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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Pond and cabin on Meadow View Road Lancaster County, PA 7/3/18 (Click to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning we passed one of our favorite Lancaster County settings, this pond and cabin along Meadow View Road north of Mount Joy.
(Click to enlarge)

"Free Indeed!"

Message summary: Today, are you free indeed?

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free, oh, is free indeed!

Hot dogToday is a holiday here in the USA and many have a day off of work to celebrate. Lots of picnics, cookouts, camping and pool parties are planned although with the high temperatures and humidity we might just stay inside. More than 150 million hot dogs will be eaten today, which is enough to stretch from Washington DC to Los Angeles five times! (Costco Magazine)

We got a chuckle out of this story which illustrates how children misunderstand adult words and concepts:

The Fourth of July was coming up, and the nursery school teacher took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism. "We live in a great country," she said. "One of the things we should be happy about is that, in this country, we are all free." One little boy came walking up to her from the back of the room. Exasperated, he stood with his hands on his hips and declared. . . . "I'm not free. I'm four." *

Although today is July 4, regardless of where you live, the words "July 4th" or "the 4th of July" has special meaning here in the USA. It's Independence Day and should be a time we consider our history and express thanks for our freedoms. Many take these freedoms for granted and may not even notice or choose to ignore they are systematically being diminished.

Our readers live in a variety of countries and are under varying degrees of political freedom or lack of it. Most live in countries with a relatively strong freedom, but others live in places with religious oppression and in some cases outright persecution. However it's doubtful that this material reaches those living in slavery, although millions live under such conditions.

But today, regardless of where we live and conditions we live under we can all share one freedom in common based on our daily text. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed".

This freedom, available to all, is infinitely greater than any political or religious freedoms we may or may not enjoy in this present life. One hundred or one thousand years into eternity we suspect that where we lived during our brief earthly sojourn will be of little regard, with the one exception of our decision to place our faith in Jesus Christ and accept His provision for our slavery to sin.

In John 8 Jesus confronted the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day who had challenged His authority. The encounter specifically began when Jesus asserted, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). The Pharisees challenged Jesus and the validity of His testimony and of course that has been at the heart of resistance to God's redemption plan ever since.

Jesus taught that those who "hold" to His teaching are truly His disciples (v. 31). He said to them "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). This especially infuriated the proud Pharisees who responded, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" (v. 34).

John 8:36But Jesus was speaking of a slavery that impacts the entire human race; whether rich or poor, powerful or weak, intellectual or unlearned, the politically free, oppressed or even enslaved. People from every background and every time period since the fall are slaves to sin!  Yet this is the very slavery that Jesus came to free us from: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

If you are a citizen of a free country don't take it for granted. Give thanks to God for this wonderful privilege and consider those who sacrificed for your freedoms. Pray for our brothers and sisters who do not have these freedoms.

But above all give thanks to God that Jesus paid the supreme sacrifice so that we might be freed from the slavery of sin. That's something that we can all rejoice in no matter the political conditions of our country.

Today, are you free indeed?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how glorious it is to enjoy the many freedoms provided to us in our homeland of the brave and the free. We're also mindful and grateful for our freedom from sin, thanks to the sacrifice of Your Son on our behalf. Our lives, once enslaved to sin, now enjoy freedom from that which once held us captive to Satan's bondage. We live in victory because You have set us free and we are now free indeed. Thank You, Father, for delivering us from the dominion of darkness and transferring us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin!  Amen.

Christ provides:
1) Freedom from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:18).
2) Freedom from guilt and shame (Colossians 1:21-23).
3) Freedom from fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).

Seyfert Orchards, Lebanon County, PA 7/3/18
Yesterday we stopped by the Seyfert Orchards in Lebanon County and bought 4 pounds of sour cherries
for making preserves. So last night Ester pitted the cherries and Brooksyne made Cherry Almond Preserves!
For those who pit lots of cherries or olives I picked up this nifty cherry picker at the thrift store for 50 cents awhile back and finally had a chance to see how it worked. Ester pitted all the cherries in no time with the cherry picker and it never tired her fingers. It reminds me of an old fashioned syringe. Ester called it a plunger. (I told her that instead of getting her blood drawn as she does so often, she's the one who gets to pull the syringe on this device.) All pits were accounted for as well with this tool unlike some gadgets I've used. I looked up the device online and it's called a vintage cherry pitter, patented in 1935, available via ebay and a few other sites.

Cherry preserve prep
The room began to smell like a cherry pie baking as the cherries boiled for l5 minutes.

Cherry preserve jars
I use a Victoria Steamer instead of a water bath and the jars seal instantly when I lift off the lid. I love to hear the pop, pop, pop! I ended up with 18 jars (15 cups).

Cherry preserves on biscuits!
The finished product on a layered biscuit that Stephen and I split. Though it takes a few days for the jam to thicken we couldn't wait to sample the delicious results. Cherry preserves are among my favorite jams. You can find this recipe here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Man Of Sorrows"  Video  Joelle Perez, David Quimba, Mark Rasmussen

This last Sunday evening on our way back from our weekend trip we heard a very interesting edition of "Unshackled". It is not the typical program but rather it highlights the importance of our Christian heritage and the present age we live in. You'll be nodding your head and saying "amen" if you're given to verbally affirming.  Audio 

Finally today: We hope all of our American readers have a refreshing 4th of July holiday with family and friends!

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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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