Thursday, February 26, 2015

Daily Encouragement (02/26/15) "Discerning Good From Evil"

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Amish hay wagon 2/25/15
Steel wheeled hay wagon on an Amish farm
Due to some thawing yesterday we walked through quite a bit of mud on the farm where we visited with our friends yesterday.

"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).

Today's opening story is altogether true as well as an illustration.

Robert GrantRobert Grant is a friend we met in the Bible College we attended in Springfield, MO. He grew up in Connecticut where he still lives. We're still in contact 40 years after we first met. Several years ago he stopped by our home to visit (photo to right). Many of you have sung a hymn that Robert Grant authored titled, "O Worship The King". It begins with these stirring words,

O Worship the King all glorious above!
And gratefully sing His wonderful love,
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

We sure appreciate our association with Robert Grant along with his contribution to the church. *

Obfuscation and discernment are two words I've been considering a lot these last several weeks.

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." Let me add that in many cases it's outright lying, though we often hear the word, "mis-statement" in place of "lying"!

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."

Hebrews 5:14
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 and we so need 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.  How is your discernment today? Are you in regular training? Are you actively practicing your faith? Are you discerning good from evil?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily 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." Only as we regularly nurture our spiritual appetite will we delve into the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. 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.

* How did you react today's opening story? Any thoughts? (Respond here) and we'll likely share some more tomorrow.

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."

Our Visit To An Amish Farm

View of barn from Lapp farmhouse 2/25/15
Yesterday we stopped in with congratulatory gifts for the newest arrival in the Lapp family. Baby Sarah Beth is nearly two weeks old and her five siblings along with Mom and Dad were delighted to introduce their newest family member. Brooksyne took this photo from the window where the children gather and excitedly watch us come for a visit
(if it's cold outside). If you look carefully you'll see the buggy parked right in front of the barn. We loaded boxes of goodies we brought along on the wagon in the forefront.

Coal stove in Amish farmhouse 2/25/15
The cast iron coal stove is in the dining area added a warm hue and toasty comfortable temperature to the dining room.

Pompsky pup 2/25/15
Holding a Pompsky pup.

Amish family at dinner 2/25/15
Because many of our readers tell us they enjoy reading about the Amish I (Brooksyne) include the following narrative about our visit yesterday:

Upon their insistence we joined the family at dinner time. Following our silent prayer we scooped right into a large pan of lasagna provided by Anna's sister, Linda. I teased Anna that I think the reason for Amish praying silently is that the whole household suddenly quietens down to the sound of a pindrop. All joking, laughing, and loud chatter immediately stops for the approximate 45 second prayer before and the one following the meal (not that I was watching my watch, mind you. Typically Amish families chip in and provide meals for two to three weeks following the birth of a child. Also an extended family member will stay with the family during that time and essentially be a housemaid. Their fourteen year old niece from New York is staying with them and I was so impressed as she worked quietly in the background (no scowling but pleasantly) sweeping, setting the table, clearing and washing the dishes (with the help of the girls). Earlier in the day she had prepared a large batch of custard pudding and several dozen molasses cookies. Seeing the six year old standing on a chair as she washed the dishes reminded me of my childhood when my sister and I did the same, taking turns washing, rinsing and wiping the dishes as we cleaned up after meals. I find myself thinking back often to the "old days" when families ate together around the table on real dishes, cleaned up together, and played together. In our technological age children and parents, though they may be in the same room, often give more attention to their own individual smart phones or other technological devices than they do to each other. It makes visits to the Amish even more enjoyable where everyone comes together and we all visit together.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"O Worship The King"   Video

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