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Friday, March 9, 2012

Lancaster County Mennonite one room schoolhouse
Yesterday we passed this one room Mennonite schoolhouse. The students were lined up beside the road waiting for a bus to arrive.

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"The Joy Of Flowers"

"Jonah was very happy about the vine" (Jonah 4:6).

Ester's 23rd birthday rose arrangementOur visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this week was a reminder of how much joy flowers can bring. In fact we purchased the dozen roses (shown on left) at the flower show for Ester's birthday today. (A good deal at $4.99 per dozen!)

Brooksyne plants many of her flowers from seeds and excitedly watches for the first sign of germination. Early on, she has even checked them at night with a flashlight just to see the first peek of growth. I like the way her plants make her happy! As we walked through the Flower Show I noticed her smile when she was observing the many displays.

Jonah found great pleasure in a vine that sprung up overnight! I suppose regarding plant types, vines wouldn’t be among my favorites, but today’s lesson reveals how easy it is to be petty about so many issues in life and, as result of that, misplace our priorities. Consider that so much of what concerns us on a day by day basis is really not a "big deal".  Spending several days visiting a loved one in an intensive care unit and seeing the needs of others can sure give you a perspective jolt.

Jonah in the whaleJonah is such an interesting Bible character. In the four brief chapters of Scripture that describe him we read of fear, prejudice, delayed obedience and repentance. But there's an observation I make today that may seem disrespectful of a Bible character, though it's clearly seen in the text; his pettiness and misplaced priorities. For the daily text I purposefully selected just a portion of chapter 4. I encourage you to read the entire chapter (or the entire short book for that matter!)

Jonah preaching in NinevahEssentially after God's call for Jonah to preach to Ninevah, his initial fleeing to Tarsus, and his undersea adventure in the belly of the whale, he had a remarkable response to his preaching. His message was hardly one of affirmation but rather, warning, as it is summed up in the phrase, "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."  

Amazingly, the secular Ninevites believed God and repented as a result of Jonah's preaching. "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened" (3:10).  What a cause for great rejoicing! How many preachers have had an altar call with a 100% response?

Jonah under vineBut rather than rejoicing the Bible tells us, "Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry" (4:1). He camped outside the city and waited for the judgment that he still hoped would come! God graciously provided a vine to shade Jonah as he sat and stewed and this shade made Jonah "very happy." The next several verses chronicle an interchange between God and Jonah that graphically illustrates Jonah's pettiness and misplaced priorities.

God had allowed a worm to destroy the vine that shaded Jonah and Jonah lapsed into incredible pettiness over this and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."  But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"  Jonah replied, "I do, I am angry enough to die."  These are the final words spoken by Jonah in an interesting detail regarding one of the more famous Bible characters!

Jonah 4:10,11

But God has the final word and it's be
en described as among the greatest missionary expressions of the whole Bible, "But the LORD said, 'You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?'" (Jonah 4:10,11). This verse comes to mind whenever I visit a great city like Philadelphia.

What about us today? What are we so concerned about? Although I've never been as upset as Jonah about a vine I sure realize how often I  slip into petty attitudes and misplaced priorities. Today, I want to concentrate on what really matters.  As I do so I am aware of all the enticements that seek to lure me from the central focus of fervently serving the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord help us all!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, You are well-acquainted with my weaknesses and the condition of my heart. You know that I am often more concerned about my own comfort and my daily schedule than the needs of those around me. I know I can't save the whole world, but I can listen to Your still small voice as You place individuals upon my heart. Show me ways that I can make a difference. May the character of my life reflect the heart of Christ as I reach out to others in love and in obedience to Your calling upon my life. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Several more Philadelphia Flower Show photos

Bonzai tree at Philadelphia Flower show
They had a large display of tiny Bonsai trees

Cactus at Philadelphia Flower show
This cactus is interesting and rather pretty!

Display at Philadelphia Flower show
The displays were elaborate and there were so many that it was, in a  sense, somewhat overwhelming.

Display at Philadelphia Flower show
We like this one since it is native plants to our area.

Closer to home:
Mollie jumping 3/8/12
Mollie came into our home one year ago yesterday.  She was a two month
puppy Ester selected for her birthday present. (Here's a photo of Ester holding her on the way home from the Humane League.) Now Mollie enjoys showing off her athletic agility hour after hour after hour as long as someone will play with her!  And Ester loves to take great action photos such as the two we posted today.

Mollie jumping 3/8/12
We've suggested that Ester stick to getting the colorful fence backdrop, rather than the shabby summer paraphernalia that we had "discreetly" hidden behind our shed.  That's like opening up a messy closet, shooting a photo of the hidden mess, and then posting it for all to see!

Today's Suggested Music and Sup
plemental Resources

"I Surrender All"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

"Lord, I Offer My Life To You"  Video  

Ester's Note: I recently wrote my testimony and want to share it with Daily Encouragement readers today on my 23rd birthday. I hope it will be a blessing!

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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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