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April 5, 2012

Rooster barn art
In the course of our travels through Lancaster County we pass this colorful barn on Bridge Valley Road just before the Forry's Mill Covered Bridge. The other side of the barn has a colorful display of three young girls with the chickens. We've been told they're paintings of the farmer's granddaughters!

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"The Rooster"

"And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times' And he went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75).  "But go, tell His disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7).

RoosterWe have an alarm clock that makes a rooster sound for its wake-up tone. It's an interesting way to be awakened at 5:00 AM but not nearly as interesting  as being awakened by a real rooster!

However there is one man in history who will forever be remembered for his association with the crowing of a rooster; that is Peter, of course!

This week we have been considering plants and animals that come up in the course of the Holy Week narrative. Well known but perhaps less considered is the occasion of the crowing rooster.

At the Last Supper
"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).

But Peter said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (Luke 22:33).  What confident bravado! In fact in Mark's account we read that Peter 
kept saying this "insistently" (Mark 14:31).

It was at this point that Jesus said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34

But let us especially consider here a word of the Lord to Peter that is so encouraging and instructive:

Peter weeping"But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." 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).

But He also prophesied his 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. In his epistle he writes to the early believers who were undergoing persecution, "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Peter 5:10).

Peter weepingPeter did fail and wept bitterly at the time of his denial. For him the period between the Cross and the Resurrection was hard for so many reasons.

But his failure is followed by his restoration which began on Resurrection Day when Jesus said, "But go, tell His disciples and Peter."  In the dramatic presentation we saw this last weekend this portion of Scripture is powerfully conveyed as Peter, following his denial of Christ, felt like a dismal, shame-filled failure. But suddenly his joy was restored as he realized that his name was specifically mentioned in Jesus' message to the women. Peter began to brighten and he responded to the messenger,  "He said my name!" "Jesus said my name!"

This account is encouraging and instructive for us. The spiritual battles we face are an ongoing reality in every stage of life. May the Lord give us grace to stand and, if or when we do fail, His forgiving grace to be restored.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily 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 ultimately our testimony. Help us not to resent the testings 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're grateful for Jesus who faithfully intercedes for us, in the siftings and shakings of life. Above all, we're grateful that no sin or failing on our part exceeds the scope of Your absolute forgiveness. Just as You restored Peter, reignited his zeal, and reinstated Him in his evangelistic role, You do the same for all who seek forgiveness and turn away from their sin.  How wonderful, how marvelous is my Savior's love for me!

We appreciate the response to our little quiz inquiring what plants and animals are a part of the Holy Week narrative in the Scriptures.
1) Palm tree (branches) - Monday
2) The donkey - Tuesday
3) The thorns that comprised the crown of thorns - Wednesday.
4) The rooster that crowed at Peter's denial - Thursday.
We will consider one more tomorrow!

Rooster taking pony ride
We took this photo at our neighbor's place.
His rooster seems to enjoy getting a free pony ride!

Tom and Marsha Neizmik 4/4/12
Our friends, Tom and Marsha Neizmik, stopped in for a visit yesterday.  They live in Northern Pennsylvania and continue to be a blessing to the church we planted in St. Marys over 34 years ago.  They came to see "Jonah" at the Sight and Sound Theater.

Hotel Hershey flowers
Yesterday we had a hospital call in Hershey and spent some time on the grounds of the beautiful Hotel Hershey. Ester snapped this photo of us atop the flowers (actually behind them, as you might guess).

Hotel Hershey flowers
The entrance as you drive up to the Hotel Hershey.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

This week we will share links to songs dealing with the Cross and Christ's redemptive work and will add to them through the week with the most recent at the top

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco  A great ballad telling the story of Peter's denial and the joy of restoration. In this version Don tells the story of how the song was written prior to singing it along with his wife. Song only Video

"It's Still The Cross"  Video  This is an outstanding song I have enjoyed the last several years. This is a group of young people from the University of Mobile who really do it justice.  See here for lyrics.

"The Power Of The Cross"  Video  Again,the young people from the University of Mobile
. Very well done.

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"O Sacred Head Now Wounded"
 Video  a beautiful Fernando Ortega version.

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"
  Video  Sarah Sadler

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video 

(We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

“It's Still The Cross!”

(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9  

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20 

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 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 12:1-3

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. 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.

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

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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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"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"

O Lord, be gracious unto us,.... This is a prayer of the church under the persecutions of antichrist, imploring the grace and favour of God in their miserable and distressed circumstances; desiring his gracious help, assistance, and deliverance; pleading not any merits of their own, but casting themselves upon the mercy and kindness of God: