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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Lebanon County PA farm 6/4/19 (Click to enlarge)
Yesterday morning we passed this rural farm complete with silos, barns, pond, livestock, and planted fields in Lebanon County.

"Trained To Discern Good And Evil"

Message summary: The need "to discern good from evil" is ongoing and will surely increase as we deal with "a spirit of delusion" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).

RaisinsStephen is the youngest son of our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth. He's a toddler now and, with six older brothers and sisters, he has lots of social life. He especially likes bananas and raisins. We were visiting with them on their porch and observed Stephen as he learned a life lesson.

Their farm has goats and goat droppings resemble raisins, especially to a toddler. (See here for photo Note: That's not my hand!) Sighting what appeared to be a tasty raisin, Stephen scooped down to pick up the wrong organic substance before his alarmed parents and siblings intervened. Using toddler language they taught him an early lesson in visual discernment of that which is edible and that which is to be rejected.

We learn important discernment lessons all through life. As we age the need for discernment in many ways keeps growing especially in what has been described as our post-Christian age.*

Discernment means "the ability to judge well". In a Christian sense we apply discernment in obtaining spiritual understanding and direction. Bible teacher John MacArthur states, "In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically."

Hebrews 5:14
The daily text describes the spiritually mature as those "who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil". Other versions state, "have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (ESV) or "who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (NIV).

Conversion is the miracle of a moment; maturing takes a lifetime. As a maturing believer I want to be able to discern good from evil. The world is full of obfuscation and we so need discernment. We all have a part in this as we choose to regularly feed on God's Word and apply it to everyday living. This is the sense of the phrase "who because of practice have their senses trained".

The need "to discern good from evil" is ongoing and will surely increase as we deal with "a spirit of delusion" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Our source and guide must be the unchangeable standards of God's Holy Word, not the fickle opinions of popular culture. Going with the latter would be much like a dog chasing his tail in circles. Don't we see this a lot in entertainment, politics, the media, education and, sadly even in religious settings?

The Holman New Testament Commentary makes this point,

"Christians are able to distinguish between good and evil. The terms 'good' and 'evil' may have both a moral sense and a theological sense. Christians are those who can spot moral evil and avoid it. They can see moral good and attach themselves to it. Christians also can distinguish between true and false doctrine. They will turn aside from the false and faithfully follow the true. Living the Christian life demands the spiritual skills of stamina seen physically in a long-distance runner. Unswerving, relentless applications of Christian truth and practice will equip us for a lifetime of usefulness which will continue into eternity."

Phillip Hughes, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, comments,

"Good and evil should not be understood merely in an ethical sense here as signifying good conduct and evil conduct, but more particularly, as the context requires, in a comprehensive theological sense, namely, of good and evil, or true and false doctrine, which would include moral teaching. The power of discernment is something very necessary in those who are "mature" enough to be "teachers," and something to be expected of those who, like the recipients of this letter, have been members of the Christian church for a number of years."

Obfuscation is all around us. How is your discernment today? Are you in regular training? Are you actively practicing your faith? Are you discerning good from evil? This is a critical spiritual exercise. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as we hunger and thirst for physical substance, intensify our hunger and thirst for godly discernment, spiritual knowledge, and righteous living. Jesus declared, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Only as we regularly nurture our spiritual appetite will we delve into the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Through the daily grind of life the inexhaustible truths revealed in Your Word brighten our outlook and make certain of our eternal hope, while they also teach us discernment so that we know good from evil, those who are genuine from those who are impostors. Jesus is the living bread for hungry souls so it is our prayer that we look to Him to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Amen.

* Postchristianity is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in political affairs, especially in the Western world where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secularism or nationalism. It includes personal world views, ideologies, religious movements or societies that are no longer rooted in the language and assumptions of Christianity, at least explicitly, although they had previously been in an environment of ubiquitous Christianity

Further study: Obfuscation describes what is going on all around us, especially in government, education and media. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines obfuscate in this way: "to make (something) more difficult to understand"; "to be evasive, unclear, or confusing and uses this example, "Politicians keep obfuscating the issues." Wikipedia describes it this way, "the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous, or harder to interpret." Let me add that in many cases it's outright lying, though we often hear the word, "mis-statement" or "mis-spoke "in place of "lying"!

Lebanon County PA farm 6/4/19 (Click to enlarge)
Another view of the Lebanon County farm we passed yesterday. We visit a company each week in a rural part of the county and sure enjoy the scenery as we go.

Baby robins ready to fledge 6/4/19
For several weeks we've been watching the progression of life in a robin nest built on our back deck over our porch light, from eggs to tiny open mouths to this very crowded nest late yesterday afternoon.

Empty nest 6/5/19
A literal empty nest this morning. I saw the fledglings on the ground.

Porchlight nest 6/5/19
I have plans to replace this light which no longer works so I was waiting for the present residents to leave. They have made quite a mess on the house's trim!

Jesus Is Cool gift bag 6/4/19
We saw this gift bag in a store yesterday. What merchants won't do to sell merchandise!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Still"  Video  Booth Brothers

This Sunday evening we plan to attend a Booth Brothers gospel concert in Lebanon, PA. Any local readers who may be interested in attending this concert and others in the summer "Music In The Park" series see this site. These concerts have no admission charge and a free-will offering is received. The concerts are held in an outside amphitheater in a beautiful setting.

Finally today:

Yesterday we shared a gardening quiz. See yesterday's message if you would like to take it.

Scroll down below all the footers for the answers to the quiz in yellow highlight
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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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"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"

Here are the answers to the gardening quiz (answers are in bold)

1. Mulch is used to smother weeds, beautify flower beds and base of trees, and help retain moisture.

2. Old garbage can be turned into compost which is used to enrich soil and stimulate plant growth.

3. What pesty insect has a problem with drinking beer, much to its demise? Slugs.

4. A product that helps plants grow in quality and quantity is called fertilizer.

5. Name two early spring vegetables that will withstand light frosts.  Lettuce, cilantro, spinach, peas, broccoli, onions, & a few others.

6. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows your area to be in which growing zone? #6b in our area but this will vary depending on where you live. (See here for a zone map for the United States & Canada).

7. The process of the sprouting of a seed is called germination.

8. The method of gardening utilizing only materials derived from living things (i.e. composts & manures) is called organic.

9. The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location is called transplanting.

10. The science of growing plants in mineral solutions or water, instead of in soil is called hydroponics.

11. A flower that grows only one growing season is called an annual.

12. A plant or ornamental that returns year after year is called a perennial.