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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Old order Mennonite horses
 Horses on Old Order Mennonite Farm

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"Planting And Watering"

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).

Eight years ago this very day we packed up a truck for our move from Taunton, Massachusetts to Lancaster County, specifically Mount Joy, PA.  I had resigned after nearly eight years of pastoring a church in Taunton and was moving my family to Pennsylvania to assume a job as a chaplain.

Packing up is something we're not too good at, as we tend to be long-termers.  However for most of you the time for relocation has come at least a time or two in life and you can identify.  We were blessed to have served a solid church and many came over to help us pack and load. As Brooksyne and I reminisce this morning about that eventful day we consider how many of these dear saints are still a part of our life but in a different relationship than when I was their pastor.  Thankfully, many of them read our daily messages making it pretty easy to stay in touch.

"Friends", written by Michael W. Smith (sung at our farewell) has a great line about another type of packing. "Packing up the dreams God planted in the fertile soil of you."

In our daily text Paul is describing the establishment of the church in Corinth.  As the founding Pastor he had planted the gospel seed in this fertile church.  Apollos (as well as others) had followed him in ministry and had watered the seed planted in faith.  But it was God who made the seed of faith grow. 

The principle is the same in individual lives.  In some lives we sow seeds, in others we feed, water and nourish the germinating seed. But God is the One who makes the seed grow, like a flourishing "tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither" (Psalm 1:3). 

For well over 35 years Brooksyne and I've planted the gospel seed in people's lives, starting in our high school years.  We've done a lot of planting and watering and seen some reaping, although it never seems as much reaping as we'd like.

The reaping part so often comes later.  We'll see and hear some of it on this side but so much will be revealed at the final accounting.  And by faith we just need to stay obedient to God until that time.  The apostle Paul expresses a powerful truth in the daily Scripture.  Consider just the phrase, "only God, who makes things grow."

That sure puts us in our place but it also relieves us of the personal feelings of inadequacy or failure when one doesn't respond to the gospel message!  God asks us to plant but we are unable to force germination or growth.

Today I encourage all of you, in whatever form of ministry you are in, to remember that it's God who makes things grow.  Be faithful in your part and rest assured that God will always be faithful in His!  Keep planting and watering.  It may be years before you hear from that germinating seed, but we have both a commission and a promise.  Stay faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Daily Prayer: Father, help us to remain faithful in planting Your seed of salvation to those who have not yet bowed their knee, to those who have not yet confessed with their tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Whenever we open our mouths, may words be given to us so that we will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel to those who have not yet heard.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

(See Philippians 2:5-11, Eph. 16:19,20)

Over ten years ago now we received a very interesting phone call from a young lady.  She identified herself and then asked, "Remember me?  I used to live with you".  I said "What!"  Due to her married name I didn't initially recognize the name or the voice.  It turned out she was a former foster child who lived with us during the late 70's when she was a first and second grader.  She had come from an extremely disadvantaged situation. While living with us Brooksyne prayed the prayer of salvation with her as a child and we shared Bible stories and took her to church.  

She joyfully reported that she was now married and had children.  She is faithfully serving the Lord and attends church in a neighboring community.  We talked for a few minutes and what uplifting joy to hear from her. We have since visited with her and her family and in fact she regularly reads these messages.

"Not In Vain"  A testimony from Brooksyne about a seed she planted 30 years prior to hearing about its germination.  Text  Audio 

"A Little Foolishness" After a rather long hiatus I have a new posting to my humor/satire blog; the story of Mildred Swanson, who joyfully discovers her "spiritual gift" is sending forwarded emails!  Read more here.  (Note: This material is satire!)

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Press On"  Video  We really enjoy this song by Selah.

"Friends"  Video  The song we referred to in the message.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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