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Monday, April 17, 2017

Meadow View Road pond 4/15/17 (Ester) Click to enlarge
Reflective pond along Meadow View Road
(Photo by Ester, click to enlarge)

"A Message Of First Importance"

Message summary: One of the great evidences for the validity of the Christian faith is the changed lives of the disciples. From resurrection morning onward they went forth as devoted servants of the resurrected Christ and many were martyred for their faith. The resurrection truth meant a deep, abiding commitment to the risen Lord for these early Disciples of Christ and it has for believers in each subsequent generation. Today, hundreds of millions live for Jesus Christ and I'm one of them. I earnestly hope you are as well.  Yes, it's true, the Lord is risen!  And I believe, you as a reader will properly respond, "He is risen, indeed!"

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"It is true! The Lord has risen" (Luke 24:34). "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).

Did you gather with other believers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday? We probably sang some of the same songs you did to honor the risen Christ. We're also aware that some of our readers are unable to get out and be with others. We trust you experienced the vital truth of the resurrection in your heart, and possibly worshipped Him with other believers via television, online or some other valuable resource that brings live worship into your setting.

Daily Encouragement on TwitterUpon awakening on Easter morn the familiar resurrection story was fresh on our minds. We can only try to feel the emotion and excitement of those first participants. At that time the news travelled so slowly compared to our day. Likely today the news would first be disseminated with a tweet hashtag #Christarose. The disciples would then put their accounts up on their Facebook page and in no time someone would have a YouTube video posted that would most certainly go viral!

In the nineties when we lived in New England I served on a Presbytery board (overseers). I met Calvin Bacon, an older pastor in Connecticut, who became a friend. When he retired he moved to Florida and we lost contact except through email.

He had many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and
for several years sent out a weekly email update and inspiration to his family and friends prior to his home going (he died while on a mission trip in Africa). When I read his messages I sensed a type of modern patriarch, faithfully serving God and passing on the heritage to those behind him. One of his final messages was on Easter Sunday and he shared a remembrance from early in his ministry. It is a reflection from the past but a timely truth now and always:

 "We celebrate RESURRECTION DAY! I shall never forget an event from the mid-fifties. I was on staff at the Stone Church in Chicago, Illinois as the Minister of Music and Youth. It was Easter Sunday morning and as usual we were standing in the foyer of that great church welcoming the parishioners at they came in for Worship.  They were all dressed up with hats and corsages.

Western Union delivery man
There was no communication from overseas except Western Union Telegraph. In through the front door popped a young man in a Western Union uniform.  He handed the Pastor a yellow envelope.  Pastor tore it open and it was from a missionary in Jerusalem.  The words, written on 1/4" tape and pasted on the yellow paper read: "HE IS NOT HERE STOP HE IS RISEN STOP HALLELUJAH". ("Stop" was the word used for a period back then.) That made a tremendous impact on my young mind. And the same message is just as real today as it was back then. WE SERVE A RISEN LORD! HALLELUJAH! Our God is different from any other god in the world.  He was embedded into mankind and then killed, but He rose again and now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise His Name! Let's celebrate. GLORY!"

Emmaus Road "It is true! The Lord has risen" (Luke 24:34). Have you made this affirmation? It was initially made by the two disciples who encountered the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. That's the simple, straightforward report they brought to the eleven. 

It's at the very heart of the Christian faith, a matter of "first importance" according to the apostle Paul. In fact Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17).

You see; our faith is grounded in objective historical fact, not religious myth. Peter wrote, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).

And now here we are, nearly 2,000 years later (1,984 based upon the commonly held date of 33 AD). You're reading it in a variety of locations all around the world. After Resurrection Sunday it's back to work, back to living out the remainder of our allotted time on planet earth, back to what has often been referred to as "the daily grind." Yet the reality of the resurrection is a dynamic truth that should impact and permeate every area of our life, every single day. It should invigorate our walk with Christ and renew our hope in the midst of the daily grind so that our spirit soars above the wear and tear of life's demands and disappointments.

Three reasons that the resurrection of Christ is of first importance:

  • It is a genuine, historical event.
  • It is the crowning event in God’s redemptive plan, assuring us of the ultimate victory.
  • It is a life-transforming event.
One of the great evidences for the validity of the Christian faith is the changed lives of the disciples. From resurrection morning onward they went forth as devoted servants of the resurrected Christ and many were martyred for their faith. The resurrection truth meant a deep, abiding commitment to the risen Lord for these early disciples of Christ and it has for believers in each subsequent generation. Today, hundreds of millions live for Jesus Christ and I'm one of them. I earnestly hope you are as well.  Yes, it's true, the Lord is risen!  And I believe, you as a reader will properly respond, "He is risen, indeed!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the message "He is risen" resounds beyond the place of the tomb where Jesus' body no longer lay, for it resounds in our hearts and soars within our spirits nearly 2000 years later.  We serve a risen Savior who is in the world today, who dwells within our hearts, and who reconciles us to You, our Father in heaven. What a joyous and triumphant day we celebrate at Easter and everyday as we acknowledge our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who died, was buried, and who rose again.  Amen.

One more reflection: For many, many years I have appreciated the story of a proud and ungodly professor who said to a young child who believed in the Lord Jesus: "My dear little girl, you don't know whom you believe in. There have been many christs. In which of them do you believe?" "I know which one I believe in," replied the child. "I believe in the Christ who rose from the dead!"

Some scenes from our weekend

Amish children 4/15/17
Saturday morning we drove over to Mastersonville Furniture owned by our Amish friends Roman and Sadie, whom we met while serving a small church in that community about seven years ago. They have a new and used furniture store where we went to purchase a used desk for Ester. All their children come to work with them and are precious. In this photo Ester has her phone video showing them the birth of the giraffe earlier that day with their mother's permission. It was a delightful sight to see them spellbound by the baby giraffe. It's likely that they have seen farm animals birthed but a giraffe is just a little different, especially on the small screen.

Pierce family planting peas 4/15/17
The family that plants together stays together. Pierce family planting peas, a team effort accompanied by Christian music out of the boombox. What a wholesome scene!!! We'll have to get a photo when the pea vines start climbing the fencing.

Mount Pleasant children singing 4/16/17
Our up and coming band at the pre-school level.

Mount Pleasant children singing 4/16/17
A special part of any Easter service is hearing the children singing!

Mount Pleasant Resurrection Day song service 4/16/17
And we adults sang as well, proclaiming "Hallelujah, He is risen!"

Easter flowers 4/15/17
 Easter flowers
display. We purchased the three vases and its carrier at the furniture store and it didn't take long for Brooksyne to put it to use.
(Photo by Ester)

Louis Almond 4/16/17
Yesterday we had dinner with our longtime friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt at Calvary Homes, a senior adult living center that was initially developed to provide senior living for retired missionaries. Joining us at our table were Louis Almond and his wife. Louis was saved while serving on an aircraft carrier in Easter 1944. Now at 95 years old he is as sharp as a tack. His incredible story merits a full encouragement message at a later time! He served for two years in China with the China Inland Mission between 1949-1951 when he was one of the last missionaries banished from the country under communism. He went on to serve for thirty years in Thailand pioneering the work of Christ in the central part of the country.

Ncube family 4/16/17
Last night our Zimbabwean friends joined us for an impromptu cookout and later making S'mores around the fire.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"In Christ Alone"  Video  Travis Cottrel   Yesterday, along with the longtime Resurrection Day hymn, classics Brooksyne led our congregation in this wonderful anthem.

"Glorious Day"  Video  Casting Crowns

Finally today:

Stephen and his sister Genelle, Easter around 1965
My sister Genelle is good at finding old photos.
This photo was snapped on Easter in the mid-sixties in our lawn in Belton, Missouri.
Looks like we had an Easter basket filled with eggs and candy. I wonder if we had to wait till after eating our Easter dinner before indulging in the Easter candy. Mostly likely!

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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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