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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pine Tree trail (photo by Georgia McKelvey)
Pine Tree path
Photo by Georgia McKelvey

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"At The Proper Time"

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

Yesterday we shared a message about the incremental impact we have in our service for Christ and our influence on other people. In yesterday's focus we considered how God uses many methods to accomplish His purpose. A second aspect of how our impact is incremental is over a period of time.

MaryBelle Dambaugh is a resident of Longwood Manor where we serve as chaplains. Her great-uncle was Ira D. Sankey, the music composer and song leader for Evangelist D.L. Moody in the 1800's. She shared a book with us that Sankey had given to her grandmother titled, "The Autobiography of Dwight L. Moody" compiled by his son in 1900, one year after his father's death.  It is a remarkable retelling of Moody's many evangelistic crusades where hundreds of thousands came to know Christ in the U.S., England, and elsewhere.

Moody, uneducated in the conventional way that ministers were trained in his day, was mightily used of God both one on one and in great evangelistic meetings.  The stories are tremendously inspirational and an example to those of us who want to be used of God in impacting others.  Here's an illustration and reminder to us of the time it often takes from the planting of a seed of truth until its time of germination.

"On his way home from a meeting one night Mr. Moody saw a man leaning against a lamp-post.  Stepping up to him and placing his hands on his shoulders, he asked:  "Are you a Christian?"  The man flew into a rage, doubled up his fists, and it seemed for a moment as if Moody might be pitched into the gutter.  "I'm very sorry if I have offended you," said Mr. Moody.  "Mind your own business!" roared the man. "That is my business," Moody replied quietly, and went on his way.

About three months later, on a bitter cold morning at daybreak, there was a knock at Mr. Moody's door.  "Who's there?" he asked.  A strange voice answered, and Moody said, "What do you want?"  "I want to become a Christian" was the reply.  Mr. Moody opened the door, and, to his astonishment, there was the very man who had cursed him for talking to him as he leaned against the lamp-post.

"I'm very sorry," said the man.  "I haven't had any peace since that night.  Your words have haunted and troubled me.  I couldn't sleep last night, and I thought I would come and get you to pray for me."  The man accepted Christ, and the moment after doing so he asked:  "What can I do for Him?"

Moody eventually recruited him to teach in the Sunday School until the Civil War broke out. He then enlisted and was one of the first to be shot down but not before he had given his testimony for God.

Three months may not seem long but Moody could very well have thought his efforts in reaching out to this man were worthless. The scorning response that the stranger threw back in Moody's face could have dampened his eagerness or humiliated him to the point that he would no longer share his faith with strangers.

Today's text especially highlights the message within our illustration.  It indicates that the spiritual harvest is not always immediate. "In due season" or "at the proper time" (depending on Bible version) we will reap a harvest.  The extent of the harvest is not indicated but the promise of the harvest is, conditional upon our continued sowing.

Many of you are faithfully sowing but in many cases see little rewards (harvest) for your labor. Don't give up!
"At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Keep pressing on. As ordained by God we will reap a harvest in due season!  The extent of the harvest will be fully revealed on the other side!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, according to the Scripture we reap that which we sow.  If we sow to the wind we reap the whirlwind, but if we sow to the Spirit we reap a harvest of assurance, blessing, and life everlasting.  It motivates us to reach out to others who do not know the Prince of Peace; to share the life giving message of hope for here and now and hope for all eternity.  Let us not be discouraged by any  who reject our message of salvation, but let us be determined to share with all so that we will reap a harvest in due season.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Interestingly, we do not see all the fruit of the harvest but nothing is hidden from God's sight.  The man who was initially offended that Moody dare to ask him about his spiritual condition went on to influence others in Sunday School sessions and fellow soldiers serving in the Civil War.  He had only a short time here on earth but he likely had a greater harvest than many earnest believers who sow over a lifetime due to the severe circumstances of his time. How exemplary Moody was in his boldness and in his compassion toward a total stranger as he expressed genuine concern about his spiritual condition.  Based on his initial response who would expect that such a person would ever come to faith?  Perhaps you have boldly witnessed for Christ and received a similar response.  Just remember this story and believe that the one who initially rejected your witness was surely challenged concerning his spiritual life.  He or she may not have responded as you had hoped but perhaps they will seek out a godly pastor, look for spiritual resources online, or approach a co-worker or family member who is a believer.  The sowing is our Christian duty and the harvest is God's blessing.

Matthew Henry Commentary:  As we should not excuse ourselves from any part of our duty, so neither should we grow weary in it. There is in all of us too great a proneness to this; we are very apt to flag and tire in duty, yea to fall off from it, particularly that part of it to which the apostle has here a special regard, that of doing good to others. This therefore he would have us carefully to watch and guard against; and he gives this very good reason for it, because in due season we shall reap, if we faint not, where he assures us that there is a recompence of reward in reserve for all who sincerely employ themselves in well doing; that this reward will certainly be bestowed on us in the proper season-if not in this world, yet undoubtedly in the next; but then that it is upon supposition that we faint not in the way of our duty; if we grow weary of it, and withdraw from it, we shall not only miss of this reward, but lose the comfort and advantage of what we have already done; but, if we hold on and hold out in well-doing, though our reward may be delayed, yet it will surely come, and will be so great as to make us an abundant recompence for all our pains and constancy. Note, Perseverance in well-doing is our wisdom and interest, as well as our duty, for to this only is the reward promised.

Our Amish friends called on Saturday and wanted to come for a visit so Stephen picked them up and we enjoyed dinner in our home on Sunday afternoon followed by a visit to the nursing home.  The children are an absolute delight to the residents.   They had to head home for the evening milking time so Stephen, his brother Michael and Ester helped them with the farm chores.  I stayed home and cleaned up after our big meal.

Sunday afternoon sing along
Anna Ruth, Brooksyne and the children enjoying a Sunday afternoon sing-along. Of course, Roxie's always planted nearby as she is Brooksyne's shadow. The children are always intrigued by the piano.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Mike with bull
Mike is courageously holding the bull by the nose (of course, you'll notice on which side of the fence he's comfortably standing).

Ester feeding mules
Ester's chore was feeding the mules.
My brother Mike and I pitched hay into a giant feed shredder.

Feeding calf
I was assigned the chore of feeding a hungry newborn calf as Naomi Grace looks on.

Amish child on gate
The children manage to make a good time of being out in the barn with their folks during the chores.  Naomi enjoys wearing her brother's hat!

Amish boy standing on mule
Moses was very pleased to show us his mule riding skills.

Mike riding on mule
Mike, my brother who is visiting us from California, rides a mule bareback for the first time in his life.

Sunset on an Amish farm 8/29/10
The sunset was beautiful (but poorly captured in this photo).
Moses continues to show off his mule riding skills as Sadie joins her great grandmother who is slowly walking up the lane for a visit as she recovers from knee replacement surgery. Later we drove her back to her "Daudy" house at the end of the lane.

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.)

"In His Time"  Video

"Bringing In The Sheaves"
(This is one of the children's favorite songs.  Take notice of the excellent lyrics in light of our message today.)   Video 

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

"Jesus Loves The Little Children"  Video

"Jesus Loves Me This I Know"  Video  

A word about our Amish farm photos today: Many of you know that the Amish have some reservations about photography.  Based on our friendship and association with the Amish the last ten years we make the following observations:
1) They understandably don't like to be treated like tourist objects as they often are in Lancaster County and in other areas where people come to "see the Amish".
2) They understand that their mode of transportation and farming methods are interesting and accept distant photos from the road and also realize their photos are often taken when they are in public. But Jesse was annoyed one time at a gawking stranger who drove down his long country lane to snap photos as he was on his own property farming.
3) The biggest issue is identifiable facial photos. However even in this regard the Amish do not necessarily all hold the same view. I took a lot of facial photos of the children with their parent's permission and they enjoy having a record. But they have requested (which I of course honor) not placing these photos up on the web. The children would excitedly pose for photos and then gather to see the small picture on the camera screen; "Let me see, let me see."  These I do not post.

Today's photo of the Pine Tree path was taken by my cousin's wife, Georgia. She posts her photos here.
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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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