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Friday, February 6, 2015

Amish grocery shopping, Lancaster County, PA 2/5/15
Hitching up the buggie/truck for toting bags of groceries home.
We passed this scene yesterday.

"The Consequences Of Forsaking God's Pattern"

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"He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to Him" (2 Kings 21:22).

Yesterday I spoke to a young man who got married last year. As we conversed about the more important things in life I was heartened that he and his wife are making good decisions, for the present as well as planning wisely for their future. We talked about how many of his peers are making poor choices, though for a season there seem to be no consequences. I shared with him the indeterminate delay between sowing (planting) and reaping (harvest). This applies both to sowing good seed and bad seed; the harvest of our sowing is often not immediate.

All this week we have been studying the concept of "pattern":
  • God is pleased and honored when we follow His patterns.
  • We are not to conform to the pattern of this world.
  • Scripture provides a pattern for what we are to believe.
  • Scripture provides a pattern for how we are to live.
Today we want to consider the consequences of forsaking God's pattern. Both Bible and secular history abundantly demonstrate these consequences. Especially in the Old Testament we can easily recall the cycles of renewal and obedience, followed by rejection and disobedience, repeated over and over. In secular history we observe the rise and fall of nations and kingdoms.

Even the "good" characters in the Bible forsook God's pattern at times, most notably David, in the Old Testament. Of course the Scripture also records the life-long consequences of his sin. We also note from the New Testament Peter's denial of Christ and his blessed restoration.

Forsaking God's pattern always has consequences, some immediate but others are delayed. Those that are delayed can lead to one's thinking that there are no consequences.

One factor I have been musing for several months is how it seems as though there is a "grace allowance" (for lack of a better term), at least in the sense that things still seem to be going OK, for some who vary from God's ideal pattern. I struggle as I place these thoughts in writing lest I be misunderstood.

We should strive for absolute obedience since there is great reward in doing so here and now and most especially later. Also we must never presume upon God's grace because His dealings with mankind vary from His sternness, such as Achan in the O.T. and Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament who were struck dead instantly for their lying. On the other hand Peter also failed when he denied the Lord but was given a second chance and wholeheartedly stood for Christ following the resurrection. His fear turned to boldness.

Ron designingLet me try to use an illustration from engineering. We work with many engineers and product designers, presently most are mechanical. However all through my ministry I have had associations with many engineers; electrical, chemical, civil and software. Engineers apply science to specific functions and products. I suppose I enjoy my engineer associations because I have found engineers are usually very sensible. I appeal to any engineers reading this to give me some slack if my illustration below is not precisely put in the proper terms you use. I welcome your input as you mull over this point.

Inspecting rodWe work at a company that makes precision fasteners for the nuclear industry. These parts go through meticulous inspections all during the manufacturing process and various steps before being shipped. The engineering specifications call for a very specific measurement but a very slight acceptable deviation is allowed.

The photo to right shows Barry measuring a rod before it is machined. The specs call for a very specific diameter but allow a variance of +or- .0005 of an inch. That's less than the diameter of a human hair!

Inspecting partRandy is inspecting a part he just made and informed me his allowance was also +/- .0005. The allowance means the part is acceptable, although of course the machinist strives to
precisely make the part to the exact specified dimension.

However I suspect that the part would still "work" even if it was slightly lesser or greater than this accepted allowance. However there would certainly be a point when the part would fail. You only have so much margin. The next step is the failure factor, although I have not heard this used as an engineering term, and that's where those "pesty" inspectors have the last say!

Now let me seek to make a spiritual analogy. Mankind as noted above has always (ever since the fall) failed to wholly live up to God's pattern. As Romans 3:23 famously states, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Grace provides a safety factor for those who repent and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and seek to serve Him as Lord.

But I consider that there is also an allowable margin and failure factor to society as a whole in regard to God's design.

Looking at the human race as a whole we see more and more willful, open defiance of God's pattern on many issues. Consider marriage and the family, sexuality, truthfulness, responsible living, hard work.

Of course the failure factor
will ultimately be revealed in the final judgment when Jesus separates those who will receive His inheritance from those who will perish. But since there is a delayed period between sowing and reaping many assume all is well even while charting their individual course that ultimately leads to destruction.

The daily text is an obscure verse succinctly describing the life of King Amon, son of Manasseh.
"He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to Him." What a sad way to be known!

Let us make a renewed resolve to follow the Lord and walk in obedience to His pattern of belief and life.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we seek to honor You in our lives.  We don't want our lasting legacy to go down in the history books like that of King Manasseh and his son Amon, who forsook You, the God of his father, King Hezekiah. Though he repented late in his reign so many he had already influenced for evil, went on to influence their children and their children's children. Instead we want our lives to reflect that of King Hezekiah who trusted in You, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to Your ways and did not stop following You; he kept the commands You had given Moses. Thank You, Father, for letting us make choices for ourselves, but we dare not trust our own wisdom in making these choices. We rely on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to establish the desirable pattern for right living here and now for that will also determine our future for all of eternity. Amen.

Rick designerDropping engineer names:  Rick is a product designer for a company that makes live animal traps.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived in the 1800's, is attributed to saying, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door". Among other things Rick is seeking to design a better mousetrap!

I have been blessed by engineers all through my ministry. I spoke to Steve, an electrical engineer in one of our companies yesterday about the concept of safety factor mentioned in this message (also known as the "factor of safety"). The safety factor is essentially how much stronger the system is than it usually needs to be for an intended load. Perhaps any of you reading this could consider these points and better inform me for a follow-up message.

Before we even started the church we planted in northern Pennsylvania Mike Matangelo, a young electrical engineer came to visit us and inquire about our work. He and his wife Kathy and children were a formative part of that congregation and we remain good friends to this day.

Nigel Lee is an electrical engineer we met in our church in New England and along with his wife Laifong were the very first recipients of these messages on October 21, 1996. We still stay in contact with them as well.

Ron Hoover leads a business group here in the Lancaster area and has been very supportive of our chaplaincy ministry for many years. He also is an electrical engineer but now in his "retirement" years mentors younger business leaders.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"May The Mind of Christ My Savior"  Video  Jake Armerding

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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