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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Lancaster County Farm
Lancaster County farm north of Quarryville, PA from the BB's parking lot.
Click on photo to enlarge

"Discerning Good From Evil"

Message summary: Obfuscation is all around us. How is your discernment today? Are you in regular training? Are you actively practicing it? Are you discerning good from evil?

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

Lancaster County, PA is a relatively conservative area, in what has been called the Bible Belt of the northeast. For many years we have had a community wide fundraiser that raised nearly 16 million dollars last year for a wide variety of local non-profits, many of them Christian-based. This year LGBT activists succeeded in changing the requirements for non-profit groups to participate by requiring approval and affirmation of the LGBT agenda in a "nondiscriminatory statement", asserting that not doing so was hateful and harmful to the community. So, many Bible-faithful organizations are no longer participating based on their biblical convictions.

Obfuscation and discernment are two bigger words we will consider today.

From the beginning deceptive language has been a tactic of the devil (Genesis 3). Today we face so many forms of emotionally manipulative verbiage and language tricks intended to obfuscate.

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". In many cases it is outright lying though we often hear the words, "mis-statement", "disinformation" and "misinformation" used in place of "lying"!

GK Chesterton wrote, "It is difficult to believe that people who are obviously careless about language can really be very careful about anything else".

Due to this flood of obfuscation we need discernment! Discernment means "the ability to judge well". In a Christian sense we apply discernment in obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. 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."

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 making it essential that we practice 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 others. Going with the latter would be much like a dog chasing his tail in circles. Don’t we see this a lot in politics, the media, education and, dare I say, 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.”

Obfuscation is all around us so I ask you, "How is your discernment today"? Are you in regular training? Are you actively practicing it? Are you discerning good from evil?

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

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.” 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.

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.”

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Preach the Word"  Video  Gold City

Today we share some fall scenes from rural Lancaster County

We took these photos when we headed over to the Shady Maple last Friday morning for my free birthday meal!

Old order tobacco harvest
You never know what kind of traffic jam you will get into driving the backroads of Lancaster County! This wagon near Strasburg is hauling tobacco.
Click on photo to enlarge

Lancaster County Farm
Lancaster County farm south of New Holland, PA
Click on photo to enlarge

Lancaster County Farm
Lancaster County farm along 322 east of Ephrata, PA. In the foreground are corn shocks, stacks of corn piled upright for curing or drying, evidence of this being an old-order Mennonite farm.
Click on photo to enlarge

Old order volleyball game
East of Ephrata we passed this old order Mennonite school with the older students playing volleyball during recess. The teacher joined them as well!
Click on photo to enlarge

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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