“Christ Preeminent”

Christ Preeminent
“Christ Preeminent”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18).

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?

We trust each of you had a delightful Christmas celebration with your family and friends yesterday. Of course some of you may still have plans over the next several days as you gather with others in the glorious celebration of our Lord’s birth.

Yesterday we enjoyed brunch with friends and afterwards visited a nursing home where we sang Christmas carols with the residents. So many of the familiar Christmas hymns we know by heart, including all the verses. What a joy to sing them out as the residents joined in as the familiar words struck some chord in their memory. After all, many of them have sung the beloved Christmas carols for 80 to 90 plus Christmas seasons.

For many years Brooksyne has enjoyed studying the hymns and has numerous books of hymn backgrounds which we sometimes share on this site. Some of the golden spiritual gems overlooked in familiar hymns are included in the verses deleted from modern hymn books. Our introductory stanza (above) is a lesser known verse from one of the best known Christmas hymns written by John F. Wade about 1743. It was trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by Fred­er­ick Oak­e­ley in 1841.

Most likely you will recognize the refrain:

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Millions declare that Christ is Lord. So today we ask the following heart-probing question to our readers,  Who is Christ to you?

1) For some Christ is popular. An ungodly entertainer may throw a shout-out thanking God at an awards ceremony. A politician may quote a Scripture text to score political points though he or she gives little regard to God in lifestyle choices or life principles. Consider the crowds and disciples that followed Jesus in John 6 at the height of His popularity, but when it got tough they abandoned Him and the cause for which He died. (See John 6:66)

2) For genuine followers, Christ is present in your life. The Psalmist declared, “Thou art with me.”  Jesus reassured the disciples on the mountain before He ascended to heaven, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Psalm 23:4, Matthew 28:16-20, Hebrews 13:5)

3) For some Christ is prominent. By prominent, I mean that it is well demonstrated and evidenced by others that you are a follower of Christ. Your family, co-workers, and neighbors know that you are a Christian. It is commendable that Christ is prominent.

John the Baptist is one of the great Bible characters. His God-ordained role was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. He did his work faithfully and earnestly desired that Christ become more and more prominent.  One of the simplest, yet profound, statements indicating this is found in the daily text, “He (Jesus Christ) must become greater; I must become less.” Another version states, “He must increase, I must decrease.”  That’s not only an appropriate statement for John but is a godly mindset and heart attitude for each of us!  This is an ongoing commitment that needs refreshing and renewal on a regular basis, whether in the mundane of everyday life or the major challenges we face over the years.  Every day we should awaken with this theme on our hearts; “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Christ Preeminent4) For a relative few Christ is preeminent. Yet this alone is the proper outlook for one who claims that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is God’s gold standard concerning what His Son should be to us. Christ Preeminent, what a glorious truth!

From the Miriam Webster dictionary we find the following synonyms to describe one’s preeminence: cardinal, chief, dominant, first, greatest, main, master, number one, sovereign, supreme. These adjectives well describe the attitude we should have toward Christ if He is preeminent in our lives.

This phrase from Colossians is translated differently in various translations. The NIV states, “In everything He might have the supremacy.” In the NASV it reads, “He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” The Greek word (proteuon) means “to be first, to have the first place, to hold the chief place.” He is reigning as the preeminent Being in the universe. He always has been and always will be. The ESV states, “that in everything He might be preeminent.”

I examine my life today and I encourage you to do the same. Is Christ preeminent in your life? Is He the reigning King of your heart’s allegiance? May Christ’s reign and preeminence be evident in each of our lives, not just during the Christmas season but all through the next year until we draw our final breath on this side!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, anything good or praiseworthy in me is simply a reflection of the abiding presence of Your Holy Spirit. I want to grow in Your grace and knowledge, and will do so if You are preeminent in my life. That means You will reign supreme and be of first importance to me, having greater influence than any other person or cause. I want to walk in humility today as I pray, “Jesus, must become greater in my life,  I must become less.” I ask You to be at the center of my thoughts, my attitudes, and my actions so that Your preeminence is seen in all I do and say. In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you’s and acknowledgments.


Some scenes from our Christmas

Frosty the Snowman at an Amish one-room school program 12/22/14
Earlier this week we were invited to the Christmas program put on by our Amish “grandkids” at their school (21 students altogether from 1st to 8th grade attend the school). We’ve grown so close to our friends over the past twelve years that they feel like family so the  parents lovingly welcome our relationship with their children.  We purposely did not take photos, but Ester who was sitting near the front managed to discreetly take this one of “Frosty the Snowman” which was actually one of our “grandkids”. Unfortunately Frosty’s head kept toppling off and Frosty kept falling over so the snowman lived up to his legacy “a jolly, happy soul.”

Christmas Eve dramatic presentation 12/24/14
On Christmas Eve Brooksyne (Mamme) and young Tirza (Sarah) presented a dramatic story, “Mary’s Treasure Box”. It was Mary’s recollection of events of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem 40 years earlier, that she shared with her granddaughter, Sarah.

Star on tower 12/25/14
Leaving our church service on Christmas Eve I saw a large star similar to the star we showed on Monday. I drove by yesterday for a daytime view and if you look closely you can see the star’s framework at the top. Our friend Darrel made the star, which measures about 10 feet, and is clearly visible from Route 283, the major highway between Harrisburg and Lancaster. He made the star by welding rebar.

Friends 12/15/14
Yesterday we joined the Hostetters and Martins for lunch. Afterwards we visited a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols and spread some joy. Ester took this photo after we entered the elevator.

Eli James on FarmAll tractor 12/25/14
Afterward we went to our Amish friends’ farm and Eli James was pleased to show me his FarmAll petal tractor he received as a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad.

Pompsky pups 12/25/14
The children showed me some 3 week old Pomsky pups that will soon be for sale. They certainly have been exposed to lots of children’s love. A Pomsky is a “designer breed”, the offspring of a husky and a Pomeranian.

Sunset on Christmas Day 2014 (Photo by Ester)
The sun was setting as we departed from the farm yesterday and Ester snapped a sunset photo with an interesting foreground. The white plastic covers corn for feed. Jesse was having troupble with crows tearing into the plastic to eat the corn so he tried some artwork. That didn’t work but he did find a solution, not visible in the photo; dead crows on top of the plastic.

Hess canned goods
Last night we joined our neighbors, Jerry and JoAnn. They invited us over for some fellowship and a tour of their new home just up the road from us. One of my favorite photo subjects is a pantry of home canned goods. The missing jar of pickles is sitting on our counter to be sampled at a later date. Brooksyne had brought them some apple jam so they will sample our canned goods as well. See some more photos here, here, and here.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“O Come All Ye Faithful”  Video  Casting Crowns


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Advertisement

“Deserving Full Acceptance”

Christmas Message

Photo of manger scene
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Deserving Full Acceptance”
Note: We will share two messages today. Our daily encouragement is in its normal place but we also share a colorful Christmas memory written by a friend if you scroll down.

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

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

Over the last several days earnest believers have gathered all over the world to give focus to the true meaning of Christmas. We continue to worship through this Christmas season with song, reading and recitation of the Christmas narrative, Scripture, prayer, cantatas, dramatization, listening to the Christmas narrative, partaking in communion, candlelighting ceremonies, in addition to other ways in which we honor our Lord Jesus Christ. We gather in homes, churches, 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.”

Mary's treasure boxSpeaking of dramatizations, I (Brooksyne) have enjoyed a children’s book, “Mary’s Treasure Box” and decided to present it as a brief dramatization. When I was much younger the role of Mary, mother of Jesus, was one that I could easily tackle fairly convincingly. But now the years have piled on, rather quickly I might add, and Mary is a role reserved for the younger ladies. But not so in this “Mary’s Treasure Box.”

Tonight, during our Christmas Eve service I will take on the role of Mary once more, not as a young mother, but as Mamme Mary. I will recount the events that took place during Jesus’ birth to my granddaughter Sarah, some 40 years later. Sarah prompts my memory as she removes items from that miraculous night saved in Mary’s treasure box, i.e. straw (humility), wool, (kindness), gold (purity), etc.

MangerAs I’ve been working with young Tirza who plays the role of Sarah, I’ve been reminded of how much the Christmas story is filled with wonderment and excitement when viewed through young eyes. Much like Christmas morning when you have little ones waking up first thing in the morning excited beyond words. Of course, for many of you, that season has long passed, and you find it again through being with your grandchildren and for some of you, great-grands.

Of course the dramatization, “Mary’s Treasure Box”, is a fictional account, but we can more fully grasp the true account as recorded by Luke and Matthew. I say, “more fully” because I find it impossible to fully grasp the amazing, beyond words account of our Lord Jesus choosing to leave the glory and splendor of heaven only to exchange it for one “putting on skin” and joining the human race. Even as He did so He knew that He would face ridicule, mockery, rejection and ultimately martyrdom.

Why Jesus CameThe 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.

Christ came to save sinnersBut 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. Consider the message of salvation in these verses.
  • 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 have not accepted this truth; from its earliest declaration, to this day and throughout eternity it truly deserves full acceptance. I have accepted this truth, I 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 man Daily 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 to life. All that we have need of and presently rely on is supplied for us in 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 He means to us. Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you’s and acknowledgments.


More Scenes from Longwood Gardens Christmas
Last Friday afternoon we took Stephen’s sister and her husband to visit Longwood Gardens, which is about an hour from us.

Longwood Gardens birdnest tree 12/19/14
A “tree” made from bird nests.

DuPont home at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
Brooksyne and my sister Genelle in front of the DuPont home.

Lighted fountain at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
The lighted fountain was accompanied by Christmas music.

Red tree at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
This was sure an interesting tree!

Old stone farmhouse at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
No matter the season or location, we enjoy seeing old stone farmhouses!

Wreath at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14

Wreath at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14

We will share our final set of Longwood Gardens Christmas photos with our Friday message. (We do not plan to post a message on Christmas Day.)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“O Holy Night”  Video  David Phelps


Special Feature
Jim and De Scanlon 4/27/14We have been in contact with Jim and De Scanlon for many years through daily encouragement. In April of this year we met them personally and joined them for a church service in New Braunfels, Texas. Jim is a retired pastor who is a strong contender of the faith. He is also a colorful storywriter! Not surprisingly, something surprising happens to make this children’s Christmas program a real memory!
Christmas 1979

The church was out in the country, ten miles from any town. It began serving the small town that used to be there many years before. The town eventually disappeared, leaving little evidence of its existence.

There was the old school, the cemetery and the church. The church was originally a small, white, clapboard building. In the 1960s the congregation built a larger, but still not very big, red brick building. The old church was turned in to a Sunday School Building and joined to the new church.

It sat at the corner of no place and no place else! Well, that’s not quite true, as taking the South road, eventually led you to a town of 20,000. If you took the road North, it led to a lake, and eventually to the area school. If you went East, you got to the old school, not used in years, and the cemetery, used on a regular basis. If you went West, you would eventually get to a town of 5,000. On a good Sunday morning, around 100 people came to worship in that Country Church.

On the first Sunday of March 1979 I officially became the Village Missionary Pastor of that Country Church. Even though the church was way out in the country, there were plenty of people out there. There were three Lake-shore Communities, as well as the farms that dotted the rolling hills of Southern Oklahoma, along with some oil wells.

That Fall, the talk at church began to gravitate to the Annual Christmas Program. I had never been much involved in planning and putting together a Christmas Program, even though I had been a part of a good number of them. But, I was the pastor, and I was expected to be the person to make it all come together and work.

Yeah! Right! I knew as much about Quantum Physics as I did about putting together a Christmas Program. Thankfully, very thankfully, the Lord looks out for novice preachers, in some marvelous ways.

The first way was having a wife who had some great ideas about how to do things with a Christmas Program. Then there were some ladies who were “volunteers”, who came forth and assisted in many ways.

But, first, we had to have a Congregational Meeting. Congregational Meetings were a staple in the Southern Oklahoma churches. It was agreed that we would have a Christmas Program and funding was approved. Many suggestions were made, most of them ignored by me and the ones doing the program.

Sooner than I thought possible, it was getting close to time to put things together. That meant assigning parts in the program to all of the children. None of the children were left out.

Although, some had their feelings hurt because they couldn’t all play Mary or Joseph. They finally accepted that we also needed Shepherds, Wise Men, People of Bethlehem, and, of course, Angels. That taken care of, the script, music and staging had to be arranged.

Well, the script is pretty much contained in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke, so didn’t have to do an extensive search or do a lot of writing.

The songs were not in the Biblical narratives, so regular Christmas Hymns and Songs had to be used. One, “suggested” by a grandmother, was “The Little Drummer Boy”. She also “suggested” that her grandson be The Little Drummer Boy. That didn’t present any problems, as everyone was expecting it.

My bride, along with the ladies who were helping, decided the platform in the chapel needed to be decorated to fit in with the program. That ended up being a bit more work than any of them anticipated. But, when they got it done, it was well-worth every bit of work. The choir pews had to be moved to a side room. The pulpit was also moved to that room. Then large sheets of protective plastic, like you use on the carpet when you paint, were spread across the carpet of the platform. The walls of the platform were transformed in to a stone stable.

The ladies used rolls of Butcher Paper, lots of Chalk and other things, to make that paper look like stones. There were also animals put on those sheets of Butcher Paper, a Donkey, a Cow and Sheep.

The window of the Baptistery needed something, so a sheet of Butcher Paper, decorated to be a Star-filled Sky was hung across the back of the opening, with a large star at the upper center, the Star of Bethlehem. There were even Doves around the window.

After that was all hung in place, it was time to make the platform look even more Stable-like. So bales of Hay were spread out on the plastic sheeting, several inches thick. Some hay bales were put in strategic places on the platform, and made to look like piles of hay.

The small wooden Manger was taken out of the storage area and put front and center on the platform. Some little girl lent one of her dolls to be the “Baby Jesus”.

Dress rehearsal time. The pianist was ready, the ladies were ready, the platform was ready. Were the children ready? Of course. Bathrobe garbed boys and girls with long dresses and other things to make them look like they were living in the time of the event they were depicting. The Wise Men, wearing head coverings to make them look like they were from The East. The songs were rehearsed. The actions and words were rehearsed. All without too many tears, or hurt feelings, by the children, the workers or by me.

Then it was Sunday Morning, time for the real thing!

The church was packed. People came in and “oohed and aahed” the transformation of the platform in to a stable. I didn’t hear anyone say anything about how all that hay was going to be cleaned up, but maybe some thought it.

Soon it was time to begin. I began with a prayer, introduced the program and got out of the way. The program began. The songs were sung, the lines were said.

Then suddenly, isn’t it always “suddenly”?, something “dramatic” happened. As Joseph, Mary and the rest, knelt on the hay-covered floor, a small child’s voice interrupted the whole scene. Four year-old Ann looked at the doll in the manger, pointed and said in her childish voice: “Ooh, a Bug”.

Tarantula in straw Well, it wasn’t a bug, but something larger. It was a full-size local denizen. There on the “Baby Jesus”, in all its hairy glory was a quite large Tarantula Spider!

Well, you can imagine the change of action, with a platform populated with country girls and robust country boys, at the sight of that Tarantula. Some laughter, some shouts, some stomping, some backing away, some trying to catch the critter. Before any of them could catch or dispatch the unwanted invader, it was gone.

As Tarantula can jump a bit, and move rather quickly when startled, it made an exit for the piles of hay and disappeared.

In a few minutes, very few, the scene got back to where is should be and the 1979 Christmas Program was completed. Our family left early the next morning for Christmas in North Dakota, so we were not there for the cleanup and getting the platform back to the usual setting.

I don’t recall anyone saying they ever saw the Tarantula when they cleaned up all the hay, and maybe it was so imbedded in one of the hay bales that it wasn’t in any danger.

To say that our first Christmas as a Village Missions family and for me as pastor of my first church was memorable would be a big understatement. Those memories are still with us after all the years that have gone by.

We also have the memories of the story that was told that day, a story over Two Thousand Years old. It is still the same, and has never changed.

The God of Creation, came to Earth as a baby, to a family from Nazareth, to be born in Bethlehem. But the story didn’t end there.

That baby grew to be a man, and He preached Repentance, and Salvation to the people of Israel.

But His purpose was not to just preach, but to give Himself as the Final Sacrifice for the Sin of Mankind, upon the cruel Altar of a Wooden Cross.

And, it didn’t end there. Three days after His human death, He rose from the grave and then rose in to Heaven, where He is seated at the Right Hand of God the Father, interceding for all who call upon Him for forgiveness of sin. One day, maybe soon, He will, as He promised, call His Bride to come to Him, for all Eternity.

During this Christmas Season, with all the activities and business we encounter, take some time to read the Christmas story. It is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Then like the Shepherds, seek Him out, then Worship and Adore Him.

From our home to yours, may the Christ of Christmas bring blessing upon blessing to you and your family.


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“Star Of Wonder”

Christmas lights on farmIn our area local business and farm owners often use their buildings to display Christmas symbols such as this one. I am moved by the depiction of Bethlehem’s star and Calvary’s cross.

“Star Of Wonder”
Note: Due to a very busy day an audio version podcast will not be prepared for this message.

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him'” (Matthew 2:1,2). “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:9,10).

O star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Last Friday we visited a Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens. We purposefully arrived in midafternoon so we could see the displays in daylight then walk through the brilliantly lighted grounds at night. A highlight was the lighted fountain show accompanied by Christmas music, including traditional hymns. The lighted displays included one of the Scripturally-based symbols of Christmas, the star. Today let us consider this “star of wonder”.

Contrary to traditional Christmas pageantry and artist’s portrayals of the nativity setting, Scripture indicates that although the shepherds were present at the birth of Christ in Bethlehem’s stable, the wise men were not.

MagiCareful consideration of Scripture actually reveals that the magi (traditionally wise men) from the east who followed the star arrived some time after Christ’s birth. They had first seen the star while in the east and had traveled to Jerusalem to inquire regarding the exact place of Christ’s birth.

Just who these magi were remains a mystery. Possibly they were among those from the Jewish line who stayed in the East (present day Iran) following the Exile or perhaps they were proselytes who were very familiar with the Messianic promise. After seeing “His star” and receiving the information that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem they went there with a specific purpose – to worship the Christ Child.

For some reason, after initially seeing the star in the east, it was no longer seen for a period until after they had been to Jerusalem and were on their way to Bethlehem. (Compare 2:2 with 2:9,10.)

Matthew 2:2These men were earnest seekers. They had seen “His star” in the east. The journey from the east to Jerusalem was likely long and hard, but they were persistent. It was the reappearance of the star on the way to Bethlehem that prompted the response described in the KJV when they “rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” The apparent redundancy in the English is an attempt to convey the richness of emotion that Matthew uses four Greek words to express. The Amplified version says, “thrilled with ecstatic joy.”

Why were they filled with such great joy? After all, at this point they had not yet seen Jesus (read the text carefully). Clearly, it was the reappearance of the star that prompted their joy. It reassured them that this was the real thing and also gave them the ability to continue their journey to find the Christ child.

I believe we have here an example of how God reveals Himself to the earnest seeker. They had seen His star while in the East and then went to Jerusalem by faith. The reappearance of the star on their way to Bethlehem gave them an assurance that their seeking was not in vain!

At times the light of God’s guidance is remarkably clear like His star that was initially seen by the wise men while in the east. At other times God’s leading is less clear, such as when the guiding star was no longer visible. But like these wise men, as earnest seekers we walk by faith and obedience to God’s Word. Then we see again the clear, unmistakable light of God’s guidance as the wise men did when they saw the star a second time. Truly this is a time of great rejoicing.

Where are you today in your walk of faith? For some the answer will surely be, “I haven’t seen the ‘star’ for a long time”. Keep seeking, believing, and following. Remember this important truth: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Let us call on the Lord to “Guide us to Thy perfect light.” and may we all see the star of wonder!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Help me to journey in faith when the path is dimmed or obscured from that which You have planned for me. When I can only see through a glass darkly, help me to trust You for what is yet to come. May I have a believing, obedient spirit even when I don’t fully understand Your plan. For Your thoughts are not my thoughts nor are Your ways my ways. They are higher and wiser, for they are of divine origin, so help me to be mindful that You always know what’s best and will lead me according to Your will and Your timing.  Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you’s and acknowledgments.


Amish one room school with scooters 12/22/14
Yesterday afternoon we attended an Amish children’s Christmas program in a one room schoolhouse way out in the country. We didn’t take any photos inside the packed schoolhouse out of respect for Amish ways but it was very interesting and the kids did an outstanding job under the direction of their 18 year old teacher. She has excellent control of some 25 children from 1st to 8th grade. The program began with the children singing “How Deep The Father’s Love for Me” in German! We were invited to the program by our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth, who have four children in the school. Afterwards little Eli James asked me, “We’re we expressive?” something his teacher must have really emphasized and they sure were.

Personal note: Last night we received a call from a man we visit in the course of our chaplain ministry. He had shared during our visits about a troubled son he was praying for. Last night he called to inform us that yesterday this son was a shooting victim and is in the hospital with critical injuries. We will stop by the hospital this morning to seek to see him.

Scenes from Longwood Gardens Christmas
Last Friday afternoon we took Stephen’s sister and her husband to visit “A Longwood Christmas” at Longwood Gardens, which is about an hour from us.

Photo of us at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
Here’s a photo of us at the Longwood Gardens this last Friday afternoon.

Genelle and Cesar in treehouse at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
They had several large treehouses on the grounds.

Genelle and Cesar in treehouse at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
Stephen’s sister Genelle and her husband Cesar up in the treehouse.

Train at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
Of course Stephen liked the huge model train display.

Train at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14

Display at Longwood Gardens 12/19/14
Walking through the interior conservatory we had many scenes like this.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“We Three Kings of Orient Are”  Video  Jennifer Avalon

“Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem”   Video  Gaither Homecoming Friends

Longwood Gardens Lighted Fountain Show  Video

Longwood Gardens Christmas Transformation  Video

Longwood Gardens


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“The Gift You Can’t Live Without”

Longwood Gardens Poinsettia tree 12/19/14Friday afternoon we took my sister Genelle and her husband, Cesar, to Longwood Gardens and saw many beautiful sights. Ester took a photo of this Christmas tree decorated with live Poinsettia blooms! We’ll share more Longwood Garden Christmas photos over the next several days.

“The Gift You Can’t Live Without”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys
We knew we’d find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

Our email inbox is flooded with advertisements from retailers, online and brick and mortar kind, all vying for our last minute purchases before Christmas. It appears that anyone we did business with over the last 15 years has collected our email address and they’ve pulled out all the stops in the last couple days before Christmas. The subject line in an email is very important to these marketers since in many cases that is all we will read. The delete button is very handy, something we are also aware of, as we prepare these messages!

We received an email from one national retailer with an astounding claim with the subject heading, “Gifts you can’t live without”.

Among items that you can’t live without, in case you’re not aware, are $150 dollar headphones, a 65 inch smart TV and a trip to a Spa. Things that any of us might enjoy, but I suspect most of us are living just fine without them!

Brooksyne's Christmas gift In our home we appreciate gifts and try to please each other with meaningful expressions of our love. I bought Brooksyne a decorative wall shelf with an old-fashioned lantern at the Village Farm Market. And, I’m happy to report that she was quite pleased with my choice, added a snowman and some greenery and it sits in our bay window (much to Molly’s disappointment since that’s her usual spot to watch people who walk their dogs).

But I can only think of a few gifts that Brooksyne and I really can’t live without. Our moms and dads gave us the gift of life, raised us responsibly, providing for our needs. We certainly would not be alive if they hadn’t done their part! We normally don’t consider the air we breathe, water we drink, our food, clothing and shelter as gifts but what a blessing they are. And then the gifts of human relationships, family and friends.

Many of us will give and receive gifts at Christmas, a custom that for so many is the main thing. The origin of giving gifts (at least in the Christian sense) probably goes back to the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Jesus or so we’ve been told for as long as I can remember.

As the years went by
We learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves
And what that means
On a dark and cloudy day
A man hung crying in the rain
Because of love, Because of love

But no gift we receive on this earth even remotely compares to the spiritual gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gift we can all receive and share regardless of where we live or how much of this world’s possessions we have or don’t have. Jesus Christ is certainly the greatest Gift and deserving of our highest thanks!

2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul concludes a section in his second letter to the Corinthian believers by expressing appreciation to them for abounding in good works and for their generosity in supplying the financial gifts needed by the Jerusalem believers. He concludes his expression of thanks with today’s marvelous exclamation of thankfulness, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Many years earlier Paul had been converted and moved from an attitude of hateful, volatile rejection to grateful acceptance of God’s gift of salvation through Christ. Through the years his gratitude to God grew and that’s the way it should be for all of us.

In this burst of praise he uses a very interesting Greek word to describe the gift. Linguists use the term hapax legomenon to describe a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript. The Greek word translated indescribable is used only once by Paul in all his writings. It essentially means, “not expounded in full.” Other versions use phrases such as “beyond telling”, “inexpressible”, and “unspeakable”. One words it this way; “a gift too wonderful for words!”

Indeed that is the case with God’s greatest gift, a gift too wonderful for words, but deserving of our highest thanks. Today and each day let us join with Paul in thanking God for His truly indescribable gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord! And the wonder of this indescribable gift is that:

We are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You gave first and foremost as you selflessly gave of Yourself through the person of Jesus Christ. Your gift of grace defies human description, for the far-reaching effects in our lives is truly indescribable. It’s too wonderful for words, but it brings unspeakable joy and glorious hope that makes our spiritual journey so worthwhile. We receive Your indescribable gift that brings forgiveness for our sins and reserves for us a home in heaven for all eternity. Thank You, Father! Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you’s and acknowledgements.


Weber siblings 12/21/14
Yesterday three of the Weber siblings gathered at my brother’s house in the Lehigh Valley along with their families. (Our oldest brother Mike who resides in San Francisco was not with us in this photo or the one below.)

Weber family 1962
We’ve changed a lot over the past 50 years plus.
Mom’s standing over her “brood”- Genelle, Pat, Stephen!

Weber siblings with spouses 12/21/14
Here we are along with our spouses yesterday after we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Pat and Laverne’s house. She prepares a great brisket that we thoroughly enjoy!

Brooksyne playing piano with Mollie
Mollie joining Brooksyne at the piano, whether or not she’s invited.
Come to think of it, she’s never once been invited!  Brooksyne, in the spirit of Christmas, is being more loving and patient than usual with our active border collie.

Lancaster city Christmas tree
On the way to Longwood Gardens last Friday we stopped by Lancaster City to walk through  Central Market and the downtown area.

Lancaster Central Market 12/19/14
We enjoy taking our out of town guests to Central Market, the oldest continuously operating famer’s market in the USA. Genelle and her husband Cesar enjoyed it so much they went back the next day! This location that has been a Market for over 275 years.

Central Market alley with police horse in Lancaster PA
Police horse on Central Market alley in Lancaster, PA
(This was taken a number of years ago. I don’t believe the Lancaster Police Department still has a horse.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“We Are The Reason”   Video  Avalon

“The Greatest Gift of All”  Video  Jeff & Sheri Easter

“The Greatest Christmas Gift”  Video  Colin Buchanan


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“When Love Was Born”

When Love Was Born
“When Love Was Born”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“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). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us!” (1 John 3:1).

Starlight shines
The night is still
Shepherds watch from a hill
I close my eyes and see the night
when love was born

Jay and Lu Kopp 12/14/14Jay and Lu Kopp are friends whom we met shortly after moving to Lancaster County in early 2001. In fact as I recall they were in our Sunday School class the very first Sunday we visited the church we presently attend. For many years Jay taught shop class at a Vo-tech school (now known as Lancaster County Career and Technology Center). He now has a counseling type position assisting students one on one. He shared a recent discussion he had with a student that was overheard by an entire class.

He had been mentoring a young man who expressed his appreciation to Jay by proclaiming in front of the entire class, “I love you man”.

It rather surprised Jay but he took it as a teaching opportunity to ask the young man if he knew what love meant. He explained that there are different kinds of love based on Greek words ending with an explanation of AGAPÉ, the highest form of love; an unconditional love that will sacrifice one’s life for another. He said to the effect, “This is the kind of love Christians believe that Jesus demonstrated in coming to the earth and dying on the cross”. From the back of the room a student shouted “Preach it.”

Now isn’t that a creative way to get in a public witness! Notice he stated “Christians believe” which made his statement a third person point of fact rather than stated as a personal testimony. That’s creative!

When Love Came Down Christmas is a time we should give special consideration to this AGAPÉ love. Indeed it can be described as the time when love was born.

Emmanuel, Prince of Peace,
Love come down for you and me
Heaven’s gift, the Holy spark
to light the way inside our hearts

May we be filled like David with the assurance of His steadfast love and faithfulness: “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” David wrote the Psalm during a time he was crying out to God for relief from “the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me” (v.9). Don’t you sometimes feel this way! And of course for many of our brothers and sisters this is quite literal. Just consider the horrors of the Islamic terrorists upon believers in Nigeria. Whenever I am prompted to complain I ask the Holy Spirit to bring these fellow Christians to mind turning my heart to prayer on their behalf.

The very heart of David’s prayer request was, “Show the wonder of your great love.” Now surely David already 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.

All throughout the Scriptures we have an abundance of truth that discloses the love of God to us, yet we should make this our request today as well. “Show me the wonder of Your great love.”

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 even now are hurting as you read this. In whatever manner you have experienced the meanness of this world. No matter what unexplained loss you may feel this day, choose to rejoice in God’s unsurpassed, eternal love and His abundant mercy.

Isaac WattsToday, let us consider how one of the most beloved Christmas songs seems to use the first daily verse although it is not usually associated with Christ’s birth. Nearly 300 years ago (in 1719) Isaac Watts wrote the classic  hymn, “Joy to the World”  later compiled with the Christmas hymns.

When you sing or hear this classic Christmas Carol, take note of the glorious refrain that follows the fourth verse which magnificently expresses the wonders of God’s love. We wonder if Isaac Watts might have drawn inspiration from our first daily text?

And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who came to this earth as a tiny baby with a mission to die on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins to reconcile us 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 for all and the other wonder is that it is imparted to me personally. I can express agape’ love to others because Jesus modeled it, taught it through Scripture, and the Holy Spirit graciously provides it through us as we lay down our own preference in deference to Your perfect will! May we live the Christmas story everyday as we serve others above ourselves through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks! Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you’s and acknowledgements.


Stephen’s note: It’s been many years since my sister visited our area. Last night Genelle and her husband Caesar came up from Florida. Today we are taking them to visit Lancaster and see the Central Market and then to Longwood Gardens for a special Christmas display. Sunday we will be in the Lehigh Valley to visit my brother, Pat and his family. Three of the four Weber siblings together for a meal! (Our oldest brother Mike lives in California and will not be able to join us.)


Brian 12/17/14
Several weeks ago I was visiting with Brian, a young man who works as a machine operator in one of our companies. He has been setting up several new CNC machines and I commended him for his proficiency in using his skills for a difficult task. He told me he had learned from a great teacher and I thought he meant one of the older men in the shop. When I asked him he told me he was referring to his high school shop teacher, Mr. Kopp. Jay was his teacher over ten years ago.

Gene with grand-daughter 12/18/14
Gene is a colorful man we met in the course of our chaplaincy ministry. He worked every work day, finally retiring at 90 years old this year. He is a World War 2 veteran serving in the Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. Last night we visited with him and his grand-daughter, who was also in the Navy at a company Christmas dinner. We’ve mentioned Gene in several daily encouragement messages through the years here, here and here.

Jim Gambini visit 12/18/14
Drop in company is always a pleasant surprise at the Webers. Our friend Jim Gambini who is very busy as a Fed Ex driver dropped by for a few minutes in the early evening along his route. He told us he was expecting to be working till midnight! We refueled Jim with a fresh cup of coffee. He was our pastor the first several years we lived in this area and we have maintained a close friendship with Jim and his wife Wendy.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“When Love Was Born”  Video  Mark Schultz

“The Wonder of It All”  Video  Gaither Homecoming Singers with Doug Oldham (for fellow old-timers!)

“Joy To The World”  Video  Jeremy Camp

“When Love Came Down”   Video  Point of Grace

“When Love Came Down To Earth”   Video  Stuart Towend

“Christmas Offering”  Video  Casting Crowns


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“Merry This Thing”

Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
Last week the Faith In Action ministry held a live nativity scene in front of the Supreme Court.
Photo by Lee Smucker
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about'” (Luke 2:15).

Merry Christmas During this season political correctness runs amok and many feel they must refrain from any religious references lest someone be offended. One casualty has been the customary greeting “Merry Christmas” although there has been significant pushback by many very purposefully using the traditional greeting. In fact yesterday I was at a large warehouse store (Costco) and noticed the employees uniformly used the phrase with the customers.

In being considerate to those who may find the greeting, “Merry Christmas” offensive we propose our own greeting, although it can be a bit lengthy: “Have a merry day that I acknowledge the birth of Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior.”

Yesterday I visited with Lee who visited Washington last week to participate in a Living Nativity scene in front of the Supreme Court. I don’t suppose too many of you saw it on the evening news, that is, if the media covered it!

News reportersIn our age when an extraordinary news event takes place journalists and camera crews converge upon the scene racing to be the first to report the story. Their goal, of course, is to bolster ratings for the television networks, newspapers and magazines.

I can picture it now in my mind: “Coming to you, live, in the little town of Bethlehem. You’re hearing it first at WTLR…” The camera zooms in to feature an infant, newly born to very ordinary people, lying in a feeding trough as His mother rests from her long, demanding journey and subsequent delivery of her firstborn.

But, of course, the Christmas story took place when fresh news spread only by word of mouth or through an angelic visitor. The very first recipients of the message of the birth of Christ were a group of shepherds whose names are not recorded in Scripture. Shepherds were commonly despised and unwanted, working far outside the parameters of everyday folks in the community. Yet God chose them to hear the inspired announcement from a single angel later joined by a heavenly host who praised God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

The shepherds received this message as directly from the Lord and responded by promptly going to Bethlehem. Two bland, non-descriptive words in the text intrigue me as I prepare this message. The shepherds, surely in a state of wonderment and perplexity, call the blessed event “this thing”. Thus the very first human designation for Christmas, the incarnation of Christ, is “this thing”!  Perhaps our greeting should be “Merry this thing!”

Shepherds adore JesusThe ordinary shepherds were blessed to receive this unexpected announcement from extraordinary beings, yet they could not fully picture in their minds just what to expect or the right words to describe this historic event. God did not require statesmen to be out in the field with the shepherds so that they could eloquently describe this incredible moment in history.

Today I thank God for “this thing” which the shepherds went to see.  The holy Son of God came as a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That’s the redeeming message we must continue to focus on!

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we’re so thankful for Jesus whose infant birth took place in a smelly stable and whose bed was a feeding trough padded with stubbly straw and hay. It was certainly not a welcome setting for the infant born King but we can now see the stable as a composite of this unwelcoming world toward King Jesus. We’re so glad that He was willing to come to earth though He would be rejected by the majority. Yet we gratefully number among the many who receive Him as our personal Savior. We thank You that He came to deliver us from our fears and to release us from our sins. Through Your own eternal Spirit rule in our hearts today and raise us to Your glorious throne on Your appointed day.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!


Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
We are grateful for the various ways people seek to get in a witness for the Lord. The Supreme Court building is directly across from the Capitol. Faith and Action is headquartered near the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
Our friend, Lee Smucker, took his father and two sisters to view the Live Nativity last week.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”  Video  Fernando Ortega

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”  Video  Instrumental


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“He Will Abundantly Pardon”

Isaiah 55:7
“He Will Abundantly Pardon”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Roxie and Dottie in front of stove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We use a form of old-fashioned supplemental heat in our home, a coal stove. It uses a type of coal that comes from the northeast part of Pennsylvania known as Anthracite or hard coal. This coal burns clean and very hot with hardly any emissions. The photo shows Roxie and Dottie enjoying the warmth in front of the stove on a cold winter day.

Normally I have an annual delivery but so far this year I have been picking up the coal myself from an old-fashioned coal yard. Mellinger and Sons Coal has been family owned and operated since 1878, four years before my grandfather was born!

Richard and Robert Mellinger 12/12/14Richard and Robert Mellinger, identical twins, presently run the business. They were born nine hours apart on October 28, 1955 which  was one week after Brooksyne came along. Since we serve a company as chaplains in the area I load my van with several weeks of coal that I scoop into 5 gallon drywall buckets. Loading the coal is somewhat fulfilling, sort of like when we had a wood stove our first year of marriage in 1976, and I cut my own firewood.

But I also enjoy visiting with Richard and Robert, bachelors who never married and continue to live in the same home they grew up in. I observed some evidence of Christian faith on the wall of the small office but last week Richard (or it might have been Robert) began to tell me a story and I realized he was witnessing to me!

He told me about George Wilson who was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for robbing the US mail on a route between Philadelphia and Reading Pennsylvania in 1829. But just before the time set for his execution President Andrew Jackson pardoned him. However Wilson refused the pardon and the Supreme Court ruled that a pardon was not in effect until accepted. Wilson was executed even though he had been pardoned, since he refused to accept it.

He went on to relate this to God’s offered pardon and the necessity that we accept it. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). An old hymn ends with this inviting line, “Will you this moment His grace receive?” *

Because God is just, He must punish our sins. But because God is merciful, He Himself suffered the awful penalty when Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby with the mission to redeem and offer pardon. He suffered the wrath of God when He died on the cross of Calvary. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Isaiah 55:7Isaiah has a powerful, timeless call to the human race, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (55:7).

Just consider the wonderful words. “He will abundantly pardon.” You can easily memorize them,  And He will! Don’t be like George Wilson. Accept God’s freely offered pardon. “Will you this moment His grace receive?”

 

Be encouraged today,

 

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Loving Father, Paid In Full is engraved on the loving hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave His all that we could be fully pardoned. We accept this marvelous provision though it is incomprehensible by our finite minds to fully grasp. So many refuse Christ’s substitutionary death and continue to bemoan their pitiful plight in life, wallowing in their dismal existence. But for those of us who accept Christ’s full pardon we enjoy an abundant life, freed from the guilt of our past, and unfearful of our future. Our reservations for the New Jerusalem were secured upon our acceptance of Your free gift of salvation. It’s a win/win situation for all who forsake their sinful life and take up the cross of Jesus. We will still be praising You and giving thanks one million years from now, for never has there been such a gift offered by human hand. It’s because of Jesus and Your amazing grace that we have access to the throne. Amen.

 


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!


Piercing Word Presentation 12/16/14
Brooksyne’s Note: What a spiritual lift I received upon attending a dramatic word-for-word presentation of Luke 1-2. “Piercing Word” is a dramatic team named from Hebrews 4:12 (ESV):”For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” They perform Scripture word perfect in compelling dramatic presentations as they challenge and encourage people to memorize God’s Word. They also offer summer Theatre camps, spring and fall discipleship teams and workshops on memorizing the Bible. Based in Lancaster, PA, they travel all over the country igniting passion for the Word of God. We include a YouTube sample of the Luke presentation that was similar to the dramatization I witnessed. Their love for the Bible is evident and contagious. I love memorizing Scripture, but admittedly I do it intermittently so I was challenge afresh. They do it faithfully. I encourage you to check out their website. Piercing Word Ministries
Piercing Word Christmas Trailer (Video)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* “Grace Greater Than All Our Sin”  Video  Congregational singing  This is how I like church to sound!

* “Grace Greater Than All Our Sin”  Video  Bart Millard (A bit more contemporary sounding)

“Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin”  Video  The Hoppers  A powerful song!  I like this line:

In Holy pages this truth can be found
A promise to stand on when darkness abounds
Oh, right never loses and wrong never wins
And grace will always be greater than sin

“Seek The LORD While He May Be Found” (Isaiah 55:6-9)  Video   Esther Mui

“Let Him Return” (Jeremiah 17:10 & Isaiah 55:7)  Video   Scripture Memory Songs

I found the story of the George Wilson pardon online and also for those who want to read the law aspect here.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“Hearing The Bells”

I Heard The Bell On Christmas Day
“Hearing The Bells”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:16-18).

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” is a Christmas Carol written 150 years ago by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote it for a church in Boston, MA during the cruel miseries of the Civil War but he also had his own personal cruel miseries. My cousin George Steincross, who is a retired minister, sent us an article about some additional details we do not recall reading before. The story is developed from a newsletter of a church he had pastored in Alabama.*

In the summer of 1861 – mere months after the Civil War began – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lost his wife Fanny in a tragic accident. One night while trimming their daughter’s hair by candlelight, a few drops of hot wax fell on her nightgown and ignited when a gust of wind came through the window.

Henry Wadsworth LongfellowLongfellow did his best to save her but she was burned too badly, and he ended up with severe burns on his face & hands. Longfellow, of course, was distraught. His trademark full beard was a direct result of his mourning, as he claimed he no longer had the energy to shave.

Christmas is hardest on the bereaved and Longfellow was no exception. On December 25, 1861, the first year without his wife, he wrote in his journal: “How inexpressibly sad are all the holidays.” Exactly one year, this is the entry: “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” On Christmas of 1863 his journal was left blank.

But then, on December 25, 1864 – mere months before the Civil war ended – Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas day and found peace. On that day he wrote this soul-stirring poem.

The beautiful chiming bells of Christmas reminded Longfellow that God was still in command and in His pre-ordained time He would cause the right to triumph. Our loving Father would bring the sounds of peace and good will to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

We associate Christmas with love, joy, and peace. but in the same Scriptural narrative concerning the birth of Christ there is the written record of widespread evil. We know the story but it’s not a section of the Christmas narrative we tend to focus on. We might even prefer to skip over it since the backdrop seems to be unconducive to what we perceive as the proper setting for the Christ Child’s arrival.

Herod's slaughter King Herod, in an effort to dispose of the Christ Child King, ordered his soldiers to kill “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matthew 2:16). What a horrible slaughter this must have been. Herod was an evil man. I also consider the moral depravity of the soldiers in carrying out such an evil command. Even though we know Herod’s motivation there is no reason to believe the inhabitants of Bethlehem did. Can you envision the terror of that night?

One can only imagine the inconsolable agony of all who resided in Bethlehem. Surely each family was affected, directly or indirectly. The act fulfilled an ancient prophecy by Jeremiah, “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:17-18).

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day Deep grief and despair has always existed in the human experience since the original fall.

On Christmas Day, 1864, Henry Longfellow gave vent to his feelings in this plaintive carol that can only be understood against the backdrop of war. Two stanzas now omitted from most hymnals speak of the cannons thundering in the South and of hatred tearing apart “the hearth-stones of a continent.” The poet drops his head in despair, but then he hears the ringing of Christmas bells. Their triumphant pealing reminds him that “God is not dead nor doth He sleep,”

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

We who believe in Christ still live in a fallen world with so much evil and unrest. As we see more and more of those who vehemently reject the Way of Christ (John 14:6, Acts 9:2) we see evil increase (see Matthew 24:12).

The peace of which the angels sang is not speaking of the external circumstances that surround us. Rather it is the peace that Christ imparts within our hearts when we know Him as Savior and Lord. The Prince of Peace reigning within our hearts is truly a gift from God that surpasses all other gifts. Won’t you receive the Christ of Christmas today!

The song even seems to look forward prophetically to a time yet future for us:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
with peace on earth, good will to men.

May the Lord enable us to hear the bells!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, our hearts are heavy when we awaken each day with widespread evil, whether it’s in our region of the world or in a distant land like Pakistan where over 100 innocent children were slaughtered by Islamic terrorists overnight. It could drive us to despair when we consider the continuous chipping away of Biblical morals and godly restraint sweeping across the globe. Additionally so many deal with these troubling situations through a politically correct lens instead of the black and white truth. The only lasting answer to our soul’s diseases and widespread evil is provided for us in the arrival of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Though the majority reject Your answer for our sin problem, how grateful that Jesus still came, for He lives within the hearts of those who see their need and receive His forgiveness. In the midst of the prevailing darkness, like Longfellow, we declare that You are not dead and You do not sleep. Darkness is a temporary state, but Yours is an everlasting light.  The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee, O God of light! Amen.


* In researching for this message online we note that there are some discrepancies regarding specific details among the various accounts. On the anniversary of the accident he wrote in his journal: “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence.  Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”  Video  Casting Crowns  A very moving version of the song.

“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”  Video  Traditional version by Steven Curtis Chapman

“All Is Well”  Video

The story behind “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” (Robert J. Morgan also tells the story in “Then Sings My Soul” Book 2)


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 over the 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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“The Verdict”

Christmas wreathChristmas Wreath in front of our home.

The Verdict”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

BreakfastA number of years ago we attended a breakfast meeting at The Gathering Place in Mount Joy. David Hickernell, our local state representative, wanted to hear from a sampling of his constituents so Brooksyne and I were among the random sampling chosen. We enjoyed a breakfast followed by a brief presentation and an opportunity for questions.

One lady spoke up and expressed her concern regarding the moral direction in which we were headed as a nation. She boldly shared several verses of Scripture such as “Righteousness exalts a nation…” With moist eyes and a quivering voice, she warned of the direction toward judgment our nation is headed in. It was an anointed mini-sermon and many of us were in agreement with her. Of course the representative had to remain “religiously neutral”, although I am pretty sure he would have also essentially agreed with her.

No more did she get done than another woman rose and denounced her view, stating quite piously, “I get very troubled when people bring the Bible into issues.” She stated this was dangerous and just must not be done. There was a chill in the room and the representative’s assistant quickly rose and pointed to her watch hoping to get him out of the sticky situation. The meeting was soon over.

This is an illustration of the battle that has long raged, what many have called opposing worldviews.

Biblical Worldview

The Biblical worldview fundamentally asserts that:

1) The Almighty God is the Creator, Ruler, Redeemer and Judge over all the universe.
2) He has revealed His will for man through His Word.
3) He has established non-arbitrary laws governing the conduct of His creation.

By contrast the secular humanist worldview fundamentally asserts that:

1) God is merely a figment of the imagination or whatever one wants to believe, if anything.
2) The Bible is at best a collection of good stories, but not the rule of authority in our lives.
3) The rule of the Bible is arbitrary and subjective.

This ancient battle between these two opposing worldviews is rising to a fevered pitch. Using a phrase from one of our Lord’s parables many state, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” (See Luke 19:14). The “man” in the parable represents Christ.

Today let us consider a powerful verse that is in the same context as the very familiar John 3:16: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

Verdict The NIV begins this verse using a modern legal term, “This is the verdict.” In law a verdict is the formal finding of fact. We have all heard the judge ask, “Does the jury have a verdict?” Our text’s use of the word reveals God’s verdict on the human race.

Versions vary in the translation of this word due to the depth and richness of the Greek word “krisis”. The KJV says “the condemnation”, while the NASV uses “the judgment”. The Amplified Version (a version helpful for insight but difficult to read) states, “The basis of judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this…” For the diligent student here is a Bible Gateway listing of many English versions of this text.

John 3:19“Light has come into the world.” The Greek has the definite article “the” before light and we believe it to be very significant. In the Gospel and Epistles of John “the light” is Jesus Christ (see John 1:4-9; 8:12: 9:5; 12:46; 1 John 1:5). Light coming into the world is at the very heart of the Christmas message.

“But men loved darkness instead of light.”  Again we have the definite article in the Greek prior to both light and darkness precisely reading, “But men loved the darkness instead of the light.” (See here for Greek interlinear.) This is a matter of fact statement that explains much about human nature and the response to the Gospel.

For those of us living in the glorious light of Jesus Christ we marvel that anyone would choose darkness but many do “because their deeds were [are] evil.” The next verse continues “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20).  Additionally, when they come into the light they must deal with their evil deeds, confess, and repent. And, of course, many are unwilling to do that so they continue to go “undercover” in the darkness of their soul.

Today, we encourage believers all over the world to join us as we live in the light of Christ and and walk according to the light of His Word! May this statement be true of us today, that we love light rather than darkness! We come under the truth of Jesus Christ: “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your love comes like a light in the darkness, like the bright star in the east that burst forth in the Bethlehem skies. The hosts of heaven made it a song of joy and celebration as Jesus was born into the world, the Saviour for all mankind. In the darkness of night the light of Christ appeared drawing people near and far, then and now. Love enters the hearts of  many as they contemplate the message of Christmas, that it is a message of love and provision; love for all and provision for our sins. Love has come to us; love that brightens our lives and fills us with hope now and for all eternity. And at the same time there are many who are drawn to darkness like King Herod who sought to destroy the Christ child. We don’t understand such thinking once we come into the light, but it was a reality then as it is now. Thank You for the freedom to choose, and Lord, we choose You! Amen.


DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!


As we prepared today’s message we consider how so many of the Christmas songs we love have the theme of light somewhere in the song. Can you identify the song by the posted line dealing with light?

  1. “Disperse the gloomy clouds of night”
  2. “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light”
  3. “Son of God, love’s pure light”
  4. “There shone a holy light”
  5. “Yonder shines the infant light”
  6. “Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light”
  7. ‘And to the earth it gave great light”
  8. “Light and life to all He brings”
  9. “One small light from the flame of a candle”
  10. “Led by the light of faith serenely beaming”
  11. “With a liberating light”

We’ll post the hymn titles on Monday.

Do you have a touching or humorous Christmas memory please share it with us!  Perhaps we can share on Daily Encouragement. Email us here.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”  Video  Selah  (This song has one of the lines we posted above in our hymn quiz).

“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”  Video  Casting Crowns  We heard Casting Crowns sing this song in a concert several years ago at the Giant Center in Hershey. Next week we will share an interesting account of how this song was written.

“When Love Was Born”  Video  Mark Schultz


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 over the 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.  Here’s a great Communion Hymn for Christmas (Video)

“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?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a 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 Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?
Here’s an idea!  “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here’s an idea!  “The Blessing”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

“King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords”

Side view from our home in snow 12/13
A side view from our home after our snow storm.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords”

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. ‘Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him'” (Matthew 2:1,2). “Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: ‘this is Jesus, the King of the Jews'” (Matthew 27:37). “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).

Robert MacGimseyA popular folk song heard at Christmas is “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” written by Robert MacGimsey as a result of witnessing the crowds of people who saw Christmas as nothing more than a time to drink and party.

It was Christmas Eve in 1932 when he attended a midnight church service in New York City and then headed back to his one-room apartment. As he walked the final blocks, he passed the open doors of private clubs where people were shouting and swearing and singing. Others were so drunk they had passed out on the sidewalk.

MacGimsey was grieved to see the lack of respect and awe toward the birth of the most perfect Person who ever lived on earth. He thought to himself, “We seem to have missed the whole significance of His life.” That night he wrote his thoughts on the back of an envelope. These words, which were written like the spirituals he had loved growing up in the southern United States, flowed out of his heart:

Sweet little Jesus Boy,
They made You be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child, they didn’t know who You was.
Didn’t know You’d come to save us, Lord,
To take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we couldn’t see,
We didn’t know who You was.

Consider the line, “They made You be born in a manger.” Certainly this was no place for the King of Heaven to make His entry to planet earth. It’s not the royalty or pageantry due a king.

Today let us take a few moments to consider the phrase, “born King of the Jews”.  The wise men from the east ask the question in our daily text, “Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

As we shared in yesterday’s message little is known about the identity of these wise men (also known as Magi).  These wise men came to Jerusalem to make inquiry about a special birth. King Herod heard about it and was greatly disturbed.  He was threatened by the prospect of another King.  The rest of his response is well known. “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” He feigned interest and sent the wise men to find the child so he might also worship Him (although this was clearly not his motive).

Three wise menBut the wise men’s interest was earnest and after their worshipful encounter and offering of gifts to the baby King, they were warned in a dream to depart by another route (not reporting to Herod). Joseph was also directed in a dream to take his little family to Egypt. Herod, furious when the wise men did not report back to him, came down to Bethlehem and we have the record of the horrible carnage from the slaughter of all the infant boys two years old and under.

The wise men’s designation “King of the Jews” is not used at all during Christ’s ministry again until the period of His trial and crucifixion. It was placed on an inscription above the Cross as a means of mocking Him.

The remainder of the New Testament powerfully asserts that Jesus Christ is not only the King of the Jews but is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The contrasting attitude between these wise men and Herod is representative of the contrasting attitudes of the world, even 2000 years later toward the King of kings. Some will make great effort to worship and bring their very best gifts. Others are furious and will go to any means to silence the King. We hear new stories every year regarding those who want to do away with the nativity displays which would prompt viewers to think of the original Christmas setting. What about you today? What is your response to the birth of the King? The truly wise still seek and worship Him!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer:Father, we worship You, the Lord of lords and King of kings. We travel back in time to that original Christmas when You sent forth Your One and only Son to redeem the world from sin. We are grateful for the amazing sacrifice You made on our behalf as we receive You into our heart, King of kings. May we never have a ho-hum attitude toward the greatest event that ever took place when You came to be our Saviour and Lord. Amen.



DonateWe want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

 



Today’s Suggested Music
and SupplementalResources
“King of Kings “  Video  A powerful reading by S.M. Lockridge

“Sweet Little Jesus Boy”  Video  Charles Haugabrooks

Sweet little Jesus boy
They made you be born in a manger
Sweet little holy child
We didn’t know who you were
Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes were blind, we could not see
We didn’t know who you were

Long time ago
You were born
Born in a manger Lord
Sweet little Jesus boy
The world treats you mean Lord
Treats me mean too
But that’s how things are down here
We don’t know who you are

You have told us how
We are trying
Master you have shown us how
Even when you were dying
Just seems like we can’t do right
Look how we treated you
But please Sir forgive us Lord
We didn’t know it was you

Sweet little Jesus boy
Born a long time ago
Sweet little holy child
We didn’t know who you were

“The King Is Coming”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“Jesus, King Of Angels”  Video   Fernando Ortega

“Computerizing people may be next step in tech” (Article)  This is not related to today’s message but a friend sent it to us and we thought our readers might find this interesting.

 

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

 

To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

 


Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a 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.