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Monday, October 10, 2022

Lancaster County rural view
Ester took this scenic view of rural Lancaster County on a hayride last Saturday.
Click on photo to enlarge


Message summary: May God help each of us to stay faithful and stay the course, for both ourselves and for our hearers! "God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!"

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"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:15,16).

Oxygen maskA familiar part of the standard safety announcement on commercial airline flights has to do with oxygen masks. The flight attendant instructs that you are to place the mask on yourself first, then any children who might be with you.

Initially this seems to be contrary to the "put others first" ethos. However, it's altogether proper. By assuring that you stay conscious you're able to help those around you who may be unable to place the masks on by themselves.

Yesterday I used this illustration in my Sunday School class and prior to the class spoke with a retired Southwest Airlines captain. He went to the Air Force academy and was initially trained as a military pilot. He shared how they had some kind of chamber to simulate rapid decompression in an aircraft.

At cruising altitude of 35-40,000 feet you literally have just seconds of useful consciousness if there is a decompression. You can go from a normally rational person to someone so helpless you can’t even deal with the mask yourself due to hypoxemia (lack of oxygen), let alone to help others, even if your life and theirs depends on it.

That's a principle vital to ministry as well. The daily verse reminds us that we must be diligent and stay in good spiritual condition if we are to effectively influence others for Christ and eternity. "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:15,16). We've all seen examples of those who didn't and its effect not only on them but also on those around them.

It is a heavy call to all who minister for Christ whether vocationally or as dedicated lay people. Paul is writing instructions regarding church life and ministry to young Timothy and through the Holy Scriptures to all of us.

"Be diligent" means "having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties". Diligence is “focusing my effort on the work at hand".

"These matters" certainly include the immediate context, but I believe also the entire content of the letter and to all of Scripture. True ministry is a very serious calling. I'm so glad our Lord has provided such an adequate instruction manual for those who serve Him!

We are called to devote ourselves "wholly" to this call.  Whatever your form of service for Christ may be give of yourself wholly to that which God has called you to do.

Warren WiersbeMay those to whom we minister see our "progress". This translates a wonderful word ("prokope"). In fact, Warren Wiersbe, for many years had a newsletter with this title. It essentially conveys advancement and increase. Is your faith and the character traits of Christ advancing in your life? Do others see this increase? Peter's final charge at the conclusion of his second letter was "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).

"Watch your life and doctrine closely." That is, pay close attention to how you live and what you believe. So many start the race well but some neglect sin or doctrinal aberration creeps in. We know those who have served for a "season". I sadly consider fellow Bible College students and associates in ministry who have not "stayed the course".

Paul GraybillAbout thirty-five years ago I went out to Kansas City to visit my folks. Connecting in Pittsburgh I providentially met Paul Grabill, a pastor friend who was headed to Springfield MO, but we had the same flight to KC. He told me about a close pastor friend who had a very successful ministry and pastored a large church who had just fallen into moral failure. I recall how brokenhearted Paul was and how hard it was for him to believe that his pastor friend (whom I didn't know) had so grievously failed.

May God help us to regularly examine our lives (how we live) and our doctrine (what we believe) closely and frequently. In doing so may it incentivize us to persevere in doing what is right! Don't let downstream culture sway you. God's Word is settled once and for all; its truths and principles apply to every generation.

The final phrase is amongst the most sobering in the Bible: "because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers". I certainly don't believe this negates other teachings about salvation through Christ by grace. Of course Paul is not saying that we save ourselves. That would contradict his other writings such as Ephesians 2:8,9. Only Christ can save.

But our influence on others is great, both for good and bad. Certainly there are those who have abandoned the faith after their major disappointment with fallen preachers, Christian leaders and trusted peers. That's why we emphasize that our standards of holiness are not based on the behavior of other Christians leaders or lay persons, but they're based God's established commands presented in Scripture. May God help each of us to stay faithful and stay the course, for both ourselves and for our hearers!

Our prayer: "God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!"

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, doctrinal error or disobedience to truths expounded upon in the Word of God will lead us off course. There are many situations that contribute to our getting off the straight and narrow path of righteousness, if we're not wholly intentional in denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and walking in the ways of Christ. There are tremendous disappointments we will experience, whether it's related to our work situation, our family, our church, financial restraints, our relationships with others, health crises or painful loss. Through it all we know that You will lead us daily and give us grace for every trial  if we just stay the course and musically proclaim with hymn writer Fanny Crosby,

"All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"All The Way My Savior Leads Me"  Video  Chris Tomlin

It's always encouraging to hear a children's choir in any church and it sure leads to a full house! Video from yesterday's service at Calvary Church in Lancaster.

* "Paul Grabill... His Life and Legacy" with background song "You Hold Me Now"  Video   Paul Grabill stayed the course and passed on after a lengthy battle with cancer 11 years ago. This was the video tribute at his memorial service I attended and is, in our view, an excellent example of a video tribute ending with a powerful reminder. I shared about this service in this Daily Encouragement message.

For additional study: Paul's prediction in 1 Timothy 4:1 sure seems to be the case today. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."

In Ephesians 4:14 he writes of those who are "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming." Today we see a departure from the course that our forefathers could hardly have imagined. Even in my own lifetime who would have imagined that something so foundational as the basic constitution of holy marriage set forth in the beginning of creation would be a serious issue of departure. And now all this absolute demonic nonsense about something as basic and evident as God creating us male and female!

Our longtime friend Galen
Our longtime friend Galen pulling a hay wagon filled with young and old alike: a highlight for any church fall festival.

Old Windmill Farm pigs
Yesterday after our church service we went over to visit with the Lapp family on the Old Windmill Farm. We always like to see the new animals such as these 6 day old piglets. Jesse told me he expects a very busy week on the farm due to a Jewish festival called Sukkot which began in the evening of Sunday, October 9 and ends in the evening of Sunday, October 16. Orthodox Jews from the New York metro area will come out to the farm and set up tents where the men will eat a meal in the tent and pray. I hope to get over later this week to take some photos and perhaps I'll have opportunity to speak to some of them.

"Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection G‑d provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. We celebrate Sukkot by dwelling in a foliage-covered booth (known as a sukkah) and by taking the “Four Kinds” (arba minim), four special species of vegetation." (From this site)

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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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