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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Eshleman's Mill Covered Bridge
Eshleman's Mill Covered Bridge crosses Pequea Creek on Belmont Road.

"Lessons From An Amish Farmer"
(Part 1)

Message summary: Today I must be alert and of sober mind. My enemy the devil is constantly seeking to sow weeds in my life to destroy me.

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“Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” He replied, “An enemy did this” (Matthew 13:27, 28). "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Yesterday we had several chaplaincy visits to eastern Lancaster County and also stopped by to visit Jesse and Anna Ruth on the Old Windmill Farm. Jesse broke a bone in his foot so he is on crutches and joined us for a drive over to New Holland, using the backroads that are favored for the horse and buggy. As we passed through the scenic countryside he made some farming observations and we will use two of them in our message today and tomorrow.

We passed a field of soybeans that had corn growing up all through the field and Jesse explained why this was happening. It wasn't because a rival farmer was trying to sabotage his neighbor's crop!*

Soybeans with corn

But the scene brought to my mind a parable of Jesus that is similar to this in Matthew 13. In this case Jesus both told the parable in Matthew 13:24-30 and explained it in verses 36-43.

A reality in both crop farming and home gardening is the persistent presence of weeds! This is a result of the fall of man. God told Adam the land would produce "thorns and thistles for you" (Genesis 3:18). Thus the importance of weed control.

This is a fundamental truth in Christian discipleship as well. The Bible uses weeds to illustrate hindrances to our spiritual growth as Christians. In the parable of the sower Jesus emphasized His plan that the seed of His word be fruitful in His followers. But some seed was sown among the thorns (analogous to weeds), that choked the Word just as it was developing.

Although the Parable of the Sower is the most familiar of the "Kingdom" parables in Matthew 13 there’s a second, less familiar parable called the "Parable of the Weeds", which begins in verse 24. It speaks of a landowner who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept his enemy came in and sowed weeds. Later when the weeds appeared beside the intended crop his servants asked two questions:

1) “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?” Now I am pretty sure they knew the answer to this question was “yes”. They were just baffled by the appearance and reason for the weeds. Certainly the deficiency was not in the quality of the seed, for in this parable the landowner represents God who always sows good seed.

2) “Where then did the weeds come from?” Isn’t that the very question we often raise in our own lives even in the midst of God’s working in our hearts? The answer in the parable as stated by the landowner expresses a vital truth.

The landowner answered the second question, “An enemy did this". Later, in explaining the parable Christ teaches that the landowner represents God and plainly says, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil” (v. 39). Indeed, this enemy continues his dastardly work in individual hearts and his destructive forces are visible in family units, in nations and in the world overall. Churches are especially susceptible to the devil's weed sowing! We must follow some good advice I recall as a child when we had a vegetable garden in our backyard. Mom would remind us "You’ve got to keep up with the weeds".

Our second text is from Peter's first epistle, a timeless call to Christians in each generation and certainly our own! "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). To rephrase this in light of today's parable and to personalize it I would say,

I must be alert and of sober mind. My enemy the devil is constantly seeking to sow weeds in my life to destroy me.

Today, may God help each of us as we continue to overcome the work of our archenemy in keeping up with the "weeds" he sows. In our Christian journey there is always going to be an ensuing battle with our enemy, but we can be encouraged as we contemplate the verse that reminds us that we are more than conquerors; “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just like the persistent weeds, our enemy is ever on the attack trying to choke out the Word of God. Father, we thank You that we can go on the offensive recognizing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Help us to be vigilant in sin’s fierce war remembering that the crown awaits the conquest as You lead us by Your glorious might. Help us to do our part in keeping up with the weeds. Amen.

Note: I find it instructive to apply this text as I seek to understand and make sense of all the deeply disturbing events taking place in our nation and world right now. As Martin Luther wrote, "But still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe". This is true not only of individuals but of nations.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Whisper"  Video  Jason Upton

What You whisper in my ear,
Let it find room in my heart,
And like a garden
Let Your words begin to grow.

"The Father's House"  Video  Cory Asbury

* Jesse explained the corn growing up among the soybeans is due to the type of herbicide the farmer used. The soybean seeds were genetically modified to resist the weed killer Roundup, known as "Roundup Ready". The corn was from the previous year and was also RoundUp Ready so any seeds that remained after the harvest still germinated.

Reader's Note: We appreciate hearing from our international readers since there are times we wonder how messages from our part of the world can be of blessing to them. We got this note today from a Ugandan reader and here's how she sums it up:
"You make life interesting, Thank you so much Daily Encouragement. The wonders of God's grace, the spectacular wonders of the world and all testimonies shared we do appreciate. May God richly reward your efforts."

Brooksyne with goats
What's easier than living on a farm? Visiting one! You can enjoy the animals, take in the beauty and wholesomeness of fresh vegetables and colorful flowers, hear the sounds of goats and sheep ba-a-a-ing, cows moo-ing, roosters loudly cock-a-doodling, horses whiny-ing, dogs bark-ing, chickens crow-ing, pigs oink-ing, turkeys gob-bling, and on and on the list goes of God's assortment of animals. We enjoy the farm setting without the unending chores of feeding and watering the animals, weeding the gardens, mucking the stalls and cleaning up animal waste, repairing the fencing and aging outdoor buildings, keeping farm machinery going, rising in the wee hours of the morning to milk or do other chores. Now that's mostly the farmer's or his children's chores - I don't have enough room to list the many duties of the farmer's wife. So...for our role, we simply visit the farm, pet the animals (especially the goats), then wish them a wonderful day and go on our way. Remember the old adage:  "A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."
Click on photo to enlarge

Old Windmill Farm grapes
Concord grapes are just about ready for this year's canning of grape juice!

Repurposed shoes
Over the years we have included a boot or child's shoe of chicks and hens in our flower gardens but they wore out so we picked up the big boot on the upper right yesterday to add to our flower garden.

Finally today:

Raiders fan car
We came up upon this car from a distance yesterday and at first thought it was a police car. Alas, it's a very expressive and unashamed Raiders fan. Although we don't necessarily recommend expressing your faith this way we have seen it. But such an unashamed expression is also a reminder of Romans 1:16.

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Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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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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