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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three crosses

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 21): Acts 5-9 beginning here.
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 22): Acts 10-15 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"The Tree Of Life"

"But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him'" (Acts 5:29-32).

We had a beautiful day yesterday and the trees in our area are really beginning to blossom. For the first time this season I mowed our lawn. We took a long evening walk and enjoyed the warm sunshine as the evidence of mid-spring was visible from every direction we observed.

I enjoy relating to foresters and learned a great deal from several who attended the church I pastored in northern Pennsylvania many years ago. Tomorrow we expect to see our longtime
forester friend Jeff and his family.  I have some tree questions to ask him when he arrives! Foresters work with trees which have the distinction of being referenced in the Bible from the first chapter right through to the last chapter with many references between.

When Adam was evicted from the garden of Eden the specific reason for this eviction was so that he could not "reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever" (Genesis 3:22).  At the end of the Bible we again see several references to this tree of life. Apparently it will be a major attraction in our eternal home (Revelation 2:7; 22:14). As such it surely must be the longest living tree!

The life-giving ministry of Jesus Christ fulfills for the believer the blessings of the tree of life.  Several years ago Brooksyne directed a musical titled "O Mighty Cross" which has this powerful line, "His Sacrifice on Calvary has made the mighty cross a tree of life to me."

CrossThe Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). In our daily text Peter boldly states, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree."  Interestingly Peter in his epistle also refers to the cross as a "tree"  "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

Today the benefits of the tree of life are freely available to all of us in Jesus Christ.  Many ignore His call, reject Him, or scorn His Name but the Word of God declares: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12,13). Receive and then generously share this merciful gift of life through Christ Jesus today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Jesus, Your sacrificial death on the cross became the tree of life for all who believe. It is the highest expression of love not only for those who bore the nails in Your hands and shouted "Crucify, crucify." It is also for all generations who follow that were born under the sin curse. How grateful we are that You came from the glories of heaven to crush the head of the serpent, as You conquered death through Your miraculous resurrection so that we might be redeemed from the law of sin. We will partake of the tree of life in heaven because You partook of the cross of death here on earth. All glory and praise is due Your name.  Amen.

Today's Suggested M
usic and Supplemental Resources

"O Mighty Cross"  Video

O Mighty Cross Love lifted high
The Lord of Life raised there to die
His Sacrifice on Calvary has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

O Mighty Cross what Throne of Grace
He knew no sin yet took my place
His Sacrifice on Calvary has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

O Mighty Cross O Christ so pure
Love held Him there such shame endured
His Sacrifice on Calvary has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

O Mighty Cross my soul's release!
The stripes He bore have brought me peace
His Sacrifice on Calvary has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

O Mighty Cross O Mighty Cross
O Mighty Cross A tree of life to me

"It's Still The Cross"
 Video  A reminder of what really matters!

"Still The Cross"  Video  

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin

Today's message also brings to mind "The Tale Of The Three Trees"  Video

I-70 cross near 
Effingham Illinois
The Cross At The Crossroads
We passed this large cross several years ago on the way back from a family reunion at the junction of I-70 and I-57 near Effingham, Illinois. It is is intended to serve as a beacon of hope to the 50,000 travelers estimated to pass by each day.
It's not a wooden cross though!

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 3˝ 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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