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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lancaster County Amish farmhouse 6/3/13
Yesterday evening we drove over to the Creekside Greenhouse, owned by our Amish neighbors, Elam and Naomi Stoltzfus. This is the entrance leading  to their property.

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"Persistence In Prayer"

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

A week ago on Saturday we did a lot of work in our yard. After a long day we were pretty tired so we decided to turn in just after 9 PM.  As we began to get ready for bed the doorbell rang. The late call startled us so we delayed as we were deciding who was going to open the door. Before we could get dressed and make that decision the doorbell rang again. The visitor then knocked loudly and even began pounding on the door. Our two dogs were upset and barked furiously which made matters even worse.

Finally all three of us went to the front door and saw our new neighbor with a look of panic. Originally from Italy and speaking in broken English, Maria tried to communicate that she had accidentally locked herself out of the house yet her nearly four year old special needs daughter was still inside. Alarmed and needing our assistance, we quickly responded to her request to help and all turned out well.*

The frightening experience reminded us of an illustrative story Jesus told in Luke 11 following His teaching of the Lord's Prayer. A man came to his neighbor's house at midnight asking for bread. It was a very late hour and the man was asleep along with his young children, but due to the neighbor's persistence he did not refuse him. Jesus was making the point that our loving Father will not ignore our plea as we persist in prayer. In addition He gives His followers guidelines in how we are to go about praying.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Jesus' teaching presents a three point progression of persistence in prayer:

1) "Ask and it will be given to you." James states, "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). Paul taught, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).

2) "Seek and you will find."  God want us to seek Him. A foundational verse in Scripture states, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).  And one more verse that assures us that we have direct access to God is found in Ephesians 3:12: "Through faith in Him [Jesus] we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

"Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Knocking on doors apparently is an ancient practice. Peter knocked on the door when he was released from prison and of course a verse of great assurance refers to Christ knocking on the door of our hearts (Revelation 3:20). At times we might find ourselves not just knocking but pounding the throne of heaven because our request is urgent and we want to be sure that God is hearing us. There are times when God sends us reassuring signs that He is at work in answering our prayer. Other times we exercise the kind of faith described and demonstrated by the author of Hebrews who wrote, "Faith is being certain of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for" (Hebrews 11:1,2).

Successful prayers demand persistence. We must ask, seek, and knock; in other words we must be persistent. The Bible is full of Scripture that reassures us that God hears us and honors patient, persistent, and persevering prayer. In Luke 18 Jesus also tells the story of the persistent widow who goes to the judge and eventually is granted her request. I believe Jesus is also telling us, “Be persistent, pray in faith, and wholly believe!”

Persistence in prayer will result in:
  • Spiritual confidence.
  • Fruitfulness
  • Peace

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as the author of Hebrews commended the patriarchs, prophets, kings, and the many unnamed saints who endured opposition yet persisted in their faith, we too want to be listed among them. Certainly they prayed for deliverance and in many instances they received it such as Daniel and the three Hebrew young men. In other accounts saints gave their lives even while praying for deliverance. You had planned something better for them that they would only be able to experience in the new country of their own. We too live by faith and therefore we pray in faith believing You are working for our good. We want to be persistent so that we will receive the reward You grant to those who diligently seek You, on this side of eternity as well as the next. We love You Father and thank You for Your Son Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.

* The Rest of the Story regarding our neighbor knocking: We were a bit confused as to what the trouble was due to our new friend’s inability to speak English well. By the time we’d made our way through both of our very dark yards we learned that our neighbor’s daughter was locked inside and Maria had no way of getting back in or calling her husband to come home and help. She was frantic with worry about her little girl. The mother went to the back yard looking for a way that she might gain entrance but Ester and I caught sight of the little girl coming through the front garage door. She came running with her arms lifted for Ester to pick her up. Somehow she figured out how to get out and all the trouble was over in a flash. We must have gotten 6 hugs or more from our elated neighbor after placing her daughter back into her arms!

Brooksyne's further thought: Persistence in prayer does not always mean that God will answer exactly the way we expect. He knows the future and He acts in accordance to that which is best for us, both now, later and for all eternity. I was reminded of that when I recently ran into an acquaintance whom I joined in prayer one morning regarding a very serious matter over a year ago. I remember praying for her over a period of time but since we hadn't crossed paths I had forgotten about the matter since then. When I chatted with her she reminded me of the need she was facing at the time. God didn't answer her prayer, as we had hoped, and actually withheld the very thing she was praying for. But He acted in her best interest and did an amazing spiritual work within her life and that of her family's, far greater than the very thing that she was praying for. She gives praise that God always knows what's best, even when we presume to think otherwise.

Giant petunia from Creekside Greenhouse 6/3/13
We bought a huge planter of petunias (that filled the back of our van) at the Creekside Greenhouse. The children waited on us as we selected some flowers and one of them asked us, "How many petunia plants do you think we planted in this pot?" We guessed ten but our answer was way off. Correct answer below.

Tree-covered truck at Creekside Greenhouse 6/3/13
Doesn't look like this truck's been used for a few years!

Sycamore tree, Lancaster County PA
The Creekside Greenhouse is on Greider Ave.
It's also the farm where there is an interesting Sycamore tree. Last year we stopped with a friend and all the children (eight) lined up on the long limb for a photo.

Greenhouse tomatoes 6/3/13
We also stopped by to visit with Lester, another neighbor, who grows vegetables commercially. The tomatoes we bought are about as close to a home-grown vine- ripened tomato as we've ever had! His wagon farmstand is located under a huge tree at the junction of Donegal Springs Road and Colebrook Road.

Our visit with Lester, along with the song used in today's message prompted a memory. Lester and his family belong to one of the old order Mennonite groups prominent in our area. When we first moved to our house here in 2002, Terry, another neighbor shared about a heart-touching experience. Lester's son was getting married and they had the service (or perhaps reception) right there on the farm with all the family gathered. Terry told me that as the sun went down he could hear the group singing, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"!

Pink rose 6/2/13
The roses from this bush always bring a smile to Brooksyne's face when I see her tending to it.  She planted it about 10 years ago and every year it produces beautiful blooms.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Ask, Seek, Knock"  Video  From the Integrity Scripture memory series

"What A Friend We Have In Jesus"
  Video  Homecoming featuring Larry Ford

"In The Waiting"
  Video  Greg and Janna Long

"I Must tell Jesus"
Video  Crystal Lewis

"He's All I Need"  Video  Jason Crabb

"Have Faith In God"  Video  Maranatha Praise Band

It took only three small plants to make up the Petunia arrangement. The young girl said they feed it a little miracle gro twice a week followed by plenty of water.

   Jesus’ Prayers (reprinted from Halley's Bible Handbook)
•    At His baptism (Luke 3:21)
•    In a solitary place (Mark 1:35)
•    In the lonely places (Luke 5:16)
•    All night, before choosing the Twelve (Luke 6:12)
•    Before His invitation, “Come to me” (Matthew 11:25-27)
•    At the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:11)
•    After the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:23)
•    When He gave the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4)
•    At Caesarea-Philippi (Luke 9:18)
•    Before His transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29)
•    For little children (Matthew 19:13)
•    Before the raising of Lazarus (John 11:41-42)
•    In the temple (John 12:27-28)
•    At the last Supper (Matthew 26:26-27)
•    For Peter (Luke 22:32)
•    For the disciples (John 17)
•    In Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44)
•    On the Cross (Luke 23:34)
•    At Emmaus (Luke 24:30)

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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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