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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Mountain lake on Stony Valley railroad trail
The Stony Mountain Rail Trail ends at a beautiful mountain lake, providing the water supply for Lebanon, PA.
Click to enlarge

"The Devil's Racecourse"

Message summary:
Our ancient foe is a perpetual opportunist but we have a command from Scripture which should be memorized and practiced by all who follow Christ, "Give no opportunity to the devil".

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27).

Yesterday we took a long bike ride on the Stony Valley Rail Trail in northern Lebanon County. It's one of the most remote of our local rail trails and parallels the Appalachian Trail for a long section. We arrived home late yesterday afternoon quite weary and realized our bodies are strained by these longer bike adventures, especially when there's heat and a grade, which this old mountain railroad had. We both still feel it this morning!

Devil's Racecourse Off the trail in a very remote area, accessible only by a long hike, is an interesting geological feature, a long linear boulder field (See on Google map). It's known as the "Devil's Racecourse". This is named similarly to the "Devil's Golf Course" in Death Valley National Park which is not really a golf course, of course.

I can't determine how Devil's Racecourse got its name but it would certainly be a very challenging racecourse
as you can see from the photo! If I were racing, though it might slow me down, I'd want to wear some knee protectors and gloves, a type of hiking known as scrambling. Some attribute the name, "Devil's Racecourse" to the rattling, burbling sound of running water running underneath the boulders.

Sometimes it seems like we're on the devil's racecourse. That's certainly true on a personal level with seasons of life that can feel especially treacherous. Rather than run we may just scramble along.

But this can also be observed in society, especially as we see a greater and rapidly hastening departure from the faith and really, giving more and more opportunity to the devil. This could be a source of despair if we focus on it but remember the Bible says, "In the last days perilous times will come" (2 Timothy 3:1). The verses that follow this text describe so many characteristics of what we now see.

But today let us focus on the personal level which we can do something about.

The message of Pilgrim's Progress is one of perseverance in the Christian faith. The main character, Christian, encounters all manner of trials and obstacles in his progress to heaven.

"In Pilgrim’s Progress, you get details on how the Devil attacks, what strategies he uses, and then how to defeat him. When the Apollyon (the Devil) argues with Christian, he tells him that serving the Lord Jesus will cause him nothing but trouble. But in the middle of their argument, Christian remembers effectual prayer, and it gives him fresh courage. As Peter put it, “the Lord will make you strong.”

In these spiritual battles we face in life, the Lord delivers us and strengthens us. As the enemy continues to attack Christian, he reaches down to touch his sword—which we know from Ephesians 6 is the sword of the Spirit—and receives fresh courage.” (Charles Morris)

Our Scripture text is specifically dealing with those who are giving a foothold to anger, i.e. letting anger control them, thereby giving a foothold to the devil. But the principle applies to all of life since our ancient foe is a perpetual opportunist. We have a command from Scripture in our daily text which should be memorized and practiced by all who follow Christ, "Give no opportunity to the devil".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we will give the devil no foothold or grip on our lives if we are leaning on Jesus, learning Scriptures that teach us right from wrong, and giving no opportunity to the devil. We choose to resist him in his battle for our soul, standing firm in our faith, so that our testimony includes not only that of salvation but also that of overcoming our adversary who is a perpetual opportunist. We can overcome because we serve the risen Savior who overcame death and the grave. Thank You for the victory through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Dear John Letter (To The Devil)"  Video  This old Keith Green song came to mind today!

Stony Valley Rail Trail

Stony Valley railroad trail bridge
Brooksyne crossing a bridge over Rausch Creek which is practically dry.
Click to enlarge

Just off the trail is a huge Beaver pond that can be seen on Google maps (here). I walked toward it off the trail being wary of rattlesnakes and saw lots of evidence of busy beavers chewing up trees.
Click to enlarge

Stony Valley railroad trail sign
We ate our BLT Subway subs near Rausch Gap, a long abandoned ghost town. Near here is the "Hilton of the Appalachian Trail," the Rausch Gap Shelter. (photo)

Stony Valley railroad trail stream
This stream was barely running. Here's a photo and video of the same stream 3 years ago when we visited in early April with spring runoff.

Here's a drone video of the Devil's Racecourse
Hiking Pennsylvania: The Devil's Racecourse  Video 

Years ago we visited another large boulder field here in Pennsylvania at Hickory Run State Park in the Poconos. Photo

The mountain lake shown in our lead photo is located here. You can see the trail ending right before the dam.

Farther up the same ridge as the Devil's Racecourse is another interesting geological feature known as Boxcar Rocks which we hiked to several years ago. (Photos with this message)

Finally today: We made chaplain visits yesterday both before and following our bike ride.

In the afternoon, after our bike hike, we visited White Oak and met a new employee named Paul who shared that he spent time in prison but emphasized, "I'm finished" with the old way of life. He has accepted Christ and is now in a Bible-preaching church in the Harrisburg area. I shared about the message we wrote Tuesday and especially the song, "I Won't Go Back" (Video) as I exhorted him to stay faithful to Christ.

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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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