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Friday, March 3, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Yesterday I took this photo of a mural on the wall in the office foyer of the Westfield Egg Farm near New Holland PA.

"In Everything"

Message summary: In living a life of thankfulness those of us who seek to do the will of God are clearly obeying a Biblical mandate.

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"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Yesterday afternoon we visited our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, and their six children. We picked up some groceries at Costco for them since Anna Ruth plans on making Easter candy for their school fundraisers.

We dropped off the groceries and visited for a few minutes before Jesse had to excuse himself to get back to his chores as a dairy farmer. Yesterday his duty was to spread manure, a job most of us can scarcely imagine but a vital part of farming. His kids had just gotten home from school and he surely would have preferred the warmth of his house and time spent with his family to standing behind a team of mules spreading manure but duty came calling and off he and his team of mules went to the fields.

Amish field work 3/2/17

Today most of us will encounter some unpleasant smells and duties; a few literally, but many more figuratively. How are we going to deal with them? What kind of attitude will we have?

"In everything give thanks" Another version read it, "Giving thanks in all circumstances". Do you find that hard? I still do.  Yet I know God's Word is true and is to be obeyed since it is His will for those who believe.

Helen Keller who had so much adversity in life wrote; "So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied". Wow, what a perspective check! From our perspective if anyone had a "right" to complain, Helen Keller did. Yet she was able to say "So much has been given to me". Today let us focus on all that has been given to us, not on that which has been denied.

Our daily verse is very familiar and many of you have memorized it. You should! Let's look at a single word in the text today. "In." I note a consistency in all major translations in using this word and I feel it's very significant. In this text Paul does not use the word "for". He uses the word "in".  I believe he's speaking of living a thankful life; being thankful "in" the midst of pleasant circumstances and "in" the midst of difficult circumstances.

The Precept Austin commentary states, "Paul said give thanks in everything not for everything. Paul is not calling us to be thankful for the rebellious kids, or for the terminal illness, etc. The prepositional phrase is "in all things". In the midst of all things, we can give thanks because God's indwelling Spirit will enable us to do so. Doing so is an expression of our trust in His sovereignty and faithfulness, that He will never test us beyond what we are able to endure!"

The "everything" of life includes the good reports as well as the bad reports. The pleasant duties as well as the not so pleasant, like spreading manure. The worldly outlook of thankfulness includes giving thanks only for the good. God's Word says "in everything".  After all, as Christians we have an assurance that "God is working all things out for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

In living a life of thankfulness those of us who seek to do the will of God are clearly obeying a Biblical mandate.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we confess that undesirable circumstances can prompt an attitude of grumbling instead of gratitude, unless we have developed the spirit of gratitude which does away with grumbling. It doesn't come as naturally as the common five senses but Your Word develops our sense of gratitude as we apply its truths and prayerfully adapt it to our way of looking at things. Help us to give thanks in everything, for this is Your will, through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Some photos along our journey yesterday

Smucker laser machine 3/2/17
Early yesterday morning we visited the employees at Smucker Laser, a company that uses huge laser machines to make designs in metal sheets.

Groffdale Machine Company 3/2/17
The Groffdale Machine Company is one of the many, many small Amish-owned enterprises dotting the rural roads of Lancaster County.

Yesterday I visited for a few minutes with Peter, who does mechanical work for an egg production company. We know Peter through his wife Yelena who at one time was employed by a company where we serve as chaplains. They are part of a Russian church we visit here in Lancaster County. They are now parents and desire to honor the Lord.

Dennis building Val-Co control panel
Dennis is a Cuban-American who is shown building a control panel for a chicken house. Dennis came to the states when he was 12 and is a hard worker but is also going to college studying business.

Brooksyne with baby goat 3/2/17
Brooksyne's family raised goats and she can hardly resist holding one when she visits goat farms. This is a pigmy goat so it won't get much bigger which makes it seem a little more like a puppy. But you can see that this one is vigorously bleating for her mommy.

Mule basketball 3/2/17
A rare sight. Many of you have heard of donkey basketball. Here it appears we have an impromptu game of mule basketball. I couldn't find the missing basketball but it's surely somewhere on the property.

Mule basketball 3/2/17
Another view of mule basketball which was short-lived. Right after this photo was taken the mules were back at work hauling the manure cart!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"In Everything"  Video   Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"Give Thanks"  Video   Janella Salvador

"The Son Shines Down On Me"  Video 
Canton Junction

"God Works All Things for Good"  Video  Triumphant Quartet

Additional study note:

Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe (a favorite of ours since our Bible College days) wrote…

"An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Instead of complaining about what we don't have, let's be thankful for what we do have, because God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.

We can't control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That's what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don't feel like it or see it happening. "In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18) isn't always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, "Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God."

God gives us life and breath (Acts 17:25), so it is only right that we use that life and breath to praise Him (Psalm 150:6). To receive the gifts and ignore the Giver is the essence of idolatry. The writer promised God he would praise Him all of his life, and certainly this is wise preparation for praising Him for eternity (Psalm 104:33). To live a life of praise is to overcome criticism and complaining, to stop competing against others and comparing ourselves with them. It means to be grateful in and for everything (1 Th. 5:18; Ephesians 5:20) and really believe that God is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). A life of praise is free from constant anxiety and discouragement as we focus on the Lord, who is mentioned eleven times in this psalm."

(Notes from Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament)

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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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