Devotional

“A Consideration Of Three Crosses”

“Good Friday”

Three crosses

“A Consideration Of Three Crosses

 

Message summary: This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God’s only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.

Listen to our message on your audio player.


“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals–one on His right, the other on His left” (Luke 23:33).
 
“The man in the middle just keeps on giving His love away”
Wayne Watson


One of the blessings we have often seen as we travel, particularly in the southern states, are three crosses up on top of a hill or mountain that can be seen from the highway as a witness to the landowners’ faith. Normally Christians use a single cross as a symbol of their faith but the three crosses also have rich symbolism as a reminder of the three crosses on Mount Calvary.

Jesus, crucified on the middle cross, vicariously dying for the sins of all mankind. Two criminals, representative of the human race, hung on crosses on each side of Him. These three crosses each represent:

1) The cross of rejection. One criminal represents the masses that to the very end rebel against God and reject His plan of redemption. But rarely is such sneering so openly expressed, and this by a dying man as he hurled insults at Christ. This unnamed criminal is merely expressing the viewpoint of so many who reject God’s only remedy for our sin problem. This criminal died in sin.

2) The cross of repentance. The other criminal represents those who repent of their sins and place their faith in God’s redemptive plan. He came to realize that he and the other lawbreaker deserved the death penalty and was quite frank when he spoke: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). His faith is humbly expressed in these words: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Our Lord’s word to this criminal, one of His seven recorded last sayings, brought eternal hope to the repentant criminal as well as spiritual hope to millions throughout the centuries, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” This criminal died to sin.

3) The cross of redemption. On the middle cross Christ died once for all time for all people. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “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). Peter, a witness to these things, stated, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18a). Our Saviour died for sin.


Today is a day of decision. For many it will be a reaffirmation of a decision to follow Christ previously made. This evening at our Good Friday service we will remember and worship our Redeemer.

 
But for others this can be the day you move from rejection to repentance and place your faith in the Great Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The cross of redemption was singularly accomplished by Jesus Christ. Are you living your life in rejection of Christ or in repentance? Let us, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that “we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41).

This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God’s only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should’st die for me?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for the record in Scripture that makes us more than just curious bystanders during the crucifixion of Your precious Son. Jesus’ recorded conversation with the repentant criminal helps us to see how immediate redemption for all humanity was being provided through His death on the cross. Thoughtful reflecting on this day brings about grief and sadness as we recall the rejection, pain, and suffering Christ underwent. In Luke 22:53 Jesus spoke to those who seized Him in the garden as a time when darkness reigns. Though He was speaking figuratively in the garden the next afternoon literal darkness fell upon the earth as He breathed His final breath. Surely all hope dissipated for those who stood by our Lord as He hung on the cross. But I’m so glad we don’t have to wait for the rest of the story to unfold since we know, through Scripture, the final outcome and the way of salvation Christ made possible for us. Thank you, Father, that You loved the world so much that You gave Your one and only Son to die for our sins, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. We call upon the Lord Jesus to save us, cleanse us from our sins, and to indwell our hearts. Amen.

 


Robert J. Morgan with Brooksyne 11/14For many years we have appreciated the solid ministry of Robert J. Morgan, a pastor in the Nashville area and writer of many books. Several years ago we attended the church he serves and visited with him for a few minutes after the service. Brooksyne became a Facebook “friend” and he uses Facebook for ministry with thoughtful quotes and enriching materials. Yesterday we were both blessed by this powerful perspective concerning the news du jour.


We always enjoy sharing photos of sights we see along the way. Yesterday we visited six different company locations and drove through rural Lancaster County.
 
Sheep and lambs 4/18/19
Along 322 we saw a flock of sheep and lambs right up next to the highway. Looks like the one young lamb was up to his neck in hay. Not sure what drew him to bury his head but he stayed like that for the entire photo shoot of about five minutes.
 
Lancaster County traffic 4/18/19
Two horses pulled this cart on the road south of New Holland.

Movable chicken coop 4/18/19
This movable chicken coop is on a farm wagon
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
Today we share a selection of songs on the Cross in a variety of different styles.
 
“I Should Have Been Crucified”  Video  Whisnants
 
“I Will Glory In The Cross”  Video  Larnelle Harris (Our friend david penley suggested this song)
 
“And Can It Be That I Should Gain?”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music (Congregational style)
“Man In The Middle”  Video  Wayne Watson (Quote in message from this song)
 
“The Man In The Middle”  Video  The Cupps

“At The Foot of The Cross”  Video  Kathryn Scott

“Love Held Him To The Cross”  Video   Harvesters Quartet

“It Is Finished”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Old Rugged Cross”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

 
“I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary”  Video   Gaither Vocal Band
 
“He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions”  Video
 
(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

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Devotional

“When The Hour Had Come”

CrucifiedAnd I love that old cross
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain!

 
“When The Hour Had Come”
 

Message summary: “The hour” was that singular moment in space and time for which Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” had come to this world. Oswald Chambers states, “The cross is the crystallized point in history where eternity merges with time.”

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him” (Luke 22:14). “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

Today is often called Maundy Thursday, also referred to as “Holy Thursday” or “Great Thursday” in some denominations. The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command” or mandate. The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another.
 
Since it is now Thursday of Holy Week let us consider the events that likely took place on this day. Maundy Thursday is the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper.

Consider the twelve apostles: it was only several years earlier they had left all to follow Christ. What an experience they had listening to Christ’s wonderful teachings, witnessing the astounding miracles, being edified through their close fellowship and enjoying the breaking of bread together.

At the time of His first miracle Jesus said “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come (John 2:4). Earlier in Christ’s ministry the opposition had tried to seize Him but could not, “because His hour was not yet come (John 7:30). 

But this night was different; the careful historian Luke introduces His gathering with the disciples for the Passover meal with this solemn description, “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him”.

Now the Twelve leaned around a table and Jesus shared what surely seemed to them a confusing illustration inserted into the familiar Passover meal: “My body which is given for you, my blood which is shed for you.”

“What is He talking about?” they surely wondered as they whispered amongst themselves. They must have looked at each other to get a sense of whether anyone was connecting or understood Jesus as He again spoke of dying. Just days earlier He had come into Jerusalem to great fanfare and shouts from the crowd recognizing that He was the King. That’s what they wanted. And that’s what they got, just not in the way they expected.

“The hour” was that singular moment in space and time for which Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” had come to this world. Oswald Chambers states, “The cross is the crystallized point in history where eternity merges with time.”

May we who believe and follow Christ reaffirm our commitment to this great and loving God. We pray that the desire of Paul’s heart would also be the theme of our prayer: “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).

The atoning death of Christ on the cross is the supreme demonstration of God’s love resulting in:

•    Our redemption from sin
•    Our reconciliation to God
•    Our restoration to wholeness


On this Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, let us rejoice in the ultimate demonstration of Christ’s supreme love.


In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I glory in the Cross of Calvary from which Your Son, my Lord and Savior, died for my sins. I boast only in Jesus who lifted the heavy chains from my enslaved soul freeing me to soar to newness of life. Thank You, God, for demonstrating Your love toward me in that You gave Your one and only Son to die for me. At just the right time while I was still powerless, Jesus died for me. Because of this incredible act of love and forgiveness I have reconciliation with You, my Father, in heaven. Praise be to God through Christ Jesus my Lord! Amen.



Here is a listing of different Scripture verses where Christ speaks of “the hour” in the sense of today’s message:

“Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners'” (Matthew 26:45).

“Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him” (Mark 14:35).

“Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners'” (Mark 14:41).

“When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table” (Luke 22:14).

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

“At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).

“He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 8:20).

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified'” (John 12:23).

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

“After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you'” (John 17:1).



Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”  Video  Phillips, Craig, and Dean
 
“In the Cross of Christ I Glory”  Video  Grace Community Church
 
“It’s Still The Cross”  Video  Gold City
 
“What is Maundy Thursday?” (from gotquestions teaching site)
 
(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 
“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Devotional

“The Blessing Of A Dying Seed”

Lebanon County pond 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)

Early yesterday morning we passed this country pond on Mount Wilson Road in Lebanon County. We have a photo of this scene from last winter and hope to capture it in each of the seasons. (It was one of many photos that we are “wowed” by after we have already passed the view so we turn the car back around, return to the spot and capture it on camera so we can share with our viewers.)
(Click to enlarge)
 
“The Blessing Of A Dying Seed”
 

Message summary: Christ became as a dying seed. His death was necessary so that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

LancasterCounty field work 4/11/19We are seeing a lot of agricultural activity in our area, mostly field prep and manure spreading as the farmers prepare for spring planting. We especially enjoy seeing the old-order farming methods reminding us of methods used in previous generations.

Jesus used a lot of agricultural illustrations in His teaching since it connected to the people of His day and also has universal application. Today He might use an illustration such as “hit your home button” or “reboot your computer”.

Today we’re going to consider a teaching in John 12:20-36 following His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and during what we now call “Holy Week”.

It begins with a request from some Greeks who were in the city to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip with this request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip left so he could tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

The text doesn’t tell us whether these Greeks actually saw Jesus or if they were able to speak to Him. In fact they are not even mentioned again in this passage! However I have wondered if one of these Greeks might have been Stephen who later had a leadership role in the early church and became the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture. *

Instead it launches into a teaching in which Jesus begins, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”. He knew what was ahead for Him culminating with His sacrificial death on the cross in just several days. The next several verses He powerfully and solemnly speaks concerning His glorification. I love to study the Bible and examine His teaching point by point but today let’s just consider the daily text.

“I tell you the truth” Jesus begins by saying something we can always be assured of when He speaks, yet prefacing a statement with these words will likely capture the listener’s attention even more, as if to say, “I’m going to go beyond the surface and tell you the deeper or underlying meaning unknown to others.”

Wheat seeds“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.” Jesus frequently used illustrations from agriculture in His teaching ministry and, as far as I can tell, this is His last one recorded in Scripture.

Farmers are preparing their fields, servicing their equipment, and buying seeds. The imprudent farmer could keep that seed, show it off to others, even remind himself of previous bountiful harvests but its effectiveness would be nil as it would remain only a single seed. Instead, the productive farmer is interested in multiplication. He will drop that seed into the ground and bury it. This is easily observed and indisputably true.

Corn planting

In Lancaster County farmers plant a lot of corn. During the planting season I’ve often observed the farmers as they plant the corn (sow the seed). A relatively small bin of seeds is attached to the planter for each row.


Corn harvestAfter the growing season at harvest time I also observe the combine as it works the same field. One large truck after another comes alongside the combine and soon the truck is filled to overflowing with corn kernels (seeds). And so the law of dynamics is proven in Jesus’ teaching, “But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

So, too, Christ became as a dying seed. His death was needful in order that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world. Jesus willingly died and God resurrected His body. So, too, our sinful nature must die so that God will resurrect our spiritual nature in Christ. As a result we will bear much fruit as we walk in the righteous ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself declared, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for many. He could have possessed His heavenly glory alone, without humbling Himself as a lowly servant being made in human likeness. He could have entered heaven alone even after He took on the nature of man, by His own perfect righteousness without the agony of suffering or death, but then we could not have been saved. The entire human race would have been lost. We thank You, God, for Jesus who became obedient to death, even death on a cross. As a result You lifted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. It is through the obedience of Your Son, Jesus, that many are made righteous and we are forever grateful. In Jesus name we give thanks. Amen.

* The churches first recorded internal dispute is recorded in Acts 6 with the issue being “the Hellenistic Jews (Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture) among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The apostles established the first deacon board to oversee this. They wisely chose representatives from both Hellenistic (Greek) and Hebraic men for this task. Stephen, the most prominent of the seven, had a Greek name.



Lebanon County Mennonite school 4/16/19Yesterday morning we passed this Mennonite school in rural Lebanon County. It was still brisk but the children were bundled up and out in the sunny weather for recess.
 
Today we will share some photos from a bike ride we took late yesterday afternoon along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. It is one of the many outstanding rails to trails in our area.
 
Shock's Mill Bridge 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
Shock’s Mill Bridge (Railroad)
(Click to enlarge)

 Notice how the bike path is partially flooded. During really high water they have to close the trail at this point. With many heavy rainfalls this year it’s likely been closed often.
 
I made an interesting phone call as we stopped to enjoy this scene. Our friend, Jesse Lapp, had called and told us that an individual named Tom, along with his family and friends, stopped earlier in the day at the farm and asked if he knew Steve Weber. Turns out, Tom is a Daily Encouragement reader who was visiting the area from New York primarily to see the show “Jesus” at Sight and Sound. Traveling through rural Lancaster County he had seen the Old Windmill Farm sign and recalled our references  to Jesse and the Old Windmill Farm. Jesse took down his phone number and passed it on to me. I had a nice talk with Tom who has been a reader for many years. The best we can determine is that he likely signed up to receive the messages at a conference in Boston about 20 years ago where we had a small DE display. He is now retired but at that time was a college professor in New Hampshire. We enjoy learning more about our readers and especially enjoy meeting them face to face.
 
White Cliffs of Conoy 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
The White Cliffs of Conoy are a result of the waste from a limestone operation over 100 years ago. Now it’s been considered the world’s first industrial waste tourist attraction!
(Click to enlarge)
 
View of Susquehanna River from Painbridge, PA 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
This peaceful view of the Susquehanna River is from Koser Park in Bainbridge, PA where we turned around, returning on the trail toward our van.
(Click to enlarge)
 
View of Susquehanna River from Painbridge, PA 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
I just don’t have the zoom for a clear picture but we could see the bald eagles along  Susquehanna River. Actually this is an attempt using the River Trail’s binoculars that are built on a platform near the viewing point of the bald eagles.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“At the Cross”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band
 
“My Saviour’s Love”  Video  Kingdom Quartet
 
“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”  Video  Kathryn Scott
 
(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Devotional

“Watch Out!”

Lititz Welcome Center 4/14/19 (Click to enlarge)

Lititz Welcome Center
Sunday after our church service we rode on a bike trail beginning in Lititz, PA
(Click to enlarge)
 
“Watch Out!”
 

Message summary: Today we consider a grave word of caution that believers all through the church age should solemnly heed: “Watch out that no one deceives you”.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you'” (Mark 13:5). “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).

It seems like rarely a day goes by that we are not lied to. We regularly (in spite of being on the “do not call” registry) receive calls from telemarketers lying to us such as beginning the call, “Thank you for your recent stay at our Hilton Resorts” even though we haven’t stayed at a Hilton (that I recall) in over 20 years.

 
Lying comes in many forms and from many different sources. In many ways it seems that truthfulness and no spin information is the exception. So often it seems the agenda or the narrative is considered before the actual truth of a matter.

In so many ways we need to heed our Lord’s solemn words in our first daily text, “‘Watch out that no one deceives you“. This is true in the day by day transactions but of far greater danger is the spiritual deception that blinds the unbeliever from the Truth and seeks to get the believer off the right course.

After the Triumphal Entry and just before Jesus went to the Cross He shared two lengthy teachings recorded in the Bible. All three synoptic Gospels record a teaching our first daily verse comes from, known as the Olivet Discourse, that was likely given on the Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week. The Olivet Discourse is so named because the Lord shared this as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives. The other lengthy teaching is found in John’s Gospel which records our Lord’s close personal instruction to the disciples in the Upper Room (John 13-17). This most likely took place on Thursday of Holy Week.

The Olivet Discourse is a long message that has a lot to say about the entire Church Age and the end times. However Jesus begins with a solemn warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you”.  Deception was first introduced in the Garden of Eden when Satan planted doubt in Eve’s heart causing her to question God’s ruling regarding the forbidden fruit. All through the ages deception has abounded and still abounds in our world today.

Since Christ gave His loving and instructive caution to the disciples many forms of deception have appeared all through the ages of the Church. And this is still true today. This may be a self-proclaimed individual or a belief system contrary to revealed Biblical truth. In my own lifetime false christs and false teachings have come and gone and surely more will be coming, culminating with the antichrist.

Today we need to not only listen but heed the words of the one and only genuine Christ. We have in the Holy Scriptures a most certain and dependable record of His life and call to each of us. This is a grave word of caution that believers all through the church age should solemnly heed: “Watch out that no one deceives you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are confronted with deception on many fronts every day, so much so, that we can be deceived without even realizing it. Would You help us to watch out and be on our guard so that we are not deceived by man’s words, no matter how convincing or how charming their personality, nor how cunning their craft. Help us not to fall for Satan’s deceptive tactics that have brought down believers throughout the church age. We seek You for strength and discipline and we search the Scriptures for discernment and the true revelation of who Jesus, the Son of the Living God, is. It is in His holy name that we pray, Amen.

 


Today we will share some photos from a bike ride we took along the
Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail on Sunday.

Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail 4/14/19 (Click to enlarge)
Beginning in Lititz we rode a portion of the new trail and, although curtailed from riding the entire trail by misty weather and a rain forecast, we intend to return in several weeks to ride the entire trail.
(Click to enlarge)

Johannes Hess House, Lititz PA built in 1778
The trail passes the Johannes Hess House built in 1778.
 
Brick home in Lititz, PA 4/14/19
Lititz has many interesting old homes.
 
Tulips, Lititz PA 4/14/19
It was misting during our entire ride, so it was nice to see a blotch of color here and there such as these tulips.

Flowers in stone wall, Lititz PA 4/14/19
I, Brooksyne, took this photo of the stones with the tiny flowers (probably weeds) that were clustered between the rocks in the Lititz Welcome Center pool (take a look at our main photo above). I overlooked them during several photos I took and then my eye was drawn to them after spotting these miniature lavender flowers. It reminded me of how easy it is to only notice the bold, colorful, large things around us and miss some of the natural beauty that peeks out of rocks, ditches, or even cracks in a driveway.
 





Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“All My Hope”  Video  Gold City This song has really been blessing me with a reminder of where my hope should be!
 
“All My Hope”  Video  Crowder
 
“We Live for You”  Video  Calvary Church worship team
 

(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)


Major Events of the Passion Week


The 4 gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection
and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Devotional

“For This Purpose”

Front lawn view 4/13/19 (Click to enlarge)Early Saturday morning a mist arose just beyond our front lawn and lifted soon afterward.
(Click to enlarge)
 
“For This Purpose”
 

Message summary: Thank God that Jesus knew His purpose and fully completed His mission!
 
Listen to our message on your audio player.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27,28).

This week we especially consider the most intense period in Christ’s life on earth, beginning with the Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday) through Resurrection Sunday. This is often called Holy Week or Passion Week. An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four gospels cover this period beginning with Christ’s Triumphal Entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. However the majority of this material covers just three days; the day before and the day of His Crucifixion and Resurrection Day.

Jesus knew His purpose was to die for the sins of the people. The inspiring song, “If That Isn’t Love” states, “He left the splendor of heaven, knowing His destiny, ’twas the lowly hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me.”

Let’s consider the Scripture portions that highlight His human redemptive purpose:

1) When He left heaven (the incarnation): “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about Me in the scroll—I have come to do Your will, O God'” (Hebrews 10:5-7).

2) During His childhood (when He was with the teachers of the Law): “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

3) When He began His ministry: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel’ He said” (Mark 1:14b,15).

4) When He approached the end of His earthly ministry Luke records our Lord’s resolve to complete His purpose: “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

5) Throughout His ministry He regularly informed and reinforced to His disciples His stated purpose. However it seems they didn’t really grasp it until after He was resurrected. This verse is so informative in this regard: At first His disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:16).

6) In Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost he fully understood this purpose: “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23).


In the daily texts He is teaching at the time of the Triumphal Entry and forthrightly states, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  His heart is troubled and He asks aloud whether He should appeal to His Father to save Him from the hour. “No”, He emphatically states, and with resolute resolve He declares, “
But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

Thank God that Jesus knew His purpose and fully completed His mission!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are among the redeemed because Jesus accepted His mission on earth and wholly completed it. He drank from the bitter cup fully giving His all to provide forgiveness for our sins. We who have sought forgiveness are the redeemed and now have a mission to freely share the life-changing message of salvation with those who so desperately need to hear it. We do so in Jesus’ name and through His power. Amen.

 


Cherry Hill orchards 4/12/19 (Click to enlarge)

Early Friday morning we passed Cherry Hill orchards. Such a short time to see the flowering trees!
(Click to enlarge)



Saturday night we went to a Gospel concert at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Lancaster Bible College. We heard two groups we have enjoyed for many years.
 
Brian Free and Assurance 4/13/19
Brian Free and Assurance
 
Karen Peck bus 4/13/19
The Karen Peck and New River touring bus sure grabs your attention.
 
Merle and Gayle, LBC concert 4/13/19
We only know a relatively small percentage of those who read or listen to our messages. It’s always encouraging to be approached by readers we don’t personally know. At the concert we sat in front of a reader who recognized us from the photos on our posts. Merle and Gayle were over from York County to attend the concert along with their young grandson. We are so grateful for those who find value in our materials!



Keith leading Kleen-Rite meeting 4/12/19
Friday morning we were at Kleen-Rite for a company meeting. It was nice to hear the good report but especially hear Keith (red shirt), who runs the company, express his encouragement, appreciation and love for the employees. Due to varying locations and the need to keep operations going they had three meetings. Kleen-Rite is the country’s largest wholesale distributor of car wash equipment and supplies. It’s based in nearby Columbia but has distribution warehouses in Texas and Las Vegas and a huge distribution center right here in Mount Joy. We have been serving as their company chaplains since early 2016.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
Today we will feature music from the two groups we heard on Saturday night. Brooksyne adds some notes:

 
“Say Amen”  Video   Brian Free & Assurance  This song is “impossible” to listen to without responding with “Amen.” For example here’s one line:  “Has anybody here found Him faithful. Say Amen.” You can’t just sit there, you’ve got to affirm those words with “AMEN!”
 
“I Want To Be That Man”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance (A wonderful song about a man dedicated to living a life sold out for God, we think a tribute to Brian Free’s father.)
 
“He Will Carry You”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance (Brian shared his own story of a major health difficulty he is currently facing, so I’m sure when he sings this song the message hits him very personally. “He will carry you when you can’t go on”)
 
“He Can Take It”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance
 
“I Know I’ll Be There”  Video  Karen Peck & New River (I have several favorites of Karen Peck & New River, and this is among them. She wrote this song so people wouldn’t wonder where she’d be when she died. Karen told her 85 year old mother, “Mom, if I go before you, I’ll be there.” Her mother responded, “Oh, I’ll be there. You can rest assured I’ll be there!” Even as a young teen-ager, upon learning of an individual’s death, I would sometimes hear, “I don’t know if he was a Christian or not.” Not knowing that person would spend eternity with God bothered me a lot. As I grew in my faith I wanted to make sure that people would never have to guess where I’d be after I departed. I wanted my words and life to reflect Christ in such a way that people would say upon my death, “Brooksyne has gone to glory!” Ester doesn’t like for me to talk about it but I grow more excited about heaven everyday.  I hope and pray that you have the same kind of assurance today.)
 
“Finish Well”  Video   Karen Peck & New River   (Another favorite! We sang this at our spring choir concert, “Until Then”. The words are so appropriate for those of us who have been on our spiritual journey for a long time. We want to “finish well”.
 
“That’s Why They Call It Grace”  Video  Karen Peck & New River
 
“Four Days Late”  Video  Karen Peck & New River (A blockbuster, if that’s the right word! This song will fill your heart and excite your spirit as you listen to the words about Lazarus rising from the dead. Jesus was four days late but He was right on time!)
 
Border collies are amazing dogs! See this brief video.



(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It helps us 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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Devotional

“Above All”

Flowering tree on Strasburg Pike 4/11/19 (Click to enlarge

Yesterday morning we passed this flowering tree on the Strasburg Pike.
(Click to enlarge)
 
“Above All”
 

Message summary: May God help each of us to live in the power of God’s love and generously communicate that love to those nearby!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

For the last several years we have attended a church with an unusual distinction. Calvary Church was founded in 1937 and has had only five senior pastors, including the current one. All four previous pastors completed the task worthy of honor. Two are now deceased.

 
Two are still living. One, Eric Crichton, began pastoral service at the church as the second pastor in 1964 and served till 1987. He recently celebrated his 98th birthday and still teaches a Sunday School class in the church! The other one, Johnny Miller, served as senior pastor from 1999-2009 and now lives in South Carolina.

Both were honored this past Sunday with Johnny Miller giving an exhortation through video from South Carolina. We were both blessed by his words so we print them below because they not only blessed the congregation he was addressing but they will bless you as well:

 
I want to encourage you, exhort you, plead with you to continue in love. That’s really the highest calling we have and, as I have aged and as my Parkinson’s Disease has increased, there are so many things that I cannot do that I used to do. But I realize that the one thing that I can do for which there is no limit is to exhibit the love of Christ to people that I meet. And I feel that’s my highest calling in this day. It’s to live in love and it’s to exhibit God’s love to people so that they can actually experience at least a portion of the love of God. And if God will allow me to continue to do that then there’s reason to continue to live. (Video here)

Let us consider today’s verse. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” The Apostle Peter’s call was initially issued to persecuted believers whom he had called “God’s elect, strangers in the world” in the very first verse of the epistle.

Now, through the Holy Scriptures, believers of all time can still be described as “God’s elect, strangers in the world”.

“Above all, love each other deeply.” Oh, how this command is greatly neglected but wholly needed in every sphere of life; in marriages, families, churches, communities, nations and of course all over the world.

“Because love covers a multitude of sins.” Love still covers and overpowers sin. No matter the generation nor the depth of sin, foundationally the love of God expressed in Christ’s death on the cross, covers our sin.

That same power of love has not diminished one bit and is being expressed all over the world today. May God help each of us to live in the power of God’s love and generously communicate that love to those nearby, no matter what our physical limitations may be!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we bow in prayer before You today, and ask that You, in Your great glory give us the power to be strong inwardly through Your Spirit. We pray that Christ will live in our hearts by faith and that our lives will be strong in love and be built on love. And we pray that we will have the power to accept the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is; it is measureless, and boundless, covering a multitude of sins. Help us to communicate it often to those we encounter from day to day. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.



Photos from our chaplaincy role in various companies
 
Phil leading Smucker safety meeting 4/11/19
Phil leading Smucker Home Improvement safety meeting.
 
Tin and Dedan 4/11/19
Tin from Vietnam and Dedan from Kenya work well together as machinists at Vallorbs.
 
Mario and Janet at Val-Co 4/11/19
Mario and his wife Janet, both from Costa Rica, sit right beside each other during lunch at Val-Co.
 
Chellas Arepa Kitchen 4/11/19
For lunch we dined outside and enjoyed an arepa from Chellas Arepa Kitchen.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Love, Love, Love”  Video  Gordon Mote

“Love Is The Golden Rule”  Video  Gordon Mote

“Safe in the Arms of Jesus”  Video   Michael O’Brien  (Suggested by one of our readers.) This hymn was written in 1868 by Fanny Crosby. In 1859 Fanny gave birth to a child who died in infancy. Though she never talked about her tremendous loss to others, many consider that this song was written as a result of her tragic loss.  During her lifetime, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” was among the most widely sung of Fanny’s hymns. She claimed it was written for the bereaved, especially for mothers who had lost children. Often, while comforting a grief-stricken mother, Fanny would say to her, “Remember, my dear, your darling cherub is safe in the arms of Jesus.” (Source: Robert Morgan “Then Sings My Soul”)

“Come to Jesus (Reconciliation Hymn)”  Video  People of the Earth

Devotional

“Green Grass!”

Green grass (4/10/19 (Click to enlarge)

Yesterday‘s early morning view of our front lawn and the field across the road.
(Click to enlarge)
“Green Grass!”
Message summary: Here’s a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass” (Mark 6:39). “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him'” (Psalm 92:14,15).

In our region everything is really getting green, a season I especially enjoy. I even enjoy mowing our lawn and soon Marvin, our neighborhood lawnmaster, will have his huge ztr riding tractor out, signalling to the entire neighborhood the official start of mowing season!

In Bible College I recall a specific statement made by a professor that really impacted me and heightened my love for God’s Word. He pointed out the importance of looking at the detail contained in the Scriptures and called our attention to the “green grass” description in the first daily text.

Although all four gospels share the story of the feeding of the five thousand, only Mark includes the detail that the grass was green. The professor pointed out that this was likely a clue indicating the season that this event took place. That may be so, but perhaps Mark just also really liked green, like I do!

What makes the grass so green? Scientifically we are aware it is Chlorophyll. But what drop of rain, what ray of sunshine, or what specific nutrient drawn from the rich Lancaster County soil made the difference? Of course that question cannot be answered. We know there are many factors that contribute to the vitality of the grass and plant life.

And there are also many factors that contribute to the spiritual health and vitality of the believer, especially staying fresh and green and still bearing fruit in old age. Today let us consider spiritual “green grass”.

Most of us are able to recall specific points in our faith journey; a very memorable spiritual experience, a certain sermon that changed our outlook, or a book we read that had a “life changing” effect upon us. These “big events” are mile marker blessings, but most of our growth is a result of the accumulative effects of small things. These are the blessings of living in green pastures.

Depending upon how long we have followed Christ we may have read and studied the Scriptures for thousands of hours, heard hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Bible-based sermons and teachings, read many good books, heard many good radio programs, etc.

In my accumulative 30+ years of pastoral ministry (including interim roles) I calculate that I have prepared and presented some 4,000 sermons and teachings during that course of ministry. (We had at least two scheduled services weekly and in some cases three.)

And now with nearly 22 years of preparing Daily Encouragement messages that’s over 5,500 messages and about 1,500 radio messages.

Yet I sure don’t remember all I’ve read from the Word (too often it seems I forget right after I read it and have to re-read). I have read thousands of articles and books by now, but I only remember a few. I certainly can’t recall every sermon I’ve heard or preached. Actually I can only specifically remember a small percentage, even of my own sermons. Has it all been a waste? Of course not! I was spending time in green pasture!

Here’s a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time. Read attentively as you study the Scriptures and listen carefully to God’s servants as they preach the Word. But remember, spiritual growth is taking place as you day by day fully commit yourself to our blessed Saviour and live in His green pastures.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your principles teach me that time spent reading the Word, meditating upon it and applying it to my life makes a vital difference in my Christian walk. Spending time with other believers and learning from their examples, as well as their testimony, is another way You’ve brought positive change into my life. Hearing sermons that cause me to think and often move me to more fully surrender my heart to You has brought about foundational growth in my life. I’m grateful for those who love me enough to keep me accountable to the commitment I’ve made to live a godly life. Thank You for the spiritual health and vitality You provide as I graze on the bounty of Your abundant life-giving “green pastures.” It is in the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.



Lancaster County lambs
Lancaster County lambsThese photos were taken several years ago on a well-groomed Amish farm on Stumptown Road here in Lancaster County.
 
Bird in barn rafter 4/10/19
Last night this mother bird who is nesting in our barn overhang rafters allowed me to get quite close.
Baby birds in barn rafter 4/10/19
Her babies!
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“God Leads His Dear Children Along”  Video  Travis Cottrell
 
“Death Was Arrested”  Video  People Of The Earth