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Monday, February 21, 2022

Winter hay (photo by Georgia)
My cousin Georgia took this snowy farm scene in Wisconsin. Today we are projected to have temps near 60. Today it feels like spring's coming but the forecast says more winter weather is right around the bend!

"The Future Sure"

Message summary: Battles? Yes. Bitter struggles? Yes. But you are a conqueror in Christ. (Richard Dresselhauses)
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"There is hope for your future, declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:17).

Yesterday we sang one of my presently favorite songs that has ministered to me in different ways over the last couple of years with certain lyrics "hitting home". As I heard the choir lead out in this song yesterday, three words stood out and filled my heart with firm assurance, "the future sure".

No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven 
The future sure, the price it has been paid 
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon 
And He was raised to overthrow the grave 

It seems like the conditions in our country and world get more and more unstable every day in addition to the uncertainties in our own lives. In the short term the future seems so uncertain. We especially consider those known to us who are facing very difficult personal circumstances such as Nick with a painful recovery from surgery; Maggie overcoming a life threatening battle with Covid; Susanna still waiting word of her husband Pastor Koh five years after his kidnapping in Malaysia, and so many others dealing with common or monumental problems.

So let's look to the Scriptures for spiritual and eternal perspective.

Hear the word from the Lord in Jeremiah to the people in captivity facing a dreary, uncertain future. "There is hope for your future, declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:17). I believe we can believe that promise for today as well.

Paul wrote of the many short-term adversaries he and his initial readers faced in Romans 8. "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword" (v.35). Paul experienced all seven of the problems in verse 35 firsthand (2 Co 11:23-28). When you read of the adversities Paul speaks of, which one(s) would you choose to deal with!

But he goes on to state, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vv. 37-39). Now that's "the future sure"!

Consistent with Scripture the foundation of our "future sure" is redemption through Christ Jesus in whom we are forgiven, "for  Jesus bled and suffered for our pardon and He was raised to overthrow the grave"!

Yet on this earthly plain the battle still rages. This morning I read Richard Dresselhauses' devotional and it's a good way to conclude today's message that our future is sure.

The battle for your soul. It’s a vicious struggle.

The Apostle Paul describes it – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

You will be wise to understand this deadly encounter. Here is the enemy – the rulers…authorities – powers of this dark world.

But it goes even further – “…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Now you know why life is filled with disappointments…misfortunes…and heartache.

But good news – “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Battles? Yes. Bitter struggles? Yes. But you are a conqueror in Christ.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I'm so thankful that trials are ultimately not a waste of our time, energy, or emotions. You use them to refine our faith and to turn our trials into a testimony just as the Psalmist wrote, "His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes." No matter what the immediate future holds, our eternal future is sure as the price has been paid for our salvation through Christ Jesus who overcame death and the grave, establishing a home for us for all eternity. In a world full of bad news it's the best news of our life that will not change no matter the troubles of our day. We are forever grateful. Amen.

See Psalm 112

Brooksyne's note: I was reading early this morning "The strength You Need" by Robert Morgan and highlighted the following lines I share below. I thought it went well with the message Stephen wrote today and pray that it will bless you as it did me. In the midst of adversity remember this:

"We still have God's presence. We have His promises, His peace, His provisions, His protection, His providence working for our good, His personal care, and His ultimate paradise....Only in the power of the cross can we go from dreading the hurts to treading the heights. Only through the power of the resurrection of Christ can we ascend the skies like eagles and traverse the mountains like deer." (Chapter 8 of "The Strenth You Need" by Robert Morgan)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me"  Video   CityAlight  This is the song our choir sang yesterday with the line "the future sure". It also has the recurring phrase, "To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus". May this be true in each of our lives! The release note by CityAlight, who first sang the song, states, "We release it in the hopes of comforting you, encouraging you with the sound of the voice of God’s church, and reminding you that His power and purpose still stand eternally."  The video to share the choir's presentation of "Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me" is not ready yet but here's the streaming version that includes preliminary material. Due to the projected removal of this material I am unable to provide a link directly to the song.

"Battle Belongs"  Video   Shane and Shane  This song especially reinforces the note we shared today from Richard Dresselhaus.

Richard Dresselhaus
"One For The Road"  Daily online devotional by Richard Dresselhaus we quoted today. About 30 years ago we remember reading articles by Richard Dresselhaus in the Evangel, a weekly magazine that our churches distributed. About five years ago we met him and his wife Elnora during a visit to a mutual friend in San Diego and visited with them again this last fall. My older ministry peers give me hope that I can continue to be fruitful and minister for Christ as I move into my senior years.

Calvary Church Choir
We had a busy day yesterday. Brooksyne sang in the choir in two of our three services. That means we needed to be at the church by 6:45 for a pre-service rehearsal. I went with her and sat out in the foyer visiting with other choir spouses before the first service at 8:00 AM. Immediately after the choir finished in the 9:30 service we headed back to Mount Joy where Brooksyne had an interest in seeing a very special missionary.

David Julian and family
Brooksyne's note: I'd like to introduce you to some of my relatives who reside in Springfield, MO. Dave, Amy and their two sons, Dan and Ben. They previously served as missionary associates in  Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu traveling to different countries teaching health and community development initiatives while they were with CompassionLink. They hope by early this summer, after they raise their support, to serve in Papua New Guinea as full-time missionaries where they will set up health aid posts in strategic locations and train local people in basic medicine and evangelism. The hope is to use these facilities as a tangible example of the gospel to allow them to go into communities where the gospel has not been welcome up to this point and to then be able to plant churches in these areas.

Dave is my third cousin and the last time I saw him he was probably the age of his sons. I was thrilled when his mom, Sharon, (who also lives in Springfield) told me they were sharing their ministry vision only about two miles from our home yesterday. When Dave told the story of getting caught in a cyclone 5 in Vanuatu with the walls of his house falling around him, he was calmed by knowing people were praying for him, especially his grandmother and mother. I felt a little "smug" since I was the only one in the congregation that knew their names and the fact that I was also related to them. His grandmother is June, Sharon's mom. They have a strong testimony of faith that I have always admired as they have dealt with much adversity over the years.  It was such a special time for me to hear Dave's story and to pray with them as the pastor invited the congregation to lay hands on them and pray for their family and their ministry vision. His calling to missions is a testimony to Sharon's faithulness to God over the years along with her husband, Mark.

Anna Mary Paglia
In the afternoon we conducted a service at a local assisted living center where the attendees really sang out the hymns. Later Anna Mary joined Brooksyne at the piano and in this photo they are singing, "All Hail the Power". Some of you will recognize Anna Mary Paglia who is now residing at Paramount and will turn 94 in just over a week. She and her husband, Dominick (better known as Doc), served in pastoral and chaplain ministry for 68 years. Several times she said, "Oh, how I miss my husband. We always did everything together including our ministry." Doc passed away in October last year.

Finally today:
Brooksyne's e-bike
Last fall I bought an e-bike and thus far have really enjoyed it. I realized that for us to bike together as we have for many years I would need to get Brooksyne an e-bike as well, so her Valentine's Day gift was a new e-bike, the same as mine but white. We have many rail trails in our area and region so we hope to continue staying active. BTW, with an ebike of this type you still pedal and get exercise but you have an assist on hills. You can also use them without pedal assist as a regular bike. Later this afternoon we hope to ride together on one of our river trails if the temperature is suitable for Brooksyne!

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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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