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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wheat shocks 6/3/13 (Lee Smucker)
Wheat shocks near Strasburg. Photo taken by Lee Smucker.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player. (Abbreviated due to length of today's message.)

Note: Today's message is a lot longer than most. I considered breaking it up to several shorter messages but just felt the points needed to go together. The approach will also be somewhat different than most encouragement messages in using a larger variety of Bible texts and then gleaning application from each.

"Making Sense Of The Nonsense"

"All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10).

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:20,21). "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!" (Deuteronomy 32:28-29).

"Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding" (Jeremiah 3:15). “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him" (Daniel 2:20-22). "The sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). "If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).

Do you ever say, "This doesn't make any sense" or hear some recent news report and declare, "I can't believe what I just heard; that's nonsense!" Or like me do you say, "It just can't get any crazier than this"? But it most certainly will, likely in ways we can hardly imagine. I recall a book written about twenty years ago
with a great title, "Nonsense is Destroying America."

I regularly visit a website that compiles news stories (with links to the source report) which reveals the  nonsense that is sweeping our land. I have to be careful in the sense that although I want to be informed I don't want to be in despair and the accumulation of sheer nonsense can be despairing!

It sure seems to me this nonsense is rapidly increasing and I have been considering this matter and seeking the Lord in trying to make some spiritual sense of all the nonsense. Today we share a selection of Scripture truths that I believe can inform us in understanding this matter.

In demonstrating this increasing nonsense there is no shortage of illustrative material on many fronts. We heard a report about an elementary school in Wisconsin which just had a "gender bending day" requesting that boys come to school dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys. Some parents (although not all) were very upset. Apparently as far as student participation it was a total flop but some of the foolish teachers went along with it, even performing some type of line dance in front of the school.

I consider my devoted teachers in public school in the sixties like Mrs. Still, my third grade teacher and can't imagine they would have ever dreamed of this happening in the once dignified profession of teaching. How far we have digressed since the days when my pastor, who is just several years older than I, went to a rural school here in Pennsylvania and recalls the Bible being read in class.

Ester went on a trip to the Delaware shore with some friends on Monday. They had stopped at a WaWa to use the restroom when they encountered a man using the women's restroom!
It upset Ester and her friends but I suppose he had some kind of "right" to use whatever bathroom he chose. I have read that this is coming.

So how do we make any sense of this slide into nonsense?  Let us consider three factors:

1) Loss of generational spiritual capital.

"All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10). The first generation referred to in this verse were the people who lived during Joshua's lifetime. Some of them would have remembered Moses, the crossing of the Jordan, and Jericho, and all of them the settlement in the Promised land, Canaan. They heard Joshua give his final sermon challenging them to serve the Lord. The next generation after them "did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." The text continues to record that this generation, "did evil in the sight of the Lord, served the Baals and forsook the Lord" (Judges 2:11,12).

Although making no attempt to depict a precise parallel between this verse and today's cultural war I nevertheless believe there is a parallel. I grew up in the years when Jesus Christ and the Church were still respected by most even those who made no claim to following Him or being church people. There was a general Bible knowledge as illustrated by my pastor's recollection of Bible reading in class. Presently God is
openly mocked and several organizations are bent on eradicating Christian faith in America.

I have a Gideon's New Testament given to my uncle during World War 2 with this inscription from President Roosevelt, "As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul." Now there is a relentless push by the godless to remove the Bible's influence from every sphere of life with a special focus on the military. I recently heard of an officer reprimanded for merely having a Bible on his desk.

As generations that were raised under some form of a Christian worldview pass on and their spiritual capital is forgotten expect to see the nonsense increase exponentially.

2) Evil is called good, and good is called evil.

A verse I often use comes to mind. Consider this ancient condemnation from God:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil." We are seeing this before our very eyes as our culture increasingly rejects God and His ways; evil is being called good and good is being called evil.

In an article titled "Normalizing Deviance"
Cal Thomas writes, "A University of Maryland student friend of mine tells me one of her classes last semester discussed 'the normalization of deviance.' In an age when what is normal is determined by culture and opinion polls and when “orthodoxy” is regarded as something to be avoided, deviance has ceased to have meaning. That’s because there is now no nationally accepted standard by which it can be measured and, thus, be used to hold people, even members of Congress, accountable."

That which had been considered sensible is now considered insensible and what had been insensible is now considered sensible!

3) A nation without sense.

In Deuteronomy Moses is preaching his final sermon prior to his death. "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!" In this verse Moses is prophetically speaking of the future apostasy of the people of Israel, which culminated with their Babylonian exile some 800 years after Moses spoke these words.

This description could very well be a description of America today. Without the firm foundation of God's Word we are on sinking sand. America is in a great state of confusion. The consequences may not be immediate, but they are certain. May the Lord help us to be wise in our understanding and discern what the end will be.

So then what can the righteous do?  "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).

Psalm 11 gives at least three contemplative answers to the question, "What can the righteous do?" 
  • We must recognize that the Lord alone is our Refuge (Psalm 11:1). 
  • We must realize that God is in His holy temple observing the sons of men (Psalm 11:4).
  • We must recall the glorious truth of His character "for the LORD is righteous, He loves justice; upright men will see His face" (Psalm 11:7).
We must remember that no person, law, legislation, or imposed ideology can remove what God has revealed to our hearts. We need to know Him and His Word and stand faithful for what we believe regardless of how unpopular such a stand may be or what it will lead to.

"Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding" (Jeremiah 3:15). During these times we need to especially pray for our spiritual shepherds that they will stay faithful to God and His Word, being shepherds after God's heart who will indeed lead us in knowledge and understanding. He continues to give wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.

Although we are not your pastors we see this verse as very instructive in regard to what we aspire to in our daily teaching role here on Daily Encouragement Net.

We need leaders with the spirit of the Sons of Issachar who in their age "understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do". We need discerning leaders who understand our times with knowledge of what the Church should do. And we can all pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us into His truth and be like these sons of Issachar.

The foolish nonsense will surely continue and get worse to the extent people fail to submit to God. "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Peter 4:7).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the shepherds whose hearts are fashioned in Your likeness, who lead us with knowledge and understanding. Protect them from the evil one. We look to our shepherds for example, guidance, and clarity and affirmation of the teachings from the Word of God. It is Your wisdom given to wise men and Your knowledge given to those of understanding who illumine our way in these days of confusion where wrong is upheld and right is disdained by the current philosophies and mindset of the world. We will persevere even if the foundations are destroyed, living for Jesus drawing others to Him in whom the light dwells. Amen.

Wheat shocks 6/3/13 (Lee Smucker)
Driving through our area we see all kinds of farming methods. Our friend Lee Smucker sent us this photo of wheat shocks near Strasburg. You may have heard of "Living History Museums." We can see historical, sometimes ancient farm methods still being practiced!

Petunias in window frame 6/4/13
Here's a project we are working on and will report
how it turns out in several weeks. I have periodically mentioned my interest in "repurposing". I have some old windows discarded by a home improvement company we serve as chaplains. They were destined for the dumpster but I received permission to bring them home. I have been reading about "vertical gardening" and am studying methods to use these old windows as frames for this purpose. One innovative plant holder is an over the door closet shoe organizer! See here.

Pink rose 6/2/13
Here's another photo of Brooksyne's favorite rose. We shared another photo yesterday.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"The Christian Anthem - Song for America"
  Video  Lee Behnken

"God Of Our Fathers"
  Video  Homecoming

"In God We Still Trust"
  Video  Diamond Reo

"America The Beautiful"  
 Video  Ray Charles

When we lived in New England we often rode our bikes along the Shining Sea Bikeway between Woods Hole and Falmouth and stopped to see a plaque honoring Katharine Lee Bates, who is from Falmouth.

"American Government and Christianity - A Biblical Worldview Perspective" by Kerby Anderson (Article)

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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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