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Friday, April 17, 2015
We enjoyed a beautiful Spring day yesterday and, in the course of our visitation travels, we passed several Amish schools with the wholesome sight of children playing outside during recess. Spring is a lot more exciting after a cold, snowy winter!
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"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).
This coming Lord's Day I have an opportunity to preach in our church since our pastor is away visiting family. I am preaching a message that has been on my heart for sometime. We are going to consider Azariah's parents. Now here's an interesting quiz. Just who is Azariah? You can stop now and think about it, look it up, or of course in a few paragraphs we will answer!
The message title I placed on the church sign last Sunday is "Raising Godly Children". I wanted it to also have "In An Ungodly World" but didn't have the room!
Consider the Biblical period described just prior to the Babylonian Exile. The nation of Judah had a succession of evil leadership, the people overall had turned far from from God, and judgment was imminent. 2 Chronicles 36:14-16 describes this period: "Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the Lord which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy."
Does that sound similar to the times in which we live? In the Scriptural record we know only the names of a few people who lived at this time such as the kings and the prophet Jeremiah. But there were others whose names are not recorded; other prophets who remained true to the Lord and everyday moms and dads who were seeking to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. They were surely in the minority and the pull of the world was forceful just like it is now raising kids in our age.
Now back to Azariah, did you figure out who he is or did you look him up? He's a real person identified early in the Book of Daniel along with three other faithful young men who were taken captive to Babylon. You can read about him here. However he is best known by the name given to him by the Babylonians; Abednego.
We know these men proved faithful to God early in the Book of Daniel and most notoriously in their furnace trial recorded in chapter 3. They refused to bow down to the golden idol Nebuchadnezzar had made.
But what do we know about Azariah's parents (or the parents of the others for that matter)? Actually nothing! However these young men who had such deep convictions surely did not grow up in a spiritual vacuum (or at least it's highly unlikely). We contend that Azariah and his friends, who grew up during the terrible time described in the long selection from 2 Chronicles above, surely had godly parents, grandparents and perhaps other positive influences that prepared them to remain faithful to God.
So what can we reasonably conjecture about Azariah's parents?
1) Likely his parents raised him using the Law of Moses that has some timeless guidelines for child-rearing such as Deuteronomy 6, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (VV 6-9).
2) The Proverbs have some great teaching tips such as "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
3) Although Azariah's parents wouldn't have had this truth in writing the concept is surely long held that we are to "bring them (children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
4) His parents surely knew and practiced the vital parental element of discipline.
5) Although not always the case, even in kids that turn out right, we will assume that his parents provided a good example!
Let us make a renewed resolve to faithfully pass on God's truth to the next generation and hope like Azariah they stand faithful when the time of testing comes.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're given the example of sterling young men like Azariah, and his fellow Hebrew friends, who refused the Babylonian king's orders, to bow down to the golden image. Surely they were weary of enduring the daily testing as they were few in number standing against the godless culture of their day. Was it the teachings their parents presented of Moses who stood time after time before the godless Pharoah as he sought the release of the Jews? Was it the story of God providing a ram just seconds before Abraham was going to slay his only son, Isaac? Was it their parents who reinforced that God always comes through in His perfect timing to provide for their needs or deliver them from trouble? Perhaps they'd witnessed numerous challenges their parents were dealt as they remained steadfast in their faith. In the land of many gods they continued to bow down to only one, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We ask your blessings upon all who seek to pass on Biblical faith to their children and equip them to stand when the day of evil comes. In our Lord's mighty Name we pray. Amen
Some further thoughts:
We didn't really comment on the daily text in the context of our message today. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4). It's a great verse and surely the aspiration of any parent and spiritual leader. There's no greater joy for parents than to see their children walking in the truth and the same is true for those in leadership. John may have had his spiritual children in mind; that is those he had taught and impacted for the Lord. It's interesting when we get notes from African readers who address us as "Mom and Dad"!
Several weeks ago I heard a story on the radio that touched my heart and then found it on the web (part of a book). Today I couldn't find it again but will seek to reconstruct from memory:
A father went to a store in the mall with his daughter to make a purchase for her and observed the practically pornographic images on the walls (I think we have a store like that in our mall). As he checked out he asked a young store clerk what she thought working in such a lust-inducing environment. His daughter was so embarrassed at her dad's questions. He then asked a male employee what he thought. His red-faced daughter quickly answered, "Dad, they don't care." The young man looked at them and in earnest said, "I wish I had a father that cared like you."
Mark Pulliam, a longtime friend, shared regarding our message Wednesday: "I do believe that God is trying to warn us that persecution is headed our way sooner then we could ever imagine. The Cross is an object of derision, scorn and neglect by most in the circles I am in. Christianity is assumed to always be the 'norm' but those of this world are blind to the battle that is being raged by Satan."
Some scenes from a beautiful spring day in Lancaster County
Yesterday, near New Holland, we stopped by an Amish farm to pick up some bronze red Canna bulbs from a woman who resides there. We noticed the giant Purple Martin house which can be raised and lowered like a flag!
Here's a photo from last summer of what we hope to grow this summer. Brooksyne saw them on an Amish farm we pass weekly and was drawn to the striking bronze leaves since we've only grown those with green leaves. Last fall we drove back into the farm and inquired as to whether we might buy some canna bulbs after they're dug up in the fall. Turns out they sell them at auction but Mary, the farmer's wife, kindly told Brooksyne to come back in the spring and she would give her some, a promise kept yesterday, though Brooksyne offered to pay!
We stopped and walked through the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse where many were out enjoying the pleasant Spring day. We both enjoy the samples in the canning kitchen!
Banjo Jim was out playing.
He's been a part of the musicians at Kitchen Kettle Village for many years.
Here's a video someone posted of Jim.
A scenic country view near Intercourse Pennsylvania
We also ran into an old friend following several chaplain visits. D.J. (Doc) Paglia is also a chaplain to a business, he and his wife serving for many years at Keystone Custom Cabinets. Doc is in his late eighties but stays active in the Lord's work and told us he had conducted a funeral this last Saturday and preached on Sunday! Doc- the energizer bunny!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Family Prayer Song" Video Maranatha Singers We'll be asking the people to make a fresh commitment to serving the Lord this Sunday and conclude the service with this song.
"As for Me and My House" Video John Waller Powerful song and images of men making the right choice! Plus you get to see a man singing on a skyscraper roof.
"Find Your Wings" Video Mark Harris An outstanding song for parents striving to raise Godly children.
"The Keeper" Video Geoff Moore And The Distance
"Somewhere In The World" Video Wayne Watson In what surely must be one of the most tender and most unintentionally romantic songs of all time, a Christian father prays for the future wife of his little boy.
This evening I will be taking two Amish fathers and their sons to a hockey game in Hershey. I am not much of a hockey fan but the boys asked me to take them and they are so excited, having been pestering me for months with, "When are you gonna take us to a hockey game?" A couple of days ago a Eli called all excited about something and I just couldn't understand what he was saying and figured it must be something about the hockey game. He persisted and finally I understood... his female goat had a new kid!
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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