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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

1953 FarmAll tractor 6/29/19
Sights in the country
Larry riding by our place on his 1953 restored FarmAll tractor.
(Click to enlarge)

"Beulah Land"

Message summary: The concept of Beulah land as a reference to heaven comes from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We have known several women named Beulah, including several here in Lancaster County, but our first memorable Beulah early in our marriage, was an elderly lady in the first church we served in Fair Grove, MO named Sunnyvale.

Tracy and Beulah SutherlandBeulah and her husband Tracy, who had been a farmer, had been in the church for many, many years. They likely hadn't traveled any farther than to see their daughter who lived several hundred miles away in Illinois. They had very few material possessions, yet they sure lived a rich life. The photo shows Tracy and Beulah Sutherland with a very young 21 year old Brooksyne during the big hair & perm days.

One Saturday afternoon in 1977 we decided to throw a surprise homemade ice cream party for them. Both were in their 90's and were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, as I recall.  We had prearranged for their son, Jerry, to bring them to the party after the church folks had everything set up. On the pretense that he wanted to take them for an afternoon country drive, he drove right past our rural church.

The Sutherlands noticed right away that there were church people seated in the picnic area.  Jerry told us that Beulah said in a rather meek, but troubled tone, "I wonder what they're doing at Sunnyvale and why they didn't invite us?" This couple had been members for probably 50 years at the time.

Of course, Jerry turned the car around about that time and drove into the circle drive so that we could all yell, "Surprise"! But we were the ones in for a surprise at Beulah's response. She had her hair in pin curls preparing for church the next day and would never have shown up at a party (especially, in her honor) with pin curls.  After she got over the initial humiliation she and Tracy were absolutely delighted with the loving attention of that small country congregation - many of them young Bible College students from nearby CBC in Springfield.

Of course Beulah and Tracy are now with the Lord although Beulah lived past 100. They have entered what has affectionately been called "Beulah Land" the title of a beautiful old hymn with a newer rendition by Casting Crowns.

The hymn's name is derived from the King James Version of Isaiah 62:4: "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah and thy land Beulah; for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married."

The verse is in reference to the return of the Hebrews from their exile in Babylon in which the Hebrews shall no longer be called Forsaken, but Hephzibah (My Delight Is in Her), and Jerusalem shall no longer be called Desolate, but Beulah (Married). This implies that the Hebrews have turned back to the worship of God.

The concept of Beulah land as a reference to heaven comes from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in which he states "Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted ground is placed so nigh to the land Beulah and so near the end of their race (Heaven)."

The song begins with these words, "I'm kind of homesick for a country to which I've never been before". As believers we look homeward as Paul writes, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

Randy Alcorn writes in "If God Is Good": "The life to come flows out of this one; hence the believer's present sufferings comprise only a tiny part of our total life experience, which will continue forever." We can be victorious daily if we keep that perspective during times of trouble and sorrow on this side. Otherwise we might feel cheated in this life and question God or worse yet, blame Him for our difficulties. Once again I want to quote Alcorn:

"When we feel upset with God and tempted to blame Him, we should look at the outstretched arms of Jesus and focus on His wounds, not ours. When we lock our eyes on our cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, disability, [or any other life challenge] self-pity and bitterness can creep in. When we spend our days rehearsing the tragic death of a loved one, we will interpret all life through the darkness of our suffering. How much better when we focus upon Jesus!"

It's very comforting to know that if we "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, we will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3). Once again, in the midst of our suffering, we must focus on Jesus' life and His overcomings to enable us to experience our own overcomings.

We face opposition in one way or another every day of our lives. Faithful readers of Daily Encouragement will quickly recognize that we often hit on the theme of suffering, pain or loss since we're exposed to this regularly through our ministry. Even as we prepare this message we have several people on our hearts.

Stay faithful and rely on God's promises that are faithful and true. Certainly you may suffer grief in all kinds of trials as those who have gone before you have done so. Let us also declare with the Psalmist, that weeping may come for a season, but joy will come in the morning!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as there are seasons throughout the calendar year there are seasons throughout our lives; many of them invigorating and celebratory, others wearying and dreaded. Yet it is both joyous times and dreaded occasions that shape us into Your image so that we bear the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ who endured great hardship. We are to fix our eyes on Him, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross despising its shame knowing that without full obedience He could not offer full redemption for our sins. May we not interpret all of life in the "darkness of our suffering" but in the brightness of Your resurrected Son. In the "furnace of affliction" may we be found faithful in Your refining process until we reach Beulah Land. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Note: There are two hymns by the same title, one written in the late 1800's and the other in 1972 by Squire Parsons. Today's quotations are from the latter version.

Larry on his 1953 Farmall tractor 6/29/19
Larry, like many who grew up on a farm, has a special fondness for his first tractor. He recalls working on this 1953 McCormick FARMALL in a field in our neighborhood when he was seven years old. Larry's son now lives on the property around the corner from our house with his wife and young children who are now the sixth generation to live on that property.
(Click to enlarge)

Jerry's retirement 6/28/19
Jerry, a buyer at Kleen-Rite, had a big smile last Friday when I visited him on his last day at work before retiring.

Jerry's retirement poster 6/28/19
A fellow employee made this poster.

Rachel's get well poster 6/28/19
Rachel is a friend recovering in the hospital and got this nice poster card from her friends at White Oak Display and Design. Please remember her and her husband, Rick, in your prayers that God will restore her to wholeness.

Smucker picnic cornhole 6/29/19
Saturday afternoon we joined the employees of the Smucker company for a picnic and played some serious cornhole. I managed to make it to the semi-final round of three teams. Marlin, one of the company owners, decided to give one of the teams a bye for the semi-final round. He said, "I have a number in my head so pick a number between 1 and 50. The team that's closest to that number will get a bye". The other team inexplicably chose 47 so I quickly considered the odds and shrewdly chose 46 and we won the bye. Brooksyne walked over at that time and overheard me say 46 and seriously thought maybe Marlin had asked for my waist size! Now I don't care to disclose my waist size over the internet but let's just say it's between 1 and 50. Note: My team lost in the final round to the team that lost the bye!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Beulah Land"  Video  Casting Crowns  Hearing this fresh rendition of this older song on the radio the other day prompted consideration of today's message.

"Home"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Homesick For Heaven"  Video  Jim Brady Trio

Finally today: Brooksyne will share her thoughts on her experience last week at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat tomorrow.

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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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