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Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Our friend Mary Lou Sherer sent us this photo that she took in her backyard in Willow Street PA of a young bluebird getting some tasty meal worms from her devoted mom. Her husband Joe pastored here in Mount Joy for 30 years and is now serving a church in Willow Street.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"One Thing We Know"
Message summary: Today's message is written for those needing assurance their labor in the Lord is not in vain.
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“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
My Sunday School teacher in 7th and 8th grade was an older man by the name of Joe Harding. (Since I was raised to respectfully call all adults Mr. or Mrs. I still think of him as Mr. Harding.)
At that time in my life I had no desire to serve God and don’t recall paying much attention in Sunday School. In fact, I was a disruptive problem student. Thinking I was doing him a favor just showing up on Sundays, I'm sure I never expressed any appreciation whatsoever to Mr. Harding for his voluntary labors. In retrospect I recall his love for the Lord and for his students. He was a very quiet spoken Mexican-American man with an earnest faith and desire to pass it on to his students. I was a disrespectful brat who had nothing to learn from that "old man" (my perspective at the time). I realize I am now older than he was at that time! He surely must have gotten very discouraged with brash kids like me. But he didn't give up.
Several years later during my high school years I accepted the Lord as my Savior and experienced genuine conversion. After high school I went to Central Bible College and prepared for the ministry and went immediately into pastoral service. I also met Brooksyne during those years. And do you know who came to our wedding about ten years after he was my Sunday School teacher? Mr. Harding along with his wife Pauline! They drove 260 miles down from the Kansas City area to attend our wedding in Sapulpa Oklahoma in 1976. In the photo (left) our wedding photographer captured this setting of me introducing Brooksyne to the Hardings in our reception line.
Many years after this I was prompted by the Spirit to contact Mr. Harding and thank him for his faithfulness to God and for his impact on my life (over 20 years after he had taught me).
I did reach him (he was in his 80's at the time) and I was later told my expression of gratitude made his day! He went to be with the Lord a few years after this. There was mention at his funeral that one of his students from Sunday School went into the ministry. I am sure there are many other students who were impacted by his teaching and Mr. Harding fully knows now that his labor in the Lord was not in vain, as week after week he endured uninterested and often interrupting Junior High students like me.
I often quote our daily verse in this series and in my face to face ministry. In fact I did so yesterday. I suppose I would have to say it’s my life verse.
Consider just the phrase "because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain". Warren Wiersbe observes, “Christians can be steadfast and immovable, because they know that if their worst enemy (death) has been overcome, they need fear no other enemy. They can abound in Christian service, for that work will count for eternity.”
Don’t forget that important truth. Ministry in any form can be discouraging at times. Consider how often discouragement is based on the sense of futility. Mr Harding could have said, what's the use of putting time into study since that bratty kid is not going to listen to me anyway!"
But the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us "our labor in the Lord is not in vain". Keep pressing on; serving, loving and showing the light of Christ to a dark, often unreceptive world or even just one rascally or non attentive student.
Two practical thoughts for each reader today:
1) Each of us has several people like Mr. Harding in our lives. They’ve invested in us. It may have even been at a time when we didn't want anyone investing in our lives! Why don’t you brighten their day by personally thanking them? Perhaps you can meet with them. If possible write them a note or even a tribute. Invest a little time and a lot of heart in return for the investment they made in your life.
2) Some of you are now teaching children and youth like Mr. Harding in my Jr. High Class. You are sharing God’s truth with some rascals and it sure doesn’t seem like anyone’s paying a bit of attention. Two words: stay faithful, stay faithful, stay faithful!
Serving God is never a waste of time! It’s never in vain! God is doing a work in you and growing the fruit of love, patience, goodness and faithfulness as you carry on His work. He’s also doing a work in those you pour your life into. You will find out the rest of the story later (perhaps in this life, perhaps in heaven). "Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last."
Above all, know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, there are many good things that beckon my attention, time, and energy. But as You place on my heart a ministry or service that brings eternal significance to others give me strength, endurance and desire to press on zealously, no matter the difficulty or seeming ineffectiveness. As I obey You I find reward and fulfillment in my spiritual walk and am investing in that which does not perish, spoil or fade. Keep me firm and immovable always abounding in Your work because I want to make an eternal difference and am confident that my work for You is never in vain. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"It's Not in Vain" Video The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"Worth It All" Video The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"My last words to the world" An interesting and convicting perspective from John Lennox, a scientist and Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University who is a devout Christian. Video
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