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Monday, April 14, 2014

Mystery photo
Reader's Digest has an interesting feature called "See the world...differently" in which  a photo is featured in a context you do not expect such as a closeup and then an easily recognizable photo. I took today's photo and wonder how many may recognize what it is?
If any readers want to venture a guess as to what this is respond here. I will identify the photo tomorrow.

Peter's Song, Our Song
"He Looked Beyond My Fault And Saw My Need"

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player. For any who may care to listen to the song that in part prompted today's message here's a video.

"And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how He had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:60-62).

Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise,
for it was grace that bought my liberty;
I do not know just why He came to love me so,
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

Palm Sunday
Yesterday we observed Palm Sunday, when Christians remember the Triumphal Entry of our Lord who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. It also marks the beginning of Holy or Passion Week on the Church calendar. Intense redemptive activity takes place this holy week and the four gospels give a lot of information about this period.*

As a pastor there's a lot of preaching material to choose from that is taken from the events that happened this week. On Palm Sunday I typically preached on the Triumphal Entry itself or the Cross since the following Sunday is Resurrection Day and all Bible-faithful preachers have a topic for that day!

Yesterday our pastor preached on a matter we especially contemplate during Passion Week; Peter's denial of Christ. The denial is found in all four of the gospels and due to the details known only to Peter; it would have been his story. Our pastor felt it is was a story he often told.

Jesus had
actually prophesied that Peter would fail. Earlier that evening Jesus spoke directly to him using the interesting double repeat of his name, a feature known as "Epizeuxis" which is found elsewhere in Scripture.*

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:31-34). This prophecy is also found in Matthew 26:30-35, Mark 14:26-31, John 13:36-38. Notice especially Peter's bold confidence,
“Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”

The record of Peter's denial is found in Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72:, Luke 2:54-62, John 18:15-18. The account is rich with detail complimented by the accumulative observations in each gospel account. Pastor did a great job yesterday of drawing from these details, which is a mark of solid expository preaching.

Jesus looks at PeterLet's look at one detail from the account in our message today. Immediately following the rooster crow (audio) we read a detail that only Luke provides, "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter." This is a short phrase but rich in contemplative thought. Now since the recollection of the experience had to come from Peter he also apparently looked at Jesus. What silent message was conveyed in that brief moment of eye contact?

What went through Peter's mind? Regret, sorrow, shame, embarrassment, a plea for help, etc.

What was our Lord thinking during this brief glance? I have a harder time speculating on what the Lord was thinking but consider His great love for Peter and the entire human race.

When pastor dealt with this part I leaned over and whispered to Brooksyne the line from today's opening song that could have been Peter's song, as he later reflected upon that look from his Lord, "He looked beyond my fault and saw my need."

We know the rest of the story. After the denials Peter immediately "went out and wept bitterly". But he didn't stay down. He was active on Resurrection Day and through the 40 day post resurrection period where he had an interesting restoration recorded in John's gospel. He went on to be a leader in the early church and wrote two letters recorded in our Bible.

We who have placed our trust in Christ also have a story. No matter our background or the depth of our sin, we all cry out, "He looked beyond my fault and saw my need."

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the cross where Jesus died for me,
How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul;
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, because of Your marvelous grace You commissioned Your Son, Jesus, to die for an ungrateful, unreceptive and hostile people, and that includes me.  It's easy to be critical of Peter who so boldly asserted that he would never deny Christ, but did so within hours and at such a critical moment. Yet Peter's actions help us to view the tender grace You poured out on him at his lowest moment. His bitterness dissolved into brokenness. You are close to the brokenhearted, and deliver those whose spirit has been crushed. It is so instructive and encouraging to know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Peter, a fearful failure who grew into a faithful follower, eventually gave his life for the cause of Christ. May we too have such a resolve to follow you even if it means we may lay down our life for You. Thank You for Your amazing grace that looks beyond our faults and sees our need. Amen.

* T
here are seven times in Scripture when God addresses a person by repeating their name twice (this is known as "Epizeuxis" which is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis.
During Holy Week Jesus also addresses the name of a place twice: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" Matthew 23:37 and He addresses His Father twice:  "My God, My God"  Matthew 27:46

Mount Pleasant praise team 4/13/14 (Palm Sunday)
Yesterday Brooksyne led our congregation in worship.
What a blessing to hear the congregation sing out on Palm Sunday!

Bill Longenecker 4/13/14In our Sunday School class Bill Longenecker shared about being a friendly church and making the church experience pleasant for guests. He is a retired pastor and now visits various churches sharing tips on being welcoming and friendly.

Bill was our neighbor on Risser Mill Road when we first moved to Lancaster County in 2001. He has a beautiful farm that has been in the family for generations. We have periodically shared photos from his farm over the years since he has a covered bridge over a pond and other interesting features.

We have moved about quite a bit in the course of life; from the areas we grew up, to college years, to northern Pennsylvania to New England and back to Pennsylvania.
We regularly meet people who have lived their entire lies in one area.

Bill has an interesting distinction. He is 86 years old and told us he still sleeps in the same room he was born in having lived his entire life in the Longenecker farmhouse.

First spring planting 4/12/14
We had a beautiful day Saturday and Brooksyne began our spring flower plantings. I was working from my desk and observed her smile in doing something she so enjoys. She will be surprised to see this photo today. (Editor's Note:  Yes, I was surprised!)

Pansies on wall 4/13/14
Pansies freshly planted in planters along our brick wall

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"He Looked Beyond My Fault"  Video  David Phelps

"He Gave His Life"  Video  Vocal Union (acappella)

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  We sang this majestic hymn in our worship service yesterday.  As the instrumentation backed off and I heard the harmonic voices of God's people singing out these thoughtful lyrics a powerful spirit of worship rose up in my heart.

"I Will Glory in the Cross"  Video  Michael Harris

"See the world...differently" Here's a collection of photos from the Reader's Digest.

Major Events of the Passion Week

An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four 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 mercy in providing our redemption.

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you read 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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