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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saint Bernard puppy
This huggable Saint Bernard puppy was born up at our neighbor's place.  
They start out small but sure get big!

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"Many Convincing Proofs"

After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6).

A proud, ungodly professor tried to "reason" with a young child who believed in the Lord Jesus; "My dear little girl, you don't know whom you believe in. There have been many christs, in which of them do you believe?"  The child confidently replied, "I know which one I believe in. I believe in the Christ who rose from the dead!"

I, along with people of all generations, concur with this confident child.  The historian Luke begins his two accounts, the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, with these thoughtful introductions: "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3,4).  "After His suffering, He showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).

Today we want to consider one of the convincing proofs.  The faith of the Christian believer has a sound, objective, verifiable historical basis.  Luke calls them convincing proofs. There were also many appearances of the resurrected Christ over the 40-day period from the day of His resurrection to the day of His ascension that are not recorded in the historical portions of the Gospels or Acts and our daily text is one of them.

In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul lists the names of some whom Christ appeared to following His resurrection, including one remarkable group of more than five hundred who are not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. This particular appearance to over 500 in one setting must have been a part of the record transmitted through the apostolic preaching.  I yearn for more details of this encounter but will have to wait until heaven to speak personally to these unnamed eyewitnesses. However, it must have been quite a meeting!

Who were these five hundred plus brothers?  (I wonder if there were women and children present on this occasion as well.)  I believe these were some of the many unnamed followers that believed in Christ during His earthly ministry. They wouldn't have had the depth of teaching the disciples did and likely the trial, sufferings and death of Christ was a huge faith crisis for them.

Had they been misled?  Was it all for naught?  Then the reports circulated that this Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to some of the women and His disciples.  Could it really be?  At some point they gathered for the meeting referred to in our daily text.  I can see it in my mind's eye at the side of a mountain, although we are not told, but it must have been a very colorful, lively setting.  I smile as I think of the joy, relief, and vindication of faith that swept through that crowd.

Can you imagine the stir as people sought to get a glimpse of what others were describing as the person of Jesus.  Voices could be heard as people nudged one another, "Jesus!  Look, it's Jesus!  He's alive!  Can you believe it!"  Still others pointed to the moving figure in the distance, "There He is!"

Surely many excited parents hoisted children on their shoulders to get a view of Jesus as they tried to explain, "It is He, the Crucified Christ! He's alive!"   There was no closed-circuit TV for those unable to get a glimpse so there's little doubt that some were frantic in their attempt to get a good view of this walking Miracle.

Many of them were still alive as Paul wrote, but since this was written some 25 years after the event, some had "fallen asleep" (a phrase the early church used for "death.")

One day all we who believe will have a similar experience.  We will also see Jesus (1 John 3:2) and I believe we will smile. Some will jump, dance, and shout as their faith is rewarded.  Keep believing today, my friend, and "do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded" (Hebrews 10:35).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy when we proclaim, "The Lord is risen.  He is risen indeed!"  Though we were not personal eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Your Son we have personally experienced and witnessed in others the transformational change that the ever-living Christ brings about in the lives of those who believe.  The completion of Christ's incarnation took place at the tomb when death was swallowed up in victory as He overcame the power and terror of death's penalty. Satan's plot failed as God's plan flourished making us more than victors through Christ who loves us and atoned for our sins!  Thank You, for all You went through so that we might have abundant life here and eternal  life on the other side.  Amen.

Stephen's study note: As people of faith, all of us are among those who rely on these eyewitness testimonies.  After one post-resurrection experience Jesus said to an eyewitness, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Many years later Peter, an eyewitness himself, wrote to all subsequent generations of believers, including ours: "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8).  Today, I believe!  My family believes. And this day we again choose to follow and obey the resurrected Lord Jesus.  Won't you join us?

Maple syrup from Lewis County NYFor the last several years Jeff and Lois have a nice practice of blessing us with some real Lewis County New York maple syrup when they come to visit us. We had never seen one in a gallon jug so this should last awhile!  The back of the jug tells us it's liquid gold!  Well, it sure tastes good.

Goat playland
A view from our neck of the woods. These neighbors collect goats and other farm animals and have added a lot of interest to our walks.  But they have outgrown their space and will soon be relocating.

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.)

"My Faith Has Found A Resting Place"  Video

"I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary"  Video

Last night as we shared around the table and reminisced with old friends Lois recalled this quote, "You can't make old friends but you can sure keep them."  That brought to mind a song I enjoy called "Old Friends"

Joyce, a friend from our church in Massachusetts, questioned Brooksyne's childhood memory concerning an illustration in Monday's message:

Oxen with yoke"Pastor Weber, does Brooksyne know the difference between oxen and mules? In all my reading and experience I have never heard of mules being yoked together, but maybe that's the way it was done in Arkansas. Those animals in the photo appear to be oxen."

Brooksyne on further recollection realizes that it was probably not a yoke, but rather a harness that connected the mules.  In fact our friend, Jeff, who visited last night, said mules are typically harnessed together and then hitched to the plow, rather than a yoke which is used mostly for oxen.  So, after Brooksyne lovingly scolded Jeff for messing up her childhood memory about the yoke she willingly conceded that she had  made a wrong assumption.  It would also explain the reason why I could only show the photograph of the oxen with a yoke, since I couldn't find a photo on the internet of a team of mules with a yoke.  Thanks, Joyce!  We all had a chuckle with you!

For those curious about oxen: 

A fully grown ox can easily outweigh a draft horse and can pull more weight. Oxen travel more slowly than horses and may be less suited to some applications. In contrast to horse harness, in which the animal's pulling power comes from the chest region and the animal is controlled by means of a bit in its mouth, oxen in the United States typically wear a yoke that transfers pulling power from their neck region and the driver steers them by tapping them on the side, with voice commands or by using a rope around the horns. Unless the oxen are very responsive, it may be difficult to achieve the precise directional control needed for applications such as cultivation.

A common yoke setup for oxen is generally far less expensive than harness for horses and may even be home fabricated. Oxen are most often worked as a team, in part because the presence of another animal tends to have a calming effect.

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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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