The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Basket made by the Weber family at Longaberger Homestead
A basket of fresh vegetables that Brooksyne made at the Longaberger Homestead in Ohio several years ago.

"Rope Holders"

Message summary: Today we consider the value of rope holders.

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket" (Acts 9:23-25). "At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands" (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).

So many world events grieve and perplex us, presently the earthquake in Haiti and the horrible situation in Afghanistan. Yesterday we saw a note from our missionary friend, Tommy Carpenter, which reminded us of the specific perils that the Christian population faces there in Afghanistan (see below). So many, regardless of faith, need rescued, delivered, and protected.

Today we want to consider a rescue; this one using a very large basket, likely with a wooden base since it could hold the weight of a person. Luke wrote about this life-saving basket in the book of Acts.

Acts 9 records the story of Saul’s conversion where he had gone to Damascus, "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples". But God upset his plans and Saul was dramatically converted.

When Saul was converted God could have directly intervened and removed the blinding scales from his eyes, but instead His healing power was released through Ananias, a yielded and trusting servant of Christ who was willing to pray for and befriend Saul, who was a notorious terrorist among believers, especially following the martyrdom of Stephen.

After Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus “he began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:23). This resulted in his being pursued by his former partners in persecution of which he had once been a zealous participant. They conspired to kill him. God could have directly delivered Saul when "the Jews plotted to kill him" without human intervention. This is a vital lesson we need to apply in our service for Christ; we need each other.

Interestingly, the very ones he had come to persecute days earlier were now essential in his daring nighttime escape. (Talk about a turnaround of loyalties in both the Christian’s and persecutor’s camps.) God used several unnamed disciples who were instrumental in helping Saul out of town in the midst of persecution that was aimed directly at him. They, along with Ananias, (who perhaps was among them) became the first of many, many ministry associates to Saul, whom of course we now know as the apostle Paul. He learned early on that he was part of a team.

Rope holdersThese disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket (presumably using ropes). Can you mentally picture these disciples tightly holding the ropes as they carefully lowered him down the city wall in a basket. Of course they were also putting their own lives in danger. Saul experienced divine protection in the midst of persecution, but he would also learn that God’s deliverance often comes in cooperation with other people. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul recalls this deliverance, "At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands".

We are thankful for the scores of godly people through the years whom we have teamed up with to advance God’s cause, those who have held the ropes for us. Many of you receiving this message have been or are a part of that team. Thank you!

Today consider your life and ministry for Christ. There are surely those who have held the ropes for you. They’ve given a word fitly spoken, interceded in prayer for you, helped you out of a jam, lovingly rebuked you when you needed it (but didn’t really want it), etc.

Consider also those you’ve reached out to and held the ropes for. It may have been hard, inconvenient or even dangerous (as it was for the original rope-holders). But aren’t you thankful these disciples did it? Keep hold of the ropes for fellow believers, for those in missionary service, for your spiritual leaders and for loved ones who’ve not yet submitted their hearts to God!

Finally back to the dire conditions in Afghanistan for so many, but especially followers of Christ. Most of us cannot physically hold a rope (that is, being physically involved in their rescue) but we can hold the ropes by being burden bearers who steadfastly pray for those in peril.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we’re thankful for the rope-holders who bear our burdens and encourage us in times of weakness and difficulty. You work through such human vessels to convey Your strength, comfort, protection, and challenge as we walk together in faith. Help us to be faithful in doing our part to encourage, pray, and offer support to those You lay on our hearts that we may be united and strengthened in our Christian journey. At this time our hearts are heavily concerned for our troops in Afghanistan, for our fellow Americans, for the believers and Christian leaders, and for the Afghan people already being enslaved, tortured and killed by the Taliban. We need a miraculous deliverance and wise leaders who will do what is necessary to come to the aid of those in peril. We pray for the Haitians, many who have lost not just their homes but family members. Miracle working God, we pray that "You will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. Take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. Rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in Your sight" and precious they are to their families and friends. Amen

See Psalm 72:12-14 (adapted)

When William Carey, the Father of Modern Missions, was leaving for India as a missionary, he told a group of interested friends, “Saving souls can be likened to a man drowning in a deep well and a volunteer can do nothing unless there are people who will hold the rope for him to be lowered till he reaches the drowning man, and then pull them up to safety.” Carey adds, “I will go to India as a volunteer to seek sinners drowning in the well of SIN. But I can’t do it alone. I need rope-holders. Will you be my rope-holders?” Perhaps William Carey was considering today's event when he told this story.

Here's the note I read from Tommy Carpenter concerning Afghanistan:

The fast-moving and unpredictable situation needs earnest prayer as requested by various ministry groups who have served in Afghanistan in establishing ministry and house churches.

There is not a single church building in Afghanistan but during the presence of international forces in the past 20 years many ministries have developed disciples and an underground house church movement.

Now, the Taliban has started killing house church pastors, and believers are in danger, as any believers in Christ will normally suffer the death penalty under the Taliban’s harsh form of Islam.

Now, only the Heavenly Angelic Forces can help to continue and sustain this church in Afghanistan.

Therefore, your prayers matter.

Please Pray:

* Pray that God’s peace and protection will envelop the believers and their families and that they will experience the supernatural guidance and protection.
* Please pray for many foreign expatriates who were serving as Christian humanitarian agencies will be able to exit the country.
* Pray that every believer of the Body of Christ in Afghanistan will experience God’s grace in a special way. Their presence as salt and light will restrain the evil forces of darkness and evil which try to destroy this land. “The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out. John 1:5
* Pray that peaceful political transition will happen without violence and that all the progress made in the last 20 years with human rights, especially for women will not be taken away.
* Already thousands are displaced fleeing key cities seeking protection from Taliban. The Taliban has cut off all exit points to neighboring countries, especially to Pakistan.
* Please pray for countries in South Asia, Pakistan, and India, who will be able to give refuge to those seeking safety.
* Let us affirm by faith that the Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth will rule over what happens in Afghanistan from now on. "Praise and honor the King who rules from heaven!

Everything He does is honest and fair, and He can shatter the power of those who are proud.” Daniel 4:37

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"  Video   Congregational singing

"With Every Act Of Love"  Video  Jason Gray

"Loving God, Loving Each Other"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Do Something"  Video  Matthew West

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How'd we ever get so far down, and
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"
He said, "I did, yeah, I created you" (now listen)
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something, yeah
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh, it's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something
I'm so tired of talking about
How we are God's hands and feet
But it's easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It's alright, "somebody else will do something"
Well, I don't know about you
But I'm sick and tired of life with no desire
I don't want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
"I'm gonna do something"
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something, yes it is, come on
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh oh, it's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
We're never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won't stand still
No, we won't stand still
No, we won't stand still
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now
It's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something
It's time for us to do something
It's time for us to do something
Lyric video by Matthew West performing Do Something. (C) 2014 Sparrow Records

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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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