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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Welded cross with names of God
We saw this cross hanging in a church foyer in Reading PA where we attended an ordination service this last Wednesday evening. It is made by a local high school teacher in a very interesting way (see below).

"The Fruit Of Deception"

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"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception" (Hosea 10:12,13).

We sure enjoy fruit and regularly eat a variety of them. In fact Brooksyne just brought down a fresh fruit/greek yogurt salad for my breakfast. It's too early in the season for locally grown fruit but we have sure been enjoying some fresh asparagus. Yesterday a neighbor told Brooksyne to come down for some extra that they have. Now that's a blessing!

But today let us consider some fruit we should not eat, the fruit of deception.

Today's Scripture text immediately follows a verse we shared in a message last week titled "Time To Seek The Lord". "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you" (Hosea 10:12).

This verse is immediately followed with the latter part of the daily text and seems to present this contrast: "But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception." This passage concerns the northern Kingdom just prior to its destruction by the Assyrians about 2,700 years ago.

Notice the parallelism in these two verses:

God's will is that His children: Sow righteousness. But instead they planted (sowed) wickedness.

God's will is that His children: Reap the fruit of unfailing love. But instead they reaped evil.

But it's the final phrase that particularly grips my attention: "You have eaten the fruit of deception."

Deception is misrepresentation and misleading falsehood and it abounds like never before. I firmly believe deception will increase as mankind shrugs off God's commands. One of the final warnings from Jesus to his disciples was, "Let no one deceive you."

Paul has a solemn warning concerning deception in Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."

Today we need to be on our guard against the many forms of deception that we encounter, particularly spiritual deception that can lead us astray from the truth and tragically rob us of our future eternal home in heaven. 

I believe this requires several disciplines:
  • A personal, growing relationship with Christ
  • A firm and growing knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation
  • A sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
  • A solid foundational knowledge in theology (study of God) and church history
  • An accountability to others in the body of Christ, particularly our elders
  • A discerning wariness of the "new"*

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I pray that You will help me to sow for myself righteousness, so that I will reap the fruit of Your unfailing love. Break up the unplowed ground of my heart that is stony and hard so that I acknowledge my sins, receive Your forgiveness, and look to You for guidance. I want to seek You so that You shower Your blessings upon me. Amen.

* Stephen's Note: I expect this point concerning having a discerning wariness of the new could get me labeled by some as the dreaded O.F. (Old-fashioned). Yet I have seen so many new things come along that go from unthinkable to bizarre to tolerated to accepted to normal then perhaps even celebrated in a very short time.  Eventually what was once normal may even be reckoned by some to be abnormal!  On a number of issues I have seen this happen.
In my youth I heard pastors comment, "I'm old enough now that I've seen this "new" thing recycle at least two or three other times." Well, I'm beginning to understand those pastor's comments now that I have been in ministry nearly 40 years.

We've had a lot going on and have some more photos from last week.

Patrick and Gretchen 5/6/15

Last Wednesday evening we attended an ordination service in Reading PA. My nephew Patrick was ordained and his sister, my niece Gretchen, received a license.
My brother Pat (their dad), is also a minister. He and his wife, Laverne, have three children, all married and serving the Lord along with their spouses. Still in active ministry for Christ, he pastors a church in the Lehigh Valley, and will turn 68 tomorrow! After a season of rebellion he turned to Christ in his early twenties while serving in the Air Force in Europe. He went on to Bible College and has been in the Lord's service ever since.

Ordination service, Reading PA 5/6/15
We enjoy ordination services and each one is a reminder of my ordination in 1979. We heard a stirring message from Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. This year 28 ordination candidates were ordained.

David Selleck at ordination service, Reading PA 5/6/15
Due to the nature of my present ministry (writing and chaplaincy) I do not have the same regular associations with fellow ministers as I did when I pastored. But I enjoy periodically seeing old friends at events like this. David Selleck was my Presbyter (supervisor) during the early years of my ministry. He is now 88 and still gets around fine, driving all the way down from his home in Clarion, PA to Reading on his own, about 250 miles! His wife passed away several years ago.

Paul Poole at ordination service, Reading PA 5/6/15
Still plugging along!
Paul Poole and I graduated from Central Bible College the same year in 1977.
He serves a church as pastor in the western Pennsylvania town of Beaver Falls.

National Day of Prayer breakfast 5/7/15
Last Thursday morning we attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast in our community with several hundred in attendance. We prayed for five categories of need.
After the meeting we greeted several friends including Don and Carol Musser, who have been our friends since we moved to this area in 2001. They are standing with Jimmy, who has been the local fire department chaplain for over 30 years. Jimmy deals with Tourette Syndrome which causes involuntary twitching. He has been blessed to have the support of many in our community. We wrote about him seven years ago in a message titled "The Least Of These".

Amish photobomb at National Day of Prayer 5/7/15 (Photo by Mike Martin)
Ravi Zecharias was the evening speaker at a county-wide prayer event last Thursday evening with thousands attending in a large field out in the country (notice the barn in the background). Our friend Mike Martin took the photo and it appears this elderly Amishman is photobombing!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"No One Believes In Me Anymore"  Video   Keith Green  An interesting song dealing with the ultimate deception!

Messiah, Lamb of God laser cut metal

Story behind the cross in our lead photo: The cross is made of laser cut pieces of stainless steel that have the names of God on them and then are welded together to form the cross. Earlier last week we visited Smucker Laser where we serve as chaplains and they were cutting pieces for these crosses while we were there. In fact they had a slightly imperfect piece they allowed me to bring home (shown above).

Here is a photo of the "Holy Names" cross straight on (I was looking up at an angle when I took the lead photo). You can see my sample piece, "Messiah Lamb of God" in the upper right. Bill Johnson a local high school teacher makes the crosses as part of his "Iron Nature - Artistic Metalwork For His Glory" 

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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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