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Friday, April 14, 2017

Crucified (Ron DiCianni)
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain!

Ron DiCianni is one of our favorite artists.  The above photo is on the wall in a large lobby in an office building in Springfield, Missouri.  It is about ten feet tall and is absolutely stunning. DiCianni artistically places modern subjects in historic settings in his artwork such as the man holding the hammer and nail.

"O Mighty Cross"
Good Friday Message

Message summary: The mighty cross is the ultimate demonstration of God's power and the only hope we have for salvation.

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“They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree" (Acts 10:39). "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).

O mighty cross
Love lifted high
The Lord of life
Raise there to die
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross a tree of life to me

Cross made of chain
"The cross we carry is never as heavy as the chains
from which we were freed."

Wednesday evening I (Brooksyne) shared a message with the children in our church about the "The Three Trees".* The story begins with three little trees growing on a mountaintop. Each has a dream with the first tree wanting to be a treasure box and hold marvelous treasures. The second tree hopes to be the strongest ship carrying kings across the seas. The third tree wants to grow tall and never be cut down so she will only point people to heaven. Though their initial dreams seem to fade in the story they eventually see the fulfillment of their dreams as they are formed into a manger, a fishing boat, and a cross. It's a moving story that can easily move one to tears when telling it or hearing it, no matter the age.

After sharing the story I asked the children which of the three trees they would choose to be. Several came forward and with only one exception they chose to be the tallest tree so they could point people to God. Little four year old Caleb chose to be the strongest tree because he wanted to be a boat. Not only a boat but a "double decker". Afterwards I asked his grandpa if he would be drawing the blueprints for Caleb's double decker boat!

The story is mythical in the personality of the trees but "right on" in the very important roles they played in the life of Christ. All trees are a solemn reminder of that one single tree, the tree that Christ died upon once for all to pay for our salvation as,
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree."

The "tree" in our daily texts is undoubtedly the most significant single tree that ever grew, that was ever cut down, and that was ever processed into a finished product. Normally in Scripture this tree is known as the cross (describing its finished appearance), but in both of our texts the apostle Peter speaks of the raw material the cross was made of.

O mighty cross what throne of grace
He knew no sin yet took my place
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

CrossPeter was surely aware of a statement made in the Law of Moses written some 1,500 years earlier, "Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse" (Deuteronomy 21:22). The apostle Paul is clearly referring to this statement when he wrote, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).

The cursed tree of death became the blessed tree of life. Only God can turn ashes into beauty, curses into blessings. The cross is a reminder of the place where Jesus sacrificially laid down His life for our sins. One time honored and beloved hymn poignantly describes the cross of Christ as, "the emblem of suffering and shame."

Paul acknowledged in his time that the message of the cross was "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

CrossOver one hundred years ago in 1912, "The Old Rugged Cross" was written by evangelist and song-leader George Bennard. At that time he wrote about "The old rugged cross so despised by the world". Today many still consider the very notion of the cross foolishness and despise even the subject matter. It's our observation that the despising of the cross is rapidly increasing!

But we write to those, who like us, view the mighty cross as the ultimate demonstration of God's power and the only hope we have for salvation.

O mighty cross O Christ so pure
Love held Him there such shame endured
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
A tree of life to me

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the sin curse for us. The nails bore His body to the tree, and yet our sin condition bore His Spirit to the cross of Calvary. He who knew no sin became sin for us – what an unsurpassed substitutionary death our Savior sacrificed for us so that sin's curse could be removed and the blessings might follow; the blessings of forgiveness for sins, a home established in heaven, healing of body, mind and spirit, and the freedom from condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What unspeakable joy fills our hearts today as we rejoice in God's goodness to us through Christ Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb. Amen.

Yesterday we attended two company functions and stopped by to drop off some items at our Amish friends, the Lapps.

Team mule in Amish barn 4/13/17
A work team mule peering out of the barn checking out the weather, perhaps wondering if he will be working today.

Hen with chicks in Amish barn loft 4/13/17 (Click to enlarge)
Hen with chicks in Amish barn loft.
Jesse showed me this and proceeded to draw a lesson from a statement by our Lord in Matthew 23:37 that would have taken place during Holy Week.
(Click to enlarge)

Chicks in straw hat 4/13/17
Jesse wanted me to take this photo with the chicks in his straw hat and put it on the "Old Windmill Farm" Facebook page (I did). It occurs to me that the chicks probably aren't potty trained!

Amish team 4/13/17
We saw lots of work yesterday.

Big John breakfast at Smucker and Sons 4/13/17
Our day began at 6:30 am yesterday with a company breakfast at Smucker and Sons catered by Big John. About 40 men helped themselves to a hearty breakfast followed by a safety meeting. Brooksyne and I learned a few things regarding as well!

Bob Harris retirement gathering 4/13/17
We had a luncheon at the Val-Co company and honored a new retiree, Bob Harris (holding a shipping box which turned out to be a Val-Co clock). He has worked for the company as a shipping manager for 30 years and is greatly appreciated by his many co-workers.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

* "The Three Trees": a folktale for Good Friday

"The Story of the Three Trees"  Video retelling of story used in today's message.

"O Mighty Cross"  Video  John Chisum  I have enjoyed this song ever since it was a part of an Easter musical Brooksyne directed some twenty years ago when we served a church in New England.

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman

"The Power Of The Cross"  Video  Kristyn Getty

"It's About the Cross"  Video  The Ball Brothers

History of "The Old Rugged Cross"

Finally today:

Donkeys in pasture (Phil Huber)
In the course of our travels to a company in Lebanon County we pass a pasture with donkeys. We don't recall seeing more than one or two donkeys at a time usually. Our friend, Phil Huber, sent is this photo he had taken early this morning!

"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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