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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Red barn (Photo by Linda Trago)
Red barn in Juniata County PA
(Photo by Linda Trago)

"Lessons From Barns" Part 1

Message summary: Today's message will be the first of a two part series on barns. Today we examine why it's so vital to recognize where the blessings come from. In the Doxology we sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." God continues to send forth his physical and spiritual blessings. Sadly, many reject the reality of this source or have an entitlement attitude. God owes us nothing and yet provides for all that we have need of.

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"The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Deuteronomy 28:8).

Galen is a friend of ours who has a farm here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His ancestors first came over from Europe in the early 1700's to escape religious persecution. His father Earl, a godly man who is now with the Lord, greeted us when we moved to this area with a prayer blessing and shoofly pie. For my 60th birthday Galen graciously allowed Brooksyne and Ester to use one of his barns for my birthday gathering and took us on a memorable hay ride.

We both like barns. Barns vary in size, design, color and even their intended usage. There are cattle barns, feed barns, equipment barns and many other kinds of barns. As a little boy I would play in my Uncle Gentry's barn on his farm outside of Harwood Missouri. When the cousins would merge together during family gatherings we'd invent games that would require us to gather in the barn and  especially the hay loft. Occasionally Uncle Gentry would hitch a wagon to his Allis-Chalmers tractor and take us for a ride in the fields. Then we would hear the ringing of the dinner bell and go back to the farmhouse for Aunt Dora's country fried chicken!

Many of the barns in that area of southern Missouri are now dilapidated much like the barn that we'd pass as we made the trip to my grandparents’ house. It seemed that with each passing year the timbers were more rotted and the entire barn was leaning more and more toward the earth. On each trip I'd eagerly watch for the spot to see if it had finally collapsed but it never did. Several years ago we saw a barn in Indiana in the same deteriorated condition. (photos below)

Lewis Evans wrote in 1753, “It is pretty to behold our back settlements where barns are as large as palaces, while owners live in log huts, a sign of thrifty farming.”

After we got married we lived for many years in areas where we rarely saw barns but since we moved to Lancaster County sixteen years ago we see the landscape dotted with barns and silos. We often use these photos on this site from our travel throughout the region in the course of our chaplain work.

Today's verse is the first reference to barns in the Scripture and also a wonderful promise, "The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to." Barns, also called storehouses, could be a source of pride to farmers if they were not careful to acknowledge their abundance was from God.

"The Lord will send..."  It's so vital to recognize where the blessings come from. In the Doxology we sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." God continues to send forth his physical and spiritual blessings. Sadly, many reject the reality of this source or have an entitlement attitude. God owes us nothing and yet provides for all that we have need of.

"A blessing on your barns" indicates the agricultural way of life so common in the Bible period. In principle it surely also means your work or business, whatever that may be, that relates to the way we make a living today.

Note carefully that this Scripture expresses a cooperative relationship. God is faithful to bless. But notice the phrase, "on everything you put your hand to." Farmers don't just lay around just waiting for God's blessing. They work hard, using the skills God has taught them over the years, often through the trials and errors of farming. Although most of us don't work on farms the principle is surely the same in life.

Many tend to see work as a mere necessity to be avoided as much as possible. But God has called us all to "use our hands." Consider these verses. "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28). Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you" (I Thessalonians 4:11). "We work hard with our own hands" (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Let us claim this promise and let us faithfully do our part in obedience to God's commands!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are confident that You will provide for all our needs as we obey Your commands. You have instituted work from the very beginning so that we can provide for ourselves that which we have need of. Your blessings fall upon those who obey You, those who are not idle or wasteful. We lift up our brothers and sisters who are diligently looking for employment but are awaiting doors to open. Father, we pray that You would open the right door and provide for their needs in unconventional ways as You always care for Your own, no matter the circumstances. May it be a time of trusting and growing as they look to You for their provisions and for the open door. We also pray that they will find ways to be useful in helping others while they are flexible in their schedule. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Some favorite barn photos

Hess barn 5/20/17
The closest barn to our home is at the end of Kraybill Church Road.

View from Martin farm in Lancaster County PA
I took this photo from our friend Galen Martin's farm.
The silo and barn frame a colorful scenic view.

Trumpet vine on Indiana barn 8/4/12
Years ago we passed this barn south of Nappanee Indiana and noted the huge vibrant clinging Trumpet Vine in passing. We turned the van around and went back to take some photos.
Trumpet vine on Indiana barn 8/4/12
From the side of the house the barn looks pretty old but still standing and functional.
Trumpet vine on Indiana barn 8/4/12
Here's the other side of our Nappanee Indiana barn photo!
I think it's had its better days!

Neff Round Barn in Centre County PA
Neff Round Red Barn in Centre County, PA (east of State College)

Stasburg Road farm in Lancaster County PA
This farm on the Strasburg Pike here in Lancaster County is representative
of our beautiful Amish farms, many with red barns.
 Did you ever wonder why barns are often painted red? See here.

Steincross farm
Here's an aerial photo of my Uncle Gentry's farm near Harwood, Missouri.
The old farmhouse was built in the 1800's and my grandpa was born there in 1882. It was in the family for over 100 years and before my uncle passed away it received the designation "Centennial Farm." Notice how flat the land is. Harwood is located here (Google map)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blessings"  Video   Laura Story This version includes the story behind the song.  We pray that this message will touch hurting hearts today.

Here are some photos from my 60th birthday party in Galen's barn.

* Note from Brooksyne:  The shoofly pie that Earl's wife made us has quite an interesting story. Earl's wife Helen (who is now also with the Lord), whom we hadn't even met yet, sent the homemade pie with him to welcome us to their neighborhood. How nice it was to enjoy the taste of homemade pie when you're busy unpacking and home cooking is next to impossible for the time. We stored the remainder of the pie in the fridge. The next day when I opened the refrigerator I noticed some of the pie was missing. Since it was only a nibbling I knew Stephen wasn't responsible, but I was truly mystified by the strange intrusion in our fridge.  After much investigation we finally realized a mouse found its way in and out of our fridge and helped itself to the delicious pie. We renamed the famous Pennsylvania Dutch pie, "Shoo Mouse Pie." It sounds impossible to have a mouse enter a refrigerator but we found the lining on the bottom of the door loose, leaving just enough space for a mouse to enter and enjoy a whole fridge smorgasbord.

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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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