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Friday, September 9, 2022

Sunflower field on Colebrook Road (Lamar Dourte)
Nary a more colorful sight than an acre of sunflowers.
Our friend Lamar Dourte took this photo on Colebrook Road near Mastersonville, PA.
Click on photo to enlarge

"A Lesson From The Sunflower"

Message summary: In our lives we all need to turn or orient ourselves to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

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"But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:15-17).

One of the most prominent plants in our landscaping typically grows on its own and requires little care; the Helianthus, which is commonly called the Sunflower. The term Helianthus is derived from the Greek Helios, meaning sun, and anthos, meaning flower. Each summer we have a variety of sunflowers growing. No telling how many seeds germinate from seeds that fall from our birdfeeders!

This year we've had a mysterious "critter" who takes a mouthful of bird seed and drops them in various spots throughout Brooksyne's flowers. A cluster (10 or 12) seeds germinate and start to grow about 6" before she finally pulls the tangled mess out of the ground.

But we also have large fields of commercial sunflowers growing in our area. The lead photo today was taken by Lamar Dourte who also grows a variety of beautiful flowers in his yard.

It may be assumed that sunflowers derive their name due to their sun-like appearance but their scientific name Helianthus also points to an interesting characteristic they have known as heliotropism, a word derived from the Greek words "sun" and "turning". The growing sunflower turns or orients itself to face the morning sun.

Brooksyne slightly laments that we cannot get the sunflowers to face us wherever we happen to be but this Creator-designed feature is a marvel in design.

When we travel she often reads devotional materials to me as I am the main driver in our family. She'd rather read than drive. We read a devotional from Our Daily Bread titled "Son Followers" that makes this point:

Young sunflowers are just as patient in their growth. Following the sun’s movement throughout the day, they turn sunward daily in a process called heliotropism. Mature sunflowers are just as deliberate. They turn eastward permanently, warming the face of the flower and increasing visits from pollinator bees. This in turn produces a greater harvest.

In our lives we all need to have a characteristic of Christotropism, that is, we need to turn or orient ourself to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Let us examine a passage in 2 Corinthians which has this phrase, "but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away".

Bible teacher A.T. Robertson notes that the scripture portion, "a veil lies over their heart", is a "vivid and distressing picture. With willful blindness the rabbis set aside the word of God by their tradition in the time of Jesus (Mark 7:8,9)." The veil is a symbol of spiritual blindness.

"But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away".  What a blessed truth!

There is a sense that this is a onetime turning, speaking of our conversion, when we repent and turn away from our sin and turn toward Christ.

But there is also an ongoing aspect of turning to the Lord. The world clamors for our attention and we must willfully seek to stay focused on the Lord and His divine plan for our lives. This is well-expressed in the old song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus".

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have given us so many beautiful and colorful sites to enjoy as we journey here below. The sunflowers are certainly among the more pleasurable flowers we watch growing each summer, whether they were planted by the birds, blown about by the wind, or purposely dropped by seed from machinery or human hands. Just as the sunflowers must be nurtured by the rays of the sun, we too must be nurtured by the light of Your Word if we are to grow in maturity and devotion to You. Help us to turn from that which will hinder our growth to You who will grow and mature us in the ways of the Lord. Keep our eyes firmly fixed on You all our days we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

Dedication and prayer request: Lamar Dourte is a friend who takes beautiful photos, several of which we have featured here on Daily Encouragement. Many long time readers would recognize his last name because of the many years we featured Jesse and Wilma Dourte's photos as they were an integral part of our lives for several years before they were promoted to heaven. Jesse was uncle to Lamar.

In late July Lamar was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He is seeking to honor God in this unexpected "journey" as he puts it. Would you add Lamar to your prayer list that he would indeed honor God and trust Him every step of this "journey". On the very day that Lamar told us of his diagnosis I (Brooksyne) had just read a devotional message by Max Lucado that spoke of his father, Jack Lucado, whose life was "scarred" by ALS for three years. Jack also sought to honor God during his health decline. His faith led one man to become a Jesus follower after observing the way he dealt with his ALS. Max gave readers this challenge: "rather than begrudge your problem, expore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it. Use it to the glory of God..."

Today we will share sunflower photos both recent and those we have used through the years.

Sunflower field in York County
We passed this sunflower field late Sunday afternoon across the Susquehanna River in York County. Since sunflowers face east toward the morning sun we had the sunset in the background. The one sunflower standing out above all the others can be a symbolic to believers that we must "stand up, stand up for Jesus" !
Click on photo to enlarge

Field of sunflowers (Howard Blichfeldt)
Our friend Howard Blichfeldt took this photo of a sunflower field at Soergel Orchards near Pittsburgh PA and captioned it "Shine"!
Click on photo to enlarge

Butterfly and bee on sunflower 8/1/19 (photo by Ester)
This butterfly and bee are demonstrating the virtue of sharing the same sunflower.
(photo by Ester)

Sunflowers in Lebanon Trail Garden
Towering Sunflowers in the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail Garden.

Super-size sunflower 7/15/12
This photo was taken in our back yard ten years ago with a super-sized sunflower voluntarily growing in our then garden area. Unaccustomed to seeing a flower right outside our 2nd floor bedroom window, this was like a sunflower greeting us right in our bedroom. Sunflowers are "happy" flowers, since they make us think of the sun and happy faces are modeled after them. The world's tallest sunflower on record measured 30 feet 1 inch and was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany.

Finally today:

Harvest day 9/9/22
A sure sign that fall is coming is corn harvest. Today the harvest machinery is in our area and by late this afternoon we expect the field across from us will be bald!

Safe Harbor trestle.
Yesterday, following our chaplain visit, we rode on the Enola low grade rail trail up through Conestoga Township to the Safe Harbor trestle that crosses the Conestoga River. It joins the Susquehanna River in the background.
Click on photo to enlarge

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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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