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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wellsboro. PA
Wellsboro is our favorite northern tier Pennsylvania town featuring this wide boulevard lined with colorful trees and authentic gas lamps. We passed through it this last Sunday after a visit to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

"A Vital Reminder"

Note: Today's message is a bit longer due to a stirred memory.

Message summary: Sometimes God speaks to us through a Scripture verse in a most memorable way.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

ďGod is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help themĒ (Hebrews 6:10). "Your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

Jack and Chris MansfieldWe met Jack and Chris Mansfield nearly 40 years ago when we served a church in northern Pennsylvania. They, along with their three young children, became a very active part of the church and they served faithfully in various ways for many years.

We are so thankful that, although both of our families left that area of northern Pennsylvania in the early 90's, we have stayed in contact. In 2003 I had the privilege of conducting their oldest daughter Carrie's wedding. Jack is retired now and they spend their summers in the Finger Lakes region near their son and winter in Southern Virginia not far from their oldest daughter. We rejoice that Jack and Chris, along with each of their children and families, serve the Lord and are active in their churches. Jack told me his son is a leader in his church.

About 30 years ago I was part of a team on a short-term mission trip to FusagasugŠ, Colombia, about 50 miles south of the capital, Bogota. Jack was also on that team that assisted a local church in a construction project of building a new church building. I had the opportunity to preach to the national believers through a translator. One of the most memorable affirmations in my entire ministry was the pastor saying to his congregation upon the completion of my message, "Perfecto!" (Although my message was certainly far from perfect I was still heartened by the comment, since I had never heard my own wife give me that commendation over our many years of ministry.)

Jack Mansfield with Columbian child Fusagasuga mission trip 1991Jack is a forester and at that time was the general manager of a large lumber processing mill. He was accustomed to being in charge and running things efficiently. However, in our mission project we experienced a painful lack of efficiency in the construction process both in regard to lack of suitable equipment and work practices.

Our work mostly consisted of digging
by hand large holes for footers that took hours in the blistering sun. This work could have been done in minutes with a back hoe! Since we followed the pace of work done by the Colombian church members who worked alongside us, we took a few more breaks than we're accustomed to in the U.S. when desiring to finish a project!

I recall being discouraged and candidly expressed my emotions to Jack saying something to the effect, "Is this really worth it?" As we talked it out, we both received a breakthrough in Godís assurance that our labor was not in vain. Our work was more than just physical labor; for we were called to build people, which included hours of fellowship working alongside Colombian believers working at their pace. It was part of Godís plan for the mission team who went to serve, as well as the nationals.

The final night we gathered in the national pastorís home for a special meal and Communion. The pastor expressed his gratitude to the mission team for helping with the project. Through a translator he shared a verse with great earnestness.
Although I had surely read it many times in the course of reading the Bible it really jumped out at me when he shared the verse in Spanish and it was translated to English. It meant a great deal to me at the time and has ever since:

"Porque Dios no es injusto como para olvidarse de la obra de ustedes y del amor que han mostrado hacia Su nombre, habiendo servido, y sirviendo aķn, a los santos."

"God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them" (Hebrews 6:10).
  • "God is not unjust." Did you get that? So much discouragement ultimately stems from a failure to accept Godís justice. He truly does everything well, although we may not understand His overall plan. Remember the entire scope of Godís plan will not be fulfilled or revealed on this side; the best and lasting is yet to come. Isn't that a powerful verse to bolster our assurance of our ministry impact? In fact if you can't memorize the entire verse just remember these four words, "God is not unjust".
  • "He will not forget your work." Fellow servant, you may feel underappreciated, rejected, taken for granted; you name it. But Godís Word says, "He will not forget your work". I want to hide these truths deep in my heart today and encourage you to do so as well. Even after we depart this earth and join the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 God will not forget our work. That which is done for Christ goes on. It has lasting, eternal impact. And God does not overlook our effort or forget about it.
  • "And the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people." We show our love for God as we help His people. Readers in this encouragement series are involved in scores of different ministries. Even among the several hundred on this list that we know personally we consider the variety of ways that you serve the Lord.
  • "And continue to help them."  This surely speaks of faithfulness and steadfastness in our service. Our goal, as much as we are able, is to continue helping God's people whether it is those we have personally met or the many who know us only through this internet ministry. But there's another sense that we "continue to help" God's people even after our death. We do so through our spiritual descendants, those whose lives we have impacted who in turn impact others even after our departure. That is a tremendous source of joy and fulfillment! 2 Timothy 2:2 expresses this principle: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." In this sense our ministry impact continues long after we have left our earthly dwelling.
One of the emotional struggles common to those in ministry is that of discouragement. We may not see the results we would like. In fact at times we may see little or no evidence that our labor in the Lord is making any difference. This is true whether we are in vocational ministry or serving the Lord in various ways in a lay capacity. Sometimes God calls ministers to places where there is little or no receptivity to the gospel message. Other times we see people who once professed Christ as their Savior, walk away from the Christian lifestyle, denying the power of God in their lives.

But you are showing your love for Him in a variety of ways as you help His people. Thatís the very heart of ministry. Some of you are in vocational ministry, others are faithfully serving as dedicated lay people. Anyone involved in ministry knows that one of Satanís most vicious and persistent attacks upon the servants of Christ is discouragement. Thatís why I value the opportunity to encourage our readers on a daily, ongoing basis! Remember, "Your labor in the Lord is not in vain."


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, our hearts are warmed and encouraged when we remember that our labor for You is not in vain. You see our hearts and equip us to carry out the mission of helping Your people. We donít want to look to others for affirmation since that could lead us to vacillate in our calling or even struggle with pride. Instead You bless us as we are faithful to You and remain steadfast in our commitment to help others. May we not rely on just the immediate results, but rather recognize that You are storing up treasures from our work here on earth, some that will only be revealed in heaven. Amen.


 
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Worth It All"  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"It's Gonna be Worth It"  Video  Rita Springer

"Build My Life"  Video  Housefires

"Little Is Much When God Is In It"  Video  Larry Ford with Homecoming Singers

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video  Dallas Holm



Some photos from our 1991 missions trip to FusagasugŠ, Colombia

Fusagasuga mission trip 1991
We so enjoyed the children who seemed to like being around us.

Fusagasuga mission trip 1991
Some of our team with two of the nationals.

Fusagasuga mission trip 1991
I have to admit, all these years later I'm still pretty proud of this hole I dug!

Fusagasuga mission trip 1991
Reading Scripture before preaching while Missionary Myrna Wilkins translates.

Fusagasuga mission trip 1991
I still recall the way the people earnestly and enthusiastically entered into worship.

Finally today:

Yesterday's message on "The Abundance Of Grace" prompted this thoughtful response from Jim Gambini, who was our pastor the first several years we lived in Lancaster County. He and his wife Wendy now live in Georgia.

Jim and Wendy GambiniHello Webers!! Greetings from some of your "southern brethren."

Just a thought on grace - although I have tons of thoughts about grace since I find it so valuable on which to ponder and meditate.

In Ephesians we're told that the forgiveness God has granted us "in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us." The word "lavish" is intended to bring up images of our being granted something really, really good and in such abundance so as to seem far more than we really need. The image that comes to my mind is of a 55 gallon drum full of grace. God dumps this on us and we're drenched in this grace. But then God fills it again (or has another one handy) and dumps that on us again... and again and again...  You get the idea. We're saying, "OK, God, that's plenty, really. Thanks, but i think that'll be enough." And God says, "Not yet. I want to give you more."

I have often thought of the woman who anointed Jesus with her expensive perfume. She really could have used something much cheaper but we're told that she used some really expensive stuff.  What she did was quite lavish.

I ponder these images and think on the grace God pours out on us. God's grace, as lavish as the expensive perfume that woman used on Jesus, was not too much. That woman did not waste one drop of that perfume on Jesus. It was lavish but it was just right. God's grace is lavish and he lavishes it on us - but it's never wasteful. God lavishes his grace on us because we need it. And the reason we need it is because our sin is so heinous, so deep, so tragic. It takes a lavish amount of grace for us to be forgiven, for us to be healed from our sin. We can dance and celebrate the lavish gift but must never presume upon it or take it for granted. Grace is precious stuff.

Well, that's enough of my sermon. Like I said, grace is one of my favorite meditations. Maybe because I need it so much.



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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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