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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meadow View Farm in Lancaster County PA
Meadow View Farm in Lancaster County Pennsylvania

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: We began a 40 day New Testament reading plan on April 3. If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading and reading previous portions after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day schedule. More information concerning the Scripture reading plan is below the daily message.

The links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (April 28): 1 Corinthians 2-9 beginning here.
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 29): 1 Corinthians 10-15 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Sin's Dread Sway"
"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?" (1 Corinthians 5:6).

LogsI have a friend who owns a large lumber-processing mill that makes lumber from logs. It's the kind of plant I find interesting as a factory tour, one of my favorite things to do in life. A crucial job is examining the raw logs that have been delivered to the mill for any metal prior to the processing.  A single nail can result in extensive damage to the machinery, an expensive plant shutdown and could even be dangerous if it would fly out and hit someone.  So a worker examines each log in the lot before it goes through processing with a powerful metal detector.

NailsConsider the tiny nail in relation to the huge log.  It's but a tiny, tiny fraction of the log's total volume and yet what tremendous damage it can do.  That's true in a lot of things in life isn't it?  Can you imagine saying, "This water is great, it's 99% pure and only 1% arsenic" or "My spouse is mostly faithful, he only commits adultery once a month, but is faithful the rest of the time" or "God keeps most of His promises." 
In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul is addressing a situation in the Corinthian church regarding a rather bizarre form of sexual immorality, "a kind that does not occur even among pagans." Incredibly the Corinthian believers were proud about the situation! Perhaps they reasoned that being open-minded and non-judgmental  was virtuous, kind of a "different strokes for different folks" outlook. That's sure a lot like today's attitude toward sin where "tolerance", so understood, has been elevated to a virtue or referred to as "a mistake" as though it were not a willful choice.
But Paul doesn't excuse it or brush it aside as insignificant.  He commanded the church to take prompt, decisive action.  Actually his words seem harsh and unloving in this age of toleration. "Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.  When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Wow, how mean-spirited and hateful this sounds to modern ears. Lighten up Paul. Try to be more understanding of the times, most would say today.
But Paul's action was loving. Sin leads to destruction; repentance leads to redemption. In the powerful song "I'd Rather Have Jesus" is this poignant line,
"held in sin’s dread sway". Unchecked sin destroys the individual, the family, the local church and mars the testimony of the whole church. Redemptive love means confronting destructive sin head on, which is what Paul did, because a little sin is a big deal. "Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?"
Two challenges to sum up today's message:
  • God has provided a means to deal with specific sin in our lives. Don't make excuses but confess, repent, (turn away from it) and live to please the Lord. 
  • The true church will be increasingly unpopular in standing up for Biblical standards. We will be labeled mean, hateful, narrow-minded and ignorant.  In fact the world is already doing that in many venues. If you are mocked, scorned or laughed at for believing and adhering to Scriptural teaching pray that you'll have the same attitude as the disciples in Acts 5:41. When they were severely beaten they "left... rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name of Christ. The disciples counted it an honor to be graduates from PU (Persecution University). Stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Praying man Daily prayer: Father, the practical example of the Corinthian church serves as an example to the church of each generation. To ignore sin or brush it aside does not make it go away. It only gains strength and infiltrates the rest of the body when not dealt with in a Scriptural manner. We pray for the leadership of our churches and ask You to help them to live pure and holy lives in obedience to You and as an example to their flock. May they be intolerant of sin that jeopardizes the spiritual health of the church. The church's code of conduct is prescribed through Your Holy Scriptures, not the popular philosophy of our day. In turning our eyes away from the sin we in essence give approval, but when we have the courage to deal with it we save not only the transgressor but we also purify Your church. Keep us faithful, prayerful and vigilant as we seek Your leading in these extremely important matters.  Amen.

Amish Friendship Bread

Brooksyne's note:
I baked some Amish Friendship Bread on Saturday and we have sure enjoyed its unusually good taste. It starts from a mixture of yeast, flour, milk and sugar that's been fermenting over a long unknown period of time before the baker receives it. Then the fermenting mixture is stirred into the larger batter and bakes into a distinct and delicious sweet bread. To apply the Scripture that Paul speaks of reminds us that yeast is very effective as it works through the entire batter. Of course, in the Amish bread recipe, the yeast mixture taste produced favorable results.  But in the case of the sinning church member if the person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected. The Corinthian church was instructed to remove the wicked person so that the church could stay pure. I am reminded that we are to feast upon the Bread of Life with honor and sincerity and truth.

Here's the recipe for Amish Friendship bread.

Harvest Scenes

Rye harvest 4/27/11
This is the view during our walk yesterday morning. Throughout the day tractors with hay tedders raked the hay to help it dry sufficiently.

Rye harvest 4/27/11
My neighbor brought his grandson over for a look.
He's pointing in the distance to a tractor placing the hay in windrows.

Rye harvest 4/27/11
Late yesterday afternoon the harvest workers gathered to make plans I suppose (or maybe they were just enjoying a good talk before the hard work!).

Rye harvest 4/27/11
The mown rye was placed in trucks and will be used for animal feed.
They worked the harvest late into the evening.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"   Video  Dallas Holm  This song is especially powerful in light of all the emphasis on the royal wedding.

    I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
    I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
    I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
    I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

        Than to be the king of a vast domain
        And be held in sin’s dread sway;
        I’d rather have Jesus than anything
        This world affords today.

    I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
    I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
    I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
    I’d rather be true to His holy name

    He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
    He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
    He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
    I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading planOn Sunday April 3 we began a forty day program of reading through the New Testament and we encourage Daily Encouragement Net readers to consider joining in as we read/listen through the entire New Testament in 40 days. (At this point we suggest starting at the reading for the current day and then reading the portions you hadn't read when the 40 day period is over.)

These readings take about 30 minutes per day. Prior to each message we will provide a direct link to the Scripture portion to be read and listened to each day and for the next day. (and several links for the weekend daily readings).

The daily encouragement message for each weekday during the forty day period will be based on a portion of the text in the Bible reading for that day (or, on Mondays this may also be from a Scripture portion read over the weekend.)

Here is a page where you can download the entire Bible to your computer in a variety of versions.

Here's an overview of the plan I have prepared with practical tips (pdf)

Here's a schedule for the entire 40 day reading period along with discussion questions. This is especially suitable to bookmark during this period as it contains links that will open directly to the passage to be read for the day.

"Proclaimer" Bible listening deviceThe reading links open to Bible.is, an online Bible with audio player and additional apps that you may find useful. For those who may prefer the KJV it is available. For international readers there may even be a version available in your native language. Just click the small tab directly below the Bible.is logo on the top left to see available versions. 

This Bible reading plan is a partnership of Daily Encouragement Net and Faith Comes By Hearing, a ministry which provides Bible listening resources all over the world. We will share more about this ministry in future messages.

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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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