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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
Gordonville Mud Sale Horse Auction

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"Be On Guard"

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:28-29). "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 1:4).

We've had Molly, our new mixed border collie pup for a week now. Molly is getting used to her new home and Ester enjoys having her very own pet. However, in addition to Ester's walking Molly, I've been taking her on long walks and letting her loose, along with our older dog Roxie, to run freely in the large farm fields across from our home.

Molly "herding" Roxie
Border collies have a long history of being bred to herd and protect sheep. In no time Molly's instinctual herding drive was evident much to Roxie's chagrin. Molly constantly seeks to herd Roxie and rarely leaves her alone when we are out in the field! As seen she jumps up and constantly nibbles on Roxie, who is rather annoyed but amazingly patient. It's somewhat humorous to see the little pup confused about Roxie being a sheep, and in a funny sort of way, it brings to mind a type of protection God provides for his people.  Of course this protection isn't from a sheep dog, but is provided by well-studied, observant, and obedient undershepherds who watch over their flock. 

Jude's message was addressed "to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ."  I'll take his salutation to include me and certainly it includes you as well if it fits.

Jude had set out to share a message concerning the salvation common to all who believe. I presume it was to be an encouraging letter rather than a corrective message but then he felt compelled to address an error the people were confronting. In the previous verse he had written, "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Either a prompting by the Holy Spirit or a report had come to him compelling him to change direction from the initial purpose of his letter and an appeal "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." I wrote about this in yesterday's message. I feel the phrase "certain men" may indicate that both Jude and the recipients knew who these men were but chose not to identify them by name in the letter.

The phrase "whose condemnation was written about long ago" is referring to the condemnation that awaits all who abuse God's Word and cause His people to stumble and fall into error. These men had "secretly slipped in among" the early believers. Of course this could be taken in a physical sense but its seems to me more likely has the sense of deception. These were "godless men".

There were two grievous errors in their message and teaching, errors which persist to this day:
    1) They change the grace of our God into a license for immorality
    2) They deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord"

Over the next two days I want to address both of these errors in more detail but will end this message with Paul's challenge: Be on your guard.  After he preached to the Ephesian elders Paul challenged them to "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:28-29).

This message is a great model for all preachers and has actually served as the text for the final messages I preached in the churches I have pastored.

We all need to be on our guard and should see warnings from our spiritual leaders as evidence of genuine love and concern for the flock. The immediate threat was false teachers whom Paul had called "savage wolves" (v. 29). Paul said to these elders: "I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). Try to picture this and consider the deep felt burden that this conveys.

Today, as faithful ministers, our mission includes warning others to "be on guard." As the Spirit moves us we might also be moved to tears, like the apostle Paul, as we bear a deep burden for our brothers and sisters in the faith.  Just as a shepherd protects his sheep or a father his child, an overseer will do all he can to inform and equip his people to discern and withstand the deceptive wiles of the evil one.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, as we earnestly contend for the faith, we're thankful for pastors and Christian leaders who labor, study, pray and observe the times to keep us on our guard against the schemes of our adversary, the devil.  Keep us alert, somber, and ready for action when our overseers warn us of Satan's scheming strategies so that we take heed, proceed cautiously and become wise and discerning.  May their teaching and guidance stimulate us to study for ourselves that which You want to show us in Your Word that will keep us on our guard and effective in our Christian walk.  We lift up our Christian leaders to You, knowing that they are subject to even greater temptation, since the devil is extremely zealous in his attempt to silence the messenger.  May they be merciful to others, snatching them from the fire, all the while hating even the clothes stained by corrupted flesh, so that they do not defile themselves or dishonor Your name.  Amen.

More photos from the Gordonville Mud Sale held this last Saturday. (Final set)
(For background info in regard to what a "mud sale" is see Monday's message.)

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
Pies, pies, pies
These special racks had been full of pies early in the day. I had a tasty slice of coconut cream!
They had all types of food for sale.

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
I don't know why a Santa Claus was there but these boys were excited about the candy canes he gave out!

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
It was a very busy and exciting time for the children.

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
The Amish may be the most conspicuous group but a branch of old order Mennonites are known for riding bikes (as well as horse and buggy). The bikes usually have a cardboard box to haul stuff.

Gordonville Mud Sale 3/12/11
I took this photo at the Gordonville Mud Sale several years ago. It's a game called cornerball, unique to the plain communities and highly competitive. When I went to the sale last Saturday I didn't see them playing where they had in 2007 so I asked my Amish friend. He told me the competition between the Amish and Mennonite groups got so heated that there was a liability concern and if there was a game it was being played off the official grounds. I was unable to find it, perhaps sort of like a card game played in a secret back room!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Like A Shepherd"  Video  Don Moen A nice message and great photos!

Gordonville Mud Sale  Video  Video

2011 Lancaster County Mud Sale schedule for any who may be interested! This coming Saturday we plan to go to the Penryn Mud Sale which is closer to us.

Like many of you we continue to pray for the people in Japan. Here's a prayer written by John Piper.

Correction: Patrick, who correctly guessed that our mystery flower was made with chicken bones, is from Scotland, not Australia. I saw Perth and thought of Australia but there is a Perth in Scotland as well!

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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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