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Friday, November 20, 2009

Roxie and Dottie sharing basket
As it gets colder outside our pets, Roxie (dog) and Dottie (cat),
enjoy snuggling up together in front of our coal stove.

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"Daily Manna"

"The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan" (Joshua 5:12). "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

Periodically we mention our pets, Dottie and Roxie. Our dog Roxie has a bit more colorful petality (pet personality) and thus we tend to tell more stories about her, but today I want to share an observation concerning our cat, Dottie.

When we moved to Pennsylvania in February 2001 we rented an old farmhouse for a year.  Ernie, our landlord, did not allow pets (due to pet problems with the previous tenants who ran an illegal dog kennel which caused a lot of trouble for him). However a wild barn cat adopted us and three months later she gave birth to a litter of four kittens in a portion of the old farmhouse known as the "summer kitchen".   When Ernie saw how much Ester liked the kittens he allowed her to keep one, a black and white female she named Dottie.  She's been with us for 8 years now, the longest we've ever had a cat. 

Dottie has lived in our house until recently. Due to her scratching our good furniture she now spends most of her time in a small barn right next to our house. She seems OK with that as long as we keep her fed and watered. Each morning I call to Roxie, "Let's go see Dottie" so we go out together and at first the pets rub their furs together and then play a little. Then I pick Dottie up and she'll happily purr for a few minutes till she's had enough and then she's just fine being all alone.

Cat feed dispenser (empty)We provide her with an automatic feed dispenser that only needs filled about once a month. Whenever the feed dispenser gets low Dottie seems to be nervous. Even though there is still some feed left in the dispenser she apparently senses that it is running out. She hurriedly meets me at the door, rubs up against me and then walks over and claws at her feed as if to say, "Just in case you don't realize it, I'm about out of feed." 

Cat feed dispenser (full)

When I fill the hopper Dottie watches on intently. In trying to detect the thoughts of a "spiritually" minded cat I believe her joyful meow is declaring, "My dispenser is overflowing.  My prayers have finally been answered!"

On a much more serious note, God miraculously provided the manna for the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years.  At first it was seen as an incredible miracle; a rather fascinating way to receive daily bread and it was quite tasty (Exodus 16). 

But over time it became a source of discontent and grumbling (Numbers 11:6).  Surely many in the younger generation merely took the manna for granted as they had grown up with this miraculous provision. They had acquired no taste for other varieties of food so they didn't necessarily realize what they were missing out on.  But when our daily text was written the people had crossed over to the Promised Land and were then instructed to eat of provisions from the land.  The next morning, for the first time in forty years, the daily provision of manna no longer rained down from heaven.

God provides but not always as we expect. We care about Dottie and we are going to be sure she has food. We may change the brand of cat food or the dispenser which might bewilder or even worry her, but she will be cared for by her caring guardians.  God cares infinitely more for us, His children!!!

Consider His care in your life today.  Jesus taught us in the Lord's prayer to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."  God is our Provider and desires our dependence on Him as an expression of faith.

Are you worried and upset about a matter?  In God's timing and in accordance with His specific plan for your life He sends manna. At other times He stops and makes other provision.  Surely the ceasing of what had become routine was just as mysterious to the people as the initial provision, but God was in control.   He still is and He always will be!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we're reminded of Your absolute faithfulness as we reflect upon the Israelites journeying in the wilderness.  Even when they were unfaithful, You in Your unwavering faithfulness, provided for their daily needs.  We read the words of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote in Lamentations, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  Great is Thy faithfulness."  And we sing along with the hymn writer, inspired by the words of Jeremiah, who penned these words, "All I have needed thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me."

Dottie resting and at peaceBrooksyne's note: Some of you may wonder why we don't declaw Dottie.  We would have early-on except that we wanted her to be able to play outside and feared for her safety.  Several months ago I called a number of veterinarians offices to see if we could possibly do this for her now, but was strongly advised against doing so due to her age.  It seems that cats who are older do not respond well to this treatment and they can form bad habits as a result.  So we're thankful for our nice barn where she can have lots of room and as long as she has feed and water she rests peacefully on an old office chair. We do bring her in the house for short periods of time when we are able to keep a close eye on her or when it's really cold.  Some of our readers may be curious as to what our barn looks like.

Our barn
Here's a photo of our barn. Our house is to the right, with our daily encouragement office just inside the visible white french doors.

We regularly receive comments and notes that encourage and reaffirm our calling to this online writing ministry.  This morning we received the following email that we thought our readers might enjoy reading as well.....

I just had to send another quick thank you to you both for the lovely Fall pics that Brooksyne took and sent in yesterday's (11/19/09) daily encouragement emailing. I'm looking at my new wallpaper of beautiful Autumn leaves as I type this reply. Even though my health problems keep me inside, those pics allow me to enjoy our Father's creation once again. I used to love going for hikes in the woods, and those pics bring all the sights and smells back to me. I can almost feel the wind in my face. God bless you both for allowing the Lord to use you to "visit the sick" through these emails, encouraging His Body.

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.)

Today I would like to share some links I discovered in searching for a musical version of the Lord's prayer.

Here's a nice selection of Scriptures, background video and music with the Lord's prayer.  Video

A classic,
instrumental version of the Lord's prayer song  Video

A new tune Video

A very interesting video of how the Lord's Prayer would sound in 11th century English.  Video  This really demonstrates how much language changes!

Finally here's the Lord's prayer in Aramaic, the language spoken at the time when Christ dwelt among men. Video

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We'll be posting these resources through Thanksgiving.)

"Thankful For The Thorns":
A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thankgiving Table (printable webpage) The Thanksgiving celebration includes family coming together along with the turkey and trimmings. Often there's a lot of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in the link below.  
A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal. (pdf) Perhaps you could just use it as a discussion guide to provide stimulus for other's reflections.

A Thankgiving prayer: (written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago.)  Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony: This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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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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