A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Message summary: God's word to Israel in Jeremiah 31:3 is a timeless expression of His unchangeable character, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you". We can first of all gain great assurance from this truth and secondly we can seek to apply it to our marriage and family.
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"He loved them to the end" (John 13:1). "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you" (Jeremiah 31:3).
When I conduct a wedding ceremony I like to get to know the extended family if possible. I was blessed at the wedding for Joe and Taylor I officiated on Saturday to see two families come together whose love for their children was very evident. Their enthusiasm for expanding their love by receiving yet another family member (in-law) was also very evident.
Although we have known Gary, Taylor's father, for several years from our weekly chaplaincy visits to Kleen-Rite, only recently have we become familiar with his family, including his mother-in-law and father-in-law who are featured in our lead photo. Taylor is their only grandchild, so after a long engagement due to Taylor's and Joe's educational priorities, her wedding was an occasion they both looked forward to with great anticipation.
But Saturday's wedding also had a specially heartrending distinction and the family has given us permission to share their story, along with the lead photo. It is our hope that it will encourage others who might also identify with them in the painful trial they are undergoing.
The bride's grandmother, Cathy, now has "advanced stage dementia" and was unable to attend the wedding or the bridal shower for that matter. The family is lovingly caring for her at home but Saturday morning she was transported to respite care so her husband could attend the service. The photo above shows John, her husband of 48 years, sharing a kiss with her as she was taken away. She will be returning to her home later this week.
We have prayed for Cathy and John since learning of her deteriorating health over the last several years. In a story I read recently a daughter described how she felt about her mother's dementia: "You feel a gradual loss. My mother was such a bright, active woman. She was so well-read, you could talk to her about anything." If it's a spouse with dementia you lose a partner. If it's a parent you lose an authority figure. Some have described their experience with their loved one as "the long good-bye".
I visited with John for a few minutes before the wedding and he told me this is not what he had expected for his retirement years. But the love and respect he has for his wife is visible to all who know him. We noticed that he had a photo of Cathy at his place setting during the reception dinner. When Brooksyne visited her later at the respite location, on the nightstand next to her bed, was a 5X7 framed photograph of her and John. The boutonniere John wore at the wedding lay next to the photograph.
He has stood well in this hard test. As I conducted the wedding service for his granddaughter and new grand-son-in-law I considered what a living example of vow-keeping the newly married couple had sitting right before them on the first row, demonstrating what enduring love looks like.
Today's text is a comment by another John in introducing the final days of Christ's life on earth before his death on the Cross for our sins. During this time He gave some of His deepest teachings. The full verse states, "It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end."
We are called to follow Christ's example and in this passage we have a tremendous example to follow. Let's just focus on the phrase, "He loved them to the end". Virtually all standard versions use this phrase although some state, "the very end". The Amplified Classic Edition Bible renders it this way, "He loved them to the last and to the highest degree."
We need that same kind of love in marriages and families. The enemy seeks to destroy relationships. He delights in broken marriages and estranged families and we can easily see how it has affected so many families and society at large. Jesus told us, "The thief (the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
God's word to Israel in Jeremiah 31:3 is a timeless expression of His unchangeable character, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you". We can first of all gain great assurance from this truth and secondly we can seek to apply it to our marriage and family.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, the greatest expression of Your love is Your faithfulness to us in all areas of our life. Though the devil seeks to steal and destroy, You came to give us an abundant life. Likewise You have made us in Your image and sent Jesus in the flesh to show us the highest degree of love in the human realm. We want to faithfully express our love to those entrusted to us; whether it is our spouse, parent, child(ren), or any other in our family setting. Just as You have loved us with an everlasting love and therefore continue Your faithfulness to us, help us to love our family members to the very end by continual love and faithfulness to their every need. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
John, escorting his loving daughter Julie, alongside his son-in-law Gary, after the wedding ceremony this last Saturday. Gary is a friend we see in the course of our chaplaincy visits.
Today we would like to share three photos of the variety of mobile roadside produce displays we saw yesterday traveling through Lebanon and Lancaster Counties! Altogether we probably passed six or seven produce stands or orchards.
This farmer brings his melons out to the roadside using his John Deere lawn tractor with a small cart on Prescott Road.
This handmade cart is near the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail on Lawn Road. Notice the wheels and handles.
A creative use for a small children's wagon on Harvest Road.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"God of All My Days" Video Casting Crowns
In my worry, God, You are my stillness
In my searching, God, You are my answers
In my blindness, God, You are my vision
In my bondage, God, You are my freedom
In my weakness, God, You are my power
You're the reason that I sing
"She Still Remembers Jesus' Name" Video Booth Brothers This is a very touching song for any family member whose loved one has lived for Jesus but is now suffering the effects of dementia.
"Yes, I Know" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"Power of the Cross" Video Gold City (This coming Sunday evening Gold City will be at the Music In The Park in Lebanon PA.)
For local readers: We invite you to a special concert this coming Sunday afternoon for a hymn sing where Brooksyne will be singing with the choir of Calvary Church. The congregation will join in many of the hymns as well.
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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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