A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Note: This week we are considering witnesses during the events of Holy Week that are rather incidental to the main story, but like each one of us, they each have a story.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Forry's Mill Covered Bridge
(Click on photo to enlarge)
This morning we ventured out from our home-bound condition to pick up some provisions. With shoppers wearing a variety of homemade masks it looked as though some came as bandits prepared to rob the store!
"The Two Criminals"
Message summary: Today our Lord continues to respond to the simple expression of faith, "Remember me". He continues to provide the wonderful gift of His redeeming grace as we earnestly call on His name. Let us all renew that call today and if you, as a reader, have never done so please call out to Jesus, "Remember me".
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Two rebels were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left" (Matthew 27:38). "And with Him they crucified two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on His left" (Mark 15:27). "Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals—one on His right, the other on His left" (Luke 23:32,33). "There they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle" (John 19:18).
Pastor Peter Silumula and his wife Helen have a ministry to their fellow Indians. He has a Hindu background but came to faith in Christ as a teenager in 1969. After earning two degrees in non-ministry related fields he decided to attend a Bible College to increase his knowledge of the Bible, although he had no intentions of entering the pastoral ministry. Toward the end of his course of studies he was required to preach if he wanted to graduate. He informed the headmaster that he was only there for the Bible knowledge and didn’t see why a preaching assignment was important, but the headmaster insisted the requirement was necessary.
So Peter went into a forest intending to technically fulfill the requirement to preach but certainly not expecting to have any listeners. As he stood under the trees he preached about the two thieves on the crosses next to Jesus and even concluded his message with an invitation to receive Christ. As he was finishing his prayer he heard a voice from high up in the trees shout, “Don’t stop”. This of course startled Peter as he looked around wondering if it was a voice from God.
Then a man climbed down from the tree and confessed that he was a thief and murderer. He had been listening to the entire sermon and God had convicted his heart. He told Peter he went into the village at night to do his criminal business but climbed up and hid in the trees during the daytime! Peter prayed with him for salvation. His first convert!
Today let us consider the two thieves that hung beside Jesus when He offered His life as a sacrifice for the human race.
Even in death, He remembered
The thief hanging by His side
Then he spoke with love and compassion
And He took him to paradise
These two men had an absolutely unique vantage point distinct from anyone who ever lived. One was on a cross at Christ’s right side and another on a cross at His left. They represent the human race and the two responses to God’s act of mercy in redemption:
But sometime during that six-hour period of shared agony a wondrous spiritual awakening occurred in one of them. Luke alone records the brief exchange of words:
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom’" (Luke 23:39-42).
I call to mind a verse in a great hymn that says, "I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known; nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own."
The redeemed thief could very well be singing this song in heaven, for he received an astonishing message of assurance from Christ. “Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise’” (Luke 23:43).
Three men on three crosses;
* one dying in his sin,
* one dying with his sins forgiven,
* and One dying for the sins of the whole human race.
As we understand sin and the fall of the human race, we know that, like the thieves, we are punished justly and are getting what our deeds deserve. But Jesus, who has done nothing wrong, has died in our place. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Today our Lord continues to respond to the simple expression of faith, "Remember me". He continues to provide the wonderful gift of His redeeming grace as we earnestly call on His name. Let us all renew that call today and if you, as a reader, have never done so please call out to Jesus, "Remember me". *
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we see ourselves in the criminals who died on the crosses next to Jesus. We recognize that we were born with a sin problem, some of which we’ve exercised at great length and the potential for further sin is daunting. But You provided a way of escape, a way to unfetter our attraction to sin and lured our hearts instead to that which is holy and righteous. The vilest offender who truly believes in Christ’s salvation is instantly pardoned and assured of eternity in heaven. Thank You for paying in full my debt of sin! How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me! Amen.
* Here’s a common prayer that expresses faith in God’s plan of salvation. It’s often called "The Sinner’s Prayer". If you have not done so already we urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today. "Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me. I place my faith in You and what You have done for me. I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow and serve You. Thank You for hearing my prayer."
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
This week we have shared several videos from the Skit Guys. Here's one that includes perspectives from various characters beginning with the Last Supper. Video
"The Man In The Middle" Video Wayne Watson
"Thief" Video Third Day
(Click on photo to enlarge)
We regularly pass this tidy farm on Colebrook Road. With all the changes, burdens, and feelings of loss over the past few weeks regarding the Coronaviris pandemic the lush green grass is such a vivid color of healthy life.
Several weeks ago we shared that Tommy Carpenter, a friend of ours from Arkansas, has a son who contracted the coronavirus. He gave us an update yesterday: "Thomas had been moved to CCU and was on a ventilator, I went to my Secret Place and prayed in the SPIRIT for the next couple of hours. From my old school raising, I remember how the saints of GOD had three points to their praying: “Pray through!” “Break through!” and “Claim the victory!” I can tell you, it still works. When I went back to bed I knew the LORD had the answer on way. “The prayer of faith before the throne of grace can cover anyone, anything and anyplace.” Satan has given me plenty of offers to waver in faith, but the Blessed HOLY SPIRIT rose up within me to destroy every thought or imagination that tried to defeat me."
Missionary leader Doug Clay stated that he was praying for a pandemic of hope for our world.
As we were preparing to read our podcast for this message a fierce storm swept through with heavy rain and winds just as the recycle truck was picking up our recyclables. What an effort these men went to in picking up debris from our blown over recycle bins! Thankfully, we were able to reload our bin before their arrival so as not to add to their workload. As the truck pulled up to our neighbors to wait out the storm the Lord prompted us to quickly prepare a care package with goodies to bless them before they went on their way.
Major Events of the Passion Week
An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four gospels cover the period beginning with 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 Scriptural revelation 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 as I 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 provided 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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