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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Stony Valley rail trail stream 4/11/17
Mountain Lake along the Stony Valley Rail Trail.
(Click on photo for larger view)

"The Rooster's Crow"

Message summary: Today’s 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, let us look to His forgiving grace in seeking restoration.

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"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).

Tractor Supply rooster in coop
We enjoy shopping at a farm store called "Tractor Supply". You never know what you might find there with numerous interesting items. They are presently selling chicken coops and live chickens. The other day I took the photo of the really, really large rooster they are selling. Assuming the laying hens are this big I reckon she would lay very, very large eggs!

We 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! Marvin, our neighbor across the road has a real rooster with the sound of authentic country life.

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!

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 follows which is so encouraging and instructive:

"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 brutally hard for so many reasons.

But his failure is followed by his restoration which began on Resurrection Day when Jesus instructed the ladies who appeared at the tomb, "But go, tell His disciples and Peter." 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. In an Easter musical we had years ago I remember when Peter began to brighten after hearing about Jesus saying his name. 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, let us look to His forgiving grace in seeking restoration.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily 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 testimony and ultimately our faith. 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! Amen.

Rooster barn art
For many years we passed this colorful barn on Bridge Valley Road just before the Forry's Mill Covered Bridge. It has faded and the paint has peeled in recent years. 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!

Persevering tree 4/11/17
Tree along the Stony Valley rail trail.
We may be using this photo down the road in a lesson about perseverance!

Robin 4/12/17 (Photo by Ester)
This robin appears to be well-fed as most of them are!
(Photo by Ester)

Pink Heartbreak 4/12/17 (Photo by Ester)
Pink Heartbreaker redbud
We have a special feature tree in our front lawn. It's a beautiful tree year round but especially so as it buds. It's a hybrid developed by Don Eaton, a friend of ours at Eaton Farms north of Reading PA.
(Photo by Ester)

Smucker siding crew 4/12/17
We had damage to our siding following the hail storm in March and the siding crew from Smucker Home Improvement were over yesterday hard at work.

Rooster taking pony ride
Years ago we took this photo at our neighbor's place.
This rooster enjoys getting a free pony ride!

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"How Marvelous, How MarvelousVideo  Gaither Homecoming Singers

"Song of Peter's Denial"  Video  Ryan Brown

"Face to Face (Peter's Song)"  Video  Michael O'Brien

"Song of Remorse – St. Peter's Denial of Jesus Three Times"  Video  James Boyd

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

(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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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