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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Amish buggy with trailer
We encounter a lot of interesting traffic here in Lancaster County. This horse and Amish buggy are pulling a trailer with two small black calves near Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

"A Lesson From A Bad Tooth"

Message Summary: We need good friends who are loyal and faithful, particularly in times of trouble. I sure want to be known as that kind of a friend. I certainly don't want someone's memories of me to be so dreadful it stirs up the painful analogy of a bad tooth or a lame foot!

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"Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble" (Proverbs 25:19).

Tooth on scaleFor several days now I've had a painful tooth, a lower molar on my left side. Unless the Lord intervenes I'll eventually visit my dentist but tend to put this off for awhile until the pain is essentially unbearable. According to my research and calculations a molar tooth comprises about 1/50,000 of my body weight. But that tiny tooth at times bombards all my nerve senses SHOUTING "You've got a problem. Deal with it!!" (A similar Biblical analogy is the damage the tongue can do. See James 3:4-6).

Dr. DinseWe are blessed to have adequate access to dental care here in America, something we usually take for granted. For many years we have gone to Dr. Dinse (pictured right) who has a very tender touch which is important for the squeamish. But I only need to muse a few minutes regarding the availability of dental care in many third world countries and view a few photos of rotten teeth to remind me of this important blessing! Brooksyne also reminded me of what it must be like to have a painful tooth where there is no access to dental care.

A toothache is something I suppose all of us have experienced at some point in life. I recall a lengthy period in New England when I had a bad tooth that needed extraction. I procrastinated dreading the pain and the cost but it didn't get any better. Finally I had suffered long enough and had it removed. What a blessed relief when the bad tooth was gone - my whole body felt better when that 1/50,000 of my body weight was reduced.

ToothacheMany of you can identify with me can't you? You've had a toothache. You've tried something like Orajel or perhaps a home remedy. Brooksyne suggests I place a heating pad on my cheek or a bag of ice. Anything to get some relief. If not a bad tooth you've surely had "a lame foot" at some time in your life. I've had both! I get the idea that Solomon was speaking from experience as well in this Proverb.  (Note: Photo to left is for illustrative purposes and is not really me.)

The Bible has some interesting verses about teeth. The most common reference is the "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" found numerous times in a variety of places. The most colorful reference is when Job describes his physical plight, "I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth" (Job 19:20). And here's a romantic line for men. Try using this line when expressing affection to your wives: "Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing. Each has its twin, not one of them is alone" (Song of Solomon 6:6). Obviously Solomon is not speaking to a woman who's had any of her teeth extracted.

Gnashing of teeth at Stephen's martyrdomIn the book of Acts as Stephen boldly proclaimed God's Word the angry, unbelieving crowd reacted by gnashing their teeth. "When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him." What a word picture describing intense anger! Our facial expression, which often includes the exposure of our teeth, can say a lot without speaking a word.

The Proverb "like a bad tooth or a lame foot" is a simile to describe another condition; "reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble." And I suspect most of us have experienced this as well. We've felt the sharp sting and deep disappointment of disloyalty and rejection that is especially painful "in times of trouble". Job stated in the midst of his trouble, "All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me" (Job 19:19).

I've been so blessed by faithful friends but have also had the experience of a friend turning against me, although I choose not to focus on those painful memories. Instead I focus on the blessing of steadfast, loyal friends of whom I have many. Yesterday we referred to a visit with Tom and Marsha Neizmik, our long-time friends for over 35 years. In this encouragement I want to consider the wonderful contribution of true and faithful friends who are there and who are reliable in the inevitable times of trouble in our lives.

I especially like lasting, reliable friends. We need good friends don't we; friends who are loyal and faithful, particularly in times of trouble. I want to be known as that kind of friend. I certainly don't want someone's memories of me to be so dreadful it stirs up the painful analogy of a bad tooth or a lame foot!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. We thank You also for our brothers and sisters in the faith who are often closer than our blood relations because we are joined together as a family of believers sharing common experiences and spiritual goals. So many times we find strength and encouragement from those who bear our burdens, lend a hand, and hold us accountable for our attitudes and actions. Thank You for loving, supportive, and reliable friends who draw us to our true source of hope and strength, especially in times of trouble. In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'll Be Your Friend"  Video  Michael W. Smith

"Old Friends"  Video  Gaither Homecoming  Great song, especially as you get older!

"Old Friends"
 Video  This is not a religious song but I still like the sentiment and it does go with today's message!

"Prayer For A Friend"  Video  
Casting Crowns

"Friends Are Friends Forever"  Video  Michael W. Smith 

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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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