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Monday, April 25, 2011

"He Is Risen" banner

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 25): Acts 27-Romans 4 here.
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 26): Romans 5-10 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Raised To Life"

"He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

Yesterday many worship leaders and pastors proclaimed before their congregation, "The Lord is risen!" In fact I made this biblical proclamation as I opened our service yesterday and the congregation responded, "He is risen indeed!"

It's the expression of an ancient declaration of faith that can too easily become a mere cliché on Easter. However these four words express the very bedrock of Christian faith; "He is risen indeed." The literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a genuine, historical event validated by many eyewitnesses. It is the core doctrine of the faith once for all entrusted to the church of Jesus Christ for all time.

Today, for those following the 40 day New Testament Bible Reading plan, we begin reading Romans after concluding the final chapters of the book of Acts which chronicles the history of the early church. We have been purposefully looking for the emphasis on the death and resurrection of Christ in the early church. It was a recurring theme through the preaching in Acts and in studying for today's message, as well as looking ahead, it is an oft repeated theme in the epistles.

Years after the resurrection a mightily transformed Peter reminds his readers, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."

But today there are many who consider the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ nonsense. You likely know people who do and there are a number of them who are very forthright in their disbelief, even mocking those who do believe. C.N Hostetter wrote, "When people have problems with miracles it is not because miracles are unbelievable. The problem is that they have an inadequate view of God."

What is your view of God? Do you believe the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a myth or a historical fact? How does this view impact the way you live your life? In the case of the disciples, many who had some initial struggles in their belief, it resulted in a life-transforming change illustrated by Peter who stood on the Day of Pentecost and boldly proclaimed, "But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him" (Acts 2:24).

I ask again how does this view of the literal resurrection impact your life? Would you be willing to be persecuted or to lay down your life rather than forsake this Biblical teaching? I was struck as I read through the book of Acts that Paul was often brought before the officials with this very charge, including his appearance before the Sanhedrin, “…concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged” (Acts 23:6b).

Today let us wholeheartedly serve the risen Lord. Let us walk in the power of His resurrected life so that we triumph over evil, boldly assert Biblical doctrine, and cast our hope beyond the grave to eternal life and our own bodily resurrection.

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy this blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives my ever-living head!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Jesus, Your mission on earth ultimately led to Your obedience of death on the cross. But on the third day You defied the curse of death and rose to life again. In the historical records we read that Your resurrected body was identified by the nail scars visible in Your hands and Your feet; nails that were driven into Your innocent body by our sinful hearts, for when we were dead in our trespasses and sins You died for us, the ungodly. How undeserving we are of Your sacrificial death which brought about the Father's gift of eternal life. In humbleness of heart we receive this tremendous gift with gratitude and rejoicing.

Thoughtful note: Ken is a pastor/chaplain friend in Maine who periodically shares a comment regarding a daily encouragement that I always find enriching. I think he has a good word for all of us:

Greetings in the Name and power and grace of our Resurrected Savior!

I am just "catching up" on my e-mail reading from Holy Week events and preparations and the like. So I just read you Encouragement from Good Friday. I have often felt in my ministry that each Holy day season such as Christmas and Easter are the hardest times to preach. The people know the Scripture and are familiar with it, so how can we "milk" anything new out of it. I had semi-resolved this for myself by setting my mind on a different thematic element each year and that has helped, but the original question still hangs in there.

I was privileged to attend a Messianic Seder/Passover meal. They had invited a presenter from The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and he did a great job of walking us through an authentic Seder/Passover celebration and meal. I have to say I learned a lot and will continue to study this for myself in the future.

One thing however that was a "take away" for me was the explanation of the purpose for the Seder. It is simply so that the people will remember. In Jewish faith it is vital that the generations remember what the Israelites experienced during their years of slavery, their Exodus and how God Sanctified them and brought them into freedom, then led them in the wilderness, gave them the commandments, brought them across Jordan and into the Promised land. Then even there how God protected them from the marauding pagan nations surrounding them and maintained His covenant with them even as they sinned against Him.

I then recalled the words of Jesus "Do this in remembrance of me" during the celebration of Communion. This too was so that the people might remember the sacrifice given for us that we might live.

I did not mind at all preaching the "...old old story of Jesus and His love" because the telling of it again is done so that we can remember. We need to remember and we need to pass it on to the next generation in such a way that they too will love the Lord enough to pass it on from there. In Seminary it was said that the Christian Church is one generation away from extinction. We need to remember.

Easter service rehearsal 4/24/11
Ashley and Taylor rehearsing a song prior to our service yesterday.

Easter service church friends 4/24/11
Friends gathered early on Sunday expressing the joy of the Risen Lord!
Brooksyne adds:  To look younger one can visit the nursing home, but to look old just pose with young adults!

Green truck in barn
We pass this old green truck on the way to church.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

We appreciate the music of Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend and especially the solid doctrinal hymn-like music they are writing for today's church. Here are two newer songs related to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

"Come People Of The Risen King"  
  Kristyn Getty  We sang this yesterday and found it to have great meaning.  If you listen please note V. 2 which describes the beauty of the believers coming together to build each other up in the faith.

"Resurrection Morning"  Video  Stuart Townend  Another great resurrection hymn that will bless you!

And then we always enjoy the traditional Easter songs such as:

"He Arose"  Video  Brookwood Church  This is an example of taking an old hymn and really playing it to a contemporary setting with full band.  I prefer to hear the congregational voices more and a lot less instrumentation, but thankfully they don't change the lyrics or tune and certainly express exuberance in worship!

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"  Video  Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

"Worship Christ, The Risen King"  Video  Faith Presbyterian Church  Wonderful lyrics included on the video.

I also like to sing "He Lives" but was unable to find an online version to share. "You ask me how I know He lives, he lives within my heart!"

Finally musically:

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco  A great ballad telling the story from Peter's perspective on Resurrection morning. A popular song when I was a young Christian and I still enjoy hearing it.

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.

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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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