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Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Parked buggies at Amish wedding
These buggies are lined up at an Amish wedding we passed in eastern Lancaster County. The Amish have many weddings in November on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Several weeks ago I was at Costco and saw a young Amish couple shopping. They told me they were getting married in two weeks. That brought back old memories from 42 years ago when Brooksyne and I went grocery shopping for the first time as a newly married couple in Springfield, MO. We recall getting store brand Mac & Cheese and Van Camps Pork & Beans, since Brooksyne has always thought that Van Camps is the best brand. We still enjoy shopping together although I am ready to get done a lot faster and Brooksyne rarely buys Mac & Cheese and Pork & Beans these days!
For a larger photo with Scripture text click here.

"Not Without Effect"

Message summary: Let us join with Paul and proclaim together, "His grace to me was not without effect!"

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect" (1 Corinthians 15:10).

They baptized Jesse Taylor in Cedar Creek last Sunday
Jesus gained a soul and Satan lost a good right arm
They all cried Hallelujah when Jesse's head went under
Cause this time he went under for the Lord

I saw a man in church this last Sunday whom I met several months ago. After visiting a few minutes he said, "I'm sorry, I forgot; what's your name again?" I told him and then I asked  his name which I also couldn't recall. His was Paul. He told me he was going to remember my name with the keyword "Stoned" recalling of course the death of my namesake (not in the inebriated sense)! I told him I would recall his name as "Stoner" alluding to Paul's role at the stoning death of Stephen.

In today's text Paul is sharing his personal testimony. The biographical information we have in the book of Acts and Paul's letters truly indicate that the grace of God made a wonderful change in his life. Today we focus on the phrase, "His grace to me was not without effect."

I can imagine when people first heard of the Apostle Paul's (Saul at that time) conversion they shook their heads in disbelief, "Oh, I can't believe he could ever change!"

Then years later when Paul shared his testimony and people heard his violent past and persecution of the church, they surely shook their heads in disbelief, "Oh, I can't believe he was ever like that!"

Can you think of some people who’ve changed like that?

In his own written testimony Paul states, "I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man" and "the worst of sinners" (see 1 Timothy 1:12-17).

But the one time persecutor became the persecuted. He who had consented to the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) was himself stoned (2 Corinthians 11:25). If it had been written in Paul's day it might include a gospel song with a story. Though it would read quite differently for Saul/Paul it would also have redemptive lines like that of "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor":

Among the local taverns there'll be a slack in business.
Cause Jesse's drinking came before the groceries and the rent
Among the local women there'll be a slack in cheating
Cause Jesse won't be stepping out again

The scars on Jesse's knuckles are more than just respected
The county courthouse records tell all there is to tell
The pockets of the gamblers will soon miss Jesse's money
And a black eye of the law will soon be well

What a dynamic transformation had taken place in Jesse Taylor's life similar to what happened in Paul's life. Years later Paul was able to declare this marvelous truth, "His grace to me was not without effect".

Authentic grace makes a difference in one's life. Titus 2:11,12 states, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." For some the change is more dramatic than others, but genuine grace will always bring about transformation in every recipient.

What about you today?
  • Do you need to turn you life over to Christ? Repent!
  • Has Christ changed your life?  Rejoice!
  • Is He still working on you? Respond and be resolute in your walk with Jesus!
Let us join with Paul and proclaim together, "His grace to me was not without effect!"

From now on Nancy Taylor can proudly speak to neighbors
And tell them just how Jesse took up with little Jim
Now Jimmy's got a daddy and Jesse's got a family
And Franklin County's got a lot more man

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, only through the death of Your Son could we know the full extent of Your grace. Though our sins bring untold loss, Your grace brings infinite gain. Your grace exceeds our rebellion and points us to the Refuge for our sinful souls. Thank You, Father!  You don't grant a partial pardon, but You extend a full pardon to all who call upon Your name. Your grace is incomprehensible, infinite, and indiscriminate to all of Your creation. Help us to extend grace to others as You have richly extended Your grace to us. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Baptism of Jesse Taylor"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  I like songs that tell a story and this is a great story of redemption and a changed life!

"Sinner Saved By Grace"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

Calvary Church choir 11/18/18
We had a very special service this last Sunday at Calvary Church here in Lancaster that included an unusual preaching format and more than the usual amount of music, in a variety of formats. The message concluded a series on the One Story of the Bible and focused on eternal praise to God, "The Glorious Worship of Jesus Christ - To God be the Glory" Here is the video. It was one of the most powerful messages on the Book Of Revelation we have ever heard. The way the message was tied to the music was outstanding. Here is the concluding song. Video

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it's read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here's an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns"
(printable webpage).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

We appreciate listening to and singing the Thanksgiving hymns and songs.

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives in big and small ways. It also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

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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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