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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Garden on Stumptown Road in Lancaster County PA
A garden on Stumptown Road in Lancaster County, PA.
Notice the Purple Martin bird houses along the side.
The Scripture reference is Isaiah 58:11.

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"Miracle Grow"

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).

The last several days we have spent a lot of time working on our lawn and gardens. The weather has been beautiful and many long-term readers are aware that this is a mutual interest, although Brooksyne has the "green thumb".  I care for the lawn and she tends the vegetable garden and ornamentals.

Miracle-gro plant foodYesterday we stopped by our local Home Center and I saw Bob, a pastor friend, who also likes gardening. He had some Miracle-Gro that he was taking home to use.  We often use "Miracle-Gro" to fertilize with.  I'm sure most of you have heard of this brand and probably use this plant food.  It comes as a dry, blue powder that you merely mix with water.  Within several days the plants generally are revitalized and flourish with new growth and thus the name.

I have observed for years that believers have been on a search for products like miracle grow for their spiritual growth.  Many are interested in a miracle grow type formula, like "Five easy steps to being a mature Christian", with a guarantee that it will work in five weeks.  Of course materials are available to aid spiritual growth such as seminars, books, video series, specialized courses, etc.  I have been blessed by many of them through the years and I now benefit from some of these sources that are up on the internet.

However, God has not ordained any quick five-point plan to maturity. Certainly both our salvation and subsequent growth is a miracle and work of divine grace.  But our Christian growth and maturity is something that will take place throughout our entire life. There may be spurts of growth, but generally solid growth is incremental over a lifetime of following Christ.

Al & Thata BookWhen we first moved to Lancaster County we sat behind Al and Thata Book in church. They were an older couple who had dedicated their entire lives in service for Christ. In their "supposed" retirement years they continued to demonstrate a hunger for God's Word, fellowship with the believers, and were very active in Christian service.  What a blessing to see their desire to continue to grow in God's grace and knowledge. They're now with the Lord and we keep a small photo of them above our desk as a reminder of their steadfast walk in the Lord.

Peter completed his final epistle with a powerful challenge: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  The word "grow" is in the present, active, and imperative, which means this growth is ongoing, non-optional and we have a part in it.

Today let us encourage you to continue to grow in your faith as you dutifully carry out the spiritual exercises that nurture your spirit; Bible reading, prayer, fellowship with other Christians, Christian service, witnessing for Christ, standing up for Biblical truth, enduring hardship and overcoming trials, etc.  And, painful as it is, we also grow through our mistakes – that is, if we learn the lessons that keeps us from repeating them.

At times our spiritual growth is rapid, while at other times it's very slow and practically indiscernible.  But growth, stability and faithfulness over the long term are what really matters. Let us stay faithful as we, step by step, walk in the footsteps of Jesus!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we want to grow in the grace and knowledge imparted to us through the teachings of Jesus and Your faithful servants as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  We know this involves much more than simply reading the Scriptures; it includes meditating and memorizing principles and portions of the inspired text.  It includes saying "no to ungodliness and worldly passions and living self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."  As our world continues the slide into decadence and self-indulgence, it means that we, with great intention, set our heart's desires on that which is pure and holy so that we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Al and Thata Book first went to Africa in the early 50's. After serving in Africa for many years they had various duties for Christ in the states and while in their sixties they learned Spanish and went to Central America as missionaries. They really weren't slowing down at all in 2003 when they returned to Africa for six months of missionary service while in their late 70's.  Only days after arriving in Africa they were both killed in an automobile accident. We were stunned upon hearing of the tragedy and again considered how things work out in the mysterious plan of God.  

Jeremy and Christine Sweeten
Last night we were on our way home after our long walk when we met a couple also walking on our rural lane. We did not recognize them but, as we introduced ourselves, it turns out they also went to the same small midwest Bible College we attended. Jeremy and Christine Sweeten are planting a church in New York City, presently meeting in a theater. In futher conversation in our home we learned that the church we planted right out of Bible College in 1977 financially supports this couple in their ministry in New York (small world.) Christine's parents also live on Kraybill Church Road but beyond our immediate neighborhood!  They stopped by our home for a few minutes of fellowship and prayer.  Here's their church website: Forest Hills Community Church

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.)

All through our ministry we have believed in the power of Scripture memorization as a means of spiritual growth and have often taught Scripture songs set to music in our churches.  We still hear from "kids" in our early ministry (who are now approaching middle age) who recall these songs.

In the early nineties Integrity music started a great series of CD's that aided us in this regard.  In the last year we have located this resource on the web and you can still order from this series if desired. We also can provide links to individual songs through a website called Dada. Here is a listing of songs. Check out the link on the left that states "Play Top Tracks" and it will play a selection of this music.  Nice background music to fill your home or office with the Word set to music. We suggest that this might be a great page to bookmark!

Here are two related to today's message:

"Everything We Need"
2 Peter 1:3,4 Open this page and click on "play" (from the Integrity Scripture Memory series.)

"For By Grace"
Ephesians 2:8-10 Open this page and click on "play" (from the Integrity Scripture Memory series.)

"The Lord Will Guide You Always"  Isaiah 58:11  
Open this page and click on "play" (from the Integrity Scripture Memory series.)  This song has the phrase "well-watered garden" used in our opening photo.

We were unable to find a suitable online version of this hymn to share but the final verse of "I Love To Tell The Story" comes to mind as we conclude this posting. We want the following words from the hymn text to be true in our life:

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

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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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