Several places in Scripture we are told to remember, “memorialize”, all the blessings of God we have experienced. For instance, in 1st Samuel chapters 4-7, we read of the Israelites turning away from the LORD to idols and immorality. As a result, the LORD allowed them to be defeated by the Philistines. Instead of turning from their sin, they brought the ark of the covenant into their camp as a “good luck charm”, believing it would bring them victory. Again, they were defeated, and the ark was captured. When they finally repented and turned to the LORD for help, He forgave and delivered them from their enemies. Samuel, the judge of Israel, instructed the Israelites to put up a stone and call it “Ebenezer” meaning, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)
How many times has the LORD helped you and me? Our salvation, our health, our provisions? How many miracles have we seen in our lives, our families, our country? It is very important to memorialize those who have gone before us and paved a way for the blessings we now enjoy, spiritually and as a nation. The men and women who served in our military, the missionaries who carried the gospel, and those who shared the good news of Jesus with each of us. In my life I think of Boy Scout leader Jim Bowman, college minister Milt Hughes, Pastor Jerry Schoel, and more. To each we owe a huge debt of gratitude.
Still, notice the words, “thus far” in the verse. As wonderful and important as it is to memorialize the past, it is just as important to move forward following Jesus and creating new “ebenezers”. We dare not try to carry the cross as a “good luck charm” while holding on to idols of self-centeredness and sin. As Hebrews 12:1-3 states, “…let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”. Then we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness…” (2 Timothy 4:7). What ebenezers can you think of in your life? Which ones are you building now that will show those who come behind us that we were faithful?
Speaking of memorials: For many years I have had the privilege of preaching at two “summer” churches in Pitkin and Tin Cup. This year saw the passing of several saints into glory. Candy Nasso, Dave Nichol, and Larry Dolezal Sr. left the Pitkin family and Rikki Santarelli, Ricky Dean, Glenda Schammerhorn and Pastor Newt Cole passed from the Tin Cup church. Please pray the Lord comforts and strengthens each family.
April Happenings: Melva and I spent several days visiting with supporters and workers for Jesus on the front range (Ft. Collins, Greeley, Denver). This past week we baptized a local rancher’s wife. Gayle had been raised in a Baptist church but joined the Jehovah Witness cult for a time. She left them and on one of our visits to sing and share God’s word with her and her husband (he is in hospice care), she told us the Lord had spoken to her and that she made a full commitment to Jesus and wanted to follow Him in baptism!
Upcoming: Lord willing, we will be at Abell Community Church near Guthrie OK (May 16-23 and in Nov.), Pitkin CO (May 30), Tin Cup CO (June 6 and Sept. 5), and 1st Baptist Church Delta CO (October 24-31). In addition, we will be holding Celebration of Life services and a wedding. Melva and I celebrate our 50th anniversary June 6 and hope to spend 2 weeks at The Cove (Billy Graham Training Center) July25-August 8.
1st Responder New Testaments and Devotionals: Requests keep coming in from around the country as more fire and police chaplains become aware that we provide them at no charge. In March, we sent God’s word to OK, LA, NY, and FL. The fire station in a small OK town burned to the ground. One of the firefighters requested New Testaments for each member of the department as they rebuild. Most of these chaplains are volunteers with little or no budget. Your support provides them with God’s word to share!
Finances: We have sent out more missionary support, more benevolence and more New Testaments and devotionals for 1st Responders than ever and yet every bill remains paid. Every time the bank balance starts to dip, the Lord moves someone to invest in His work. Thank You!
Prayer Requests: Each month we hear from someone who tells us they pray every day for Melva and I, our family, and the ministry. THANK YOU!
Tim and Sara (Elizabeth and Sydney) request prayer for Sydney (8 months old) who has some concerning medical tests. Steve and Annie (Samuel and Abigail) request prayer for the Lord’s leading concerning a new job as well as a nanny to assist while they work. Stephen and Joy (Hannah and Bethan in Scotland) would appreciate prayer as Stephen preaches in a few weeks in London. Nick and Rebekah (Kailani) appreciate your prayers as they make business decisions. Please pray for Owen Pennington and his parents Daniel and Krista along with big sister Gabriella. Owen (4) is a miracle child who survived after 4 months in Children’s Hospital in Denver. He has a growth plate in his leg which isn’t functioning. Owen has been accepted for a difficult surgery in Baltimore MD which, if successful, will mean he doesn’t have to have multiple surgeries in the future. Please join us in prayer for the Lord’s healing. And of course, please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit as we share in the upcoming meetings, in our local weekly services, and on the weekly video studies we send out. (If you don’t receive the weekly video study by email and would like to, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are sooooo grateful for each of you! Your prayers and love undergird us daily. We pray for you daily!
God bless you and hold you close as we memorialize our past blessings and press forward to new ones!
Rick and Melva
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Rick Barton Ministires
PO Box 1155
Gunnison, CO 81230