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Monday, April 8, 2019

Purple flowers, Doris High
This blooming purple spring bulb was taken by our friend Doris High.


Message summary: We rightly despair at our hopeless condition apart from Christ's redemption. But what glorious hope we have in Christ!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"David asked, 'Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'" (2 Samuel 9:1). Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" (2 Samuel 9:8). "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40).

Sadie with cherry eyeEster received a new puppy on her birthday, a tiny
Shih Tzu / Lhasa Apso mix she named Sadie Willow. Sadie was a gift from our friends at the Old Windmill Farm. Ester had chosen Sadie from a litter of seven and several times had played with her on their farm until we brought her home March 1st. Like most puppies she has a colorful petality and has quickly become a loving part of our home.

Nine days ago we noticed a protruding red spot in Sadie's eye which is called "cherry eye". It's not uncommon in small dogs including
Shih Tzus, as we've learned from our new experience. When the Lapps learned about Sadie's condition they were very disappointed like us as this was the first encountered in any of their adorable puppy litters. They very kindly told Ester she could bring Sadie back to the farm and get another puppy, since this was a disappointing turn of events. Ester took no time to think about her answer. Kind as their offer was she would hear nothing of it. "Perfect" or not she was now Ester's puppy! She went on to remind us that people adopt pets with special needs and love them just the same.*

Ester came into our lives in 1989 at three months of age, barely surviving the flight up from Guatemala due to her critical heart condition. After much prayer, medical intervention and years of TLC she survived her many operations and recently celebrated her 30th birthday.

When she was 18 months old Brooksyne and I visited Guatemala to see some other children we had cared for. Our hosts were a wealthy Guatemalan couple. The wife had a burden for the orphans including Ester for whom she arranged the trip to America to get medical intervention. Her husband,
an MIT educated leader in the country, did not feel the same way.

During a conversation with him, knowing of Ester's health matters, he strongly discouraged us from proceeding with her adoption, not only due to her health problems but also because of her ethnicity. She is of Mayan Indian descent which was looked down upon by our host. I still recall his words, "You don't want to adopt her. We can get you a child that has a perfect heart." I suppose he meant well and made his suggestion with our interest in mind, but to us it reflected a devaluing of life, both of her ethnicity and fragile health. His frankness took us back and certainly did not deter our plans of adopting Ester.

Today let's explore the story of a boy that would be described in our day as one with special needs. Mephibosheth is among our favorite lesser known Bible characters. Dropped as a very small child he was "lame in both feet". His story is told in 2 Samuel 9 and, if you're not familiar with his life, you may need to read this entire chapter and some study material about him. Today's message is a summary.

He had a lot more than his share of problems and was now the sole surviving member of Saul's family with David as the king. His personal esteem couldn’t sink any lower as he saw the importance of his life to be no more than that of a "dead dog". Since dogs were not valued by the Hebrew culture (in the sense we do as pets) this self-description packs a double whammy, kind of like me referring to myself as "a dead skunk".

Mephibosheth with DavidBut David models the love of God when he sought Mephibosheth out and made a place at the King's table for him, "like one of the king's sons", not just for the evening but for the rest of his life. He gave him land and appointed servants that provided for his needs. This is an excellent illustration of generosity and grace exhibited in the Old Testament.

Many of you may not be able to identify with Mephibosheth at all. Life for you has been pretty good. Most importantly you have an assurance of God's love and a network of family and caring people around you.

We encourage you to consider others who may need a lift today by your expression of personal interest or your gesture of kindness and generosity. David so powerfully illustrates God's grace in the fact that he didn't wait for Mephibosheth to cross his path, but actually made the necessary effort to locate him and then chose to personally bless him. How can you demonstrate that grace today to one who might be regarded as among "the least of these"?

There are others of you who readily identify with Mephibosheth. Life's always been hard and you’ve wondered when and if things will ever flow smoothly. It's been one hard blow after another and you could reckon the value of your own life as that of a "dead dog". You question in your mind, "Does anyone love me? Does anyone really care?" And here you are reading this message. God wants you to hold onto this unchanging truth that is filled with eternal hope: God loves you and He cares about you.

The fact is, apart from the love and mercy of God, every one of us are as "dead dogs". John Newton put it this way, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" Or as the hymn "I Stand Amazed In The Presence" expresses it, "a sinner, condemned, unclean". "At The Cross" has these words, "Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?" We rightly despair at our hopeless condition apart from Christ's redemption. But what glorious hope we have in Christ!

He calls us to endure the temporal difficulties while living our lives here on earth, but He’s invited us to enjoy the eternal delights of living our lives in heaven. He has saved the best for last, but that’s OK because that’s where we’ll be forever and always, long after the troubles of this life have faded from view! I'm sure glad it's not the other way around, though, for those who choose not to enter the kingdom of God, it surely is!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there is much that we don’t understand on this side; why some go through life seemingly with ease and little trouble, and others seem to be born with trouble that never goes away. It is not for us to understand Your ways for You are a God of mystery with greater purpose than we can comprehend, and yet You have made clear to us through Scripture that which we are to understand. Some of the very trouble we seek to avoid is what brings us to faith and causes us to live a life that is honoring to You and purposeful to others. Keep our hearts sensitive and compassionate toward those who are undervalued by the world’s standards. When we put ourselves in their place, we identify with their struggles and feel the deep hurt they experience when looked down upon and rejected by others. May we be Your tender arm of compassion and Your gentle voice of acceptance and unconditional love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Context of today's passage: 2 Samuel 9

* When Ester and Brooksyne took Sadie Willow on Monday to Dr. Albright for her distemper shot and wellness check up as a puppy, she recommended that when she is spayed at six months they will also suture the cherry eye back into its proper place. In the meantime Brooksyne is rubbing a steroid cream into her eye hoping that her condition might reverse. The vet prescribed the cream and said occasionally it is successful in reversing the condition.

Larry and Tina Kester with Curious George 4/5/19
Friday morning we ate breakfast with our long-time friends, Larry and Tina Kester, who were visiting from the Lehigh Valley. Later we stopped by the Old Windmill Farm so Tina could see the new goat, Curious George. George is still the size of a small dog and still willing to be held, stroked and cuddled. In fact it seems he thrives on such TLC.

Bench wagon on Old Windmill Farm 4/5/19
Yesterday church was held at the Old Windmill Farm. This bench wagon is used to transport benches from house to house where services are held.

Dutch Country pretzel making 4/4/19
Throughout Lancaster County there are many small businesses such as Dutch Country Pretzels.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Carried To The Table"  Video  Leeland  A song based upon the story of Mephibosheth and applying it to our redemption in Christ! Includes musician's intro.

"There's Always a Place At the Table"  Video   Gaither Vocal Band

"Build My Life/"I Stand Amazed In The Presence"  Video  Calvary Church worship team. I, Brooksyne, sure enjoy singing this song. The tune stays with you long after you sing the words. But, of course, it's the text that really conveys the Biblical message of building our lives on Christ the solid foundation; great words and great tune, followed by a timeless hymn.

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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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