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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goldfinch (photo by Doris High)
Photo by our friend Doris High

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: This suggested 40 day reading plan began 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 and reading previous portions after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day schedule. More information concerning the Scripture reading plan is below the daily message.

The links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (April 20): John 20-Acts 4 beginning here.
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 21): Acts 5 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"God's Definite Plan"

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:22,23).

DrawbridgeMany of you have read the allegory about a drawbridge operator who took his son to work one day. The boy went to fish as his father was working. He then fell into the gears of the huge drawbridge where he was trapped. Just as a passenger train loaded with people was rapidly approaching the bridge the operator had to make an agonizing decision. He could stop lowering the drawbridge to save his son or proceed with the lowering which would result in the most certain death of his son, but save the lives of those on the train. A video has been made about this and we will link to it below. It is a very touching illustration of the father who sacrificed his son to save the lives of others.

However the illustration falls short in a vitally important way (though I hesitate to write critically about an intriguing illustration that has surely touched many lives). In the drawbridge illustration the critical decision the drawbridge operator had to make was not planned, but rather forced upon Him spontaneously. This was certainly not the case in regard to the death of Christ nor His Father’s decision in sending His only begotten Son into the sin-sick world.

NailsIn our daily text Peter begins his sermon on the day of Pentecost. Just over 50 days prior to this significant day he had witnessed the very crucifixion he is now describing, though due to his denial of Christ it was likely from a distance. The nails used in the crucifixion of our Savior were likely iron spikes five to seven inches long.

In the daily text the action of crucifying is taken from a Greek word that appears only once in the entire New Testament and literally means “to impale.” How indescribably horrible this form of death was.

Peter, who earlier was filled with fear, now boldly preached to the mixed crowd: "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

Bible teacher James M. Boice writes that the emphasis of the Scriptures is upon this being the work of God, who by it was accomplishing salvation for all who would believe on Christ. This is why Jesus is referred to as "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).

"It was God the Father who sent the Lord Jesus Christ to the cross. This tells us that the death of Jesus was no accident, but rather the accomplishment of God's plan of redemption, devised even before the universe was created. It is why Jesus came. It was for others. The death of Jesus, thus planned by God, was for others, which means that it was substitutionary or vicarious. Paul says that it was 'for our sins.' Death is God's punishment for sin; its consequence. But Jesus had not sinned and therefore did not deserve death. That He did die was because He was dying in our place as our sin-bearer."

Watchman Nee, a Chinese follower of Christ was persecuted for his faith and died in prison in 1972. He was a prolific writer but a single note found under his pillow after he died powerfully summarizes the simple essence of his faith: "Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men's sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ."

Let us remember the One who was crucified on the cross and His great act of atoning sacrifice on our behalf. Let us live faithfully for the One who died in our place!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:  Jesus, we can’t fully comprehend the depth of Your sacrificial death where we view sin at its worst testing redemption to its utmost. But we are living testimonies that redemption passed the test and, like the grave clothes left behind at the tomb, we leave behind the grave clothes of our former life dead in its transgressions and sins. Our hope is restored as we experience life through You, our resurrected Savior, who was the sin offering poured out for us. You gave all so that we could be forgiven and anticipate glorious eternal life beyond the grave. We thank You for it. Amen.

Nigel & Laifong Lee familyToday's mention of Watchman Nee brings to mind our friend Nigel who along with his wife Laifong were the very first recipients of daily encouragement on October 21, 1996.  Nigel has an interesting association for students in Christian literature. His grandmother's sister was married to Watchman Nee. We still hear from Nigel occasionally and rejoice that they are in faithful service to the Lord.
They have been on the list ever since the beginning of this ministry and I reckon they have received nearly 4,000 daily messages! They live in the Boston area and are shown with their son Caleb. Laifong is from Malaysia and they met at Chi Alpha, a Christian campus ministry, while in graduate school at Princeton. Both have earned scientific doctorates; Nigel's in electrical engineering and Laifong's in molecular biology. They attend the Boston Worship Center where Nigel has been an elder and they also have a Bible Study in their home.

Drawbridge"The Bridge"  Video  This is a powerful video of the allegory referred to in the message. It is a very well-done and touching presentation lasting just over 9 minutes with majestic background music and captions (no spoken words).

Some Snippets Of Our Life.

Mike Brickley 4/19/11
We visited with Mike Brickley at a meeting yesterday. Mike is the president of a wonderful ministry known as the The Pocket Testament League. The main focus of this ministry is the power of individual Christians reading, carrying and sharing God's Word. I first met Mike about 10 years ago when he was the speaker at a meeting I attended. I recalled his main theme from that message was that we all have an expiration date and we need to use our time on this earth wisely. He gave a presentation to the Board at one of the companies we serve as chaplains regarding sharing the Gospel Of John booklets which they had recently acquired.

Raymond McGallicher with Jesse and Wilma Dourte 4/19/11
Following our company visit we stopped by to visit with Raymond McGallicher, who at 93 is the oldest member in our church, though a shut-in for many years. Our friends Jesse and Wilma Dourte joined us as we visited together, sang a few hymns, and then Jesse prayed for Raymond.  He testifies that he is ready to be with the Lord any day, should the Lord call him home. Jesse was Raymond's pastor some 40 years ago so this was a special occasion as they hadn't reconnected for many, many years.

Rene, Karla, Oscar, Alexander
We stopped by Root's Country Market on the way home and saw a friend and former neighbor from when we first moved to Lancaster County 10 years ago. Rene is from Honduras and lived in the farmhouse next to us when we rented. He is shown with his wife Karla and sons Hector and Alexander (yet in hiding for another month).

Today's Suggested M
usic and Supplemental Resources

"Worthy Is The Lamb Who Was Slain" (Revelation Song)  Video  Kari Jobe

"All For Love"  Video  Hillsong

"Amazing Love"  Video   Lyndsey Wallace

"It Was Love"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music  This ministry does (IMHO) an outstanding job of producing well-written music as well as reviving old hymns such as this one written by Samuel Trevor Francis in 1875.  These outstanding lyrics will bless your soul and remind you of our great heritage as members of the Church Triumphant, written by one who is now experiencing glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Today closeup photo of the goldfinch was taken by our friend Doris High and used by permission. She is probably the world's most prolific photo blogger and this collection is here.

Major Events of the Passion Week

Holy or Passion Week is 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 I am inspired as I read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter. Note: The precise days these events occurred cannot be determined with certainty. Earnest Christians have various views as to the day Christ died, some believing it would have been on Wednesday or Thursday rather than Friday. However we feel the basic outline is still helpful.

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)

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.

Tortured For His FaithFree "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.)

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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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