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April 12, 2012

Stained glass in abandoned church
Stained glass in Lancaster City church

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"A Living Hope"

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:2-4).

Many of our readers have seen the movie, "Courageous". The story line includes a family that is devastated at the loss of their young daughter in a car accident. During the funeral their thoughtful pastor contemplates, "What can we, as mere men, say to a grieving and shattered heart? We speak today because we have a Living Hope.  Death is no respecter of persons. Death is no respecter of youth. Death is a painful intruder and a pernicious reminder of our human condition. But I stand before you today to declare that we have a Living Hope ...and that causes us to rejoice greatly. You, see, our hope today is found in the fact that Jesus is no longer entombed.  He lives....because He lives, the grieving, broken heart has hope and reason to rejoice".

A simple definition of hope is an emotional state, the opposite of despair, that promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life.

Sadly there are scores and scores of people "who have no hope."  These are the kind of people that Paul wrote to in Thessalonians. Hopelessness and despair can easily take a grip on our emotions can't they? The great hymn writer Isaac Watts provides an interesting
description, "Despair tells us that difficulty is insurmountable."

"Living hope" for the follower of Christ is a result of God's great mercy and the new birth He has given us, grounded in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The apostle Peter wrote these words to encourage believers undergoing various trials and persecution. Some thirty years after Christ's resurrection the church entered a time of horrific persecution during Nero's reign. It was shortly after this that Peter was likely martyred for his faith.

All of us who trust in Christ have this living hope. As we live out our lives we have many of the same problems as others. But our perspective differs based on an empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope is alive and our eternal future awaits us, no matter the present circumstances. Billy Graham characteristically states it so simply, "As a Christian I have hope not just for this life but for Heaven and the life to come."

Today we need to hold fast to our living hope. Never lose sight of it. The writer of Hebrews spoke of this hope as "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." As God's children we have a living hope and an assurance that God will see us through. I encourage you this day to keep the presence of our living hope ever before you! In doing so, I promise that you will be encouraged in your circumstance and
strengthened in your faith!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help me not to waste my time and energy in futile or wishful thinking. Instead I want to fix my thoughts upon the living hope I have in Jesus Christ my Lord. I anchor my soul in the bedrock of Your Holy Word so that when other viewpoints counter the truths presented in Your Word my anchor remains firm. When difficulties appear insurmountable remind me that I serve an extraordinary God who does not rely on natural solutions but works in the supernatural realm to meet each one of my needs. I am not tossed to and fro by wishful thinking but I am firmly grounded in the living hope of our resurrected Savior and it is in His name that I pray. Amen.

All this week our daily encouragement messages will be on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as taught in each of the major sections of the New Testament.
Monday's message was from the Gospel accounts. We tend to be most familiar with the resurrection accounts that each of the four gospels have and these are the passages that most preachers use on Easter Sunday. Obviously we could develop more than one message from these accounts but thought it would be beneficial to study the resurrection in the rest of the NT.
Yesterday's message examined how the resurrection was a core element in apostolic preaching in Acts.
Yesterday and today we study the resurrection teaching in the epistles and on Friday from the Book of Revelation.

Yesterday Brooksyne and I joined the entire staff of JK Mechanical, one the companies we serve as chaplains in a work day. One day annually this company closes shop (as far as regular work) and takes their entire staff of some 75 employees to work on a community project. This year's project was part of a larger community effort in renovating an inner city church which had been built in 1869 but has been closed for several years. and work to convert it into a community ministry center. It was great to be a part of the teamwork!

JK Work Day 2012
Bill, Brooksyne and Margie, three members of the paint crew, reporting early in the morning  for their instructions.Brooksyne is rubbing her hands in excitement ready to get to work!

JK Work Day 2012
Sheet after sheet of 12 foot long drywall was hoisted up to a former balcony area that was being converted to office space. The building featured beautiful stained glass throughout the entire building.

JK Work Day 2012
Brooksyne was on a paint crew and I got a shot of her on a tall ladder edging around the woodwork which was her job all day long.

JK Work Day 2012
On the other hand I had a very different job.  As a boy my dad would say, "Son, it takes a real man to run a jackhammer."  And it does!
Watch here.

JK Work Day 2012
Another ministry group served us a tasty lunch!

JK Work Day 2012
The workers wait for a break in traffic along Queen Street in Lancaster to catch the bus back to JK Headquarters.

JK Work Day 2012
I doubt if there was much horsing around on this trip as the first weary workers boarded the bus.

JK Work Day 2012
I stayed a while longer to help a crew finish drilling holes for posts for a handicap access ramp. It takes a real man to run this auger as well, actually two men!  Watch here.

Brooksyne's thoughts about the project:  After the workday I talked with an older man who worked with Impact Ministries who headed up the major renovation project. He appeared to be resting on a pew in the sanctuary but was actually elevating his legs due to a troubling health matter. I asked him if he knew the history of the church.  Indeed he did. He was teary eyed as he told me, "I moved to Lancaster County in 1967 and on my first Sunday I brought my family to this church. My wife and I chose to attend here and raised our children in this church. I have two children who were also married here."

It was an incredible work of  architecture, but more importantly at one time it was so full of spiritual life.  We looked at plaques and 8 X 10 photographs of the attendees all the way back to the 1930's; ladies in their lovely dresses and hats, large groups of VBS students dressed in their Sunday best.  It was an experience I'll not soon forget.

It's wonderful that another use has been found for the edifice in a very needy part of the city.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

This week we have placed the same songs up through the week on the resurrection.

"Resurrection Song"  Video  Second Chapter of Acts  On Sunday morning, Stan Miller, our Sunday School teacher opened our class by playing this song for the class using his cell phone (though Keith Green was the singer)!

"See What A Morning"
 Video  Kristyn Getty  A fairly recent written anthem describing the historic resurrection morning.

"I'll Rise Again"
 Video  Dallas Holm  This song never grows old for me!

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"  Video  

"Christ Arose"  Video  Daniel Thornton

"He Arose"  Video

"Because He Lives" Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco

"He Gave His Life"  Video  Vocal Union 

"There Never Was A Pulpit Like The Cross"  Video  Vocal Union  Brooksyne heard this on the radio Saturday and called my attention to it.  It's a southern gospel rendering of a powerful message within the song.

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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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