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Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

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

Ron DiCianni is one of my favorite artists.  I took the above photo in an office building in Springfield, Missouri where it is on the wall in a large lobby.  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.

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"Love's Supreme Demonstration"

"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).  "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

NailsThe Tremont Nail Company in Wareham, Massachusetts, is the oldest continuously operating nail manufacturer in the United States, making nails since the early 1800's and they're still stamping them out! When I lived in New England I would periodically drive by the plant and, although they didn’t have plant tours, I recall curiously looking through the windows.  The nails they manufacture are not the round kind we typically see, but square.  At the little country gift store across the street I bought three of the longest ones I could find.  I still have them though I misplaced one. Holding these nails, feeling their coarse surface and recognizing their intended purpose is a vivid illustration reminding us of the price Jesus paid for our redemption.

The nails used in the crucifixion of our Savior were likely iron spikes five to seven inches long.  In the daily text the action of nailing our Lord to the cross is taken from the Greek word "prospegnumi.”  It appears only once in the entire New Testament and literally means “to impale.” Did you notice that the English word "peg" is in the middle of the Greek word?  I have no idea how these nails were fashioned (perhaps they were wood pegs) but I am sure they were very rough. How indescribably horrible this form of death was. 

The daily text is a part of Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost.  Peter boldly asserted to his listeners:  "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."

Watchman Nee
Watchman Nee, a Chinese follower of Christ was persecuted for his faith and died in prison in 1972. He was a prolific writer but a single note found under his pillow, after he died, powerfully summarizes the simple essence of his faith: "Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men's sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ."

The underlying Greek word that is translated "demonstrate" in Romans 5:8 is "sunistasin" which is in the present indicative active. This connotes a sense that God's demonstration of love is ever a present event, although Christ's literal death on the cross was a "once for all" atoning sacrifice; "Christ died for us."  The demonstration of His love is present, but the sacrificial death of Christ is final and complete.

Christ died for the ungodly, for each one of us. Today we especially remember God's greatest demonstration of love. Earnest believers look back to Christ's sacrificial death in deepest gratitude and remember the One who died in our place. Christian songwriter, Gordon Jensen, put it this way:

I should have been crucified,
I should have suffered and died,
I should have hung on the cross in disgrace,
But Jesus, God's Son, took my place.

Let us remember the One who was nailed to the cross and His great act of atoning sacrifice on our behalf.   Let us live faithfully for the One who died in our place!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Lord Jesus, I will never fully comprehend the depth of Your sacrificial death where we see man at his worst and God at His best. In my place You took my guilt and shame as You became the guilt offering pouring out Your life unto death and taking on my iniquity.  You gave all so that I could be forgiven. Though my sins were as scarlet they were washed white as snow, cleansed by the saving blood of the sinless Lamb. You turned my hopeless condition into a life full of hope for this life and glorious anticipation for eternal life beyond the grave.  Nothing in all of history will ever compare to the Divine Exchange where my sins were exchanged for Your pardon. I walk in newness of life and in the power of the resurrected Savior.  Praise Your name, Lord Jesus!  You are risen, You are risen indeed!  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

Today I want to share a lot more music links than usual, all of them dealing with the sacrificial, atoning death of Christ.  There's quite a variety here with many different styles, but the same basic theme, Christ's supreme demonstration of love!

"He Was Nailed to the Cross For Me"
 Ernest V. Stoneman and his Dixie Mountaneers   This is sure an interesting way to place an old song up on the web!  This is especially in honor of Brooksyne's dad who is now with the Lord. When I showed this to Brooksyne she said, "My dad would love that!"    Video

"Hallelujah, What A Savior!"  (Brooksyne) This is a hymn that was often
sung during the Easter season, but I rarely hear it anymore. This arrangement brings the text to life in a whole new way and features a very gifted soloist.  You'll find yourself singing along with the worship leader as you give praise to our wonderful Savior.   Audio

"The Wonderful Cross"  Audio

"The Old Rugged Cross"
(Stephen) This takes me back to the little white church in Harwood Missouri my Grandma and Aunt Zola attended!  Video
"At The Cross"  Audio

"The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference" (Brooksyne)
For those who enjoy the Bill Gaither vocal band you'll especially appreciate the testimony of Guy Penrod and his solo that follows in this video.  Video

"The Power Of The Cross"  Audio

"Nothing But The Blood"  Audio

"Mighty Is The Power Of The Cross"  Audio

"Jesus Paid It All"  Audio

"Clinging To The Cross"  Audio

"At The Foot Of The Cross"  Audio

"I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary"
(Stephen) As a young Christian in the seventies I really liked this song and still do!  Video  

"O Sacred Head Now Wounded"  Audio

"It Is Finished"  Video

"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Audio

"He Chose The Cross"  Video

A sad note concerning the abundance of evil: I use search engines to locate these songs on the web using key words. Far too often these key words pointed to materials mocking and blaspheming the Lord. What is it in the evil heart of man that compels him to ridicule the most sacred demonstration of love in the universe?   "Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart"  (Hebrews 12:3).

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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