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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Purple malva with dew
This purple malva is beautiful both in our flower gardens where Brooksyne intentionally plants them and where they grow "volunteer" across the country lane
from the clippings we discard!

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"For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality" (I Thessalonians 4:3).

1 Thessalonians 4:3Sexual immorality is increasingly acceptable and "a given" in the minds of most in our generation.  Numerous Hollywood-type tabloids stare you in the face as you wait your turn in the retail check-out lane at virtually any market. You're continually exposed to sordid Hollywood immorality. Some were married only months earlier but now are carrying a different partner's child. The sexual escapades are unending and yet people are fascinated with what "star" is presently living with another. 

In the course of our ministry we, as do other Christian workers, get beyond the profiteering tabloid escapades to see the truly destructive effects of sin. We are regularly exposed to heartbreaking stories of rebellion against God and His long established standards. The consequence affects not just our generation but those before and after us.

For men particularly, sexual immorality usually begins with the visual stimulation, known as lust. Visual images leading to lust abound but really they've been around a long time. Three thousand years ago David observed a woman bathing from the roof of his palace, leading to lust and then to his eventual well-known moral fall. The result of his actions brought grave conseqences to his lover's family, his own children, and the kingdom of Israel. It wasn't just for a short season but affected future generations.

Chuck SwindollChuck Swindoll shares a tip I have found very helpful and effective in this regard.  Essentially he advises when confronted with a lustful thought or image to quote Scripture.  He states, "You cannot quote Scripture and lust simultaneously." I have sure found that to be the truth!  It's like trying to mix oil and water – they do not have the same properties and thus are incompatible. 

Today's Scripture passage is a straightforward command. It's a good verse to quote when facing temptation in regard to sexual immorality. There may be some issues in life in which the will of God is a bit uncertain but today we read two that are very clear.  I place it in the first person, "It is God's will that I should be sanctified and that I should abstain from sexual immorality."

This command is among the clearest of God's commands, found abundantly throughout all of Scripture. Yet the world's "system" screams at us to violate it. This "system" diligently seeks to obscure the consequences of disobedience. Biblical standards are mocked by many as being restrictive and outdated.

Safe sex = marriageProbably one of the most familiar phrases to our young people is "safe sex".  They may not have the slightest notion about balancing a checkbook, but they know the various methods of contraception and how to be immoral.  The "system" is no less relentless in the attack on adults and the scores of broken marriages, shipwrecked lives, and abandoned children.  Ruined ministries bear ample witness to this. 

But earnest followers of Jesus Christ desire to do the will of God. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified." Sanctify means to be "set apart, holy." A helpful definition I recall from my Bible College days is, "Sanctification is separation from that which is evil and dedication to God."  The Westminster catechism defines sanctification as "the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness."

The Scripture text goes on to specify one area of how our sanctification is demonstrated: "That you should abstain from sexual immorality."

Today, I encourage all readers to heed the Scriptures in this regard particularly. The attacks will continue as the old adversary continues his quest to steal and kill and destroy.

Let us, armed with God's Spirit and His Word, "resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: 
Jesus, we want Your counsel to be our guide as we face the enemy's assault on our personal holiness.  As Hollywood and much of the world continues to trivialize and ridicule Biblical Christianity the horrendous consequences are evident as generations of people ignore Your principles established from the beginning of time. We desire to live holy lives which are a direct consequence of following Your statutes. We reject those personalities and influences that confuse our thinking and gradually erode our commitment to purity of mind, body, and spirit.  We ask for discernment to recognize worldliness and discipline to embrace that which leads to holiness.  Amen.

Many years ago I discovered an article very helpful in my own life from a 1988 "Leadership" magazine article by Randy Alcorn.  I have personalized it and added several additional points.  I keep it before me as a solemn reminder of the consequences of moral failure.

We also suggest this online booklet for those who want to explore today's topic further. "Resisting The Lure: Recognizing The Dangers Of Sexual Temptation"
  (This article can either be viewed as a pdf or you can order the booklet.)

A Tale of two church signs

Yesterday we had an errand and drove through Rohrerstown, PA. I appreciate the witness on many church signs in our area but found this one a telling sign of the times. (Name of church purposefully cropped out!)

Church sign in Rohrerstown, PA
Is this a text message or a twitter message for driversby?

Perhaps this means the church has air conditioning! But it could also be conveying that it's a "cool" church, not one of those "stuffy" kinds. After all, who wants to go to a church that's not "cool" these days? See my humor blog entry on this topic titled "Worship Pastor fired for not being “cool” enough"  (Note: This post is satire!)

"Casual" In most places, what church isn't casual, "come as you are" these days? We share a perspective on "casual" in this daily encouragement message titled "The Tyranny Of The New" from several years ago.  Interestingly, some of the false religions that make great demands and insist on daily sacrifices from their people are growing steadily.

"Worship"  Two adjectives followed by a noun. I ask "Worship what?"

Church sign in Rohrerstown, PA
Around the corner I was edified by the title of an old hymn on another church sign.
(I snapped the photo along the road and thus it's partially obscured but most will recognize the hymn.)

Flower planter in rain 6/22/11
We received a beautiful rain early this morning as we prepared this message, a real blessing this first full day of summer!  Brooksyne took this photo during the rain as she sat on a bench underneath the eave of our barn.  It was a beautiful summer shower that brought over 1/2 an inch of rain.

Mollie in backyard ready to "fetch" 6/22/11
An hour later the sun came out and all the plant life looks healthfully green, as seen in this photo!  Mollie is carrying the rope she likes to retrieve.  No one is taking responsibility so "someone" didn't fasten the gate securely last night and Mollie made a furious exit into a nearby cornfield.  She went deep into the field and we watched intently to see if we could spot her by the bending of the corn rows but saw no sign of her.  Finally she stuck her head out the side of the cornfield.  Stephen had brought the rope with him and yelled, "Mollie, fetch!" after he threw the rope.  She couldn't resist, after all this was a game to her! She immediately ran to Stephen and we "fetched" her back to her proper living quarters!  She sure keeps us on top of it with her eager desire to make sport of "breaking out" of her loving home!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Holiness Is What I Long For"
 Video  Scott Underwood

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  Christ For The Nations Worship

"Take Time To Be Holy"  Video  Collingsworth Family

"What A Friend We Have In Jesus"  Video  Haven Quartet

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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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