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August 31, 2018

Neck pumpkin 8/29/18
 Volunteer neck pumpkins in our raised garden.

"Blooming Where You Are Not Planted"

Message summary: Yesterday's message was titled, "Blooming Where You're Planted". Today let us consider "Blooming Where You Are Not Planted"

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).

Raised garden 8/29/18 (Click to enlarge)Several years ago we downsized our already relatively small vegetable garden to an even smaller raised garden, a size suitable for several tomato and pepper plants. Our little garden presently abounds in fruit (or is it vegetables!).

But we noticed something else is growing, neck pumpkins, which we did not plant. They also are blooming and producing fruit (photo above). They are kind of hidden back behind the tomatoes as if to say "You still have a little room for me don't you!". We surmise that they are from neck pumpkins processed last fall. After peeling, chopping and pureeing the pumpkins we then dropped the seeds and pulp into our compost bin, which was then mixed in this spring to enrich the garden soil.

An interesting term used to describe plants that grow like this is "volunteer plants". Those of you who garden know just what I'm talking about. These are plants that grow from spilled or discarded seeds. Sometimes a bird drops a seed or the wind blows a seed into a place where it was not planted. Morning Glories are a great example of volunteer plants. Years ago Brooksyne intentionally planted some but now they reseed themselves and grow all over, often crowding out other plants. We've just determined to enjoy morning glories cause they sure don't seem to be going away anytime soon!

Yesterday's message on blooming where you are planted was used in the sense of intentional planting. But sometimes we may find ourselves providentially planted where we had not planned to be or where we had no choice in the matter. In fact it may be in a place we would rather not be. A true test of character is the way in which we bloom in such circumstances. In this case we are still called to bloom where we are not planted!

An example of this is Esther. Esther is a remarkable book. Most Bible students are aware of the fact that God is not specifically mentioned by name in the entire book (the only book of the Bible with this distinction.) Esther was one of the Jewish exiles in Persia who, due to her natural beauty, was unexpectedly placed in a position she probably never imagined herself being in. She was selected to be the queen!

Just as Ruth reminds us that God is at work in the lives of "ordinary people", Esther reveals God at work among the "higher classes." Both remind us that His work is often "behind the scenes." He is, as a song states, "quietly sovereign". "Esther moments" are special times when God's purpose for our life is especially apparent albeit in unexpected times. This concept is based on the daily text when Mordecai encouraged Esther to take a stand. The Jews faced annihilation (as they so often have throughout history) and Esther was in a position to act for their preservation by appealing to the king.

Esther's uncle Mordecai* was confident that, in one way or another, the deliverance of the Jews would come. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place." Amazingly in the bigger picture God's grand purposes are always fulfilled with or without our cooperation.

However Mordecai challenged Esther to be the agent of God's deliverance as expressed in the daily text, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Scripture records that Esther did listen to Mordecai and heeded his challenge to present herself to the king, even if it meant death. Consider the resolute attitude she expressed when she made up her mind to be the mediator for her people, "If I perish, I perish". When we're weighing various options there comes a point that we've got to make up our mind and act upon that decision.

Through the outstanding example of Esther, who took a consecrated stand, God sends a message to all who truly follow Him; we are not to be people of fear when we find ourselves planted where we would rather not be, but we are to persevere even if it means death.

Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. Some had a role in planning and in a sense choosing where they are planted but for others they may find themselves in a place they'd rather not be. We especially consider those who are tortured, imprisoned, or separated from their families because of their stand for Christ.

At times like this may we especially sense His work through us in a specific way. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual walk. May the Lord grant all of us these "Esther moments" when we bloom where we are planted by providence. Often we may not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings blessing. Let us stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You appoint Esther moments to every devout believer who wants to wholeheartedly serve You and Your kingdom. There are times when You plant me in unfamiliar or even hostile territory and ask me to be fully reliant upon You. There is great blessing when I follow Your leading, I grow more mature in my faith, and I am useful in Your kingdom. Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is in Your hands. Thank You for Your prompting and entrusting me to be a part of your grand purpose. What a privilege and responsibility. Amen.

* Some consider Mordecai a cousin to Esther.

Colebrook Road farm 8/29/18 (Click to enlarge)
Brooksyne passed this farm scene on Colebrook Road on an early morning walk with her friend Jane. Looks like these fields will have a great harvest.
(Click to enlarge)

Ronald McDonald House meal prep 8/30/18
Yesterday afternoon we volunteered with a group of employees from White Oak Display preparing a meal for the guests of the Ronald McDonald House near Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, PA.

Ronald McDonald House meal team 8/30/18
Since Ronald McDonald was seated at a bench we decided to take our photo with him. We were recipients of the generosity of Ronald McDonald House in Danville, PA from 1988-1992 where Ester underwent five heart operations as an infant and small child and where we also fostered other children from Guatemala who received surgeries at Geisinger Medical Center. We lived in St. Marys, PA over three hours away. The longest hospitalization Ester had was after her arrival from Guatemala at 3 months of age when she underwent two surgeries and also had endocarditis. It took three months for us to finally have her as our own but it seemed so much longer. The small fee we paid for lodging at Ronald McDonald sure helped with expense of travel, food and lodging.

Hershey produce stand 8/30/18
Coming home last night from Hershey we passed this produce stand and thought the classic car gave it a nostalgic look.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Sovereign"  Video  Chris Tomlin

"Brighten The Corner Where You Are"  Video  The Statesmen Quartet A great classic hymn based upon the author's own experience of being unable to fulfill her dreams because of her father's injury driving a "horseless carriage". She chose to stay and care for him and bloomed where she was planted by writing this timeless hymn. Here are two verses:

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Finally today:
It remains very hot here in Pennsylvania and the workplaces are especially hot. This old stand fan, likely from the fifties, was put back in service and it sure puts out the breeze. But we doubt if it would ever pass current OSHA safety standards. You could practically stick your whole arm in it. We definitely don't believe it would be suitable for a children's day care facility!

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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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