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Monday, September 17, 2018

Star Barn, Lancaster County 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA
Click on photo to enlarge

"The Sight Of Encouragement"

Message summary: I know many people whose very presence is a source of joy. Just seeing them from a distance brings a measure of encouragement.

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"The brothers there [Rome] had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged" (Acts 28:15). "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25).

Ron Hoover 9/16/18Yesterday as I was departing our church service I spotted Ron Hoover, a friend who was coming in for the second service. (Brooksyne was not with me as she was singing with the choir in both services.) He was visiting the church since it was the last Sunday for his granddaughter and husband (Grant and Sarah) before they leave for Austin, TX to serve in a ministry position.

Ron and I visited briefly which brought to mind today's rather obscure text. It reminded me that at the sight of some people, like Ron, one is instantly encouraged!

Paul's journey to Rome is recorded in the latter chapters of Acts. It was a wearying journey with lots of disruptions along the way, including a harrowing shipwreck. As Paul approached the great city some brethren had heard he was coming. They adjusted their schedules, laid aside other commitments and traveled from Rome so they could come out to personally greet him: "The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us."

Today's Scripture portion records Paul's joy-filled response when this group of brothers met him and his fellow workers. Paul had never been to Rome prior to this and these brothers are not identified by name. Perhaps they were men he had met elsewhere in previous ministry locations. However I wonder if he even knew these men. Perhaps he was just overjoyed that the church cared enough to send out these brothers to meet him.

"At the sight of these men" Try to picture the scene with us. Before there's any evidence that Paul had even spoken to them his heart must have been warmed at the sight of these welcoming brothers. What an energizing joy this must have brought him. Early on in Paul's Christian walk he was discipled by Barnabas, a man who had attained a nickname meaning, "Son of encouragement". Many passages of Scripture indicate that Paul was a man who encouraged others (e.g. Acts 20:1,2). And now others were encouraging him! That's the real blessing of mutual and reciprocal ministry.

I know many people like these men and I hope you do as well. Their very presence is a source of joy. Just seeing them from a distance brings a measure of encouragement.  I use the term "energy giver" to describe these kinds of people. A reading of Romans 16 will indicate Paul's rich reservoir of human support and friendship among his Christian brothers and sisters in Rome alone.

"At the sight of these men" Paul did two things:

1) "He thanked God." The sight of these men prompted an exclamation of thanks to God. Now that's a high standard regarding the impact of our presence to others. When people see us do they thank God?

2) He "was encouraged." Regular readers know this is a major emphasis in my life and is at the very heart of this "daily encouragement" ministry. I pray that my presence may bring spiritual courage to those whom I interact with day by day.

We offer several challenges to our readers today:

1) Value the people that God has placed in your life. Are you developing and adding to those who bless you? Do you recognize them as "instruments sent from God"? Do you thank God for them and let them know how much you value their friendship?

2) Seek to be a friend such as these men whom Paul saw on his way to Rome. Find ways to encourage others and share God's love with a world in need. May we be the sight of encouragement to others!

3) Do not compartmentalize your efforts to be an encourager! Everywhere you go seek to leave your mark; at work, in the marketplace, wherever.

4) Pastors and church folks: Are you visiting the shut-ins, those no longer able to attend regular services who may be homebound or in nursing homes? Many of these places have chaplains, but the importance of continuity from the past cannot be overestimated. You are their connection to the "real world" and their life as they once knew it. Your visit will be a blessing and you will also be refreshed as I was yesterday when I saw Ron!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we think of the people in our lives that refresh us at the very sight of them or at the mention of their names. They have poured into our lives fruitful blessings by their kind actions and words, by their exemplary lifestyle and so often by their personal overcomings of life's hardships. May we be not only recipients of such tender mercies, but diligent dispensers of lovingkindness toward others. May our actions and words refresh them.  Not that it should be our major motivation, but we know that when we refresh others, we ourselves are refreshed. So as we bless others, we too are blessed and we honor You as well. Amen.

Saturday morning we participated in a charity walk that benefits Brittany's Hope, an adoption ministry. The event was held at the Stone Gables Estate, a beautiful property here in Lancaster County.

Longhorn cattle at Ironstone Ranch 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
Texan longhorn cattle on the Ironstone Ranch
Click on photo to enlarge

Lincoln funeral train at Ironstone Ranch 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
The funeral train that transported the body of Abraham Lincoln passed through the property from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. This is a replica of the engine.
Click on photo to enlarge

White Oak team at Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA 9/15/18
We joined some employees who participated and their guests from White Oak Display.
Brittany's Hope is dedicated to aiding abandoned children around the world.

Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
Ester was one of the official (volunteer) photographers for the event and took our photo in front of the Star Barn.
Click on photo to enlarge

Eric Marin and family 9/15/18
Regina and Eric Martin's family all participated in the 5K run (minus the youngest, Noah).

Lloyd and Mary Ann Miller with grandson 9/15/18
MaryAnn and Lloyd Miller with their grandson who participates each year with his family which includes two siblings adopted from Vietnam.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Orphans Of God"  Video  Avalon

"Orphan"  Video  John Waller tells a beautiful story!

The Ironstone Ranch and Star Barn are on the Stone Gables Estate located here (Google map) The Star Barn is recognized as one of the most photographed and artistically painted barns in America.

Finally today:

Herrs mill Covered Bridge 9/15/18
David Abel, the businessman who has developed the Star barn property, has a real heart for historical preservation as well as his wife, Tierny. They recently bought a dilapidated covered bridge in eastern Lancaster County for 1 dollar and are in the process of having it moved and restored on the Stone Gables Estate property!

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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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