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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Woodpecker (photo by Doris High)
Doris High takes amazing bird photos including this woodpecker!

"Keep Standing Firm"

Message summary: As we stand up for righteousness we may wonder if our efforts matter.

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"I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" (1 Kings 19:10). "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18). "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Tomorrow tens of thousands will gather in Washington, DC for the annual "March for Life" commemorating the 47th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. I don't know how many will be there this year but in the past it's numbered in the hundreds of thousands. There will certainly be a very large crowd gathered, though likely the secular news media will do one of three things: ignore it, focus on some strange fringe group that in no way represents the true cause, or give coverage to the miniscule group of pro-abortion demonstrators who'll be out as well.

I first went down to the March For Life about 35 years ago when we lived in Saint Marys, PA. I have been down many times since most recently about 5 years ago. People come in from all over the country, such as my Aunt Mary. Even into her mid-seventies she traveled on a bus each year all the way from western Missouri.

You can count on them every year, rain or shine, bitterly cold or unusually pleasant weather. They take a visible stand to publicly proclaim, "We have not forgotten the estimated 61,628,584 unborn babies 'legally' murdered here in the US since 1973." * I have enjoyed my association with these dedicated pro-lifers over the years, and I bless them in their stand for life and righteousness tomorrow.

Today's text may seem an unusual one for today's topic and certainly there are verses more specifically related to unborn life which we have used when writing on this theme in the past. But today we consider the discouragement that we may face any time we take a stand on an issue in opposition to the world. Any of us standing up against the waves of evil flooding our world may wonder if we are really making a difference.

For many years our nation has been confronted with two fundamental violations in God's created order: the sanctity of life (God values all human life from conception to natural death) and the sanctity of marriage (God's design for marriage is one man and one woman committed for life). In the last several years a third violation has been popularized, one denying the foundational "male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

As we stand up for righteousness we may wonder if our efforts matter. We may sometimes feel alone; whether it's in our own household where other family members are not believers or in the workplace where there may be no other coworker who takes a visible stand for Christ.

Elijah was discouraged on Mount Carmel. Although he had just seen a mighty demonstration by Almighty God he still felt alone in his stand and expressed his weariness and discouragement by exclaiming, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" (v.10). But Elijah was wrong, he was not the only one left!

God's word of assurance to Elijah is powerful and timely for us as well: "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (v.18).

As we take a stand for Christ and stridently avoid bowing to the Baals of our age we may sometimes feel that we are alone. Be assured that God always has a faithful remnant that remains true to His Name. We want to be in that faithful remnant and continue standing firm for Christ and His righteousness today. We welcome each reader to join us. We are not alone!

Be encouraged and stand faithful today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, we look at Elijah who took a mighty stand for You during the plague of unbelief that spread throughout the land of Israel. And yet there were moments when he allowed the mindset of the unbelievers, instead of the absolutes stated in Your Word, to weaken him, leading him to think that he was alone in standing true for You. But You sent word to Elijah, that You have a remnant more interested in obeying You than bowing down to the ever-evolving philosophies of their generation. When we stand with You, Almighty God, we are a majority no matter the number of evil forces we oppose. Keep us looking upward as we walk onward in the truths of Your Holy Scripture. In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Pro-Life Prayer: Father, we thank You for the courageous girls and women who, in the most difficult of circumstances, choose to give life over choosing to dispense of their "problem". We thank You for the vast groups of men and women who lend support to crisis pregnancies, to those who take in and raise children who are given up for adoption. We thank You for those who have dedicated their lives to this tremendous cause, keeping it very much alive, so that those who accept it as a viable option due to its legalization in 1973 will come to realize that Your Word is the first and final authority on life, not the legislation and judicial fiats of our day.

Bless those who speak, those who march, and those who work among pregnant girls and women who are presently in the very midst of making a life or death decision regarding their unborn child. We also pray for those who made the wrong choice to abort, that they may find Your enduring grace that brings healing and restoration. In many instances, You have used their troubling experience to be an influencing voice for others to make a right choice. We commit the Pro-Life cause to You this day, in Jesus' name. Amen.

We have shared several times before but this true event bears repeating: The church I pastored in Massachusetts was located on US 44, a busy highway that was the main east/west route through the city of Taunton (and main route from Providence, Rhode Island to Plymouth, MA). Our church had a lighted message sign along the highway that was changed virtually every week by Bill and Veda, a very dedicated couple in the church. Bill went on to be with the Lord in 2000 when we lived there. Veda is still living, now in a nursing home, and we hope to see her this weekend.

Through this sign many people were regularly exposed to spiritual truth in a very spiritually desolate region of the country. Through the years we got a number of positive remarks from passersby concerning these messages which was very encouraging.

However a message we placed up in January one year got some very interesting feedback. We posted this simple, unambiguous, irrefutable message: "Abortion Stops A Beating Heart". A woman who'd seen the sign called my office extremely upset. She told me she thought there should be a law against posting such a message and threatened that she was going to check into it. She claimed her children were so upset they cried. Truth really hurts and in this case illustrates the awful blindness that sin causes.

Another note: In Monday's message we mentioned that the previous day was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. A chaplain friend from New Jersey wrote expressing disappointment that this was not mentioned in his church. I am sure there were good causes that I failed to mention when I was a pastor. However I do see a trend of too many ministers avoiding truthful proclamation if it might offend someone or be perceived as "political". This is effectively silencing the last bastion for truth in our falling society. But be prepared to face opposition. I read a story about a church in Columbia MO where the pastor preached a sermon about God creating us male and female and the church came under attack for this!  See here.

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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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