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Monday, March 24, 2008
Resurrection Day Message

Photo by Doris High

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"Of First Importance"

"God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact" (Acts 2:32).  "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 15:3,4).

Our family awakened yesterday to a brilliant sunrise in the eastern sky and a stunning full moon in the western. The customary Resurrection Day greeting in our home is "He Is Risen" to which we then reply "He Is Risen Indeed!"

We gathered with other believers in church to corporately declare the glorious truth of the resurrected Savior.  My friend Ken greeted me and said "Happy 1975th Resurrection Day!" He had done a little math work subtracting 33AD (the traditional date for the resurrection) from 2008. I have to admit I never thought to do that!

Brooksyne led our choir in a powerful musical that expressed the great truths of the atoning death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, including one of my longtime favorites, "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today!" Originally titled, “Hymn for Easter Day” this exuberant Charles Wesley hymn has been sung at Easter for 269 years.  What a privilege to join the host of believers through the generations in declaring this Biblical truth in our worship musically. 

Our pastor preached the gospel, the good news first proclaimed by the apostles. I never weary of hearing the old message that doesn’t expire, is never out of date, and does not need revision.  I pray that I will always be like “those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest."

I also pray that there will always be churches faithfully proclaiming the message of Christ. The commission for the true follower of Christ is stated by Jude.  We are to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).  Far too many churches have abandoned the apostolic faith. They’re caught up in current fads and attempts to appeal to the post-modern "seeker". Some are embarrassed by the Gospel and redemption truths such as the Cross, the shed Blood and the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the Apostle Paul wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).

Today's verse is the only place in the Bible where the phrase "of first importance" is found.  In these verses the apostle Paul provides a wonderful summation of the Gospel. What he himself had "received" (paralambano), he had "passed on" (paradidomi).  This has been the God-ordained manner for the transmission of truth for nearly 2000 years.

Earnest believers continue to receive and pass on this sacred message to this very day.  Have you received and believed this message?  Are you passing it on?  At the heart of apostolic preaching is the proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I believe these three together comprise the truth that is of "first importance."  This is of first importance all through the church age and indeed through eternity. This is based on the authority of the Scriptures, "according to the Scriptures."

Whatever you're facing today, hold on to this glorious truth that is of first importance, Christ died, Christ was buried, and Christ Jesus was raised to live forevermore!  The risen Christ states in Revelation 1:18, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I am strengthened and encouraged through the vision the Apostle John received while imprisoned on the isle of Patmos.  When he saw the Son of man he fell at his feet as though he were dead.  Jesus’ words of assurance to John and to each of us some two thousand years later helps to still my fears and reminds me that I serve a living, risen Christ.  “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever.”  Because Jesus lives we live also! 

Personal note:
Of course the specific wording of the phrase varies by version but both the NASV and NIV use this phrase "of first importance."  In all versions this sure seems to be the sense.

There is another phrase this morning that deeply touches me and I pray it will do so for you as well.  Paul makes it very personal; "Christ died for our sins."  Yes, I believe that!  Praise God.  His death was not meaningless or an accidental slip-up in the plan of redemption.  No, Jesus Christ was born to die for our sins.

I was trained for ministry in the mid-seventies. Apart from the Bible the most useful reference book I have found for Bible study and message preparation is the concordance, which lists each word in the Bible and where it is found. For many years I used a huge, cumbersome book called "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance", which my Dad gave me when I went to Bible College. I still have it but rarely use it now. I normally use the BibleGateway online Bible for this.  The speed, capability and flexibility on a computer search program is much easier.

One feature I have found especially helpful in computer searches is the ability to search for phrases. That was really hard and time consuming with the print concordance; looking up one word at a time, particularly if there were a lot of times that word was used, and finding the specific phrase I had in mind. Now I can enter the entire phrase and the search will limit and identify where that specific phrase is found.

Choir at Longwood
"The Risen Savior" choir presentation at Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center, Friday evening.  The room was filled with residents who enjoy hearing the songs that speak of our Lord!

Goats:  S'more, Felix, and the newest arrival, BlackJack, who looks like he might have an attitude.  The pony is Dancer who appreciates his owners capping the goats horns with tennis balls since the goats enjoy walking under the pony.  The horns are certainly not too pony friendly! We see this delightful group of animals on our daily walk.  They're always glad to greet us.

Mallard Ducks
Brooksyne took this photo of these ducks we enjoy seeing on our walk. Their color is coming slowly, but surely.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"  Audio

"What A Day It Will Be"  Audio

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Audio

"Lord You Have My Heart"  Audio

Today's photo of the Crocus is by Doris High, a friend of ours here in Lancaster County, and is used with her permission. Her outstanding photo blog is here. These work great as desktop background photos to reinforce your faith and encourage others. To make this (or any photo) a desktop background merely right click and select "set as background"

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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