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May 8, 2018

Conestoga River in Lancaster PA
Geese over a falls on the Conestoga River in Lancaster PA

"In It For The Long Haul"

Message summary: Whatever your circumstances, however serious your situation, regardless of how long you've waited; keep believing, obeying, and praying. We will reap a harvest; that's the assurance we receive directly from Scripture for the long haul!

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"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

An early expression I learned was being "in it for the long haul." It may have been from Brooksyne's father, who was a truck driver. "Long haul" means "
a long time; the long term; an extended period". Of vital importance for the Christian life is the sense of the long haul being a "prolonged and difficult effort or task".

Today we celebrate two anniversaries in life. Both give us an opportunity for reflection upon God's blessing over the long haul of life. Forty-two years ago
on May 8, 1976 we got married in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and thirty-nine years ago on May 8, 1979 I was ordained for Christian ministry in York, PA.

During our marriage and ministry we have both often found assurance in our two daily texts. As young Christians we memorized them and I have often quoted them in preaching or shared them with others. They are blessing me again as I quote them to myself in preparation for today's message!

But the reality is this: not everyone who has been introduced to Christ stays in it for the long haul and continues on the straight and narrow way. There are the drifters, the doubters, and the disobedient who veer off on treacherous paths that steer them away from the upward road.

In Sunday's message we heard our pastor refer to "Weapons Of Mass Distraction"; a peril of any age but so intensified in our own. These distractions can so easily get us off course if we are not careful and vigilant.

Over our life and ministry we can look back at the times of dismay, discouragement, and a few times even despair. We've been criticized, attacked, and a few times even vilified. We've faced forms of temptation common to all and those more common to a minister of the Gospel. But God's Word says my labor in the Lord is not in vain and at the proper time I will reap a harvest, if I don't give up!

One of the wonderful perspectives that comes from the long haul is the many ways in which I am now reaping the harvest of seeds sown years ago. A blessed marriage, so many long-term friends now living all over the world, young people I dedicated as babies and discipled through childhood and youth now serving God faithfully. I know there are still aspects of the harvest that are yet future, and quite realistically more "why" and "how long" times will come. But what a joy, as life progresses, to experience the reaping, although I certainly continue to sow as well.

Here's our message for readers today. The assurance in these two verses applies to many areas of life, certainly including marriage and ministry. They're for all of Christ's followers regardless of the type of service you're in. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain and you will reap a harvest, sometimes immediate, but more often it comes providentially in God's timing.

So let us encourage you to continue on. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord and continue to do good as you serve the one true God. Whatever your circumstances, however serious your situation, regardless of how long you've waited; keep believing, obeying, and praying. We will reap a harvest; that's the assurance we receive directly from Scripture for the long haul!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Faithful Father, many portions of Scripture speak of fruit as an outgrowth of sowing good seed in fertile soil. Help us to be faithful and fruitful over the long haul, especially during times of disappointment, spiritual dryness and delayed answers to prayer. Often times we forget that You generously bless us in ways more numerous than we can recall even in difficult times. We are in this spiritual race for the duration and will never give up until we've completed the race, for victory is just ahead! Amen.

Today we have two looking back photos

Our wedding photo
Forty-two years ago we became Mr. & Mrs. Stephen C. Weber. My brother, Pat, is the minister in front of the candelabra and Genelle, my sister, is the maid of honor on the left.

Phillip Bongiorno 1/2/14
Phillip Bongiorno was my District Superintendent when I was ordained in 1979. He is a wonderful preacher and almost always begins his sermons with a brief testimony concerning his salvation, which he would share with tears.  This photo was taken several years ago at a funeral.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"My Tribute"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir (This is one of the songs sung at our wedding)

"I Want To Be Faithful"  Video  Vineyard Music

"Found Faithful"  Video  Justin Rizzo

"Jesus I My Cross Have Taken"  Video  Indelible Grace

"Free From the Law"  Video  Shawn and Katie (This song was suggested by a reader based on yesterday's message. It has a great text affirming our message yesterday, "Once for All".

Free from the law—oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Once for all—oh, sinner, receive it;
Once for all—oh, doubter, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

There on the cross your burden upbearing,
Thorns on His brow your Savior is wearing;
Never again your sin need appall,
You have been pardoned once for all.

Now we are free—there’s no condemnation;
Jesus provides a perfect salvation:
“Come unto Me,” oh, hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.

Children of God—oh, glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

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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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