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Wednesday, May 30
, 2012

Belleville PA amish man plowing
Our friend Greg Schneider sent us this photo of an Amish man working his field near Belleville, PA in the Kishacoquillas Valley.

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"By The Sweat Of Your Brow"

To Adam He said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:17-19).

All throughout our area we see farmers working the fields; the Amish using teams of horses or mules, some forms of Mennonites using tractors with steel wheels (rubber is not allowed) and of course all manner of modern farm equipment. Regardless of their work, with the hot weather we're experiencing, at some point in the day they're all sopping up sweat from their brow!

A well-watered garden in Perry County PA Click to enlarge)

I stopped by a beautiful Amish farm with a lush vegetable garden. The rows of plants were up on raised beds with a grassy area for a walkway between the rows. It was clearly a well-tended, well-watered garden. I could already see evidence of the abundant harvest coming up through the fertile Lancaster County soil.

Amish woman in gardenBut I also thought about the toil involved. It didn't just happen. They had to fight the thorns and thistles, persistent weeds, plant diseases, and the varied insects that destroy. It is an ongoing battle requiring attention, time, and diligent labor. The toil behind this beautiful garden was a hard-working Amish woman with sweat on her brow and lots of dirt on her clothing and under her fingernails!

Most of us don't work with soil. We may have a small vegetable or flower plot and that's enough to understand the effect of the "curse" referred to in the daily verse.

Sweat of browHowever I consider the phrase "sweat of the brow" in a broader sense. Regardless of what our work entails it seems there is an aspect of painful toil. I take this internet ministry very seriously and also find it very rewarding in regard to personal fulfillment in helping others on their faith journey. Although I rarely have physical sweat on my brow while preparing my message I certainly know painful toil!

My main interest is the preparation of the messages, which is usually a joy but honestly can at times be toilsome.  Any preacher or teacher who has prepared messages knows what I mean. Brooksyne and I also find it a blessing in the various ways we interface with readers and podcast listeners, mostly through email, although we do have opportunity to meet some face to face, and others via telephone.

Consider your work today. For some of you it's going very well and you might not even use the word "toil" in describing it, let alone painful toil!  But for most the toil is rather ongoing and you know painful toil as well. This "painful toil" may not be in the sense of an aching back but an obnoxious boss or fellow workers that are a real pain. It may be a project that is very difficult and everything that could go wrong already has.

I want to encourage you today and to do so I must look ahead. Quite honestly I expect toil, which will be very painful and perplexing at times for my remaining time on earth. I ask the Lord to give me wisdom, persistence and an overcoming spirit as I deal with these matters.

But to counteract the dread of toil I also look for the blessing of a future promise: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation 14:13).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Jesus, my load becomes lighter as I consider that the ongoing toil and labor of this life is only for a season. The daily struggle of meeting deadlines, employee relations, putting out fires, pleasing customers and bosses can be overwhelming and very frustrating, let alone the growing pile of dirty clothes that awaits me at home. Though I've asked for Your divine intervention many times some of these recurring irritants will not go away in my life's work. May the sufficient grace of Your Holy Spirit grant me an enduring and victorious attitude even in the midst of these toilsome labors. Remind me again that Your blessings far outnumber the troubles of this day and that divine rest is promised to those who are faithful to the end. In Your name, Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"It's Gonna Be Worth It All"  Video  Rita Springer

"He Leadeth Me"  Video  Candi Pearson

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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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