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Monday, March 14, 2022

Horses on Lancaster Junction trail
Friday afternoon I took a long bike ride on the Lancaster Junction Rail Trail and, as you can see, the weather was beautiful with no hint of the big storm coming on Saturday morning!

"A Very Present Help In Trouble"

Message summary: Are you in trouble today? Maybe it's a job situation, perhaps a medical crisis, struggle in your marriage, seeking to overcome a 'besetting' sin and so many other matters. We also look at the world situations and can, if we lose our focus on Christ, despair. Remember God is with you in your trouble. He ever cares. Rest today in that assurance.

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"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

Phil Jackson

We were both immensely edified at our church service yesterday. Phil Jackson was our mission speaker from Macedonia whose sermon was based on Psalm 46. His main summary was, "When I embrace the presence of God in my pain, I experience His comfort and His strength to press on."

Phil's grandparents, Dave and Kathryn Harrison, were missionaries to China prior to World War 2. Phil's mother, Marjorie, along with her older brother, were sent to a boarding school where they were later detained for 5 years in a Japanese concentration camp before finally reuniting with their parents after the war. Two years later Phil's grandparents returned to China before they were permanently evicted by the Communists. Before their eviction they feverishly did all the evangelizing and discipling they could.

The most touching part of the service was a story Phil told about Marjorie when she and her husband were able to return to China for a short term mission visit in 1999. On the last day of their visit an elderly Chinese man came to see them in the lobby of their hotel and introduced himself as Dr. Gwo, a former professor of languages. He shared with Marjorie the following story: 

Over fifty years ago the Communists invaded my office and took my books, they took my profession and I became a farmer. The day they kicked me out of my office I begged them not to take this one big book in English. And they threw it back at me. It was a Bible.

He then opened up his Bible to show her David Harrison's signature. It had been her father's Bible. He had given it to Dr. Gwo as the Communists forced him to leave. David challenged Dr. Gwo to continue to evangelize and disciple others with this Bible. Dr. Gwo testified that he had been doing just that for over 50 years!

I recall a time I heard a sermon based on Psalm 46 about 30 years ago when we lived in New England. The speaker used a phrase that intrigued me but at first offended me. "God's in trouble". But as he explained I saw his point. Yes, based on Psalm 46:1 "God's in trouble".

When we have troubles we can be sure God is with us as our refuge and strength in the time of trouble. He's not just a help to us which is such a blessing, but He is a present help, being with us at all times and in every setting. Phil made an observation about the text as he focused on the modifier "very", God is a very present help in trouble!

Psalm 27:5 states, "For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock". In Psalm 37:39 we find these words of assurance, "The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their stronghold in times of trouble". In Psalm 59:16 David exclaims, "But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble". Isaiah provides us with this great promise from God, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you" (43:2a). Jesus assured His disciples before He returned to heaven, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Indeed God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Are you in trouble today? Maybe it's a job situation, perhaps a medical crisis, struggle in your marriage, seeking to overcome a 'besetting' sin and many other sources of trouble.
We also look at the world situations and can, if we lose our focus on Christ, despair. God is with you in your trouble. He ever cares. Rest today in that assurance.

Our service for Christ will surely include disappointments and unanswered questions. Some have worked in a prison ministry only to see that promising young man return to his old, destructive way of life. Others have taught Sunday School and grieve as you see the bad choices some of your students have made as they've gotten older. Parents know the pain of seeing a child take the wrong path and are waiting for their return. Many of my pastor peers know what I mean when we describe some aspects of ministry as one step forward and two steps back!

Another word from our speaker yesterday that ministered to me was that the struggle will be worth it alluding to his grandparents' missionary work in China that was passed on to Dr. Gwo and many others whom they evangelized. Their obedience to Christ, under the worst of circumstances, along with many other faithful followers, was surely a major contribution to the underground and persecuted church of China for all these years. 

Our word of encouragement to each reader today is this:  Stay faithful!  Stay faithful!  Stay faithful!  As the old song says, "We'll understand it better by and by."  Another says, "It will be worth it all."  Or as a more contemporary song powerfully declares, "It's gonna be worth it."

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, since the fall of Adam when sin and death were introduced to our world, troubles, heartaches and distress have been woven into the fabric of our everyday lives ever since here on planet earth. Though You do not take away our troubles You do promise to bless and use our troubles to test our faith and display Your strength in our weakness. What a wonderful opportunity to testify of Your faithfulness by our gracious response to pain, suffering, and loss. Help us to be faithful in doing our part by relying on Your gracious and loving guidance each day of our lives, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: The following quote seems fitting for the story we share today about the Communist takeover in China, or any other country for that matter, seeking to do away with Christ and His followers:

"The enemies of the church may toss her as waves, but they shall not split her as rocks. She may be dipped in water as a feather, but shall not sink therein as lead. He that is a well of water within her to keep her from fainting, will also prove a wall of fire about her to preserve her from falling. Tried she may be, but destroyed she cannot be. Her foundation is the Rock of Ages, and her defense the everlasting Arms." - William Secker

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Here's a clip cued directly to Phil's final challenge from yesterday's message followed by his prayer and our closing song, "Waymaker"  Video 

Here's the video cued to the beginning of the message yesterday for those who may want to watch the entire message. It will bless you as you share in our "afterglow" we often experience following a Sunday worship service that leads us into the start of a work week.

"He Will Hold Me Fast"  Video  Shane & Shane

"Worth It All"  Video  Rita Springer

Snowy trees
Our deck late Saturday morning during a snow storm. Do you suppose it will be the season finale'? We sure hope so!

Snowy sunset
I had already moved our clocks forward by sunset Saturday afternoon since I enjoy the satisfaction of a later sunset and "longer" day. The storm had passed and the sky was clearing but it was still bitterly cold even yesterday morning.

Leon plowing out
Just before we headed to church our kindly neighbor Leon was over to plow us out.
High temp today is forecast to be near 60!

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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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