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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Conewago Lake in Lebanon County
Conewago Lake in Lebanon County
Click on photo to enlarge

"Remembering The Afflicted"

Message summary:  Today and every day may the Lord bring to our remembrance those who are enduring persecution and affliction so that we are faithful in praying for their needs.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body" (Hebrews 13:3).

We prepare these messages from the peace and comfort of our home here in rural Pennsylvania. We live in a very peaceful location on this terrestrial ball but read about the turmoil taking place in so many places or we see it in action via media sources, especially the rioting, violence, and major destruction in major cities. But it still seems far away so personal reminders are needed regarding the hard times others experience.

Ugandan church (before and after)Last week we received an email note from Jackline and Moses from Africa that we found personally encouraging and they welcomed us to share it with you along with the photos:

"Thanks a lot for the relentless efforts to ensure we get daily encouragement regularly. We bless the Lord for you and may the Good Lord give you more revelations and deeper insights for the good of many that read from you!"

But then the tone shifted as Jackline wrote about the violent persecution of a Ugandan congregation:

"Though my husband is a national of South Sudan, I am Ugandan. I learned a few days ago a church (over forty years old) near my Ugandan home in the capital city Kampala was demolished in the wee hours of the morning. Only the pinnacle of the church hosting the cross stands. The Christians are heavily perturbed. Pray for them."

Indeed we are praying for these fellow believers and ask our readers to do so as well. Just imagine what it would feel like to see your church building in shambles due to evildoers.

Our daily text speaks of our need to remember those suffering two types of persecution; imprisonment and suffering adversity.

But today let us focus on the latter part of the text, "as being yourselves also in the body". This phrase is interpreted in various ways but primarily in the sense:

1) To empathize with those suffering since we all have a physical body and are fully aware of our body's strengths and weaknesses, of that which causes bodily pain and suffering, emotional distress and otherwise.

2) To identify with the body of Christ undergoing distress, as fellow believers who are born again, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Brooksyne forwarded the note from Jackline to our Zimbabwean friends and received this thoughtful response from Tho who speaks also for us regarding our thoughts and prayers for the persecution of this local congregation in Uganda:

Thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking story about this church in Uganda that was demolished. Oh my goodness, what on earth is this!!! Of all the buildings how can he destroy the church! God forbid! We are praying for these brothers and sisters who do not have a place of worship now. We cannot imagine how hurt they are. Oh Lord have mercy.

Once again thank you, dear, for sharing. We are reminded of John 15:18-19, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you".

May the power of the God the Holy Spirit engulf our brothers and sisters at this difficult time of the church family.

Today and every day may the Lord bring to our remembrance those who are enduring persecution and affliction so that we may be faithful in praying for their needs.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us to be moved by the plight of those who are suffering loss and even laying down their lives for the sake of Christ. We remember the congregation in Uganda and other persecuted lands who have suffered loss physically, structurally or materially or all three. Through Your miraculous intervention evil can be exchanged for good when we earnestly pray for Your purpose to prevail even in such mayhem and loss. On Coronation Day when we all gather in heaven we look forward to enjoying eternal fellowship with these tried and true saints of our faith who did not give up meeting together to worship You. Keep us faithful when tested by fire, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"People Of The Cross"  Video  Selah  As you listen to “People of the Cross,” remember to pray for believers who suffer daily for their faith—and let’s stand as one together in Jesus Christ. Dedicated especially to Jackline and Moses.

Some additional thoughts on "as being yourselves also in the body". The Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews summarizes the possibilities…

    (1) “Members of the Christian fellowship,” understanding “body” in the figurative sense used by Paul (Jerusalem Bible “since you too are in the one body”), is most unlikely. There is no similar text in Hebrews; there is no definite article for “the” in the Greek, and this explanation does not fit in with verse 3a, which in other ways is parallel to 3b.

    (2) Many translators think “in (the) body” means “in this mortal life” (compare 2Cor 5.6 and Ro 7.24); Knox “since you are still in the world”; similarly Phillips.

    (3) Other common language translations, and some other translations, suggest either:

    (a) that the readers should identify themselves in sympathy with those who are ill-treated: Today's English Version as though you were suffering as they are (similarly German Common Language); Translator's New Testament “as if you too shared their lot”; or

    (b) that the readers may suffer in the same way in the future: “for the same can happen to you”; “for you may yet suffer as they do.” This is not necessarily implied by the text, though it is perhaps included in (a), which also makes a good parallel with verse 3a, as though. (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series)

In the course of preparing for this message Brooksyne came across a book by an "academic" titled "The Myth of Persecution", in which the author, identified as a leading expert on early Christianity, contends the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors. For the discerning reader this is just another example of post modern, revisionist history masquerading as "scholarship". Be on your guard against deception!

John Deere, Lebanon County, PA
Yesterday in Lebanon County, PA we saw this outdoor playset, a delightful wooden replica of a John Deere tractor for any young boy (or girl, for that matter) growing up in our agricultural area where noisy tractors and agricultural farms surround us. Our beautiful views of farmland is the highlight of living in this region of PA.

Iron Bridge on LVRT
Yesterday following a chaplain visit we rode on the always beautiful Lebanon County Rail Trail. Brooksyne is crossing this old iron bridge in Cornwall, PA

Lebanon, PA residential area
We got off the main trail and rode though a residential part of Lebanon. You might think these residents were tying yellow ribbons round their old oak trees but it's actually yellow Spotted Lantern Fly Tape wrapped around the trees due to an invasive insect known as the spotted lantern fly which is increasing in our area.

Sunset 9/8/20
We had yet another beautiful sunset last night, although we expect the corn will soon be harvested changing our view. Stephen took this photo from our front porch as Ester was just returning from her bike ride.

Sunset 9/8/20
Over a mile away Brooksyne was walking the dogs and enjoying the sunset peering over the soybean field. After she got home we at our photos and noticed that his photo was taken only seconds before mine. We were drawn to the sunset at the same time but in different places!

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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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