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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lancaster County lambs
A photo of baby lambs we saw in Eastern Lancaster County.

"Listen And Believe The Voice Of Truth"

Message summary: God who often speaks in a "still, small voice" and at times in a whisper says, "My sheep listen to my voice.  I know them…"  How good and reassuring it is to not only hear the voice of our Shepherd, but to know that He is also very familiar with my voice and all my ways (Psalm 139:3).

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"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). "All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth" (Isaiah 65:16a).

For many years we have enjoyed a song by the group "Casting Crowns" titled "The Voice Of Truth".

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory."
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Driving through our region on this planet we are at a peak of vibrancy in both plant and animal life. The lawns look like fluffy green blankets, the trees are filled out and many farm fields are planted with crops. Yesterday we noticed the baby corn plants already popping up in many fields.

It's wonderful to see so many people outside and children playing the way we did way before electronics, game stations and television squeezed out our natural drive to be outdoors enjoying physical activity. Animal sightings are frequent in our area and surely our favorite view is that of grazing sheep in green pasture which brings to mind a theme found throughout the Bible.

The daily text is in the portion of Scripture where Jesus states "I am the good Shepherd". Today let us consider these words from our Lord: "My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me."

We're all creatures of habit and those who surround us come to know our schedules, our habits, our likes and dislikes, our walk, our voice, and our way of looking at things. Certainly, as believers, we should become familiar with our Master's voice as we devote ourselves to reading the Scriptures, particularly the gospels, which record the very words of Christ. The gospel writers documented many instances where Jesus spoke to His followers regarding who He was and instructed them in the ways they were to follow Him.

Stephen Weber with lamb 3/16/14We know the Master's voice; some of us have followed His instruction for many years. Yet there are a lot of voices still calling out to us; voices that cry out, "You must have this or do that to find fulfillment." Some of these voices may be neutral but other masqueraded voices have an underpinning attitude of hopelessness, greed, envy, lust and other such ungodly traits. There are voices that may tell us we are not really God's children or that we can't amount to anything in life based on past failures. There are voices prompting fear and anxiety. There are voices that entice us toward the wrong path, one that is destructive. And there are many, many more voices crying out to us.

We must strive to keep our attention on the Voice of Truth; the voice of the Good Shepherd, who knows each one of us.  As the line in the song states, "I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth." I reaffirm my choice this day to follow that voice of truth, God.

The song "The Voice Of Truth" has a line that states, "But the voice of truth tells me a different story."  The challenge is to stay focused on the Voice of Truth! Those other voices can really be loud, persistent, alluring and even demanding, but they have no vested interest in my eternal welfare.

The voice of truth is the God of truth taken from the Hebrew name 'El 'emet. It expresses His faithfulness. There are other various names ('amen, 'emunah) that refer to God's truthfulness. Amen is a word we use at the end of a prayer giving expression to "it is so" or "so be it".  In fact when we join our Amish brethren around the dinner table everyone bows their heads, but grace is not spoken aloud. After a fairly lengthy silence the father concludes our silent prayer with "Amen". Then we dig in! We often take "Amen" to signify "the end" of our prayer time, kind of like "The End" posted at the conclusion of a movie. But in reality Amen is spoken to express solemn ratification or agreement, derived from the Hebrew āmēn, which means “certainty,” “truth,” and “verily.”

Sheep 3/16/14 God who often speaks in a "still, small voice" and at times in a whisper says, "My sheep listen to my voice.  I know them…"  How good and reassuring it is to not only hear the voice of our Shepherd, but to know that He is also very familiar with my voice and all my ways (Psalm 139:3).

One of the most effective long-term ways to do this is to fill our minds with memorized Scripture. One of the very first Scriptures we both memorized over 40 years ago is Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in Thee."  When my mind wanders off into fear territory this verse draws it back into the sanctum of perfect peace where Jesus resides and trust is gained.

Today may we all "choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your Word cautions us to test the spirits, to see if they are from You or from the master deceiver. The voices that we choose to hear should always guide our hearts to the Master Shepherd and to His words recorded in Scripture; not to other vices, negative attitudes, or to self-glorification. As we seek after Your heart, we will easily recognize the voice of Jesus our Shepherd and desire to follow Him in all our ways.  Amen.

Baby lambs 4/21/13
A family photo from several years ago at the farm of some friends of ours. Tirza was very excited about showing us her little lambs.

Lancaster County lambs 4/17/13
Another photo of the lambs we passed yesterday. These photos were taken on a well-groomed Amish farm on Stumptown Road here in Lancaster County. The sheep wanted little to do with us until Brooksyne began to "baaa" to get their attention.

Dahlia close-up 5/16/17 (Ester)
Ester spent some time in our back yard with her camera yesterday and captured this dahlia in its peak beauty. She selected Job 36:27 to capture this photo, "For He draws up the drops of water, and makes them pour down rain and mist."

Dahlia close-up 5/16/17 (Ester)
This dahlia bloom, nearing the end of its lovely form, reminds us  "...The flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). It also reminds us that God's Word is founded in truth and will stand in truth forever!
(We also commend Ester's artistic creativity as she placed the bloom on the lava rocks in our firepit!)

Dahlia close-up 5/16/17 (Ester)
Stunning yellow Dahlia bloom!

Rhododendron close-up 5/16/17 (Ester)
Rhododendron Shrubs, grown for their clusters of spring blooming, bell shaped flowers as well as their attractive evergreen foliage are also at their peak right now. However we don't normally pay that much attention to the blooms up close.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"The Voice Of Truth"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Creation Calls -- are you listening?"  Video  Brian Doerksen  Suggested by my friend Lou Guiliano

"What A Beautiful Name"  Video  The lyrics of this song moves me, Brooksyne, to worship and adore Jesus, the Name above all names. The intensity builds so powerfully as the singers approach these words:

Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

Finally today:
Hershey Bears Hockey Game 5/16/17
Last night Ester and I, (Stephen), went to the Giant Center in Hershey to see the Hershey Bears play in a potential semi-final series win against the Providence Bruins. However the Bruins won and there will be a game seven in Hershey this evening! Our seats were two rows up so we saw and heard lots of action up close, but not so close we got our teeth knocked out!

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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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