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Friday, October 10, 2008

Union Mill Acres
Pumpkin Patch

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"What Will The Outcome Be?"

"I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, 'My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?'  He replied, 'Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end'" (Daniel 12:8,9).

On Wednesday I received a brief email note from a reader informing me that he will be closing his business this coming Monday due to the economy. Although I only know him through this online ministry we have periodically communicated and he kindly shared a brief note informing me of the closing. I felt a leading to give him a call of encouragement. We shared conversation for a few minutes and then prayed together.  He expressed overcoming faith although uncertain times are ahead for him and his family. You might say he has questions about the short-term outcome but has absolute confidence in the long-term. I feel a lesson from Daniel today might encourage him and  others reading our message today.

Daniel served the Lord about 2,600 years ago.  He was one of the exiled hostages taken from Judah to Babylon to serve in Nebuchadnezzar's government.  Daniel provides a Biblical model of one who was confronted with the temptation to compromise every bit as much as we are, but he remained firm and faithful to God.  Early in his life he made a commitment when he first went to Babylon.  If you don't already know this passage I recommend that you memorize it (at least the first part of the verse). "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank" (Daniel 1:8). 

Notice that he made the purpose in his heart. It wasn't just a passing thought.  Daniel must have deeply contemplated his dilemma, weighed the possible consequences, and bathed his decision in prayer.  He demonstrates for us the great Biblical principle of separation. I urge you to continually learn God's ways and like Daniel make a purpose or resolve in your heart to live according to His commands. 

He distinguished himself in civil service while maintaining his faith and steadfast obedience to God.  The first half of his book is an interesting narrative with such familiar stories as his three friends being cast into the fiery furnace and his own deliverance from the lion's den.  But the last six chapters have some of the most outstanding prophecy in the Bible.  God reveals to Daniel events that would transpire over the next several thousand years and even beyond our own time.

At the conclusion Daniel expresses himself in a way in which many of us can identify, particularly when it comes to some of the more difficult prophetic portions of God's Word. "I heard, but I did not understand."  I've sure been there.  I've read and wondered, "What does this mean and when will it happen?" 

I've also experienced Daniel's heartfelt appeal, "My lord *, what will the outcome of all this be?"  I am sure you have too.  He wanted to know what God was going to do just like we do.  But like us he didn't get the answer in every detail he wanted.  Some things just won't be revealed "until the time of the end." 

And that's true not only with prophecy, but in God's personal dealings in our lives.  Although we know that things will work out according to Romans 8:28, we so much want to know how and when.  The answers to most of these questions are simply not provided. So why do we expend so much energy or allow ourselves to become anxiety ridden about those things which we can do nothing about.

We need to move forward in the direction we feel God is leading and trust Him to provide needed answers along the way.   The apostle Paul, facing a time of great uncertainty said to the Ephesian elders, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me" (Acts 20:22,23).

Such is the life of faith! My friend, keep trusting today.  The book of Daniel ends with this statement.  "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Daniel 12:13).  Let us also receive this word today in our own lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we don't always know where our present steps will take us on life's journey, but we do know they lead us to heaven as we walk with You. Our steps here may lead to cold, dark mountains or deep valleys.  Crooked paths and rough terrain may be part of the journey, but ultimately we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at heaven's throne.  There we will no longer have questions about our future, for we know that we will spend eternity forever worshiping You as we give You glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving.  Give us peace and joy for our journey here below and heavenward anticipation for our future inheritance.  In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

* "Lord" is in the small case in this particular Scripture reference because this message to Daniel came from an angel not deity.

Yesterday the course of our travels took us by Union Mill Acres, an interesting farm run by a family of eight, way out in the country about five miles north of Mount Joy.  Here are some more photos.

An interesting use for a rather under-rated farm implement.
(That's a manure spreader the yellow mums are sitting on!)
I like the old red
Massey-Harris tractor in the background.

The owner told us she had planted 70-80 varieties of pumpkins and gourds this last Spring!  We saw our first blue pumpkins.

Pumpkins on roof
They even had a variety of pumpkins and gourds on the barn roof!

And of course they also had some really, really big pumpkins!

Union Mill Acres is located here (google map)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to play)

Brooksyne's Note:  The inspiring hymn "He Leadeth Me" has been a favorite of mine for years.  Hearing the Martins sing it acapella in their "Martinized" arrangement has made me appreciate it even more. This hymn was written by Pastor Joseph Gilmore in 1862 when he was 28 years old.  He had preached a sermon on the 23rd Psalm in First Baptist Church in Philadelphia on a Wednesday evening.  Following the service he and his wife were invited to fellowship in the home of Deacon Watson.  During their conversation the blessedness of God's leading overwhelmed his spirit, so much in fact, that he quickly penned the words of "He Leadeth Me" and then passed it on to his wife.  He thought no more of it, but Mrs. Gilmore decided to submit the verses  to a popular Christian journal at the time.  Three years later as Joseph Gilmore was candidating for a new pastorate in New York he opened the church's hymnal and much to his surprise found the words he had penned years earlier.  William Bradbury who wrote the music added the last two lines, "His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me."  The message God laid upon Gilmore's heart years earlier was certainly pertinent the day he discovered it in a hymnal where he was seeking God's direction for a possible pastoral role in a new church.  

"He Leadeth Me" audio files
Marie Barlow (sample only) Vocal  Marie and her husband Gordie live only a couple miles from us. Here's their website.
Country mountain hymns  Instrumental

"Step By Step"  Audio

Stephen's Note:  One of the most helpful books I have ever read on trusting God is a book simply titled "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges, who happens to be one of my favorite writers. I also enjoyed his teaching ministry many years ago as a student at a continuing education class at Gordon-Conwell. You can read an excerpt of the book online.

Trusting GodTrusting God  By Jerry Bridges / NAV Press
Does trusting God come easily to you---until adversity strikes? Amid troubles and tribulation, do you sometimes doubt whether he really cares? Exploring three essential truths about God---his complete sovereignty, his infinite wisdom, and his perfect love---Bridges shows you how to rely on God implicitly in every circumstance. 240 pages, softcover from NavPress. Ordering information

In yesterday's message we shared about a carved block of wood with letters of JESUS. A reader noted that she had the same piece of carved wood on the mantle in her family room, made by a very dear friend of her parents several years ago. She observes, "When visitors first look at it and can't tell what it says, I always tell them to keep looking at it and slowly back up a few feet. Then "JESUS" becomes very clear to them. (I'm sure you'll find a message in that statement)."

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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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