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Monday, November 17, 2014

Willow Valley stone farmhouse first snow 11/14/14
Willow Valley Stone Farmhouse
Last Friday morning we had the first light snowfall of the season in our area, although we first saw it in Willow Valley, an area south of Lancaster City. No shoveling this time!

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This week we will share a series of messages on "Understanding The Present Times" from Romans 13:11-14.

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:11-14).

"Understanding The Present Time"
(Part 1)
"Living For What Really Matters"

"Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). "And do this, understanding the present time" (Romans 13:11).

We are bombarded with information about the present time in which we live. I can turn on the TV or sit down at my computer and instantly get an update on significant or insignificant news from anywhere in the world. It's amazing how much attention the clearly insignificant gets, especially the interest that is shown toward the latest shenanigans of popular celebrities. But understanding and discerning what truly is significant, what it means and how to respond is greatly needed.

There is an increasing intensity it seems; a sense I have in my spirit of some type of significant threshold being reached, a tipping point as some would say. I want God to give me wisdom to understand the present time and know how to properly respond.

Tabloid papers2 Timothy 4:3 states, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” There is a spiritual epidemic in the United States, affecting many with a malnourished gospel message. Untold numbers fall ill from its effects of false spirituality which is being packaged and marketed as 100% pure truth. Just consider the scores of people who get their information from the supermarket tabloids!

"Understanding the present time" calls us to:
  • cut through all the clutter,
  • practice clear-minded thinking,
  • Biblically-informed discernment and
  • guidance from the Holy Spirit.
We have a model to follow in the "men of Issachar". Our only insight into these otherwise unknown men is a rather obscure passage from I Chronicles concerning those who joined David in Hebron at the time the kingdom was transitioning from Saul to David. It's in a part of the Bible we may gloss over! (Just read this portion) There are some other powerful gems such as a description of those who had "helped David with an undivided heart".)

Let us consider the spiritual discernment of these men of Issachar, "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do." Issachar was one of Jacob's sons and his descendants later became a tribe which had amazingly maintained their distinct identity for some 800 years up to the time of David. This verse is found in a section of Scripture chronicling David's soldiers. Two qualities marked these men of Issachar and the special contribution they made during the time they lived. They "understood the times and knew what Israel should do."

1) They "understood the times." What a powerful statement!  "Understanding the times" involves spiritual discernment. We find contemporary events interesting yet often disturbing, frightening and even potentially despairing. But the fundamental focus on properly understanding the times is a steady, growing understanding of God and His Word. "The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure" (Isaiah 33:5,6).

Daniel 12:10 2) They "knew what Israel should do." As a result of spiritual understanding and godly discernment we need God's direction in these times to keep our life, family and ministry on the right track.  A powerful apocalyptic verse at the end of Daniel states, "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand" (Daniel 12:10).

I wonder if Paul had these men of Issachar in mind when he begins a section we will be studying this week,
"And do this, understanding the present time."

Proverbs 1:7 We want to be wise in the sight of God by interpreting and discerning the mindset of our present culture with Scriptural understanding. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (Proverbs 1:7). The Life Application study notes shed further insight on this familiar Scripture: "In this information age knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot.  It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord – to honor and respect God, to live in awe of His power and to obey His Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes and your actions."

Let us consider these qualities in our life today and pray that the Lord will help us to understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we press on for Christ and represent His Kingdom! Let us live for what really matters.

When It's All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?

When It's All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I've done for love's reward,
Will stand the test of time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father of all wisdom, we who are children of the light, do not live as those in darkness. Instead You have shown us right from wrong, truth from error, and You have given us discernment to test the spirits to see that which is from You and that which is from the evil one. The foundations seem to be shaking as we are flooded with a tidal wave of twists and spins that seeks to confuse or demean the believer. We clothe ourselves daily with godly armor, both defensive and offensive weaponry since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities from this world. Keep our souls untainted by the changing rhetoric and sliding standards from our decadent society as we stand against the spiritual forces of evil like the men of Issachar. Help us to walk boldly in the conviction power of the Holy Spirit today, we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Some photos from our weekend

On Saturday morning we attended a Christian radio recording by Haven Today ministries (formerly Haven of Rest). Charles Morris, the host, interviewed several Amish people here in Lancaster County who have been born again and testified of their faith in Christ and salvation by grace through faith.

Charles Morris interviewing two Amish men 11-15-14
 Morris is interviewing these two born again Amish men who are still in the Amish church.

Charles Morris interviewing former Amish couple 11-15-14
This young couple has been excommunicated. They live here in Lancaster County and we will attempt to meet them in the future. They shared their experience with a powerful insight into genuine discipleship.

Kevin Kohler and wife at Haven event 11-15-14
At the Haven meeting we saw some Daily Encouragement friends we haven't seen for many years. Kevin and his wife are from Maryland and visited our home for a barn sing about ten years ago.

Bethany with Operation Christmas Child box collection 11/16/14
Bethany is bringing in her Operation Christmas Child box to add to the collection.
Operation Christmas child provides small gift boxes to children in impoverished lands, along with a witness of Christ's love

Operation Christmas Child box collection 11/16/14
Our church collected nearly 200 boxes and Pastor John invited th
e children to come forward to pray over the boxes. (Little Bethany is in the middle assisted by her dad, Ken.)

Pastor Keefer hugging Connie 11/16/14
Connie getting her pastor's hug at the end of the service.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When It's All Been Said And Done"   Video   Robin Mark  A great song!

Haven Today with Charles Morris  is a radio program we have enjoyed for many years.

Haven of Rest Quartet playlist

"In This Very Room"  Video  Haven Quartet  This song brings back a special memory from 1986 when we gathered for the very first service in our newly constructed church edifice in Saint Marys, Pennsylvania. Bruce Jack began the service by singing this song! It is one of those times many will still remember the special presence of the Lord. (Bruce and his wife Cindy remain friends to this day)

Operation Christmas Child

Finally today:

Mount Pleasant church traffic 11/14/14
Pulling out from our church parking lot yesterday we had some slower traffic most of our readers don't experience but let us know they always like the photos.

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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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