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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Peacock (photographer not known)
(photo sent by Tom, see below)

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"The Fruit Of Deception"

"But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception" (Hosea 10:13).

F. E. Smith was a capable lawyer with a quick wit. He cross-examined a young man who was claiming damages for an arm injury caused by the negligence of a bus driver.

"Will you please show us how high you can lift your arm now as a result of the accident?" asked Smith. The young man slowly raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain.

"Thank you," said Smith. "And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?"  The young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head.  He lost the case!

Several weeks ago I sent a message with a photo of our neighbor's peacock and Tom, a friend from Arizona, sent me the stunning peacock photo above. He thought I would enjoy it and wrote: "From everything I could find it's a real photo."

I know what he means. New photo and video techniques can doctor photos and videos in astoundingly realistic ways. A satire on a political figure can be ever so realistic. Some can mimic voices that sound so authentic the ear cannot tell the difference.

I noticed today's Scripture text several weeks ago when I shared a message from the verse preceding it: "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you" (Hosea 10:12).

This verse is immediately followed with the daily text and seems to present a contrast: "But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception."  I was very intrigued by its timely message and at the time knew it was something I wanted to eventually write on. This passage concerns the northern Kingdom just prior to its destruction by the Assyrians about 2700 years ago.

Notice the parallelism in these two verses:

God's will is that His children: Sow for themselves righteousness.
But instead: They planted (sowed) wickedness.

God's will is that His children: Reap the fruit of unfailing love.
But instead: They reaped evil.

But it's the final phrase that particularly grips my attention: "You have eaten the fruit of deception."

Deception is misrepresentation and misleading falsehood and it abounds like never before. I firmly believe deception will increase as mankind continues to mock and shrug off God's commands. One of the final warnings from Jesus to His disciples was: "Let no one deceive you."

Paul has a solemn warning concerning deception in Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."

Today we need to be on our guard against the many forms of deception that we encounter, particularly spiritual deception that can lead us astray. 

I believe this requires several disciplines:
  • A personal relationship with Christ.
  • A firm and growing knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation.
  • A sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
  • A solid foundational knowledge in church history and theology. 
  • An accountability to others in the body of Christ, particularly our elders.
  • A discerning wariness of the "new".*

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, I pray that You will help me to sow for myself righteousness, so that I will reap the fruit of Your unfailing love.  Break up the unplowed ground of my heart that is stony and hard so that I acknowledge my sins, receive Your forgiveness, and look to You for guidance.  May I thoroughly discern the vain philosophies and empty deception that pervades our society.  I want to seek Your will above man's agenda so that You shower Your blessings upon me.  Amen.

* Stephen's Note: I expect the point about having a discerning wariness of the new could get me labeled by some as the dreaded O.F. (Old-fashioned). Yet I have seen so many new things come along that go from unthinkable to bizarre... to tolerated... to accepted... to normal... then perhaps even celebrated in a very short time.  Eventually what was once normal may even be reckoned by some to be abnormal!  On a number of issues I have seen this happen.

Brooksyne's Note:  As I consider the message today I feel like many of us, as Christians, have built-in shock absorbers much like a vehicle has.  I remember one of my first cars as a teen that was very inexpensive (fixer upper) and came with no shock absorbers.  Every bump in the road would lift me from my seat until my dad finally got around to putting them on my car.  The bumps were still in the road but I didn't notice them as much.  Eventually I didn't notice them at all except for the large pot holes.  When we hear something shocking to the discerning mind that is in violation to God's Holy Word we initially cringe and reject its message.  But, given time, and hearing it repeated often enough or touted by people we've come to admire over the years it grows on us.  We may not fully embrace it on a personal level, but we no longer outright reject it lest we appear to be "old-fashioned."   In doing so we apply our shock absorbers and get on with life as it is in 2008 and let the chips fall where they may.  It is my earnest prayer that I not absorb error or bad theology, but that I always cringe when God's truths are violated.  May God help me not to blend in but to stand up and be counted for Him just as Daniel did among his godless peers.

Men's Breakfast
I have also tinkered around with digitally editing photos using a rather basic program. People from a church I served in an interim role a couple of years ago enjoyed this photo taken at a men's breakfast which I "doctored" .  Red is a colorful senior member of the church with a large white beard. There really is no one else that looks quite like him so I placed his head photo on the other bodies and teased that the men are all "Red Wanna-be's." Can you tell who the real "Red" is in the photo? The actual photo is here. The photo was taken by Jesse Lapp, my Amish friend, who had joined us that morning.

Marilyn Thompson and family
Yesterday we were blessed to have a long time reader from California stop by and join us for lunch. Marilyn shared the story of how she came across our online ministry and we always find these stories interesting. Marilyn shared a name and asked if we knew them. I assumed she meant a personal acquaintance of ours and we did not recall the name.  It was a friend in Califiornia who had initially shared the message with her about eight years ago during a very difficult period in her life.  Marilyn responded to us sharing her need and Brooksyne wrote back and shared a prayer and this began a long-term online friendship, although yesterday was the first time we met personally. An interesting detail: I looked up the list and this friend is still on it so I hope Clare reads this message and is blessed!

Marilyn's son Dean and daughter-in-law Jill and their children, Hilliard and Josie Page were along as well. They are on the way to their native Canada (Ottawa) for a visit with family.

Six gosslings
On our evening walk yesterday we noted that the geese couple have had their six gosslings (apparently in the last several days).  It makes for a nice family picture!

Today's Suggested Music
Supplemental Resources

"Be Thou My Vision"

"Word Of God Speak"  Audio

"The Voice Of Truth"  Video

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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