Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Daily Encouragement (04/22/15) The Rest Of The Story: "Dying As A Courageous Witness"

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
Last night I went over to my neighbors to watch them shear their sheep.
These are waiting in the pen for their turn.
(Click to enlarge this photo)

The Rest Of The Story:
"Dying As A Courageous Witness"

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"'For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?' Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 'Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish'"
(Esther 4:14-16).

Martyrs for ChristYesterday we shared a message about a remarkable conversion of a man from Chad that took place at the time the Egyptian Coptic Christians were martyred in February this year. It was a "rest of the story" message and prompts today's message as well.

Today's story took place about 20 years ago but only recently have I read the story we share today concerning a dying witness. We were living in New England in 1996 and recall the story of a hijacked
plane going down in the Indian Ocean. A rather famous home video shows the plane going down. 125 of the 175 passengers and crew on board died. But again there is a "rest of the story".

Flight 961In his book, "Acts: Courageous Witness in a Hostile World" Howard Brant shares:

"Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 was hijacked over the Indian Ocean. The pilot flew the aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. Fifty people survived.

On that aircraft was a British architect named Andy Meakens. He had been hired by an Ethiopian church to help them build their offices in Addis Ababa. He was a very shy man, hardly speaking more than greetings and necessary business discussions with his fellow workers.

At a memorial service for those who died in that crash, one of the survivors talked about Andy's reaction when he knew the plane was going down. He calmly rose and went to the front of the airplane. There, in a clear, strong voice he shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with all the passengers.

It was reported that he even gave an invitation that day, and before they went to their deaths, many of the passengers put their trust in Jesus Christ. That is what the enabling and the boldness of the Holy Spirit means."

Last week I referred to the passing of Stanley Horton, one of our Bible College professors, who died at 98 years of age and we shared a quote concerning his life, "Some people make a big splash in life. Others spread their impact more quietly over decades."

Although we do not know how much impact for Christ Andy Meakens made before his death he certainly did so moments before his death in what was a horrific fatal splash.

Many years ago I heard a great teaching referring to "Esther moments". These are those special times when God's purpose for our life is especially apparent. This concept is based on the daily text when Mordecai encouraged Esther to take a stand. The Jews faced annihilation (as they so often have throughout history) and Esther was in a position to act for their preservation by appealing to the king.

Esther with MordecaiEsther's uncle Mordecai* was confident that, in one way or another, the deliverance of the Jews would come about, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place." Amazingly in the bigger picture God's grand purposes are always fulfilled with or without our cooperation. However Mordecai challenged Esther to be the agent of God's deliverance as expressed in the daily text, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Scripture records that Esther did listen to Mordecai and heeded his challenge to present herself to the king, even if it meant death. I like the resolute attitude she expressed when she made up her mind to be the mediator for her people: "If I perish, I perish."  When we're weighing various options there's a point that we've got to make up our mind and act upon that decision, regardless of consequences, and Esther nobly did.

Through her outstanding example of devout faith, God sends a message to all true worshippers; we are not to fear the trials the world offers, but we are to persevere, even if it means death.

Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. Surely that was the case with Esther and many, many others such as Andy Meakens on Flight 961. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual endeavors.

May the Lord grant us such "Esther moments" when we powerfully sense our purpose in fulfilling God's plan. The 20 Coptic Christian men we wrote about yesterday surely sensed their "Esther moments" as their Christian witness influenced unbelievers who were also kidnapped and held captive in Libya prior to their beheading in February. We wrote about Mathew who was beheaded because of his newly found faith in Christ. He claimed it was due to the "immense faith" of these believers that he chose to be numbered among the 21 Coptic martyrs.

Our obedience to God may not bring front page news or even be known by more than a few. We might not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings personal blessing and it also blesses God while spreading His light in this darkened world. Let us stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, often times I am apprehensive when You speak to my heart like you did Esther, through Mordecai Your messenger. When I'm to do or say something that's not within my comfort zone, my heart feels like it could explode and I become an emotional cripple because fear overtakes me.  It prevents me from stepping out in faith and following through with an obedient heart.  Would You remind me that there is great blessing when I follow Your leading. Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is not my responsibility. I need to leave that in Your hands. Thank You for Your enlisting me to be a part of your grand purpose in sharing the good news of salvation with the lost, strengthening the weak, and encouraging those whose hope has faded. I can't do it within my own abilities but I can trust the Holy Spirit to equip me to be an uncompromising believer and bold witness for You through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

* Some versions indicate that Mordecai is Esther's cousin.

Sheep Shearing Photos

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
It took three men to manhandle the ram out of the pen for his turn in getting sheared.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
They begin by shearing around his face and neck.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
Then they place him in the stand which locks his head in place.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
This Ewe was very good for her haircut! Maybe she remembers how good it feels to be cooler and lighter in weight.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
This freshly shorn ewe was missing her lamb, which was still in the pen. She belted out her unhappiness by persistently ba-a-a-ing loudly!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

A more detailed version of today's story is found here with photos and video.

"The Old Rugged Cross"  Video  Kaoma  A very moving and interesting version! This is one man singing all four parts.

"I Have Decided To Follow Jesus"
Video  Kaoma  Look closely and you will see a Billy Bass in the video just like I have in my barn!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International
* The phrase "terrestrial ball" is found in the great hymn ...

"All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name" Video   Paul Baloche
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. Other versions are also occasionally used.

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