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Monday, March 17, 2008

Feeding lambs
Sheep feeding in meadow in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
This photo is actually not the same meadow referred to in today's message.
(It's another one around the corner from our home.)
This morning we did walk over to take a photo of the sheep in the rocky meadow but we couldn't get the sheep to go in that particular meadow!

ListenListen to us share this message on your audio player.

"Ain't No Rock!"

"I tell you," Jesus replied, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40).

In the course of our daily walk we pass a farm with sheep peacefully grazing in a very rocky meadow.  I don't suppose this section of land is tillable due to the abundance of rocks, but it works well as a grazing spot for sheep.  This setting brings to mind many Bible story settings where David carefully tended his sheep or where Jesus likened His followers to being like sheep. The sight of the rocks also prompts a recall of today's text!

Our scenic nature walks bring a recurring spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God our Creator.  After spotting our first robin on this morning's walk Brooksyne excitedly said, “Let’s look at the jonquils to see if they’re in bloom yet.”  Sure enough the buds are visible and most likely this afternoon they’ll open up to the brilliant sunshine that’s warming the crisp air.  Vivid reminders of the spring season, along with warmer temperatures, let us know that spring is just around the corner. 

God's Word makes it abundantly clear that He desires His people to praise Him.  There are seasons, settings, and events that make it very natural to praise God, but God wants us to praise Him in everything and at all times. The Psalmist reminds us that we are to bless the Lord at all times and that His praise should continually flow from our mouth.  If we regularly practice this spiritual exercise, it’s not likely that gossip, swearing, lying, or hateful words will characterize our speech. Instead thanksgiving and praise will be witnessed in our conversation from day to day for our attitude is revealed through our words and actions.

Today's Scripture text is from a portion of the Bible dealing with the Triumphal Entry, an event that took place on the day the church calendar refers to as "Palm Sunday."  The whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise God in loud voices as Jesus went by. "As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.  When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (The other gospels record that this is where they proclaimed, "Hosanna in the highest!")

The angry Pharisees demanded that they be silenced: "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"  Instead of a demanding rebuke, Jesus made this powerful observation: "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

The call to praise includes:
•  Everyone: Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the Lord.
•  Everywhere: From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
•  All the time: But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, "The Lord be exalted!"

That includes you and me today. Let's not let any cold, inanimate stone take our place in praising our King of kings.  Hosanna in the highest!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, I want to praise You, my great Redeemer, for who You are and for Your acts of kindness seen so many times throughout my day.  I never cease to praise You because You never cease to work on my behalf.  Your mercy and love, Your strength and comfort, Your sustaining power and guiding hand are only a tiny fraction of the many reasons that lead me to praise You.  Instead of a murmuring and ungrateful attitude, I want to join with the multitude of believers and sing of my Great Redeemer's praise to everyone, everywhere, all the time.  Amen.

Rob KaintzYesterday we drove up to the Lehigh Valley to join my brother, Pat, and his family for a church service at Faith Community in Easton where he pastors. My sister-in-law, Laverne, had written and directed a drama for the Easter season dealing with Peter's restoration called, "Peter's Second Chance." A highlight for us was the significant amount of Scripture memorized by Rob Kaintz, the man who played Peter's part. He not only memorized it but then shared it in a discourse. He spoke with such personal conviction that it brought new insight and fresh meaning.

Let The Synthesized Voice Cry Out!

Photo of Dottie on printerBrooksyne had an interesting experience awhile back that compliments our theme of praise today.

Dottie is our mixed breed cat.  She was among a litter born to a wild barn cat shortly after we moved to Pennsylvania seven years ago.  Ester picked her favorite out of the litter and she's been ours ever since. Dottie has no idea of her humble beginnings and now feels pretty sophisticated.  She likes to lay near us when we do our work on the computer, often right on top of the printer as seen in the photo.

In preparation for a church service Brooksyne typed out the words to some older choruses in a medley that she was going to lead the congregation in singing.  They included "Oh, How He Loves You and Me", "He Is Lord", and "Hallelujah, Hallelujah." 

Right after she typed these songs along came Dottie sauntering across the desk.  Instead of sitting beside the computer or on the printer she decided to plop right
down on the keyboard!  Several odd letters came across the screen, but instead of lifting her right off the keyboard Brooksyne decided there would be less hair fall-out if she let her get up on her own.  All of a sudden a stilted, emotionless voice came out of the computer speaker which initially startled Brooksyne.  She turned up the volume so she could hear the words more clearly.  They were the very words of the choruses she had just typed!

Apparently as Dottie lay on the keyboard she hit some sort of function key and set off a program we didn't even know existed which converted the text to a synthesized voice. Though it was a rather monotone voice, hearing the words of the songs brought them to life. "He is Lord, He is Lord, He is risen from the dead and He is Lord....".  By the time the man's voice broke into the repetitious chorus of "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...."  repeating the word eight times Brooksyne found herself beginning to praise the Lord!  It was the first time she was prompted to praise the Lord by an emotionless computer voice.  Kind of makes me think of what it might be like for a stone to cry out praise to God :-)

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.

Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem Matthew - 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple -  Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
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
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
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

The 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)

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Praise To The Lord The Almighty"  Audio

"Praise The Mighty Name Of Jesus"  Audio

"Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven"  Audio

"Let Everything That Hath Breath Praise The Lord"  Audio

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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