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Monday, April 6, 2009

Photo of Donegal Creek, Lancaster County PA
Donegal Creek in Lancaster County PA
Brooksyne and I passed this stunning scene late yesterday afternoon on our trail walk.

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"Considering Jesus"

"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 12:2,3).

Three crossesYesterday I preached a message titled, "It's Still The Cross."  The title is based on a song I have been blessed by lately that reminds us of the primacy of the Cross of Christ. (An audio and video version is available below). Below this message I will also share the selection of Scripture verses I prepared for our congregational reading yesterday.

This week we consider a special, wonderful week in the church year.  Many church traditions call it "Holy Week" or "Passion Week."  The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years.  But most of this material deals with just the 3½ year period of His earthly ministry. 

However, an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels cover the period beginning with 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 Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

This week is a wonderful time to especially "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men." The word "consider" translates the Greek "analogizomai" which is used only here in the entire New Testament.   (The English word "analyze" is related to this word.)  It means to carefully estimate and contemplate. 

All through this week we will be focusing on how our Lord "endured the cross" for our redemption, noting several of the specific forms of pain and shame our Lord endured from Gethsemane to His final cry on the Cross.  Each was either excruciatingly painful or humiliatingly shameful, often both.  I want to consider them, even the "minor" ones, which in themselves were despicable, such as being spat upon, which we will consider tomorrow.

The writer of Hebrews gives us a powerful reason for this exercise, "so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Encouragement is a prominent theme in the book of Hebrews. In fact the theme verse for this ministry comes from Hebrews 3:13, "encourage one another daily."

Today we have this same need don't we? The cares of life and persistent attacks by our enemy can weary us and we may lose heart if our human sight and reasoning is limited to this life only.  Just as Jesus endured the unimaginable because His sight was fixed on the future joy of sitting again at His Father's right hand, we too can endure pain, opposition, and the trials of life for the future joy of spending eternity in heaven.

By deeply contemplating the various aspects of Christ's redemptive work, culminating with His sacrificial death on the Cross on our behalf, we receive encouragement and renewed determination to press on in our faith.

It's still the cross,
It's still the blood of Calvary;
That cleanses sins,
And sets the captives free.
It's still the Name,
The Name of Jesus,
That has power to save the lost;
It's still the cross.


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Dear Jesus, I want to fix my eyes, my thoughts, and my affections on You, my blessed Redeemer.  Though You faced enormous opposition that would provide understandable excuse for altering Your redemption plan, nevertheless You endured Calvary's cross.  When I consider the depth of Your commitment I am determined to be faithful even in the night seasons of my Christian walk.  Jesus, help me to endure by keeping my eyes, not on that which is seen, but on the future rewards that You promise to those who are faithful.




Major Events of the Passion Week

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

Sunday      
  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Monday      
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
Tuesday/Wednesday                   
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
Thursday
  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
Friday
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
Sunday
  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)



Here is the selection of Scripture verses on the Cross from our congregational reading.

“It's Still The Cross!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepared for Discover Joy Church, Sunday, April 5, 2009 Selected Scripture references from The Holy Bible, New International Version®.  © 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishing House



Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"It's Still The Cross"  Audio  Video  See here for lyrics. (This is the song referred to in today's message.)

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video



We would like to share some
photos of our weekend.


Flower arrangement
We had this beautiful flower arrangement in church yesterday!

Photo of ATV at church
Along with our internet ministry and corporate chaplaincy work I have a part-time role pastoring a small country church in Mastersonville, PA. Several of the men drive ATV's to church so yesterday I took a spin following the service. The church is in a beautiful rural setting as can be seen in the background! (FYI, I am not wearing red boxing gloves, rather it's some type of protection on the handle bars.)

Visit with Naomi Wolgemuth
Yesterday afternoon several of us went to Messiah Village, a nursing home about 40 miles away to visit Naomi Wolgemuth, a lifetime member of the church. It was a blessing to be a blessing!

Naomi Wolgemuth and DeweyNaomi was a schoolteacher for many years and was Dewey Martin's first grade teacher over 40 years ago! (I wonder how many readers have stayed connected with their first grade teachers and regularly visit them?)  She then taught his children in church years later.

When their son, Matt, (seen in photo above) was little and occasionally missed Sunday School Naomi would follow-up, often sitting with him in his sandbox, going over the lesson and assisting him in learning  Scripture.

For fifty years she planted flowers in a pattern in front of her home to give a message to passersby such as "God Is Love"  or "Hosanna" and other godly themes that could be seen and read.


Spring willow and barn, Lancaster County PA
Here's another photo from our evening walk late yesterday afternoon!



Weber kitchen peninsula
Kitchen Renovation Completion
Some of our readers have expressed interest in how our renovated kitchen looks. Here's a page we prepared with photos and descriptions.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.



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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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