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Monday, November 21, 2022
It was cold but invigorating the day we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail near Pine Grove, PA, about 40 miles away as the crisp autumn leaves crunched under our feet. It was a bit perilous as they covered many protruding rocks that could easily trip us along the way! The portion of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is known for being very rocky and prompting the nickname among hikers, “Rocksylvania,”
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"Our Greatest Possession"
Message summary: Our greatest blessing is not what we possess but by Whom we are possessed. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
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“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b). "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
Thanksgiving Day here in America will be celebrated on Thursday this week. Even while we contemplate the theme of gratitude and thankfulness our mailboxes, newspapers, and email inboxes are filled with loads of enticing ads. This amplifies all through the holiday season but especially prior to "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving when the retail industry is banking on people who will come off their Thanksgiving celebration for a shopping binge. This morning my inbox subject lines had such enticements as:
Walmart uses a slogan that states, "Save Money, Live Better". Interesting to use the phrase "Save Money" when they are really trying to get me and millions of others to spend money in their store or website. But I know what they mean, essentially claiming that I will "save" money by buying the item at their store rather than another that costs more.
But especially consider the phrase "Live Better." If better living is defined by having more possessions we certainly live better than ever before, even in these economic times. In fact, as I look through a sales pitch, most of the stuff is new in my lifetime. Many items for sale were not even available twenty years ago such as smart watches, Xbox and smart phones. Pity our poor ancestors who lived before this stuff was even available. They didn’t get opportunities like us to "live better"!
Actually most of us reading this message today are living pretty good as far as having possessions. The ever increasing bar of desire, then expectation, then need, and finally entitlement just keeps rising.
Most of us don’t live in a mansion as we consider one here in America, but relative to the masses of people in many parts of the world, we’re living very well off. Our home would seem like a mansion to a resident in Makoko Nigeria, a huge slum built over the water. I was watching a documentary video about this place and what an eye opener regarding the destitute conditions many live in. The circumstances may be stark but I was pleased to see that there are fellow Christians who live there giving a witness for Christ.
We have lived in a long period of peace and prosperity and yet this is one of the most dangerous times for spiritual health.
We are so conditioned to equate the essence of the better life with our “abundance of possessions". But Jesus said, "A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions". Possessions can be an aspect of God’s blessing but we all know they generally provide a hollow, short-lived satisfaction, certainly compared to what we spiritually possess in Christ. We keep needing newer and newer and more and more to maintain satisfaction. Frankly getting new possessions can be similar to a drug fix.
Today as we approach Thanksgiving we paraphrase from our longtime friend Bob Southard who in his weekly challenge this week wrote, "This Thanksgiving, receive the greatest possession of all, your salvation. It is yours for the asking, as you open your heart in full surrender to the One Who gave His all for YOU!"
Our greatest blessing is not what we possess but by Whom we are possessed. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I know that godliness with contentment is of great benefit. It gives me a state of mind that is calm and satisfied; free from murmuring and complaining. I’m reminded that it takes little of this world’s goods to satisfy one whose citizenship is of another country. Help me to hold loosely to that which does not last beyond this life, and to clasp tightly that which holds eternal significance. May the character of my soul and the fruit of my actions be of much greater importance than the perishable items that are alluring to me. I look to You for proper balance in the things You have blessed me with and the attitude in which I receive these good things from Your hands. May I realize my greatest blessing is not what I possess but by Whom I am possessed. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contentment and thanksgiving are cousins in their word associations in the English language. Robert Flatt puts it like this,
“Thanksgiving, like contentment, is a learned attribute. The person who hasn’t learned to be content will not be thankful, for he lives with the delusion that he deserves more or something better.”
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances". Charles Spurgeon also addressed the need for contentment:
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Christ Is Mine Forevermore" Video CityAlight
"A Thousand Hallelujahs" Video Brooke Ligertwood
"Psalm 24" Video The Prestonwood Choir & Orchestra This is a dramatic rendering in song of Psalm 24. Our choir sang this yesterday and it was almost word for word Scripture. I believe it will bless you as it did us.
The Makoko water slum in Lagos Nigeria is visible on a Google map here
"Inside Nigeria's Biggest Slum" Video Story about Makoko, mentioned in today's message.
"Leaving For Makoko" Video about mission work in Makoko and a very dedicated missionary!
Last week we shared about our two newest pet additions, brother and sister maltipoos, Falcon and Rosie, who are practically inseparable. They are adjusting well to our home and other pets although our cat Gracie is having a time adjusting to them. These pets were given to us by a family in California who wanted them to stay together. They are especially attached to Stephen and follow him everywhere!
Route 283 is the busy highway between Lancaster and Harrisburg. Someone put a deer stand beside the highway along with a watchful "hunter". Truth be told I (Brooksyne) was driving on 283 last week and saw the stand. Of course there were many cars and I couldn't get a close-up view so I thought a young boy had climbed up on the stand to watch the cars go by. I wondered to myself if his parents knew that he was there. It was a little creepy until I saw it the next time and realized it was a fun display for the many hunters who drive past this spot everyday!
Special Thanksgiving Resources
As we have for many years we want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave these resources up till Thanksgiving Day.
"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" (printable webpage).
"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf). We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.
A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (printable webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.
A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)
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Stephen & Brooksyne
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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