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Monday, July 4, 2011

Amish church traffic, Lancaster County PA 7/3/11
Yesterday we encountered some Amish buggy traffic on our rural journey to church.

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"The Righteousness That Exalts A Nation"

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).  "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them" (Deuteronomy 32:28).
Today is Independence Day here in America with many celebrating today and throughout the extended weekend.  We realize many of our readers live outside of the USA but you can also apply today's brief challenge to the nation in which you live. In one way or another there's nowhere on earth this message would not apply!

Proverbs 14:34 describes two contrasting outlooks concerning the state of a nation in God's reckoning:

1) "Righteousness exalts a nation." Righteousness in this case refers to people seeking to live according to God's holy standards as expressed in His Word. As people seek to live this way a nation is exalted or elevated; it is upright. By "nation" we may think of a present day political subdivision but the sense here is a people group.

2) "But sin is a disgrace to any people."  Sin stains, separates, and brings shame and disgrace to the transgressor.

Consider the disgrace of rampant sin in our country today; sexual immorality, violence, idolatry, dishonesty, greed and so many other evidences of rebellion against God.  It seems day by day that this disgrace increases and the pace has certainly accelerated here in the USA in recent years, and is even more visible in recent months.  What a weakened, pathetic spiritual condition our land is in. We desperately need a heaven-sent revival!

Deuteronomy 32:28 is written from the context of a nation under God's judgment summed up with this description, "without sense, no discernment". 

Today we write to the people of God scattered throughout the world and encourage you to pray and live out a godly life against the grain of culture.  In this great spiritual darkness Jesus continues to call You, His followers, to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16)

Let us, as Christ's true disciples, be people of conviction who will stand up for righteousness. May we be counted among those who exercise spiritual discernment. By doing so our righteousness will exalt this nation and help to bring about spiritual change in the lives of those in our nation!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to live above the fray of this world as a people of righteousness set apart for Your purpose.  We forsake the things of this world that bring disgrace to Your holy name and live for the purpose of bringing glory, honor and praise to You, our Father. We pray for our nation, for the turning away from our sins and turning toward the abundant life we find in Christ our Lord.  You've called us to repentance and to share the good news of salvation to all who are lost.  Help us to seek a fresh calling upon our lives to be obedient in this commission from Scripture.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Here's a simplified outline of the message I preached yesterday also from today's text:

1) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a reverence for God. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance" (Psalm 33:12).

2) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a respect for the Holy Scriptures. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

3) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in obedience to both the commands and prohibitions of God. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known” Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

4) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in recognition of God’s ordained order for society.
  • Individuals committed to God: As for me and my house…"
  • Foundational unit is the family
  • Accountability to the Church of God.
  • A strong nation is made up of strong communities, which are made up of strong churches,  which are made up of strong families, which are made up of strong individuals.

Friends Along The Way

We made a short trip this last Thursday-Saturday. On Friday Brooksyne and Ester took a bus trip into New York City and while they were gone I spent some time visiting with Bob Weaver, a friend in Pottsville, PA.  I also hiked along the Appalachian Trail
and on Hawk Mountain, and drove through beautiful rural Berks County. During the trip and the remainder of the weekend we met several friends and family!

Jack and Millie Provard 6/30/11
On Thursday afternoon we had lunch at "The Farmer's Wife" restaurant in Ono, PA with Jack and Millie Provard, whom we have known for many years. Jack pastored in a neighboring town when we served in upstate Pennsylvania about 20 years ago and we also worked together as chaplains about 8 years ago here in south-central Pennsylvania. They have been a wonderful source of encouragement to us through the years. They remain active in service for the Lord working with Teen Challenge and often serving in interim pastorates.

Yes there really is an Ono, Pa (named for a Bible town) and a "Farmer's Wife Restaurant"
Farmer's Wife restaurant Ono, PA

Irvin and Louise Martin 7/2/11
On the way back home we stopped at a store near Reading, PA and just happened to see some friends we've met the last couple of years. I had a brief visit with Irvin and Louise Martin and received and hopefully dispensed some providential encouragement! Irvin is a retired pastor and was stocking up on his favorite cereal.

Speaking of providential meeting we were in an old order Mennonite store near Bethel PA when Ester ran into our neighbor's daughter who had married last year and moved to that area. This particular type of Mennonite would not have wanted a photo taken but we had a nice visit with her!

Jerel and Fran Book 7/3/11
Yesterday afternoon we attended an anniversary celebration for Jerel and Fran Book. They have both had some significant overcoming in life. What a blessing to see their two sons and their many friends and family honor them.

Mike and Joanne Gardner 7/3/11

Late yesterday afternoon our friends Mike and JoAnna Gardner stopped by to visit us along with their two children. They had also been at the anniversary celebration and were participating in a newlywed game when Ester took this photo! Turns out they were the winners (most recently married as well.)

We will share more about our trip and some photos over the next couple of days! Tomorrow we will write about a visit to Eaton Farms, a large commercial farm near Reading PA.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Three songs with same title!

"Heal Our Land"
 Video  Randy Rothwell

"Heal Our Land"  Video  Wintley Phipps

"Heal Our Land"  Video  Crabb family

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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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