The on line Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Friday, December 11, 2015
A photo of scenic rural Lancaster County.
The large building in the upper left in the photo is the Sight and Sound theater.
Imagine that large Jerusalem like building being in your "back yard"!
(Click to enlarge)
"Known By Their Fruit"
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"The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him" (Psalm 92:12-15). "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Elizabeth to Mary in Luke 1:42). "Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17). "So then, you will know them (teachers) by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20).
Yesterday we heard from Mary Ann, a long-time reader from a distant state whom we have never met face to face. But through the years she has periodically written letters and emailed us, giving us a glimpse of her life. She has shared how she has remained active in playing the piano for the church choir, in the nursing homes, and in other places where she can minister for the Lord. We consider how she has remained fruitful in her aging years, something we should all aspire to.
Yesterday she wrote to inform us that her remaining days on this side of eternity were few due to her most recent health report: "I will turn 86 in ten more days. My son and friends do not want me to leave. BUT it is God’s choice as to when I leave. I am unafraid, but ask you to pray for me. You are like family to me, and Bob [her son] will send out a notice when the Lord calls me home. I know that one way or the other, I will be healed – here and now or when I am called to go. I do not want to complain and whine, so I ask Him to make it soon. God bless you both." We dedicate today's message to Mary Ann. We are really blessed by her quiet, matter of fact, statement of faith; an outlook in life and our pending passage from this life that we know many share.
But we are also blessed by seeing bold public witnesses for truth. We are accustomed to seeing that here in Lancaster County with church signs as well as Scripture signs along the road on billboards, at businesses, residential homes, farms, and even silos. We periodically pass the silos to the left in Lebanon County along Route 322. The shorter one has a Scripture verse that states, "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
When we lived in New England these expressions of faith were not as common but occasionally we saw one such as the time we were driving on busy I-95 in southwestern Connecticut near New York City and saw a large billboard with a simple statement, hopefully provoking consideration among the many, many thousands who passed it daily. It simply read, "Both a tree and person are known by the type of fruit produced" displayed in huge text and in much smaller, but still readable text at the bottom was a reference to Matthew 7:17. It was clearly a reference for Biblical truth but as I recall it didn't say who sponsored it. I sure spent the next few miles thinking about it and hope many others did as well. All true believers ought to be producing good fruit as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The early references to fruit in the Bible are literal. The very first reference is at creation. "Then God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them'; and it was so" (Genesis 1:11).
Fruit is used metaphorically in the Bible two ways:
1) It's famously used to describe the result of conception and birth such as Elizabeth's pronouncement to Mary when she was carrying the pre-born Christ child in her womb, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
This particular use of fruit appears early in the OT, first in Genesis 30:2. Psalm 127:3 states, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward."
2) But in the Bible fruit is most often used metaphorically to describe wholesome characteristics. The first reference used in this way appears to be in our first daily text and the phrase concerning the elderly who "still yield fruit in old age." Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life."
The first reference to fruit in the New Testament is from John the Baptist's sermon, "Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8). In our third daily text Jesus states, "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit" (Matthew 7:17,18). He goes on to state, "So then, you will know them (teachers) by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20). In John 15:8 Jesus teaches "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." and "I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last" (John 15:15).
Paul often uses the illustration of fruit to describe wholesome characteristics most famously in teaching on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Paul also wrote, "the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth" (Ephesians 5:9) and to be "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:11).
Let us ask ourselves two questions today:
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we consider the fruit of the Spirit to be the actions and attitudes that enable us to walk in a way that pleases You and brings glory to Your name. We are to grow these healthy fruit and exercise their characteristics as we walk daily in the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These nine fruit of the Spirit, as they are exercised daily in our thoughts, attitudes, actions, and words will glorify You, our Father, and will also prove us to be disciples of Christ Jesus who exhibited each of these spiritual fruit, while clothed in human flesh, which was most visible to us when He underwent persecution, betrayal, and in the face of death. Help us to exercise the fruit of the Spirit not only on the "good" days but also in times of stress, uncertainty, and during times of mistreatment. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Special Year-end appeal:
We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!
Please Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.
Another photo of rural Lancaster County we took Wednesday morning.
In this photo the Sight and Sound theater is in the upper right.
(Click to enlarge)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Mary, Did You Know?" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"While You Were Sleeping" Video Casting Crowns
"O Holy Night" Video David Phelps
Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)
Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" Video Outstanding presentation with background story and touching photos (Artist not identified), but appears to be produced by a local church. This would be a powerful video to use in a Christmas Eve service.
"In Remembrance of Me" pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.
"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.
Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18 pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him" pdf
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message. This year we dedicate this to my Aunt Mary, who happens to me my last surviving aunt or Uncle on either side. Her husband, my Uncle Don, passed away early this year.
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down on this archived message).
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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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