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Message summary: This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God's only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.
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"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals--one on His right, the other on His left" (Luke 23:33).
"The man in the middle just keeps on giving His love away"
One of the blessings we have often seen as we travel, particularly in the southern states, are three crosses up on top of a hill or mountain that can be seen from the highway as a witness to the landowners' faith. Normally Christians use a single cross as a symbol of their faith but the three crosses also have rich symbolism as a reminder of the three crosses on Mount Calvary.
Jesus, crucified on the middle cross, vicariously dying for the sins of all mankind. Two criminals, representative of the human race, hung on crosses on each side of Him. These three crosses each represent:
1) The cross of rejection. One criminal represents the masses that to the very end rebel against God and reject His plan of redemption. But rarely is such sneering so openly expressed, and this by a dying man as he hurled insults at Christ. This unnamed criminal is merely expressing the viewpoint of so many who reject God's only remedy for our sin problem. This criminal died in sin.
2) The cross of repentance. The other criminal represents those who repent of their sins and place their faith in God's redemptive plan. He came to realize that he and the other lawbreaker deserved the death penalty and was quite frank when he spoke: "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). His faith is humbly expressed in these words: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Our Lord's word to this criminal, one of His seven recorded last sayings, brought eternal hope to the repentant criminal as well as spiritual hope to millions throughout the centuries, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." This criminal died to sin.
3) The cross of redemption. On the middle cross Christ died once for all time for all people. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Ephesians 1:7). "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). Peter, a witness to these things, stated, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18a). Our Saviour died for sin.
Today is a day of decision. For many it will be a reaffirmation of a decision to follow Christ previously made. This evening at our Good Friday service we will remember and worship our Redeemer.
But for others this can be the day you move from rejection to repentance and place your faith in the Great Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The cross of redemption was singularly accomplished by Jesus Christ. Are you living your life in rejection of Christ or in repentance? Let us, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that "we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).
This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God's only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should'st die for me?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
For many years we have appreciated the solid ministry of Robert J. Morgan, a pastor in the Nashville area and writer of many books. Several years ago we attended the church he serves and visited with him for a few minutes after the service. Brooksyne became a Facebook "friend" and he uses Facebook for ministry with thoughtful quotes and enriching materials. Yesterday we were both blessed by this powerful perspective concerning the news du jour.
We always enjoy sharing photos of sights we see along the way. Yesterday we visited six different company locations and drove through rural Lancaster County.
Along 322 we saw a flock of sheep and lambs right up next to the highway. Looks like the one young lamb was up to his neck in hay. Not sure what drew him to bury his head but he stayed like that for the entire photo shoot of about five minutes.
Two horses pulled this cart on the road south of New Holland.
This movable chicken coop is on a farm wagon
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we share a selection of songs on the Cross in a variety of different styles.
"I Should Have Been Crucified" Video Whisnants
"I Will Glory In The Cross" Video Larnelle Harris (Our friend david penley suggested this song)
"And Can It Be That I Should Gain?" Video Sovereign Grace Music (Congregational style)
"Man In The Middle" Video Wayne Watson (Quote in message from this song)
"The Man In The Middle" Video The Cupps
"At The Foot of The Cross" Video Kathryn Scott
"Love Held Him To The Cross" Video Harvesters Quartet
"It Is Finished" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"The Old Rugged Cross" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions" Video
(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.
(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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Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.
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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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