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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Lancaster County farm view
Yesterday we attended a Lenten luncheon at a church with this view of the Lancaster County farmlands north of Mount Joy. As you can see the fields are getting green, fitting for this Saint Patrick's Day!
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"In Shady Green Pastures"

Message summary: A vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time.

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"Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass" (Mark 6:39). "He makes me lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2). "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him'" (Psalm 92:14,15).

In shady, green pastures so rich and so sweet
God leads His dear children along
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet
God leads His dear children along

Today is Saint Patrick's Day when many wear green. I have very few articles of clothing that are green but finding this color is no trouble for Brooksyne or Ester. One of the reasons we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day is because of Ireland’s nickname, The Emerald Isle. (The ideal color of emerald green is a slightly bluish, vivid green.) Also St. Patrick is thought to have used green shamrocks to teach people about the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), another justification for greenifying everything.

John Deere ZTRIn our region everything is really getting green, a season I especially look forward to. I enjoy mowing our lawn and tending to our landscaping. And it won't be long before Brooksyne is planting flowers. It will be mostly green through the fall. It also looks like it's time for me to consider a new riding lawn mower purchase and I am considering a green colored brand. (We'll see what kind of farmer you are if you can guess the brand!)

Although all four gospels share the story of the feeding of the five thousand, only Mark includes the detail that the grass was green. This was likely a clue indicating the season that this event took place. That may be so, or maybe Mark just really liked green, like I do!

What makes the grass so green? Scientifically we are aware it is chlorophyll. But what drop of rain, what ray of sunshine, or what specific nutrient drawn from the rich soil made the difference? Of course that question cannot be answered. We know there are many factors that contribute to the vitality of the grass and plant life.

Likewise there are also many factors that contribute to the spiritual health and vitality of the believer, especially staying fresh and green and still bearing fruit in old age. Today let us consider spiritual "green grass".

Most of us are able to recall specific points on our faith journey; a very memorable spiritual experience, a certain sermon that changed our outlook, a book we read that had a "life changing" effect or our observation of a person's attitude or behavior that really spoke to our hearts. These "big events" are mile marker blessings, but most of our growth is a result of the accumulative effects of many small things. These are the blessings of living in "green pastures".

Depending upon how long we have followed Christ we may have read and studied the Scriptures for thousands of hours, heard hundreds or perhaps thousands of Bible-based sermons and teachings, read many good books, heard many good radio programs and listened to inspirational music, etc.

In my 45+ years of ministry I calculate that I have prepared and presented over 4,000 sermons and teachings. And now with over 25 years of preparing these Daily Encouragement messages that's over 6,000 messages and over 1,500 radio messages.

Yet I sure don't remember all I've read from the Word (too often it seems I forget right after I read it and have to re-read). I have read thousands of articles and books by now, but I only remember a few. I certainly can't recall every sermon I've heard or preached. Actually I can only specifically remember a small percentage, even of my own sermons. Has it all been a waste? Of course not! I was spending time in green pasture!

Here's a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time. Read attentively as you study the Scriptures and listen carefully to God's servants as they preach the Word. But remember, spiritual growth is taking place as you day by day fully commit yourself to our blessed Savior and live in His green pastures.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your principles teach me that time spent reading the Word, meditating upon it and applying it to my life makes a vital difference in my Christian walk. Spending time with other believers and learning from their examples and their testimony is another way You've brought positive change into my life. Sermons that cause me to think often move me to more fully surrender my heart to You which has brought about foundational growth in my life. I'm grateful for those who love me enough to keep me accountable to the commitment I've made to live a godly life. Thank You for the spiritual health and vitality You provide as I graze on the bounty of Your abundant life-giving "green pastures". Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"God Leads His Dear Children Along"  Video  Selah

Don and Andrew
Yesterday afternoon Don Alban, a friend from our Sunday School class stopped by. He had a long season of missions and mission education ministry and yet at 82 years of age he continues to stay active in a mentoring program at Lancaster Bible College. He came over to introduce me to Andrew, a young man he has been working with for four years to learn about our form of chaplaincy. Don is a demonstration of, "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him'" (Psalm 92:14,15). Andrew demonstrated respect and a teachable spirit as we shared together in the early afternoon.

Curious pig at log house
Last week we shared a photo of an interesting log house with a pig looking in the window. John, a local reader and photographer was intrigued and drove over to examine (google map). Amazing the little pig still hasn't moved!
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Log house interior
John stopped to explore, checking out the inside since the door was wide open, but we don't know what plans are in store for this interesting restoration. The bright red trim, both inside and outside, adds a bold statement.
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Sadie and Gracie
Sadie and Gracie sharing a curious moment.

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Stephen & Brooksyne

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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