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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Morning view from our home
An early morning view from our home

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"Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body" (Mark 15:43).

The other night I was driving through Mount Joy, the small town we live in, when I saw a group of young people dressed in black, perhaps part of the Goth culture. A young girl was wearing a shirt with these words prominently displayed on it, "EYE HATE GOD".  I suppose the spelling was supposed to be cute but if you read it aloud you will hear her blasphemous message - nothing cute about that!

An amazing thing has happened in my
lifetime.   Today in many places it is increasingly politically correct and acceptable to mock God as well as traditional and Biblical standards of morality. At the same time one standing up for God and Biblical standards of morality may very well be seen as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, and ignorant!

We need those who will stand up boldly for Christ regardless of what the world will say, think or do to us. Joseph of Arimathea provided a good example for us.

This Joseph was a member of the ruling Jewish Sanhedrin who had an interesting part during the time of Christ's crucifixion and burial.  Along with Nicodemus he approached Pilate concerning the body of Jesus.  We primarily know of Nicodemus due to his famous discussion with the Lord at night recorded in John 3.  But prior to this, Joseph of Arimathea is never mentioned nor is his name referred to again in Scripture.

This is an instance where we glean complimentary information from each of the four gospels in seeing a composite picture of a situation.  Regarding Joseph, Matthew tells us he had become a disciple, but John adds the significant detail that he was a "secret disciple for fear of the Jews".  Luke tells us he had not consented to the action of the Council in regard to the decision to have Christ sent to Pilate.  But Mark provides the detail I want to ponder for a moment in today's encouragement.

He was a "prominent member of the Council."  His prominence likely made his decision to be a disciple all the more difficult and contributed to his "fear of the Jews."  Prominence in any worldly institution can do this.  Business leaders, politicians, entertainers, socialites and so forth all experience an additional "cost" in following Christ, the likely loss of prominence among their secular peers when they follow the Lord. Of course as mentioned above this is increasingly the case.

But Joseph "was himself waiting for the kingdom of God."  A foundational outlook for the believer is expressed in our Lord's model prayer for His disciples, "Thy Kingdom come".  Real disciples are always looking for that Kingdom that is to come and yet remains unseen.

But it's the final detail that grips my heart today as I again seek to take a steadfast stand for my Lord.  Joseph "went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body."  I consider the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in this transformation.  This was, of course before Christ was resurrected.  This secret, fearful disciple saw something during Christ's final days on earth and perhaps during His death that transformed his fear into boldness.

Today I encourage each reader to express their faith in the resurrected, ascended and coming Christ with boldness as you patiently await His coming Kingdom!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  You have shown us Your will through the Scriptures as revealed to our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  You have called us to be bold, to be strong, and to be of good courage as we face daily obstacles and spiritual conflicts. May the truth of Scripture be our guide and may the Holy Spirit empower us to be a faithful and bold witness for the gospel, we pray.  Amen.

Matt helping with weeding

We have had several beautiful days after a rather rainy early part of May. Matt is a friend of Ester's who really enjoys helping Brooksyne weed as she prepares her vegetable and flower gardens for spring planting. It is amazing how many wheelbarrow loads of vegetative growth we have removed!

Roxie runningRoxie was also enjoying the lovely evening, freely running about in our front lawn.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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"Take My Life And Let It Be" Audio 

"To The King"  Audio

"Taking A Stand For Christ" Online message about Joseph of Arimathea by Pastor Steven Cole (pdf)  This Pastor has a faithful ministry of placing his messages up on the web and does a great job as a careful expositor of God's Word.

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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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