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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wheat ready for harvest
"The harvest is ready"
(Cick here for larger size with Scripture)

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"The Bread of Life"

"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).  "I am the bread of life" (John 6:48).

We are in the midst of the wheat harvest in our region of the world. Quite predictably wheat harvest takes place at the same time each year. Following today's message I share several photos of the harvest.  The wheat grain may be used to make flour for bread products or for animal feed.

I have watched the hardworking farmers and encourage you to give thanks today for your daily provision. We often give specific thanks for the various laborers who have a role in getting the food on our table ending with showing appreciation for "the hands that prepared it."

I read a quote the other day that illustrates the confusion and ignorance of a growing number of people toward the essential role of farming and agriculture: "I don't see why we need farmers anymore since we can get all the food we need at the store."

Today I want to consider two verses dealing with bread; both are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thankful man"Give us this day our daily bread."  Most all of you will recognize this to be a verse from  the Lord's prayer.  Bread is representative here of provision.  In this context it primarily means physical provision. In expressing this to God we are asking Him to meet our daily needs.  From his commentary,  J.C. Ryle elaborates, "We are here taught to acknowledge our entire dependence on God for the supply of our daily necessities. As Israel required daily manna so we require daily bread. We confess that we are poor, weak creatures in need and beseech our Maker to take care of us. We ask for bread as the simplest of our wants, and in that word we include all that our bodies require."

Bread also conveys spiritual meaning and we need this bread to feed our Spirit.  Jesus, in refuting the tempter, stated: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Many of us appreciate the little devotional booklet published for many years by RBC Ministries called "Our Daily Bread".  It's simple title conveys this same sense of provision that comes from the spiritual nourishment we receive from the Bible and its daily application in our lives.

Bread of life"I am the bread of life."  This teaching follows the feeding of the five thousand.  In this passage Jesus also refers to the feeding of manna in the wilderness. This is the first of the seven "I am" (ego eimi or ἐγώ εἰμι as it sounds and looks in the Greek) statements of our Lord. Jesus is asserting that His teaching and the benefits of His intervention are that real foundation of spiritual life of which the manna in the wilderness symbolized. In verse 27 He states, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  Of course Jesus was not giving a put-down to those who labor in the fields, but He was teaching his listeners that food which only feeds the body is not enough.  We need food that comes from heaven which has an eternal, spiritual nurturing component that food from the ground cannot provide.

Today let us thank our Lord for both the physical provision He provides in our daily bread and the spiritual provision He provides from the "Bread of Life."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, in the same way that we grow hungry before mealtime, stir up a hunger within us for the spiritual food You provide through the living Word of God.  You are the Bread of Life who provides physically and spiritually for our daily needs.  Following a hearty meal we often linger around the dinner table considering the tastiness of our meal.  When we "taste and see that the Lord is good" we want to linger in Your presence and consider Your goodness, offering praise to You for all that You are and all that You provide for us.  Bread of Heaven feed us until we are truly satisfied and filled with all the good things that come from You.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Harvest Scenes

Combines at wheat harvest, Lancaster County PA 6/25/10
Last week this field near our home was being harvested.  Last night on the way home from our church service we passed near this site and a large deer leaped across the road right in front of us. I slammed on the brakes and barely missed hitting it!  Having close collisions with deer was common to us when living in Northern Pennsyvlania, but this was a "first" for us here in Lancaster County.

Photo of wheat harvest from combine
A view of wheat being harvested from the cab of a combine.
Several years ago I rode
with my friend Darrel in the combine during wheat harvest.  Darrel, along with his dad, Galen, farm here in Lancaster County.   Click here for a larger photo with Scripture verse.

Combine at wheat harvest
Darrel had company later in the day as his girlfriend Kelly (now wife) went along for the ride.

View from my porch
This photo was taken several years ago across the street from our house as the truck is being loaded. (This year the same field has been planted in corn.) Farmers try to rotate the crops.

Wheat harvest, Lancaster County PA 6/25/10
After the harvest the wheat stalks are in rows ready to be baled as straw.

Wheat harvest, Lancaster County PA 6/29/10
Finally today I will share this photo taken behind my house which shows the contrast between the wheat stubble and the green corn with my neighbor's barn in the distance.

Whole wheat bread slice
Whole wheat bread!
(Note: We didn't eat the topping)

On a related note: This is a video we made several years ago of Roxie jumping in the wheat field.  She was just learning the meaning of the word, "Jump".

This video is a powerful demonstration of the power of the cooperative harvest.

The HarvestThe Harvest  By Randolf Productions Inc
An award-winning film praised by Josh McDowell: "You walk away feeling, 'I can make a difference!'" Witness the struggle of a North Dakota family suffering the loss of their father, and the blessing of their community rallying to help them harvest their farm without him. The season to gather in the crops has arrived, but in the midst of crisis, only a young boy's prayer can save The Harvest. Based on a true story, this powerful modern-day parable will inspire you to commit your energy and talents to reach the world for Christ---one person at a time.

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 Am"  Video  A well produced video from a local church. This song sure blesses us!

"Bringing In The Sheaves"
This is an old song I recall from childhood that I don't hear sung in churches today.  I don't think it's probably in too many hymnals these days let alone projected on PowerPoint!  A great joy is traveling with our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth and hearing their children sing out on this song over and over!  This hymn calls to mind an older farming method, still used by the Plain folks in our area where the wheat was cut and stacked into sheaves to dry before bringing them in to remove the grain.

Finally today: As Brooksyne was doing the final editing on today's message I was outside and heard a lot of hammering.  I drove over to my neighbors and watched an old-fashioned barn raising. I expect to share some photos next week!

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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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