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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

AT overlook  4/23/19 (Click to enlarge)
White Rock vista point on the Appalachian Trail looks out over Berks and Lebanon Counties.
Can you see the eagle?
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Alive Forevermore!"

Message summary: The resounding message from our Lord surely brought peace to John in that surreal setting, but as a part of the Holy Scriptures His message speaks to believers of all generations. Jesus is alive forevermore!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:17,18).

Alive, alive, alive forevermore
My Jesus is alive, alive forevermore!

Fear is a common topic we deal with in the course of our chaplaincy, and admittedly, within our own hearts at times. How about you? What might be stirring up the cauldron of fear in your heart today; world conditions, the state of our country and its rapid spiritual and moral decline, a personal matter affecting you or a loved one? We have all experienced the emotion of fear in one way or another.

Today we especially have a friend on our hearts. Tim has a rapidly advancing form of ALS yet demonstrates such overcoming faith as he shares his hard journey on his Facebook page. Tim's faith is overcoming any fears he deals with.

His most recent post states: "Today we made a new acquaintance. Based on a decision last Friday with our ALS nurse we have made the proactive decision to invite hospice into our world again. Four months ago it was for Mom. Today it is for me. Hard to take it all in. I have been flooded with cards, notes, letters, visits and countless expressions of love. Overwhelming how God is showering us with so many blessings. Hard to take all that in too. Thank you friends for all you continue to do to support us. Keep praying for a Julie."

Yesterday we took a hike along the Appalachian Trail about 30 miles north of us in Berks County not far from a little village named Fearnot. Several years ago we wandered through Fearnot but I was unable to find the origin of the village's most unusual name but suspect it has a Biblical background.

Fear itself is first expressed in the Bible shortly after the transgression in the garden when Adam said to God, "I was afraid" (Genesis 3:10). The remainder of the Bible is full of many expressions of human fear for a wide variety of reasons. But the child of God may find such divine relief in God's command to "fear not" which is found in our daily text.

"Fear not" is one of the great statements in Scripture. The first reference in Genesis is a reassuring word to Abraham. "Fear not, Abram, I am Your shield; your reward shall be very great" (Genesis 15:1). Today's text is the final occurrence of "fear not" in the Bible.

Revelation is a very complex book with various interpretations by equally earnest and faithful followers of Christ. Some parts are certainly easier to understand than others. In the first chapter we have the word of Jesus Christ to John on the Island of Patmos. In the presence of Jesus John had fallen "at his feet as dead". Jesus placed His right hand on him and uttered the message in our daily text, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades."

The resounding message from our Lord surely brought peace to John in that surreal setting, but as a part of the Holy Scriptures His message speaks to believers of all generations.

1) Jesus Christ is the First and the Last. He is the God of all eternity, the Lord of eternity past and eternity future. He always was and is and evermore shall be. As Reginald Heber expressed in his majestic hymn "Holy, Holy Holy", "Who wert, and art, and evermore shall be!"

2) Jesus Christ is the living one who died, and is alive forevermore. He has the credentials of being resurrected, and lives to never die again though He indeed was dead. The victory that Jesus won over sin and death is a permanent victory. He didn't rise from the dead just to die again. He lives forevermore!

3) Jesus Christ has the keys of Death and of Hades. Some imagine that the devil is somehow the "lord of Hell" and has the authority or power to determine life or death. But only Jesus holds the keys of Death and Hades. We can trust that Jesus never lets the devil borrow the keys!

Today in one way or another we will surely hear something or encounter a problem that which will strike fear in our hearts, but let us consider our faithful God who continues to speak "Fear Not" to the hearts of His children. He is alive forevermore!

Jesus is truly the perpetual Living One. As we read of His characteristics in Revelation, first revealed to John and recorded late in the first century over 1900 years ago, we can be assured that they are equally true today and will be throughout eternity!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You speak to us through the prophet Isaiah, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God". Though this passage is somewhat general we know that You deal with the specifics in our lives as we encounter personal difficulties and quandaries. How comforting it is to know that You are alive forevermore and not only go before us, but You walk alongside us in our times of pain and anxiety, our confusion and loss, in our uncertainties. Father, there are so many experiences or circumstances in life that instill fear in our hearts. But we must not cringe in fear because Your oversight assures us that things will turn out for good in the end, whether in this life or the life to come. Though Jesus' followers were devastated when He hung limp on the cross You had a powerful plan all along and it turned out for the good of all, even those responsible for His death. Father, we seek You believing that You hear us and will deliver us from our unhealthy fears. We thank You for it in advance, through the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Today we will share some photos of our hike yesterday on the Appalachian Trail along the Blue Mountain Ridge in Berks County, PA.

AT overlook selfie 4/23/19
We're not good at selfies, but Brooksyne worked at it and came up with this shot, so we could get both the beautiful view along with proof of our presence there.

AT "Rocksylvania" 4/23/19
This part of the Appalachian Trail is known as "Rocksylvania", and you can see why!

Berks County church built in 1846 4/23/19
Coming down after our hike off Blue Mountain along PA route 501 we passed this Berks County church built in 1846. It was so striking and well preserved in a beautiful setting so we got out and walked around to have a closer look. We're familiar with church mice but can you find the church owl in this photo?
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Berks County dogs 4/23/19
In the little village of Bethel, PA these three labradoodles sure caught our attention. I wonder if they fought over who got to poke his head out of the moon roof!

Rye Harvest 4/23/19 (Click to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning around 5:00 AM we heard the harvester behind our house. By mid morning they were harvesting the Rye from the field across from our house.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Overcome"  Video  Calvary Church Choir  This song has a lyric that also speaks to our message today about "Fear Not".

We will not be moved
When the earth gives way
For the risen One has overcome

And for every fear
There's an empty grave
For the risen One has overcome

"He Holds The Keys"  Video  Steve Green  This video appears to be more recently recorded. We both enjoyed Steve Green back in the eighties who is still active in service for the Lord.

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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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