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Friday, January 31, 2020

Anchor for the soul
Anchor at Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
One of our favorite photos of Plymouth where we frequently visited and walked along the harbor while living in New England.

"Our Most Certain Appointment"

Message summary:  Let us heed the Scripture's warning today!

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"Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:4,5). "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

When a notable person dies it generates lots of attention and sympathy. It can be a reminder of just how fragile life is. But every day there are many deaths, most unnoticed apart from close loved ones and then some practically unnoticed by any. A great blessing of life is having loved ones you are close to!

Today let us consider death that comes early and unexpectedly. The ugly intrusion of death is no respecter of persons and comes to people of all ages and in various ways from accidents to deadly diseases to natural disasters. Throughout our years of ministry we have dealt with many people dealing with this intrusion.

The first portion of Scripture used in today's encouragement has long intrigued me. Jesus referred to a contemporary tragedy that was in the news at the time when He referred to an accident in which the tower in Siloam fell on eighteen people and they died as a result. No further details are given and we are left to wonder whether it was a construction accident or failure of the tower after it had been constructed.

Whatever the circumstance, when death comes people grieve deeply. We consider the agonizing death of these 18 and most especially the grief of their family members, co-workers and friends. Among my most poignant memories of death took place while I was on a mission trip to Columbia many years ago. We were returning on the mountain roads to Bogota and came upon an accident where a bus had run over a bicyclist just moments earlier. I still recall seeing the body of the dead cyclist covered by a bloody blanket with a grieving friend kneeling beside him.

Jesus does not address the question that's foremost when such things happen. And in this passage recorded in the Scriptures He provides no comforting words. When things like this happen we want to know "Why did this happen?" or as believers more specifically, "Why did God allow this to happen?" Really, in our hearts we want to know how an unexplainable tragedy relates to God being in control.

Jesus does not provide an answer to these "why" questions, but He clearly rebukes the simpleton mentality of those who have the view that the eighteen who died "were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem". We have occasionally encountered a similar attitude when an individual sees suffering in someone else, essentially asserting that the suffering must either be due to "lack of faith" or some underlying sin. This is a profane form of spiritual pride. We are all sinners and we all have deficiencies in our faith.

Jesus deals with the bigger and more important issue. Hear the words of our ever truthful Lord, "But unless you repent, you too will all perish".  The emphasis of our Lord is in being ready for eternity. Have you repented of your sins? Are you ready to meet your Maker right now if it's your time?

Jesus addressed the presumption held by many that surely those who died were "more guilty" than others living in Jerusalem at the time.  (The converse wording is that those who didn't die surely must have been "more righteous" than those who did.)  Again Jesus answers His own question by repeating, "I tell you, no! (they weren't more guilty) But unless you repent, you too will all perish".

God doesn't always act according to our expectations and that's a critical test of faith, particularly when we deal with the great "why" questions. But He is always in absolute control even when the situation we experience seems contrary to that truth.

Today we want to encourage each reader, especially those of you who are facing a difficult situation as you read this. May the Lord give you a deep and abiding assurance of His steadfast love and care. Indeed, He is in control!

The emphasis of our Lord is the need for everyone to repent and, according to Jesus, all who do not repent will perish; "You too will all perish".  Tragedy may not come for you in a construction accident, car crash or deadly disease but this universal truth from Hebrews 9 asserts, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment." This is our most certain appointment. We must all heed the words of Jesus, "Unless you repent, you too will all perish".  Again we ask, Have you repented of your sins and turned to the Lord for His salvation?

Here's a common prayer that expresses repentance to God and a desire to follow in His ways. I urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today:  "Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner and I am turning to You in repentance, asking You to forgive me of my sins.  I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me.  I place my faith in You and what You have done for me.  I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow in Your ways and serve You. Thank You for hearing my prayer."

Presenting ourselves to God is how we begin our new life as a Christian. It doesn't matter how sordid or troubled our lives are, if we come to Him in faith, He hears us and receives us as His sons and daughters. I earnestly pray that everyone reading this will do so. And I would be very blessed and encouraged if those of you who have done so would let us know.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, none of us knows the hour nor manner in which we will leave this life. Deaths result from accidents, disease and natural disasters for both the godly and ungodly. But there is sweet assurance for those of us who remain when our loved ones who die are believers. It's a fact that we will all one day perish so we want to be prepared for that great and final event by repenting of our sins and living a life that properly prepares us for the final judgment. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Wayne and Yvette 1/25/20
It was a blessing to join Wayne and Yvette for dinner at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant Saturday afternoon. I had the privilege of conducting their wedding service 13 years ago. They are involved in various ministries.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Only God Knows"  Video  Triumphant Quartet  We devote this song to any of our readers going through a hard time today.

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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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