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Monday, September 7, 2015

Deer nursing fawns, Rick Steudler (clik to enlarge)
Doe nursing fawns
Photo by Rick Steudler
Click for larger view

"The Blessing Of Labor"

to this message on your audio player.

"Six days shalt thy work" (Exodus 20:9).

Here in the USA many are off work today on a holiday known as "Labor Day", a day recognized in various ways all across the land.
  • For many it's merely a nice day off recognizing the end of summer. There will be family gatherings and picnics, or perhaps a day at the park. This afternoon Brooksyne and I plan a bike ride on the Heritage Rail Trail in York County which is built along the same rail grade that Abraham Lincoln traveled by train to Gettysburg to make his Gettysburg Address and then later on his funeral train. We are sure our USA readers have a number of activities planned, or at the very least a day of rest from the usual labor.
  • For labor unions it's considered a time to assert the interests of "labor".
  • For many politicians it's a time for pandering!
  • For some there's needed work to be done such as police, medical and emergency responders. Some farmers always have work that must be done. Yesterday in our afternoon service at Longwood Manor I kiddingly asked Luke, a retired farm worker, if he could holler at the milking cows on Labor Day and tell them he needed a day off!
  • For some Labor Day is a time to be thankful for and reflect on the blessing of labor and that is what we want to consider today.
Some are already thinking, "the blessing of labor", you've got to be kidding me!" After all a favorite acronym is TGIF, which means "Thank God It's Friday". For many labor is just a dirty, unappreciated part of life to be avoided at all costs. But that is not a Scriptural view.

Today let us consider three blessings of labor:

1) Our labor is a means of honoring God as we acknowledge and follow the pattern and cycle established by God at creation. "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy" (Exodus 20:11). The fourth commandment is usually summarized, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" However the text continues, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work." Thus a proper understanding of the fourth commandment is both a command to rest and a command to labor. Now so many ignore one or both of these commands!

2) Our labor is a means in which we may be useful and productive.
"Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28).

God has ordained that humans be involved in useful and productive work. The "something to share" may be the benefit of the product or service we labor for or the wages received for the labor and the ability to share them.

Albert Lee writes, "In Ephesians 4:17-32, we are given a list of actions that characterize those who belong to Christ. Included in the list is the command to work for a living. The motivation given for work was not to accumulate wealth but to have something to share with others. From the Biblical perspective, therefore, work is useful and most fulfilling when it enables us to help others. Our work does have meaning, especially when we realize that it is God-given, and that we please Him when we share its fruit with others."

3) Our labor is means in which we provide for our needs and that of our family. "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need" (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12). In fact, later in his second book to the Thessalonians, Paul emphasized this need for personal responsibility and sober consequences for disobedience, "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). The KJV uses the word "infidel".

Friends, let's be thankful for the work week; for our employers, co-workers, and for the strength, skills and know-how that God has given us to live productive and prosperous lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, You teach us to work, to do something useful with our hands, that we may care for our own as well as sharing with those in need. Help us to be mindful of the daily blessing of health and strength that makes it possible for us to be productive, contributing members of our society. Forgive us when we grumble and complain, thinking only on the negative when it comes to the type of work we do or the employees associated with it. Instead help us to recognize the blessing of labor and do our work heartily as for You, knowing that it is from You that we receive Your blessing through our obedience. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 is very instructive in regard to today's message.

"A quiet life" In the course of studying for this message I came across this thoughtful observation by David Guzic, "The quiet life contradicts the hugely successful modern attraction to entertainment and excitement. This addiction to entertainment and excitement is damaging both spiritually and culturally. We might say that excitement and entertainment are like a religion for many people today.

· This religion has a god: The self.
· This religion has priests: Celebrities.
· This religion has a prophet: Music video channels.
· This religion has scriptures: Tabloids and entertainment news and information programs.
· This religion has places of worship: Amusement parks, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas; and we could say that every television is a little chapel.

The religion of excitement and entertainment seduces people into living their lives for one thing - the thrill of the moment. But these thrills are quickly over and forgotten, and all that is important is the next fun thing. This religion conditions its followers to only ask one question: “Is it fun?” It never wants us to ask more important questions such as, “Is it true?” “Is it right?” “Is it good?” “Is it godly?”

We need to live the quiet life so that we can really take the time and give the attention to listen to God. When we live the quiet life we can listen to God and get to know Him better. (This thought also goes well with our message last Friday on "The Blessing Of Silence".

John back at Vallorbs 9/2/15Tribute to Hard Workers: For many years we have visited John during the course of our chaplaincy. He was permanently injured in high school, has gone through (too many to count) extended hospital stays, rehabs, you name it. He recently underwent IV therapy at our local nursing home and upon our visit he would declare, "I can't wait to get back to work." To be honest, his frail body and lingering infection was signaling to us that this time he wouldn't be going back. But last week we went through the company and there he was, at his usual machine. (You can see the machine parts he prepared on his lap.) "I'm so happy to be back to work" was his message to us as we cheerfully greeted John, such a tremendous overcomer who has earned the respect and admiration of his co-workers!

Visit at Longwood 9/6/15
Yesterday Stephen and Ester joined us for our service at Longwood and sat next to Luke and Anna Mae. (Luke is the retired farmer I referred to in our message.) Stephen was a weekend guest  and for the first time having two Stephens in the house took some getting used to as I often thought I was being spoken to while our guest, Stephen, thought the conversation was directed at him. It became amusing in some situations.

Gerbera daisy siamese twin 9/4/15
Brooksyne noticed this unusual Gerbera daisy as she was preparing to clip the spent flower on the right. She realized they were "Siamese twins" since they shared the same stem - an unusual phenomenon after all these years of growing gerbera daisies.

First convertible ride for Brooksyne (Photo by Stephen Meck)
Ester and her friend Stephen photographed a wedding this weekend, Ester's third. She does a good job and worked with Stephen who added his skills as well as another camera. He has a convertible which we took for a ride, Brooksyne's first time riding in a convertible! Stephen took this photo of us heading out the driveway.

White crane flying under weeping willow 9/6/15
We often see White Cranes but they are so hard (for me anyway) to get a photo of. Yesterday we drove up along Donegal Creek and tried to sneak up but we caught him in flight under a huge weeping willow.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord"  Video  Homecoming singers with Marshall Hall, Angela Primm & Jason Crabb. Some very powerful singing!!!

"Holy Hands"  Video  City Hymns

"Go Labour On"  Video  Nii Okai

"We'll Work Till Jesus Comes"  Video  Homecoming singers Glen Allred

The following two versions illustrate the incredible variety in musical styles for the same hymn!

"Bringing In The Sheaves"  Video  Old-Fashioned Bluegrass Gospel Revival Hymn

"Bringing In The Sheaves"  Video  Choir & Orchestra Of The New Apostolic Church, Cape Town, South Africa

This morning I heard an outstanding sermon on Focus on the Family by evangelist J. John and managed to find it on YouTube here. It's not related to Labor Day but will give you some pause for consideration as well as a few laughs!

Finally today:

Wedding photo by Stephen Meck
Here's a photo from the wedding Saturday as well as a comment from Stephen Meck:
"For many the horseshoe is known as a good luck charm used to keep the devil from entering into a place were it was hung. It is a symbol of a new beginning and the beginning of life. But in a greater sense we can look at the implanting of the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood wards off the devil, it brings new life, and is the beginning and end of life."

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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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