Horse-drawn pickup ride 4/20/17
These little guys in their grown up hats are enjoying their ride in the back of a pickup just as we did when we were kids! Photo taken through the windshield on the fly as we passed them near New Holland, PA, thus the darkness and grid reflection from our car dashboard.

“But You Were Washed”

Message summary: Today we consider the phrase “But you were washed.” A hymn asks the question, “What can wash away my sin?” and in the next line answers, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Samsung washerThis morning we a new washer delivered. We had bought a washer two years ago but it was part of a Samsung washer recall last fall. Several weeks ago Brooksyne saw a washer on sale at Lowes with even more features that costs only $10.00 more than the rebate we got from Samsung due to the recall, so I guess we made out pretty good!

Throughout our marriage we’ve done pretty good with washers. The Sears washer we replaced two years ago had finally gone out.. It was in our home when we bought it 15 years ago. The previous owner said it had been used by his grandmother for about 30 years.*¹

When we consider the various laundering methods of old we are sure grateful for an automatic washer. We see people in third world countries washing along a river and Brooksyne recalls her early childhood years when her mom washed their clothes using a wringer washer. It was a lot of work for their family of 7. They had no dryer and, as many of you will recall, dress clothing had to be starched and ironed. It was an all day or two day event before the task was fully completed. The automatic washing machine is a modern convenience we take for granted, but when reviewing the past, we know what a time and labor saving machine it is in the majority of homes.

Romans 3:23Washers are needed to clean our dirt-stained clothing but, far more importantly, a “cleanser” is needed to wash our sin-stained souls. There are no exceptions to this need of washing, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all need a heavy duty soul cleansing.

So often this need is considered in a comparative context. That is, we may tend to see ourselves OK compared to others we perceive as much more evil than ourselves, but in doing so we miss the more important message. The Bible declares that we are all sinners in need of a Saviour; we can’t be good enough on our own for it will always fall short of appeasing God.

The other night I went with some friends to a teaching presentation by Dr. Frank Turek who has an apologetic ministry called crossexamined.org. He had a powerful powerpoint presentation and one slide was labeled “God’s Perfect Moral Standard”. On the one side is a photo of Mother Theresa, practically universally recognized as one of the goodest*² persons that ever lived. On the other side is a photo of Adolph Hitler, practically universally recognized as one of the most evil persons that ever lived. There’s a place for your photo generously placed between Mother Theresa and “the immoral”. Regardless of where you may fit in, all humans fall short of God’s perfect moral standard and need a Savior. We all need a divine washing!

God's Perfect Moral Standard (Dr. Frank Turek crossexamined.org)

Today’s Scripture portion is in a powerful context, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Paul wrote this passage assuming a knowledge the Corinthian believers had; “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?” He then presents a warning found throughout Scripture we must heed, “Do not be deceived”. This is all the more important in our day when acceptance of certain behaviors and attitudes has permeated the church due to popular acceptance in the world that in the past was more aligned with the Judeo/Christian viewpoint. This warning of being deceived is followed by a listing of specific sins (certainly not an exhaustive list but rather representative).

1 Corinthians 6:11“And that is what some of you were.” The readers he addresses may not all have been involved in these specific sinful behaviors but some were. Notice that wonderful word “were”. Genuine conversion is a life change. As an old gospel hymn states, “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart.”

Paul concludes his teaching with “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

But let us conclude our daily message with just a reflection of the phrase “But you were washed.” A hymn asks the question, “What can wash away my sin?” and in the next line answers, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I thank You for Jesus who entered the Courtroom of Justice with me as I sought favor with You. I went to relinquish my sins but the only problem is that I had no defense or payment to offer in exchange for them. I entered the Courtroom dressed in my very best as I presented to You my righteous acts but one by one I realized they were seen as filthy, crimson rags. They were like leaves that shrivel up when detached from the vine.

But then Your Son, Jesus, my Advocate, took His robe of righteousness and lovingly placed it over my heavy shoulders. It was at that glorious moment that I realized You looked away from my filthy, crimson rags that Jesus removed and looked upon my new robe of righteousness. I was able to give You nothing but a heart full of crimson stains but You exchanged it for a surrendered heart that is now white as snow. I am wholly grateful that when You look at me You see Jesus’ righteousness. He paid the full price, He paid it all. I owe Him everything and it will take all my remaining days on earth and all eternity in heaven to express my love and gratitude for His incomparable love and sacrifice toward me.  Amen.


*¹ We found this message when we replaced our washer and dryer two years ago. Based on the serial number we determined this Sears washer, which the previous owner left when we bought the home, was at least 34 to 40 years old!

*² “Goodest” is supposedly not a word but I can’t think of a better one to express my thought.


Water Street mission truck 4/20/17
Yesterday JK Mechanical, one of the companies we serve as chaplains, had a Community Work day serving to make improvements to the historic Water Street Mission in downtown Lancaster. Over 75 employees served to make our community and the world a better place. Are you a business owner or manager? This is a wonderful way to let your light shine and spruce up a non-profit community-minded ministry.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
These men are running a new gas line, a skill set they have as HVAC installers.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
Brooksyne watches as Ken and Fred cut some shelving.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
These men were in the basement of the old textile factory that houses the mission parging over an old brick wall. This photo has an interesting Easter egg at the top. See here.
Women were present also, but unfortunately we didn’t get photos of them at work!

Tim Farrell at Water Street Mission 4/20/17
While at the mission I visited with our long-time friend Tim Farrell who serves with the mission leadership team. The mission houses 180 and serves many others.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Nothing But the Blood”  Video  Homecoming singers  “What can wash away my sin?

“Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

“Thanks To Calvary (I Don’t Live Here Anymore)”  Video   The Cathedrals

“Oh, What a Savior”  Video   Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Dr. Frank Turek’s ministry is here and provides some helpful ministry materials for download here.

JK Mechanical

Water Street Mission  Restoring Lives – Through God all things are possible.

Finally today:

Amish pickup in New Holland, PA 4/20/17As I waited for Brooksyne to visit the employees at Comfort Inn in New Holland yesterday this horse and buggy passed by on Main Street. It’s a common sight in that area but not so common is the burgundy colored buggy with colored spokes. The local Amish have uniformly colored gray buggies and the old-order Mennonites are black so I don’t know whether this was a different sect or a friendly “rebel”!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Swatara Creek wild flowers 4/18/17
Close-up of wild flowers along the bank of Swatara Creek.

 

“Blooming Where You Are Planted”

Message summary: Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual walk. May the Lord grant all of us these “Esther moments” when we bloom where we are planted. We may not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings blessing.  Let us stay faithful!

 

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Earlier this week we visited a company that is set in a beautiful rural location in Lebanon County which is located along Swatara Creek. While waiting for Brooksyne I took a little nature hike and came across many beautiful miniature wild flowers growing along the banks of the creek like the photo shown above. It occured to me that I might be the only human to see these lavender flowers although they are every bit as beautiful as the flowers planted in home gardens or purchased at a florist shop.

The Creator has a purpose for them and He has a purpose for each of us.

I recall first hearing this phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted” from my years in Bible College. The saying has the sense that we are to let God use us and seek to be fruitful wherever we find ourselves. Sometimes we may find ourselves providentially planted where we would rather not be. A true test of character is the way in which we bloom in such circumstances.

An example of this is Esther. Esther is a remarkable book. Most Bible students are aware of the fact that God is not specifically mentioned by name in the entire book (the only book of the Bible with this distinction.) Esther was one of the Jewish exiles in Persia who, due to her natural beauty, was unexpectedly placed in a position she probably never imagined herself being in. She was selected to be the Queen!

Just as Ruth reminds us that God is at work in the lives of “ordinary people”, Esther reveals God at work among the “higher classes.” Both remind us that His work is often “behind the scenes.” He is, as a song states, “quietly sovereign.”

I recall hearing a teaching a number of years ago on “Esther moments”. These are those special times when God’s purpose for our life is especially apparent. This concept is based on the daily text when Mordecai encouraged Esther to take a stand. The Jews faced annihilation (as they so often have throughout history) and Esther was in a position to act for their preservation by appealing to the king.

Esther’s uncle Mordecai* was confident that, in one way or another, the deliverance of the Jews would come. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” He goes on to say, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.” Amazingly in the bigger picture God’s grand purposes are always fulfilled with or without our cooperation. However Mordecai challenged Esther to be the agent of God’s deliverance as expressed in the daily text, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Scripture records that Esther did listen to Mordecai and heeded his challenge to present herself to the king, even if it meant death. Consider the resolute attitude she expressed when she made up her mind to be the mediator for her people, “If I perish, I perish.” When we’re weighing various options there’s a point that we’ve got to make up our mind and act upon that decision.

May our hearts be as resolute as Esther’s and other Biblical characters such as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to bow down to the golden image. Their unyielding response was, “The God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not (rescue from the fiery furnace), we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17,18).

Through these outstanding examples of devout faith and a consecrated stand, God sends a message to all true worshippers; we are not to fear the trials the world offers, but we are to persevere even if it means death.

Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual walk. May the Lord grant all of us these “Esther moments” when we bloom where we are planted. Often we may not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings blessing.  Let us stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, in certain situations I am fearful when You speak to my heart about being obedient. When You move upon me like you did Esther to do or say something that’s not within my comfort zone, I become fearful of the outcome which prevents me from stepping out in faith and following through with an obedient heart. Would You remind me that there is great blessing when I follow Your leading.  Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is in Your hands. Thank You for Your prompting and entrusting me to be a part of your grand purpose. What a privilege and responsibility. Amen.


Swatara Creek 4/18/17
The Swatara Creek is a pleasant stream that meanders through Lebanon County and I’ve been told a bald eagle flies along the creek. Hopefully we’ll capture that on camera in the near future and share it with you!Hershey Hotel tulips 4/18/17
These tulips at the Hotel Hershey are a spectacular sight!

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Doris High)
For over ten years we have been  sharing photos from Doris High’s photo blog (with her permission). We met Doris and her husband Cerwin when I spoke at a retreat for truck driver chaplains at “Transport For Christ”. She is surely among the most prolific photo sharers on the entire internet! Today’s photo is from this collection. It appears that the blue bird might be knocking on the door to see if anyone is home!

 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Use Me”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“Field of Souls”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Hotel Hershey tulips (click to enlarge)

Yesterday afternoon we drove up to the elaborate Hotel Hershey to view the spring bulbs.
(Click to enlarge)
“The Disciple From Missouri”

Message summary:  In our daily text Jesus gives a wonderful word of blessed assurance to all who would believe without the benefit of being an eyewitness in subsequent generations. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Do you believe today?

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John 20:24-29).

When I cross over
I will shout and sing
I will know my savior
By the mark where the nails have been

I grew up in Missouri, which has the nickname “The Show Me State”. I sometimes jokingly ask, “What state did Thomas come from?” Of course, people are perplexed, but I respond by saying, “He must have been from Missouri since he essentially said ‘Show me’.”

Show me state tagThere are various views as to why Missouri has the “Show Me” nickname. How that nickname came about has various backgrounds but I always took it that we Missourians want to see the evidence. With all the “fake news” I find myself more and more skeptical and want proof before I accept something as true.

Thomas is often nicknamed “Doubting Thomas” based on today’s Scripture portion, but in reality Thomas was an earnest seeker as evidenced by the fact that he was with the disciples a week after Resurrection Sunday and God is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

“Though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood among them.” Apparently Jesus suddenly appeared in bodily form and gave the disciples a word of needed assurance, “Peace be with you!” before turning His attention to Thomas.

Jesus was aware of Thomas’ request for evidence, either having been informed by one of the other disciples or more likely by supernatural knowledge.  He met Thomas at his point of need.

Believing Thomas“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” I don’t see any evidence in the text that Thomas actually exercised this offer to physically examine the signature bodily evidence on the resurrected Christ. However, some interpretive art does indicate this.

However he saw the scars and this powerful visual evidence was sufficient. He emphatically responded, “My Lord and my God!”

What happened to your hand?When our daughter Ester was little, like many children she was intrigued by boo-boo’s and even more so due to her many “boo-boo’s” from her frequent heart procedures and surgeries. If anyone was wearing a band-aid she would go right up to them and ask them, “What happened?” This could sometimes be quite embarrassing when she’d approach a total stranger!

She had a shirt she loved to wear with a very special picture on it.  It showed a concerned little girl looking up to Jesus, whose nail-pierced hand was stretched out to her.  With inquisitive eyes she asked, “What happened to your hand?”

Ester wore this shirt when we had a special ministry opportunity in a nursing home, She was able to illustrate my sermon as she greeted each resident and showed them her shirt!

Indeed, the nail-pierced hands of our Lord are a lasting reminder of the price paid for our redemption.  Following the inquiry of Thomas in our daily verse Jesus was quite ready to provide him with this stunning evidence of His death and resurrection.

On another occasion Jesus was recognized following the resurrection when He opened His hands to break bread with two of His disciples on the Road To Emmaus (Luke 24:35).

In our daily text Jesus gives a wonderful word of blessed assurance to all who would believe without the benefit of being an eyewitness in subsequent generations. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  I believe today!

By the mark where the nails have been
By the sign upon his precious skin
I will know my savior when I come to him
By the mark where the nails have been

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we consider the greatest proof of genuine love is when one lays down his life for another. We are grateful recipients of Christ’s substitutionary death for us – the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Thank You for proving Your love as You endured the greatest test of love where You presented the greatest gift to humankind – forgiveness for our sins. We’re eternally grateful and, though we have not seen, by faith we do believe. Amen.


Your Heart's Delight truck unloading 4/18/17
Yesterday we visited the employees of “Your Heart’s Delight” a wholesale distributor of home decor items and took this photo of these three hard working men preparing to unload a container. Thankfully the boxes appeared to be light!

Lebanon County pasture scene 4/18/17
Viewing the black and white, both animals and buildings, amidst the green pastureland!

Rick and Rachel Caldwell 4/18/17
Yesterday we joined Rick and Rachel Caldwell for lunch at Red Robin in Hershey. Our friendship now spans over a decade. We first met when our children were in high school. But their son Jonah is now married and the Caldwells have a grandson and granddaughter, for which they are especially grateful!

New house siding 4/18/17
Yesterday afternoon Lamar and Greg, the able siding crew from Smucker Home Improvement completed our siding upgrade. (Click on photo for larger view – the shakes are more visible.) Our siding had been damaged in the hail storm last month and we matched the color but used a siding that has the appearance of vinyl shakes, a material we had on our first home we purchased in the eighties. My only duty now is to replace the shutters on the brick wall below which Brooksyne painted last night.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“By The Mark”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

“I Shall Know Him”  Video  The Ball Brothers

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.

“The Scars In The Hands Of Jesus”  Video   The Florida Boys

Yes I’m headed for a home built by God alone
Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I am
Where the only thing there that’s been made by man
Are the scars in the hands of Jesus

For further study on the wounds see this thoughtful sermon, “Why the Eternal Scars in Jesus’ Body?” (pdf)

Finally today: Early this morning Brooksyne and I were each working in different areas but heard a song on WDAC, our local Christian radio station that caught our attention. It places a vital Scripture text to music. “Breathed Out”  Video  Seeds Family Worship

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

“I’m Not Home Yet”

April 18, 2017

Flower bloom close-up (Ester)God’s up-close intricate design of a spring daffodil
(Photo by Ester, click to enlarge)

“I’m Not Home Yet”

Message summary: As God’s children our main call is to remember where our real citizenship lies. Paul plainly states “But our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Today, I want you to remember this, my friend, and hold loosely to the things of this world.

Note: Due to late meeting Monday evening and early chaplaincy visitation Tuesday a podcast was not prepared for this message.

“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7).

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

Today many of us in the USA have a poignant reminder of living in this present world, a day we often call “tax day”. Although we pay taxes all through the year, actually practically daily (sales taxes), and in our case several rather large property taxes throughout the year, today is the deadline for filing our income tax returns for our federal, state and local taxes, a reminder of this “present world” after the triumphant joy of Easter weekend.

To use a Biblical phrase, everyone must do their rendering unto Caesar (see Matthew 22:21). Paul’s instruction to the Romans in our daily text is among the hard verses of the Bible. Not because it’s hard to interpret, but rather hard (for me anyway) to joyfully obey it. Some have gone so far as to assert that Paul is not speaking of civil authorities here, but the church, which hardly fits the broader context.

It’s often been said that there are two universals: death and taxes. Today I consider our commonality in Christ and our commonality in paying taxes regardless of where we live. Many of our US residents probably already did their taxes but I tend to procrastinate till the last week, although I am usually not like those who will make the trip to the Post Office late this evening. Hard though it may be, let’s take a look at our daily text and consider it an act of obedience!  But can you really do it joyfully?

I honestly have to fight grumpiness on this matter.  I’ve read about $500 dollar toilet seats, government funded pornographic “art” and scores of other outrageous programs and waste comes to mind. The daily verse is not one that I’ve  intentionally memorized or found comfort in.  But it is part of the whole counsel of God and our submission to God calls us to obedience, including this area of funding that most of us would say is not to our liking.

After all, governments – particularly as they “progress”, have never been known for the prudent use of the money they extract from their citizenry. Taxes and tax collectors have always been unpopular. In Biblical times tax collectors were disdained and often automatically associated with “sinners”.

Many in our land have been deceived by the intriguing contribution of an Iowan by the name Beardsley Ruml, who in the forties proposed the withholding of taxes from each paycheck. Now many look forward to “tax time” and the money they will be getting “back”!

As God’s children our main call is to remember where our real citizenship lies. Paul plainly states “But our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Today, I want you to remember this, my friend, and hold loosely to the things of this world.

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, this world is not our home, we’re just a passin’ through, but it sure takes alot of money to set up a home and provide for a family. It also requires giving a good portion of our earnings to the government which can be difficult most especially when our allegiance to You clashes with our allegiance to  governmental expenses that fund causes that grieve your heart and conflict with Scripture. And yet we also seek to be obedient to Scripture in giving to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. We want to be honest and seek to be fair. Grant us peace as we obey the law of the land while also seeking to be obedient to You. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Last night I (Stephen) joined several friends at the ABR (Associates For Biblical Research) banquet at the Shady Maple and heard an outstanding message from Dr. Frank Turek.

Four chaplains 4/17/17Last night we had four chaplains in our group, corporate, hospice (Mark Pulliam), motorcycle (Mike Martin), Living history (John Uhler)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“This World is Not My Home”  Video  Students of Charity Youth Bible School

“This World Is Not My Home”  Video  Homecoming Singers

“This Is Not Where I Belong”  Video   Building 429   The name is derived from Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

“Blessings”  Video   Laura Story  Outstanding lyrics!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Meadow View Road pond 4/15/17 (Ester) Click to enlarge
Reflective pond along Meadow View Road
(Photo by Ester, click to enlarge)

“A Message Of First Importance”

Message summary: One of the great evidences for the validity of the Christian faith is the changed lives of the disciples. From resurrection morning onward they went forth as devoted servants of the resurrected Christ and many were martyred for their faith. The resurrection truth meant a deep, abiding commitment to the risen Lord for these early Disciples of Christ and it has for believers in each subsequent generation. Today, hundreds of millions live for Jesus Christ and I’m one of them. I earnestly hope you are as well.  Yes, it’s true, the Lord is risen!  And I believe, you as a reader will properly respond, “He is risen, indeed!”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“It is true! The Lord has risen” (Luke 24:34). “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).

Did you gather with other believers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday? We probably sang some of the same songs you did to honor the risen Christ. We’re also aware that some of our readers are unable to get out and be with others. We trust you experienced the vital truth of the resurrection in your heart, and possibly worshipped Him with other believers via television, online or some other valuable resource that brings live worship into your setting.

Daily Encouragement on TwitterUpon awakening on Easter morn the familiar resurrection story was fresh on our minds. We can only try to feel the emotion and excitement of those first participants. At that time the news travelled so slowly compared to our day. Likely today the news would first be disseminated with a tweet hashtag #Christarose. The disciples would then put their accounts up on their Facebook page and in no time someone would have a YouTube video posted that would most certainly go viral!

In the nineties when we lived in New England I served on a Presbytery board (overseers). I met Calvin Bacon, an older pastor in Connecticut, who became a friend. When he retired he moved to Florida and we lost contact except through email.

He had many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and for several years sent out a weekly email update and inspiration to his family and friends prior to his home going (he died while on a mission trip in Africa). When I read his messages I sensed a type of modern patriarch, faithfully serving God and passing on the heritage to those behind him. One of his final messages was on Easter Sunday and he shared a remembrance from early in his ministry. It is a reflection from the past but a timely truth now and always:

 “We celebrate RESURRECTION DAY! I shall never forget an event from the mid-fifties. I was on staff at the Stone Church in Chicago, Illinois as the Minister of Music and Youth. It was Easter Sunday morning and as usual we were standing in the foyer of that great church welcoming the parishioners at they came in for Worship.  They were all dressed up with hats and corsages.

Western Union delivery manThere was no communication from overseas except Western Union Telegraph. In through the front door popped a young man in a Western Union uniform.  He handed the Pastor a yellow envelope.  Pastor tore it open and it was from a missionary in Jerusalem.  The words, written on 1/4″ tape and pasted on the yellow paper read: “HE IS NOT HERE STOP HE IS RISEN STOP HALLELUJAH”. (“Stop” was the word used for a period back then.) That made a tremendous impact on my young mind. And the same message is just as real today as it was back then. WE SERVE A RISEN LORD! HALLELUJAH! Our God is different from any other god in the world.  He was embedded into mankind and then killed, but He rose again and now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise His Name! Let’s celebrate. GLORY!”

Emmaus Road “It is true! The Lord has risen” (Luke 24:34). Have you made this affirmation? It was initially made by the two disciples who encountered the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. That’s the simple, straightforward report they brought to the eleven.

It’s at the very heart of the Christian faith, a matter of “first importance” according to the apostle Paul. In fact Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

You see; our faith is grounded in objective historical fact, not religious myth. Peter wrote, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

And now here we are, nearly 2,000 years later (1,984 based upon the commonly held date of 33 AD). You’re reading it in a variety of locations all around the world. After Resurrection Sunday it’s back to work, back to living out the remainder of our allotted time on planet earth, back to what has often been referred to as “the daily grind.” Yet the reality of the resurrection is a dynamic truth that should impact and permeate every area of our life, every single day. It should invigorate our walk with Christ and renew our hope in the midst of the daily grind so that our spirit soars above the wear and tear of life’s demands and disappointments.

Three reasons that the resurrection of Christ is of first importance:

  • It is a genuine, historical event.
  • It is the crowning event in God’s redemptive plan, assuring us of the ultimate victory.
  • It is a life-transforming event.

One of the great evidences for the validity of the Christian faith is the changed lives of the disciples. From resurrection morning onward they went forth as devoted servants of the resurrected Christ and many were martyred for their faith. The resurrection truth meant a deep, abiding commitment to the risen Lord for these early disciples of Christ and it has for believers in each subsequent generation. Today, hundreds of millions live for Jesus Christ and I’m one of them. I earnestly hope you are as well.  Yes, it’s true, the Lord is risen!  And I believe, you as a reader will properly respond, “He is risen, indeed!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the message “He is risen” resounds beyond the place of the tomb where Jesus’ body no longer lay, for it resounds in our hearts and soars within our spirits nearly 2000 years later.  We serve a risen Savior who is in the world today, who dwells within our hearts, and who reconciles us to You, our Father in heaven. What a joyous and triumphant day we celebrate at Easter and everyday as we acknowledge our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who died, was buried, and who rose again.  Amen.

One more reflection: For many, many years I have appreciated the story of a proud and ungodly professor who said to a young child who believed in the Lord Jesus: “My dear little girl, you don’t know whom you believe in. There have been many christs. In which of them do you believe?” “I know which one I believe in,” replied the child. “I believe in the Christ who rose from the dead!”


Some scenes from our weekend

Amish children 4/15/17
Saturday morning we drove over to Mastersonville Furniture owned by our Amish friends Roman and Sadie, whom we met while serving a small church in that community about seven years ago. They have a new and used furniture store where we went to purchase a used desk for Ester. All their children come to work with them and are precious. In this photo Ester has her phone video showing them the birth of the giraffe earlier that day with their mother’s permission. It was a delightful sight to see them spellbound by the baby giraffe. It’s likely that they have seen farm animals birthed but a giraffe is just a little different, especially on the small screen.

Pierce family planting peas 4/15/17
The family that plants together stays together. Pierce family planting peas, a team effort accompanied by Christian music out of the boombox. What a wholesome scene!!! We’ll have to get a photo when the pea vines start climbing the fencing.

Mount Pleasant children singing 4/16/17
Our up and coming band at the pre-school level.

Mount Pleasant children singing 4/16/17
A special part of any Easter service is hearing the children singing!

Mount Pleasant Resurrection Day song service 4/16/17
And we adults sang as well, proclaiming “Hallelujah, He is risen!”

Easter flowers 4/15/17
Easter flowers display. We purchased the three vases and its carrier at the furniture store and it didn’t take long for Brooksyne to put it to use.
(Photo by Ester)

Louis Almond 4/16/17
Yesterday we had dinner with our longtime friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt at Calvary Homes, a senior adult living center that was initially developed to provide senior living for retired missionaries. Joining us at our table were Louis Almond and his wife. Louis was saved while serving on an aircraft carrier in Easter 1944. Now at 95 years old he is as sharp as a tack. His incredible story merits a full encouragement message at a later time! He served for two years in China with the China Inland Mission between 1949-1951 when he was one of the last missionaries banished from the country under communism. He went on to serve for thirty years in Thailand pioneering the work of Christ in the central part of the country.

Ncube family 4/16/17
Last night our Zimbabwean friends joined us for an impromptu cookout and later making S’mores around the fire.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“In Christ Alone”  Video  Travis Cottrel   Yesterday, along with the longtime Resurrection Day hymn, classics Brooksyne led our congregation in this wonderful anthem.

“Glorious Day”  Video  Casting Crowns

Finally today:

Stephen and his sister Genelle, Easter around 1965My sister Genelle is good at finding old photos.
This photo was snapped on Easter in the mid-sixties in our lawn in Belton, Missouri.
Looks like we had an Easter basket filled with eggs and candy. I wonder if we had to wait till after eating our Easter dinner before indulging in the Easter candy. Mostly likely!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

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Crucified (Ron DiCianni)
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain!

Ron DiCianni is one of our favorite artists.  The above photo is on the wall in a large lobby in an office building in Springfield, Missouri.  It is about ten feet tall and is absolutely stunning. DiCianni artistically places modern subjects in historic settings in his artwork such as the man holding the hammer and nail.

“O Mighty Cross”
Good Friday Message

Message summary: The mighty cross is the ultimate demonstration of God’s power and the only hope we have for salvation.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree” (Acts 10:39). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

O mighty cross
Love lifted high
The Lord of life
Raise there to die
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross a tree of life to me
Cross made of chain“The cross we carry is never as heavy as the chains
from which we were freed.”

Wednesday evening I (Brooksyne) shared a message with the children in our church about the “The Three Trees”.* The story begins with three little trees growing on a mountaintop. Each has a dream with the first tree wanting to be a treasure box and hold marvelous treasures. The second tree hopes to be the strongest ship carrying kings across the seas. The third tree wants to grow tall and never be cut down so she will only point people to heaven. Though their initial dreams seem to fade in the story they eventually see the fulfillment of their dreams as they are formed into a manger, a fishing boat, and a cross. It’s a moving story that can easily move one to tears when telling it or hearing it, no matter the age.

After sharing the story I asked the children which of the three trees they would choose to be. Several came forward and with only one exception they chose to be the tallest tree so they could point people to God. Little four year old Caleb chose to be the strongest tree because he wanted to be a boat. Not only a boat but a “double decker”. Afterwards I asked his grandpa if he would be drawing the blueprints for Caleb’s double decker boat!

The story is mythical in the personality of the trees but “right on” in the very important roles they played in the life of Christ. All trees are a solemn reminder of that one single tree, the tree that Christ died upon once for all to pay for our salvation as, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.”

The “tree” in our daily texts is undoubtedly the most significant single tree that ever grew, that was ever cut down, and that was ever processed into a finished product. Normally in Scripture this tree is known as the cross (describing its finished appearance), but in both of our texts the apostle Peter speaks of the raw material the cross was made of.

O mighty cross what throne of grace
He knew no sin yet took my place
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

CrossPeter was surely aware of a statement made in the Law of Moses written some 1,500 years earlier, “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:22). The apostle Paul is clearly referring to this statement when he wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13).

The cursed tree of death became the blessed tree of life. Only God can turn ashes into beauty, curses into blessings. The cross is a reminder of the place where Jesus sacrificially laid down His life for our sins. One time honored and beloved hymn poignantly describes the cross of Christ as, “the emblem of suffering and shame.”

Paul acknowledged in his time that the message of the cross was “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

CrossOver one hundred years ago in 1912, “The Old Rugged Cross” was written by evangelist and song-leader George Bennard. At that time he wrote about “The old rugged cross so despised by the world”. Today many still consider the very notion of the cross foolishness and despise even the subject matter. It’s our observation that the despising of the cross is rapidly increasing!

But we write to those, who like us, view the mighty cross as the ultimate demonstration of God’s power and the only hope we have for salvation.

O mighty cross O Christ so pure
Love held Him there such shame endured
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the sin curse for us. The nails bore His body to the tree, and yet our sin condition bore His Spirit to the cross of Calvary. He who knew no sin became sin for us – what an unsurpassed substitutionary death our Savior sacrificed for us so that sin’s curse could be removed and the blessings might follow; the blessings of forgiveness for sins, a home established in heaven, healing of body, mind and spirit, and the freedom from condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What unspeakable joy fills our hearts today as we rejoice in God’s goodness to us through Christ Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb. Amen.


Yesterday we attended two company functions and stopped by to drop off some items at our Amish friends, the Lapps.

Team mule in Amish barn 4/13/17
A work team mule peering out of the barn checking out the weather, perhaps wondering if he will be working today.

Hen with chicks in Amish barn loft 4/13/17 (Click to enlarge)
Hen with chicks in Amish barn loft.
Jesse showed me this and proceeded to draw a lesson from a statement by our Lord in Matthew 23:37 that would have taken place during Holy Week.
(Click to enlarge)

Chicks in straw hat 4/13/17
Jesse wanted me to take this photo with the chicks in his straw hat and put it on the “Old Windmill Farm” Facebook page (I did). It occurs to me that the chicks probably aren’t potty trained!

Amish team 4/13/17
We saw lots of work yesterday.

Big John breakfast at Smucker and Sons 4/13/17
Our day began at 6:30 am yesterday with a company breakfast at Smucker and Sons catered by Big John. About 40 men helped themselves to a hearty breakfast followed by a safety meeting. Brooksyne and I learned a few things regarding as well!

Bob Harris retirement gathering 4/13/17
We had a luncheon at the Val-Co company and honored a new retiree, Bob Harris (holding a shipping box which turned out to be a Val-Co clock). He has worked for the company as a shipping manager for 30 years and is greatly appreciated by his many co-workers.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* “The Three Trees”: a folktale for Good Friday

“The Story of the Three Trees”  Video retelling of story used in today’s message.

“O Mighty Cross”  Video  John Chisum  I have enjoyed this song ever since it was a part of an Easter musical Brooksyne directed some twenty years ago when we served a church in New England.

“The Wonderful Cross”  Video  Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman

“The Power Of The Cross”  Video  Kristyn Getty

“It’s About the Cross”  Video  The Ball Brothers

Finally today:

Donkeys in pasture (Phil Huber)
In the course of our travels to a company in Lebanon County we pass a pasture with donkeys. We don’t recall seeing more than one or two donkeys at a time usually. Our friend, Phil Huber, sent is this photo he had taken early this morning!

“It’s Still The Cross!”
(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3


Major Events of the Passion Week

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Stony Valley rail trail stream 4/11/17

Mountain Lake along the Stony Valley Rail Trail.
(Click on photo for larger view)

“The Rooster’s Crow”

Message summary: Today’s account is encouraging and instructive for us. The spiritual battles we face are an ongoing reality in every stage of life. May the Lord give us grace to stand and, if or when we do fail, let us look to His forgiving grace in seeking restoration.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’ and he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).  “But go, tell His disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7).

Tractor Supply rooster in coopWe enjoy shopping at a farm store called “Tractor Supply”. You never know what you might find there with numerous interesting items. They are presently selling chicken coops and live chickens. The other day I took the photo of the really, really large rooster they are selling. Assuming the laying hens are this big I reckon she would lay very, very large eggs!

We have an alarm clock that makes a rooster sound for its wake-up tone. It’s an interesting way to be awakened at 5:00 AM but not nearly as interesting as being awakened by a real rooster! Marvin, our neighbor across the road has a real rooster with the sound of authentic country life.

However there is one man in history who will forever be remembered for his association with the crowing of a rooster; that is Peter, of course!

At the Last Supper “the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers'” (Luke 22:31,32).

RoosterBut Peter said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (Luke 22:33).  What confident bravado! In fact in Mark’s account we read that Peter kept saying this “insistently” (Mark 14:31).

It was at this point that Jesus said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34).

But let us especially consider here a word of the Lord to Peter that follows which is so encouraging and instructive:

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Jesus who knew Peter and his heart better than he himself did, prophesies his temporary failure in this context (when he denied the Lord at the rooster’s crowing).

But He also prophesied his restoration: “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Peter did turn back and was one of the great leaders in the early church teaching and strengthening his brothers in the most holy faith. In his epistle he writes to the early believers who were undergoing persecution, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Peter weepingPeter did fail and wept bitterly at the time of his denial. For him the period between the Cross and the Resurrection was brutally hard for so many reasons.

But his failure is followed by his restoration which began on Resurrection Day when Jesus instructed the ladies who appeared at the tomb, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter.” Peter, following his denial of Christ, felt like a dismal, shame-filled failure. But suddenly his joy was restored as he realized that his name was specifically mentioned in Jesus’ message to the women. In an Easter musical we had years ago I remember when Peter began to brighten after hearing about Jesus saying his name. He responded to the messenger, “He said my name!” “Jesus said my name!”

This account is encouraging and instructive for us. The spiritual battles we face are an ongoing reality in every stage of life. May the Lord give us grace to stand and, if or when we do fail, let us look to His forgiving grace in seeking restoration.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, Jesus warns us that Satan seeks to agitate us like wholesome grain that is being sifted from worthless chaff. You know the chaff we cling to such as doubts, fears, half-heartedness, slothfulness and other harmful debris that weakens or destroys our testimony and ultimately our faith. Help us not to resent the testings and temptations of this life that act as a filter forcing us to give up that which is uncomely to the Christian character; that which holds us back instead of moving us forward keeping us steadfast in our faith. We’re grateful for Jesus who faithfully intercedes for us, in the siftings and shakings of life. Above all, we’re grateful that no sin or failing on our part exceeds the scope of Your absolute forgiveness. Just as You restored Peter, reignited his zeal, and reinstated Him in his evangelistic role, You do the same for all who seek forgiveness and turn away from their sin.  How wonderful, how marvelous is my Savior’s love for me! Amen.


Rooster barn art
For many years we passed this colorful barn on Bridge Valley Road just before the Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge. It has faded and the paint has peeled in recent years. The other side of the barn has a colorful display of three young girls with the chickens. We’ve been told they’re paintings of the farmer’s granddaughters!

Persevering tree 4/11/17
Tree along the Stony Valley rail trail.
We may be using this photo down the road in a lesson about perseverance!

Robin 4/12/17 (Photo by Ester)
This robin appears to be well-fed as most of them are!
(Photo by Ester)

Pink Heartbreak 4/12/17 (Photo by Ester)
Pink Heartbreaker redbud
We have a special feature tree in our front lawn. It’s a beautiful tree year round but especially so as it buds. It’s a hybrid developed by Don Eaton, a friend of ours at Eaton Farms north of Reading PA.
(Photo by Ester)

Smucker siding crew 4/12/17
We had damage to our siding following the hail storm in March and the siding crew from Smucker Home Improvement were over yesterday hard at work.

Rooster taking pony ride
Years ago we took this photo at our neighbor’s place.
This rooster enjoys getting a free pony ride!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“How Marvelous, How Marvelous”  Video  Gaither Homecoming Singers

“Song of Peter’s Denial”  Video  Ryan Brown

“Face to Face (Peter’s Song)”  Video  Michael O’Brien

“Song of Remorse – St. Peter’s Denial of Jesus Three Times”  Video  James Boyd

“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”  Video  a beautiful Fernando Ortega version.


(We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

“It’s Still The Cross!”
(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3


Major Events of the Passion Week

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

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