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Monday, February 27, 2012

Old truck in field in Lancaster County PA
We passed this colorful and well-preserved Chevrolet truck sitting out in the field on the way home from church yesterday. Scenes like this really make us smile!

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"Even When It Hurts"

"You shall not bear false witness" (Exodus 20:16) "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).  "Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue … who keeps his oath even when it hurts" (Psalm 15:1-4).

Courageous movie sceneOn several occasions in this Daily Encouragement series I have drawn illustrative material from the movie "Courageous". A memorable scene is when Javier, one of the main characters, faces a very difficult test that will reveal to others his truthfulness and integrity, or lack thereof.  He passes the test and is awarded for his unwillingness to compromise.  In real life it doesn't always work out that way.

I have a Christian businessman friend who told me about a previous job he had where he was pressured to falsify records and distort manufacturing specifications. He refused to compromise his integrity and as a result lost the job he had for many years.  

Particularly painful to him were the attempts by the company to "justify" their actions by maligning him to other employees who were his close friends. This is a man who demonstrated the daily verse. His oath was acting with integrity in the business world because of His Christian convictions and, because he did so, he experienced significant injustice. But he was committed to telling the truth "even when it hurts".

A childhood memory comes to mind regarding being on the other side of dishonesty. For a number of years my Dad had a heating and air conditioning business. At one point he sold a sheet metal brake he no longer needed and the purchaser apparently passed him a bad check. I still recall how hurt my dad was.

The last part of our third daily verse speaks of one "who keeps his oath even when it hurts."  In life we find that many times being truthful really does hurt on the short-term and the untruthful appear to get ahead. Someone else got that job promotion because he was adept at misrepresentation. (In my observation falsified and misleading educational credentials are rampant in our society.)  A neighbor shares with a wink how he got a better deal on his insurance because of an incomplete disclosure. Mankind has been lying ever since the original sin and is becoming more and more skilled in ways of deception.

In a meeting we had with the president and vice president of a large company we asked them, "How can we pray for you?" Without hesitation the president requested that we ask the Lord to help his company leadership to find other businesses of integrity in which they could work with. Then, in a sense of concession to current conditions, he asked for wisdom in dealing with companies that lacked integrity.

Psalm 15 contains a list of characteristics required by God of the one who would dwell in God's sanctuary and live on God's holy hill (v. 1). In this present age these characteristics would surely apply to those desiring a close walk with God; those with a heart to live in His presence. The portion of the verse selected this morning is so very important and yet greatly lacking in our modern world.

David is reminding us of the unchanging verity of the Ninth Commandment, "Thou shall not bear false witness." God wants us to keep our word and speak the truth even if it hurts.  In our day of slippery words, half-truths, and embellished facts we need to keep our word even when it hurts. The pressures to violate the 9th commandment are great, but by God's grace and in His strength we can keep from doing so. God still "desires truth in the inner parts" (Psalm 51:6a), not the airbrushed version many display to impress others or promote themselves.  Jesus wants us to hear the truth, speak the truth, and live in the truth! Let us determine to do so
"even when it hurts".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You, for it teaches me to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before You. Even when it brings about hurtful circumstances help me to do the right thing in maintaining and maturing my spiritual nature as I walk in Your truth and speak the truth. May I not be found lacking in integrity but rather be characterized by my integrity as it honors my Father in heaven.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

A busy and enjoyable weekend!

Winner of Mount Joy PA chili cookoff 2/25/12
Saturday we participated in a Fire & Ice Chili Challenge here in Mount Joy with 12 other participants. We are pleased to report that Brooksyne's Chili came in as first prize as several hundred community folks came through to sample and vote for their favorite chili! This fun contest helped to support community events such as Fire & Ice since each vote cost $1.00 (we were unaware of the way the contest was held - samples were free but votes cost money). We did have some of our D.E. readers stop by and it was delightful to get to know them better.

After the contest I managed to get Brooksyne to sit on the ice chair (one of many ice sculptures in front of businesses downtown).  She is holding a pewter serving bowl from Wilton Armatale, a local business that she received as a grand prize along with three local restaurant gift certificates.  Obviously that made our day extra special.  (Because of the very frigid cold weather, with wind gusts of 50 MPH, the event was moved indoors for which we were very thankful.)

Knowing some of our readers will ask:  "What's the recipe?" I'll have Brooksyne write it up and we'll try to post it tomorrow.  She didn't have a recipe so she will have to write out ingredients, measurements and directions and we'll post it once she's done.

Ester with Bunny and Peg 2/25/12
Ester with two of our local friends that we met when we both lived in Massachusetts.Dennis "Bunny" and Peg O'Hare stopped in for some chili. They serve as chaplains with Transport for Christ, a ministry to truckers.

Ester with "Point Of Grace" 2/26/12
Finally on Sunday evening Brooksyne and Ester were volunteer ushers with the  CMI Productions which hosted a concert at Lancaster Bible College. They heard Bebo Norman and Point of Grace and came home last night quite pleased with their night out. Ester is posing with (L to R) Leigh, Shelley, and Denise, The Point of Grace "Girls".

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Will Lift Up My Eyes"  Video  Bebo Norman  I (Brooksyne) enjoyed hearing this beautiful song last night by Bebo.  I've heard it on the radio numerous times and always appreciated it but didn't know who wrote or sung it until last night.

"Turn Up The Music"  Video  Point Of Grace   This is a toe tapping happy song that reminds us that life is truly above the way we live from day to day!

"There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace"  Video  Point Of Grace  A touching sing for those hurting. This is presently Ester's favorite song by Point of Grace.  We dedicate this to the Kokonaski family who said goodbye to their wife and mother, Beth Kokonaski.  She battled cancer for many years and joined the angels in heaven last week.  Ester thought of this hurting family as the women sang this song last night. This family was a part of a church we served over twenty years ago but through daily encouragement net we stay in touch.

Some comments from Friday's message on "Sleeping In Church"

*"At my church, the pastor says that anyone who has a ringing cell phone during service has to buy him a pizza!" Now that's a good idea!

*Thank you for today's message. I really needed a laugh! Reminded me of not getting up in time for breakfast before church and having my stomach growl loudly during a quiet minute in the service!! Stephen's note: I recall my Mom made the loudest stomach growling noises in church which really embarrassed the family.

"Jazz For Cows" The message spoke of attentiveness in church and an alert reader shared this video of some very alert cows enjoying an impromptu jazz concert!  Have a laugh!

No relation to absolutely anything today but another funny video!

For deeper study!
 A careful reader reminded me I forgot to follow-up on a message several weeks ago.  I shared a message concerning "Finding Out What Pleases The Lord" and referred to seven things the Lord hates which included "a lying tongue" and "a false witness who pours out lies."

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
  1. haughty eyes,
  2. a lying tongue,
  3. hands that shed innocent blood,
  4. a heart that devises wicked schemes,
  5. feet that are quick to rush into evil,
  6. a false witness who pours out lies
  7. and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:16-19) 

We want to consider how we can find out what pleases the Lord based upon this Biblical revelation of what God expressly hates or is displeased by. However as students of Scripture we also consider what pleases the Lord based on what He hates with a correlating Scripture.

The Lord hates:
1) A proud look but He is pleased in our dependence upon Him and humility, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
2 A lying tongue but He is pleased when His children "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
3) Hands that shed innocent blood but He is pleased with the one having "clean hands and a pure heart" (Psalm 24:4)
4) A heart that devises wicked schemes but He is pleased when we seek to do the will of God from our heart (Ephesians 6:6)
5) Feet that are quick to rush in to evil but He is pleased by the "feet of those who bring good news" (Isaiah 52:7).
6) A false witness who pours out lies but He is pleased with a truthful witness giving honest testimony (Proverbs 12:17).
7) A man who stirs up dissension among brothers but He is pleased with peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

I find the same approach as used above concerning that which the Lord hates to be helpful with the Ten Commandments, eight of which are expressed as a prohibition. For those who may desire to dig deeper I encourage you to use the approach above for the Ten Commandments. I will express the heart of the commandment and encourage you to express a positive command as taught elsewhere in Scripture. (In the case of the two commandments expressed as a positive command find a correlating prohibition.) Below I  share what I came up with in this regard based on my study of God’s Word and my ongoing quest in life to "find out what pleases the Lord."

 1) "You shall have no other gods before Me."  "Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."  (Jesus at His temptation in Matthew 4:10)
 2) "You shall not make for yourself an idol."  I was unable to think of a positive way to express this prohibition. Any ideas from readers?
 3) "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain."  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29).  Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15)
 4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."  Elsewhere expressed as a prohibition in Nehemiah 13:17, "What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day?"
 5) "Honor your father and your mother."
(Expressed as a mark of godlessness in the last times in 2 Timothy 3:2. "disobedient to their parents"
 6) "You shall not murder."  "Love one another"  You can't murder somebody if you really love them!
 7) "You shall not commit adultery."  "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4).
 8) "You shall not steal."  "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need" (Ephesians 4:28).
 9) "You shall not bear false witness"  "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" Ephesians 4:15
10) "You shall not covet."  
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have." (Hebrews 13:5)

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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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