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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Psalm 33:5 with Lancaster County rural scene 11/8/14 (Click  for larger view)
A colorful autumn view in Lancaster County
Click on image to enlarge

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"The Stench Of Sin, The Aroma Of Mercy"

"But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation"
(Psalm 13:5). "Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy" (Micah 7:18). "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Ephesians 2:3-5). "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

Last night a horrible stench filled every room in our house. Brooksyne awakened me to advise me of the situation but she didn't have to say a word; the foul odor streamed into the first stirring breath I took. Initially I was concerned that it was odorous vapors coming from a broken drain pipe, but when I opened the outside door my olfactory glands quickly informed me that the odor was coming from outside. A phone call Ester had from a friend about a mile from us also confirmed the problem was in the neighborhood, not in our house. All three of us had a hard time going back to sleep but the weariness of the day overtook us and we finally went to sleep.

Pig manure spreader 11/11/14
Sure enough, this morning I drove by and saw that our neighbor had spread some organic fertilizer on nearby fields, thus accounting for the awful smell (far worse than any previous experience we've had with organic fertilizer over the past 13 years of residing in Lancaster County). The fertilizer came from a large hog operation about 1/2 mile from our house. Thankfully already this morning the odor is gone! I called another farmer friend this morning and he commented that it may smell awful to the non-farmer but to the farmer it smells like...money!

Today, we want to consider another stench: the stench of sin that fills our world. On the one hand this stench should sicken or grieve the hearts of dedicated believers.
Proverbs 13:5 states, "The wicked make themselves a stench." This stench should compel us to scour the Scriptures for discernment, direction, and strength to stand up for righteousness and against the forces of evil.

But, on the other hand, sin can creep in and over time deaden our spiritual senses incrementally. Essentially we get used to the stench and we no longer notice it but grow accustomed to its presence, to the point that some even accommodate it.

We who follow Christ have all experienced the heartache and stench of sin in our own lives, and have often observed the awful consequences others may have suffered due to sinful behavior.

"...We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." We, who are saved by grace, can easily relate to those who are still children of wrath, before the great transition took place in our own hearts. Notice the transitional verse that follows, "But God... " Our own abilities, intellect and power made us dead in our transgressions. But God being rich in mercy,.....made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

Let us contrast the stench of sin with the aroma of God's mercy. Micah 7:18 states that God "delights to show mercy." In the places of greatest need God is still demonstrating His mercy. In fact it's in places like this that His mercy is made more evident and further appreciated.

Some have made this distinction between mercy and grace: mercy is not getting what we deserve; grace is getting what we don't deserve. We give thanks today for the complimentary aspects of God's abundant mercy and overflowing grace.

Mercy; what an incomparable dimension of our Lord's character! It's extolled by writers throughout the Bible.  David declared "His mercy is very great." Zechariah proclaimed the "tender mercy of our God."  Paul says we are "objects of His mercy", and that God is "rich in mercy."  And James says, "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."  Praise the Lord whose mercies endure forever!  And He delights to demonstrate mercy to each one of us today.

Let us respond to God's mercy by offering our life to Him. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).

Beautiful! That's how mercy saw me.
Though I was broken and so lost,
but mercy looked past all my faults.
The justice of God saw what I had done,
but mercy saw me through the Son.
Not what I was, but what I should be,
that's how mercy saw me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the redeeming blood of Jesus that imparts mercy and pardon for my sins. Wretched as I may be, Your mercy is greater! Only a God like You chooses to delight in expressing mercy to the undeserving masses that defy Your Holy Name. Thank You for reaching me in the depth of my sin and raising me to the height of Your Holiness – it's only through Your blood and it's only through Your mercy that I come and You joyfully welcome me! Words cannot express my eternal gratitude for such indescribable love.

Reader's Note:
  I have numerous times mentioned how I am blessed by a Canadian, Walter Kember, who has distributed scores of calligraphed Scripture prints (see here). We received this email: "I just happened to put my father's name into search and was a little surprised to actually come across as much information as you have disclosed about the near lifelong work that he was engaged in. In reading it, many memories were brought to me. For instance if we ever wanted to find my father we could always find him in the shop were the texts were made. Also as children we (9 children) always knew that it was important to keep busy at something and not be caught idle or we would end in the text factory for the rest of the day. Actually as I look back at it he did something that he was specially gifted to do. I thought that you might be interested in hearing from one who knew him personally. Yours by God's grace"  - Dan Kember, South West Fence & Decks Lt

Here are some more photos of our drive through rural Lancaster County this last Saturday.

Amish one room schoolhouse in Lancaster County 11/8/14
Amish one room schoolhouses dot the landscape throughout rural Lancaster County. They're tiny without electric and indoor plumbing. But alot of learning takes place in these one room schools that house 1st through 8th graders who learn altogether. We've visited our Amish friend's school twice and were impressed by the excellent skills of the teacher, the visible respect from the students, and the inexpensive surroundings that neither took away or added to the learning that takes place in the classroom. We believe our educational establishment could learn a lot from these schools and teachers!

Amish one room schoolhouse in Lancaster County 11/8/14
Perhaps we should have this message, "Enter With a Smile" posted on the exterior doors of our homes, churches, classrooms and workplaces.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Mercy Saw Me"  Video  Calvin Hunt

"Mercy Said No"  Video  Greg Long

"Mercy Walked In"  Video  by Gordon Mote

"When Mercy Found Me" 
Video   Rhett Walker Ban

"That's Where His Mercy Begins"  Video  Steve Green  

"Mercy Came Running" Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

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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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