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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Early yesterday morning we passed this bucolic scene in southern Lebanon County. We are so blessed to travel serene country settings as we head to work early Tuesday mornings.
Click to enlarge

"Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil"

Note: We remain deeply burdened and in prayer concerning the turmoil taking place in our country. Yesterday I spoke to a man who told me he wept as he saw what is happening, especially in our cities. The news is full of information and misinformation on this matter with many outlooks and perspectives. But above all we need the timeless truths of God's Word and to individually see that our hearts are like good soil.

Message summary: Good soil is a blessing in agriculture, home gardening, and in the heart that "hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit". Lord Let My Heart Be Good Soil!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters He called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:9,10). “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

Karen arranging air plantsYesterday I shared about my interest in air plants that grow without soil. I shared a short message about this in a company devotional time early yesterday morning.  Karen, a very gifted former florist, told me that air plants belong to a plant family known as epiphytes which derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it. She also placed a florist's touch to my air plant project by rearranging my plants with Spanish moss tucked around the plant's edges!

Air plants are interesting but the vast majority of plants use soil to grow and our area has some of the best soil in the world. An area east of Ephrata is especially famed with the reputation of being the “Garden Spot”. Soil around the world varies in quality but almost any soil will provide a growing medium of some type assuming other conditions such as climate and elevation are suitable for growing.

Today let us consider the blessing of soil which is one of those things we probably have given little to no attention unless there's a problem, that is! The first daily text is a record of Creation events on the Third Day. On this day the dry ground (soil) appeared followed by vegetation. Wherever you live, unless you're a reader in the polar regions or extremely high elevations, you can see evidence of this divine work, even in concrete covered cities.

We both like working with soil. I do the lawn work and Brooksyne works with the flowers and vegetables. I recently reseeded some areas where the dogs have tried to make their own sandboxes and now the green grass is springing up once again. I enjoy watching the grass grow as well as the newly planted corn in the field across from our home and the soybeans up the road that are now about 2" high. I wonder how often we thank God for soil? Much of what we eat is in one way or another related to this gift from God.

But on a spiritual note today Jesus contrasted four different types of soil conditions in one of His parables, "The Parable Of The Sower". Jesus taught that we are to be like the good soil that “yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:8). Jesus explained this parable and the seed that fell on the good soil “is the man who hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

Good soil is a blessing in agriculture, home gardening, and in the heart that "hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit". May the Lord help us all to cultivate our hearts so that they are like the good soil!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for soil, one of Your great creations from the very beginning that we easily take for granted. We want to be like the good soil mentioned in the Parable of the Sower; the one who hears the Word, absorbs its message, understands its meaning and as a result brings forth an abundance of fruit; the kind that has lasting eternal value such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Just like water, soil and air produce good vegetation, so also the Bible, prayer, and worship produce godliness in the believer. May we faithful in doing our part. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil"  Video 

Lord, let my heart be good soil,
Open to the seed of your word.
Lord, let my heart be good soil,
Where love can grow and peace is understood.

When my heart is hard, break the stone away.
When my heart is cold, warm it with the day.
When my heart is lost, lead me on Your way.

"The Bay Area Blessing"  Video  Churches sing 'The Blessing' over the San Francisco Bay Area. We dedicate this to several in the Bay area. Brian Matangelo, who grew up in the church we served in northern Pennsylvania and now serves on staff at the Redwood Chapel in Castro Valley CA (East Bay), Will Nelken who has served as the pastor of the Trinity Community Church in San Rafael (Marin County) since 1984 (his video testimony) and my brother Mike.

Yesterday we visited two of our companies in Lebanon County and enjoyed the scenery along the way. We had intended to take a bike ride on a rail trail through Swatara State Park but it was just a bit too chilly for Brooksyne.

Yellow barns, Lebanon County PA 6/2/20 (Click to enlarge)
Along Rt 419 in southern Lebanon County we passed Buffalo Springs with a variety of barns and small outbuildings painted yellow with brown trim. Here's a view on Google maps street view with a truck missing from our photo!
Click to enlarge

Steers, Lebanon County PA 6/2/20
Apparently these steers didn't get the message about social distancing. I don't think their close gathering is primarily to be social but to fill their multiple bellies!

Rhododendron bush, Lebanon County PA 6/2/20
This large Rhododendron bush is along Moonshine Road in northern Lebanon County, named after Henry Moonshine who donated land for a church to be built on this road.

Sunset, Lancaster County PA 6/2/20
Last night at sunset we walked the trail. We often feature this old farmhouse with sheep grazing on the sloping yard/pasture land, but the sheep were already gathered in their pen for the evening.

Finally today:
Manheim Central 2020 graduate, Lancaster County, PA 5/31/20
In yesterday's message we shared a photo of graduates gathered for a photo and considered how unusual their graduation will be remembered without a ceremony. Manheim Central School District is recognizing their graduates with these large photos on posters as you drive through town. Nice touch!

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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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