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Friday, April 15, 2011

Hyacinth 4/15/11
Our Hyacinths are beginning to really bloom after some nice rains and several days of warm, sunny weather. What a blessing to see the beautiful signs of spring this morning!

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: This suggested 40 day reading plan began last Sunday (April 3) If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading (Luke 1-4) and reading Matthew and Mark after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day schedule. (These links will open to the selection to be read and a built-in listening device.) More information concerning the Scripture reading plan is below the daily message.
  • Today's reading (April 15): Luke 20-24 beginning here.
  • Saturday's reading (April 16): John 1-5 beginning here.
  • Sunday's reading (April 17): John 6-9 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Be On Your Guard"

"And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers'" (Luke 22:31,32). 

Roaring lionThe Bible declares that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). That's a spiritual reality we do well to recognize. The apostle Paul gives further insight into spiritual battle when he wrote, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

Today's text expresses an intense time in Peter's own life when he experienced the lion's roar as Satan desired to have him. "And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that He may sift you as wheat'". Jesus made this observation following a dispute the disciples had amongst themselves as to which of them was considered the greatest. Incredibly this dispute took place during the Last Supper only hours before the Son of God would humble Himself to the death of the cross! At the conclusion of His teaching on servanthood Jesus addressed Simon Peter by name, "'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." In other words Jesus tells Peter, Satan wants to toss you and scatter you, and also to cast you out much like wheat is separated from the chaff.

Seven times in the Bible God addresses people by repeating their name twice. This is known as Epizeuxis. When God repeats a name twice, it is to display deep emotion, not necessarily anger. In today's instance the Lord seems to use it lovingly and then solemnly offers a warning to be on guard.

The English language doesn’t specify between a singular and a plural second person pronoun "you" (though many native Pennsylvanians commonly say “yous” when addressing more than one person!)

However the Greek makes a distinction in the singular and plural and in this instance the word "you" is plural. In other words, the Lord is not telling Peter that Satan has asked to sift only him as wheat, but rather Satan wants to do this to all the disciples. And certainly the record indicates that their faith was shaken greatly. We can further apply this dialogue to all who follow Christ and the shakings that takes place during life's hard times.

RoosterJesus continues with a promise so encouraging and instructive: "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." Interestingly the word “you” here is singular this time, and means that the Lord specifically prayed for Simon Peter. Jesus who knew Peter and his heart better than he himself did, prophesies his temporary failure in this context (when he denied the Lord at the rooster's crowing) as well as his later restoration. "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Peter did turn back and was one of the great leaders in the early church teaching and strengthening his brothers in the most holy faith.

That's so incredibly encouraging to me. What an awesome blessing that Christ prayed for Peter and He continues to pray for His children today. He is at the right hand of God interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

It's also instructive. I pray for the spiritual battles we face as an ongoing reality in every stage of life. We encourage each of you as you "stand in the gap" in prayer for your children and for all those you disciple. Indeed, like the apostle John, there is no greater joy than to hear that our children are walking in the truth! (3 John 4).  Keep on praying and staying faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Jesus warns us that Satan seeks to agitate us like wholesome grain that is being sifted from worthless chaff. You know the chaff we cling to such as doubts, fears, half-heartedness, slothfulness and other harmful debris that weakens or destroys our faith and our testimony. Help us not to resent the trials and temptations of this life that act as a filter forcing us to give up that which is uncomely to the Christian character; that which holds us back instead of moving us forward keeping us steadfast in our faith. We thank You, Jesus, that You faithfully intercede for us, in the siftings and shakings of life. Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be. Amen.

Please note: Due to a busy schedule a daily encouragement message was not prepared for Thursday, April 14, 2011.

For further study:
Epizeuxis, I suppose many of you, like me prior to today, had never heard of this word! See here that I really didn't make this up!

As noted in the lesson there are seven times in Scripture when God addresses a person using the double name such as "Simon, Simon". Can you recall them? For further consideration can you recall when Jesus addresses the name of a place twice and when He addresses His Father twice?  Submit your answers here and I will share correct answers on Monday!

Amish buggy with wagon 4/14/11
Yesterday we passed this Amish buggy pulling a trailer near New Holland. It illustrates the ingenuity of the Amish folks as they make do with the restrictions placed upon them.

Major Events of the Passion Week

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and begins a period often called Holy or Passion Week, so named because it chronicles the events leading up to the Lord's death and resurrection. Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week and consider these events. 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.

I enjoy math although I'm not very good at it beyond the basics needed to get by in life (such as preparing my taxes!) Consider this: The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. But almost all 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 love and mercy in providing our redemption.

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

Tortured For His Faith
Free "Tortured For His Faith" We would highly recommend this book which is available to Daily Encouragement readers for the month of April free of chargeIt is tremendously inspiring and will stir you to faithfulness in the face of persecution.  It will also create a greater hunger for the Bible as a result of reading it.  Merely go to this page and fill out the form on the lower part of the page. Indicate that you are a daily encouragement reader and request the book in the comment box. (Don't forget to include your mailing address.)

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading planOn Sunday April 3 we began a forty day program of reading through the New Testament and we encourage Daily Encouragement Net readers to consider joining in as we read/listen through the entire New Testament in 40 days. (At this point we suggest starting at the reading for the current day and then reading the portions you hadn't read when the 40 day period is over.)

These readings take about 30 minutes per day. Prior to each message we will provide a direct link to the Scripture portion to be read and listened to each day and for the next day. (and several links for the weekend daily readings).

The daily encouragement message for each weekday during the forty day period will be based on a portion of the text in the Bible reading for that day (or, on Mondays this may also be from a Scripture portion read over the weekend.)

Here is a page where you can download the entire Bible to your computer in a variety of versions.

Here's an overview of the plan I have prepared with practical tips (pdf)

Here's a schedule for the entire 40 day reading period along with discussion questions. This is especially suitable to bookmark during this period as it contains links that will open directly to the passage to be read for the day.

"Proclaimer" Bible listening deviceThe reading links open to Bible.is, an online Bible with audio player and additional apps that you may find useful. For those who may prefer the KJV it is available. For international readers there may even be a version available in your native language. Just click the small tab directly below the Bible.is logo on the top left to see available versions. 

This Bible reading plan is a partnership of Daily Encouragement Net and Faith Comes By Hearing, a ministry which provides Bible listening resources all over the world. We will share more about this ministry in future messages.

Daily Encouragement on Facebook Join our Daily Encouragement Bible reading group on Facebook. You can read and listen to the material directly on Facebook.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

In considering music that would supplement today's message I was drawn to some songs by Kelly Willard, one of our contemporaries (she was born in 1956).

"Follow Me"  Video  Kelly Willard  A wonderful version of a great hymn by Ira Stanphill

"A Friend So True"
 Video  Kelly Willard  A video when Kelly was in her mid twenties. (Poor recording)

"Willing Heart"  Video  Kelly Willard  This video shows Kelly in a recent concert.

We are blessed to read of Kelly Willard's continued faithfulness to the Lord. She was one of the original musicians during the Jesus Movement of the seventies. She continues to sing for the Lord. Her biography is here.

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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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