey, where did you get this hymn? I've never heard the like of it in my life.' Moved to tears, I replied, 'Mr. Moody, that's the hymn [poem] I read to you yesterday on the train, which you did not hear.'

Brooksyne's Note: As a pianist I could not imagine, apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit, that I could sit before a live audience, play a key to start out in, and not be overcome by nervousness that I would get the notes too high or too low, or that I could even remember what I sang for verse one and repeat it for the following verses. This is a moving story for all musicians (and non-musicians for that matter).

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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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