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Tuesday, March 17
, 2009

Photo of Lancaster County farm scene
Lancaster County Farm in our Neighborhood
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"How Much More!"

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"  (Luke 11:11-13).

Photo of eggLancaster County is one of the most prolific agricultural producers in the country.  An egg farmer shared with me that farms in Lancaster County produce 89 eggs every second.  That's nearly 3 billion a year!

Photo of layer houseAbout a mile from our home is the largest single layer house in North America with 450,000 "hens a laying".  Among the challenges for the farmers is getting rid of the waste product since there are strict regulations on how much nitrogen can fill the soil.  Periodically one of the "blessings" of country life is the "aroma" that fills the country air as they spread this manure on the farm fields in our neighborhood, especially during picnic season! The fertilizer spread not only produces an unpleasant smell but also a multitude of flies.

Photo of fried EggWell I sure don't want to think about that when I'm enjoying fresh eggs at breakfast!  Our opening illustration brings to mind a statement made by our Lord.  Eggs have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years and in today's passage Jesus is illustrating the loving care of the heavenly Father by using an earthly father's concern in providing for the needs of his children.  Ester enjoys eggs for breakfast and I'm sure not going to give her a scorpion when she asks for an egg!  Actually, since she's 20, I'm more likely to ask her for an egg since she fries an egg, sunny side up, pretty consistently without breaking the delicate yolk!

Our Lord's illustration presumes the caring relationship He has ordained that parents are to have for their children.  The statement, "If you then, though you are evil", intrigues me. I understand this to be in a comparative sense as Jesus shows us the caring heart of His Father.  He contrasts our sinful and error prone nature with our holy and perfect God.  We never have to question God's motives when He is at work on our behalf, though it may take time (hindsight) and an earnest study of the Scriptures to understand His ways in some situations.

But it saddens me today to consider how many in our world have not had caring earthly parents.  This is especially evident with absentee or abusive fathers and, to a lesser degree, mothers as well.  There are many raised in homes with truly evil parents who give little attention to their children's wellbeing, but instead feed upon their own destructive addictions or selfish ambitions. Undoubtedly some readers can identify with having been raised by these kinds of parents. 

I pray that you are allowing God to heal your lingering memories as He reveals His tender mercies to you each day. I'm so glad that, as believers, we have the power to break those bad patterns instead of repeating them. Our model of parenting should be based on Biblical principles rather than making excuses based on the old adage, "Well, that's the way I was raised!"  As historians often quote, "Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat the past."  I digress a little on this point, but feel it's a very important underlying message as well for all godly parents.

One small portion of the text is especially encouraging, and I want to bring this message to an end with this perspective:
"How much more will your Father in heaven…" These powerful words bless and strengthen the child of God today and are true whether or not you've had a loving, caring earthly father.  God is more than willing to give us all that we have need of.

Praise God for Jesus' comparative illustration that gives us boundless hope for those requests dear to our hearts as we go to Him in earnest prayer.  The most important gift that our Father could ever give to us is the Holy Spirit, whom He promised to give all believers after His death, resurrection and His return to heaven as mentioned in John 15:26.  Our Father ever loves and cares for His own.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, help us to give good gifts to our children just as You give good gifts to us; gifts of teaching, example, and reinforcing consequence that will help shape our children into caring, giving adults who live responsible lives; children that will care for us in our needy years even as we cared for them when they were helpless.  Help us to give them personal attention and contribute to their feelings of worth and value.  You are our supreme model for giving good gifts to our children, even as You give gifts to us that last for a lifetime and many non-material gifts that will be transported with us to heaven.  Help us to do the same with our children.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  In a footnote to the paragraph about breaking bad patterns from our childhood I have thanked God repeatedly over the years for my mother who came from an abusive home where her father was an alcoholic and a vile man.  I was told that his father (my great-grandfather) was also an alcoholic and abusive.  In addition my grandfather's brothers were alcoholics and abusive.  How tragic that two generations (at least) were doomed to repeat a terribly destructive lifestyle.  I never met my grandfather because he spent about twenty years in the state penitentiary before his death. He brought such shame and lingering pain to the family that his photographs were hidden and his name unmentioned while I was growing up.  How tragic!

My mother, along with all her siblings, broke the chain of alcoholism when they individually chose not to have it in their homes.  This was very much the proper response since we've learned in recent years that when there is alcoholism in the family line we cannot know ahead of time which family member may be predisposed to not being able to stop with one drink.  In fact, one cousin recently broke from this pattern, and has become an alcoholic – losing her husband and children, and she's even spent time in jail because of driving under the influence of alcohol. One child affected by this predisposed addiction is one too many, for the influence will likely trickle on to the next generations and so forth.  

Life Application Note on Matthew 7:11:  "Christ is showing us the heart of God the Father.  God is not selfish, begrudging or stingy and we don't have to beg or grovel as we come with our requests.  He is a loving Father who understands, cares, and comforts.  If humans can be kind, imagine how kind God, the Creator of kindness, can be."

Speaking of Contrasts: I stepped out early this morning and we have the delightful aroma of chocolate from a nearby cocoa processing plant in Mount Joy!

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.

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video  This is an earnest choir version with an interesting string instrument in the very beginning.  I believe it's a steel guitar. This song starts out slow and quiet but builds with a stirring crescendo as it goes along.  I chose it because I recalled a line that states, "He ever loves and cares for His own."

"God Will Take Care Of You"  Audio  A reading and hymn story background written and shared by Brooksyne accompanied by our friends Amber Martin on the keyboards and Lauren Gingrich on the viola.

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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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