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Friday, July 1, 2016

Wheat ready for harvest
(Click here for larger size)

"The Bread of Life"

Message Summary: Today let us thank our Lord for both our physical and spiritual provisions that come from Jesus, the Bread of Life.

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"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). "I am the bread of life" (John 6:48).

Combines at wheat harvest, Lancaster County PA
Wheat harvest in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Soon we will have the wheat harvest in our region of the world. Quite predictably wheat harvest takes place at the same time each year around the first of July. The wheat grain may be used to make flour for bread or for animal feed. I have watched the hardworking farmers and encourage you to give thanks today for your daily provision. We often give specific thanks for the various laborers who have a role in getting the food on our table ending with showing appreciation for "the hands that prepared it" (usually Brooksyne's!).

But it seems a growing number of people are oblivious toward the essential role of farming and agriculture expressed in this mindless sentiment, "I don't see why we need farmers anymore since we can get all the food we need at the store." We live near farms and see how hard farmers work. It's also a dangerous job as we were reminded this week when a farmer friend fell in his barn and broke his elbow, requiring surgery. So let's not take our daily bread for granted.

Today we want to consider two verses dealing with bread; both are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Man praying
"Give us this day our daily bread."  Most all of you will recognize this to be a verse from the Lord's prayer. Bread is representative here of provision. In this context it primarily means physical provision. In expressing this petition to God we are expressing our dependence on Him to meet our daily needs. Bible teacher J.C. Ryle elaborates, "We are here taught to acknowledge our entire dependence on God for the supply of our daily necessities. As Israel required daily manna so we require daily bread. We confess that we are poor, weak creatures in need and beseech our Maker to take care of us. We ask for bread as the simplest of our wants, and in that word we include all that our bodies require."

Jesus speaks of bread which we must partake of to feed our spirit. Jesus, in refuting the tempter, stated: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Many of us appreciate the little devotional booklet published for many years by RBC Ministries called "Our Daily Bread". (I recall my Mom reading from "Our Daily Bread" when I was a child.) It's simple title conveys this same sense of provision that comes from the spiritual nourishment we receive from the Bible and its daily application in our lives.

Bread of life
"I am the Bread of Life." This teaching follows the feeding of the five thousand. In this passage Jesus also refers to the feeding of manna in the wilderness. This is the first of the seven "I am" (ego eimi) statements of our Lord. Jesus is asserting that His teaching and the benefits of His provision are that real foundation of spiritual life of which the manna in the wilderness symbolized.

In verse 27 He states, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." Of course Jesus was not giving a put-down to those who labor in the fields, but He was teaching his listeners that food which only feeds the body is not enough. We need heaven sent food which has an eternal, spiritual nurturing component which feeds the soul. Earth grown food cannot provide that need.

Today let us thank our Lord for both our physical and spiritual provisions that come from Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, in the same way that we grow hungry before mealtime, stir up a hunger within us for the spiritual food You provide through the living Word of God. Jesus, the Bread of Life provides physically and spiritually for our daily needs. Following a hearty meal we often linger around the dinner table considering the tastiness of our meal. When we "taste and see that the Lord is good" we want to linger in Your presence and consider Your goodness, offering praise to You for all that You are and all that You provide for us. Bread of Heaven feed, us until we are truly satisfied and filled with all the good things that come from You.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Special note: It seems like practically daily we hear news of our country's rapidly increasing slide into decadence. Yesterday was no exception. We wonder if we are the point described in Scripture as "there was no remedy" (see 2 Chronicles 36:15,16). This will be a Bible truth we will expound upon next week.

Chaplain Pierre Bynum writes, "We (America) are in a 2 Chronicles 20:12 moment. It seems we are surrounded by ideological enemies that seek to destroy from us every vestige of Biblical truth, faith, morality and thus the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must fight and after we have done all, to stand (Ephesian 6:10-20). But our first line of action is prayer!

Our church will participate in Call2Fall this coming Sunday, July 3. We welcome you to join us and many churches all across America as we fall on our knees in humble repentance, beseeching our Heavenly Father to extend mercy to our nation, asking Him to revive our churches and to awaken our fellow citizens. We have little time to turn the tide in our nation! America must not go the way of nations throughout history that have similarly defied our Maker and experienced the dire consequences (Deuteronomy 28; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 9:17; Joel 2:12-18).

We have this memory of a previous Call2Fall in our church: It was a solemn and moving time. Our pastor encouraged all who were physically able to bow on their knees as he led us in an impassioned prayer for repentance and called on God to bring about revival in our hearts and in our land.

Here's a song I heard for the first time on the radio yesterday that speaks powerful and uncompromising truth! "We Want America Back"  Video  The Steeles  It seems the song was actually recorded some 20 years ago. It has a powerful narration.

Some photos from a beautiful final day of June 2016 travelling through Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in the course of chaplain visits.

Amish hay wagons, Lancaster County, PA 6/30/16
Amish hay wagons north of Intercourse, PA

Amish decorative outhouse, Lancaster County, PA 6/30/16
Decorative outhouse on an Amish farm south of New Holland, PA. Too bad Brooksyne's grandparent's outhouse we mentioned in Wednesday's message didn't get this dressed up! It would have made for a more pleasant outing to the outhouse.

Amish semi, Lancaster County, PA 6/30/16
Amish "semi"
south of New Holland, PA.
When passing it appeared to be used for hauling stuff.

Old order Mennonite wheat shocks, Lancaster County, PA 6/30/16
Wheat shocks or sheaves on an old-order Mennonite farm near Martindale, PA.
These are the sheaves such as those mentioned in the song, "Bringing In The Sheaves".

Old order Mennonite boys, Lancaster County, PA 6/30/16
Old-order little gentlemen Mennonites on pony-pulled wagon.
You just never know what kind of traffic we encounter on these country roads!

Horsehappy Road, Lebanon County, PA 6/30/16
An interesting road name in southern Lebanon County. Just after this in Schaefferstown, PA is the BB's we mentioned earlier this week. Yesterday John, a friend  from Val-Co told me that "BB's" actually stands for the initials of the Amish man who started the store, Benjamin Beiler as I recall. So now you know!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Break Thou The Bread Of Life"   Video  Light and Life Hour Choir

"Bread of Life"  Video  Second Chapter Of Acts

"I Am"  Video  A well-produced video from a large church. This song sure blesses us!

"Field Of Souls"  Video  I enjoy listening to the Brooklyn Tabernacle version of this song as I travel through agricultural areas during planting or harvest

"Bringing In The Sheaves"  Video  Marshall Hall & Friends Bringing In The Sheaves written in 1874 by Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." This is an old song I recall from childhood that I don't hear sung in churches today. I don't think it's probably in too many hymnals these days let alone projected on PowerPoint! A great joy is traveling with our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth and hearing their children sing out on this song over and over, verses included!  This hymn calls to mind an older farming method, still used by the Plain folks in our area where the wheat was cut and stacked into sheaves to dry before bringing them in to remove the grain.

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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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