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Monday, July 11, 2022

Berks County, PA rural scene
Saturday Ester and I (Stephen) drove up to the Lehigh Valley for a graduation party for Noah, my nephew's son. On the way home we drove on this bend on a rural country road in Berks County. The fencing especially stood out.
Click on photo to enlarge

"God Is In Control!"

Message summary: Today God is in control of your life and mine. Real peace and assurance comes from having knowledge of His control and confidence that He is always working for our good. Are you going through a storm or are you enduring a "trial"?  Are you experiencing sleepless nights due to worries? Remember God is in control.

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"It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance" (Acts 12:1-6).

Sleeping babyWhen babies sleep it appears to be the epitome of restfulness. We often hear the phrase considering a good night's sleep: "I slept just like a baby." But one factor to be considered: babies are not worrying about anything yet, to our knowledge, that is. But as we grow older a good night's sleep is a struggle for so many. Besides the growing number of aches and pains that may be more prevalent during the night hour another contributing factor is that our thoughts are filled with unresolved matters, many which are out of our hands, or major decisions with tremendous consequence that lie heavily on our hearts.

When I hurt my shoulder in May it was due to the associated pain though weeks later that particular pain has greatly diminished. We read that trouble sleeping comes with the aging process. Based upon all the advertisements for mattresses, sleeping aids and other sleep related items we are not alone. According to an article titled "Top 6 Things to Know About the $30 Billion Sleep Aids Market" people are increasingly digging into their pockets for help sleeping.

In the book of Acts there are two reports of God's servants being imprisoned and how they dealt with a night in prison; Peter, in Acts 12, Paul and Silas in Acts 16. In this message we will consider Peter's experience:

In considering reasons for a long, fitful, sleepless night, Peter certainly had one. His fellow disciple and friend James had just been beheaded and the next morning he was to stand trial before Herod Agrippa, the persecutor of the Christian church. Now at this time, humanly speaking, Herod's likely action was pretty evident. His poll ratings among the Jewish majority had shot up dramatically at James' death. You might say he was in the mood to persecute.

Surely Peter would be mentally preparing his defense through the long night. That's something that will keep you from sleeping. In addition to awaiting the trial he was bound to two soldiers with two chains. Additional soldiers were guarding the entrance in his maximum security prison cell. We really don't suppose Peter was given a nice soft bed with clean sheets and a My pillow
™; a given for most who expect a good night's sleep.  And Tylenol PM was "light years" from making its debut among the sleepless population at the time!

Yet Peter was sleeping. "The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance."

Sleeping JesusPerhaps Peter recalled an experience with the Lord on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus slept through a storm. At that time Jesus, along with the disciples, was crossing the Sea when a great storm arose. The terrified disciples awoke Jesus, who Himself had been sleeping on a cushion, with this question, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" After rebuking the storm Jesus asked this probing question, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40).

Peter had learned from this experience and from other miraculous interventions he had witnessed that God is always in control. Isn't that true for all who have placed their trust in Christ? The longer we live the more we see God intervene for His children. The church prayed earnestly for Peter's release. The same prison entrance that bound Peter with chains became a miraculous exit to his freedom in the middle of the night.

A very important Biblical issue we must face head on is this: In ways we simply do not understand, God was no less in control at the beheading of James than in Peter's miraculous deliverance recorded in Acts 12. It's also true today when one is miraculously delivered or healed and their life is extended a short season, while another, equally precious in God's sight, is not spared.

"What do we have that won't ever wear out, break, die, go out of style, or need repair? Only our Lord. We can rejoice and give thanks, because our life and our future are tied to the Eternal Father, the Creator of the heavens and Maker of our world. Not only is God good; He is good to us. But more than just being good, He is loving too, and His love will never wear out, grow old, fade away, or need repair." (John Burns)

Today God is in control in your life and in mine. Real peace and assurance is a result of a deep, abiding knowledge of His control. Are you going through a storm or are you enduring a "trial"?  Are you experiencing sleepless nights due to worries, busy schedules, or physical infirmities? Remember God is in control.

And every prayer we prayed in desperation
The songs of faith we sang through doubt and fear
In the end, we'll see that it was worth it
When He returns to wipe away our tears

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as You sent an angel to rescue Peter from Herod's wrath You rescue us from the dangers, toils, and snares that overwhelm us.  In the darkness of Peter's cell the sudden appearance of an angel radiated light from heaven showing him the way to freedom. Help us to look to the light of Your Holy Word that releases us from the hopelessness of our circumstance. Thank You for the messengers of light You commission who encourage us or release us from our fears, whether they be angels from heaven or your servants on earth. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"God, You're So Good"  Video  Passion  Brooksyne's note: I was looking up a particular song and this one came on. I immediately recognized the classic chorus and tune, the only difference is that this version is sung to God rather than about God and has additional verses. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I have played this simple chorus over the years along with its many added verses (some impromptu as we sang them). This is also the first song I teach youngsters on the piano because it is easy and repetitive.

"A Thousand Hallelujahs, Hymn of Heaven, Day By Day"  Video  This is a medley from our worship service yesterday at Calvary Church in Lancaster. We were especially blessed to transition from "Hymn of Heaven", a relatively new song to "Day By Day", an old hymn. This includes our worship pastor's prayer.

Noah's graduation party
Noah, along with his parents, my nephew Patrick and his wife Kelly at his graduation party. He will be attending Penn State studying engineering. Yea!

Chevrolet Impala
Yesterday at church we parked beside this beautifully restored Chevrolet Impala. The white interior really stood out and looked factory fresh rather than the original age of this car (maybe a '63). I figured it was unlikely the owner would bang his door into my car!

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Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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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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