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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Romans 1

"The Centrality Of Christ's Resurrection"
Raised By God's Power!

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"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1-6)

During the years following the French Revolution, there was a great turning away from the Christian religion similar to what we are witnessing today here in America and in other western nations. A certain man named La Revilliere concocted a new religion which he thought was far superior to Christianity, but he had trouble convincing others to follow him. Seeking help, he went to the great diplomat Charles de Talleyrand for advice.
Talleyrand's advice was simple. "To ensure success for your new religion, all you need to do is have yourself crucified and then rise from the dead on the third day."

This week we are examining the centrality of the resurrection as expressed in each major section of the New Testament. Today we examine the centrality of the resurrection in Paul's epistles also known as the Pauline Epistles.

Pauline HardingI initially had to get used to that term "Pauline Epistles". All through my childhood my Mom had a very good friend named Pauline Harding. In fact I am told she changed my diapers! That's a photo of me with her when she was in her nineties shortly before her death. (Yes I am very tall and she was very short!) Years ago I wrote a message about the impact her husband had on my life simply titled "Mr. Harding".*

Paul wrote thirteen epistles (letters) all beginning with his name, "Paul..." His first epistle, in the order of Scriptures, is Romans and it doesn't take him long to state the foundation of the resurrection. In verse three he states, "His resurrection from the dead." All though his teachings we have many references to the resurrection, a truth he considered "of first importance".

In 1 Corinthians 15 he states the crucial necessity of Christ's resurrection to the Gospel. "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). As William Newell states, "The gospel is all about Christ. Apart from Him, there is no news from heaven but that of coming woe!"

"The resurrection furnishes the most conclusive and irrefutable evidence of Jesus’ divine Sonship. By the demonstration of His ability to conquer death, a power belonging only to God Himself (the Giver of life), Jesus established beyond all doubt that He was indeed God, the Son." (Precept Austin commentary)

The resurrection is in a sense God's "exclamation point" to the good news of the resurrection life available in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Paul saw the resurrection as the foundation of our new life in Christ. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-3).

Today and every day let us proclaim the words of a song that we may tend to sing only on Easter Sunday but is always true: 

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the permanence and sting of death was removed when You raised Christ Jesus from the dead. Had You sent ten thousand angels to rescue Him from the hands of His enemies and thwarted His execution on the cross we would not know of Your awesome power according to the Spirit of holiness by Christ's resurrection from the dead. Though Satan plotted Your plan prevailed, and because of that, we who believe are now raised with Christ, who is seated at Your right hand. You have set eternity in the hearts of people and because of that we can set our affections on things above causing us to be homesick for a place we've never been. Where You are is where we long to be. In Christ's Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Gary and Raleyne Conner 4/22/14
Yesterday afternoon we stopped by to visit with our friends Gary and Raleyne Conner whom we came to know when pastoring in northern Pennsylvania some 25 years ago. They now live in the Palmyra area close to White Oak Display, a company we serve as chaplains. We referred to Gary's study in Acts in yesterday's message. Raleyne taught school for 43 years, retiring just two years ago from the Milton S. Hershey School. Gary is retired from his practice as an orthopedic surgeon but continues to be an ardent student and is learning Aramaic, the language spoken in Israel at the time of Christ's ministry here on earth. Gary showed me an Aramaic/English Interlinear New Testament which was very interesting. You read the sentences from right to left which takes some getting used to, kind of like driving from the right side of the car rather than the left when traveling in England.

Marvin's arrival to America 1/89 with Conners
Brooksyne recalled this very meaningful photo with the Conners taken 25 years ago in January 1989 when they escorted some very ill children from Guatemala to the US for healthcare. Raleyne is holding a baby who was to undergo surgery for a cleft palate. Brooksyne is standing beside Marvin, a six year old boy who suffered from papillomas of the larynx. He was the second of four children we hosted from Guatemala (Ester coming along five months later and still with us today since she had no family.) We cared for Marvin for several months on two different occasions. We also met his mother and siblings when we visited his home in Guatemala. Marvin is now grown, married with children and faithfully serving the Lord! We have been in regular contact with him for about ten years now as he found us through Daily Encouragement after losing touch for many years. Marvin was not only frightened but very, very ill struggling for each breath and his airway was blocked by papillomas. The doctor thought it amazing that he was alive in his serious condition.

I called Raleyne last night to ask about the photo. She shared an experience she recalled when bringing him up from Guatemala and I requested that she write it out and share it with us!

"This is my memory of Marvin.  It is very clear since I told his story to hundreds of school children when we studied about Guatemala.

My husband and I had combined a trip to Guatemala with acting as accompaniers to children flying alone to the United States for surgery. At the Guatemala Airport we met two families, one of which was Marvin's. A slight boy, he was terrified of these strangers about to whisk him away from his family in a huge airplane. His relatives were there also to encourage him.

Marvin's mother, a slim and lovely young woman stood with tears quietly running down her face. Dad, in pressed blue jeans, held his hand and walked him over to us. With Marvin beside us, we began to board the plane. After a few steps, Marvin looked back over his shoulder, floods of tears bursting out. Dad came running, kneeled down, held him in his arms and whispered to him. This dear child straightened up, nodded his head, wiped away his tears and sorrowfully but bravely continued on his way. So courageous. We waved good-bye as long as we could.

Because of his medical condition, Marvin had a very difficult time eating (swallowing).  When we arrived at the Dallas Airport, he must have been hungry. In the restaurant we all ordered hamburgers. When the plates were placed in front of us, I began to eat. Then I looked over at Marvin---All by himself he was giving thanks to God for his meal.  Hands clasped, head bowed, lips moving---depending on God." How interesting in light of his inability to understand a word of English. It goes to show that in some instances our actions speak louder than our words.

Here's a story we wrote about Marvin in 2011.
Marvin taught us "En La Cruz" when he heard us singing it in English, "At the Cross"

* "Mr. Harding"  A message about impact from Pauline's husband.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

This week we will share songs that have blessed us about the resurrection of Christ.

"He Lives!" (song and hymn history)  Video

"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today"  Video  (traditional)  Video  (a bit more contemporary)

"Power Of The Cross"  Video  Steve Green

"Easter Song"  Video  Matthew Ward

"See What A Morning"
 Video  Getty/Towend team  I (Brooksyne) really appreciate the Biblical resurrection account being recounted in such detail and colorfully presented in this song by the Gettys and Stuart Towend, one of 12 hymns they collaborated on, based on the core beliefs as articulated in the Apostle's Creed.

"I'll Rise Again"
 Video  Dallas Holm

"Christ Arose"  Video  Daniel Thornton

"Because He Lives"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"He Arose"  Video  Stone Church choir

"He's Alive"  Video  Don Francisco

"He Gave His Life"  Video  Vocal Union 

"There Never Was A Pulpit Like The Cross"  Video  Vocal Union

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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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