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Monday, May 9, 2011

Steudler Azalea gardens 5/6/11
Steudler Azalea Gardens

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: We began a 40 day New Testament reading plan on 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 scheduleThe links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (May 9): 1 John 2-Jude beginning here.
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"Christ's Glorious Trifecta"
"Jesus Saves!!!"

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2,3).

Yesterday was an extra special day for us. On May 8th we celebrate our wedding anniversary (1976) and my ordination to ministry (1979). But this year was also Mother's Day, so we really had three celebration events on one day. Last night I was talking to my brother in California and he told me that we had a trifecta, an interesting term I had heard of but don't commonly use, so I had to look it up. Turns out it's in part a horse racing term, but it also means "a run of three grand events".  That got me thinking about the greatest trifecta of all.
Our daily text begins "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him." To "fix our eyes" means to look away from other things and steadfastly or intently toward a distant object, at that which fills the heart. The idea is to direct one’s attention without distraction.

Today let us consider three grand events comprising this glorious trivecta in the life of Christ as expressed in the remainder of this verse:

1) Christ endured the cross. We have the accounts in the Gospels of His endurance as He was completing the mission His Father had sent Him to earth to accomplish; His sacrificial death for the redemption of the human race.  Endured literally means "to remain under but not simply with resignation, but rather with a vibrant hope". It describes one who continues in an activity despite resistance and opposition. Jesus endured short-term pain because of the certainty of long-term gain.

2) Christ scorned the shame. I find an elaboration in the Amplified Bible helpful here, "ignoring the shame".  The cross at His time brought only shame (it was the most shameful of deaths, “yea, the death of the cross” Philippians 2:8). But Jesus ignored that and did his Father’s will by submitting to it.

3) Christ sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. The death and resurrection of Christ are not explicit in this passage but certainly powerfully taught. He who endured and despised the shame of the Cross, died for our sins, was resurrected, ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. In fact the writer of Hebrews introduced Jesus with the description... "When He had made purification of sins (His work of salvation as the sacrificial Lamb of God was accomplished once and for all), He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).

As a result of Christ's glorious trifecta we are called to "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men." The word "consider" translates the Greek "analogizomai" which is used only here in the entire New Testament. (The English word "analyze" is related to this word.)  It means to carefully estimate and contemplate. 

There's a powerful reason for this consideration, "so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Encouragement is a prominent theme in the book of Hebrews. In fact regular readers may recall that the theme verse for this ministry comes from Hebrews 3:13, "encourage one another daily."

Today we have this same need don't we? By deeply contemplating these various aspects of Christ's redemptive trifecta, we receive encouragement and renewed determination to press on in our faith, even in the midst of opposition.  Jesus Saves!

Sing above the battle strife:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
By His death and endless life
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Shout it brightly through the gloom,
When the heart for mercy craves;
Sing in triumph o’er the tomb:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Jesus, we want to fix our eyes, our thoughts, and our affections on You, our blessed Redeemer.  Though You faced enormous opposition that would provide understandable excuse for altering Your redemption plan, nevertheless You endured the cross and scorned it's shame. Thank you that you died for our sins and rose in victory and returned to Your Father to sit at His right hand. When we consider the depth of Your commitment we're even more determined to be faithful in the night seasons of our Christian walk.  Help us to endure by keeping our eyes, not on that which is seen, but on the unseen future rewards that You promise to those who are faithful.  We pray this in Your name.  Amen.

Tom & Marsha at Fisher's Harness Shop, Lancaster County, PA
Our friends Tom and Marsha are young grandparents and are still physically fit.Tom managed to get on this Amish trike during a visit last fall.  They came to our church as a young married couple some 30 years ago. We were encouraged and humored by a note Brooksyne received from Marsha this morning concerning an experience in Children's Church yesterday:

I must tell you what I said to the kids yesterday. In Children's Church I began to review  the ABC's of Proverbs which Krista and I have been teaching for several months.  I started from the letter "A" and began to elaborate on each letter and let the kids say what word goes with each letter: (Like, what is our "A" word? They answer, "Avoid" for "Avoid evil".... and so on for each letter).

So, I get to the letter "F" and I ask with GREAT enthusiasm, "What is the "F" word?" I realize RIGHT away what I just asked as I glanced at a surprised 10 year old's face (his second time in Children's Church), along with the open mouth of my son-in-law Bill who had come to sit with his boys and is now blushing. Right away, I have to prompt the children that it is a good word that starts with the letter "F"-FRIENDS. Oh my! The teasing I had to put up with at the dinner table!

Our wedding photo
Our wedding photo (May 8, 1976)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
For family members and friends: My brother, Pat, a newly credentialed minister at the time, performed the ceremony and is standing behind us. My sister Genelle was maid of honor standing on the platform to Brooksyne's left. My Mom and Dad are in the front row to my right.

Mike and Nicole Martin 5/7/11
Saturday afternoon our friends Mike and Nicole Martin dropped by for a visit. They obviously ride motorcycles but also have a chaplaincy ministry to bike clubs and have made many inroads to present a witness for Christ.

Visit with Jeanette Steudler 5/6/11
We stopped in Friday to see and pray with Jeanette Steudler who is in her nineties. She has one of the most pleasant dispositions we have ever encountered in the elderly!

Steudler Azalea gardens 5/6/11
Jeanette has beautiful well tended Azaleas and Rhododendrens in her yard, gifts from her sons over the years every Mother's Day.

Steudler Azalea gardens 5/6/11

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Saves"  Video   Travis Cottrell  Outstanding version of an old hymn with photos and lyrics. We encourage our readers to especially listen to this song and rejoice in what God has done!

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"  Video  This version begins with a beautiful violin solo

We are blessed and heartened by careful readers. A friend from Maine pointed out that the lighthouse in the background of a photo taken in our living room is the Bass Harbor Lighthouse located on the Southeast coast of Mount Desert Island in Maine. Many years ago we vacationed on Mount Desert Island where Acadia national Park is located. It is a beautiful place. My most distinct memory though and a reminder that I was still kind of foolhardy in my late thirties/early forties was racing down Cadillac Mountain on my bike at over 50 miles per hour!

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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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