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Friday, March 29, 2013

"Good Friday"

Three crosses

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"The Triumph of the Cross"

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5) "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). "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

During our Maundy Thursday service last night we sang the somber hymn, "He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions" based on Isaiah 53. It's a lesser known song written by Thomas Chisholm in 1941 who also wrote the more familiar hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". It speaks of the sin offering Jesus became as He took all our sins upon Himself while hanging on the cross.

He was wounded for our transgressions,
He bore our sins in His body on the tree;
For our guilt He gave us peace,
from our bondage gave release,
And with His stripes, and with His stripes,
And with His stripes our souls are healed.

Of the seven last sayings of Christ from the cross three are specifically directed to His Father. The God of creation and the Lord of the universe was surely there when His only begotten Son was crucified. Consideration of the Father's perspective at the crucifixion of His Son gives us much to think about.

But this much is clear; the Father was not a mere passive Spectator. The first phrase in the third daily text reads, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us."

Three words in that sentence especially grip my attention. Read them slowly: "God made Him..." Due to the complexities of the English language perhaps some clarification is needed. We often use the word "made" to describe one forcing another to do something against his will.

But the Father did not force Christ to be our sacrifice. The Greek understanding of this verse would more clearly read,
"for Him who knew no sin, God hath made sin, or a sin-offering for us."

He was numbered among the transgressors,
We did esteem Him forsaken by His God;
As our sacrifice He died, that the law be satisfied,
and all our sin,
and all our sin,
and all our sin was laid on Him.

Today, as believers, we look back nearly 2,000 years to the great Sacrifice Jesus made so that our sins could be forgiven. We realize that this day, Good Friday, is indeed good because it is the day that God showed us the full extent of His love and provided for our eternal redemption. The patriarch Joseph, whom many see as a type of Christ, made a statement that many years later found even greater fulfillment at the Cross: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). Yes, surely God intended the Cross for good. This Good Friday let us indeed praise God from whom all blessings flow!

The song, like so many of the great songs of the Church ends with a view of the eternal future.

Who can number His generation?
Who shall declare all the triumphs of the cross?
Millions dead now live again,
Myriads follow in His train!
Victorious Lord, victorious Lord,
Victorious Lord and coming King!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Loving Father, we thank You for Jesus who was wounded for our transgressions, who bore our sins in His body on the tree. For our guilt He gave us peace, and from our bondage to sin He gave sweet release. The triumph of the cross is witnessed by the myriads of believers who follow Christ into heaven. We thank You for Jesus who is our victorious and soon coming King! We honor Him by surrendering our lives wholly to His set purpose. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  I laid awake last night because the song "He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions" which we feature today kept playing over and over in my mind. It's never been one of my "top ten" favorite songs during the Easter season due to its tune that's somewhat difficult to sing and the tone which is quite gloomy, but its message lingered in my spirit throughout the night and even this morning.  I kept thinking of the many things Jesus gave up or endured on His earthly journey that would conclude at the cross even as the tune played in my mind:
  • His glory in heaven.
  • His royal privileges.
  • His being subjected to Satan's temptuous ways.
  • His incorruptible body being subjected to physical death.
  • His being numbered with transgressors while the guilty was freed.
  • His being abandoned by those closest to Him.
  • His silence when false accusations were hurled at Him.
  • His being subjected to betrayal and physical cruelty by those He came to save.
  • His seeking us out even when we were indifferent to all He has done for us.
  • His bearing all our sin to satisfy what the law demanded.
What really struck me is the growing list of all that He did for me, while I did nothing,  yet I freely and eternally benefit from His sacrifice. I can only respond with the words of another hymn, "O what wonder! how amazing! Jesus, glorious King of kings, deigns to call me His beloved, Lets me rest beneath His wings!"

Maundy Thursday Service

Communion bread

Last night we had a Maundy Thursday service in our church that included a "love feast", singing, Scripture readings, testimonies, Communion, and a devotional message, along with a footwashing service. Since the footwashing service is the least commonly experienced among our readers we will share a couple photos and notes about this. I (Stephen) went to a separate room with the men while the women and girls (who outnumbered us) stayed in the main room. We had children, teens, young adults, and the elderly participating.

Footwashing service 03/28/13
Jesse and Jim, two of our retired pastor friends washing one another's feet following the example of Christ who washed the disciple's feet.

Footwashing service 03/28/13
Following the footwashing the elder brothers pronounced blessing upon each other as, in the words of Paul, they also "greeted each other heartily in the Lord". Following this part of the service Jesse, who is seated, shared our main devotional message based on Isaiah 53. Pretty amazing considering he will soon turn 90!

Brooksyne's thoughts from the Women's Footwashing:  I'm always blessed by the hymns we sing as we wash one another's feet. I was especially touched as I saw two little girls, in earnest, washing and having their feet washed. Though I had been leading out in adult hymns I was prompted by another woman to sing "Jesus Loves Me This I Know" for the sake of the children. As I did so little six year old Tirzah smiled and sang out heartily. Immediately following that song she boldly began to sing out the words, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world." In this case a little child led the women in singing rather than the other way around, and it sure warmed my heart!

Northern New York

Today we will share our final selection of photos from our trip
to northern New York this past weekend.

Horse in snow, northern New York 3/22/13
On the way up we passed this rather rugged looking horse standing in the snow near the fence along Route 11. The wind blown mane kind of sets him apart, don't you think!

Rural mailbox, northern New York 3/22/13
The owner of this rural mailbox devised an interesting post by using a limb that sticks its neck out for the postal worker!

Crane mailbox, northern New York 3/22/13
We suspect that this most unusual mailbox will lift up out of the way for the powerful snow plow. (The owner probably replaced a few mailboxes over the years that had been hit by snow plows.)

Church in Croghan, New York 3/22/13
This stately church is in Croghan, New York.

Black River canal locks Adirondacks 3/24/13
On the way home we passed these remnants from an old series of locks near Booneville on the Black River Canal system.

Booneville Covered Bridge, New York 3/24/13
Covered Bridge across the canal in Booneville, New York

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions"  Video  (This is the song referred to in the message). If you have time listen to it a couple of times so that its message will penetrate deep into your soul on this Good Friday.

"By His Wounds"
 Video  Mac Powell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell & Mark Hall

"O Mighty Cross"
 Video  Don Moen

"What Love Is This?"

"Lead Me To The Cross"  Video  

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  

"It's Still The Cross"  Video

"The Bridge"  Video  This powerful dramatic video illustrates the sacrifice God made in allowing His Son to die for our sins.

Google map of the region in New York we visited this last weekend.

Black River Canal

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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 I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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