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Monday, July 4, 2022
A pleasant view from our front porch. The corn is growing well in spite of the late planting and is at a glistening green stage. Watching the fireworks beyond the farm field last night we considered the fireflies were part of the show as they lit up many cornstalks in the large field. (Click on photo for larger view)
Message summary: Today, are you free indeed?
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free, oh, is free indeed!
Today is Independence Day here in the USA and many have a day off of work, celebrate, and gather with family and friends. Lots of picnics, cookouts, camping and pool parties are planned on this beautiful sunny day. Costco Magazine states that more than 150 million hot dogs will be eaten today, which is enough to stretch from Washington DC to Los Angeles five times! (But I would have to see that to believe it!)
We have already watched two nights of fireworks and probably will see another one tonight. We take our lawn chairs out to the end of our driveway where we have an expansive view to the west for many miles. On Saturday night we watched the official display at Marietta, a small town with a big celebration about five miles away. But last night we saw some unofficial displays off in the distance that rivaled the official.
Today we are headed over to the Old Windmill Farm to assist our friends in making fresh farm-made ice cream that guests to the farm can purchase. We will be using a small engine to power the unit so no laborious hand cranking for us today! (How many remember hand- cranking homemade ice cream!) The farm had a big day Saturday and Jesse estimated they had over 300 farm tour guests and expect another very busy day today, which is slated to be mostly sunny with low humidity.
We got a chuckle out of a story which illustrates how children misunderstand adult words and concepts:
The Fourth of July was coming up, and the nursery school teacher took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism. "We live in a great country," she said. "One of the things we should be happy about is that, in this country, we are all free". One little boy came walking up from the back of the room. Exasperated, he stood with his hands on his hips and declared, "I'm not free. I'm four."
Although regardless of where you live, today is July 4, the words "July 4th" or "the 4th of July" has special meaning here in the USA. It's Independence Day and should be a time we consider our history and express thanks for our freedoms. Many take these freedoms for granted and may not even notice or choose to ignore they are systematically being diminished. Sadly we read that there are many who are disregarding this 246th birthdate of our country.
Daily Encouragement readers live in a variety of countries and under varying degrees of political freedom or lack of it. Most live in countries with a relatively strong freedom, but others live in places with religious oppression and in some cases outright persecution. However it's doubtful that this material reaches those living in slavery, although millions live under such conditions.
But today, regardless of where we live or the conditions we live under we can all share one freedom in common based on our daily text: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed".
This freedom, available to all, is infinitely greater than any political or religious freedoms we may or may not enjoy in this present life. One hundred or one thousand years into eternity no matter where we lived during our brief earthly sojourn will be of little regard, with the one exception of our decision to place our faith in Jesus Christ and accept His provision for our slavery to sin.
In John 8 Jesus confronted the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day who challenged His authority. The encounter specifically began when Jesus asserted, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). The Pharisees challenged Jesus and the validity of His testimony and of course that has been at the heart of resistance to God's redemption plan ever since.
Jesus taught that those who "hold" to His teaching are truly His disciples (v. 31). He said to them "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). This especially infuriated the proud Pharisees who responded, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" (v. 34).
But Jesus was speaking of a slavery that impacts the entire human race; whether rich or poor, powerful or weak, intellectual or unlearned, the politically free, oppressed or even enslaved. People from every background and every time period since the fall are slaves to sin! Yet this is the very slavery that Jesus came to free us from: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
If you are a citizen of a free country don't take it for granted. Give thanks to God for this wonderful privilege and consider those who sacrificed for your freedoms. Pray for our brothers and sisters who do not live with these freedoms.
But above all give thanks to God that Jesus paid the supreme sacrifice so that we might be freed from the slavery of sin. That's something that we can all rejoice in no matter the political conditions of our country.
Today, are you free indeed?
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, how glorious it is to enjoy the many freedoms provided to us in our homeland of the brave and the free. We're also mindful and grateful for our freedom from sin, thanks to the sacrifice of Your Son on our behalf. Our lives, once enslaved to sin, now enjoy freedom from that which once held us captive to Satan's bondage. We live in victory because You have set us free and we are now free indeed. Thank You, Father, for delivering us from the dominion of darkness and transferring us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin! Amen.
1) Freedom from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:18)
2) Freedom from guilt and shame (Colossians 1:21-23)
3) Freedom from fear of death (Hebrews 2:15)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me" Video CityAlight
"Every Victory" Video The Belonging Company
"In You" Video Iveth Luna
Dave Ross, our worship leader, led out in our congregational prayer yesterday morning. It touched our hearts as he prayed for our country and we thought it might touch your heart as well so we share it with you today:
Immortal, Invisible Prayer
Lord, You are the only immortal, wise, and most high God. We proclaim that truth first and foremost, recognizing our mortality in the here and now. But we rejoice that You are the giver of life. You have redeemed us and promise everlasting life through Your son Jesus. It is because of His work that we have new life!
We thank You Lord for the blessing of living in this nation. Even as we are thankful, we pray for our country. We pray for our leaders, recognizing that You are sovereign over all. You ask us to honor and respect those in governing authority. We are proud citizens of the United States of America, but more importantly we are ambassadors of the most high God, living a life that pursues You.
Your word tells us in Psalm 139 that You knit us together even in our motherís womb. Jesus, give us the courage and compassion we need to live as faithful advocates for human life. Today we especially think about the lives of unborn children, not only in this country but all over the world. Give us the sufficient grace and courage we need to champion for their precious lives.
We thank You for the decision of the Supreme Court that gives authority back to the states in this area. We pray for the leaders of each state now, that they would enact laws that value life, even for those yet unborn.
And Jesus, equip us to love and care for women and men whose stories have been marked by abortion. May Your all-sufficient gospel bring healing and compassion to each and every one of those stories.
Father, we also thank You for those who provide a safe family for children who are in need, for those who foster children, and for those who have and are adopting.
Most of all Lord Jesus, we praise You for Your Gospel - the good news that You died for our sins and rose again to defeat sin and death. It is Your grace in our lives. This grace demands that we treat others with mercy even if we disagree. We should speak truth in love, not in disdain. We pray for our world that desperately needs You. We lift up the less fortunate, the broken hearted, the abused, and the marginalized among us. May we shine Your love and care for them.
May we be a shining light of what it means to follow You. To display that our hope is built on You and You alone Jesus. You are the only solid rock. All other ground is sinking sand. Thank You for that truth. Itís in Your name we ask and pray for these things. Amen.
Pastor of Worship Ministries
Video of this part of our service with prayer and music.
Last Friday we shared a photo of Thomas the Tank engine on the Strasburg Railroad. Actually this is just a shell they place over the regular locomotive!
Last Friday we had a tour of Kirby Agri, a 3 generation family company that sells feed and fertilizer components. We were reminded of the many hardworking people that help feed us, our country and the world. Rick Kirby is a friend from our Sunday School class (in our church called "Adult Bible Fellowship") Most interesting to us was the pallet loading robots. This one is named Molly. She is very fast and precise.
Following our visit at Kirby-Agri we made our chaplain visit to Kleen-Rite in Columbia. In the photo is Kim Shoff who finished up 27 years of dedicated work in sales. Many times Kim was on the phone taking orders during our weekly visit so we simply smiled and waved. She is now officially retired and we wish her the very best.
We hope all of our American readers have a refreshing 4th of July holiday with family and friends!
Friday we shared a photo of a peacock on top of our car on the Old Windmill Farm and expressed that on a farm we never know what we will encounter. Jesse sent me this photo of a curious goat, who attempted to get some milk and got stuck in a filled milk bucket! I suppose you could say that it is now goat milk.
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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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