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Monday, February 17, 2020

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse (photo by Harold Blichfeldt)
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse along Lake Huron near Harrisville, Michigan
(Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)

"The Grace Outlook"

Message summary:
In having "the grace outlook" we seek to constantly view life as a gift from God and see His hand at work in every circumstance of our life every day.

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"Let us then approach Godís throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

Through our years of ministry, both in pastoral and chaplain roles, we have often walked alongside those going through difficult trials. In recent years we have been attending a church quite different in size than those from our past; a very large church with three services. We had previously been in churches where, if you're a regular attendee, you pretty much know everyone in the congregation by name and you're familiar with their ongoing challenges.

In a large church it's not possible to know everyone in a personal way, but there are venues like small groups where it is. There are also those who attend we befriend because they're our "pew neighbors".  Regardless of where we have ever lived, in churches big and small, people tend to sit in the same area or even the same pew every week, so we do get to know the people around us due to fellowship before and after the service.

For several years we've sat near a younger couple seated on the second row. They appear very earnest, vibrant and expressive in their worship. Several months ago we noticed the young man wearing a medical mask and together Brooksyne and I wondered what health issue he was dealing with. A few weeks back I was out of town but Brooksyne attended the Sunday morning service. She told me later the Lord brought them to mind throughout the service and prompted her to respectfully approach them and sensitively inquire about the mask.

They were quite open and seemed to appreciate her interest. Turns out Mike was hoping and waiting for a bone marrow transplant within the next two weeks. His cancer, that had been in remission, had returned and his only hope for survival was through a bone marrow transplant. Mike and Amanda shared that they have five children and the surgery and treatments would require his staying at Johns Hopkins Hospital for two months, with his wife right alongside him most of that time. His sister was the donor having passed the rigorous testing, and Mike underwent surgery a few weeks ago and is now going through the grueling process of recovery.

Amanda sat in front of us yesterday along with the two younger children. She was wearing a medical mask since she must remain healthy during Mike's critical recovery. In our worship time, the "King's Kids" children's choir led in a song we have really come to enjoy in recent months that has these faith-building lines:

I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone, and I will not be shaken

Brooksyne and I commented to one another after the service how touched we were when we saw Amanda with an upraised hand singing this song, while her other arm secured the small child nestled on her hip. Worshiping the One whom she and her husband have built their life upon will keep them from being shaken during the ups and downs of this ongoing and intensive trial. In a sense she was approaching Godís throne of grace with confidence, and receiving mercy and finding grace to help her in her time of need.

We can't store up or anticipate as to when we will need God's special grace, but God faithfully dispenses His grace in our time of need.
"Let us then approach Godís throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need".

Today let us consider a spiritual principle we call the "grace outlook." Each day we can see all the problems and challenges we face in life and make that the focus, which many do and I certainly have (and still periodically do). Or we can focus on God's blessings expressed in our lives through His abundant grace. That's a choice we make daily.

The principle truth of the grace outlook can apply regardless of the duration or severity of the trials we endure throughout life. Paul ends the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians with a prayer in which he asks the Father to fulfill His good purpose in their lives as they are prompted by faith to do His will. "We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:12).

In having "the grace outlook" we seek to constantly view life as a gift from God and see His hand at work in every circumstance of our life every day. That's why wherever we live, whatever we are going through we can truly declare, "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." We challenge you to do that today!

He will carry you when you can't go on.
He will be your strength when your strength is gone.
He will lift you up.
He will be enough to get you through.
When the road is long and you wanna quit.
Cause you think you've got nothing left to give.
You can fall apart, fall into His arms.
He will carry you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there is no one like You. Open up my eyes in wonder; show me who You are, fill me with Your heart and lead me in Your love to those around me. I will build my life upon Your love, for it is a firm foundation. I will put my trust in You alone and not be shaken because I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence, that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need. Amen.

(Beginning of prayer adapted from the song, "Build My Life")

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"In Christ Alone/Build My Life"  Video  Calvary Church "King's Kids" choir from yesterday's  service. We really appreciate the many volunteers who help with the large choir that leads us in worship several times a year. The children sing the worship songs in earnest though there may be a wiggly child here or there. In the song, "Build My Life" during one stanza the adult singer backs off the microphone and you can hear the children really sing out!

Calvary Church "King's Kids" children's choir

"He Will Carry You"  Video  Brian Free and Assurance

A note from Ester:

For the Daily Encouragement readers,

Thank you all so much for the prayers, calls and emails last week. Iím glad to be home with my family again, including my canine family, Sadie Mae & Mollie Taylor. Iím slowly but surely regaining my strength again. I love you all so very much.

This morning I tested my INR and it was 2.6, a perfect reading within the middle range of (2.0 -3.0) for which I thank God.

Sincerely, Ester Weber

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, 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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