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Friday, January 29, 2021

First snowball for African boys
A big snow storm is forecast for late this weekend in the Midwest to Northeast!
This photo shows the first snowball the Ncube boys ever formed after their arrival from Zimbabwe to the U.S. Stephen showed the boys, Nathan and Neville, how to make snowballs in our church parking lot. Don't you know they had lots of fun throwing snowballs when they got home!

"Lesson From A Thrown Ball"

Message summary: Today let us not repeat the failures of past generations such as those in the age of Isaiah, instead let us faithfully seek to serve the Lord all our days so that we are recipients of God's blessings and not His wrath!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country" (Isaiah 22:18).

FootballEarly this week I made an allusion to the upcoming Super Bowl, the ultimate championship in NFL football. At the heart of the game is a ball,
of course in this case the football. NFL footballs are all made at the rather unpretentious Wilson Sporting Goods football factory in the tiny town of Ada, Ohio. (here on Google map)

This year Tom Brady will play in his tenth Super Bowl which seems really unfair since I never got to play in even one Super Bowl (though Brooksyne goads me that I would never have the discipline to get where Brady is even if the opportunity stared me in the face)! What about you? I played football in Junior High but my football "career" ended there. I broke my ankle playing football but the real reason my "career" ended is that I really wasn't that good. (I can finally admit that publicly 50 years later.)

But I still like to toss a football back and forth with friends on occasion. For that matter I enjoy playing catch with about any type of ball. It seems anywhere you go on this terrestrial ball* you will find people enjoying a sport that uses some type of ball, most notably soccer. Though I probably toss a Frisbee much more than a ball these past ten years since Mollie, our border collie, never got the hang of retrieving a tennis ball but she never tires of Frisbee.

Pingpong ballIn addition to football I have enjoyed sports using baseballs, basketballs, tennis balls and golf balls. In college I played racquetball and handball and when I have the opportunity I still enjoy the sport that uses the ping pong ball. Since we married in 1976 Brooksyne took up an interest in some of the same sports, especially tennis, which we played for many years and she's still pretty good at ping pong with her fast low serve which she uses in both ping pong and tennis.

Tennis ballI have even used balls as illustrations in sermons, including a rather disastrous attempt using a tennis ball, one of my most embarrassing ministry moments (a link to that story is below.)

We wonder how long it took in human history to discover the fun of using a ball in some type of sport? According to an article on history.com "The bouncing rubber balls used in  today’s most popular sports can be traced back 3,500 years to the dangerous—and deadly—ancient Mesoamerican sport of ulama."

Snowball"Ball" is referenced only once in the Bible in the rather obscure verse that is our daily text. It is from the book of Isaiah written about seven hundred years before Christ. It is actually alluding to God in an act of judgment. The phrase "roll you up tightly like a ball" makes me picture another seasonal ball, the snowball.

Not only does the text refer to the ball but also the act of throwing, “throw you into a large country”. Apparently people have been throwing some type of ball for a long time since the Scriptures use illustrations that would have connected with the initial readers!

OK, so I should get to some exposition here. Most don’t prefer passages dealing with judgment but the Scriptures have a lot of them. In today’s verse "large country" likely refers to the impending Assyrian conquest. Sometimes God’s promised judgment seems quite distant as we understand time but God always keeps His promises as mentioned in Proverbs 30:5, “God keeps every promise He makes”.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is a section that provides warnings from Israel’s history. Verse 11 states, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”

Today let us not repeat the failures of past generations such as those in the age of Isaiah, instead let us faithfully seek to serve the Lord all our days so that we are recipients of God's blessings and not His wrath!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the record of Scripture that not only encourages and instructs us, but also provides examples of those who choose to follow or disobey Your commands. The consequence of their actions further instructs us about Your promise of blessing or judgment. We also see Your provision of Jesus who mercifully saves us from the awful mess we make of our lives when we forsake Your commands. Though technology has advanced exponentially with each passing generation we find that human behavior remains the same as that from the time of Adam and Eve after the fall. We are great sinners and You provide a great Saviour for which we are thankful. In living for Christ we are able to heed the warnings written in Scripture and experience the peace and blessing that comes in walking faithfully with You, our Father and our God. We love You and thank You for Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.

* Do you recognize the hymn that uses the phrase "on this terrestrial ball"? See below for answer.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

The 3,500-Year-Old Rubber Ball That Changed Sports Forever  The bouncing rubber balls used to play today’s most popular sports can be traced back 3,500 years to the dangerous—and deadly—ancient Mesoamerican sport of ulama.

"The Blessing Of Being Forgiven" My feeble, yet memorable attempt, at illustrating using a tennis ball.

* The phrase "terrestrial ball" is found in the great hymn "All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name"   Video   Keith & Kristyn Getty

There is actually a song using a football analogy with a "spiritual" meaning! Joyce Reed from our congregation in New England told me about a song she recalled singing as a youth in the fifties called "DROP KICK ME JESUS"  Video  Bobby Bare

Sport's trivia: Does anyone recall the last successful NFL drop kick? See here.

Joyce shared
another humorous memory from her teen years. She was sitting with the youth during a testimony service in church and an older lady shared a testimony concerning a report of an x-ray taken to determine if she had a brain tumor. She stood up and reported the results to the congregation, "They took an x-ray of my head and didn’t find anything."  The youth chuckled at her wording!

Finally today:

Dining room table tennis at the Lapp family 3/4/18
Several years ago our Amish "grandchildren" started playing ping pong beginning on their dining room table as seen above. Initially I managed to win each game against the three children I played. They now have a full-sized table and have been practicing with one another for a couple years. Several weeks ago they wanted to play confident they could beat me. Turned out I was still able to compete against young people and come out a winner. However as I get rustier and older and they continue to practice I expect my winning streak will unfortunately end!

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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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