“God’s Reliable, Everlasting Love”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lake Lure in North CarolinaLure Lake in western North Carolina

(Click to enlarge as desktop background)

“God’s Reliable, Everlasting Love”
“We know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16). “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness'” (Jeremiah 31:3). “God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:5,8).

As we prepare our final encouragement messages for this year we consider the various burdens and uncertainties so many of you are dealing with. In some cases Brooksyne and I can visualize who you are and the situations in which you struggle. You may be a family member, a friend, a present or former parishioner. Perhaps you’re among those we meet in our chaplain service or you’re a faithful long-time reader of the Daily Encouragement, maybe one who has shared a personal burden with us.

At creation God established the annual unit of time (Genesis 1:14). The passing of years is can be like a chapter in one’s life to do some reflecting as well as looking ahead to the next phase in our life’s journey. Each of us can look back to particular milestones this past year.

Perhaps you are looking ahead to 2012 with optimism; in your life things are going well and you feel pretty secure.  Your health is good, your job seems secure, and you have exciting plans for the New Year.

But others face the New Year with a great sense of uncertainty. It may be physical pain, a wayward child, financial hardship, or the loss of a loved one. Today’s message is for both.

Settle deep in your spirit that our one and only certain source of hope is Jesus Christ. He alone is the anchor for our soul, holding it firm and secure. This is expressed so well in the great hymn, “The Solid Rock”, especially in the line, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  Hope that is built on relationships, finances, work or education will eventually let us down, but hope that is built solidly on Jesus increases with intensity as our earthly journey moves us closer to the Promised Land.

We selected verses today that express three unchangeable truths concerning God:
•  His Steadfast Love:  He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
•  His Abiding Presence:  He will never leave us. (Hebrews 13:5)
•  His Eternal Immutability:  He is always the same. (Hebrews 13:8)

As we ground our faith in these truths we can, regardless of present circumstances, experience the hope, peace and assurance that is at the very core of living an abundant life.

“Jesus Will Still Be There” is a song made familiar by Point of Grace. It reminds us of a most certain reality; that Jesus will still be there. His love will never change, no matter what changes around us. As we end one year and move into another He is a never-changing presence and lasting security in our lives.  We can absolutely rely upon His everlasting love!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, we seek to be unwavering in our faith and confident in Your plans for our life as we stand on Your unending promises. You promise never to abandon us; instead You carefully guide us through the steep hills and dark valleys as we cling to You. Even as we daily experienced Your goodness and faithfulness in 2011 we will be sustained by Your constant presence and guidance in our life and in those we love in the new year of 2012. You are faithful and we are grateful that we can stand on the Solid Rock, firm and secure.  It is in the Name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Jesus Will Still Be There”  Video  Point Of Grace

“You Will Never Walk Alone”  Video  Point Of Grace

Ester with Point of Grace

Point of Grace: Brooksyne & Ester attended a Point of Grace Concert several years ago during the Christmas season and Ester got her photo with the three singers whose music we feature today.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“Yet Will I”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)Winter scene in rural Michigan

Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

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“Yet Will I”

“The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Van accident damage Over the next several days we tend to reflect on the previous year while also contemplating what lies ahead in the New Year. We received a greeting from a thoughtful friend that, among other things, expressed, “May you have an uneventful year!” That phrase can be taken many ways, but in this context she was referring to Brooksyne’s traffic accident in September when a driver hit our van from behind. The van was totaled but it could have been so much worse (there were no serious injuries).

Actually we want an eventful year but just eventful with events that are pleasing to us! But that is not a promise we have. Today let’s consider the great statement of confidence and faith that concludes the rather obscure book of Habakkuk.  We can read this as a promise for events we might face. Habakkuk was written as Judah was about to be destroyed by the Babylonians and the remnant taken captive. The better known prophet during this time was Jeremiah. It was a desperate time.

Habakkuk scene

Since the economy was agriculturally based Habakkuk describes the equivalence of a severe economic depression.  Based on the wider context of the book (the pending judgment upon the nation of Judah), I believe he’s describing a situation in which practically everything that can go wrong does, a “worst case scenario.”

What response does he have during such times?  Twice he states the will to live in an attitude of joy and in both cases the immutable (unchanging) source of that joy is expressed: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Consider the single phrase “yet will I”; few in letters but packed with meaning.  It conveys the sense of “in spite of” or “notwithstanding.”  Habakkuk was determined to keep his faith in the Lord. He chose to experience the reservoir of deep abiding joy that is derived from his relationship with an unchanging God, rather than the ever-changing circumstances in his life.

Jesus prayed to His Father in His final “High Priestly” prayer: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13).

As we look back over the events in our lives this past year, some have been pleasurable, and others a trial. There are also ongoing issues that we carry from one year to the next.  But our struggles are somewhat minimal compared to those devastated by destructive earthquakes, deadly tornadoes, natural disasters, wars or those living in persecuted lands. Over the last several days our brethren in Nigeria have seen fierce and deadly persecution from Muslims. Considering their plight and praying for them keeps matters I am experiencing in perspective.

Nevertheless some of you are dealing with a trial and doubtless for some it’s a very serious matter. Today and through our life, let us quote Habakkuk and make this our own personal victorious declaration: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (3:19).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, we’re reminded by Habakkuk that our deep abiding joy is not derived from abundance in provisions nor even the people in our life. But rather our joy comes from You as we choose to rejoice in You, whether or not our pantry is overflowing. We rejoice in knowing that You are our strength who enables us to descend the rigorous, steep terrain. When we reach the height of the mountain we can look back at the disappointments and hardships we climbed through as You made our feet sure-footed like those of a deer. Keep us steadily faithful through the climb as we once again affirm our faith in You, Sovereign Lord, and rejoice in the work You are accomplishing in our lives. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Living By Faith”  Video  Homecoming series  This old hymn came to mind as I prepared today’s message. I don’t suppose I’ve sang it for some twenty years since we sang from the old brown hymnbook but its truth continues today!

Habakkuk 3  Video  A dramatic reading

“I Will Rejoice”  Video  Jolene Riley  Today’s first text put to music.

“I Will Praise Him”  Video  The Isaacs (Acapella)

News article about Nigerian persecution of Christians.

Today’s photo in rural Michigan was taken by our friend Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard is a friend of this ministry who desires to honor the Lord through his photography. We had snow storm in late October which was very unusual for our area but since then we have been rather lacking in snow. Today it is windy and cold but clear with no snow in the forecast. I happen to like snow! (At least in December – February).

Ou van: Just in case you see a photo of our white van in the future, we will explain:  Our van was totaled following the accident but since we really liked the van, we chose to have it repaired by a Vo-Tech Body Shop since there appeared to be no mechanical damage and received a settlement from the insurance company for slightly less.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“The Grace Gift”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ridge Run Road farm near Mount Joy, PAThis classic Lancaster County farm is on Ridge Run Road near Mount Joy.

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“The Grace Gift”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Lexus adThis Christmas season, as usual, we were besieged by advertisements regarding gift ideas. Marketers know a jingle or slogan is helpful in selling their product and this Christmas advertising season featured a car company with the slogan, “A December To Remember” along with a catchy jingle encouraging us to surprise a loved one with new luxury car for Christmas. The announcer states, “Let’s be honest, no one ever wished for a smaller holiday gift.”

Well, I don’t suppose very many of our readers received a new Lexus for Christmas and truth be told it would certainly be a gift to remember and a costly gift at least to someone!

We are also besieged with “free offers” though we intuitively know (at least most do) that there’s almost always a catch. Various offers appeal to our desire to “get something for nothing” (which is alluring to our greed nature).

Today we would like to consider a longstanding free offer that is genuine, still valid and available to all. And in fact it is something we receive for nothing, though it comes at a tremendous cost from our Benefactor who gave His all on our behalf.

The daily Scripture text was one of the very first verses I committed to memory over 30 years ago. (It is part of the “Romans Road”, a description of the plan of salvation using selected texts from the Book of Romans.)

Today I want to focus on the words, “free gift”. This translates the single Greek word “charisma”, which is itself derived from “charis.” Charis is that wonderful word normally translated “grace” in our Bibles. Of course many will recall the simple, yet descriptive definition of grace as, “unmerited favor.” It would also be accurate to translate this as “grace gift” and should be our greatest focus this Christmas season and at all times. No other gift even comes close!

Today amidst the pile of gifts, inexpensive or costly, meaningful or meaningless, this one stands out. There are no catches and the offer stands ready at this very moment. There are no waiting lines or no limited supply. It is available to all ages, “to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Revelation 14:6). Millions now living and millions more now with the Lord can testify to its veracity and lasting value (for those who like to read reviews on products).

River of lifeNear the very end of the Book of Revelation we read, “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

What’s your response to the free gift of salvation? We urge you to receive it today and rejoice that you have been chosen by God to receive this grace gift of eternal life through salvation in Jesus Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, it’s a fact that the vast majority want something for nothing. If they get their wish it might bring temporary pleasure, but it cannot satisfy the soul’s longing and the item will have a perishable shelf life. When Jesus gave His all as a sacrifice for our sins You made available to us the free gift of salvation that is for all eternity. We cannot pay for our forgiveness nor can we repay Jesus for His sacrifice for our sins. We can’t save up for our real estate in heaven, nor do we hire a designer, for Jesus is there now providing and preparing a home for us.  All we give in return is a heart surrendered to His plan for our lives here on earth that will be more fully experienced in the great beyond. May our hearts be set on things above where Christ is seated at Your right hand, rather than things on the earth. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Lord I Offer My Life To You”  Video

For the tech minded: Nigel Lee is a friend of ours who lives in the Boston area. In fact he and his wife were the very first recipients of a daily encouragement in 1996! Nigel is a scientist and wrote an interesting article in a Boston publication. Nigel has also written articles drawing a spiritual connection such as this one he wrote for daily encouragement years ago.

Example of a Lexus “December to Remember” ad  Video

John Deere santa near Maytown, PALast week we shared a photo of Santa in a New Holland front loader. Around here it’s not unusual to see a tractor in the front yard.  We passed this one all decorated including Santa on a John Deere tractor!
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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“A Trustworthy Statement”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas farm Elizabethtown, PA
We pass this “Christmas farm” near Elizabethtown, PA.
We usually see it from a four lane highway (Rt 283) on our way to Harrisburg but this view is from Ridgeview Road. This photo is from Lancaster Farming used with permission.

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“A Trustworthy Statement”
“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Seniors along with Brooksyne at the Messiah Village Christmas party 2011Our family had a touching experience Friday evening in a Harrisburg hospital room. Naomi, an elderly friend whose photo we featured last Tuesday playing the harmonica, was admitted to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.  After a long day of many tests in the E.R. it was nearly 8:00 PM before we were able to see her. With Christmas just around the corner the hospital seemed unusually quiet as we walked into her dark room where she lay curled up in the bed. She awakened at our greeting though she was confused and didn’t recognize us.

Knowing Naomi’s love for music Brooksyne knelt down at her bedside, took her hand, and began to sing “Away In a Manger”.  Halfway through the 1st verse she began to hum along. By the third verse Naomi began to softly sing the words with Brooksyne.  I thought how appropriate the lyrics were as I looked on and considered the fragile state of our dear sister:  “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”

Over the last several days earnest believers gathered all over the world to give focus to the true meaning of Christmas. We worshiped through song, read Scripture, prayed, heard the Christmas narrative, partook of communion, in addition to other ways we honored our Lord. We gathered in churches, homes, classrooms, hospitals, rehabs, prisons, soup kitchens, and in many other settings to express our faith in the very heart of the Christmas story; “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Biblical truths are being mocked and ridiculed and sadly there are those in the visible church who feel we must compromise in disbelief to be accepted by the world. After all there are those who concede that the Creation record in Genesis is a legend, the Biblical miracles aren’t real, and the Bible characters are myths. It should not surprise us that the critical events in the life of our Savior; His birth, death, and resurrection are similarly ridiculed.

The epistles give little emphasis to the birth of Christ. Apart from the historical record in the narratives of Matthew and Luke, and the prophecies foretold centuries earlier, we have no other information on our Lord’s birth. It’s not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles or in the epistles with any detail. Actually there’s no record of the early church celebrating Christ’s birth as we do today.

But they certainly believed in it! Paul introduces a saying that appears to be an early creedal statement of the primitive church. He introduces it as a “trustworthy statement” (literally a “faithful word”), easily memorized, and perhaps used to teach and reinforce the faith in earliest believers. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” is an absolutely trustworthy statement that impacts the lives of every human born into the world and evident in those present during the time of Christ’s appearing:

  • It was declared by Mary, during her visit to Elizabeth, in the Magnificat: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46).
  • It was the reassuring message from the angel to Joseph: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:22)
  • It was the message of the angel of the Lord to the frightened shepherds: “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
  • When Simeon took the infant Jesus in His arms he declared: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:30).

This message “deserves full acceptance.”  Although most of the world’s population has not accepted this truth; from its earliest declaration, to this day and throughout eternity it truly deserves full acceptance.  I have accepted this truth, live by it, and trust that each of you have as well: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, how grateful we are that Jesus came into this world to save sinners; to turn despair to hope, darkness to light, and death into life. All that we have need of and presently rely on is abundance from Your generous Hand. You are worthy of our trust and deserving of our fully surrendered life. From the cradle to the cross Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Lord of earth. We celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus, our Savior, and give thanks for all that it means to us. Amen.


Weber family Christmas photo 2011Greetings to our family, friends, church and ministry connections, business associates, Daily Encouragement readers and supporters. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and God’s abundant and unending blessings in your New Year. We enjoyed another year of service for the Lord in a variety of ways. For those who may be interested here’s a ministry update.

Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Lord I Lift Your Name On High”  Video  Maranatha Singers  “I’m so glad You came to save us”

Our friend Mike Martin shared today’s Christmas farm photo with us. It is from the Lancaster Farming newspaper and was taken by Stan Hall.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“Unto Us”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Message

Infant Jesus along with Mary and Joseph“They shall call His name Jesus”

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“Unto Us”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6a).  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11b). “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The busy holiday season will soon come to a screeching halt, but in the meantime most are still shopping, visiting, cleaning, sending cards, wrapping and delivering gifts, baking and preparing for the eve of Christmas and Christmas day itself. Out of town guests have arrived or will soon arrive. On my walk yesterday I noticed that our neighbor’s parents from Texas were setting up their motor home in their daughter’s driveway, hunkering down for the big day with the grandchildren.

As children we remember looking forward to Christmas because of all the special events that surrounded the holiday. Thankfully we grew up in Christian homes where we learned much about the first Christmas by playing Bible characters. Brooksyne has fond memories of participating in Christmas plays, including that of an angel who made the glorious announcement, “For unto You is born this day in the city of David….” Not only were these plays performed in church settings but, growing up in a less secular society, many of the Christmas hymns and pageantry were presented in the public schools.

Due to the further secularization of our society today many remain ignorant of the origin of the Christmas celebration. They sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and don’t really comprehend the reason why it’s wonderful. What a sense of emptiness we’d have if at the center of the Christmas celebration we knew not the Christ of Christmas, the reason He came, and what He accomplished after His arrival. That’s why, every year, believers purposely focus on the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Christ along with the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament.

The first two daily texts are easily recognized by Christians, often recited by children at the annual Christmas program. One was prophetically declared by Isaiah some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the other by an angelic visitor to some lowly shepherds at His birth. In a few words they contain the essence of the gospel message. They describe the greatest and most lasting Gift.

I know you hear it repeated every year so let us repeat it once more:  The challenge during this season is to remember the real message of Christmas. It’s not the gifts we give or receive from others. It’s not the abundance of gadgets that retailers offer to materialistic America. It’s the gift of God’s Son to an unreceptive, apathetic, undeserving, and mocking world. Will you gratefully receive His gift this Christmas?

The writer of Hebrews begins his rich epistle in such an interesting and powerful way. All other epistles except 1 John begin with some identification of the human author. Hebrews starts right off in a stately manner dealing with God’s message to mankind and the absolute preeminence of His Son.

However let us notice just one tiny phrase in the daily Scripture text which really is a “Christmas” verse, “He has spoken unto us by His Son.” Aren’t you glad God has spoken and indeed continues to speak! The late Francis Schaeffer wrote a book titled, “He is here and He is not silent.” How very true.

He speaks to us in many ways, but primarily and fundamentally through His Son. What a great blessing it is that He has not ignored us! After the Fall God began His quest for us and called to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” He’s been speaking to His people and calling them ever since. Today He continues to lovingly hearken to the human race, but relatively few pay attention.

What about you? Are you listening? Are you responding in faith and obedience? Let us rejoice that God has indeed spoken to us!

Be encouraged today and have a joyous Christmas,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, even as You spoke to the prophets of long ago You still speak to the hearts of Your people. You’ve called us out from among the world to stand for righteousness in a godless society. Much of the Christmas celebration is like noisy gongs and clanging symbols because it is lacking the major story of the Christ Child. As we contemplate the Christmas story young Mary is a prime example of one whose yielded heart withstood the ridicule and awkwardness of her special role in the miraculous conception and birth of the Savior of the world. You continue to speak to those who choose to fear the law of God rather than the whims of man. Help us to turn away from noisy gongs that blare and turn our hearts toward Emmanuel who shares with us Your love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Weber family Christmas photo 2011Greetings to our family, friends, church and ministry connections, business associates, Daily Encouragement readers and supporters. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and God’s abundant and unending blessings in your New Year. We enjoyed another year of service for the Lord in a variety of ways. For those who may be interested here’s a ministry update.

Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we will provide a variety of Christmas music available by clicking the YouTube video link. We’ve enjoyed hearing many of these songs over the radio and we’ve been especially blessed by a Christmas CD “Love Came For Me” by Shannon Wexelberg. She has done some new arrangements of the traditional carols along with original songs that she wrote. Her lyrics are convicting and reassuring, her vocals are outstanding.

“Love Came For Me”  Video  Shannon Wexelberg

“Emmanuel-Hallowed Manger Ground”  Video  Chris Tomlin

“A Son, A Saviour”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“O Holy Night”  Video  Selah

“Joseph’s Lullaby”  Video  MercyMe

“Joseph’s Card”  Video  Michael Card

“Magnificat (with Wexford Carol)”  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty  You might want to follow this song with the Bibe open at Luke 1:46-55 passage where Mary bursts forth in praise following the angel’s announcement.

“Joy Has Dawned/Angels We Have Heard On High”   Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”   Video  Shannon Wexelberg


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“God Sent His Son”

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Scooters along Amish school
Scooters beside Amish one room schoolhouse. The Children arrived early, practiced their parts for the Christmas program, and now the guests arrive.

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“God Sent His Son”

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5).

I have a friend who works for a large supermarket chain. She told me that the employees of her store were instructed not to greet customers with “Merry Christmas” but rather “Happy Holidays”.  Now I have heard of this politically correct dispute for years but I can hardly imagine corporate energy being expended on such foolishness in micromanaging how one person greets another! She pointed out the inconsistency since they play Christmas music (including sacred songs) and sell Christmas cards, including religiously themed cards and other items.

Several years ago we were sharing in a nursing home when we approached the room of a Jewish woman. I whispered to Brooksyne, “She might not want to hear the Christmas carols.”  Brooksyne asserted that she would be fine since she regularly attends the hymn sings that Brooksyne leads in.  We went in and sang a sacred carol and she sang right along!  As we left singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” she expressed her heartfelt appreciation that we had stopped by!  I suppose the new pc (politically correct) message had not yet reached our Jewish friend.

Here in the United States (and probably in many other countries) public Christmas expressions are increasingly seen as insensitive and unacceptable.  This is a relatively recent development brought on by the sensitivity police and those easily offended.  The incessant efforts of godless groups like the ACLU persistently seek to remove any hint of Christ from the public square and this is most pointedly seen at Christmas.

However there are those who still boldly express their view of the season. Along the main street in our town we have a large auto dealership with a lighted sign which states “Christ Is Born.” Our entire front page weekly merchandiser newspaper featured Luke 1:14: “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at His birth” along with the sketching of the nativity scene just above their greeting:  “Merry Christmas”.

Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe observes, “In this day when pluralism is interpreted by most people to mean ‘agree with everybody about everything and don’t make waves,’ Christians need to remember that they are different and must test everything by the Word of God. There are many religions, but there is still ‘no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved'” (Acts 4:12). That name, the Name above all names, is Jesus.

Today let’s remember the heart of Christmas:  “God sent His Son.”  This is the vital truth and the greatest source of joy and encouragement.  Jesus Christ is the greatest and most sacrificial gift given to all humankind!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, You are life’s greatest Treasure as You emptied Yourself of equality with God and chose to be made in human likeness taking on the very nature of a servant. Thank You for coming to us and meeting our most critical need, the need of salvation.  May we not be timid or embarrassed to openly voice Your presence in the public square even as great hosts of angels proclaimed Your earthly arrival in Bethlehem. Your salvation message brings hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and release for those help captive in the ravages of sin’s wasteland.  You did not descend to earth in order to conquer or enslave, but to draw the hearts of humankind to Yourself through the incredible sacrificial love that poured forth from Your body on the cross of Calvary.  What personal wondrous love is this!  Amen.


Here’s an interesting perspective from a Jewish man:  I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

 


Reflections From Yesterday

Amish school in Lancaster County PA
Apparently Amish school Christmas programs were held in many one room schools yesterday throughout Lancaster County. We passed this school on the way to the school program we were invited to attend. I am not sure what the tour bus is there for. The one we attended was as full as any building I would ever care to be in with the children and their families so I can’t see where they would put people on a tour bus!!! We, along with four other non-Amish (English) guests,  had been invited.

Our Classroom Visit:  The particular Amish school we visited, where two of the children are friends of ours, had an extensive 100 minute program – many recitations from children of all ages, plays, skits, and music.  It was a rainy day so it was nice to sit next to a window since they have no electricity.  The school house has plenty of windows and was jam packed with the children’s desks and backless, hard benches for guests.   I would estimate that there were about 100 people gathered in this small one room schoolhouse along with many, many babies – all being passed around and cooed by loving mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc.

What impressed us most was the number of hymns the children sang, many of them with five or more verses, and the 25 or so children from grades 1-8 who knew all the words and sang them with such robust that it sounded like a 100 voice choir.  With the exception of very small children there was hardly a peep as all eyes and ears were fastened on the small center platform where the children recited, acted, and sang. There was no need for microphones as all the children of all ages projected beautifully (the teacher must really have drilled in the need for speaking up.)  If a baby would not cease fussing Mom took the infant outside and cradled him or her under the porch roof (how’s that for a comfortable nursery!)  Also, you didn’t see kids or adults getting up to go the bathroom since outdoor toilets are not a cozy hangout for most.)  We made sure we took care of matters before we arrived as I’m sure others did as well.

It was a delightful time as we viewed the order of the classroom and the discipline of teaching children to memorize.  Many of them had multiple speaking parts in long plays, besides their individual recitations and the many songs – it’s a long lost discipline that was much more common two generations ago in our public school system.  See here for reflections of another visit to this same schoolhouse along with more photos.

Amish buggy
Ester rode to the school in the buggy with our friends as we followed close behind.

Sam SmuckerAfterward we had a warm visit with a new friend, Sam Smucker, along with two of his children. Sam grew up Amish and left that particular faith group as an adult.  Besides being a businessman for over 50 years, Sam has been a very active Gideon, placing Bibles in the hands of those who could find answers to life’s greatest questions through the written Word. Sam is a recent widower after 61 years of marriage, but he is doing very well with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the loving support of his family.Hannah, his wife who passed away on Dec. 10th, had an inspiring message inscribed on the wall that read; “Everyday holds a possibility for a miracle.”  Sam and his family assured us that Hannah not only believed that quote but lived by it.
Bill Hoke Memorial:  Late yesterday afternoon we attended the Memorial service for our friend Bill Hoke. He was one of my (Stephen’s) first friends in Lancaster County whom I met in 2001 shortly after moving here. He was a great friend to many and a very caring brother in the Lord. I knew many at the sevice and most of them due to my association with Bill. He was a great connector.

Frontloader
We passed the headquarters for New Holland farm equipment
who apparently hired Santa as a frontload operator!


 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Immanuel”  Video  Charles Billingsley


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider giving a year-end gift to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


 

Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Donate

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“True Worshipers”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Wreath on stone barnWe enjoy passing this wreath on an old stone barn on the Old Strasburg Pike.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“True Worshipers”
“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him'” (Matthew 2:7,8). “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

Here in America we are already in the midst of the next presidential race although the election is still over 10 months away!  Among the hot topics is the pursuit of religious or value voters and regardless of the politician’s political ideology attempts are made by many to use the name of Jesus to gain voters (when the group of potential voters serves their own political interest.)

When catering to a specific voting constituency political candidates jostle to use Jesus, a sort of “getting my picture taken beside Him” approach attempting to convey that “I too worship Him.”  Although only God knows their real heart and motive, many of them hardly pass the “you shall know them by their fruit” test!

Herod was the first to have a political interest in worshipping Jesus.  He feigned interest as he sought the advice of the Magi to find out where Jesus was.   His insincere explanation for needing their advice was so that “I too may go and worship Him.”  However the text goes on to reveal that Herod’s motive was jealousy and the real intent of his search was to find Jesus and kill Him.  He certainly had no plan to worship the newborn King.

Shepherds adore JesusThe Magi (wise men) however appeared to have the purest of motives in their quest.  They had responded to the star seen from the east (some authorities feel as far away as present Iran) and began a long, arduous journey to seek out the Child.  When they had worshipped Him and gave of their gifts they were instructed in a dream to take another way back, rather than reporting to Herod.

They, along with the shepherds, Anna, and Simeon are the very first true worshipers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Later, during His ministry, Jesus spoke of “true worshipers” as those who worship God in “spirit and in truth” and taught his hearers, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”  What about you and me today?  Are we true worshipers, the kind of worshiper the Father seeks?  That’s my heart’s desire today, and I trust that it is yours as well!

Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, You teach us that our act of worship is not confined to a cathedral setting nor does it require professional ministerial training to carry out true worship.  It comes from the heart of the true believer who acknowledges that You are the long awaited Messiah, the One who is called Christ.  We worship You in Spirit, for though we cannot humanly see or touch You, we come to You in complete sincerity with a spirit that is directed by the life and activity of the Holy Spirit.   We worship You in truth because union with You requires believing and speaking the truth.  May we be the kind of worshipers that pleases the heart of the Father.  Amen.


Today we have a very busy schedule, chaplain visits from early morning till early afternoon, then attending a Christmas program at an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the afternoon, followed by visitation and a memorial service for our friend Bill Hoke (whom we mentioned in a footnote in yesterday’s message)


Piano playersI’ve seen two concert pianists play at the same piano, but never three
(Maybe because three adults won’t fit on the same piano bench.)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Angels From The Realms Of Glory”  Video  Third Day


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider giving a year-end gift to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Donate

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“The Wonder Of His Great Love”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Barn in Lancaster County, PA

Photo of interior of Joe Snavely’s bank barn I took last year.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The Wonder Of His Great Love”
“I call on you, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes” (Psalm 17:6-7).

Yesterday afternoon after church we stopped by to visit our friends Joe and Beulah Snavely. Joe is a 5th generation Lancaster County farmer, who lost his dairy barn in a fire on Saturday. Joe shared that he now realized how much his identity was wrapped up in the 200 year old barn. He expressed his gratitude that no lives or livestock were lost and the property was insured (in addition to farming Joe also sells farm insurance!) He told the newspaper reporter “all my memories are in the old German bank barn where I once milked cows for 17 years… It’s a piece of history.” Saturday night he was surrounded by about 30 family members and neighbors who had come out in support.

Joe Snavely with son TylerJoe is standing on God’s promises and plans to rebuild the barn and press on in his service for Christ. I gathered with Joe and his son near the still smoldering remains and prayed with them, just one of many prayers the family has received from caring brothers and sisters. We dedicate today’s encouragement message to Joe, his wife Beulah, and their three children. May they be filled with the confidence that David had in God; the certainty of His faithfulness and seeing us through trying times: “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.”

The very heart of David’s prayer request was, “Show the wonder of your great love.” Now surely David knew of God’s great love when he wrote this, yet he cried out to God for a greater revelation or perhaps he was really asking God to bring back the fresh “awe” and “wonder” that comes when the great love of God is first revealed to us.

We also observe that it is during the hour of trial, such as the Snavely family is going through, that God’s love is especially dear. All throughout the Scriptures we have an abundance of truth that discloses the love of God to us, yet we may want to make this our request today as well.

The apostle John wrote much concerning this love: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

In whatever way you may have been hurt or experienced the meanness of this world, no matter the kind of loss you may be undergoing this day, choose to rejoice in God’s unsurpassed, eternal love and His abundant mercy.

Nearly 300 years ago (in 1719) Isaac Watts wrote the hymn, “Joy to the World.” When you sing or hear this song that has become a Christmas caroll classic, take note of the glorious refrain that follows the fourth verse which magnificently expresses, “And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders and wonders of His love.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who died for us that we might be lifted from our sin and reconciled to You. Not only are we forgiven and reconciled to You, but we also are made joint heirs taking on our new identity as “children of God.” What an incredible honor and selfless act of love that You would place us in Your Kingdom whose reign is for all eternity. This is the wonder of Your great love, indeed! Amen.


Lancaster County Barn Fire

Joe and Beulah Snavely with Kelsie
This is the same tractor seen in our photo today.
A valiant effort was made to save it but the fire was just too intense.
Joe told me that as an insurance agent he had often been on the other end in losses like this but this sure gave him a deeper and more personal perspective on loss.

Snavely farm
Here’s an older arial photo of the Snavely farm (date unknown).
The barn that burned down Saturday is in the center of the photo.

Joe and Beulah Snavely with Kelsie

Photo taken during 2010 Christmas season: The Snavelys live in a farmhouse over 200 years old which has been in their family at least six generations. They have lots of neat antique farm implements around their house. I asked Joe and Beulah to stand holding the pitchforks, trying to get them to strike a pose like American Gothic! Their daughter Kelsie is standing between them. Note, Joe is not wearing a barn-shaped cap, it is on the wall behind him!

Joe Snavely with son, pumpkin harvest, Lancaster County, PA
This fall I shared this photo of Joe and Tyler with a load of pumpkins.
Here’s another neat photo of a happy farmer.

Here’s an article about the barn fire in our local paper.


Last week I shared a photo of Brooksyne playing the piano at a Costco store and quipped regarding a little known extended Weber family fact, that my cousin Joy is a concert pianist and played at a Neiman Marcus store in the Kansas City area. An alert reader (my older brother Mike) informed me that this would have been a Nordstrom store. Sorry for the confusion; we don’t have these stores in Mount Joy or in Lancaster County for that matter. However it does prompt a memory: Years ago we had an exhibit for our daily encouragement ministry at a three day ministry conference in Boston. It was at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay area (a rather affluent section of the city). We had a hotel and were planning to stay for several days when I discovered I had failed to pack underclothing, so Brooksyne set out to go shopping at the stores near the Center that had places like Neiman Marcus and Nordstom and found the only available underclothing was priced 3 or 4 times what we were accustomed to paying. We  still chuckle about the “pricey underwear” when we see these exclusive department stores.


Forty years ago I committed my life to Christ at a rally in Kansas City Missouri. The evangelist was Lowell Lundstrom, who is still living and faithfully serving the Lord. This last week his wife passed away and a thoughtful reader notified me and also sent me a link to Lowell Lundstrom’s testimony.  Video  (10:55 minutes)  Website


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Joy To The World”  Video  Traditional version

“Joy To The World”  Video  Third Day

The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. However it would seem to me the final stanza also alludes to the daily text. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection; “The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.” (How’s that for a title!) Watts wrote the words of “Joy to the World” as a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a Christmas song celebrating his first coming as a babe born in a stable though we almost exclusively associate it as a Christmas hymn.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Donate

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“The Biblical Jesus”

Friday, December 16, 2011Sunrise over Lake Huron (Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Sunrise over Lake Huron
(Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“The Biblical Jesus”

“Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of who was born Jesus, who is called the Christ” (Matthew 1:16).

Yesterday Christopher Hitchens, perhaps the most outspoken atheist “scholar” of our age met his Maker, who he so vehemently denied. In response to a question during an interview he unwittingly but powerfully asserted the essence of Christian faith:

Question from Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell: “The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make a distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?”

Christopher Hitchens: “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”  To this specific response I say a hearty “Amen”.

Usually at this time of year, as well as Easter, we can count on the liberal press presenting numerous articles questioning the authenticity of Jesus and the integrity of the Biblical record. I recall the cover story several years ago of a “US News and World Report” titled “The Jesus Code – America is rethinking the Messiah – again.” It seems like unbelievers will always be rethinking this theological matter that was once for all settled from the courts of heaven over 2000 years ago!

Throughout the centuries there are those who have been on a quest to “reinvent” Jesus, essentially making Him into their own image. I’ve heard such expressions as “demythologizing” Jesus or “discovering the historical Jesus.” Of course these endeavors begin with the assumption that the Gospels and New Testament record are unreliable.

When I read these articles I am always struck by the designations such as “scholars” assert, which tends to lend credence to these faddish theories. Those still seeking and ungrounded may find their faith shaken. I consider another New Testament verse, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

The designation “scholar” is interesting and can be so misleading. Indeed there are many who are educated and attain the title “scholar” who do not have faith in Christ but there are also many who do. Some have kept their faith in spite of the onslaught of cynicism and unbelief they faced while attaining a “higher education”.  Others, who at one time did not believe, have actually examined the evidence and by God’s grace have turned in faith to the Lord.

Lee Strobel, a journalist who at one time was a skeptic,  came to believe in the Christian faith. He wrote the “The Case For…” series. The Case For Christ is written from the perspective of a seeking skeptic searching for the truth about Jesus Christ. In it he interviews a series of world-renowned scholars who are recognized specialists in their field of study.  I’m particularly blessed by the way he asks many of them at the end of the interview how their study had impacted their personal faith and life.

Today I use the final verse in Matthew’s genealogy, a portion not often quoted; “Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of who was born Jesus, who is called the Christ”. The genealogy of Christ, although not among the most exciting reading in Scripture, places our Lord Jesus Christ clearly in the historical record. He was not a mere myth who needs to be demythologized.

I can learn of the historical Jesus in these sacred pages of Holy Scripture and I’m not interested in a reinvention, nor a reinvention of the reinvention, for when we dabble that’s what happens. I firmly believe that the Gospels present the truth about Christ and I rest my faith on this teaching rather than the fickle views of the latest “scholarly” musings.

I find great encouragement in the Apostle Peter’s straightforward reminder: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Many years ago Brooksyne and I, before we ever came together, chose to follow the Biblical Jesus and this day we once again make that declaration! We urge all our readers to do the same.

One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin—
Dwelt among men, my example is He!Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming—O glorious day!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, there is much authenticity available through the annals of history and most importantly the written Holy Scriptures that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a babe to be born to a virgin maiden.  Your Son was sent for the major purpose of bearing the sins of humankind upon Himself as He died in our place.  Those unwilling to receive these facts based upon the Scriptures will constantly be searching and find only the ever-evolving explanations, rationalizations, clarifications, enlightenment, whatever the current fad teaching is during their quest.  When we come to faith we accept that which is written in Scripture and base our lives upon its teaching.  We crucify our lives with Christ, even though we live. It’s actually not us but the Christ who lives within, and the life we now live we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.  We love You and thank You for Jesus who gave His all for us.  Amen.


Especially attacked and ridiculed at this season is the Biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth. Carl F. H. Henry, one of the foremost evangelical theologians in our time, who is now with the Lord, argued that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” See this excellent article on this matter.


Click here to read the rest of the Christopher Hitchens interview mentioned above. As one blogger notes regarding this answer: In this response what Hitchens has done for Christianity is nothing short of prophetic, or maybe Ecclesiastes-ic.

Interestingly his younger brother Peter Hitchens, who was once also an atheist, has placed his faith in Christ. In his book “The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith”, he chronicles his personal journey through disbelief into a committed Christian faith.


Yesterday we shared the story of the legacy of Hannah Smucker. A reader responds “I feel that I need to let you both know that your message from yesterday meant a great deal for me. My wife and I are in some regards first generation followers of Christ. We have been thinking about how to pass down our relationship & faith with Christ to our two girls. Your message yesterday reminded me of the importance of this and to keep focused on what is important. This at times gets lost especially this time of year. Thank you again for the reminder of keeping life simple and the importance of passing down a legacy of faith and not stuff.”


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“One Day”  Video  This is a wonderful old hymn by J. Wilbur Chapman written over 100 years ago. The tune and arrangement is a newer rendition by Jeff Johnson, but thankfully the powerful lyrics are not altered. (For this version it’s been renamed “Glorious Day”.) This song goes through the life of Christ from His birth to His second coming. We sang it Sunday in our church.
“My Faith Has Found A Resting Place”  Video A stately version of the traditional hymn by Bobby Michaels.  “It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me!””I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary”  Video  From my (Stephen) earliest days in the faith I have found this song a powerful and meaningful expression of my resolve to follow Christ wholeheartedly. It still moves me each time I hear it and this version by the Gaither Vocal Band certainly does it justice!

Today we mentioned Lee Strobel books. Here are links to several:
The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus By Lee Strobel / Zondervan Corp. If you were a journalist, how would you investigate the hottest news story in history? Join award-winning reporter Strobel as he probes the life of Jesus Christ. Interviewing 13 of the country’s top Christian scholars, he ferrets out incontestable historical, scientific, and psychiatric evidence to support the claims of Jesus. A unique approach to apologetics! 336 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.
The Case for a Creator   By Lee Strobel / Zondervan Corp.  From evolutionary icons to the uniqueness of planet Earth, from irreducible complexity to the kalam cosmological argument, Lee Strobel gives full rein to his keen analytical mind in addressing these issues and more. But don’t expect an inaccessible tome of arcane scientific terms; Strobel’s years of newspaper reporting gives the book a conversational style. Relying on transcriptions of his interviews with experts in the pertinent fields, he tells the incredible stories about the hard science behind what some have termed creationism. Extensively researched, this book should a classic apologetic text for years to come.The Case for Christmas  By Lee Strobel / Zondervan Corp.  You never know who may start asking life-changing questions this Christmas. Here’s a great way to share the gospel—and the true reason for the season! The Case for Christ author and journalist Strobel investigates the facts behind Luke 2:8–18 and asks: Was it all a hoax—or truly the pivotal event of human history? 112 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

Howard J. BlichfeldtToday’s photo was taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt, a professional photographer from the Pittsburgh area and committed Christian. More samples of his photographs are on his website.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“Building A Godly Legacy”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whiteboard witness
Whiteboard witness

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Building A Godly Legacy”
“For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name” (Psalm 61:5). “That I might live for God” (Galatians 2:19).

Hannah SmuckerYesterday we attended a funeral service for Hannah Smucker, an 81 year old woman, who passed away this last Saturday. We never met her personally but her daughter, Mary Ann, became a friend through our Daily Encouragement ministry several years ago. Additionally we serve the Smucker family business as chaplains so we’ve more recently come to know other family members.

Hannah’s husband, Sam, established the Smucker business over 50 years ago. We first became familiar with the business by the jingle we often hear on our local radio station, “Smucker is the name to know around your home”. That’s a fitting advertisement slogan for a company specializing in home improvement.

But it was quite apparent at the service that the Smucker couple not only focused on building an enduring business but also on building an enduring legacy. Loving tributes, numerous mementos and hand written notes from Hannah’s children and grandchildren reflected on her solid faith and the shining example she was as a woman of God. As Hannah parted from this life she passed on a spiritual legacy to her children, grandchildren and gg’s (great grandchildren), all who sat in the first several rows numbering some 60.

Old hands holding BibleI make a vitally important point when I share faith and perspective with young couples preparing for marriage. We establish the foundations for building a godly legacy early in life and this legacy incrementally expands over the years, one brick at a time. It’s not as though we just wake up one morning and decide to leave a legacy!

Many years ago I was at the funeral of a young person who had died in an accident. The room was full of his young friends still stunned by the suddenness of his death. It was a grim reminder of the unpredictability of life which shattered their youthful illusion of invincibility. An older minister made an interesting point regarding his generation’s legacy: “We’ve given you much to live with, but we haven’t given you much to live for.”* There’s a lot of truth to that statement isn’t there!

The very nature of seeking lifelong fulfillment in anything but God’s eternal salvation plan is never fully satisfying over time. Something new and promising is always around the corner like a bigger, newer model TV, a faster computer or a more feature-laden “smart” phone, and many waste their lives pursuing that which quickly loses value or soon needs replaced.

God’s people are called to leave a godly legacy, not a self-aggrandized list of their own accomplishments. I consider those who left behind a godly legacy whom I personally know. Most were not famous and their sphere of influence was relatively small, leaving a spiritual impact on their family, church and community. A godly legacy is developed over a lifetime as we choose day after day to live for Christ.

The Psalmist proclaimed, “You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.” Fundamentally this heritage is the truths we transmit and the life we live that gets passed on to our own generation and generations to follow. Those who fear His Name are transmitting the truth of this heritage while they live and even after they pass on.

As a result we who fear His Name are transmitting this godly legacy. In the past the Bible writers did so by writing down the Scriptures which is our authority for life. However God has also used those contemporaneous with us who call on the Name of the Lord; those who fear His Name. They have sought to pass on that spiritual legacy to us.  We received this heritage from our parents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, a bold witness at work and many, many others who, like Hannah Smucker, passed it on to her family and circle of influence. We are presently passing that heritage on to others.

What are we passing on to our children and those we influence in the generations following us? I purposefully chose the last part of a Bible verse to highlight a simple statement made by the apostle Paul, “That I might live for God.” Paul surely had very little, particularly by our standards, to live with, but so much to live for. He went on to write, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Ask yourself today: What am I living for? Who am I living it for? That’s been the pattern for two thousand years and will most certainly continue until the trumpet sounds. One generation passing the faith on to the next. You’re reading this today and hopefully your faith is centered on Christ. Someone has passed this faith down to you. Are you now passing it on? Are you leaving a godly legacy to those who come behind you? That’s our call.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, You have called on us, Your children, to be reliable in giving a solid witness of our faith in You. We are to live godly lives so that we faithfully model that which we also teach to our children and all whom we are privileged to influence. We realize that there is no neutral position; we either live for You or we live for the world. Fix our eyes on Jesus as we journey below so that we fulfill the calling to be faithful and influence others for the kingdom of God, whether in life or in death. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

* “We’ve given you so much to live with, but we haven’t given you very much to live for.” While acknowledging the overall value of this statement and the importance of passing on a godly heritage, each individual and each generation ultimately stands on the basis of his or her own faith and obedience to God. I could see some using this sentiment as an excuse and blaming the previous generation for their problems. There are also those who’ve had the benefit of a godly heritage but choose to walk away from it.

More colorful insights from the service yesterday:

Both Hannah and her husband Sam grew up old-order Amish and left as young adults after they already had children. There were quite a number of old order Amish in attendance at the large church which also happens to be pastored by a nephew, Sam Smucker, who also grew up Amish! His message was outstanding and he quoted many Scriptures establishing the way of salvation.

Hannah was described as a very spunky woman with quite a sense of humor. She had instructed her two sons to be pallbearers stating, “I brought you into the world and you can take me out.” Not too long ago she selected her own casket and laid down in it to see how comfortable it would be. It wasn’t!


Some miscellaneous photos from the course of life.

Mark Cable
We have had our share of company banquets and activities over the last week. Saturday evening we attended a banquet and enjoyed visiting with the guest musician Mark Cable. See below for some samples of his music.

Brooksyne Weber, Costco pianist

One of the little known extended family facts is that we have a cousin who is a concert pianist and played at a Neiman Marcus store in the Kansas City area. Not to be outdone  Brooksyne took a turn as pianist at Costco yesterday blessing the busy shoppers with Christmas carols!

Sunday morning we opened our country church and discovered a mouse (caught in a trap). I thought I would show a photo of what a quiet church mouse looked like but Brooksyne and Ester vetoed the idea. But later that morning a friend gave us some “mouse” cookies:

Church mouse cookie
Church mouse cookie
The body is a chocolate coated cherry with the stem as the tail. The head and nose are a chocolate kiss with sliced almonds making the ears. The “mouse” sits on half an Oreo cookie!

Mike eating church mouse cookie
Mike enjoying a church mouse cookie much to his wife Nicole’s disgust!  These cookies are “Christmas Eve Mice” by Taste of Home (recipe link below)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“When It’s All Been Said and Done”  Video  Robin Mark

“Find Us Faithful”  Video   Steve Green   This song is an expression of aspiration in leaving a godly legacy.

“Jesus, Lover Of My Soul”  Video  A beautiful song reminding us that our life’s journey here below is all about Jesus, not ourselves. “It’s for Your glory and Your fame. It’s not about me as if You should do things my way.  You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways.”

“Ancient Words”  Video

“My Tribute”  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir  This song was sung at our wedding 35 years ago.

“Psalms That Didn’t Make It”  Video  Mark Cable

“Can’t Wait To Be Found”  Video  Mark Cable

Mark Cable

Mouse recipe

S.S. Smucker & Sons Company

Recommended Book:

Find Us Faithful: Leadership That Leaves a LegacyFind Us Faithful: Leadership That Leaves a Legacy
By David Olford / B & H Publishing Group

Illuminating Paul’s farewell address to the church elders of Ephesus found in Acts 20, Olford describes three gifts those in Christian ministry should leave behind: a personal example, a preached word, and a prepared leadership. He clarifies the responsibilities we must fulfill; reveals encouragements to be embraced; and reflects on the urgency of faithfulness. More info


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Donate
Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)