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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Linden Grove school, Lancaster County 9/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
Last week we passed these children playing outside a one room Mennonite school near New Holland, PA
(Click to enlarge)

"The Ever-Enduring Trifecta"

Message summary: The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love"; what we are describing as the "The Ever-Enduring Trifecta". Today we consider the greatest of these which is love.

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"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16).

SuspendersFor many years I (Stephen) have worn suspenders which, apart from men in the old order groups like Amish and Mennonite, is rather unusual. We attend a large church and sometimes I may be the only one wearing suspenders. When I do see one with suspenders I am inclined to engage in a conversation; I suppose feeling a sense of kinship with him.

There was an individual who sat in front of Brooksyne and me a couple Sundays ago who was wearing suspenders. He was quite a bit bigger than me and perhaps it was hard for him to get his suspenders aligned properly. I held back, or perhaps Brooksyne held me back, but I really wanted to untwist his suspenders in the back since it was right in view throughout the service. In my mind I figured he'd be more comfortable once they were aligned properly.

Several years ago a little boy with wide eyed curiosity eyed my suspenders, pointed to them and asked, "What are those?" I told him "suspenders" and then asked "What do you suppose they're for?" At first he didn't know but then ventured correctly, "To hold your pants up?"

Indeed I do use suspenders as reinforcement to my belt. With my present configuration a belt alone may not do the job, but with suspenders both are sufficient to the task! Some people use accessories for style reasons. Who knows, someday suspenders may make a style comeback and I will be on the leading edge of being "cool". But for now my suspenders serve a mere functional purpose. In fact I rely on them.

If you stop and think about it, there are lots of things we rely on day in and day out. Relying on things is one thing but reliance on our emotions is even more prevalent.
Paul wrote, "The greatest of these [faith, hope, and love] is love". Love is the most powerful and positive emotion a human being can experience.

The dictionary defines reliability as "dependability or trustworthiness". The reliable object consistently functions as designed. The reliable person can be depended upon because he is trustworthy.

Being a reliable person includes dependability, consistency and faithfulness. When something or someone is reliable we generally take that quality for granted but when dealing with unreliability that faulty trait quickly rises to the surface. In our interface with both people and machines reliability is necessary and is a genuine blessing.

Today's second Scripture text is a wonderful verse to memorize and hide deep in our hearts: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." The Amplified Bible elaborates, "And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us."

What a tremendous blessing that we can know and rely on God's love. Sometimes His love is very evident; other times it is an invisible expression. I will confess that there have been times when I've actually questioned His love for me. Sometimes I would like to see Him do things differently and there are times I even give Him ideas on how to do it. But I do find deep abiding assurance as I have come to regularly rely upon His steadfast, unconditional love.

IcebergMany of you have seen the photo (or computer designed graphic) of a huge iceberg. Only the tip is showing above the water. That's a good illustration of the love of God. When we choose to follow Christ and come to more fully know God's love we realize it is so immense that it is beyond measure. However I suspect we still just see the "tip" of His love!  Even though there is so much about God's love I see and may even think I understand, there is a whole, whole lot I fail to see or comprehend.

Do you know God's love today? Are you relying (trusting, believing) on that love? A.W. Tozer wrote: "God's love is measureless. It is more: it is boundless. It has no bounds because it is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God. His love is something He is, and because He is infinite, that love can enfold the whole created world in itself and have room for ten thousand times ten thousand worlds beside."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen". (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Note: On Monday we began this 3 part teaching prompted in part by Brooksyne hearing the word "trifecta" related to a weather report. At the time she couldn't recall or didn't actually hear the fuller story about how they were using the word. Now we think it's related to the hurricanes coming, three in a row! We continue to have rainy dreary weather in our parts even today. But, of course, our attention and prayers are turned toward North and South Carolina where residents over a 500 mile spread could potentially be affected or devastated by Hurricane Florence.

Over the years I've had a number of humorous moments related to my suspenders. In 2007 we were at the INS in Philadelphia where Ester attained her American citizenship. Due to security we were searched upon entering the building and had to do the usual emptying of pockets, removing watches, and laying items on the conveyor belt for inspection. When I went through security the magnetic detector beeped so I was sent through again, this time without my suspenders, which had metal clips. At the time I had taken off about fifteen pounds so the suspenders were pretty important. I passed the inspection the second time through and quickly picked up my suspenders with the intention of securing them to my pants.

Due to the orders being incessantly shouted by the security, "Stay to the right, Keep the line moving, Sir, move over here, don't hold up the line," I got quite flustered as I was being pushed through the crowded line and was unable to get them back on. In the maddening process my pants started to fall down!  With one hand on my suspenders and the other holding up my britches I was having big time troubles.

Brooksyne, who was already through the line at this time, caught sight of me and rather than being a compassionate wife she burst into uncontrollable laughter. She tells me my face was beet red as I was trying to work through my dilemma. I explained my situation to the security man and he responded with a dry smile, "I sure hope this doesn't make me have to do my job" (referring to arresting me for "indecent exposure.") Well, I eventually was able to get out of the line and put myself back together. But Brooksyne had quite a time getting control of herself as she kept replaying that scene in her mind while we sat in the large room with about 100 others waiting during the immigration process. This humorous incident brought some distraction and lightheartedness to an intense setting where there is so much security, rules, and regulations.

Stephen with curious horse on the Old Windmill Farm 4/1/18
This farm horse was interested in checking out my suspenders. He would pull at the elastic suspenders till they snapped. This startled the horse, but he quickly got over it, and would repeat it until I finally decided this horse had had enough horsing around at my expense! Perhaps it was the first experience he had with straps that stretch and he got a kick out of it, quite unlike the straps of a bridle. (Brooksyne's note:  Better that kind of kick from a horse than a literal one which I've had more than once as a child when we owned several horses.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Deep the Father’s Love for Us"  Video  Joy Williams

"Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Love Was in the Room"  Video  The Booth Brothers

"I'll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

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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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