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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Amish children milking fake cow
Even though their dad operates a dairy farm and they see real cows being milked all the time these little Amish girls are so excited about their new sun glasses and getting to milk a fake tourist cow in Intercourse PA. Brooksyne along with her sister, Elaine and our daughter, had a delightful shopping day with our Amish friends while I was in Missouri.

"Trust And Defy"

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"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God'" (Daniel 3:28).

Bread of LifeThe "Bread of Life" restaurant in McAllisterville, PA is unashamedly Christian-themed with a reference to John 6:35 on the front of the menu. When we ate there a number of years ago the friendly owner greeted the customers while they came and went. As we opened our menus we chuckled as we read the food items including three types of sandwiches; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!

When I preach from Daniel 3 I like to ask the congregation the names of the three Hebrew young men who withstood the fiery furnace test. A few will always raise their hands and correctly say; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, likely the result of childhood Bible stories and training (or perhaps eating at the Bread of Life restaurant).

I then ask them what their Hebrew names were and that's a question that usually stumps any congregation although their Hebrew names are listed in Daniel 1:6; Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The names we primarily know them by are names given to them when they moved to Babylon.
Many years ago in New England I preached from the Faith Chapter in Hebrews 11. Wanting to get the congregation involved I asked, "What Old Testament situation was the writer likely referring to in verse 34 when he wrote, 'quenched the power of fire?'" An eager child correctly answered, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." 
Having some Bible College students and graduates in attendance I further probed, "And what were their Hebrew names?" Without hesitation a little boy excitedly raised his hand and with a knowing smile he confidently answered, "Rach, Shak and Bennie." Now if you have kids or grandkids you're probably laughing right now as you might recognize these are their nicknames on a popular Veggie Tales story. I can understand why a child (or anyone) might assume these were the Hebrews names!

Their testimony is an extraordinary example of uncompromising allegiance to Almighty God in the face of our relentless enemy. The account of these men of faith is surely one of the greatest stories of deliverance written in the Bible. These three young men demonstrate to believers of all ages the incredible power of faith and obedience. They got into serious trouble because they refused to compromise a core commandment of God in bowing down to the 90 foot tall golden image Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Fiery furnaceGod chose to miraculously deliver these men, but their deliverance was not without a great deal of suspense.  They were subjected to the fury of the king as his attitude changed toward them. It wasn't enough that they were going to be thrown into the hot fire, but now the fire was heated seven times hotter than usual. There could be no quick escape as the strongest of soldiers bound them and then, before their very eyes they watched these strong soldiers die from the blazing flames that they were about to be thrown into. Most importantly they were not delivered from the hot fiery furnace but they were preserved through it. Not a hair on their head was singed, their robes were unscorched, their bodies unharmed and there was no smell of smoke found on them. Wow, that's a dramatic and miraculous deliverance! 

The daily verse is actually a statement made by the secular King Nebuchadnezzar, after he personally witnessed their miraculous deliverance, whose respect they earned.
'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.'"

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrate four qualities so needed by genuine followers of Christ today:
  • Uncompromising Convictions (Daniel 1:).
  • Unwavering Commitment (Daniel 3:12).
  • Unswerving Courage (Daniel 3:16, 17).
  • Unshakable Confidence (Daniel 3:18).
They trusted the living God, defying the wicked command of the secular king, fully knowing the consequences. They were willing to give up their lives for their conviction. I believe true followers of Christ will increasingly need these particular characteristics as the world's system grows increasingly hostile to Christ, His followers, and the standards of the Bible. Can this growing disdain and hostility be denied?

We urge you this day to live by core convictions that you will not violate, so that when the time of testing comes, you, like these three young men will stand firm in your faith. Elton Trueblood has written, "Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation." If you're in the suspenseful stage of the Lord's deliverance, don't be alarmed but stand firm. For He has promised, "Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the dynamic story of the three Hebrew men has been a favorite story of Your miraculous deliverance for all ages and throughout all generations. Their unyielding devotion to You, Almighty God, is a tremendous example to those of us who call You our Father. You are not only our Father who watches over us but also our Deliverer in times of trouble. Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted, so it is in times of fiery testing that we prove Your power and You prove our allegiance to You. Help us to be willing to give up our lives rather than serve or worship any god except the one true eternal God.  Amen.

Yesterday I spoke to a friend whose son is excited about a possible job opportunity at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever been on).

Responding to yesterday's message in which we alluded to
the growing rejection and discrimination toward evangelical Christian groups on many college campuses another friend sent me another article with the following insightful quote from a man known as "Dartmouth's favorite son". Do any of our readers recognize who it was? (* Answer is below in resources section)

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

Mollie afraid of storm 7/2/14

Our border collie Molly is terrified of thunder and other booming sounds. She runs to closed places where she can avoid seeing lightning as well. Late yesterday afternoon we had a loud thunderstorm pass through our area. She hid in the bath for awhile (though she detests taking a bath). Later she came to the kitchen as I opened the fridge door and in a flash she sought refuge in the cold fridge. Ester caught it on camera before we quickly shooed her out and inspected for stray hair and paw prints. They're calling for more storms today - poor Mollie!

Amish straw hat birdhouse
Ingenuity and resourcefulness
Someone recycled this old Amish straw hat to be a birdhouse!

Val-Co kitten 7/1/14
Walking into a company this week a little stray kitten had found a place at the entrance and was being fed and provided water by the employees. We wonder who took him home!

Sheep on Flory Road 6/27/14
Peaceful sheep grazing in our neighborhood.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"For The Sake Of The Call"   Video   Steven Curtis Chapman

"Today I Choose"  Video
  Brian Doerksen

*Quote above is from Daniel Webster,
Dartmouth's favorite son, who was a senator from Massachusetts! (see here for today's quote) His final words upon his death were "I still live".

"The Declaration's Self-Evident Truths" Bob Morrison In light of tomorrow being Independence Day here in the USA this is a very insightful article about the Declaration of Independence and the present direction of our country.

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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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