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Friday, November 22, 2019

Psalm 33:5 with Lancaster County rural scene (Click  for larger view)
A colorful autumn landscape in Lancaster County
Click to enlarge

"A Future Exchange"

Message summary:
Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God's eternal kingdom up there!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:44). "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53).

This week death visited our neighborhood with a longtime neighbor passing away Wednesday evening. Last night we noted the many cars gathered at the home and considered what that family is going through.

One of the hardest but necessary and fulfilling times of ministry is at the time of death. Serving together in ministry for over 45 years now, since we worked together even while dating prior to our marriage in 1976, we have walked with many through the valley of the shadow of death. Brooksyne especially has a real ministry touch in that regard and would be a good hospice or hospital chaplain.

Sorrow and grief at the passing of a loved one are a healthy and inevitable aspect of love but we are not to grieve in the same way as those who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

As followers of Christ we do have hope so we want to consider a number of exchanges made at the time of death:

We exchange our natural body for a spiritual body. Some die young or are even murdered while in the womb. Some die in the prime of life, and we see that number increased due to various causes these days. Others have the broken, worn-out earthly body due to increased age. Some have lived with a lifelong disability due to birth abnormality or injury.

We exchange homes. We live in various settings on this side of eternity. Some, like us and many reading this, have had a pretty good life with freedom and relative prosperity. Others have had it to various degrees a very hard life, whether living in austere poverty or in a place of persecution. But we exchange our temporal homes for our eternal abode which now includes not just the Spirit of God but His very presence. It also includes believers who preceded us when they received their eternal inheritance. (The older you get the more this aspect becomes part of heaven's appeal.)

We exchange our sorrows for a place where there will be no sorrows. Although we have the blessing of peace and joy on this side, sorrow of one kind or another is always present or just around the corner. Revelation 21:4 has a great glimpse of eternity: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

"If You Could See Me Now" is a song written from the perspective of a believer who now dwells in heaven. His or her view of life is so much brighter and absent of any sadness or trace of sorrow as seen in verse three:

My light and temporary trials
Have worked out for my good
To know it brought Him glory
When I misunderstood
Though we've had our sorrows
They can never compare
To what Jesus has in store for us
No language can share
(A link to a video is posted below).

These promises bring such blessed assurance for those who remain on this side especially during a time of loss. Let us stay faithful on our journey here below so that we can exchange it for a never ending journey in God's eternal kingdom up there!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, Your Word instructs us to daily clothe ourselves in protective Christian armor so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes. The indescribable blessing that comes to those of us who clothe ourselves in godly attire prepare us for the ultimate final blessing of shedding our perishable, mortal, broken, and deficient bodies for heavenly attire. Our heavenly bodies, supernaturally clothed, will live eternally without fear of death. No mourning, crying or pain will clothe these bodies because the old order of things will have passed away. Clothe us today in the spiritual clothing that will prepare us to receive the imperishable clothing that comes when we pass from this life to eternal life. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Death is a common topic in our chaplaincy ministry. Visiting 400-500 people each week we often hear stories and provide comfort concerning the death of a loved one. This morning we heard an especially grievous story concerning the uncle of a project manager we see weekly. His uncle was a kind man who reached out to others, especially troubled youth. A young man he had worked with showed up at his welding shop asking for money for drugs. His uncle said "no" so the young man took his keys attempting to steal his truck. The uncle reached in the window trying to take the keys out and the troubled youth, high on meth, rolled up the window and drug the man around till he was unconscious and was killed due to blunt force head injuries.

The employee was at his uncle's viewing so we were unable to connect this morning, but will do so soon. What could one say to comfort those who remain except to let him know of our interest and assure him of our prayers for his family. As I often say, when talking about such tragic events here on earth, "This is not a conversation we will have in heaven" as the former things will pass away - all those things that resulted from the original sin. Think about it for just a few minutes and you'll realize that every day we are affected by the effects of sin, whether it's death, sickness, pain, suffering, etc.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"If You Could See Me Now"  Video  The Integrity Worship Singers

"Almost Home"  Video  MercyMe

"I'll Have A New Life"  Video  Altar of Praise Chorale

"Safely Home"  Video  Steve Green

Finally today:

We have an interesting community giving event today here in Lancaster County known as Extraordinary Give. For a 24 hour period beginning at midnight November 22 this event allows giving online to a wide variety of non-profits in our County including many that honor Christ and maintain Biblical standards. Many companies get involved with matching gifts as well and yesterday I spoke to Stephen, who is enthusiastically leading the effort for his company, which matches employees' gifts and then an anonymous donor will add an additional match. He told me that our Extraordinary Give Day was the second largest similar type community giving day in the entire country after Houston TX, which is pretty remarkable considering Lancaster County has a relatively small population of 550,000 compared to the Houston TX which as a metro population of 7 million.

Stephen Linde

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 USA (November 28).

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!

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Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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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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