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August 20, 2018

Shocks Mill Bridge 6/26/18 (Click on photo to enlarge)
Shocks Mill Bridge (Railroad) over the Susquehanna River.
(Click to enlarge)

"The Bridge To Life"

Message summary: As Christ's representatives let us use our unique God-given gifts in blessing others and also in spreading the Gospel!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"He told them many things in parables" (Matthew 13:3).

Last week we followed the news about the horrifying bridge collapse in Milan, Italy that killed many people. We can imagine what a terrifying experience that was and the shock and grief many are now going through. We just don't expect bridges to fail. Most all of us cross many bridges every day; over small creeks, other roads, railroad tracks, etc. Some of us also regularly use long bridges, in our case frequent trips over the Susquehanna River.

Today let us consider a bridge that will never fail. As a song states it's "a bridge to cross the great divide" between man's sinfulness and God's holiness.

We met a retired man who enjoys a rather unusual and interesting hobby. He carves small covered bridges from blocks of wood. At the time I talked to him he had made over 2,400! In our conversation I mentioned that he could use his skill to advance the Kingdom of God. He eagerly responded that he in fact often uses his carvings as object lessons, using the bridge as an illustration of God's salvation for mankind (see the link below for further insight).

Today's verse is the first reference to the word "parable" in Christ's teaching.
"He told them many things in parables." Parables are an interesting feature of Christ's teaching methodology that He is well known for. The most memorable and simple definition we ever heard regarding a parable is the way we explain it to children and adults alike: "A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." Jesus often connected with His listeners using parables.

Many of His parables are cross cultural and cross generational so we easily understand them. In some case we do need to learn about the customs and culture of the day to better understand them.

He did not use stories and illustrations that would not have connected to his early listeners. For instance last week I alluded to computer memory in an illustration that connects effectively in our own age but would have been gibberish to the 1st century listeners. Several weeks ago I read an article that pointed out the "smartphone would have been a device that would have seemed like dark magic to people living just a hundred years ago."

Matthew 13 is a series of parables dealing with the Kingdom. These parables have often been called kingdom parables and in fact most of them are introduced by this phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is like______." "Parable", by the way, is a direct transliteration of the Greek word, in other words it sounds the same in the English as it does in the Greek, so if you can pronounce the word, parable, you know some Greek!

Jesus told these parables not only as an illustration to support His teaching, but at times it was His complete sermon! The crowds went home and pondered the meaning of His parables, perhaps discussing them together, which created spiritual interest for additional teaching. These parables were essentially bridges between the natural stories to which the listeners could relate and the eternal truths Christ wanted to convey.

We regularly challenge earnest followers of Christ to impact their world for Christ and do so again today! We believe that God has given each of us natural giftings that enable us to creatively spread the Gospel message. There are many who will never enter a church building or sit and listen to a sermon. But they may share a mutual interest or talent with a believer, thereby giving opportunity for a witness for Christ.

There is an excellent illustrative evangelistic tract titled "The Bridge" which is used by a ministry called the Navigators. It's actually available on the web (see link below). We challenge each of you to consider Biblical illustrations/parables based upon your line of work or personal interests. We believe that as we pray and seek the Lord He will reveal appropriate, personal parables that we can use to effectively communicate His truth.

As Christ's representatives let us use our unique God-given gifts in blessing others and also in spreading the Gospel!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, we’re so thankful for the parables Jesus spoke in the gospels where You connect listeners in their everyday living with the teachings that have eternal impact. Since we're often perplexed by life's experiences and need supernatural understanding or wise counsel the parables provide wisdom and guidance to direct us in the daily events of our lives. The parables of Christ, though presented over 2000 years ago, have not diminished in their application because You are speaking to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of Your creation. We continue to need Your divine intervention and Biblical instruction for daily living as we walk this pilgrim pathway. Thank You for Jesus, our Great Teacher, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Canada Goose (Photo by Steven Binkley)
Steven Binkley is a young neighbor who just won a photo competition with this Canada Goose photo on Donegal Creek. We appreciate his sharing it with us.

Strasburg farm 8/16/18
With all the rain we've had our area corn is growing tall. This is a view looking across Strasburg Pike from the Smucker Company parking lot.

Knoebels flowers 8/15/18
Another photo from our trip last week to Knoebels Amusement Park where the large grove like park is planted with many flowers. Surely Knoebels has their own nursery as there are walls of flower arrangements in every direction, even placed high on tree trunks. So, if you live near the area, and want to be inspired by the beautiful flowers it's worth a walk through - never mind the dizzying rides intended for the younger crowd. Great variety of delicious food there too!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Bridge To Life"

"Jesus Never Fails"
  Video  Prestonwood Choir & Orchestra

"Your Great Name"  Video  Calvary Church worship team

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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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