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Friday, April 14, 2023

Lancaster County farms
Yesterday we rode on the Lancaster Junction rail trail with this view of the Lancaster County countryside near Landisville Road.
Click on photo to enlarge

"Many Convincing Proofs"

Message summary: This day we again choose to follow and obey the resurrected Lord Jesus. We rejoice in the many convincing proofs That He lives. Won't you join us?

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“After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). “He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Hallelujah, death is undone
Hallelujah, Jesus has won
Hallelujah, we overcome
Oh in Jesus, oh in Jesus

The physician/historian/theologian Luke begins his historical account of the “The Acts of the Apostles”, with this thoughtful introduction: “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Today we want to consider one of the many convincing proofs that Christ is alive.

The faith of the Christian believer has a sound, objective, verifiable historical basis. Luke calls them "convincing proofs". There were many appearances of the resurrected Christ over the 40-day period from the day of His resurrection to the day of His ascension that are not recorded in the historical portions of the Gospels or Acts and our second daily text is one of them.

In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul lists the names of some whom Christ appeared to after His resurrection, including one remarkable occasion when more than five hundred had gathered with the Lord which is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. This particular appearance to over 500 in one setting must have been a part of the record transmitted through the apostolic preaching and early history of the church. I yearn for more details of this encounter but will have to wait till heaven to speak personally to these unnamed eyewitnesses. However, it must have been quite a meeting!

Who were these five hundred brothers? (Perhaps there were also women and children present on this occasion as well.) I believe these were some of the many unnamed followers who believed in Christ during His earthly ministry. They would not have had the same depth of teaching the disciples had and likely the trial, sufferings and death of Christ was a huge faith crisis for them.

Had they been misled? Was it all for naught? Then the reports began to circulate that Jesus is risen from the dead and appeared to some of the women and His disciples. Could it really be?

At some point they gathered for the meeting referred to in our daily text. I somehow see it at the side of a mountain or beside the Lake of Galilee, although we are not told. It must have been something to see!! I smile as I think of the joy and relief and vindication of faith that swept through that crowd. If I were to picture them singing, it would be a spirited and joyful song like one written by Don Francisco many centuries later:

He’s alive! He’s alive!
He’s alive and I’m forgiven,
Heaven’s gates are open wide.
He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive!

Can you imagine the stir as people sought to get a glimpse of what others were describing as the person of Jesus. Voices could be heard as people nudged one another, “Jesus!  Look, it’s Jesus!  He’s alive!  Can you believe it!”  Still others pointed to the moving figure in the distance, “There He is!” Surely many excited parents hoisted children on their shoulders to get a view of Jesus as they tried to explain, “It is He, the Crucified Christ!”

Others would have squeezed through small openings in the crowd, likely annoying those whom they bumped along the way, anything so they could get a closer look at the resurrected Christ. There were no big screens or cameras for close-ups of Jesus so there’s little doubt that some were frantic in their attempt to get a good view of this walking Miracle. Most of them were still alive as Paul wrote, but since this was written some 25 years after the event, some had also “fallen asleep” (a phrase the early church used for “death.”)

One day we who believe will have a similar experience. We will also see Jesus (1 John 3:2) and I believe we will have a radiant smile (and some will jump, dance, and shout) as our faith is rewarded. Keep believing today, my friend, and “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded” (Hebrews 10:35).

As people of faith, we are among those who rely on these eyewitness testimonies. After one post-resurrection experience Jesus said to an eyewitness, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Many years later Peter, an eyewitness himself, wrote to all subsequent generations of believers, including ours: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). Today, I believe! My family believes. And this day we again choose to follow and obey the resurrected Lord Jesus. Won't you join us?

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy when we proclaim, “The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!” Though we were not personal eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Your Son we have personally experienced and witnessed in others the transformational change that the ever- living Christ brings about in the lives of those who believe. The completion of Christ’s incarnation took place at the tomb when death was swallowed up in victory as He overcame the power and terror of death’s penalty. Satan’s plot failed as God’s plan flourished making us more than victors through Christ who loves us and atoned for our sins! We are so grateful for all that Jesus went through that we might have abundant life here and eternal life on the other side Amen.

Finishing well - Jim Lines: This morning we will attend the funeral service for Jim Lines, a friend from our church.

Jim and Fran Lines
Jim and Fran are high school sweethearts from Phoenix AZ who went to Moody Bible Institute together, served for 51 years in missions work in Italy, and were married 65 years. Jim has sung in Calvary Choir for the past nine years which is how Brooksyne first met him! Awhile back he shared his story in a Podcast that will be well worth your time listening. God used an older couple who became like godly grandparents to Jim in his childhood years in spite of his mother's opposition all along the way.

Jim Lines, 85th birthday
In March I visited for a few minutes with Jim one Sunday morning and he informed me it was his 85th birthday. Jim is one of those choir members that captures your attention when the choir is singing as you can easily see he's singing right from his heart. He was at choir rehearsal two days before he died. The Lord called Jim home on March 31st and he will be greatly missed by his family, the Adult Bible Fellowship he taught at 8 am on Sundays, by the choir members, and by the many people he discipled over the years - men, women, and many children. The choir will be singing at his funeral this morning. You can read about his dedicated life of ministry in his obituary. 

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Is Alive"  Click to listen on YouTube   CityAlight

"He's Alive"  Click to listen on YouTube    Don Francisco

"No More Night"   Click to listen on YouTube   David Phelps (This song will be sung at Jim's funeral)

Lancaster Junction rail trail
The Lancaster Junction rail trail runs along Chiques Creek. Brooksyne has little Rosie in the basket. I had the slightly larger Falcon in a crate attached to the rack behind me.
Click on photo to enlarge

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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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