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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lebanon County pond 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning we passed this country pond on Mount Wilson Road in Lebanon County. We have a photo of this scene from last winter and hope to capture it in each of the seasons. (It was one of many photos that we are "wowed" by after we have already passed the view so we turn the car back around, return to the spot and capture it on camera so we can share with our viewers.)
(Click to enlarge)

"The Blessing Of A Dying Seed"

Message summary: Christ became as a dying seed. His death was necessary so that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24).

LancasterCounty field work 4/11/19We are seeing a lot of agricultural activity in our area, mostly field prep and manure spreading as the farmers prepare for spring planting. We especially enjoy seeing the old-order farming methods reminding us of methods used in previous generations.

Jesus used a lot of agricultural illustrations in His teaching since it connected to the people of His day and also has universal application. Today He might use an illustration such as "hit your home button" or "reboot your computer".

Today we're going to consider a teaching in John 12:20-36 following His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and during what we now call "Holy Week".

It begins with a request from some Greeks who were in the city to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip with this request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." Philip left so he could tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

The text doesn't tell us whether these Greeks actually saw Jesus or if they were able to speak to Him. In fact they are not even mentioned again in this passage! However I have wondered if one of these Greeks might have been Stephen who later had a leadership role in the early church and became the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture. *

Instead it launches into a teaching in which Jesus begins, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified". He knew what was ahead for Him culminating with His sacrificial death on the cross in just several days. The next several verses He powerfully and solemnly speaks concerning His glorification. I love to study the Bible and examine His teaching point by point but today let's just consider the daily text.

"I tell you the truth" Jesus begins by saying something we can always be assured of when He speaks, yet prefacing a statement with these words will likely capture the listener's attention even more, as if to say, "I'm going to go beyond the surface and tell you the deeper or underlying meaning unknown to others."

Wheat seeds"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed." Jesus frequently used illustrations from agriculture in His teaching ministry and, as far as I can tell, this is His last one recorded in Scripture.

Farmers are preparing their fields, servicing their equipment, and buying seeds. The imprudent farmer could keep that seed, show it off to others, even remind himself of previous bountiful harvests but its effectiveness would be nil as it would remain only a single seed. Instead, the productive farmer is interested in multiplication. He will drop that seed into the ground and bury it. This is easily observed and indisputably true.

Corn planting
In Lancaster County farmers plant a lot of corn. During the planting season I've often observed the farmers as they plant the corn (sow the seed). A relatively small bin of seeds is attached to the planter for each row.

Corn harvestAfter the growing season at harvest time I also observe the combine as it works the same field. One large truck after another comes alongside the combine and soon the truck is filled to overflowing with corn kernels (seeds). And so the law of dynamics is proven in Jesus' teaching, "But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

So, too, Christ became as a dying seed. His death was needful in order that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world. Jesus willingly died and God resurrected His body. So, too, our sinful nature must die so that God will resurrect our spiritual nature in Christ. As a result we will bear much fruit as we walk in the righteous ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself declared, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for many. He could have possessed His heavenly glory alone, without humbling Himself as a lowly servant being made in human likeness. He could have entered heaven alone even after He took on the nature of man, by His own perfect righteousness without the agony of suffering or death, but then we could not have been saved. The entire human race would have been lost. We thank You, God, for Jesus who became obedient to death, even death on a cross. As a result You lifted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. It is through the obedience of Your Son, Jesus, that many are made righteous and we are forever grateful. In Jesus name we give thanks. Amen.

* The churches first recorded internal dispute is recorded in Acts 6 with the issue being "the Hellenistic Jews (Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture) among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The apostles established the first deacon board to oversee this. They wisely chose representatives from both Hellenistic (Greek) and Hebraic men for this task. Stephen, the most prominent of the seven, had a Greek name.

Lebanon County Mennonite school 4/16/19
Yesterday morning we passed this Mennonite school in rural Lebanon County. It was still brisk but the children were bundled up and out in the sunny weather for recess.

Today we will share some photos from a bike ride we took late yesterday afternoon along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. It is one of the many outstanding rails to trails in our area.

Shock's Mill Bridge 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
Shock's Mill Bridge (Railroad)
(Click to enlarge)

 Notice how the bike path is partially flooded. During really high water they have to close the trail at this point. With many heavy rainfalls this year it's likely been closed often.

I made an interesting phone call as we stopped to enjoy this scene. Our friend, Jesse Lapp, had called and told us that an individual named Tom, along with his family and friends, stopped earlier in the day at the farm and asked if he knew Steve Weber. Turns out, Tom is a Daily Encouragement reader who was visiting the area from New York primarily to see the show "Jesus" at Sight and Sound. Traveling through rural Lancaster County he had seen the Old Windmill Farm sign and recalled our references  to Jesse and the Old Windmill Farm. Jesse took down his phone number and passed it on to me. I had a nice talk with Tom who has been a reader for many years. The best we can determine is that he likely signed up to receive the messages at a conference in Boston about 20 years ago where we had a small DE display. He is now retired but at that time was a college professor in New Hampshire. We enjoy learning more about our readers and especially enjoy meeting them face to face.

White Cliffs of Conoy 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
The White Cliffs of Conoy are a result of the waste from a limestone operation over 100 years ago. Now it's been considered the world's first industrial waste tourist attraction!
(Click to enlarge)

View of Susquehanna River from Painbridge, PA 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
This peaceful view of the Susquehanna River is from Koser Park in Bainbridge, PA where we turned around, returning on the trail toward our van.
(Click to enlarge)

View of Susquehanna River from Painbridge, PA 4/16/19 (Click to enlarge)
I just don't have the zoom for a clear picture but we could see the bald eagles along  Susquehanna River. Actually this is an attempt using the River Trail's binoculars that are built on a platform near the viewing point of the bald eagles.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"At the Cross"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"My Saviour's Love"  Video  Kingdom Quartet

"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Video  Kathryn Scott

(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ's life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week

The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3˝ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

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: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

"It's Still The Cross!"

(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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

Worship leader: 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  

Worship leader: 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

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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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