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June 6, 2018

Climbing rose on arbor at Hershey Gardens 5/29/18
Climbing rose arbor at Hershey Gardens

"Unwavering Commitment"

Note: This week we have developed a four part series based upon four characteristics demonstrated by Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Our first message was "Uncompromising Convictions"

Note 2: We did not post a message yesterday (Tuesday, 6/5). See
note below.

Message summary: There are several things in life that should never be a "phase", the most important being our life-long, unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up" (Daniel 3:12).

We often use the term "going through a phase" in life. We may have different interests in these various phases. In our twenties and thirties Brooksyne and I both really enjoyed playing tennis. Not so much anymore, actually not at all, due to aging factors such as knee mobility issues.

Brooksyne recalls her years of counted cross stitching, crafts, and sewing her own clothing. That too is a thing of the past. The sewing machine is used more for repairing than creating these days.

Some of our phases were really short lived such as inline skating. We were in our early forties at the time and had seen young people gracefully swoosh by on biking trails. It looked like so much fun! We each bought a pair and still remember the first and last time we tried them on a paved recreational trail near New Bedford, Massachusetts. We were not graceful and we certainly didn't swoosh by anyone. I should have known from my lack of proficiency at roller skating that this was not a good idea.

In regard to certain expressions of ministry we have also had phases. For the first 25 years we focused on our service to local churches where I served as a pastor. In the last twenty years (which includes some overlap) we have focused on our corporate chaplaincy and this Daily Encouragement writing ministry.

But there are several things in life that should never be a "phase", the most important being our commitment to Jesus Christ.

Today we consider the second of four characteristics Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah demonstrated: unwavering commitment. They faced their biggest test. (In this case it was just
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It is assumed Daniel was away).

The ungodly edict was unambiguous and straightforward, "You must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up" (Daniel 3:5). The consequences also left little wiggle room, "Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace" (Daniel 3:6).

But these three men made a commitment to their God and surely recalled the first two of the Ten Commandments:

First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me."

Second Commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

To these three young men, following their God was not a phase. They had made a firm commitment and resolved in their hearts and actions to keep it. Thus the message to the king from the troublemaking tattlers was this, "
They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."

Years earlier the prophet Elijah had challenged the people, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21). "Waver" means to be undecided between two courses of action; be irresolute. Synonyms are hesitate, dither, equivocate, vacillate, waffle, fluctuate.

However there is no evidence that these three men of faith wavered at all. Rather they demonstrated unswerving courage as they faced this life or death test which we will share about tomorrow.

Are you demonstrating unwavering commitment in your walk with God? If so, you can blend your voice with the apostle Paul in declaring aloud,
"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help me to thirst and hunger for Your Living Word where I find convincing truths to assure me, “This is the way. Walk in it.” I want to keep my heart fixed upon You and my mind certain of Your truths in this age where false religions abound and the broad way continues to widen. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and I gain entry to You, my Father, only through Jesus the Son. I’ve got a made up mind and I’m going to follow You during the good and the bad times, the lean and plentiful times. Whether I stand with many or whether I stand alone, I choose to wholeheartedly follow You because I have unwavering commitment.  Amen.

Study note: In politics it's common to overstate or generalize something to make a point even though the overstatement may not be true. This tactic can be used from both sides of the political spectrum. In today's text notice carefully the first part of the charge, "
who pay no attention to you, your Majesty". That was not true. In the verses from chapter 2 that immediately precede  the test of chapter 3 we read, "Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court" (Daniel 2:48,49). There's no evidence they were in anyway derelict in their duties as administrators, but the broad brush smear was very effective then and still is in politics, in the church, the workplace, the family and other areas of life. That's why we need to be thoughtful in our wording and in our discernment as well.

Hershey Gardens 5/29/18
A view of Hotel Hershey from the Hershey Gardens

Hershey Gardens 5/29/18
We both enjoy this view.
This is from the same tree we showed last week here.

Hay wagons near New Holland, PA 5/31/18
Fully loaded (perhaps overloaded) hay wagons near New Holland, PA

We spend a lot of time at Hershey Medical Center and often walk in a hallway that features the following artist statement. Though we post only one photo of the maintenance man there are about 10 workers featured as described by the Artist Statement below. All labor is noteworthy and important so that much can be accomplished for the good of all.

Tribute to support staff at HMC
This photography display intrigued us (read the text)
What a wonderful tribute to a hardworking father. Especially note the last part, "Seldom was he told that what he did was of any consequence. It was."

HMC maintenance man
Here's a maintenance man dressed as a professor of medicine (though the western Bolo tie and belt buckle might be his personal preference!)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Choose Christ"  Video  Karen Peck and New River

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Video 
Marshall Hall  "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

"Farther Along"  Video  Legacy Five

"Pilgrim Man"  Video  Mark Smeby

Brooksyne's Personal note: Ester was feeling poorly last week and last Thursday she had an elevated INR during a routine check. We adjusted her medication (Coumadin) and had a follow-up appointment on Monday morning, as her cardiologist ordered several tests.
After labs were again drawn and tests completed her INR, expected to be between 2 and 3 after the decrease in Coumadin, was highly elevated to the critical level of 13.7. This means her blood is very thin.  She was re-tested in the afternoon only to have it go higher so her doctor sent her to the ER. It was a very busy evening and Ester was cared for on a stryker bed in the hallway like a number of other patients. Finally, at 3:15 a.m. she was given a room and I came home at 4:30 AM yesterday morning. Stephen left early Tuesday morning for our scheduled chaplaincy call then went to the hospital to see Ester.

Kcentra, the medication they gave Ester to lower the INR, dropped her to 1.3 which is actually below the desired level now making her blood too thick. She was able to come home yesterday afternoon but is being monitored with labs to be drawn today and a follow-up visit in a few days. Her tests showed that she has a large gall stone and her liver is inflamed with some fluid retention, again requiring careful monitoring. Many of you have followed Ester's health challenges over the years and we came across this article which pretty well describes Ester's heart condition. As always, we are thankful for you, our many readers/friends; for your continued prayers and interest in our daughter, Ester.

Finally today:
Hershey Medical Center pianist 6/5/18
Yesterday morning when I (Stephen) walked into the huge foyer of the Hershey Medical Center I heard stunningly beautiful sacred music and thought it was unusual they would be playing this type of music through the sound system at a very secular hospital. Upon observation it was actually not played through the sound system but live music being performed by this plain couple. This is a very rare sight since instrumentation is not usually permitted in their circles!

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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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