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Thursday, October 5, 2006Note: "These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you" (Titus 2:15). Seeking to understand the events of our day we do well to search the Scriptures. Today's message is much longer and heavier than usual. It's not the normal Daily Encouragement message. But I urge you to read it carefully and thoroughly examine the many Scriptures that are referred to. If you are at work consider forwarding to your home address or printing it out to read when you have adequate time. (We intend that messages be read during a break period and are not disruptive of work.) There's also a number of important notes below today's message regarding the barn sing, and questions some have had.
"Sin Is Crouching At Your Door"
"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7). "Satan hath desired to have you" (Luke 22:31).
Most of you are reading this on a computer screen. What an amazing tool! The computer and internet give Brooksyne and me the ability to share God's truth with you and thousands of others all around the world daily. In a single click I am able to read and study the Bible with search capabilities that far surpass my big, heavy Strong's Concordance I used for many years. Tremendously helpful resources abound such as several of my favorites I direct readers to from the main page of my website. Local churches now have websites with inspirational content available to people anywhere in the world. Many individuals are now sharing their faith in a blog.
But a few keystrokes will also take you to the deepest depths of evil and depravity. As I consider the evil violating my county this week I am virtually certain that pornography is somehow involved. It's not going to be any research that I do, but the eerie similarities between the school murder last week in Colorado and the one here in Pennsylvania this week surely cannot be discounted. Millions are voraciously feeding on the eternally destructive slop of the one whose very nature and purpose is to "steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10).
The first recorded conversation between God and man was with Adam in the garden before the Fall. The second was with Adam and Eve after the Fall. Today's first passage is the first conversation God had with Adam's descendants. The second is between Jesus and Peter. However we do well to see that this is really a message for all of us. It is a truth with perpetual application. Every believer would do well to heed this warning:
Sin is crouching at my door and Satan wants to have me.
In the first daily text God is speaking to Cain. This is the first record of temptation and sin among Adam's fallen descendants. It provides a pattern of sin's work in the lives of all of Adam's children.
As I note the progression I see such a caution for my own life as a redeemed believer. I am again so powerfully reminded of the need to stand firm in my faith. I must call on God for His sustaining grace to resist the sin that can easily follow the temptations Satan relentlessly hurls at us day after day.
"If you do what is right" God has revealed His will for our lives so we can know the right way. We have many other Scriptures telling us the right way, "He hath showed thee…" (Micah 6:8); "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21); "This is the will of God…" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Truly His "Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalms 119:105).
"Will you not be accepted?" Foundationally being accepted by God begins by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. This is God's appointed means of beginning to "do what is right". Then we pursue the things of God, growing in His grace and knowledge. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).
"But if you do not do what is right." God's warnings are expressions of His love. When we violate God's will as revealed in His Word, we give the enemy a foothold in our lives for further activity and progression of sin. An outstanding verse in Ephesians describes the latter stages of this progression. "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:19). With the flood of evil, pornography and perversions sweeping through our land and around the world many are at this stage. Deeper and deeper depths of depravity can be expected and the evil acts that accompany it.
"Sin is crouching at your door." The word for "crouching" conveys the posture of a four legged animal as it prepares to attack its prey. That's the nature of sin and sin's crouched position is persistent. We must always be on our guard as we stay self-controlled and alert, for our "enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
"It desires to have you." Sin still desires to have you and me. A foundational step in overcoming sin is realizing this. I seem to recall a line in a song I sang as a young Christian that states in regard to redemption, "Satan lost a friend that he thought he had."* He wants that friend back and pursues us through our lifetime. Jesus said to Peter regarding Satan's intentions for him, "Satan hath desired to have you" (Luke 22:31). You do well to recognize the enemy's tactic since he desires to have and me you as well.
"But you must master it." In the New Testament Paul wrote, "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). In the pursuit of godliness we must, by God's grace, master our sinful nature, something as descendants of Adam we all share.
"Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!" (Psalm 119:5).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, thank You for the grace of God that has appeared to me personally. It is Your indwelling Spirit that replaces my sinful nature with that of a spiritual nature. I no longer desire the temporary pleasures the world offers, but instead reap the eternal joys that You generously offer to all who call upon Your name.
But even as I walk in Your ways year after year, I'm keenly aware that sin is crouching at the door of my heart, always ready to make habitation if invited to come in. Alert my eyes to the strategic warfare of Satan. I want to be vigilant in guarding my heart against his cunning assault as I heed the many warnings You give us in Scripture as well as godly messengers who keep watch over our soul. With Your blood applied to the doorpost of my heart, I am purified by Your holiness, and want to stand firm to the end! Amen.
For many years I have found help in regard to today's message in an article originally written by Randy Alcorn and published in a 1988 "Leadership" magazine article. I adapted "Consequences of Moral Failure" This is my personalized adaptation of this article and is also available as a printable .pdf
Brooksyne's Note: So many readers from all over the world have written expressing interest in how the school shootings affected our friends who are also our neighbors, Anna Ruth, Jesse, Moses and Sadie Ruth Lapp. Many of you have also written such thoughtful prayers. They were in New York Monday through Wednesday, only returning last night, as Jesse had a job doing masonry work on a house. She called me this morning and we talked at length. It was good to hear her perspective on all that is happening. She was surprised and deeply touched when I told her we had condolences, prayers and reflections from a large number of readers who responded the past couple of days and would be passing these on to them so they could share with others in their community. Neither she nor Jesse were directly related to any of the families involved in the shootings, but her sister is very close to the pregnant woman who was sent out before the shootings took place. I'm limited on time this morning and our devotional has been lengthy the past couple days so I'll share on another day the perspective she and her family (parents, sisters and other Amish) have regarding all that has taken place.
We will pass on the condolences from our readers to Jessie and Anna Ruth early next week, so if you're considering writing to them please do so soon. For any who wish to send a message we will compile them and see that they receive them and also encourage that they pass them on to their Amish friends. Our friends often read messages from the Daily Encouragement and we have spiritual relationship with them as well. We are very sure they will touched by your messages. You do not need to identify yourself if you choose not to but please note your location (state or country) Send the email note to this address
Today's music resource is an example of a local believer using his skills to touch others around the world using the internet. It appears that this song was recorded in a home studio and it sounds great and has a relevant message! "My heart is steadfast"
* Brooksyne can't recall the song that has this line. It may have been a phrase I heard rather than a song.
Important - Please read
I am very, very behind on emails and as the condolence notes have come in several of you have had questions.
1) A trust fund has been set up for the Amish families (and at the specific request of the Amish will include the murderer's widow and his kids)
Nickel Mine School Victims Fund
c/o Hometown Heritage Bank
P.O. Box 337
Strasburg, PA 175792) I do not have the address of the widow but will see that any messages to her are delivered by contacting her pastor.
3) The directions to the barn sing on October 14 are here. However the farm is actually around the corner from our house at 690 Kraybill Church Road.
4) The hay ride prior to the service will be with a large John Deere tractor and wagon. It would be great to have it horse powered!
Today I heard from a friend who shared that "Lancaster General Hospital and its physicians are writing off all charges incurred to the Amish families for services they received at LGH; also Reading Hospital, the aeromedical helicopter services, and most of the EMS organizations will also not be charging any of the Amish families for costs incurred to help their children. We find this spirit healing and comforting."
A physician from Hershey Medical Center also wrote, "I was working at the Hershey Medical Center when the LifeLion helicopter was dispatched to Lancaster County yesterday; the news media were camped out just outside of the room that I was lecturing in. My family and I have been praying for the victims to pull through. We’ve been praying for peace for all the affected families. We live and attend church in Hershey and if there is anything—anything at all that our church can do –provide a place for families to stay in Hershey, provide meals, take care of small children, help with medical costs, etc. please call our church office and simply let the need be known.
An outstanding article on this situation is found here. It includes the news aspect, but also several indications of how the Lord is working. In fact let me just paste in those portions.
In what's being called a stunning example of "the imitation of Christ," the Amish community devastated by the cold-blooded murder of five of its schoolgirls is raising money for the killer's family.
Amish residents of rural Lancaster County, Pa., have started a charity fund to help not only the victims' families – but also the mass-murderer's widow and children, reports the New York Times today. The killer, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, committed suicide at the end of Monday's attack, in which he shot 10 girls. Five of them, aged 7 to 13, died.
Dwight Lefever, a spokesman for the Roberts family, said an Amish neighbor comforted the killer's family and extended forgiveness to them after the shooting, the Associated Press reports.
Explaining the Amish way, Gertrude Huntington, an expert on children in Amish society, told the AP that Roberts' Amish neighbors would probably be very supportive of the killer and his wife, "because judgment is in God's hands: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'"
Reacting to the Amish outpouring of support for the killer's family, columnist Rod Dreher writes: "Yesterday on NBC News, I saw an Amish midwife who had helped birth several of the girls murdered by the killer say that they were planning to take food over to his family's house. She said – and I paraphrase closely – "This is possible if you have Christ in your heart."
And Journalist Tom Shachtman, who wrote a book on Amish culture called "Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish," told the New York Times: "This is imitation of Christ at its most naked. If anybody is going to turn the other cheek in our society, it's going to be the Amish."
He said, "I don’t want to denigrate anybody else who says they're imitating Christ, but the Amish walk the walk as much as they talk the talk."Added Huntington, "They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death. The hurt is very great," she told the Associated Press. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."
Here are the additional details!
Daily Encouragement Net readers are invited to a Praise and Worship service on Saturday, October 14, at 6 PM at our Amish neighbor's barn. Before the worship service, from 4:30-5:45, another neighbor will be hauling children and adults on a hayride with his tractor and wagon. Refreshments will follow the Worship Service. Contact us if you would like to come and need directions. The directions are here. However the farm is actually around the corner from our house at 690 Kraybill Church Road
Finally... Yesterday I mentioned a group had planned to "protest" at the funerals. I read now that this will not happen. Several from Kansas wrote and wanted to make it clear that all Kansans aren't like that. Of course we all know that! I have relatives in Kansas, having grown up in the Kansas City area. It's a tiny whako group (essentially a family) that calls themselves a "Baptist church" although I sure realize they don't represent the scores of wonderful, faith-filled Baptists that I know and have associated with. In fact my cousin is a Baptist minister and I am absolutely positive he doesn't have anything to do with this group!
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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. Used by permission; 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 I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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